Time-labelled dialogues

Chasing the stars on the clock face

Chasing the stars on the clock face


There is a problem with this concept of “Dialogue” that comes up when we consider Automatic Subconscious Procedures (ASPs), which used to be dialogues and which are now transformed into smooth interactions that are only brought back into consciousness when something goes wrong.

Imagine yourself walking and then tripping over a loose block in the pavement. The dialogue that you have with the rest of your body (giving commands to your feet to move in certain ways) goes on as an ASP, until you trip:


and then you have a dialogue with the rock that you tripped over or the chair that obstructed your way.

For each dialogue we assign a certain interval of time, which we think of as the proper time defined as a period of time sufficient to carry out a certain action.

Accordingly, when you run an ASP, you have something like a time label attached which says:

Okay, I’m going to press this button and it’s going to open the Internet browser in 1.2 seconds (the label says).

What if it’s two minutes? That would be too long, right? That would be the wrong time label.

These time labels which we have had in our pockets for whatever we do when we run an ASP, these time labels are now measured in seconds, sometimes even milliseconds.

Our own reaction time is probably in the hundreds of milliseconds range and, nowadays, we have come to expect the world to respond to our actions with equal alacrity.

Action and reaction, a Dialogue.

When you press the remote control button, you don’t think it’s going to be two minutes until something responds. You expect it’s going to happen right away. If not, then you’re out of batteries or the TV is broken.

We are now used to everything happening at the speed of light, but these interactions with the world used to be measured in seasons (planting something).

Can you imagine how different the thinking of a farmer is compared with modern man in terms of when he expects to get what he wants?

Nowadays, if you want to warm yourself or if you want to take a bath, you press the heater button, or the AC button, or you turn on the boiler.

In the past, this used to take (at least) as long as it would take you to gather the wood, start the fire, burn the wood, put the water in a container to heat it up. (Did you even own a pot to use for boiling?).

The time intervals used to be much longer: minutes, hours and even years…

Most of us, modern people, feel that in our everyday life, in getting what we need (our resources), this is supposed to happen as soon as the electrons travel through the switch into the device.

What does this involve in terms of our psychology, in terms of our wants, in terms of what we expect that will / should happen in the next moment?

It means that if you live in an industrialised country, you’re somebody who’s always rushing, like those electrons just whizzing through circuits: That’s how we expect things to happen.

Once we had this idea that the sun, the god Sun is in a boat, rowing across the Sky:

How slow is the rowing motion as opposed to the speed of light: thousands-of-kilometres-per-second?

This impacts our psychology, frames our desires, and delineates our standard operating procedures whenever we interact with the world.

Nonetheless, if we go back to the essential dialogues, the dialogues we used to have with ourselves, we realise that the time label is an entirely subjective and selfish (meaning self-centred) label because you forget about all the work that a lot of people put into allowing the connections to be made as fast as they are.

We forget about all the work that went into building all these switches, all these memory chips, all the cables, all the programming language that make it possible for you to press a button and connect to the Internet.

We forget about all these when we expect it to happen in 1.3 seconds, because we don’t have time:

We rush to press another button, and the maximum delay we can tolerate is another 1.3 seconds, tops.

When the delay is longer, we don’t pause to think:

“Wow, what an amazing feat humanity has achieved in producing this device or artefact”.

It’s only by going back to the dialogue format that we become aware of what’s around us, truly around us.

Why is this awareness necessary? It is necessary in order to be able to calm down occasionally, to slow down.

Why is this slowing down necessary, why can’t we just keep on going faster? Because we are not equipped physiologically speaking, biologically speaking, to accelerate at the rate we are right now.

We are still animals, living according to biological rhythms, and these rhythms are measured in days (the circadian rhythm, right?), months and years.

We need to remember our place in the world, we need to remember our physical bodies with which we’re having a constant dialogue, even when we are surrounded by clever artefacts that make our life so much easier, so much more comfortable.

Comfort leads ultimately into oblivion, into complete forgetfulness of what is actually happening:

We only know what we expect, we don’t know anymore what we are actually doing.

Remember the waves of the ocean, the wind through the trees; this is the world we live in, not that of electrons and particles and neutrinos, although some of us have harnessed their power for our own ends.

There are too many of us who are just users, just trying to get more comfortable, while the great majority of us (humans and animals) are suffering as a result of our wilful ignorance, while the great majority are being punished for our search for more comfort and convenience.

The more comfortable a minority becomes, the less resources are left for those for whom we have little regard, those who still want to (or have no choice but to) live according to the natural rhythm, those who have not caught up with this technology-driven society most of us live in.

Press a button, relax… press the stop button and relax.

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