Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Problem of Fixed Time

Today, I'd like to examine the problem of fixed time to continue our discussion. Fixed time is the time designated for an event or action to take place that is being measured. In other words, it is the appointed time for an event to occur. An old Arabic fable gives us a good starting point. Called the Appointment in Samarkand, it tells the story of a man who encounters the Angel of Death in a souk and fearing for his life, returns to his master's house and tells him that he needs to flee the city and hires the fastest horse to travel to Samarkand to escape Death. When the master goes to the marketplace and asks Death why he had threatened his servant, Death replies that he was surprised to see his servant in Baghdad when he had an appointment with him in Samarkand. This is an interesting fable and one that can be a good basis to examine the problem of fixed time. Consider an ordinary, everyday example. When we awake, we need to rush to school to be at school at a fixed time. If we are not at school at the appointed time, we will find ourselves bereft of ourselves or out of place and out of time. Our time to be at school is thus considered fixed as opposed to overall time since we could be anywhere else we wanted to be and continue to measure time. Thus as a measurement of time, wherever we find ourselves in the continuum of space and time is considered fixed. Thus, when Death meets the servant in Baghdad it does not matter much that he has to travel to Samarkand to find the servant since the event could take place at any time or at any place. We are simply shifting ourselves from one place to another such as the sands in the hourglass while overall time or all time simply measures our progress. This would nullify the concept of death altogether since overall time or fixed time can take place anywhere or at any time and the old fable becomes a mere cultural, religious epistle. Death does not need to travel to Samarkand since death could have occurred in Baghdad and the shift that takes place is superficial and the time that was spared is merely a counter-intuitive propagation. As a measurement of time, meeting death is a mere illusion since we can never escape the confines of the hourglass and our dignity is preserved as a measurement of fixed time in the overall scope of all time. This gives way to phrases such as "I'm passing the time," or "I'm killing time" and admonishes against wasting time. Death may be natural but it is not the end all or be all when the problem of fixed time is considered. Since my dying is impossible as a measurement of time in the vast expanse of fixed and relative time priorities, I can never truly flee death and neither can death truly diminish me. Committing suicide would be a farce in this respect. Thus, the possibility of existence becomes supernatural.

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