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1.2 Initial Interpretations

A. A Historical Perception of Time

In the beginning

Initially time just was. For the baby, day & night, winter & summer are all the same. The young child, however, very quickly begins to perceive the day & night cycle. Before they reach school the seasonal cycles are observed. Part of this is social – part physiological. The child experiences the repeating birthday parties, Xmas celebrations and other annual holidays. The child also perceives the repeating cycles of weather patterns that have an annual cycle. The daily and annual cycles are both based upon natural phenomena. Then the child enters school and becomes very aware of the weekly cycle. This is a purely social cycle, whose significance will be examined a little later. {Also see Emptiness Principle Notebook.} Also the maiden becomes a woman and becomes very aware of her somewhat lunar cycle.

The Life Cycle & Expanding Potentials for Consciousness

As the child grows older he begins to perceive the life cycle. He sees children younger than himself, getting older. He sees older people dieing and quickly realizes that he too is part of this cycle. The growing awareness of larger and larger cycles expands the humans' potential for imagination. "As I grow older, I become aware of more and longer cycles that I wasn't aware of before. Therefore it is likely that there are many cycles that I am still not aware of." This is a simple logical progression.

Time Lines & Time Circles

When a point is on a big circle, it views itself as upon a straight line. Witness human beings upon the planet Earth for 100,000 years believing the Earth was flat, because of their limited perspective. With a more global perspective comes the idea of cycles. This is quite evident in the natural order with days, lunar cycles, and annual cycles.

Early Philosophers: "Time is circular."

Those humans with expansive insight soon extended this thought to cover every aspect of time. "Time is all cycles," the ancient philosopher hypothesizes. Everywhere he looks there are cycles that he is just noticing. He predicts the year. His prediction is confirmed. The knowledge of prediction gives him power to form a religion, a society, the same at this early time. He is a magician, a shaman, because he has knowledge that others don't. It is based upon the idea that time is cyclical, repeating itself. A society is formed which goes on unchanged for thousands of years. This reconfirmed the idea of cyclical time.

Barbarian Invasions & Progress

Then came invaders from the outside followed by a cultural breakdown. The social cycles are destroyed. These same wise men now begin to talk about social disintegration. But along with the idea of degeneration, comes the idea of regeneration. Some wise men interpreted this as another cycle. Others however perceived the idea of Progress. With each regeneration comes a step forward. Societies with great social stability tended to view time as cyclical. From societies with a great amount of social instability arose the idea of progress. For practical political reasons each new ruler tried to justify his position as Progress, divine will. The idea of Progress is Linear, moving forward in a line, going somewhere. The idea of Cycles is circular, repeating cycles, going nowhere.

Watching the Grass Grow or Slow Changes

When the world was changing very slowly, one generation was very much like the next, perhaps for millennia. The Global perspective seemed to point to symmetry with the planets. There were only cycles that were circles. Progress was slow, perhaps imperceptible. Sleeping Beauty's country went to sleep for a century. When they woke up, nothing had changed. It was only in the last few millennia that the radical idea of Progress was introduced. As is normal with Homo Sapiens Sapiens we seized so heavily upon the idea of linear Progress that we threw away the notions of repeating cycles as a primitive, superstitious idea. The Dialectic: Thesis->Cycles, Anti-Thesis->Progress, Synthesis->Cyclical Progress.

B. A Time Battle & Resolution

Competing Views of Time

These linear and cyclical views of time still compete. The native American Indians viewed time in a circular fashion. We, of the Euro-Biblical cultural, tend to view time as a line. (We even use the word timeline not time-circle, or time-spiral.)


Different Perspectives on Time

In moving along a large spiral, one perceives only a line. Taking a grander perspective above the spiral, one only sees a circle. Taking an upward and sideways step we finally see the whole spiral. Time is of a linear, circular, and spiral nature. Both-And rather than Either-Or. Time can have both a linear and circular component.

The Spiral Encompasses the Line and the Circle

Rather than moving either linearly or circularly, time can move both linearly and circularly, if it flows in a spiral fashion. Viewing time as moving in a spiral encompasses both a linear and circular time perception. It is moving forward and cycling around simultaneously. We, moderns, are beginning to merge the two perspectives of time. We begin to visualize Time as a Spiral Helix.

C. Misconceptions & Ecological Time

Cultural Preconceptions

Now we can return to the root of the misconceptions concerning the first false hypothesis. Coming from the Euro-Biblical culture, I perceived myself in the progress of linear time. I assumed that if a substantial number of hours were dumped into a 24-hour day that creativity would expand to fill the gap. I assumed that adding hours to my day would automatically increase my creative output, the perennial artistic fantasy. Not so, as seen from our previous observations above.

Summary of where we are now in time

First comes linear time. Time is a line. Then comes the idea that many phenomena repeat themselves regularly over time. Time becomes a circle. Third comes the idea of Progress. We are moving forward through our Time Line. The concept of Progress initially looked down upon the Time Cycle. Our Western culture tends to emphasize the moving ahead and deemphasizes the cycles. But the cycles are there so the inevitable merger of Time Lines and Time Circles leads to the Time Spiral. Technologically superior cultures tend to focus upon Time as a forward moving line, while unchanging cultures tend to focus upon Time as a circle.

The Ecological Time View

The ecological time view is a little different. From the view point of Time Ecology it was foolish of me to think that cutting out my nighttime work would increase my daytime creative output. It would be like thinking that eliminating daytime predators would make it easier upon nocturnal creatures. In our case, eliminating our night time predator, Waiting, disturbed the ecological balance, allowing other creatures to grow beyond their time zone, eventually interfering with the day time creature, Creativity.

Time Ecology predicts how to increase productivity

The Theory of Time Ecology predicts that if someone wants to increase the quantity of potentially creative hours in the 24-hour day, then most effectively one must cut a behavior or activity that competes with the Creative time slot. Ecological Time Theory predicts that random cutting of activity hours from the 24-hour day would not necessarily increase creative time. In the above study cutting activity hours actually decreased creative time. It was as if the activities correlated with Waiting grew way outside their normal boundaries without Waiting there to hold them back. Time Ecology predicts that to increase Creative Time, one must cut an activity that competes with the creative activities time zone. Cutting cannot be just generally from the day itself but must be specific to the time zone of the activity. The above study is a good example of this phenomenon.


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