nature, chronologically speaking

3 06 2008

you know how every movie, story, or actual recording that includes time travel invariably makes a point of stressing the importance of NOT CHANGING ANYTHING in the past, as the most minute difference could set into motion a series of events that could drastically alter the future?  the simpsons played with the idea when homer’s toaster sent him back and he stepped on a bug.  i think it even rained doughnuts in one of the alternative futures he eventually stumbled into.  futurama had fry become his own grandfather, even.  and we all know what happened to the future when mcfly left the sports almanac in the past.  it took a whole feature film to sort that mess out.

so, i get it.  no changing anything.  nothing.  don’t do anything, man.  unless it turns out you were supposed to have done it all along, in which case, for god’s sake, don’t not do it!

what i think is interesting is how willing people are to screw around with the natural order of our host and habitat, ever present but the fabric of time, something we barely can even think about, remains absolutely sacred in our media.  why?  just because it could change everything?  who’s to say that that’s not a completely acceptable change?  as time happened, things would change, but the participants would be none the wiser.  is time not part of our larger ruling force?  can it not be defined as being part of our natural environment?  and as such, why shouldn’t it be subject to the very same jaunts of human meddling that the rest of our world is?

i think that it would be.  the sacredness of anything may only exist in our world until we figure out how to manipulate it.  and why not?  all it can do is change stuff.  and… we got stuff.  i could come out of this meddling sittin’ pretty.  hopefully as a low-level office functionary.

wait!  my dream is realized!  don’t disturb the fabric of time, please, should you ever get the chance.

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2 responses

3 06 2008
Beck

This is an example of one grand truth (space-time continuum) fueled by another (humans only care about money and sex). Like a red sock in a load of whites, we need to know that with only our greediness (as illustrated by the McFly/Spiff fiasco) or our horniness (in the case of Fry), we have the power to change the whole world.

23 06 2008
mr. allyson

There are several theories on this matter, this matter of changing time when time traveling. The butterfly theory as you speak of, of course (as in, a butteryfly-flaps-it’s-wings-blahblah-let’s-make-bad-movies-with-this-idea-blah -blah). Then there is time as a compost pile theory, which I like in part for the very unromanticness of its name. Says that any changes you’d make are mostly surface, shifting bits on the top of the compost heap, events further in, lodged by later events, are much harder to move, harder and harder to change the further in it is. So a butterfly pretty much couldn’t do shit, in this theory. Sorry butterfly.

This is a really interesting point you make –>
“what i think is interesting is how willing people are to screw around with the natural order of our host and habitat, ever present but the fabric of time, something we barely can even think about, remains absolutely sacred in our media. ”
Especially after trying to listen to the NPR interview with James Hansen. I think there’s lots of stuff in that sentence you made but I can’t pull it all out with my head right now.

Also, the idea that we should not change past events is based on a fallacy. A fallacy that reads history backwards from the present, rather than looking at each moment in history as complex and tenuous, in no way necessarily leading to where we are now, but it just so happens that it did. As if, if you were to travel back into the past, you would be the only possible ethical actor, and everyone else’s choices, moment to moment, big and small, were already secured and set rather than filled with possibility. If we have any choice now than we certainly do yesterday as well. I am not sure if I am explaining this well at all but you know me, always happy to talk about time travel. I think it leads to the very big question of what is the present, what is the Living Present, which I have been thinking about a lot recently, but have no answers for. Other than it seems to be magical and everyone always seems to be riding its crest constantly, until an individual’s moment of disembarking. In any case, time travel where you can’t or shouldn’t change the past doesn’t seem like time travel, it seems like time gazing. If you were to travel to the past and have the ability to act within the past as if it were you’re present, which it would be, as far as I can tell, it would be the present for everyone else in that moment too, they would not suddenly become NPCs here solely so the time traveling spectacle you’re touristing around would be well-rounded, they would not experience life as greyed out and choreographed for the moments you were there. So I think a lot of this trope you’re talking about has to do with respect for other human life. Respect and the question of authorship.

I have other problems with that trope too but I think I’ve already geeked out sufficiently here.

But all this reminds me, I have something very exciting (for myself) to tell you (so you can act excited for me).

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