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Time's Paradigm

Exploring just
how we perceive
the passage of time

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June 30th, 2016

Will Time End?

Nightmare or Nirvana? One of today's most prolific authors on time and progress, Alan R Graham, gives us a taste with this apocalyptic Flash Fiction.

"So we egged technology on...
and soon thereafter found ourselves all together.
Now not 'one another' but one and all."

Meme reads, There Was A Time by Alan R Graham.

The Prophecy: It took 12,000 years to get here on an exponential curve. The Ice Age behind us; 7,000 years of Stone Age at an end; we then crawled through 3,000 years of Metals before hitting AD on our feet. Through Dark Ages and a couple of millennia we fought, hastening technology's bold strides, the last century seeing it rise in leaps and bounds, at such a pace that a human mind could no longer keep up. What then of our destiny, will it now reach its zenith in only the time it takes to catch our breath?

There Was A Time

flash fiction by
Alan R. Graham - ©2016

"The future – you ask..?

"There's a strange question. You mean, one thousand years? Ten thousand years? Tomorrow..?

"It wasn't all that long ago and such a query would have had relevance, when time meant something. When there was change. When the past and the future were different. But that has all gone now.

"We used to run, each on our own; individuals, sharing tales, tripping over stones, tearing from one indecision to the next while chasing dreams in shimmering glades among restless woods. Quarrels there were, as one would expect of children; wars came and went, but love was also plentiful. For twenty five thousand years or so, they say, that was who we were and how we passed the time. But then, in little over 300 of those years, it all disappeared. A war began – not between ourselves but of ourselves – against our own perceived ineptitudes and physical limitations. It was called progress: “The Age of Ease”. And when, finally, that last arrow strung was released, our great, technological battle was won: We had defeated time.

"How did it all start?

" Well... from small, disconnected tribes we gathered into giant, saturated cities. We left the countryside for concrete. We turned apples square and legs, round. Reality jarred, but there was more to come. Fast became better and connection, an icon, while the distance between things measured in data. We replaced memories with windows and decisions with algorithms; soon our need to contemplate, all but retired.

"Once, there had been room for change, it took time for creativity to evolve. But with an increase in productivity charged with overwhelming input, ten years became two, and then one – nay, none – everything a mere copy of what had come before; coalescence, it was dubbed by desire; new tunes of any promise gone. So it was that we forgot what it felt like to be astonished. Nothing left to chance, nothing left to experience; a shameful subtlety of sameness as the incidences between a past and future were neatly reduced to now.

"And we, too, closer and closer huddled, until there was hardly space of any consequence left between us; that which was, being now merely the realm of light. No longer did we roam, digits obsolete, confined, as we later became, to floating chambers stacked neatly in rows and on shelves; a mortuary of living souls, dephysicalized, weightless, free from the drudgeries of dimension.

"Now we did not need to be somewhere to experience it. Anything was within our reach; the mind, everywhere. Yet, still, that was not enough, we had to go further, it was as if nothing was ever good enough, perfection always just out of reach. So we egged technology on and soon thereafter found ourselves all together – now not “one another” but one and all.

"“Slower... Slow down!” cried some; whilst others warned against such globalization, saying that one simple glitch might mean the end of us all, that individuality supported freedom and immunity.

"A few had asked to be exempt from integration, to be disengaged from the system, even, but for their own good such requests were denied. There was, now, no going back. With such power as could be achieved by unity, it made no sense to remain separate entities, so those individual chambers in which we hung out became homogenized, flooded, fused. It was obvious at the time: To be wired together, to think as one, to remove the space, the physical and the geo-political boundaries between ourselves so completely that only the time it took for light to bridge a crystal gap became the difference between knowing and not. The biological ceased, only light remained. Why waste time and energy on sustaining an out-dated mode of transportation? we thought. And all this, now, all of us, humanity, crammed into a crystal sphere the size of the contents of a swimming pool.

"But we wanted more. No! Sorry... less. Light was annoying: Too slow, required distance, irrelevance... Time.

"So we turned to superpositions for ideas. And sure enough, we found what we were looking for. Light no longer had to travel from here to there, it could be there or it could not. So long as we did not ask of it anything the probability that its variable quantum state was sustainable anywhere, meant that time no longer had a useful function. Everything became simultaneous.

"And now there is no plurality anymore, no us, humanity is singular. I am it...

"The past is no longer; no planet as such left down there; resources depleted, 'tis a dangerous, hostile environment requiring physical attributes to survive. Wind, ash, foul water, sunshine – such a terrible place. Time, there, may still cling to the cliffs and crevices of desire, but for what purpose? as nothing is alive anymore and time can only be if there is a willingness to entertain the thought.

"I ask myself this – you know, about the future – because I am all there is here in stationary orbit around that place. I must converse with myself to retain my sanity: To exist.

"It is not enough just to know everything. Sometimes, not knowing is far more pleasant a thing..."

The END of Time

TIME'S PARADIGM, the ebook
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Revised edition, 2020.
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