Saturday, August 27, 2011

THE MANIPULATION OF TIME – THE RISE OF “MOMENTIA”


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Institutions of our culture manipulate time. We may be aware of forms of psychological, political and economic manipulation, but the category of Time is not one usually given consideration. In this article this phenomenon will be examined. Primarily, the focus will be on “Moments”, on how the division of time into moments is exploited by media, marketing, consumerism and more, and how a strategy centered on time control is simple, comprehensive and effective.


Moments and Momentia
We experience time as a series of moments. This gives us a tendency to see the many sequential moments as disconnected, as unrelated events.

This is one meaning of the term “Momentia”, we see only moments, some good or bad, and we do not see time as one thing or one flow. Why does this arise? Partly because of the nature of life and partly because of chaos created by culture, politics, marketing and media.

Continuity
Time in fact is not only a series of moments, it is also held together by “continuities”. There are things that run through all of the moments that bind them together. A continuity could be a fundamental goal, your ethical code, your identity, family or community.


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On a larger scale, history is a continuity, evolution is a continuity, progress is a continuity, spiritual transcendence is a continuity, an ecosystem is a continuity.


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In various ways these things hold the all moments together and give us a way of using the moments and navigating through the moments and making sense of the moments.

Without knowing our continuities we get lost in procession of instants, and we forget our fundamental connections and purpose.

Marketing, media and consumerism are keen on not letting you think about your continuities. These institutions want: 1] you lost in a moment to sell you a product, to hold your attention, or 2] they want you retreating from a moment preparing to embrace the next one.

Examining a continuity comes into direct conflict with their goal of replacing your continuities with theirs. And what is theirs? Profit and control, these are the essential continuities of the modern corporation. And it is their wish that your continuities become their continuities, that is, you perceive the whole process as they do – but from the assigned role you must play in the system as a consumer who spends money.

Momentia in general is about the distortion and manipulation of moments. There are several more forms of this malady.

Moment vs. Moment
Another form of Momentia is a tendency to fixate on certain moments, memorializing them, ritualizing them, reprising them.

We select a moment to focus on, and discard or even go to war with other moments that we do not like. This behavior occurs partly because of marketing and consumerism where some experience with a product or shopping itself gives us great joy or relief.

It also arises as a response to the confusion and suffering of modern life -- we latch onto some little joy, we find some relief from problems of life and obsess on it and repeat it again and again.

It is entirely possible to have a culture or psychology that has the opposite fixation on the long term or upon continuities, where all the moments are dispensed with. Such a person takes no notice of current events or changes. Some types of philosophers, religious people and very conservative personalities may be attracted to the overemphasis on the continuity. And this is hardly common in modern culture but one must acknowledge that this does occur, and in history there have been ages where this paradigm dominated.

But the fixation on a moment is a primary behavior in our time. So this is a second form of Momentia, a second means to confuse our experience of moments.

The Old vs. the New
One way to analyze time is to divide it up into Old vs. New.

When we fixate on the old we are being nostalgic or conservative or retro. Those who focus on the old tend to oppose difference and creativity, because they feel more secure with the familiar and old habits.

Sometimes this perspective on time actually results from too much “new” for people to digest. It can also result from in a society that does not stress the continuities – the onslaught of the new makes individuals feel ungrounded.

This however is not the normal mode in this age. Today the general frame of mind is in favor of the new that is nonstop, accumulative and self annihilating.

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Novosis
When we fixate on the new we are in the realm of “Novosis”: the addiction to the New.

Novosis is more than a healthy bias for the New which normal people would want. Creativity, individuality, invention, difference, evolution and diversity are general forces which help produce the New; and this is good.

Novosis is the extreme attachment to the New. Novisis is new for the sake of the New. Novosis is for the destruction of all of the Old. And further, the destruction of the most recent wave of the New with the next wave of the Newer. We see this clearly in the creation of products, entertainment and in media. Why? It increases sales and thus profit. It increases consumerism’s share of your wallet. Novisis is the essential justification for a Throw-Away culture, for in a Throw-Away culture were not simply tossing things and selling them on ebay, we are tossing away the old, the past, we are tossing out Time itself.

Novosis is clearly a third type of Momentia.

The Speed of the Moments
Related to Novosis is the psychology of speeding through moments. Novosis speeds through moments for the sheer joy of encountering a sequence of new things. But many are also seeking the experience of Speed itself more than the joy of the New.

