An Aside on Time

Author: James West


Consider the sheer force of the human mind on its circumstance: time itself is shown to bend in response to the exertion (or lack thereof) of a wandering mind. This is, simply put, a result of a fascinating quality of the human mind: oblivion. We can, in effect, “ignore” time.


Suppose, then, that time is so directly in our control. To properly apply thought to such an idea, we must first understand the basic concept of linear time: simply put, all events, regardless of how they might be changed, fall in a line in which elements farther left (or “earlier”) on the line directly affect those farther right. While this particular view on time is easily the strictest in relation to our ability to generate hypothetical possibilities, it is still the most productive theory to expand upon. As long as the direct line of time forward remains intact, there isn’t any particular reason for us to measure its rate, and in this lies the key to the idea of a temporal dilation. Because time itself is the human perception of a human concept, it could fall within our realm of control.


While temporal dilation seems like a term one might find in a science-fiction novel, it is a legitimate and fairly explainable phenomenon. Common examples go by common names: “spacing out,” disassociating, and even sleep. Each exhibits a state in which the human consciousness allows itself to ignore time and provide the illusion of instantaneity. This is controlled by the level of active conscious thought, energy, and familiarity of context. The latter has the most easily observable effect. Often, we feel that driving to a new place feels like it takes a longer time than returning. On the way, one might observe countless details subconsciously and reflexively store them. But having processed these details, the brain is less active on the return trip. Factoring in energy level, it will often skip bits and pieces of time around itself while phasing in and out of focus. This is essentially the brain’s temporary reduction to a primitive state or a low-energy mode. This is a temporal dilation.


The implications of mastering such a concept are as incredible as they are terrifying: our brains have the ability to stop paying attention to the world around us. This is a state of incredible vulnerability, and it doesn’t stop at spacing out during class or meetings: what obstacle stands between us and larger dilation? Due to our ability to auto-pilot in this state, it is quite possible that one could forget to be present and skip their own life! It would take nothing more than a little slip of the brain or a misfired neuron to bring about a permanent state of continuous motion forward in time. And because temporal dilations are confined to perception, there would be no way to tell if such a thing happened. And what a terrible thing it would be: to be catapulted forward in individual time, unable to stop or gain control, experiencing life far too fast until it stops.

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