Speculating on Time as Nested Experience
If we compare two sense modalities, such as seeing vs hearing, we can get a hint of what it might mean for spacetime to be orthogonal to experiential time. Think of the primordial nature of time not as a coherent parameter to be measured, but instead we can see the possibility of time as emerging from experience. A temporal sense which is driven by tempo. Fugues of dream-like, non-orientable perceptual gestalts, with sequential qualities emerging from semantic intensities. If this kind of time were a tent, the tent poles would be significant moments – aesthetically saturated occurrences which resonate into re-occurrence through their cosmological nobility.
For human beings, with a relatively huge psychological bandwidth, we we would experience this prototype to spatialized-time as chronologically ambiguous. Call it a mytho-poetic Dreamtime, collective unconscious, or primordial qualia; a condition where characters and their stories are fused together. The hero makes the journey, and the journey makes the hero. Splitting this atavistic tempo into space and time is the mirroring of unseen perspectives. The hero and journey are polarized into subjects and objects. I would imagine on a pre-biological level, this would be more like position and momentum – less metaphor and more semaphore.
Once the primitive experience takes on a divided perspective there would be opportunities for a sense of hierarchy. Simpler, semaphoric ‘times’ and more developed, metaphorical times are residuated within a densely realized middle ‘place’ as repeating cliches or themes. To broker between these experiential threads, an intermediary sense is used to define boundaries and relations in simple, literal terms. Spacetime, or spatialized time serves to reign in a worldly epoch, and segregate it from the quasi-timeless and quasi-spaceless epoch. The division of fact from fantasy recapitulates the division of space and time, object and subject, body and mind. The reality of space, body and mind is, in the absolute sense, the child of pansensitivity or transrealism. In the local sense, that relation is flipped, and the body is presented as the parent of the subjective mind.
With spacetime, the tent of pansensitive experience is normalized on one end, so that even though the ‘tent poles’ of significance and memory remain as defining the contours of the tent on top, all are now evened out on the bottom. The more primitive, ‘physical’ types of experience have lower amplitudes of significance compared to our experiences, so their variations are collapsed into mere statistical anomalies from our perspective. Our view of their physical time is a mechanical average, generic and lacking any tent-pole significance. Reducing experience to a single quantitative dimension of repetition and duration is the ultimate spatialization of time. With all privacy flattened to be available for public inspection, subjectivity is disenchanted and nomenalized. The figurative and the literal switch roles and the heroes journey is reduced to mere coordinates in a phase space.
The mistake we make is to import this bottom-level generic time into our own high-level proprietary frame. In the most ‘objective’, absolute sense, time radiates from experiential significance as memory and foreshadowing. Time circulates within experience like rhyme does through a poem. Substituting that raw animation for the expectation of rigorous clock-time is not a neutral act. It is an assumption about the universe which cascades through the psyche and civilization, improving and automating our exteriors while our interiority languishes in perpetual angst. Liberation from spacetime literalism might help us find a new way of tapping into larger, more intuitive senses of place and time.