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Time imagery

Posted by RRC on September 07, 2008 at 23:30

In Reply to: Time imagery posted by Smokey Stover on September 07, 2008 at 19:38:

: : : Time - "Time is not an object but an abstraction, hence it does not lend itself to imagery, which is why filmmakers are forced to represent the passage of time with contrivances that involve visible objects, such as calendar leaves blowing in the wind or clocks spinning at warp speed. And yet, predicting our emotional futures requires that we think in and about and across swathes of time. If we can't create a mental image of an abstract concept such as time, then how do we think and reason about it?... Studies reveal that people all over the world imagine time as though it were a spatial dimension, which is why we say that the past is 'behind' us and the future is 'in front of us'." From "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006. Page 128.

: : There's at least one culture, I don't remember its name, where people reverse this front/behind metaphor. They explain that you can see the past--you know what happened--whereas future events are unknown. ~rb

: When I have to visualize the past, present and future in my mind, I also go left to right, the past on the left, then the present to the right of it, then the unknowable future on the right. This is the way I read, left to right. I wonder how the Chinese or Semitic cultures, in which one reads right to left, visualize past, present and future.

: Rb must have in mind the mugwumps--frequently derided as birds that straddled the fence, with their mug on one side and their wump on the other--and who flew backwards to see where they'd been, rather than forwards to see where they were going.
: SS

I believe rb is thinking of the South American Aymara people who point behind themselves to indicate tomorrow or next year and linguistically go forward to the past or back to the future.