Geological Time and the Value of Impracticalness

The concept of time is one that I take from an artist by the name of Robert Smithson. For him, time was a geological time - layer upon layer of geological strata. In some historical schools of thought, this might be called continuity. Time, for Smithson, was a geological time rather than a biological time. It was not merely organic matter that decayed, but a continually entropic structure that never ceased to persist. Looking at the world in this way, time becomes a conscious (sensational) time at the scale of the eyes and ears rather than a theoretical time at either the micro or macro scales of the Sciences. This type of time is not an epistemological tool used to advance the encyclopedia of scientific knowledge and land probes on Jupiter’s Moons, but an entirely impractical and non-intellectual time. In this schema, the future crisscrosses the past in an unobtainable present because of its ceaselessness - its continuity. You might say, there is no time for the present. The inter-chronic pause between events (the present) is a void under this schema. It lacks any context of future instances or past instances to charge it with anything at all. The present moment is an unobtainable (cannot be obtained by any epistemological means) void. If looked at in this way, physical histories (architecture, music, art, anthropology, etc.) become continuous physical crystalline structures. For example, the Palace at Auburn Hills - the Detroit Pistons stadium - would be looked at as a formation on a geological strata inextricably physically linked to the context of its place in the landscape of Detroit during the late 20th century. The Stadium cannot be thought of as a piece of architecture that was devised purely of historically contingent ideas, but as a continually physical process. In other words, it was not devised merely by the history of architectural theories but by the physical apprehension of the world by the architect. The history of architectural writings, drawings and pictures were apprehended by the eyes of the architect. It is not the result of a logically cohesive theory in some metaphysical bog of meaning. It was a physically expressive act by the architect(s). Looked at in this way, the Mayan architecture, generated by the sun, is in the same geological strata as the Palace at Auburn Hills. The physical histories are geological histories that never cease to persist. The Mayan buildings were built upon. You might say that the history of architecture looks and behaves much like geological strata. A rock layer, expressing itself as a particular type of rock, is wedged in-between two other layers of different rock types. Each strata is a historical theater of sprawling crystalline structures - one period above another. As new strata develop in rock formations, the old strata change in structure. If you were to look at the profile of geological strata, you would not see the original crystal structures at the bottom of the strata, but the current ones. In the same way, looking at the Mayan architecture is a historically contingent looking. The old saying goes, we cannot transcend culture and see through another cultures eyes. The Mayan architecture is forever changed by the history of architecture weighing upon it. Histories of physical things are not translatable into metaphysical concepts. To translate the history of architecture into an conceptual schema wouldn’t make any sense. To turn the history of architecture into a metaphor of a physical geological strata makes more sense to me. Scales are interchangeable, but matter and concepts are not. Mnemonic devices (sound, print) change one physical phenomena into another. Light becomes sound and vice a versa in the domain of language. “Ideas should be used to generate matter and not the other way around.” - Smithson

Time, as I hope you can see, is not an idea that seems to work when Scientists engineer matter, but an impractical physical formation.

time is simply based on the movement of things

whether it be bio , architectural or geological it makes no difference

and ALL happen in a Universal moment

I’m sorry. I don’t understand.

okay

where did you first not understand , we’ll start from there

I don’t understand what this has to do with the OP. What do you mean when you say “time” in the first sentence? What do you mean when you say, “Universal moment”?

Maybe you should actually read the OP instead of assuming you already know what the topic is at hand. If you read the OP, you may have noticed that I’m talking about time in a different light than you might be used to.

What are you taking issue with in my OP? In order to answer this, you have to read it carefully.

because time is about movement of things , whether in geologic terms or architecture ( thought )

tectonics , geological , is the movement(s) of Earths mantel

architecture is the movement of material to build something

the essence of time is a measurement of movement or change , so the geologic change is not because of time but the change in tectonics plates , which is caused by the energy and therefore interaction of tectonics

take the Universe as a whole , it can have a structured shape or amorphus , doesn’t matter , for within the Universe as a whole , All things happen together

as you walk the street , a star is born , a star explodes , energy from the sun is deflected by the Earths magnetosphere etc

I get it

that there is no time persay , whether geologic or biologic , just movement(s) of things

What you call “movement”, I call “time.” I’m not sure what your intention was when you decided to write to me, but all you said was, in essence, “say ‘movement of things’ instead of ‘time’.”

There are plenty of things to talk about in the OP other than changing the symbols of a word or phrase to suit your tastes. If you think otherwise, re-read my OP (that is, if you have even read it in the first place) and substitute “time” with “movements of things”, and then, if you still feel the need to talk to me about something, write to me about something more substantial than what sort of font you prefer to represent your concept.