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Zimbobjoe

Those focused on velocity race here and there, multitask and serial-task, and accelerate when they reach any open stretch of time where they can jam down the accelerator and dispense with time as quickly as possible.

The velocity of media, the velocity of our computers and applications, the velocity of the internet, the velocity of product cycles and marketing, and the velocity of global news teach us to expect speed and to increase speed.

Our sense of time becomes warped. We have an activity which seeks the termination of time, that is, the termination of a “duration”, because duration itself in not endurable. We have behavior that is the opposite to the notion of “endurance”, we cannot endure anything. We are weak, impatient and intolerant of the dreaded interval.

We want to compress a string of moments into one moment, one quick instant. So we sprint to end time but when we are finished we find we have more time to dispense with. It is never ending and thus we require more speed the next time to end things quicker.

And paradoxically, ending time becomes just a new way of “spending time”, because we can’t really do away with time.

This behavior, of course, has some features in common with ADHD. And one wonders where one ends and the other begins, where sociology overlaps with a psychology. We have hyperactivity for sure. And we have lack of focus because speed prevents alighting anywhere to dwell on something and go deep into it.

And this lack of focus not only applies to issues and subjects of concern in the external world, but also to an inability to enter our various sub-minds (reason, imagination, memory, emotions…) and spend enough time there to derive the benefits of  these mental abodes. Skimming the surface of life allows us to skip across the pond very quickly but the penalty of traveling so light is superficial knowledge, superficial perception and superficial skill.

Here we must point out that time includes not only speed and motion but also the content and quality of a process. Many important processes are slow, in fact, very slow, yet they yield important and fundamental results. Other processes have both fast and slow segments and one must act accordingly.

Subjective processes such as fact gathering, analysis, creativity and experimentation can be very slow. Success will depend on stillness, disconnection and focus.  So speed is not synonymous with intelligence or capability. But then again the culture is not asking you to be smart or wise.

In addition, the pace of self growth can be excruciating slow. And one who is always in a hurry will be postponing self development for the dubious rewards of haste.

The value of speed to media and corporations is that it keeps you distracted from your fundamental interests and issues. It harmonizes you to their world of dizzying tempos so that certain people can accelerate your confusion and thus hasten your purchases. The joy of speed is what drives the accretive hustle.

This is another modern form of Momentia.

The Speed of Short Term Thinking
Also, it should be pointed out that this speed obsession when operating in a culture that already has a bad tendency toward short-term thinking results in a leap of behavior.

Short term thinking arises for several reasons: an aversion to generality and abstract ideas, a focus on the practical and pragmatic, a desire for the technical and the “how to”, the thrill of technology and devices, the submergence into the immediate and neglect for anything beyond the immediate, the need for quick gratification. Much of this behavior is rooted in the behavior of a specific economic system.

Short term thinking arises out of a culture where there is no “philosophy”, no overall paradigm which provides general goals, principles and values, and where there is not a concept of a whole person, the whole of society, the whole of Nature and Humankind, the whole of causes and effects, the whole of time.

What is substituted are the specific goals of money and “me”. And the ground of these behaviors is not in a higher set of concepts but in an economic system, where business determines philosophy -- when it should be the other way around, where philosophy determines business behavior.

When a predilection with speed is added to the already existing activity of short term thinking the behavior is enhanced, now everything requires quickness, so that the short term perspective is now not short enough. Short term thinking is now no longer in the category of “thinking”, it has passed into something else.

For your reference: One of the reasons that religion has had more influence in the US compared to Europe is that religion often has become the only refuge for one seeking the general perspective on life because there is little in the realm of ideas or theories found in the national cultural library. The lack of big picture thinking and lack of generality increased the influence of conventional religions in the US, although religion offers its own specific solutions that usually put a spin on issues going back to heaven, hell, prayer, faith etc. In any case, the vacuum of philosophy and generality of thought, drives many to religion seeking answers. This is a longstanding social dialectic of US culture unlike the rest Europe.

The Void and Daze Between the Moments
There is another interesting state of mind created by the media and consumerism today.

There is a state that is neither past nor future in orientation, it is a mode that is in between moments. This is a mindset without memory and without a future orientation. It is blank. It has no plan and no history. This persona lives in a kind of daze and his or her brain resembles a void.

