For the past few years, to the amusement of my closest friends and lovers, I have been heard to say"oh, that's the future calling the present/past into being". You would not be alone in asking 'what the heck is she raving on about'? Basically, I am increasingly convinced that whilst we have infinite pathways in life, our future realities create/shape our present circumstances. Applying this principle suggests that the reality that we currently occupy determines many of the choices and directions taken in the past.This is a variation on the notion of destiny, via a backwards design, gazing backwards rather than forwards (if we were to use a strictly chronological concept of time). This notion also raises questions about the origins of feelings of 'deja vu'. Perhaps we feel as though we have already experienced a moment because we are momentarily caught in a future-based glimpse of that current moment. Still with me? Then allow me to elaborate. My fascination with time and time travel can be attributed to four main factors:
1. The 1960's TV show The Time Machine. I mean who wouldn't want a ride down that funky looking tunnel wearing those groovy skivvys?
2. My mother indoctrinating me to the science fiction genre.
3. My eccentric Year 11 Physics teacher whose passion for the 'big questions' was contagious.
4. Esoteric conversations into the early hours of the morning, with a close friend who introduced me to the poem Burnt Norton.
I would suggest that humans are the only species who have a multi-faceted, complex and intimate relationship with time. Ancient civilisations such as the Mayans, Egyptians and Greeks established rituals, philosophies and prophecies related to time. Scientists such as Galileo, Leibniz and Newton developed theories that laid the foundations for some kind of feasible framework within which to consider complex notions of time and of course Einstein, changed the way in which we understood time and space. In this century, Carl Sagan and Steven Hawking have continued the work of those pioneers, only to raise more questions about the dimensions of time and space.
Through art and literature, time has been examined and represented, and predictions made about the human condition as it relates to the past, present and future continuum. Much of the science 'fiction' of the past has become the science 'fact' of the present, attributed to writers such as H.G Wells, Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov. The ability to control or manipulate time, to slow it down, pause, fast-forward or rewind remains a skill of multimedia technologies. Popular film has long explored our relationship with time, just to name a few that range across various genres: The Time Machine, Back To The Future, The Terminator, The Matrix, Sliding Doors, Run Lola Run, The Butterfly Effect, The Time Traveller's Wife, The Lake House, Jumper, The Jacket and most recently Inception. More often than not, thematically, these narratives examine the role of self determination and destiny; and any exploration of time and time travel is associated with the realm of sleep/dreams, astronomy, alternate realities and parallel universes. Fundamentally, we humans have not been content to simply experience time, we have always sought to transcend beyond time.
Being curious to find other like minded weirdos who adhere to my 'Time Future' theory of the future creating the present, I conducted a brief google search (see some of the links below). It's so comforting to know that one is not alone in the universe. It seems that many people support this 'theory' through the notion of self-fulfilling prophesy, or actualisation through visualisation, whereby they assert that our minds have the power to construct preferred futures which in turn influence our present reality. While I agree with this, it is only one aspect of what I believe, as my theory also relates to quantum physics and our existence within the time-space continuum, rather than merely the idea of consciousness preceding reality. If only I was a physics nerd, I'm certain that I could explain this better!
In the attached video clip, Carl Sagan (pictured here in a groovy 60's zip up skivvy) explains "we cannot look out into space without looking back into time". The fact that we can look back in time, from where we are in the present, seems to support the concept that all time co-exists, as expressed in the first three lines of Burnt Norton (see below). Perhaps time exists to separate co-occuring realities, as Einstein suggested "the only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once".
Confused or bemused? Bewildered or perhaps bewitched? Bear in mind that I am no physicist, philosopher or new age fundamentalist. Just your average part-time poet and aspiring guru, musing about how and why we arrive at our destinations and pondering upon the threads that connect us throughout time and space. Essentially, this much I know to be true: my past, present and future realities are ever connected, and probably not in a linear, chronological, progressive sense. Perhaps time is circular and in making our current choices, we are unknowingly following echoes of some distant future which is calling itself and us along with it, into existence. Granted this is all a bit of a mind f*#@, but it's kinda fun.
Now I invite you to consider how your present might have created your past, and the possibility that your future is creating your present. If you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions about this post, please leave a comment. And if you ever manage to experience 'time travel' itself, be sure to contact me, I promise not to think that you have totally lost the plot. And finally, in your contemplative moments, ponder on this "the past is the beginning of the beginning and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn." (H. G. Wells)
Burnt Norton (from Four Quartets, by TS Eliot)
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
According to Wikipedia, the central focus of Eliot's Four Quartets is "man's relationship with time, the universe, and the divine. Time is depicted as a binding force that prevents mankind from transcending the boundaries of the material world and hinders them from finding redemption. The poem suggests that the only way to discover eternity is through memory, understanding the past, and transcending beyond time."
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