Monday, April 24, 2017


Nested Time

In the examination of different images to express time I’ve lately been seeing time as a ball that grows in size as layers of the new are added. I haven’t left my past behind. It goes with me everywhere. It is the substrate for the new layers added by recent experience. The old is there to draw from and forms the perspective that chooses what is relevant from scenes and events. Where there’s a grievance other grievances pile on and create sensitive peaks on the ball.
This image grew from this semester’s Visual Ideas class where in our discussions I’m struck by how onion-like the accumulation of information is. The class centers around current events and representing ideas about them visually, so each issue is a ball that grows as new substance is added to each layer. Fresh experience enfolds the previous. There are intersections among the balls that build around each issue like a Venn diagram in 3D. This could be a good image for how the brain builds memory connections around a starting point. The Beatle tune “Glass Onion” develops that image in a way that can be applied to many phenomenon of mind. Though I mainly use it to reflect on layers of consciousness, lately the idea of the oldest memories encased at the center, enfolded in similar types of memories up until most recent is an image that offers the whole of time at once. We bring the whole of our experience to be overlaid with the next

Our bodies offer a model of how many variously organized structures are held within the shell of skin and tissue and muscle, held up by the scaffold of bones, so a nested image makes sense. Scientists of ancient bones can tell the story of repeated behavior from the bones, see what actions were central to our meaning. Future layers of the earth will show how the current cultural history enfolds and is enfolded.

 In the linear view of time, the past is gone. If we look at it as an onion, it is always within the present. One of the important points in Rupert Sheldrake’s banned Ted talk was that the mindsets that are currently used by science to explain reality have become so entrenched that it becomes hard to view what is still unexplained from another perspective.

 In invoking vision metaphors I mean to emphasize that looking at something differently needs new images. At the heart of the onion the originating seed, what activates it is as big a mystery as death. What is that animating force? With images that connect, reflect, and encompass we reveal the interconnections of growth that flourish with diversity.