Connecting Time, Beauty, and Language

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Connecting Time, Beauty, and Language

Our class has been pondering language. People have asked each other, 'do you think in words?' Some have suggested that when we are involved in activities such as chess or tennis, we do not think in words, but rather act from an intuitive space that needs no language. Our class has also been pondering time. We have reminded each other of

a paradox that exists in our everyday lives: we cannot be truly in the moment, for as soon as we consciously start trying to be in the moment, we have removed ourselves from the moment. There is the idea of that nebulous, nameless space proposed in both lines of thought which begs to be connected. I am led to questions: Can we connect time and language? In other words, can "being in the moment" in the sense of our perception of time mean that we are finally centered in that wordless space where we act from instinct?

I can trace this thread of questioning to a Borges story ("The Secret Miracle") that I love wherein a man is sentenced to death by firing squad. He prays to god to be given enough time to finish his play before he dies, and god freezes time (the shadow of a bee on the stones near his feet remains motionless, and puffs of cigarette smoke from the soldiers' mouths hang immobile in the air). The man cannot move, yet he can think. He spends his time (or his out-of-time) working on his play, and when he finally feels it is done, the normal course of time resumes and he is shot to death.

While intense experiences of immersion in a moment may not take this form, Borges creates an interesting commentary on the notion of being in the moment. The man is frozen in the moment in most senses of the word, though he is able to think and to use language to define his situation. The idea that I am working with suggests that it is only when we pull back from a moment that we engage with language in order to describe the activities that were, in a sense, timeless only moments before. The man before the firing squad is given the luxury of both the moment and the ability to reflect on it.

This raises another interesting question. If "time" is frozen and no one moves, what kind of scale is the man's mind working on?

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