Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Rectangular View of History

I first wanted to use the word "square" to define this way of perceiving time and history. Then the thesaurus told me that "square" can also mean honest, or genuine. I think rectangular is a more accurate word as well.

One vertical side of history as a rectangle represents the Past. The other vertical side of the rectangle represents the Future. One horizontal side of the rectangle will represent Present A. The other horizontal side represents Present I.

The 'A' stands for actual, and the 'I' stands for imaginary.

My initial musings have me labeling the height of the vertical sides as "circumstance", and the length of the horizontal sides as "space / situation". I am thinking about this 3 dimensionally, but maybe this "view" should have more dimensions. Although thoughts, feelings, and emotions manifest themselves physically, I wouldn't minimize them to be strictly physical things. Each of those three things are a universe unto themselves, and deserve their own dimension in a rectangular view of history. Corporal situation is also its own dimension. So we are up to four.

Present A is determined by things uncontrollable, such as who one's parents are (and all that goes along with that: earthly situation, the exposure to ideas, etc.), and the state of the societies and cultures one is born into. The location of Present A is equally affected by the circumstances of the future. While the future is more malleable in form, the past's form is not entirely unyielding. This is so because our memory frames the past. The exploration of the past through memory allows our present "self" to genuinely react once again to static events.

This may be a flaw in my considerations however. Just as I am trying to squirm out of the grasps of a linear view of history, it is possible that an essential or elemental view of time itself is limited. If the exploration of the past allows us to reshape it, does it also allow us to choose it?

I mean this:

We have the past. The past is an ice cube, formed by the ice-cube tray we bought at target. When the past is re-entered, or explored, we can go back to the moment when the stage of ice was still water. Our memory is the ice-cube tray. A new reaction to a past memory gives us the opportunity to choose the form in which the water will freeze. I choose a star. But can we go even further back, to when water was hydrogen and oxygen? Or to when those elements were not elements at all? When they were unformed, part of something different? I don't know!

Anyways, Present I, being the imagined present, is represented by another point on the internal graph of history as a rectangle. I think that through behavior-awareness, pro-activity, and change, we can separate our "selves" from Present A, and approach Present I. The shortest distance between two points is a line, but that is not the only direction one can head in. The more aware one is of their actions, the more direct the path to Present I will be. There is also the chance that one dies en route. That doesn't matter so much though. I think that the reality of this perception of history is evident in proverbial advice such as "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll end up among the stars." I am pretty sure that is how that goes.

Anyways, someone said something along those lines at some point in time.