EVOLUTION OF CULTURAL TIME

To friends and colleagues.  I was recently sent the article: Wormholes Untangle Black Hole Paradox, a report on cosmology and ultimate physical reality. Responding  to this article lead to write more, of what I need to share with others.  I move beyond physics to speculations on shifts in cultural time. Some may wish to jump to where I discuss the book, About Time, by Adam Frank.

Fascinating to read, and makes me wish for another lifetime or two.  Bookmarked it.  I fully acknowledge that I haven’t learned to follow their mathematical systems, so my perspective is based on my unclear comprehension – as details often matter.  Yet, I feel uneasy about their unstated assumptions, and whether they are even aware of many of them. What are their assumptions enabling them to claim something impossible?  They hint that “contradiction” could be reformulated into “complementary”, without acknowledging the shift. They talk about “mobius-like logic”, but still appear to adhere to a singular, linear logic.  It is as if logic remains analogous with the continuity of space-time and they can’t imagine a “quantum logic” with many weirdies. What about entangled ideas?  To me, today’s logic is analogous to flat space & time. What would happen if logic attempted to expand including analogs to curvature, discontinuity, and entangled discreteness? I expect there are some minds playing with such speculations.

Recently I realized that Einstein did a major flip-flop in his transition from Special to General Relativity.  In Special Relativity Einstein abandoned the concept of space and time as physical background form, with his space-time being only a mathematical coordinate system (relative to moving origins) for material objects and signals (light). SR reduced space-time to an abstract conceptual tool employed by observers.  I came to fully comprehend SR when I realized this – and integrated it into my teaching – but have been sloppy in continuing to apply this perspective to General Relativity.

In GR, space-time becomes the primary physical reality, with massive entities as warping forces.  A I understand it, space-time CURVATURE can substitute for the concept of massive matter.  I grok the issue between GR and QM is related to the “nature” of these warping forces having to behave as to QM.  With observational anomalies leading to speculation of dark matter and dark energy we posit “forces beyond ordinary matter” as influencing GR space-time.  Physicists insist on progressing to a Theory of Everything that has classical logic. They often appear to refuse considering essential complementarity, and insist that change be mapped onto a single temporal dimension.  They continue the Cartesian duality of an external reality observed and comprehended by entities within, but who have no significant effect on the “nature” of external reality. Life, mind, creativity, aesthetics, love are viewed as later artifacts of physical cosmology.

The phenomena exhibited by this fantastic mathematical poetry-making calls for study, as much as the content of such human thinking.

I just finished reading

About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang, Adam Frank .

Frank traces the weaving of human concepts of time – in cosmology and everyday life – from tribal times to speculations of our future. His explication of the evolution of cosmology and physics is well done.  His outline of the evolution of cosmology through String Theory to MultiVerses gave me more insight into these models. Of even greater interest to me was the many shifts in “cultural time” and trying to imagine living in an era when cultural time was different from ours today – and how computers are rapidly changing our cultural time.  For example, with the telegraph we shifted to a cultural time that included simultaneity at a distance. Before clocks, the concept of fixed times, and time-to-do-things didn’t exist (except for astronomical and seasonal events). The first clocks had no minute hands, and the subdivision of the interval into smaller, quantified intervals was not thought of.  Frank limited his studies to “Western” cultures and doesn’t attend to internal differences within a culture. His is a rough, but quite useful overview.

Doug Rushkoff’s proposal that we are shifting into a “presentism” in his book, Present Shock, is an example of a shift in cultural time. This may account for the seeming absence (to me) of most intellectuals contemplating our survival/thrival future with any detail.  It is as if the flow-of-events&happenings blurs when life gets too complex. Their futures aren’t comprehended as highly detailed but too difficult to comprehend; but as if these alternative futures actually lacks such detail.  That there are many, speculative futures-with-detail – each which could be explored – appears to fall into our blindspots. That futures aren’t physically real (until them become in the present) doesn’t exclude their conceptual schemes from becoming (physically) real in the mind/brains of interacting humans (in the present) and can have an impact on what manifests.

