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April 15, 2007

Thinking about how blind I am: chronology and linearity

This morning has been one of those ones where I wake up with motivation and fascination--I love mornings like these. I've attacked my paper for my advanced literature course. I outlined it last night, and now I'm letting it sit so I can revise it later on today or tomorrow. But the ideas--oh, the ideas... I'm plagued with theory and abstract concepts all of a sudden.

We're studying Ondaatje's The English Patient, and I'm writing about the lack of a focused point of view, as well as a tense, that allows the story to be non-linear and, as such, more aligned with the actual historical events. I love the topic. I'm having a great time with it--such a great time, in fact, that I'm now contemplating chronology and linearity on what might be an unhealthy level...

Linearity doesn't exist--it's a concept in our minds that allows us to understand things. Nothing in life is pure cause and effect since the possibilities between the cause and the resulting effect are numerous. (This works much in the same way I understand signs/signifiers/signified operate.) But we can't possibly know all of the effects of one cause--nor can we know what the other possible causes were since no effect has one cause.


So chronology is a joke, too. Time lines are reductions of truth to such a disgustingly simplistic, perfectly blinded perspective. There is nothing linear about a time line. Mathematically, lines are infinite and do not have beginnings or ends unless demarcated by a point. Points indicate an event, but the LINE that leads to the next point indicates the passage of time--unaccounted for time from which millions of effects can be missing.

At any given "point" (cause) though, there can be millions of reactions (effects). The better analogy might be a web. But even a web seems too two-dimensional for this kind of thing. It's like a koosh ball (please tell me you remember those--the little rubber balls with hundreds of rubber strings emanating from the center?). But each strand of rubber reaches out to another strand, connecting into something that's gotta look like a chemical compound. It's really dense, it's really connected, and even though some strands are only one-way (i.e. the effect cannot be the cause).

I can't say I've ever thought much about these things. But I'm convinced that linearity is a made-up concept. It's as disturbing to discover this on my own as it was to learn about the lack of a certain individual in red that visits in December (I don't want it to come up on search engines and break some little kid's heart--some resourceful kid who thought to Google his questions...).

While I wait for my heart to stop racing, I'm going to think about how I've been blinded all my life. I'll let you know if I come up with any other shattering conclusions... (I know I'm not the first person to have this revelation, but it sure has been fun/scary to come across without trying to.)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at April 15, 2007 11:22 AM


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