Feedpast Bootstrapping and Arrival (the movie) ++ MUCH MUCH MORE


Just returned from viewing the movie ARRIVAL, and was blown away.
The alt-time theme of the movie
{as I interpreted it}
is an example of a hypothesis about
Temporal Texture & Feedpast Bootstrapping
that I developed a few decades ago.

my interest and research in
alternative models of temporality
started in high school.

But, first to the movie,
temporal texture
feedpast bootstrapping.

This essay started as a simple report on my excitement about a movie that included some of my insights from the past. As I delve deeper, I am speculating that viewing this movie, for me, at this time –
may be an actual incident of the type of alt-time event I am talking about.

At least it is an exercise that takes me back three decades, and my discovering, right now as I write, that all my basic conceptual schemes I use today
were collected in my publications in 1994, where I first discuss
feedpast bootstrapping and temporal texture, and many other insights.
This discovery, and the high relevance of the 1994 paper is
very, very significant to me at this stage of my work.

As to the movie, to which we arrived a few minutes late and the arrival of alien, lens shaped vehicles had already occurred and a woman was looking out over the sea from windows in her home, drinking a glass of wine; and then the scene flashed to TV news reports of: The Arrival of twelve very large, dark lens, standing on edge, at 12 different locations on Earth.

The movie was quite enjoyable, and given rave reviews by many. I won’t go into the drama theme. Discussing the alternative temporality featured in the movie shouldn’t spoil it for those who haven’t yet (hint hint) seen it. Some of the links below may be spoilers and should be avoided should you wish to see the movie.

I missed some of the speaking, even with my hearing aides. I never heard what the Chinese leader said to the heroine, and it may not have been an intelligible phrase {it was Mandarin: “In war there are no winners, only widows.”} . I must read the novella, The Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang, on which the movie was based. All the violence and international intrigue in the movie was not in the book.

Since first drafting this post I have explored online, many reviews and
detailed analyses of the plot and the powerful treatment of “time”.
I discovered aspects I had missed; but my commentary below
is not about the theme in the movie, but how that theme
might have some real applications for our present challenges.
Some of the reviewers claim that the alt-time perspective,
in the book and movie, insures a strict determinism;
which is quite contrary to my model  of alt-time,
which provides “scientific foundations” for
fundamental creative agency and a sharp distinction between
the animate and inanimate, between the living and non-living.

Here I provide a few links to those who desire to read what others say:
Yumpu: The Story of Your Life (the text/novella)

The heroine has day & night dreams which feature herself, often with a young girl child at different ages. These were puzzling me, as she implied in conversation that she hadn’t time for relationships (but she might have been divorced and had a child, who was no longer with her). I kept this puzzle in the background and was fascinated by the new-style “language” being learned by the heroine.

{At 82 and having cognitive difficulties I find myself often missing parts of video dramas, and forgetting what had just went before. Due to my lack of visual imagery, I can never re-experience any scene, once it is gone from my real vision.}

Later in the movie, their query of why the aliens were at Earth was “answered”: they we giving humans the gift of a new language that would enable those who learned it to experience time differently.

Instead of temporal experiences being as beads on a linear chain, they could be experienced in different orders – and her dreams had been snippets from her possible futures experienced like flashbacks. With this insight, they were able to change the direction of the relationship between the aliens and humans.

Although I hadn’t imagined feedpast bootstrapping occurring at this level, nor being actually “experienced”, the movie theme is definitely a variation on the conceptual schemes I worked on long ago, and are part of my thinking today.


One of my earliest publication on temporal texture and feedpast bootstrapping can be found here:

Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting,
International Society for the Systems Sciences, Asilomar, CA.
June 14-19, 1994.

My early interests in alt-temporality were about time travel (would occur if we could travel faster than light), multi-dimensional times, and different reported experiences of temporality. Learning Einstein’s Relativity Theories trained my mind to think about different relative perspectives – example: how you might experience another person experiencing you experiencing them experiencing you. The works of R.D. Laing also contributed to my sense of relative experiencing. Valid scientific research in so-called “psychic phenomena” also explored alternative ideas about time, as did some science fiction (I prefer speculative fiction involving science).  However, none of my alt-temporality insights were borrowed from these readings; but emerged within me, sometimes influenced by them.

