Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stuck in the Past

During one of my many sleepless nights, it occurred to me that the entire world we perceive no longer exists. Whether from sight, sound, or touch, everything that we know comes from stimuli that travels to us, is received and then processed by the brain, and finally rendered as a conclusion we call reality. But in actuality, each of these steps takes some amount of time to complete, brief though it may be, such that our world is not the present, but the infinitesimally recent past.

This leads to two interesting, though related, conclusions. First, everything around me could completely disappear, and in fact I would be unaware of it for some measurable period of time. I would be like Schrodinger's Cat, for an instant, in a world both whole and complete, yet entirely empty as well.

But secondly, and personally more interesting, is the fact that no amount of effort can ever bring me to the present. No matter what, light will still take time to reach my eyes. My brain will still require time to process the information. Thus, no technological or personal development can ever give me an actual view of the current reality. That we cannot relive the past is a social and literary truism, and yet we actually live in an expired universe. It's the here and now that's unattainable.

Of course, these observations have very little application in the real world. But anyone who didn't expect that conclusion is new to blogging.

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