Note on time

A friend points out that we distort the nature of time by an image of it as spacial. What we have to negate about space to get to time – namely its indifference to direction and the fact that what it measures and contains is present simultaneously – really just negates space altogether. It’s as though we were trying to visualize something as a triangle with more than three corners. Such a strange claim more deserves to be called an anti-metaphor, since it could only stun and baffle the mind with a contradiction one has no idea what to do with. Rather than starting with space and trying to negate features of it to get time he suggested starting with a sensory experience other than the vision or touch that gives us space and instead understanding time though the sense of hearing. On this account, time as most fully and paradigmatically manifest in music.

Notice in this we lose or at least soften the paradoxes of infinitesimals or moments. These are simply the anti-metaphors of time as spacial. The continuity of time is not a mere slurring like someone goofing around with a slide whistle but also a structured and discrete set. There are notes to time, giving a duration to the present as a single unity. The passing of time is one that only makes sense within a whole structure, though with structure we find ourselves back with the spatial metaphor.

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