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Moment of Truth: Space Enough and Time

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

First of all, allow me to apologize: I apologize. Thank you for allowing my apology.

Now, imagine a driveway up the spine of a hill. The top of the hill is a plateau, surrounded in every direction by an abrupt drop-off, so the only way up or down the hill is the driveway. Otherwise, it's a cliff on all sides.

There's a gate at the bottom of the driveway with a combination lock. When you leave the plateau area, you lock the gate. When you want to enter, you first have to unlock the gate, open it, and drive your car up to the top of the plateau. You can leave the gate unlocked until you leave.

Imagine that, when you leave, you have to back all the way down the 45-degree, narrow incline, and it's a pain in the ass because the space between the gate posts is just a little wider than your car.

After you back through the gate, you get out of the car and close and lock the gate. Then you drive off to wherever you want to go. Hamburger Mary's. The library.

But what if you were backing down, stopped the car and got out and locked the gate before you had backed through it? You would have locked yourself in, at least until you unlocked it and let yourself out.

For some reason it struck me as ... striking... that if you do something before a certain spatial/temporal line is crossed, it can cause some inconvenience. If you try to light the burner before turning on the gas, it will not light. If you try to do brushwork before dipping your brush in paint, you will not apply pigment, but only hear a mild scratching noise at most.

Physicists and stoners have long wondered about the arrow of time. What is it about our limited perception that makes us experience time as moving only forward? I would like to ask: what about the arrow of space?

Events have a spatial sequence, not just a temporal sequence, and our rootedness in space, our experience of space as keeping locations separate from each other, is intimately tied to our experiencing time as keeping moments separate from each other. Time and space are metaphors for each other in that sense.

Time has an end for humans. It's when we croak. Space has the same end. When you're out of time, you're out of space. There was no time in your life when you skipped over a few inches of space. Your lifelong trail through space is as continuous as your trail through time, and at the end of life, you run out.

If you could experience time out of sequence, you would also be experiencing space out of sequence. But you can do neither. You can be missing some time from your life, if, say, you black out. But the spacetime before the blackout will be earlier than the time after the blackout, and the time and space in between can be reconstructed if you exert the effort. Like they did in the movie, "The Hangover."

Okay, what about teleportation, which seems a bit more feasible than time travel, which currently doesn't seem feasible at all. Let me address this technological speculation: first, if an object could be turned into a signal at point A and then back into the object at point B, it would still have covered the distance and taken the time, just in the form and at the speed of a signal. If somehow teleportation were achieved through quantum entanglement, and the object could appear instantly at any point B, well, I regret to inform you I am barely competent to engage in the discussion we're already in the midst of, so I can't really say, but my feeling is, we would probably solve the time-out-of-sequence problem at the same time as the space-out- of-sequence problem. There's a reason for this, but I would have to Google it, and I'm not inclined to do so. I'm sure it has something to do with particles not always being when and where you'd expect them to be, that Heisenberg thing, I'm guessing.

The real lesson here, assuming there is one, is that you can cause yourself a lot of trouble by doing things in the wrong order. You could lock someone in a bank vault by mistake, and have to wait till the end of the three-day weekend till the vault- opening person showed up. In a world where space could be traveled out of sequence, the poor sole in the vault could just blink themselves outside. But then, what good would a vault be if people could just blink in and out of it?

The idea of the bank vault relies on our sequential limitations. If you could get the money out before they closed the vault, you could rob the place blind. The vault principle assumes that time and space must be experienced in sequence, from now to later, from near to far.

But when you think about how quickly technology is progressing, it's a pretty flimsy idea, the bank vault. All it would take to defeat it was a small change in the nature of a person to adhere to sequential reality.

There's always the mind. You can remember the past, and you can remember faraway places. And you can imagine things. Some say that imagination is the mind remembering the future. You can also imagine a future place. In fact, there's really no way to imagine a future time without simultaneously imagining a future place. How would that work otherwise? Would you just imagine a future date? Like a number on a calendar? Well, that calendar has to exist somewhere. A date is really just the name of a date. An actual date is attached to a place, duration, actions, feelings, temperature, threats, pleasures... y'know: stuff.

As it stands, the slightest error in keeping your actions in order, temporally and spatially, can have dire consequences. Don't shut the vault before you leave! Shut it after you're outside of it. You could be the person who's going to come up with the cure for the boogie-woogie flu! If you starve to death in the vault, humanity might just perish from wantin' to holler when the joint's too small.

Anyway, just a friendly reminder that time's arrow is also space's arrow. They're the same arrow. You can't get from Monday to Wednesday without going through Tuesday, just like you can't get from The Village to Central Park without going through Midtown, unless you're crazy or a good swimmer or have a lot of time on your hands. And when it comes down to it, who has surplus time? No human, that's for sure. And you've just burned a few minutes of yours listening to this drivel. For that, I apologize. I probably should have apologized in the first place. I think I'll go back in time and do that.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!

Moment of Truth


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