Sunday, March 6, 2016

Time Flows Downhill

We often think of time passing they way we read a book - we read it from left to right from the beginning to the end.

There is a remote New Guinea tribe where time flows uphill.  The article is in the New Scientist 
here.  For this tribe, if they were facing downhill and talking about the future, the person would gesture backwards.  How interesting compared to us - we have a few standard notions of time's spacial orientation.  

“HERE and now”, “Back in the 1950s”, “Going forward”… Western languages are full of spatial metaphors for time, and whether you are, say, British, French or German, you no doubt think of the past as behind you and the future as stretching out ahead. Time is a straight line that runs through your body."

A standard memory pattern is to recall the past looking up to the left, and imagine the future looking up to the right.  You can find out if this is your internal process by considering a daily activity - e.g. brushing one's teeth.  First recall brushing your teeth yesterday, and the day before, etc.  Next imagine brushing your teeth tomorrow, the next day, etc.  You will likely 'see' an image of yourself placed in front of you to the right and the left. 

Today's image is a weathered piece of wood on a St. Augustine dock, with the title "Time Flows Downhill".  How would we interpret this title compared to our New Guinea tribe? 

No comments:

Post a Comment