Seeing Like Wednesday Sees

We have been treating the universe as matter, and its medium as space—and we have not yet solved the core etiology of our diseases. Let’s try treating it as light, and its medium as time.

What am I going to have for lunch on Wednesday? From Monday’s perspective, it could be many things. But from Friday’s perspective, it was only one.

I have an essay under submission at the moment called “Seeing at the Speed of Light.” How does light see? I believe it sees as Wednesday sees—and that is what has been throwing us off. To see as Wednesday sees is a paradox.

From the present, as I OBSERVE the future, it appears to be exploding. (There are many possibilities for what tomorrow could be.) But as I ENTER the future, it is in fact collapsing.

From the present, as I OBSERVE the past, it appears to be condensing. (There is only one possibility for what yesterday was.) But as I MOVE AWAY from the past, it is in fact exploding.

From Monday’s perspective, I could have five hundred different things for lunch on Wednesday, including a sandwich at my favorite café in Santa Fe, New Mexico. But as I approach Wednesday, moving closer and closer to it through time, the list of possibilities dwindles. If it is 11 AM Wednesday, and I did not leave for Santa Fe three hours ago, I am not going to have that sandwich.

Our vision works the opposite way in the opposite direction—but it’s still a paradox.

From Friday’s perspective, I had a BLT on Wednesday. And from Saturday’s perspective, I had a BLT on Wednesday. And from Sunday’s perspective, I had a BLT on Wednesday. This narrowing redundancy is a repeating signal to our brains: the past, as we observe it, narrows. But this condensing effect is a feature only of perception, not necessarily of reality. Is the past narrowing—or is the present widening? A cone of light widens over time. The “I” that says: “I had a BLT for lunch” is wider on Friday than it was on Wednesday.

Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 3D Map of the Cosmos:

Observing from the center, as I look left, light explodes. But as I move left, light condenses.

Observing from the center, as I look right, time condenses. But as I move right, time explodes.

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