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Reflections: Neurology and the Humanities
November 24, 2008
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Perception of Time

November 25, 2008 issue
71 (22) 1836-1837

I

Sequence of breath, cold slice of clock,
Blind, dispassionate wedge of time.
Yet Life plants thoughts that ply within,
Coaxing us where we’ve never been,
No distant place, but deep within,
Deep queries on Time through mind.
What is Time’s crux? Can we define
Concept, notion, idea of time?
Is Time finite? Will it run out?
Can Time divide to branch new route?
Can Time move on to meet itself,
And circle forth – to Genesis?
Does Time arise from conscious mind?
Does consciousness arise from Time?

II

For Time to happen, does it need
Perception by a conscious me?
St. Augustine conjectured Time
Does not exist outside the mind.
Could Time arise from conscious thought,
From molecules that bounce in skull,
Produced by brain bits, nothing more,
Mere fabrication of the mind?
My time may halt through dreamless sleep,
But Time exists without my thought,
Without my brain, or conscious lot.
The face of friends, the human tale,
Slow change with age, without my sight,
To play its role in passing plight.

III

Does Time subserve, as roll of life
Exacts its toll upon our mold:
Biology’s pre-programmed dirge?
Even Dolly bore aging joints,
As youthful lamb in Scottish field.
Our bodies heed cruel clicks of clock,
Apoptosis does not stop;
Death by design is not denied;
To living things, Time’s absolute,
Unstoppable! Time stops Life’s route;
Thus, Time draws death to grimly reap
Upon each mind and mortal mass;
My DNA removes all doubt,
Its time for me, there’s no way out.

IV

Does Time suspend when not observed,
Events, not seen, have not occurred?
Schrödinger’s cat – alive, while dead;
A zero on vast plane of Time;
Unhappenings within weird world
Of spooky quantum Bohr events.
Does Time arrest at speeds of light?
Defy the rule of Newton’s world,
Majestic clock of classic thought.
To travel at that unique “c,”
Stops Time, prevents long march of age,
Upon the roiling timescape stage.
For some, time halts … the clock seems still …
Time’s relative through Einstein’s will.

V

Does Humankind unfold its Time
As chronicle of struggled breath?
From genesis to genocide,
Apocalypse, catastrophe.
Realities – breath, death and strife,
Topologies – timescapes of life.
Thus Time’s straight line can stretch to plane;
Brief moment now – one point in Time;
A point, on plane of space-time curve,
A point, on plain of history.
The timescape of the human tale
Is rife with holes, with parapets,
That pit, that pock, the course of life,
Hard hateful blocks, a struggled strife.

VI

On paths pursued on time-rich plains,
What are the spoils of breathing Time?
Emotions are the prize from Time!
Freedom of will: notion to motion;
Cerebral wine: emotion from notion.
Young couple twines, ferocious love
Too deeply binds two lives to one,
As Time befriends romantic zeal.
Like Hallmark moments: treacle, schmaltz,
Is joy of joyous time for real,
Or delude to a hopeful mind?
Like tales of Life: born, suffer, die,
Is misery the Human lot,
Or fallacy from fallen thought?

VII

Will we traverse Time’s loathsome plane,
To slip this earth-bound space-time plain?
To witness wars and really know,
Who “lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,”
Without the victor’s twist of tale.
Can thought through Art control the Time?
Picasso’s cubes – Guernica –
Immobile blocks: disjoint, move, scream,
Divulge horrific sweeps of time;
Enslaving Time … eternity.
If we can comprehend Time’s id,
Its meaning, measure, and moot point,
Then we can touch our Nature’s face,
To know the plan, to know the pace.

VIII

And so through thought, can we define,
Concept, notion, idea of Time?
Time is the net that webs through brain,
Time forms the flow – cerebral train;
Where Art and Science paths embrace,
Entwine – two dialects of Time.
Time does permit reality;
Two billions seconds in each Life,
Each second holds eternity.
What is Time? A construct of our
Brain and mind? A paradox of
Soul? A representation of
Succession through a succession
Of representations – that is Time!

Footnotes

Address corresepondence and reprint requests to Dr. Donald F. Weaver, Departments of Medicine (Neurology), Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 4J3 [email protected]
Series editor: Michael H. Brooke MD, Section Editor

Information & Authors

Information

Published In

Neurology®
Volume 71Number 22November 25, 2008
Pages: 1836-1837
PubMed: 19029527

Publication History

Published online: November 24, 2008
Published in print: November 25, 2008

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Donald F. Weaver, MD, PhD, FRCPC

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