Q. Why is it so hard to swat houseflies?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time.  Maybe it’s just the influence of sci-fi – the Time Machine, Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, Back to the Future etc etc.  Or maybe because intuitively it doesn’t seem obvious that time should be asymmetric, apparently having only one direction, when physical dimensions don’t exhibit that behaviour.  And of course Einstein shook the world with the idea of the ‘relativity’ of time.  We’ve seen the fall of parity, maybe one day we’ll see the fall of time as well.  Only a matter of time.

Lord Of The Flies

Time’s bullets go so slow
for Neo
and for flies
in the matrix mesh of their flickering lives.

Time flies.
Time lords.
In words it’s so hard to explain
the tangled thoughts that scramble my brain,
that maybe, just maybe, ‘time’ isn’t real.
Simply an illusion of the mind of man,
a delusion we use to understand
the essence of change.

Sun rise, sun set,
child born, man dies,
it rains, we get wet,
the mind’s immutability of cause and effect
driven by physics and cyclic events
and yet, and yet
what if we’ve got it all wrong?
What if time’s arrow isn’t set?
What if time’s ‘trans-infinite’?
A trans-infinite net of ‘now-ness’.

Oh no, Xeno, think on it!
We live in the ‘now’.

There is no future,
just anticipation of what may be.
the certainty of uncertainty,
the uncertainty of destiny,
the synchronicity of ‘nowness’.

And there is no past,
just memory,
our information store
of what we think it is
that’s happened before.

They say memory fades,
with ‘age’,
with the ‘passing of time’.
Does that mean the past has changed?
They say that our days
grow shorter with ‘age’,
with the ‘passing of time’.
Time slips by
in the blink of an eye.
Isn’t that strange?
No, not strange if delusion,
a confusion of perception
of what we feel
with the illusion of what is real.

Maybe flies know.
They see time drone slow
and Time is lord of the flies.


15th September 2013 – headline from the Independent

Notes:  Q. Why is it so hard to swat houseflies? A. They see us coming in slow motion.”  The ultra-nimble fly is capable of processing nearly seven times as information in a second as a human.  This means a rolled-up piece of newspaper which moves so fast that it appears as a blur to our eyes is, to the fly, more like the slow-motion bullets that are easily dodged by Neo, Keanu Reeves’ character in The Matrix.  A paper published in Animal Behaviour journal today found the perception of time was linked to the size of an animal’s body and metabolic rate.  But it can also change depending on the circumstances: time appears to slow down during stressful situations like a car crash because in an attempt to avoid disaster, the brain increases the amount of information it is taking in.


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