THE SPREAD MIND
Why our experience and the object we experience are one

Step 8: The Spread Now

Mathematics has lulled most of us into believing that the world is made of punctual places and times. But we know better. The objects we handle are spread in time. We, too, are spread. Many things take place in each moment of our lives, and none of them are temporally punctual.

Example. Riccardo looks over his desk at the sunset. His now is made of the surrounding area, the distant mountain, the almost full moon rising in the east, the red sun setting in the west, the sparkling light of Jupiter, and a few twinkling stars. These things are temporally very distant according to a traditional picture. The moon is one light-second away, the sun is 8 minutes away, Jupiter is 20 minutes away, and some of the stars are more than years away. Still, all of these objects are part of Riccardo's present, just like the nearby trees and mountains.

The critical factor that fixes whether something is inside one's present (or now) is not a temporal distance, but rather the condition of being part of the same gerrymandered cause. Every effect defines a subset of nature which is, at the same time, its cause and its present. The present is not a point on a line but a collection of objects that are co-present to each other. The now is not a fixed container bracketing reality and running along a timeline. The now is a gerrymandered object, too. The now is not only spread, but it is also relative to a particular event. The now is a gerrymandered object spatitemporally spread and singled out by a joint effect. In short,

I am not, now. I am a now

Riccardo Manzotti, January 27, 2015 (updated December 25st)