This state is focused on “Now”. It is not necessarily anticipating the next moment, the new. It is not speed oriented. It is not fixated on any old moment, trying to reprise it. It is not even moment oriented, that is, floating with the river of incongruous, conflicting moments. This perception has fallen into the daze into an “Eternal Now”, and this is a distinct kind of Momentia.

It is true that there is only a “Now”. We don’t live in a before or an after, we live in permanent instant. History is what we have recorded, and the forthcoming is what we dream about.

This version of “Now” is an active place where old and new collide and produce alternative evolutionary paths. Here Humans choose which path to take and what proportion of new and old to combine in the new direction. We have memory of the past, and we use imagination to project a possible future.

We use abstraction and comparative reason to examine old and new so we can make decisions. Abstraction separates observations and concepts from reality, they are detached and live in an ethereal zone in the brain, free of dimension and materiality, free of past or future, they become absolute and eternal. Though the ideas ultimately originate from reality, either hinted or shouted at us, they develop a life of their own in an extra-reality or non-reality with its own rules and games, where we construct our infinite worlds.

We have skills of comparison too. Comparative thinking allows Humans to compare past to future, though each does not technically exist. In our dreamy abstract realm we have memory and we have imagination, we compare the two, and make judgments and plans.

This activity in a way reflects the tussle in immediate reality where the current manifestation of the Old battles with the delicate and embryonic New for hegemony over the next moment of time.

This version of the “Now” is mobile and complex, and requires the use of all of our faculties to manage it.

This “Now” is the Crucible of all Reality, in this pressure cooker an infinity of elements are thrown. This is a highly evolutionary process where many things compete and chance events favor certain directions.

This process is irreversible. We cannot go back to a prior moment. Thus ideas of time travel cannot occur because of the sheer complexity and change in each instant. Further, the idea of time travel is based on a “time” that does not exist. There is no time laid out like a long road where you can travel forward, backwards or just sit, this model resembles an unraveled clock. Time is a “now”, it is always “now” and so technically there is no past or no future. In the “now” is an infinity of competing elements and unpredictable happenings. The successive moment of the “now” produces the next evolutionary stage of things. The Human programme is not time travel but Time Responsibility – for we are responsible for the outcome of events and so we must learn to manage the many competing facets of time.

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fdecomite

So Parallel to the Crucible of Reality is the Crucible of the Mind, where an alert brain must reflect many of the major elements of a myriad moment, and work out this battle in abstract terms, in a process of fact gathering, thinking, argument, imagination, creativity, judgment, planning and correction.

The “Now” of the Momentia is not busy or demanding. There is no crucible of complexity and struggle, this “now” is empty, a void. There is no thought, debate, innovation or self adjustment.


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This state is not like that spoken of in Eastern Philosophy -- because the meditative state is one which is alert. Its stillness comes from a detachment from other faculties, but it has focus and watches. This perception occupies the prefrontal cortex. But this state is also poised for a switch to thought or creativity or action or even emotion, entering other sub-minds of the brain.


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The modern daze is however a behavior that is not alert, not focused and unable to make a shift easily to some other mental activity. The daze is a sort of sleep where little is turned on. The Buddhist meditative state centered in the prefrontal cortex is quite active. But the daze seems to quiet most of the brain. Nothing works well -- reason, imagination, emotion, even the subconscious realm of dreams and signs and intuition is fettered, and wisdom is certainly absent.

This form of Momentia creates a state of pliability, a plastic subject who is without direction and without anchor, who is not opinionated and thus not stubborn or resistant or laborious, thus reducing marketing costs.

In short, the victim of this form of Momentia is a Hypnod, a new kind of hypnotized being, in the spell of media, in a stupor made by its twirling speed, blank faced, pleasingly suggestive and happily obedient.

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Lawrencedwolf

The above list of forms of Momentia follows from a misunderstanding of moments and time. What is most interesting is that modern media, consumerism and marketing have found them all and exploit them so skillfully.


This should make it clear that behind much of our current behavior or misbehavior is a common foundation, that is, TIME. And certain people have found ways to manipulate time to their benefit. And this manipulation exists not only in sociology and psychology and economics but also has reached into the basic categories of philosophy and the basic modes of Human perception.


Cage Innoye




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Anastasiya Markovich


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