Thursday, September 22, 2022

A Cipher In the Fullness of Immature Time

There is, of course, no fullness of time, unless you wish to count eternity somehow, and then you can't be in time. Time as we live it is perpetually immature. As, I hope, am I. I do so wish to improve. I know so little yet. 

There is a oneness to me, if not a fullness, in the sense that there is a constancy hardened over time which is easily proven by friends and acquaintances. I do insist that even in the fullness of time, my future life is not quite set. But apparently, and evidently, neither is my past. Forward facing, I am diminishing and shall be diminished in the fullness of time. At least I never did mistake my youthful certainties for knowledge.

The other day at a Labor Day picnic, moved cause of rain from my daughter's outside backyard to my ex's more accommodating inside, I also learned something about the relation of time's indeterminacy to anger and to love, and especially in relation to the narratives we compose to establish and define ourselves. 

Increasingly, these days, my ex tells stories which diverge from reality in the direction of my miscredit. Fine! I'm sure I deserve the abuse on some level, but lately they've started to cut to the quick. For instance, after I'd left her, her house, which had been our house, was broken into. I rushed over from Canada where I was then living and expeditiously installed bars across the vulnerable French doors which were the point of entry. She wanted me to stay. I wouldn't. She later thanked me for that.

How could I forget what was such an emotionally charged event, and especially those tough decisions that I faced? Sure, I have often been caught out and have caught myself out with false memories. Often, even when I'm certain of them. I do modify in the face of evidence. The mind plays tricks. 

My ex has now replaced me as protagonist in my little tale with an older fellow to whom she credits my work. We both loved the man. He might have done it but didn't in fact. But she is apparently as certain that I didn't install those bars as I am that I did. 

Narratives are formed for all sorts of reasons, certainly to include a kind of preservation of personal integrity. Sometimes there are conflicts. We might wish to be perceived as someone that we're not. Quite.

I don't think that the conflicts between my ex and myself will ever turn deadly. We enjoy our continuing good relations far too much. Though I may absent myself the next instant she starts a story, since whether true or false by my lights, I don't think that there's any excuse to rehearse such stories in front of me, especially when I'm in front of my kids. I can't control what she does behind my back, and while I know that my daughters feel often compelled to believe the worst of me according to her telling, they don't seem to stop loving me for that. So, no harm. I am humbled. So what?

Now to expand to the cosmic dimension, dear reader. As you know, I am fond of declaring the cosmic eternity for narrative. Nothing makes sense ever without narrative. At its elemental basics, narrative is the ordering, in time, of otherwise disconnected discreet points. DNA composes a narrative. I maintain that there is both an emotional and a physical/perceptual component to all that has ever existed and that can ever exist. There is most certainly an emotional element to narrative. Always.

This forces me to apply the same uncertainty principles which we have applied to empirical objective measurable reality to the proper fourth dimension of time. Indeed, I would go so far as to claim that time has no meaning without narrative, and that the narrative is composed in mind. Mind therefore, is always present in existence. Time is a conspiracy of the whole, as it were, and has no forward or back without life, which is to say without emotion, an elemental component of life, coeval with all those innumerable particles which lack individual identity. Life also was there at any possible beginning; at the very least as a want.

Life is always wanting.

We commonly imagine that time past is time set and unchangeable. But it's not, any more than the future is set, although we believe that more comfortably. We even go so far as to consider the future to be conditioned on us, even down to the level of the individual. I believe that is the widely accepted meaning of free will and agency.

But individual me is mostly not me, certainly in the terms of DNA, but also in social and linguistic terms. My personal degrees of freedom are quite limited in fact, even if, in practice, I may exercise outsized agency. If I am white and reasonably attractive in speech, manner and appearance. If I am not identifiable as one of the colonized victims of empire.

Still, since most of what composes me is formed by luck, I do believe that my personal agency is far more conditioned than most of us now seem to believe. That means, I suppose, that I am less a capitalist than you are. (As far as I can tell, I'm less capitalist than almost anyone, expect for that woman while I was gassing who had 'fuck the patriarchy' painted on her car, and I wanted to hug her but I knew that I didn't look my part.)