From the book “AN AUTISTIC WORLD (1)”

Imagine a gigantic explosion where parts of the core are blown away in all directions. The farther those parts travel, the slower their pace is and so is their time. The parts that are close to what used to be the core have a faster time, because their rate of speed is faster in relation with the parts traveling farther away from the original point where the explosion took place. Therefore, if we try to calculate the time for two different bodies that travel the space at a distinctive decreasing rates of speed, we must deal with the idea that the essence of their time equals the deceleration of the bodies on the distance traveled. On decelerating bodies, the object close to the explosion should have a faster Particular Time, than the object traveling farther away. On accelerating bodies, the opposite will occur. Every subject in the Universe is influenced by its Particular Time, which is the reference to its circumstances, and always involves some sort of movement, or the lack of it.

Of course, in our daily lives we keep the concept of acceleration constant in order to keep track with time in our specific world. Our watches and clocks work in such a way that the space between minutes and hours is the same. If for whatever reason, like a change in seasons, we decide to accelerate or decelerate the way in which our watches work, time will also change. Imagine that tomorrow the Earth decides to slow down its rotational movement about its axis, modifying the duration of a day from 24 hours to 48. It would cause chaos and confusion for every living organism on the planet. Some would probably see their lives shortened, and others would live longer, depending on their singular circumstances and adaptation skills. But in general, to our eyes, everything would slow down because time is the reference point where life bases its movements. A human being would see his life shortened by half, if he didn’t want to make senseless calculations with other humans that lived in a different era. Nevertheless, that situation wouldn’t mean that if we dropped a book, the time that it would take to hit the ground would be double, due to the gravity’s subjectivity to adapt to the human‘s Particular Time. In order for the Earth’s gravity to change its time, the Earth’s mass must change; not its rotation.

What does this have to do with anything in the OP?

Commonly, we understand time as the quantifying motion between two separate events. Without time, both events would be the same event. The continuous progress of existence in the past, present, and future, is the essence of time. The difference between time and space, is that space is the actual distance between two points, while time is what we make of it. Time is the reference that help us to understand our history, geology, or whatever you could think of, because we want it that way and we modify it according to our needs accommodating our ideas to each Particular Time, which is the reference to individual circumstances. The translation of a visual object, mountain or building into something that make sense is part of the human understanding, as long as we include the past, the present and the future, which are attached to a continuous subjective evaluation.

Okay. But my OP is about the implications and misconceptions of time. You remark that there is a present moment involved in time, but I would have to disagree. I would ask you, what a present moment is. If you would like to know what my response might be to your response of what a present moment is, you’re going to have to read at least half of the short paragraph I wrote at the top of the page. I encourage you to read that part about the present moment in the OP before you respond, because I’m not going to write back to you unless you can somehow show me that you understand it. Understanding what a present moment is in Smithson’s understanding of time is center to understanding everything else in the OP. Only when this idea is grasped can we extend into other areas, implications and problems.

I did not intend this thread to be a “what do you think time is” thread where anyone with an ability to make sense with language can write their ideas down. I intended this thread to be a discussion about the short paragraph I wrote in the OP. If you can’t manage to address the OP in one way or another, then don’t bother writing. You’re just trying my patience and waisting my time. For those of you that still insist on just reading the title of my thread, I cannot encourage you enough to keep your fingers tied.

“This type of time is not an epistemological tool used to advance the encyclopedia of scientific knowledge and land probes on Jupiter’s Moons, but an entirely impractical and non-intellectual time. In this schema, the future crisscrosses the past in an unobtainable present because of its ceaselessness - its continuity. You might say, there is no time for the present. The inter-chronic pause between events (the present) is a void under this schema. It lacks any context of future instances or past instances to charge it with anything at all. The present moment is an unobtainable (cannot be obtained by any epistemological means) void. If looked at in this way, physical histories (architecture, music, art, anthropology, etc.) become continuous physical crystalline structures.”

OK. I was going to reply to your comment but after reading this part of your OP three times I had a cerebral hemorrhage. Maybe if you could explain yourself with humble words I could avoid calling the ambulance.

