So what we seem to be doing is analysing or just exploring various different personifications of time – or ‘Time.’
Since my midnight realisation that Time was just sitting there unchanging while I had to find some way to step forward, step anywhere at all, I’ve become increasingly convinced that time doesn’t ‘do’ anything. It just is.
When we talk about it as an entity marching on, then we are saying that time moves. As I understand it, time is an artificial label to describe a feeling we have that something is happening beyond the experiences of up, down, left, right, forward and back in space.
When we feel it’s marching on, we mean something like ‘Tea-time already and I haven’t done everything I wanted to do today.’ Time becomes the reason for our non-achievement and lets us off the hook.
Time marching on leaves things behind us. We all have a sense of present, past and future, though by the time we type the word ‘present’ it isn’t any more. We have memories of things we personally did in the past or observed then. Many of us feel that the knowledge of historians, archaeologists and palaeontologists extends our own knowledge of the past.
Indeed some cultural groups believe that it’s the PAST that lies in front of us, because we have a sense that we can see it more-or-less clearly. These groups perceive the future as being behind us, sneaking up on us with who knows what evil intent.
Personally I feel the whole thing goes round in circles, like the seasons, the moon, the sun and the planets and the rest of the cosmos. Probably expanding and contracting at the same time. The old image of the Wheel of Fortune raising us up and casting us down; Eliade’s myth of the eternal return; Vico, Joyce and Finnegan’s Wake. This is all too much for one blog-post and definitely too timey-wimey for one brain!
But I don’t have any belief in ‘progress’, and I don’t think time marches anywhere. I think it’s more likely that we go marching on and leave time behind us.