Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Not in the now

09:11:00 Posted by Colin Davies , , , , , , 2 comments

Here are some more wonderful insights from the fantastic David Riley.

We're the only creatures in the universe with a real humdinger of a sense of the future. That and the past are the places we live in the most, rarely in the here and now. Also, isn't living in the  future always seen as the best? Think of the everyday phrases that have praise for living in the future built in. from forward thinker, planner to "ahead of the curve" and the almost business-speak, "I'm on it." Whole industries are predicated on it, advertising for example, not to mention the multi-trillions in the stock exchanges betting lives on what will happen from the next few seconds to few months. In fact, think of the way time infiltrates language dragging along its simple praise and blame classifications with it. From "he lives in the past" to "old school," there's a whole subtle set of implications as to how labels are placed to sum up others, it's the essence of spin doctoring, sound bites and a modernity based on planning for whatever colour of future your lords and masters think is good for you. They'll indoctrinate you about it on Twitter if that's not out of date yet.

The future is a very egalitarian tyranny, gripping most of us. There's the obnoxious middle class idea of the "gap year" (gap between what exactly - and how come they know there'll be a thing for there to be a gap in?) and the ludicrous notion of youthful hedonism - apparently living for the moment but actually built on ideas about the future (the ant and the grasshopper were both creatures tied to the hands of a clock in someone's head). Or if that nonsense doesn't appeal you could be nostalgic (aww bless), or, "yes nice Christmas, quiet but OK thanks." What do you think of them, eh?

We're also the only creatures we know of with a sophisticated language, tied to time. That's not to say that language changes over time, even though it obviously does but to suggest that in all our thinking, time is there allowing us to make judgements about people based on attitude to time.

And in poetry? Time has been there, implicitly and explicitly, the future doing its job as assistant seducer in time's winged chariot or a place for reminiscence where the clocks have been stopped. Not surprisingly poetry too changes over time - but how much are its attitudes to time itself altered, especially the time as aide to implicit judgement mentioned above? It has the possibility to do so, with its inventive approach to meaning it could stretch the tired metaphors of spin, past and future, give us a new language and new attitudes to each other.

Perhaps we could make new year resolutions to see if we could remake language and thought for the future. Don't put it off for another time.



Colin Davies said...

I do love the way you have pointed out that we all think and work in either past of the future.

Love the post, thank you David.

Ashley R Lister said...

Time as a conceptual metaphor? Lakoff and Johnson would be all over this with their typical rationals - TIME as COMPARTMENTALISED UNITS - I have a free slot tomorrow, can you spare a minute? give me one more day...

Insightful and thoughtful as always.