I too am blocked to personally explore these alternative futures in more detail than I already have. I resist doing it myself, believing it should be a collective endevour. Yet, I am aware of the need for this detail – both to break through our emotional denial of the seriousness of our Crisis-of-Crises AND to explore details of our potential, positive futures (beyond the forecasted gains of contemporary technology and spiritual fantasies). I have attempted to explore alternative futures in a bit more detail, both positive and negative. My insight from this limited exploration is that these details (of alternative futures) are essential for humankind to “plot experimental courses” for “guaranteeing” survival/thrival. I also speculate that this enterprise cannot be accomplished by individual humans.  We need to create a new cultural time commensurate with our projected needs. What about “team time”, an intelligent technology facilitated (seafed) weaving of the more fluid, process-time of team participants? What are the models of cultural time assumed by those who practice group facilitation and societal design?

Many exciting movement/projects/proposals to “improve humankind” could benefit from an expanded context, as might be provided considering changes in cultural time. For example: re-localization, new exchange/credit systems, non-industrial agriculture, sustainable energy sources and distribution systems, better education, shifting to sustainable & healthy diets, better healthcare, seafing the Commons & P2P organizing, collective intelligences, augmenting intelligences, human & civil rights, better media, security, etc., etc.  I may be missing it, but I cannot find any significant action to move these movements into higher synergy and augmenting enhanced collaboration. Nor do I witness expression for the need TO EXPLICITLY WORK TO ACHIEVE THIS.  The desire of new synergy is frequently expressed, but most expect it to simply happen without intentional action.

Or, we take action to create/produce VIABLE SEEDS (proposals for projects) and make minimal effort to distribute them. We flood the media with seeds commenting on seeds. We virtually ignore what may be needed to prepare and assist others in comprehending our seeds. We systematically ignore the need to also create/produce FERTILE SOILS and NURTURING SCAFFOLDING for our seeds.  This message is only a SEED, poorly distributed! I point my finger to myself. Creating/producing SOILS and SCAFFOLDING involves making seeds about soils and scaffolding; BUT REQUIRES, ALSO, DIFFERENT TYPES OF ACTIVITY. We have yet to reach the level of competent SEED creation and discussion about soil and scaffolding creation/production. Recently I have suggested STRATEGY CONSTRUCTION as an alternative activity to dialog.

Strategies are a type of product in cyberspace, that is a continually interacted with and edited STRUCTURE. Wikipedia is one example of such a structure, but is not a strategy. Project Design& Management Apps are useful when a strategy has crystallized into a program. Many structures, such as blogs and website, simply expand via dialog.  The design/pattern of the structure is of low attention.

I’ve been working on this seed far too long. I have more seeds in draft and a long list to compose. My TODOlist  item about strategy construction gets bounced from day to day.

The “marriage” (emergent, dynamic relationship patterns) between each personal/individual mind/brain and the social/societal web/systems that provide their contexts might be what we should shift our attention to.  Person-to-Person interactivity is the immediate media (with very high significance), but even this must be attended to in contexts – including contexts of detailed, speculative, alternative futures. We need to explore details in the gap between PERSONAL and PLANETARY (while acknowledging that all our ideas about “planetary” are patterns of activity in our “personal” mind/brains – which, in turn, are woven from our social interactions while living).

Thanks for attending, if you got this far.   Larry/nuet

This was sent as an email to a list. 04/27/2015

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.

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nuet
nuet

Notes made on 04/18/2015 after finishing reading About Time by Adam Frank:


This morning the last chapter, first part, was awesome.  Now it is just OK.  I also discovered a blog page I posted in Nov 2012 that I had forgotten - it was badly formatted so I had to edit it.  I have many posts - far, far more than I think I have made. And this list of things to compose is much, much longer than I remember.  That is the issue, I don't remember.


Frank cites and describes EFFICIENCY as a dominant driver of contemporary TIME.  He makes no reference to Jacques Ellul, who also focused on the evils of efficiency.


He cited 2 questions and 2 morals in the last chapter that I must recover and comment on.


My distinctions between  cosmos,  universe, &  world  would be a useful addition.


His brief comments on the SCIENCE WARS is biased and superficial.


His historical story is very well done.


How much can we, who are embedded in a temporal culture, get an accurate (if not complete) "sense" of what it was like embedded in different temporal cultures?  Can we imagine life without the concepts of clocks, or schedules, or "times to do things", or simultaneity at a distance?