Friday, June 5, 2015

How the Brain Represents Time

Cartesian materialism, the view that nobody espouses but almost everybody tends to think in terms of, suggests the following subterranean picture: drunk rats dancing on the backache of a powerful-looking man named Richard with a black eye and a tattoo of thorns snoozing in a chamber of knotweed. He will awake to find the dark energies of the universe knitted into rhizomes as time moves over the waters in a paragraph harnessed to the caprice of dolphins and refute the Cartesian Theatre altogether as an inaccurate theory of human consciousness. The hours fall silent. Time reinvents itself. Words incarnate the tangle of the mind. The silk of listening necessitates thought. A cuckoo appears via spring mechanism and goes cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo, thus registering the final bliss of time as it ornaments space with expressions of grace and Pythagorean muffins. The ruins of Rome, the domes of London, the bells of Paris. Broadcasts from the Walter Cronkite 60s hurling deeper into outer space. Time thickens despite hawks. The raspberries mature in their bed. Contraptions of time vibrate Wisconsin. The California sand ripples with wind and wave and the time of the tides moving in, moving out. My favorite clock is a cloud of syllables bouncing on my knee.  Rhythm is time and pentameter is time and prepositions and cork are manifestations of time. We see time in the bark of trees, in the rings of trees, in the foliage and bareness of trees. We know that information moves around in the brain, getting processed by various mechanisms in various regions. Our intuitions suggest that our streams of consciousness consist of events occurring sequence, and that at any instant a young woman will appear and help an older woman to the door. This is what happens when sequence becomes a plane ticket for Paris. Autumn creeps slowly into the air dragging winter behind it. The shiny buttons of Einstein’s accordion increase the sterling morning. I spin faster and faster among the stars. Time is the belch of infinity. Time is motion and shape. Time is salt in a Martian’s ear. A breaker unfurling on Tahitian sands. The opium of grammar, the chronicles of a downtown bus. At 8:41 on a May morning the woman upstairs turns on her shower. A lawn mower roars in the park. The sun rises into the sky. Time is the lip on which the sky walks.

No comments: