On the way down to Pantheacon, I drove down the 101 along the Oregon Coast. It’s a beautiful, beautiful drive, but as I kept driving to where we were going to say for the night, I got to reflecting how my drive was in one sense a journey into the unknown, because I didn’t know when I would get to our destination for the night. There was this sense of anticipation, but also a subtle tension of wondering when will we get there. I actually feel the same way when I play a video game for the first time. I don’t know how long the game will actually be. I am playing it and heading toward an unknown destination and I won’t know the journey, how long the game will take, until I reach the final credits. The same is true with a ritual or technique you learn. The first time is a journey into the unknown, heightened by the factor of time.
Once you driven the route or played the game or done the ritual once, the unknown is changed. It becomes known, partially by your experience of it, but partially because you can also fit it into a temporal pace. You know how long it will take, when you’ll be where doing what. You know the time of it and that changes the experience because you have a different sense of where you are and what you are doing. It is simultaneously an experience where some of the unknown is gone, and yet what is known is still an illusion, because what you know is now based on expectation and recognition, which can be misleading.
And there’s something to be noted about how time is conceptualized according to distance. We talk about distance in terms of hours traveled, but by the same token, time is also conceptualized by the distance driven. When I reach that spot, I’ll know I’ve spent X amount of time driving. The same even applies to reading a book or playing a game. Whether we realize it or not we use our previous experience as an indicator of how much time is passed, yet again this is misleading, because the sense of time passed is based on your experience of distance traveled, game played, etc, and yet different people can have different experiences of time doing those same activities.
This is only important in the sense that we should never just buy-in to our experiences of life…or the elements that define life, such as time, or space. The experience is subjective and unless we question it and explore it, we run the risk of missing out on the unknown. We take the known for granted and yet what is known is an experience…not the reality.
Book Review: Thinking through the Body by Richard Schusterman
This was an intriguing book that explored the discipline of Somaaesthetics, or the aesthetics of the body. The author discussed the aesthetics in relationship to style, architecture, Japanese Noh theatre, muscle memory, to name just a few of the topics. The book is a dense, academic read, but well worth the effort as it explores the body through a variety of mediums. I found myself thinking about and experiencing my body with new perspectives as a result of reading this book. I’d recommend it if you are interested in developing a better relationship with your body, or want to learn more about this niche academic discipline.