I see the likes of Jeff Bezos as rather more trapped than I am too. He is in thrall to his own master narrative of him as master, which makes him rather deadly, I think. I, on the other hand, am a harmless, which is, I'm afraid, my preferred condition. I wouldn't be competent for anything different. I lack the honor, sure, but mostly I lack the desire.

Time is indeterminate in ways analogous to the indeterminacy of physical reality when taken to its fundamental level. Meaning that this uncovering of yet another dimension for indeterminacy makes no nevermind for our everyday life. 

But just as it has unsettled many of us to know that there is no way even in principle to understand everything, qua quantum physical reality, it may unsettle us even more to know that the past is in no way fixed. There is no ultimate truth to be found. We create our past to the same extent that we create our collective future. After a margin, both become quite fuzzy indeed.

For the me, the fundamental meaning of quantum physics is that we are fully implicated in reality. There is no point of absolute objectivity. We are also implicated in history in almost precisely the way that we know ourselves to be implicated in the future.

In just the way that IQ cannot measure the totality of intelligence, most of which is qualified by a moral dimension, science as we practice it cannot tell our future. What is happening now - although much more easily defined by and as the predations of unregulated capitalism - is really better defined by the coming together, in however haphazard a fashion, of all humanity on earth. Big O Notation. Darkest before the dawn and all.

Sure, it's messy right now. We have a long way to go to reclaim livable communities. Here in Buffalo now, we can almost imagine bringing the Olmsted greenway layouts back to reality. Back to the future. Soon, we'll move beyond electric cars to trolleys. Cities will re-envision themselves as havens for walking and biking and getting together on trolley cars. People like me will get back together with people I don't yet know again, once the competition for attention is eased. I am so very through with job and school competition, aren't you?

Most of us don't really want so much. Nice parks. Maybe a sailboat. Maybe a bike. Nice neighborhoods and nice neighbors. Meaningful work that makes a difference.

Like most of us, I declare that I have not and will not harm another soul. I'm guessing that's the most of us. Sure, they make shit up about me. That doesn't make me want to make shit up about you. I'm decent in my heart, and I'm willing to guess so are you. Now let's act like it. Plain decency is likely the most underrated quality in the whole wide world just now.

Sad to say, in a way, while I was out walking yesterday the maybe two and half miles to Riverworks where the Music is Art Festival was being held across maybe two dozen stages, I was accosted by a young fellow manning a little display about how all religions are one. He asked me if he could ask me a question. I said sure, if it won't take long. Of course, the question he asked me was 'do you believe in God.' My answer was something like 'probably not the way you do.' 'Why?' he might have said. 'Because you believe in a man-made God.' I said as I walked away. 

It wasn't very nice of me. But at that particular moment I had been put in mind of how much harm what I'm calling man-made religion has always caused. People - mostly men - want to channel what they think God would tell you to do or not do, and I just don't buy that kind of God. That just feels like patriarchy plain and simple. 

Does it do any good for the world for me to convince you to believe in God the way that I do? I'm saying it probably causes more harm than good. I didn't really want to argue about it. But yes, now that I think about it, it would make the world a better place if you were to believe in God the way I do. For one thing you'd know why it's always best to be decent. And for another, you wouldn't judge people who aren't decent. God knows, it takes all kinds.

Well, I don't really have enough math to convince you of what I know in my bones to be true. Except that among those things that I know is that understanding reality doesn't require much math, and you don't need a higher degree of education to be able to do it. But if only I could convince one among those one-percenters who do have enough education, that would be something. But I don't seem to be able to do that either. 

I'll keep trying. For your sake, gentle reader, for your sake. 

And yes, while there is no absolute truth or even truthiness, the truth, still, will out. All these individualistic attention seekers with brains barren of fellow-feeling and beings which lust only after money become as meaningless as sandflies in the fullness of narrative time. There is not a Republic left on earth, it would seem, who actually believes in an actual god. Maybe Liz Cheney, no matter how evil her Dad is. Believers in actual god don't tell lies to get elected. That narrative erases you from life. You become a cipher of finance capitalism, which is, by definition, nothing at all.

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