Well, I’ll see what I can do…

I’m convinced that everything must have a context to charge it with some sort of expressive power be it conceptual (language) or visual / aural (art). For example, if we were to paint a white square on a white surface that encompassed our peripheral vision, the white square on the surface would be indistinguishable from its context and thus have no visual power. It would be invisible. However, if we were to paint that same white square on a black surface instead, the white square would appear with visual power as a white square because of its black context. It is the context that an object of focus appears in that either charges it with visual power or drains it of visual power. The same can be said of language. A word isolated from any context would be a set of “dead letters” that don’t reference any particular object. Its context of nothingness would drain it of its conceptual power. A word in a context of other sense-making words (sentences) is conceptually powerful only to the degree that its context can charge it. It is the incongruencies and dissimilars in language that charge a word with conceptual power. This same aesthetic principle can be applied to time as well. “The future crisscrosses the past in an unobtainable present”. If time were merely a bunch of moments in isolation (like the white square on the white wall), there would only ‘exist’ a void because there would be no context in which to place the moment in time. So, the interchronic pauses between events (the moments), are voids. In the field of historical analysis, this is called historical continuity. Analyzing a moment is absurd because it has no context to charge it with any expressive power whatsoever. This is why some historians prefer dialectical analysis with current (the only) epistemological tools at hand.

The main thrust of the OP was to give a physical metaphor for this time (that I didn’t make up. This was Smithson’s idea). A stratified rock bed seems to be the most apt metaphor. You might say that the historian is a geologist with only the tools of today to figure out the qualities of the strata level he is investigating.

I hope that helps.

Geological progression is cyclic as well as linear. “Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle” by Stephen Jay Gould is an interesting look at different geological concepts of time.

“Physical crystalline structures” has a specific meaning that makes no sense in this context. And I don’t see how the elusiveness of a particular “now” moment leads inextricably to cultural determinism as you go on to hypothesise.

What is interesting is the idea of humanity as being a part of the universe that develops and allows the universe to look at itself. And I’m reading about Smithson now, interesting :slight_smile:

Such is the nature of the forum, people can take the parts that interest them and run with them.

Time allows for a change of mind.

Thanks, that helps. I have two comments:

-One is that in essence your OP and my OP have a similar content, up to a point. 

You write: “I’m convinced that everything must have a context to charge it with some sort of expressive power be it conceptual (language) or visual / aural (art). For example, if we were to paint a white square on a white surface that encompassed our peripheral vision, the white square on the surface would be indistinguishable from its context and thus have no visual power.”

I write: “Time is the reference that help us to understand our history, geology, or whatever you could think of, because we want it that way and we modify it according to our needs accommodating our ideas to each Particular Time, which is the reference to individual circumstances.”

Your physical “context” is my “Particular Time,” which is the physical reference to individual circumstances.

-Second, we have different views on this subject:

You write: “ “The future crisscrosses the past in an unobtainable present”. If time were merely a bunch of moments in isolation (like the white square on the white wall), there would only ‘exist’ a void because there would be no context in which to place the moment in time. So, the interchronic pauses between events (the moments), are voids.” AND “You remark that there is a present moment involved in time, but I would have to disagree. I would ask you, what a present moment is.”

I write: “The translation of a visual object, mountain or building into something that make sense is part of the human understanding, as long as we include the past, the present and the future, which are attached to a continuous subjective evaluation.”

In my humble opinion, the present is the split second when we realized that “if we were to paint that same white square on a black surface instead, the white square would appear with visual power as a white square because of its black context.” The space between to points is what gives them their meaning and at one point or another the present must exist, even if it appears incomprehensible to our eyes.

Thanks for the reference. I should check that out. As far as the shape of time is concerned, Smithson wrote of James Joice’s spiral ear. What I take this to mean is that the ear makes the acoustic sound waves into metaphors… things that are not the sound wave itself, but a metaphor closely linked to that. Though, it is a physical metaphor… what I would call a mneumonic device. It is not the sound wave that is received by the consciousness, but a transformed material - a physical metaphor that “fits” into the physical schema of the mind - that is, if the brain can be entirely physically organized… Only time and the developments in thinking will tell. To go on further, let’s for the moment assume that the mind can be mapped in “entirety”. But what is entirety? We make judgments about limits, boundaries and criteria based on normative evaluations… that is, values that serve the culture - the epistemologically confined culture. The concept of “entirety” seems to me a logical fallacy. All that is is beyond the limits of human knowing (I might contend even human feeling, contrary to Wiggenstein) is beyond the limits of all there is. Some seem to believe there is some split between knowing and feeling, but I’m under the notion the there is no split, but rather a continuation. This is one of the implied principles of a physical universe. The process of physical transformation is ceaseless. After an instant of time, the rich fragments of the universe echoing in our bodies disintegrate into a social, metaphysical phenomenon in the conscious mind. The seeing and hearing are no longer seen and heard, but mnemonic devices (language) to carry through time. All that is, is an infinite shape… a rotary. I have no proof for this, that would be absurd. But I would like someone to try and prove me otherwise. The spiral is an infinite continuation that never ceases and spans the macro and micro scales. It is infinitely large and small. The center of the circumference is everywhere at the same time. It is a spiraling continuation.