Time as Space, & Space as Time


The paradox of Zeno is not specifically a paradox, but a confusion. Indeed, it has the ring of a fallacy, one that reflects the simple temptations of the mind to pursue a combination of the mechanism and form categories that are the guiding forces of consciousness and, as far as we can say, its interpreted.

In truth, what is widely referred to as the paradox of Zeno is one of many, but they all depend on the same misunderstanding between structure and method. They all share the common desire to reconcile concepts of perception, that is, conceptions of space and those of time, that can not be reconciled. His most prominent paradox suggests that if an arrow is fired at a point, it must first fly half of the distance to the target, then half of the remaining distance, half of that, and so forth, to infinity, meaning that it can never meet its target. The arrow, of course, reaches the target, hence the paradox. The logical dispute could well inspire a little wonder, as if, by force of reason, the entire world had been turned into a fantasy. However, more accurately speaking, Zeno is not a figure of reason. His definition is closer to poetry than to logical argument, for what he has found in the spatial distance phenomenon as it succumbs to calculation is a metaphor for method, not processing itself.

This metaphor borders on transparency because the ways we lend to the physical the assumed quietness and orderliness of those spaces are so very normal, implicit in the spatial ways that we prefer to conceive of time. We spatialize time rather than we temporalize space, because time blurs, partially because space clarifies. We step imaginatively towards any feeling of superiority over time by making time a place, over our anxieties about time and the burden of non-being. With spatial models, for one thing, we have the ability to travel in space according to the needs of engagement. We will walk too long, then go back, and we have not breached the distinctive fundamentals of space, which makes space identifiable for immediate perception as such. Historically, as poets find repose in the pages of texts, they were free to take on the virtues of ambiguity that gave the act of rereading their structures. The spatial being of poems offered new freedoms of interpretive behavior to both reader and artist, of how long we live with a text, how the temporal experience with a poem as text could be restructured or re-sequenced.

Time, though, in its slippery insistence, threatens the intellect. We can hear and ponder upon a striking passage of music, but the music continues in the meantime, leaving behind our ideas about music. In favor of a new one, to go back musically is to violate the sequential order. We can see in a book a scaled-down rendition of a painting and, in doing so, still have access to certain important elements that are significant to the whole. The eye is then alone, but cued by the composition, to make its own movements. Music, though, can not be speeded up, shrunk in time, without explicitly breaching its basics. Nor can it be extracted to make the entire experience a reliable and affective one. In order to look at the artistic form, the temporal medium of music asserts itself in a manner that demands greater surrender than a spatial medium. Music leads, and we follow, if we are to look at it. The footsteps we imitate are those of music itself. It therefore embodies the undeniable influence that time has over us, and yet it is a companion of our lord. In song, the great tide of loss and arrival takes the form of something that we can enjoy, something that lives and dies like us, that has a pounding heart, breathing words, memories that come and go. It declares the transient dominion of the moment within the sense of loss and anticipation. No surprise, though, that music so much ritualizes sadness and joy. As both immediate and transcendent, internal and immense, its scale impresses us. To accept music is to embrace life itself, but especially that part of being that most influences the heartbeat: being-in-time.

The eye dominates as the meaning most associated to logos, owing to the greater sense of superiority and deception provided to the interpretive mind in spatial models. In comparison, from the Greek word idein, meaning "to see" comes the word concept. In order to maintain a sense of temporal recursivity in music or the cycles of nature, while recursivity and hence order belong to both time and space, those with the ability to do so turn to space. They fashion templates who are not temporal, but temporal metaphors. A model's very notion appears to be spatial. We spill it into the graphic media of treble clefs and calendars to model time and thereby open time to a style of inquiry that would mitigate the superiority of time. Therefore, the relationship between space and time mirrors the connection between reason and irrationality or confidence in the most dominant domains of metaphor. Flux and the relentlessness of creativity and loss doubt our capacity to quantify, to reason, to conceptualize. Thus, the world's traveling target comes to embody a force of mystery and resistance to the imagination.

