Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Time Space Metaphors: Do we have different metaphors based on different cultures( mouse traps)

Reading about "conceptual metaphor theory" may be useful for understanding the rest of this mail.

There are 2 great articles regarding space time metaphors on Mixing Memories. Yet the research seems to be focussed only on linear representations of time as Space is automatically assumed to be the Cartesian space of X,Y and Z co-ordinates and the metaphorical mapping of time to space is thus limited in this regard. Also, in the article time perception is regarded as based on either-or of future-movement or ego-movement.

Even when linear metaphors of time are concerned, one can have both future-movement or ego-movement simultaneously. I remember when I was giving IIT-JEE, and the date of exam was approaching, I used to sing a lot a hindi song "Tu hai meri kiran" from Baazigar and liked one of the lines of the stanza the most " faasle aur kam ho rahe hain, door se pass hum ho rahe hain" which means "The distance is becoming lesser and we are approaching each other from distance to closeness". This metaphor that I had used was more of event-based whereby both I (ego) as well as future(the test) were moving towards each other to meet at a particular instance/ event.

With reference to the second post on this blog describing how mice may get concepts of Space and develop representations that are either close to Cartesian geometry or alternately of Angular Geometry, it is reasonable to assume that the Time concept/ representation that such mice may develop would also follow the way they represent space.

Of particular interest to us is the metaphorical representation of time for those mice who have developed the concepts of Space as being in r, theta format of angular geometry (some critics may thrash this as regressing back to heliocentric view of the universe with Sun denoting the origin/ centre of universe.....but the representation of time is more Anthropomorphic or Ratothromorphic view, with the origin conceptualized as not the rat or human himself but something close by (preferably a light source) that can be used as reference) and would thus naturally map time to one of the dimensions in r, theta, phi...in this case view time as circular or repetitive or in rhythm. An article that traces internal clock mechanisms like circadian rhythms may be instructive.

Thus, considering the numerous mythical elements in Indian Culture regarding the circular nature of time ( reincarnation, repetitive Eng or ages, no distinction between word 'kal' representing either today or tomorrow based on context), i is reasonable to assume that it is possible that some humans/ cultures may have a circular, or at the least, rhythmic representation of time.

Thus while Amyara present a paradox in terms of viewing time backwards, the oriental cultures (esp. Indian) may represent another paradox in terms of viewing time circular or rhythmic. Also to venture into area that I'm ignorant of, this may explain the popularity of films like the ground hog day, explain deja vus and when eventually we would be able to 'see' the 4D time-space continuum, may require utilization of both 3-D Cartesian space representations and the angular (or curvature) time perception.

Also, while we are at the topic of time perception, please check this excellent article summing up the major approaches in studying time perception phenomenon.

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