Originally posted on 06-07-07:
After I got dressed this morning, which comes after peeing, washing face, stretching, and Tai Chi, I put on my glasses and stood for a while, gazing out my bedroom window. An article I read yesterday in the June, 2007, Discover magazine, called “In No Time,” by Tim Folger, came to mind. It has to do with a quandary unearthed by physicists, that time may not exist below the Planck scale. It may be that time only exists on the macro level, with a rough analogy being that solid matter exists on our scale, but becomes space and swirling energy on the atomic scale.
This is pretty heady stuff, in fact it spins mine a little, but a remark from the article that came to me this morning was made by the folks at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, who standardize time for the US. A visitor complemented them on the accuracy of their atomic clock in measuring time, to which they replied, “Our clocks do not measure time… time is defined by what our clocks measure.”(p.79) That set off a stream of consciousness this morning that left me a bit giddy.
A la James Joyce: In a month it will be 07-07-07 which won’t happen again for a thousand years this date won’t recur for a thousand years these shadows won’t be the same tomorrow the sun will be slightly more northerly they were different a few minutes ago by next year the trees will have grown perception of time is different than measured time scheduled activities keep me looking at the clock guessing how long it will take if I turn off conceptual thinking time seems not to exist…
Enough of that; back to structure.
The idea of a connection between conceptual thinking and the perception of time goes back to Hui Hai, whom I first read about in Stephen Mitchell‘s, The Enlightened Mind. He suggested that the key to enlightenment was just to abandon conceptual thinking. Now that I think of it, it goes back to Jean Klein‘s Who Am I, who suggested listening for the space between thoughts, which I interpret as verbal thought, and which I tried to do until, marvelously, it happened! No thought, no time.
I have learned how to depress activity in the verbal processing area of the brain for short periods of time, and the trick, for me, is to elevate activity in some sensory modal area, like seeing, so that it dominates attention, and verbal activity then drops below the level of awareness. It’s a very handy trick—lots of fun—and it may be that all those years of smoking pot gave me a clue to how it felt. I was definitely capable of long runs of verbal activity while stoned, but occasionally, and quite wonderfully, stretches of verbal quiet would appear.
The connection between conceptual thinking and the perception of time is an interesting subject which I’d like to explore, but right now there are a couple of projects I want to work on, and tempus fugit.
What Is This ? Don’t Answer That