In a phenomenology of the senses that associate themselves roughly, metaphorically, with the categories of mind, we will further explore the various emotional and mental valences of space and time. Music is likewise intangible, as the aesthetic form much of the time. Poetry, insofar as it is spoken and therefore a kind of music, still has an intangible nature. Beyond or under the visual surface of things, music also reflects a reality, which is why it can associate itself with the supernatural. There are no paintbrushes on the angels. They've got harps. The shepherds had flutes. In his lyre, Orpheus possesses the animating energy of nature itself. If music does not lift the dead, our souls will still be lifted, partially because it is a ghost that travels invisibly around us. Thus, for that which is beyond words, music gives a language, and so, as with Stevens's blue guitar, creativity in general, the forces of faith, the aesthetic aspect of mystery as we see it in all the arts, are so often portrayed.

Thinking, of course, is also capable of doing this, but less readily. As a consequence, crying in response to music is much more popular than in response to art. Seeing what people mean is believing them, grasping their thoughts. Yet something more personal and empathic implies listening as a metaphor. Light moves further than sound, so listening normally means closer closeness. Hearing what someone does is close to listening to someone. The narrator is a metonym for what she says. Therefore, listening reflects a more soulful or intimate connection. We may well see what an author is thinking as we read a science text. The features of light have historically been born by reason. When we are profoundly shaken by a poem, we hear what the poet says, on the other hand. If we ever feel more moved, we hear the author.

Derrida's resistance to phono centrism, which favors speech over inscription, in his book Of Grammatology, is precisely a challenge to see words increasingly in terms of the eye and not the ear. The ear adds words to the speaker's own intimate domain. In turn, phono centrism reifies the idea of independent identification, of origin as an author. The claim of Derrida profoundly popularized the challenge to na├»ve versions of authorial sovereignty inherent in our metaphors, but one is left to wonder, however, whether we sacrifice anything critical to the reading imagination, not to mention the imaginative process, in sacrificing a sense of a writer having a voice. It is not necessarily the case that the experience of undermining the author's authority as creator empowers us as readers. We're more on our own, too. We are not freed by the extremes of anti-essentialism; there is no us. Derrida has bracketed the messy phenomena of human artistic will, what others may term a spirit, so that the question of identity is treated too reductively, caricatured too quickly and absorbed into a complementary one. In this context, his bias ironically resembles that of a material determinism in which the causal root of the system must still be material. We actually have no means of understanding this, and our knowledge of cognition is not taken into account as necessarily imaginative, as bringing into existence a new being. Inside the mind, the recognition of selfhood as intimate and complex does not contradict or justify original volition. We are both eluded by the dream of united fields of finiteness and eternity, law and liberty, matter and spirit. The imagined warmth of a human voice in prose, on the other hand, has the power to keep us company, to welcome us inside. A poem has a somewhat concealed room with a mouth, like humans, and we connect to the partly inaccessible depth more emotionally than we do with the shallow one. Eros includes metaphysics. We now perceive a threshold to be reached by their incomplete speculations by which we discuss personal relationships, and our creative longing provides the connective concept.

Likewise, our language's synesthetic tools bear witness to the inherent propensity of the imagination to transgress, to cross borders, to reify and subvert identities and so extend them. Indeed, we should see what we hear. We can, like Zeno, see stillness in movement at a more abstract level. But if in the mystery of Zeno there is a paradox, it is the paradox of lust that takes pride in claiming at once two opposite states: relation and difference. The poetic and dual existence of consciousness manifests our love of paradox, how the impulse that drives and possibly extends consciousness is itself paradoxical. We seek harmony as well as separation, both desire and the cessation of desire. Since the mind's imaginative play attempts both to unify and to separate being, the hunger for clarity remains unresolved. Our sense of familiarity of being breeds a language focused on being as an entity, on distance.