the specious present

“Time is one-dimensional, so there are fewer tenses than there are spatial terms” 1D, a line, time is linear, earlier, before (now), after.




[spatial: there, here, far, away, from]


But./Also: complications, details: She had already typed the text when--. Linear, backwards.

PAST ← — D  (Event being located) — E (Reference event) — PRESENT → FUTURE

But./Also: complications, details: She will have typed the text when

PAST ← —PRESENT — D  (Event being located) — E (Reference event) → FUTURE

But./Also: “Then” : time is cyclical, circular, with a thoughtful then; pinned—at a culmination, at a circa; she saw him then, she will see him then—arbitrized, legalized, the sharp, then.


“Whereas the future is a mere potentiality and can be altered by our choices…only a 2 way distinction between past and nonpast, the latter embracing the present and the future.” The Now. A culmination.  


Realis: all that has happened or is now happening

Irrealis: what could happen. The hypothetical.

The thesis, the hypothesis. The Now.


Of our relationship, let us count the ways, rather than yes or no. Before or after. It is always the Now or the Never. Let us count the ways: I think, I am. I exist or I do not. It is one answer, one choice. Time, the specious present, a mere three, two tenses, one choice, one now. But no. Time is irrelevant, space is everything, let us count the ways.


I am with you I am not with you. Now.


I am about you. I am above you. I am across you. I am after you. I am against you. I am along you. I am alongside you.

I am amid(st) you, among(st) you, I am apart from you, I am around you, I am at you, I am atop you, I am away from you, I am back from you, I am backward from you,

I am behind you,

I am below you, I am beneath you,

beside you, between you, beyond you, by you, I am down from you,

I am downstairs from you,

I am downward from you,

I am east of you, I am far from you,

I am forward from you I am here to you I am in you I am in back of you I am in between you in front of you in line with you inside you into you, I am inward from you, I am left,

I am near, I am nearby, I am north, off, on you, on top of you, onto you,

I am opposite you, I am out of you, I am outside you, I am outward of you, I am over you, I am past you, I am right of you,

I am sideways of you,

I am south of you,

I am there,

I am through you,

I am throughout you,

I am to you, I am to the left of you, I am to the right of you, to the side of you,

I am together with you, I am toward you, I am under you, I am underneath you, I am up from you, I am upon you, I am upstairs, I am upward, I am via, west, with, within, without



Shall we count the ways? Let’s not count the ways. We exist, we do not exist. But how do we exist, not exist? Count the ways, if you care.


[Time is nothing. Space is everything.]


We do not track evolution. We evolve. Through a lens: “now.”


We do not like to contextualize.


We are bad at it. We are ego-centric. The now. See the frame beyond you. See the frame above you. See the frame encompassing them both. The other frames, the overlapping frames, the linking frames (the past, beside you); oh but we are ego-centric, and look, you are a frame (now, here, there), framing, you are part of a frame, of many frames, being framed. Oh I cannot look. I am ego-centric. I look at my hands, or my feet. The Now. Realis. This is real.


Neuroscientist Ernst Poeppel: “We take life three seconds at a time [not a moment at a time]” computation, processing speed; a step, a click, a sound, three seconds to register, note, catalogue. Realis. Irrealis: the unreal. Irr[ational], the not yet real, “the future is mere potentiality and can be altered” and then there was everything else.


The Now. Unfolding. This second, now this one, now this one, to the next, to the next…it is passing, Pick three, ABC:


TIME ORIENTATION you are located at the present with the past behind and the future in front, as in That’s all behind us, We’re looking ahead, She has a great future in front of her.


MOVING TIME MOTION OBSERVER time is a parade that sweeps past a stationary you, as in

The time will come when it no longer matters, The time for action has arrived, The day is fast approaching, The summer is flying by.


MOVING OBSERVER the landscape of time is stationary and you are moving through it, as in

There’s trouble down the road, We’re coming up on our anniversary, She left at nine o’clock, We passed the deadline, We’re halfway through the week


---and the next one, to the next, flying as you watch, look, to the next one, you see it? No, you saw it, it is gone—over the hill, look, catch it with a gaze, it is gone—so the irrealis succumbs to the realis. The unreal succumbs to the real. The hypothetical, to the past. The past to here, to now.*

*adapted from Steven Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought