12 Jan 2018
January 12, 2018

Time’s Narrow


This tweet by Matt Smethurst, along with its many amazing replies, reflects brilliantly a conversation I’ve often had with my partner and I’m sure lots of other folk have with theirs. This is that time seems mainly a psychological matter rather than, if I may, an ontological one. Time alternately elongates and squishes up depending upon perspective, regardless of what Stephen Hawking might have to say about it (“the answser’s 42”, or some such notion largely meaningless to our daily experience).

As with Game of Thrones, not much really changed in the experience of humans for aeons owing to our lack of interest in adding value to stuff. The industrial revolution ended all that and since then so much has changed so fast that the fairly short period of time which has passed since then seems like millennia.

Yet I’ve met someone who met someone alive during the Battle of Waterloo. Most of us can say the same. In fact, there might just about be someone alive today who met someone born in the 1790s, shortly after the industrial revolution itself –  modernity expressed in just two very long human lifetimes. Perhaps someone could let me know?

Meanwhile, it’s certain that many millennials born at the end of the 20th Century will meet folk who will be alive well into the 23rd. I wonder what the latter will find there and how time will seem to them?



5 Responses to Time’s Narrow
  1. Sadly I had to look up the word ‘ontological’. Thank you for that, I’ll try and throw it into conversation at work. But with time in mind, if you have a watch with a second hand, have you noticed that when you glance at it, the second hand appears still, then starts moving. Time is still for a second. I’ve never yet figured that one out.

    • You can look upon me as your new Reader’s Digest’s; “It pays to enrich your word power”, from the 1970s courtesy of dentist’s surgeries. 🙂 I must check that thing with the second hand!

    • While I have noticed this feature of the second hand, too, but remember the watch and the second hand as part of it, is a machine trying to emulate time. The pause is a function of the machine and, possibly not, of time itself.
      At one time I would have said that time flows continually and unidirectionally, but with the predictive and explanatory success of quantum theory I am not so sure.

  2. For todays equivalent the most common people (men of course) having kids past 60-70 are the movie stars and pop stars from the 40/50/60s.

    The odd billionaire or two too.

    Not often I get to ‘two too’ or even to “to ‘two too'”.

    Amazing all the same. In those days his age was truly amazing, never mind his ‘flightiness’ with the ladies.

    • I read that half of all millennial will live to 100. Or something. Beyond that, I imagine billionaires will want to be living forever via replacing and curing bits as they go along. Be interesting to see how the public reacts to ‘amortal’ billionaires. I imagine cricket bats might come into it….


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