Time’s Arrow

07Jul08

At first glance, writers of languages like English seem to be those who favor an arrow of time which goes left to right and down the page. Page breaks are some sort of discontinuity which doesn’t seem to bother them, but seems to bother a related clan, the copy editor. But a closer inspection of the writer clan shows that their arrow of time is at best a confusing mishmash of directions. For example, an often employed trick is the so-called “flashback” in which the reader is magically transported back in time to an event which the writer couldn’t figure out how to include otherwise or was too lazy to figure out how to include without using this trick of the trade. Another common technique is the mental head fake on the arrow of time known as “foreshadowing.” So while the rhythm of reading may go left to right and down the page, this direction in time is often a farce, disguising a deep disregard for any pure direction of time, but allowing all sorts of internal analepsis, external analepsis, and prolepsis.

Conclusion: the arrow appears to be left to right and down, but in postmodern interpretation is to be regarded none of anyone’s business.

from The Quantum Pontiff: Occupational Arrows ofTime, via Fed by Birds

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