Ruminations and Conversations with a Madman

The next New Moon will occur on Wednesday this week, coinciding with the next  Black Moon at the same time, 10:11 p.m. Central time. A New Moon occurs when the Sun and Moon are aligned, with the Sun and Earth on opposite sides of the Moon. A Black Moon has more than one definition, but the one which applies to the July 31 occurrence is this: the second New Moon in the same month. The first New Moon in July 2019 was recorded on July 2 at 2:16 pm. These facts, as well as numerous others of equal interest, are available to me because I occasionally visit timeanddate.com. Until this morning, though, I did not know that timeanddate.com (and its companion sites timeanddate.de (German) and timeanddate.no (Norwegian) is a product of Time and Date AS (“Aksjeselskap”), a private, limited liability company owned by its creator Steffen Thorsen, nor that it is based in Stavanger, Norway.

Unlike some other popular sites on the internet, timeanddate.com appears to exist to provide accurate information and not (at least not exclusively) to provide its founder with riches beyond his wildest dreams. I do not know how the company makes its money. The site says it accepts banner advertising, but I haven’t seen any on the site. I just hope its revenues warrant the site’s continuation; it has been around for twenty-one years, more or less, so I suppose it has found its niche in the world of internettery.

I’ve used the site, off and on, for many of its twenty-one years. I recall one of the first (maybe the very first) time I used it was to determine times in other parts of the world when planning for conference calls. I wanted to be sure to schedule the calls to be convenient to the majority of participants. So, for example, I checked to see what times people in Sweden, Russia, and Afghanistan would correspond with normal working hours. Timeanddate.com make the task simple.

Aside from the practical aspects of life that timeanddate.com address. the site prompts me (not necessarily by intention) to ponder the concept of time. Time, it seems to me, is an abstract human invention. Is the passing of hours and days even remotely relevant to creatures that do not live by the clock? Obviously, deer in the forest experience the cyclical nature of daylight and darkness, but do they conceive of the changes in light as corresponding to the passage of time? I’ll never know, of course, nor will anyone else. None of us can experience life from the perspective of a creature whose thought processes we can never truly understand. Even with the marvels of modern science, the best we can do is to make educated guesses about how the brains of other creatures work and how those creatures experience…their experiences. So we can’t know with certainty whether our abstract notion of time matters to them.

It’s interesting to ruminate about the fact that our concept of time is largely based on the relationship between Earth and the physical movement of the Sun and the Moon. I’m sure I’ve thought about, and probably have written about, how the concept of time would look utterly different to us if Earth were twice as far from the Sun. Days would be longer and nights, too, would go on and on and on. Would we age differently? Or would we simply adjust our understanding of the concept so that, for example, the average lifespan would be 40 instead of 80?

In times gone by, I think humans were more reverent of the Sun and Moon than we are today. Our species better understood, viscerally, the importance of those celestial bodies to our lives. We worshiped them, not in the way people worship a deity but, instead, in the sense that we felt an adoring reverence for them. We revered them, rightly or wrongly, as the givers of life.

I wonder why it gives me such satisfaction to think about such things? Why does it please me to explore questions that have no definitive answers? I think pondering the imponderable is a game in which there are no winners and losers. I like that in a game; an exercise not meant to lead to conquest but, instead, to a broadening of one’s perspectives. On the other hand, I sometimes get frustrated with discussions that, by their very nature, cannot lead to any conclusions. What’s the point, I wonder, when the outcome of conversation can only result in heat but no light? There must be a difference between those two fruitless endeavors, one of which is engaging and uplifting and the other which is disheartening and depressing. That’s another concept to explore one day, but not now, not this day.

This day. This period of light between darkness and darkness. This is a conversation I can have only with myself. I don’t think others would find this abstract exploration of ideas beyond understanding even remotely interesting. So I write to myself. I talk silently to myself. I record my thoughts with my fingers and let my tongue rest and, between thoughts, enjoy an occasional sip of coffee. And what about my fingers? What about the times they are not busy pounding on the keyboard? What enjoyment do they seek? That’s another idea worth exploring when my mood is right. I’ll examine, intellectually at least, whether individual body parts like fingers and toes and elbows and knees can experience pleasure they can experience pain. And, if so, I’ll attempt to define what pleasure means to the back of my knees or the bottom of my feet.

If people were to read what I write, they would know I’m crazy. It’s best that the audience for my blog is small and select. The fewer the number of people who know me, the lower the chances I’ll be caught and institutionalized. 😉

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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