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Space-Time-Being in Arabic (2)

As I stand closing my eyes under the rain, the drops of water splash on my skin. Each drop brings a sensual experience. With each drop an experience chasing After me comes Before me. I am constantly feeling the “future” unfold before me.

As I sit closing my eyes before the ocean, the crashing waves reach my ears. Each wave brings a sensual experience. With each crash an experience chasing After me comes Before me. I am constantly hearing the “future” unfold before me.

As I enter the market in Old Cairo, the rainbow of fragrances fills my nose. Each spice and oil brings a sensual experience. With each smell an experience chasing After me comes Before me. I am constantly smelling the “future” unfold before me.

As I lay at night in my bed, the dreams of my mind roam in my head. Each scene brings a sensual experience. With each visualization, an experience chasing After me comes Before me. I am constantly dreaming the “the future” unfold before me.

The future is after you and will soon be before you. The future is the unseen, the yet to be experienced. The past is that which passed from behind and is now before you. There is the unseen, and the seen. There is the hidden, and that which enters into the scene. There is the unexperienced and the experienced. There is the future behind you and the past before you.

I stand as a spectator to all this. I watch this emergence of the experienced before me and I react, but could never act. I, the Angstable Core, react to this ever-unfolding scene before me, but can never act. Angst is not the “dizziness of freedom”, but the “apprehension of helplessness”. I, the Core, am a spectator seeing this ever-unfolding scene before me, and I toggle between contempt and content, between fear and ease. I rotate and turn between a variety of reactions, but I can never act.

The Angstable Core is a free prisoner, it is free to react, but is imprisoned in the inability to act.

The Core experiences the ever-unfolding scene and intends. It intends to move forward, in reaction to an unfolding scene in the horizon, an unfolding sense from below, and an unfolding brush of air on the skin. The Core intends to stand, in reaction to an unfolding contraction of the legs, and unfolding stretch of the back. The Core witnesses the unseen as it emerges through the body onto the scene.

The body sees, hears, feels, smells, tastes and reasons. It reasons ways to figure what might emerge onto the scene through figures. It counts and counts on its counting in order to prepare for the advent of the emerging Before. The Core witnesses all this and reacts, but can never act. The Core can only realize the actions of the body and intend, or helplessly reject them.

The body channels the unfolding scene to the Core. The Core can only react to that which is emerging Before it. The body itself navigates its way through this perceived world. The body reacts and acts according to the senses of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. It also reacts and acts according to the sense of reason. It can also react and act according to the reaction of the Core. Yet the Core itself, can only react, but never act.

When eating, the body reacts and acts according to the sensation of the abdomen, the nose, eyes and tongue, and to the sense of reason, and to the reaction of the Core, and all what the Core can do is react.

I am the Core, but by virtue of my residence, I am also the body. This body in which I reside emerged in a certain place and time, all which the Core witness and reacts to, but can never act. This body in which I reside reacts and acts to the unfolding scene it perceives, and the Core witnesses and reacts, but can never act. I am the Core, but by virtue of my residence, I am the tanned, the male, the Egyptian, the American, the 29 year old, the son, the brother, the husband, the father, the student, the typing, the reading, the thinking… all of which my Core bears witness to, and reacts… but may never act.

My body reacts and acts the way other bodies act, whether they are human, mountains, water or trees, but my Core reacts the way Cores react… and they can never act.

To be continued…

Space-Time-Being in Arabic (1)

Whenever I get stuck while thinking about an issue, I starting thinking about it in the other language I know… then things start to get moving. This happened to me while struggling to understand and appreciate Graham Harman’s “vicarious causation”. To refresh my mind, I decided to try and build up to it in Arabic. So as I began to furnish the stage with the appropriate Arabic terms, I went on a tangent that I quite enjoyed.

Thinking about Space and Time in Arabicarabic anatomy

Interestingly, Arabic has a provoking usage of terms to reflect spatiality and temporality. The root Q-B-L is used for “front” and “before”, while D-B-R is used for “back” and “after”. This is counter-intuitive, and the best way I found to describe it in English was to use anterior and posterior. “Anterior” is used to reflect the front side, or “ahead of”. However, “antiquity” is used in reference to the past. Conversely, “posterior” is used to reflect the back side, or “behind”, while posterity is used in reference to the future.  This reflects the usage of Q-B-L and D-B-R in Arabic.

Now this is counter to the way we tend to imagine the relationship between space and time. Usually, we think of forward and future on-the-same-side-and-opposite-to behind and past. However, anterior/posterior provide a radically and paradigm-shifting perspective. I find the word “before” to capture this different perspective. Before-ness refers to that which is spatially in front of you as well as temporarily in the past.

The image that unfolds thinking this way, is not of a person facing and heading into the future, but rather a person being dragged backwards into the future while facing the past. To succinctly express this image I would say: “Future is after you and will soon be before you”.

When you think about this more, you realize that the Spatial Before is rather superficial. We are biased, due to the design of our bodies to think of Spatial Before as “in front”. However, if I were to use a type of optics that provides me with a 360 panoramic view, and I learned to get used to it, that would eliminate the normal front/back bias. What becomes of Spatial Before? In this case, Spatial and Temporal Before will both united into the same concept; that which is evident, or that which is experienced. Before-ness is that which is experienced.

360panorama

If that is the case, then After-ness is that which is not experienced, because it has not been encountered yet (or was encountered but forgotten?).

Let’s say that I wear my 360 optics and look at the horizon. The landscape is before me, as I am experiencing it, it is all Before me. While doing so, there are numerous changes that are occurring, each of those changes, each new experience is an After reaching me and becoming Before me. In this scenario, I am passively experiencing the ever-arriving Before. If this were not a serene horizon I was watching, but a war zone for example, then I would be apprehensive of what might happen. I would not know what will enter, or push itself against the screen of my experience. That apprehension is an alternative way I understand Angst. For in this case, Angst is not the “dizziness of freedom”, but the “apprehension of helplessness”.

To be continued….