Sunday, 1 January 2017
"Time is simultaneous, an intricately structured jewel that humans insist on viewing one edge at a time, when the whole design is visible in every facet."
-Alan Moore, Watchmen (London, 1987), Chapter IX, p. 6.
(i) Time is simultaneous? All times are the same time? Contradiction?
(ii) We do not insist on our view of time. We find that we have this view.
(iii) If there is something that we view one edge at a time, then it exists at those different times at which we view it. Thus, our viewing is temporal even if the thing viewed is static.
Snowy Vernall, knowing what will happen to his wife fifty years hence, reflects:
"That, of course, was all in the now-then, while down beneath him in the now-now he could hear..."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 253.
Usually, we divide times into now (this time) and then (any other time). Vernall has reduced all times to now but immediately reintroduces a distinction between now and then. However, his thought in this passage is not quite the same as Doctor Manhattan's. Vernall's "now-now" simply means "the moment in which I am thinking this" whereas Manhattan definitely introduces a second temporal dimension with his "...one edge at a time."