Saturday, February 7, 2015

Revisiting 2008

We were reminded this week that Bill Murray lived through February Second over and over and over in the movie "Groundhog Day."  In keeping with the theme of reliving the past, I have dragged forward a short piece I wrote more than six years ago.

Memory and History

A couple days ago I posted a snippet titled "Nostalgia." We know that nostalgia is an unreasonable yearning for something in the past, something that cannot be. But what we don't often think about is that everything is past. What we recall, we may hold so long as we can remember. What we record is history.

Imagine a movie being played reel-to-reel. (We have to go retro tech here for the imagery.) The top reel is the future, the lower reel, the past. As the film flicks by the lens the present is revealed, in this case, 1/24th of a second for each frame. But the present can actually be defined by infinitely smaller units: nanoseconds. Nay, even less for instantly the "present" is the past.*  We cannot see the future. We may anticipate it, contemplate it, fantasize about it or even plan for it. But we cannot live it. Only the briefest of instants compose our present experience.

We cannot live in the past; it is gone. But we may remember it, recall it, relate it, thereby relegating yet more of our "present" to the past. What is your life without memory?

For all that philosophers and physicists may expound on this "time" we have, it is just as simple as we have limned herein and just as complex as our memories allow.

Are you making any memories? Are you making history?
Is your hand in the hand of the Eternal Guide?

*I think that, carried to its logical conclusion, this line of reasoning proves that there is no "present" and by extension, you do not exist.  But this is not a course in philosophy.  Draw your own conclusions.
Footnotes, 2015.


Vee said...

I was not reading blogs yesterday and now today you've gone all technical/philosophical on me. Lot's of wonderful memories in my life but some things only worthy of forgetting (though I can't).

I do trust the "Eternal Guide" and sometimes wish flags were being thrown or that my free will did not come into play. Just sometimes.

Secondary Roads said...

Ouch! My head Hertz--with great frequency. (Aren't I shameless?)

vanilla said...

Vee, interesting that you, an avowed non-fan of sports, would use the "flags being thrown" imagery. But apt.

Chuck, yes; yes, you are. It almost hertz.

Sharkbytes said...

In theory, I agree with "all we have is the present." But we shape the future by what we do with the present, and since we can't accomplish much in a nanosecond, I embrace a bit of the surrounding territory. Except maybe right this nanosecond, when I'm trying to stay awake. Although the result of that will affect the near future.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, I think embracing a bit more of the continuum is a good idea. Or perhaps it is all in how we string those infinitesimal bits of it together? Just got up from my nap; maybe it didn't clear my mind, but my body feels better!