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The Time Essay

What is the most horrible of institutions that ever entered human lives? Anyone, by the perceived notion of institutions might start listing education, family, marriage, state, religion etc. But, if we think once, all these institutions have something in common. They are all time – framed, time – bound, and submit us to conformity, which is again fitting itself into the framework of larger time that is life time. So, I would say, it is time that is the major institution that changed the face of our lives. Not only ours, but of course of the whole human society, be it in any part of the world.

If you are someone like Plato, you would say, there is no such thing like time that is making life hard for us. Instead, it is the idea of time that is responsible for all the commotion. Well, I do agree with such people and say, “The Clock is the culprit”, and enquire how this dire consequence happened to us. Unfortunately, to track how this at all happened, we should still rely on time, gazing back at the past, so that our arguments would make some sense. By this, we could say that, time is eternal to our lives. It neither has a beginning nor ending. The entire creation moves on according to a time pattern.

Time is one of those many necessary evils that happened to us. Tracing back to history, we don’t have any evidence to suggest when the word ‘time’ derived or established semantically, but the word ‘clock’ is derived from the Latin word ‘clocca’ which means ‘bell’ or French word ‘cloche’, which again means the same. We were introduced to clocks only in the 14th century. It is in this period that people were familiarized with devices like sun dial, clepsydra or water clocks etc. Mechanical, tower and quartz clocks, with gears, wheels and weights attached to them were invented somewhere around the medieval period (5th – 15th century) in Europe.

Be it towards human development or mechanization, this invention is of course a giant leap in the history of mankind. But, these clocks had the facility of ticking only once in an hour, that is there were no minutes and seconds hands at that time. As a solution to this problem and avoid the accuracy and precision constraint of his experiments, Galileo, a physicist, observed the chandeliers in the church and tried to devise a similar device, but he failed to do so. Later, with the aid of Galileo’s works and further research to his credit, Huygens, a Dutch astronomer, devised the first successful pendulum clock.

But, theseclocks too had a problem. They used to tick several times a second, making life even more miserable. Later, William Clement, an English clock maker devised pendulum clocks whose least measure was a second. These clocks were well appreciated and came to be known as “the grandfather’s clocks” in the history. The aftermath of this was known to be the period of scientific development where the pendulums were replaced by atomic vibrations. The clocks which we use today with seconds, minutes and hours hands are called the atomic clocks and were invented by Dr. L. Essen. Until 1840’s, the clocks we used consisted of external batteries.

Meanwhile, people undertook research to avoid this problem of batteries losing life as they were exposed to harsh weather conditions which show their impact on this life – boosting device, battery. It was much later in 1906 that we started using internal batteries. The first portable time piece (such as time turner, wrist watch etc. ) ever was devised by a German, Peter Hele, the pioneer of human plethora and obviously the first one who deserves death penalty because without him, we would have left time at home and walked freely into the outer world, and would have lived peacefully.

Coming to philosophy, renowned philosophers argue that time is a mental construct but nobody ever says how to get rid of it. Moreover, they propose alternative theories on time. Though these don’t solve the problem, they give us a ground to work on it, as it is believed that sticking with a problem for a longer time (time again! ) will give us possible scope to analyze it and would hopefully lead us to the solution. They provide us a pretty good set of facts such as time is one – dimensional, unidirectional, irreversible and hence precious, it is not cyclic but linear (as Stephen Hawking said), etc.

There are also competing theories in philosophy which tries to present different perspectives, viewpoints regarding time. The Presentists argue that only the present is the only real thing. The Growing – block theorists argue that both present and past are real, but not future, that is I’m eating an ice cream and dinosaurs had once existed are real, but not certainly my death. Who knows? I might be that one mortal being on earth who doesn’t meet death. The Block – universe theorists or the Eternalists argue that the past, present and future are subjective and are mere mental constructs, just like time.

But, as it is denying the tenet of time, and as it is deemed to be tense less, eternalism was considered illogical. We even have this distinctversion called there are different types of time namely, Public time (the time which runs on clocks), Biological time (the circadian rhythms which are regulated by sunlight and darkness), and the Psychological or the Phenomenological time (this is nothing different from public time and moreover, it is only how we use the public time).

This psychological time is once again known to be a mental construct, subjective, and immeasurable. For example, psychological time passes when we are happy and drags when we are sad. The psychological time cannot be measured with any devise whereas the public time is a basic time that can be measured by the clock, which is devised for the very purpose. Psychological time helps us to understand human thought processes whereas the public time does not understand or analyze anything. It is merely a platform for the consequences that the psychological time should think of.

Talking about the flow of time, there are two opposing theories namely the Myth – Flow theory and the Theory of Objective Reality. The former strengthens the rampant argument that the notion of time is a myth and it is our mental construct whereas the latter contradictorily tells us that time is mind – independent reality, which it clarifies by saying that though we die, time is eternal and it always exists in this universe, thus justifying its objective reality. It is certainly due to this concept of time flow that cognitive psychologists were also interested in the time.

They were interested in knowing our experience of time flow and our ability to place events as per chronology. Neuroscientists, at a point of time, were also interested in time and suggested that your brain waits about 80 milliseconds for all the relevant input to come in before you experience a “now”. Neuroscientists and psychologists have investigated whether they can speed up our minds relative to physical time. If so, we might become mentally more productive, and get more high quality decision making done per fixed amount of physical time, and learn more per minute.

Several avenues have been explored: using cocaine, amphetamines and other drugs, undergoing extreme experiences such as jumping backwards off a tall tower with bungee cords attached to one’s ankles, and trying different forms of meditation. So far, none of these avenues have led to success productivity-wise. Time is no doubt the central theme of modern life. Every single day, from dawn to dusk, we plan our day, or at least think of our day as per a time schedule.

We get up inthe morning and enter into the inevitable business of time keeping and this burden becomes even more when we attach meaning to a whole jargon of words like once upon a time, past, present, future, yesterday, today, tomorrow, day after tomorrow, the next hour, within ten minutes, one second etc. I think it is because of fear of this time and the time constraint that we are taking our life so seriously, the whole world became so competitive in the pursuit of virtue and racing towards an unknown fortune, whose existence is still a matter of potential questionnaire.

Human beings are so subjective that we cannot conduct a Meta – subjective analysis of their subjectivity. But, millions and billions of members of the human race are curbed off their creativity and were forced to fit into an artificial pitcher called the time – box, where, since centuries, people were supposed to do what they were expected to and that to within a fixed time – frame, and a lot of value is attached to time.

At least once in life, let us take up this unique or peculiar experiment of putting this time outside human lives. Can we live at least a day without looking at our watch, mobile, or desktop without knowing what the time is? Can we lead our life succumbing just to gut feeling and nothing else? Time is said to be a free – force which does not wait for anyone. Then, why the hell do we bother about time, when it does not wait for us? Can’t we be little egoistic concentrating on self – emphasis rather than time – emphasis?

This might sound a kind of utopian and something that never happens in this 21st century. If at all we still feel like attempting this, we must follow Rousseau, who just went off into the woods to lead his life calm and quiet, away from the hue and cry of the main – frame of society which is suffering from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) of time ticking lives. Despite the cons it has, time has pros too. As Ovid says, “Time is the best medicine. ” It is known to heal the wounds which reason cannot.

Time is a wise counselor which gives us a healing touch. It reminds us to act and of course act wisely. It is the sole controller of our emotion and experience. To conclude, time is all in the mind and so it is up to us, our mindset and attitude as of how to get on with it, and we must thank the Temporal Logic (time – based logic that is responsible for the functioning of any language) for which we attribute our whole understanding of this issue, and of course the rather creepy World.


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