My insights about temporal texture and feedpast bootstrapping first arose from challenges to fundamentally distinguish life from non-life (animate from inanimate) – and this related to the controversy about computers becoming alive. Later, I realized these two insights contributed to releasing fundamental creativity from the strictures of statistical determinism.


It is easiest to imagine, only in metaphor, how a message conveying information within a system, back in time within the system to an earlier state of that system might alter the future of that system from the state receiving information (coming from its possible future state).  That old future scenario (to the state which sent the message) is wiped out of that reality, which then emerges as a new and different future scenario (reality).

Time Loops

I called the first temporal sequence (scenario), from the state receiving the message to the future state sending the message, and back to the initial state, a “time loop”. This “time loop” is composed of the first scenario (of everything within the radius of the speed of light from the object receiving the message from its future) and including the message “back in time” and arriving at the initial state. As the system emerges “again” through a somewhat different scenario, there will be no “memory” evidence of the time loop.

Indirect empirical evidence for “time loops” might be found when the occurrence of some processes occur significantly more frequently than the “plain physics” of the process predicts.  This would be evidence of bootstrapping.

{Both the terms “loop” and “bootstrapping” appear in the discussion of the movie, Arrival.}

Although I initially thought of this as sending messages between different observers at different spatial locations (sending messages into the past using superluminary phenomena had been my earliest thinking), I later came to consider there being no “sender”  and no “message moving” to be later “received”.

Rather, an earlier “state of a living system” does a quantum-like shift to a different “state of that living system” – “instantaneously” – and the shift can be “holistically caused” by a specific configuration of that future state. Rather than a message sent to the past, a system simply jumps BACK to a prior state, with a variation due to some holistic aspect of the state initiating the jump back. A living system has the ability to “blink back” to a prior state (modified somewhat). Everything causally determined by the scenario from the moment of the first state (before the shift) is wiped from reality.

Think of this as “quantum-like jumps” backward in time for special types of systems. In the 1974 paper I called this HOLISTIC DETERMINISM.

NOTE: The above explication is actually new for this moment of composing. My evolving concepts from sending messages to the past
has shifted more strongly away from point events
(sending and receiving messages)
to whole system quantum jumps.

This perspective shift avoids the paradox of thinking about a future state (yet to occur) having an influence on an earlier state (that has occurred, at least once). Temporal intervals can “shift scenarios”, within their durations.
Later, we will explore analogies with the collapse of probability wave functions
in quantum physics for the alternative scenarios during a temporal interval.

Feedpast Bootstrap Applications

My first proposed application of this is within biological cells and biological systems such as brain subsystems, with the shift being less than a few seconds and probably fractions of seconds. In traditional biology this interval is called “temporal integration”, where different processes at different (but close) rates “integrate” to a holistic outcome.

Temporal Integration and Rhythms: That’s What Language and Animal Behavior Are Made of, Geoffrey E. Gerstner pp 329-359; Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues: Spring 1995. This issue contains papers from a conference, THE CRISIS OF TEXT, organized by Paul C. Wohlmuth.  I (Laurence J. Victor) contributed a chapter to the same journal issue: Travel Guide to Cyberspace 2020: Simulated Instructions, pp435-462. I met Paul at the Asilimor Conference in 1994 and he invited me to video tape his conference in San Diego and present a paper. Unfortunately, Paul died shortly after his conference and nothing was done with the video tapes.  I used two cameras, one on the presenter, the other on persons at the table. They were recorded on one video tape with split screen. I think I still have them, and haven’t seen them in decades. Paul had been fascinated by the second paper I gave in 1994 at the Asilimor Conference: The Fundamental Reality of Text. This is where I first presented my views of the special nature of text and sems (semiotic structures). Paul’s conference was the second most exciting conference I have attended. The first most exciting conference was the Story Field Conference hosted by Tom Atlee in June 2005.

Feedpast Bootstrapping could apply to any scale of living systems, in both space and time. It could involve the whole of Gaia, a biome, a species, an organism, or a cell. It could have influence on development and evolution/emergence. It could be involved in human creativity.

Quite young, when I learned the truth about Santa Claus, I included “god” in the same category. I attended church (for my mom) and Lutheran youth league (for my own social life). My dad, while attending first grade at a Catholic school, the priest refused to permit my dad to ride back home on his tricycle. So, he shifted to public school and became an atheist. I have difficulty balancing the pros and cons of organized religion and have a strong zero in belief of a type of god imagined by these religions.

Yet, ALL the evidence encountered in my life scientifically moves me to consider a holistic creative influence in living systems, from Gaia to organelles. Feedpast bootstrapping is my imagined process – which is early, rough and crude – anticipates radical changes as humankind metamorphoses into humanity and emerges for many millennia, seafing higher “intelligence and consciousness” within Gaia and many other beings.

Might feedpast bootstrapping come to play as we face catastrophe in our Crisis-of-Crises due to disastrous Earth changes, including climate change. I don’t expect to wake up some morning living in a true utopia. Yet, an increase of relevant creativity, from unexpected sources, may play a role.  The meteoric rise of The Trump Phenomenon may actually be a shift to shake us out of our trance, sliding down the chute to extinction. The coming scientific revelations as to the deep structures behind this (Trump) phenomenon (more than what is currently being proposed) may enable the alternative processes for personal/local/community/global change that I have been working on for five decades, be recognized as potentially viable, studied and implemented. It may take a Gaian/Humankind feedpast bootstrapping process – UPLIFTING OLLO – to manifest.

I don’t believe we can intentionally trigger feedpast bootstrapping. Yet, there are things we may begin doing which support/enable/augment/facilitate (seaf) feedpast bootstrapping (creative application) to occur.

Feedpast bootstrapping is but another “process of natural reality”. If it is “real”, we will discover scientific-like “laws” as to if, when & where it occurs.

Personally, I often have wondered on my Book Store Genie (or now, my Internet Genie). So many times I “chance” upon a book or other source of knowledge JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME, to find myself SHIFTING direction. One can rationalize it away by arguing that I am primed to recognize its significance when I just randomly encounter it.  The strong feelings/emotions I have with such discoveries encourages me to think otherwise.  I don’t believe there is a being watching over me and leading me to a book – or viewing ARRIVAL tonight (last night, tis now morning).


This is long enough and I am tired.  I will come back and edit, but I may not write much more, here, in THIS post.  I need yet to say a bit about Temporal Texture.

As much as I remember, the film didn’t use the words “texture”, “web”, or “net”. My alt-temporality models have events distributed as in a web and not along a line. Not all of the events need occur.  However, the model in Arrival was still linear (objectively), but didn’t progress in the heroine’s mind linearly. Possible events in her future, experienced in her dreams, would probably not have occurred had she not become aware of this shifting of her time sense, and acted on it to alter the direction activities were trending.

Some commenters on the movie’s model of alt-time claimed that it presented reality as highly deterministic. My exploratory models of alt-time, to the contrary, seek processes & realities that permit “real” creative innovational intervention, breaking deterministic sequences.

Additionally, this is strongly related to what I have recently been working on – how our societal systems may reveal a Societal Weirdness in analogy to Quantum Weirdness, as both domains are beyond ordinary observation. Speculating: alternative societal realities may co-exist and interact as societal probability functions and how we believe nations and economies function may be radically in error in dangerous ways.

Also looking ahead. Just as the realities of classical and quantum physics differ, I anticipate significant differences between the realities of living and non-living system, and between biological systems and uniquely human systems (due to their liberating information from matter/energy bondage). These differences, acknowledged and applied, may be necessary to secure our future survival/thrival.

<< === more later === >>

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.