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My Time Is Your Time

My Time Is Your Time

This society was founded 13 years ago and was convened for the first time 10 years ago. This year we are meeting for the fourth time. I have been asked to speak from a background of a brief review of those meetings and to point my own remarks toward prospects for the future. I shall begin with general observations about those papers, indicating the areas in the study of time where we have made some progress, and giving a sampling of other typical areas where we have done little work.
N. Lawrence

Issues of Beginnings and Endings


Beginnings of Organic Evolution

It is now generally believed that life arose on the Earth spontaneously, that the first systems capable of evolving indefinitely through natural selection were the outcome of normal physico-chemical processes. We may accept this as a reasonable premise without being committed to a more particular set of ideas embodied in the doctrine of chemical evolution. According to this doctrine the physico-chemical processes in question consisted of a preliminary build-up of our biochemicals (amino acids, sugars, and so on) in primordial waters followed by their polymerization and further organization into systems that could eventually reproduce and so become subject to Darwinian selection. This straight line view of the beginnings of organic evolution has been well discussed—for example by Oparin (1957), Calvin (1969), Miller and Orgel (1974) and Dickerson (1978). According to this view organic molecules that lie now at the basis of our biochemistry. Inorganic minerals insofar as they were involved sserved in a secondary role, in providing catalysts for the formation of small organic molecules or surfaces on which these might have been congregated to make their polymerization more likely to occur. Bernal (1951) saw clays in this way—and this been the general view since that time
A. G. Cairns-Smith

The Beginning of the Beginning in Western Thought

From Homer on, the common Greek word for ‘beginning’ is άρχń The verb is άρχω), and it can mean ‘to rule’ as well as ‘to begin,’ though the latter seems to be the original meaning. According to Buck’s Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principle Indo-European Languages, “words for ‘begin, beginning’ are most commonly based upon notions like ‘seize upon’ or ‘enter upon,’ but there are also other and diverse sources.” It is possible, according to Buck, that άρχω ‘begin’ and άρχń ‘ beginning’ come from an old aorist form of έρχομαι to come,’ the development being ‘came to,’ ‘started,’ ‘began’.1
D. Corish

Death, Literature, and Its Consolations

An early scene in James Joyce’s novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, shows the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, as a child attending a boarding school outside of Dublin. One day he opens up his geography textbook and notes how he has written his name on the title page:
  • Stephen Dedalus
  • Class of Elements
  • Clongowes Wood College
  • Sallins
  • County Kildare
  • Ireland
  • Europe
  • The World
  • The Universe
The little boy, as Joyce says, tries reading the page from bottom to top until he comes to his own name:
That was he: and he read down the page again. What was after the universe? Nothing. But was there anything round the universe to show where it stopped before the nothing place began? … He could think only of God. God was God’s name just as his name was Stephen. … It made him very tired to think that way. It made him feel his head very big.
G. H. Ford

On the Beginnings and Endings of Time in Medieval Judaism and Islam

In discussing Medieval Judaic and Islamic conceptions of the beginning and of the ending of time I will first describe different conceptions of the World’s being-in-time and then ask, with respect to these different conceptions, three questions:
Did time exist before the World did?
Will time exist after the World ceases to exist?
Are all World events in time?
S. L. Goldman

A Structuralist View of Biological Origins

Contemporary biology is structured by ideas whose proximal roots lie in the 19th century, a century dedicated to historical, utilitarian, and mechanical explanations. Time, utility, and mechanism therefore lie heavily upon this natural science. This is reflected in the dominant positions of genetics and the theory of evolution, which are regarded as the twin pillars of modern biology. Genetics concerns itself with the properties and the behavior of the heriditary material which consists of those “instructions” found by trial and error to generate useful, or successful, mechanisms (parts of organisms); while evolution describes how these instructions change in time under the action of various contingencies, described as random variation in the genetic material and selection pressures on the useful mechanisms generated by it. These selection pressures define the interaction between the organism, or more strictly its parts, and the external environment, also defined by contingencies. This interaction is interpreted in terms of the metaphors of conflict, competition, and survival of the fittest. Historical continuity, linking all organisms in an unbroken chain back to the hypothetical primordial ancestor, arises from the self-replicating property of the hereditary material which is considered to underly organismic reproduction.
B. C. Goodwin

The Origins of Time

0. The fundamental axiom of science and of everyday experience asserts that everything has its history. Also, the universe as a whole turns out to be a “historical being”; contemporary cosmology attempts at reconstructing the cosmic history. “One of the greatest discoveries of science is that the universe also changes with time, and like living systems may well have a kind of birth and death also.” (Davies, 1978, p. 74). But why has the universe its history? This apparently trivial question opens a fascinating research field for theoretical physics. Our attempt to answer this question touches an old philosophical issue—the problem of the origins of time.
M. Heller

