Sunday, September 11
pants to prove it
in any - at least, experiential - context, in my experience, the present is such an imbattably strong [i guess we say: normative] force. it's in our very verb tense construction: the "simple" present denotes recurring, unchanging action. action as a state of being. and if we don't limit its temporal reference, using extra words to override the default, it overwhelms all time.
basically, it elides startpoint and endpoint, just as we speakers elide grammatical precision. to do is to have been doing. and that's nothing so perfect, nor, certainly, progressive. by implication, it seems, also, to do is to be going to continue to do. the present, i guess, bounds nothing - being an insignificant instant - and binds everything.
which is to say: nothing can happen in the present, because it would take too long. [and, even if it could, we surely couldn't also talk about it in the present.] so everything happening "now" also or actually happens before and after now - and being in the now, we can't seem to perceive beyond (or before) to make the distinctions among futurepoints and among pastpoints pointy enough. we can only ever talk about the future or the past, but we do it in terms of the present. that much is reasonable, because the dialectical present does in fact take a good deal more time than the metaphysical present. but we take things too far.
this isn't just language play. [or, language play is much more than language play.] though it is precisely the issue i think i take with the nature-is-language talk of john and perhaps el, one post down. language cannot contain nature summarily, in fact it can only corrupt it. (that corruption, though, is vital and necessary and colorful, and hardly the greater evil.) if they're saying what i think they're saying.
it's a problem with memory, of course, partly, that makes the present seemingly our only stable place of reference (but only seemingly stable?) and warps the past to its ways and means. it makes change and difference
i want to say it's a fundamentally political problem, one that turns up in personal affairs and global ones alike.
is it a human, perceptual-hardwiring thing? [biological]
is it a united-statesian, young-country, social-valorization-of-progress elision-of-history thing? [cultural]
is it a modern, narrative-sweep, absolute-perspective singularization-of-history thing? [traditional]
is it a post-modern atomized-society, explosion-of-possibilities, uncertainty/unknowability-of-history thing? [contemporary]
probably or possible all of the above, i think. obviously this requires some more thought, as opposed to just word-association. i might point out that this phenomenon, the obscuring, dominating power of the present, has plenty of analogs in concerns apart from temporality, including probably most forms of spatial, geographical, cultural, ideological and other affinity-group centrism, which might help illuminate it some, although i think there are also some crucial distinctions.
enough for now.
time to get on with the day's agenda, which is to bike the pike (!!) perhaps a krazy notion, for my second day out as a member of the set of bicycle having people. but i need to go to swarthmore. and it sounds like fun.
i've got a bike
you can ride it if you like
I never thought I'd say this, but… you should read Derrida. I mean, you already have, but (re)read him on this subject, since he's obsessed with it and says some of the same stuff I think you're saying.
whoa there! ross goes theoretical! this is exciting.
i was driving down the road in tallahassee one day and saw outside a church "he is risen." i was like: that grammar is working really hard.
the totalizing experience of the present, and/or its totalizing descriptive force, has come up in my brain a few times recently. here i think we want a lesson in impermanence. according to some teachers i've been listening to, the way to see impermanence is dedicated attention. to the present!