CRX § 2.0 – Preliminary Remarks

The Intention

This  section follows the development of how to think (about) time in a way that corresponds with the manner in which it is experienced.  In addition to separate entries that post in other categories, according to relevance, the writing specifically on Conversion, Recursion and Excursion is a piece that I have been and will be working on for some time. The focal point is to articulate a way of understanding time phenomenologically. To start rendering the interrelated structure of present, past, and future, I currently use the terms Conversion, Recursion, and Excursion (C.R.X.)[1]  Continue reading “CRX § 2.0 – Preliminary Remarks”

CRX § 2.1 – Conversion

“Meaning” is how things become intelligible. In addition to Kant’s method of unifying a manifold in accordance to the concept of an object, the point is to understand how things matter. It is not just that I connect and keep tack of different representations. More importantly, the question is about how I can care about any of it in the first place – why experience makes a difference to me, at all? To understand this difference, generally, I am partial to Heidegger’s approach advocating the centrality of time. The experience of time provides a handle, or telescopic tool of sorts, to scale the question over multiple granularities and orders of magnitude. Ideally, the structure of time should stay the same through different durations of experience, making the rules of one also apply to the other. What applies to the example of a melody will, ex hypothesi, reach beyond just listening to music. The next few entries will focus on articulating how things become intelligible in accordance to time experienced, respectively, in the modes of being present, past and future. This post deals with experience of the present, which I call Conversion.

Conversion means to convey the sense in which the present is a turning-together of different temporal phases — their synchronous concurrence. Conversion describes the gathering of the present; it is the unity of the present with the modes of being past and future. Conversion is how the experience of time corresponds with itself, like a limit or nexus of merging difference. Conversion is like the interface of experience: it is why the time is always now, right now. With Conversion I intend to provide an account of time that applies both to different durations, or ontic degrees of difference, and also to ontological time itself.

Empirically, on the ontic level, the working example asks how it is possible to have the experience of listening to music? Specifically, how can I experience a sequence of individual notes that together are unified to produce a melody? In order to experience a melody, I have to recognize individual notes before being able to unify them as such. I do not need perfect pitch, just the ability to distinguish relative differences thereof. Already, discerning individual notes is complicated, as mentioned in the previous post, even before comparing the differences between them becomes possible. The question remains, how are the notes experienced as parts of a whole?

Cue: “Is that all there is?” When I listen to the last strophe of the song “…if that’s all there…” as the penultimate word is being sung, it is as though the song itself calls for participation in its own completion. The words and notes together cajole and tease the audience with rising anticipation to finally release that otherwise absently dangling participle, singular present form of the verb to “be”. The resolution, ironically, fails to disappoint. How is this possible?

At the second to last moment, in order to feel some anticipation for completion, it is not sufficient to only be presented with that which is “… there…” The final “…is” can only be anticipated from “…there…” when “if that’s all…” is experienced before it as having just occurred. Throughout the entire song, we are always anticipating what comes next in virtue of also being directed toward that which was before. The exchange between the future and the past informs the way in which the present is experienced. The present is always somehow connected to the past and future. This is Conversion.

Next, I will deal with how Conversion merges different temporal phases, starting with the past. With respect to the example, how is it possible that at any point in time, the current experience of a musical note is always informed by what was just played before? How is the present always and already connected to the past?

CRX § 2.2 – Recursion

Time lends itself to the language of currents, electricity, weather, non-linear, complex and dynamical systems.  Conversion corresponds with thinking in this way, favoring dynamic interrelation over discrete mechanisms in order to describe the experience of time.  The mode of being present is like the crest of a wave that’s function expresses the convergence of three interrelated phases.  Conversion conveys this dynamic and interrelated unity of the present.  If Conversion characterizes the unity of different phases, then what informs the distinction between them I will call Recursion.

Recursion describes the transition from one phase to the other.  Recursion is how Conversion always turns-together with itself as already having been, again, both different and the same.  Like how the past itself was once present, the mode of being present has always and already been.  Recursion is how the mode of being present “runs-back” upon itself in order to be experienced again, with Conversion, in the mode of being past.  Recursion is how now becomes now-again.

In a previous post, I mentioned how experience in the mode of being past (Recursion) is distinct from memories.  I think this is important to keep in mind.  Now, you can remember reading about the difference, or not.  Either way, there exists a mode of accessing the past before any distinction thereof can be verified.  Every moment always is and already was open to the past, as the condition on having a memory in the first place.

Recursion is the experience of reaching into the past, prior to when grasping and forming a memory is possible.  Memories refer to events in the past, however, they occur in the mode of being present.  Recursion does not simply refer to events in the past; instead, it is the way I experience the mode of being past. Recursion antecedes any determinate thought about it — it is just always and already there. This is difficult to describe because, phenomenologically, there is practically nothing “there” to indicate for direct demonstration.

Phenomenologically, the mode of being past is so radically different from what is otherwise present, that nothing really approximates its proper description. Recursion is like the instant just before you actually remember something.  It is like the feeling of déjà-vu: a horizon of alreadyness and vertiginous moment just on the cusp of recognition.  Complicating things, this indeterminate way of experiencing the past is diametrically opposed to the way we conceive of it as being entirely determined and/or determining.  Recent discoveries in sciences like physics, however, make these phenomenological claims seem less untenably outlandish, I think.

Recursion allows Conversion to run back through the past and return again to the present.  It is this transition from present to past, back and forth, that I think primarily constitutes Recursion.  The problem is explaining how this is possible?  See:  Recursion.