The Relationship Between Our New Sense of Time and Our sense of an Ending in Tragedy

Tragedies, which by general consensus over a long period of time are acknowledged to be great, seem to be confined to specific periods. They appear to have been composed at those times when a civilization regarded itself as a chosen people. If we use as examples the Athens of the 5th century before Christ, the France of the Roi Soleil, the England of the Elizabeth who was “Gloriana,” or perhaps even the America of Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Henry Miller, we will quickly realize that the heroes with whom we are concerned demonstrate a progressively changing relationship with their audience. The Greek heroes are by definition related to the gods, Shakespeare’s protagonists are kings or at the very least gens de condition—people of the highest importance in the state—whose fall involves the fate of a people. By way of contrast, the protagonists of O’Neill, Williams, and Miller are all too much like ourselves.1 We are not here directly concerned with defining tragedy or even with relating it to death—for Oedipus and Electra tragedy does not seem to require death and in Death of a Salesman the death may be less a tragedy than the closure of one—but we are concerned with the influence on tragedy of an increasing awareness of clock time and of geographical place. The subject of this paper is the change in the tragic hero’s function or status as well as the narrowing of the discrepancy between the time and place of the hero and that of the audience. These changes were conditioned by changing attitudes to chronology.
S. L. Macey

The Beginning and End of Time in Physical Cosmology

It appears that 15 to 18 billion years1 ago there was an immense eruption of energy, and all the bits of matter and energy then present in the universe started to move apart at immense speed. Within minutes, atoms of the chemical elements began to form: hydrogen, deuterium, and helium first; others later. All the time these fragments of matter were rushing outward at an enormous rate which however slowly decreased, since each particle first feels the gravitational attraction of the rest and that attraction (it can be shown from Newton’s theory of gravity) is directed back toward the point where the explosion took place. It is the same as the attraction that slows a ball or a rocket as it leaves the ground. A ball finally falls back again to the ground. A rocket, at greater speed, may take longer to fall back or it may move so fast that it continues on into space and never returns. The outcome depends on the initial speed. In exactly the same way, the force of gravity either will halt the expansion of the universe and bring it back again, once more to a single point, or else it will not, and the motion will continue forever. Which of the two will happen can in principle be decided by scientific measurement and we are likely to know the answer in a few years. The question is difficult only because the observed speeds place us rather close to the dividing line between continued expansion and ultimate collapse so the measurements must be more precise than is now possible.
D. Park

Beginnings and Endings: Hesse and Kawabata

The idea of beginnings and endings suggests a number of intriguing and often paradoxical questions about the nature of time and the human perception of events, change, and movement within the limitations of a temporal framework. From one standpoint, beginnings and endings provide a means of ordering events within a coherent unit, thus imbuing them with a certain definition and significance. For example, Huizinga, in his seminal work on the play element of culture, recognizes time restrictions as a chief characteristic of play: “Play begins, and then at a certain moment it is ‘over.’ It plays itself to an end.”1 These boundaries create a temporary sphere of activity with its own order and separate it from the confusion of ordinary life. Aristotle also uses a linear and progressive time sense to define tragedy as a whole and complete action, “ ‘Whole’ means having a beginning, a middle and an end. …”
M. Pilarcik

Perspectivity and the Principle of Continuity

Everyday speech, as much learned discourse, often refers to particular things as first coming into existence and then later expiring. The reality of the particular entity or event is then discerned, identified, and even explained, in terms of the quantified temporal distance between these identifiable termini of its duration. This common manner of speaking and thinking presumes to understand particular entities and events as though the identity of each is somehow contained within its determinate temporal boundaries; we identify particular people, things, and events by means of their bi-terminal dates. And we speak of a person, a thing, an event in terms of its beginning and its end, as though these two chronological notations were preeminently intrinsic to the nature of its being.
C. M. Sherover

Closure and the Shape of Fictions: The Example of “Women in Love”

Readers have known that endings are important ever since men began to read or even to listen to stories. We pay tribute to the importance of endings in numerous ways. For example, even though knowing how a work ends makes it easier to analyze on a first reading, few of us really want to lose the suspense which accompanies a first reading. Therefore we commonly ask others not to “give away” the ending. When we’re baffled by a book, or consumed by curiosity and skip ahead to read the ending, we obey a contrary impulse, but one which also testifies to the importance of endings, to their ability to clarify just what a given fiction is “about.” When reviewers of films or novels almost ritualistically note and evaluate the ending of the work and its success or failure, they too acknowledge the first fact with which I begin: the importance of an ending to the form and meaning of a narrative work.
M. Torgovnick

