We live embedded in the passage of time—a matrix marked by all possible standards of judgment: by immanent things that do not appear to change; by cosmic recurrences of days and seasons; by unique events of battles and natural disasters; by an apparent directionality of life from birth and growth to decrepitude, death, and decay. Amidst this… complexity,… Judeo-Christian traditions have struggled to understand time by juggling and balancing two ends of a primary dichotomy about the nature of history…. These poles have received our necessary attention because each captures an unavoidable theme in the logic and psychology of how we understand history—the twin requirements of uniqueness to mark moments of time as distinctive, and lawfulness to establish a basis for intelligibility.
At one end of the dichotomy—I shall call it time’s arrow—history is an irreversible sequence of unrepeatable events. Each moment occupies its own distinct position in a temporal series, and all moments, considered in proper sequence, tell a story of linked events moving in a direction.
At the other end—I shall call it time’s cycle—events have no meaning as distinct episodes with causal impact upon a contingent history. Fundamental states are immanent in time, always present and never changing. Apparent motions are parts of repeating cycles, and differences of the past will be realities of the future. Time has no direction.
Time’s arrow is the primary metaphor of biblical history. God creates the earth once, instructs Noah to ride out a unique flood in a singular ark, [and] transmits the commandments to Moses at a distinctive moment…. But the Bible also features an undercurrent of time’s cycle, particularly in the book of Ecclesiastes, where solar and hydrological cycles are invoked in metaphor to illustrate both the immanence of nature’s state (“there is no new thing under the sun”), and the emptiness of wealth and power, for riches can only degrade in a world of recurrence….
Although both views coexist in this primary document of our culture, we can scarcely doubt that time’s arrow is the familiar or “standard” view of most educated Westerners today,… gaining a special boost from ideas of progress that have attended our scientific and technological revolutions from the seventeenth century onward. Richard Morris writes in his recent study of time:
…Most people throughout history have held fast to time’s cycle, and have viewed time’s arrow as either unintelligible or a source of deepest fear…. Most cultures have recoiled from a notion that history embodies no permanent stability and that men (by their actions of war) or natural events (by their consequences of fire and famine) might be reflecting the essence of time—and not an irregularity subject to repeal or placation by prayer and ritual. Time’s arrow is the particular product of one culture, now spread throughout the world, and especially “successful,” at least in numerical and material terms…. Interest in the “irreversible” and the “new” in history is a recent discovery in the life of humanity….
The contrast of arrows and cycles lies so deep in Western thinking about time that a movement as central as the discovery of geological time could scarcely proceed uninfluenced by these ancient and persistent visions…. Metaphors of time’s arrow and time’s cycle formed a focus for debate, and proved as fundamental to the formulation of deep [geological] time as any observation about the natural world. If we must have dichotomies, time’s arrow and time’s cycle is “right”—or at least maximally useful—as a framework for understanding geology’s greatest contribution to human thought….
…Time’s arrow and time’s cycle is, if you will, a “great” dichotomy because each of its poles captures, by its essence, a theme so central to intellectual (and practical) life that Western people who hope to understand history must wrestle intimately with both—for time’s arrow is the intelligibility of distinct and irreversible events, while time’s cycle is the intelligibility of timeless order and lawlike structure. We must have both.
Adapted from Stephen Jay Gould, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time, © 1987 by Harvard University Press.▲ | reblog
newly graduated. still stuck in berkeley. same deal, new intentions.
life is not bad right now, doing emt school and “working” at UCSF. i feel really stressed out for some reason, not sure why. probably because i feel that i’m not really doing anything right now & just nervous about my future. all of my friends are posting instas and snaps of their post grad trips to europe and asia. as jealous as i am, i couldn’t do that right now with this feeling of uncertainty in my life. can’t wait to meet back up with every one after they come back tanned, beer bellied and cultured. excited about finishing up emt school and ready to begin restudying for the mcat… wooo! also excited to see all my friends move into the real world. tina’s moving on tuesday, is this real life? she’s going to take over ny, i just know it! hopefully i’ll get to visit her when she settles down, and hopefully our thanksgiving plans work out! atheana’s going to run sf too. my roomies be taking over the coasts!
well… let’s see what happens next.▲ | reblog
Had such a wonderful practice yesterday. Nailed two really good bar routines and beam routines. Side flips were perfect. Floor was good until that last pass. Ugh. I can’t catch a break. I kept telling myself I was fine but I don’t know. Heart broken once again.▲ | reblog
First day of senior week! I freakin love my team. They are the sweetest. They came up with a dance montage complete with our freshman - senior year songs and floor routine dance moves! Gym was really good as well, hard, but good. Four in a row of each skill switching directions on beam. Loving my new dismount. Knee not so much. 3 in a row first halves and one second with a stuck dismount on bars. Two skill sets on floor. That was a struggle. Knee is still poofy from the weekend but I wanted to prove that I’m capable of more than how I performed on Sunday. Chels and I agreed that floor in LA was ridiculously hard and killed our bodies. But I was able to dig deep and the skill sets were actually pretty good. It’s days like these I realize how good I am at my sport and that it’s usually the mental block that prevents you from accomplishing your goals. :) only a few practices left. Let’s make them count.▲2 | reblog