Issues of Music and Time


Hindu-Buddhist Time in Javanese Gamelan Music

We have all heard it said that “music is a universal language.” What is meant by this statement is not that any music is universal, but that western classical music is universal. The distress and awkwardness of a music-loving, educated Indian at a symphony concert is matched only by the discomfort of an intelligent American at a Chinese opera performance. Musical events are profoundly culture-bound. Given enough time, one can come to appreciate the arts of an alien culture (partly by superimposing one’s own set of values and aesthetics upon the listening act), but one cannot be taught to hear music as someone from another cultures hears it. Too much cultural background, too many unstated, often unstateable presuppositions are embedded within the situation of music making and music hearing. Listening to a musical events from another culture is the same kind of act as reading a poem from another culture. One may comprehend all the words (notes) and yet somehow miss the meaning. Because cross-cultural understanding is ultimately impossible does not mean that one should not try. This paper is such an attempt, an effort to briefly sketch out a few of the many underlying assumptions which provide the cognitive context, the source of richness of meaning for a performance of Javanese gamelian music.
J. Becker

The Zones of Time in Music and Human Activity

The outstanding Polish logician and philosopher, Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, believed that “time” has four different meanings: (1) “a moment, an exact date, a point of time”; (2) “a period of time, a span of time, a time interval”; (3) “duration, the length of a time period”; (4) “an all-embracing period of time.” My analysis and interpretation of these meanings is seen in Figure 1.
L. Bielawski

On Musical Continuity

In his paper on “The Creation of Audible Time” Lewis Rowell has developed with elegance some perspectives of musical time—perspectives of culture, of aesthetics, of structure.1 This study will examine one of these perspectives in greater detail, probing the mechanisms by which musical time is structured in aspects of Western tonal music. Its concerns come naturally to those of us who spend our days making music, for the encounter with time structure is a continual one that faces us whenever we rehearse, perform, and indeed think about music. More often than not these issues lie at the heart of musical interpretation and, thereby, of musical preparation. For it is not the wrong pitch or the misplaced rhythm that worry musicians at work; they are easily heard and corrected. It is the ambiguities of nuance, of dynamics, of tempo, rubato, motion that call for clarification and decisions.
D. Epstein

The Creation of Audible Time

John Cage once remarked about David Tudor, “His music has no beginning, no middle, and no end.”1 What Cage meant by this cryptic comment was that Tudor’s music studiously avoids the conventional rhetoric—the various opening and closing gambits, tactics, and behaviors that audiences have come to expect in different genres and styles of music. This “conventional rhetoric” is the subject of the present paper. Our method is an exploration of how musical compositions begin: what it takes to transport the listener from the external world of clock time to the internal time which a piece of music creates and which is shared by composer, performer, and listener. And how—by means of specific actions, energy, duration, speed of pulsation, patterning, and a variety of other clues—we are brought under the control of an audible, hierarchical time that is more palpable, more insistent, more clearly articulated, and more flexible than the world of everyday time to which we eventually return.
L. Rowell

Miscellaneous Contributions


The Branch System Hypothesis: A Critique

The relation of entropy to temporal direction and temporal anisotropy has been a persistent, nagging problem to both scientists and philosophers. Since the advent of statistical mechanics, which revealed the temporal symmetry of the microphenomena thought to underlie the temporally asymmetric macrophenomena of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, there have been a number of puzzles, including whether or not entropy, increasing or decreasing, 1 tells us anything at all about time. Adolf Grünbaum has been one of the foremost proponents of a connection between entropy and time, claiming that his branch system hypothesis describes a temporally asymmetric entropy increase which confers anisotropy on (at least) the present temporal epoch. 2
S. C. Schwarze

Time Proverbs and Social Change in Belgrade, Yugoslavia

In contemporary Belgrade the social idea of time has been changing in two ways. First, calendrical time no longer reflects Serbian Orthodox religious custom to a significant degree. The Church or Julian calendar has been gradually relegated over the past sixty years to a minor function of religious ritual; and Serbs, comprising over 80% of the population of the city (Bogavac 1974:665), generally calculate even the dates of many religious observances by the Gregorian calendar, civilly accepted in 1918 (Mišković 1966:106). Just as importantly, church holidays are no longer recognized by the postwar socialist government and are being gradually supplanted in their general observance by civil holidays (cf. Spangler 1979: Chapter Two).
M. Spangler


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