Timeconsciousness in Very Long Life
today who misses the present, as a physicist. It seems simply
nothing to worry about. But, interestingly, the present is all
that exists for us as humans. The past is gone and the future is
not here yet. What we experience appears to be a continuing
present, as long as we are conscious also memories of the
past, and anticipations of the future are experienced in the
present. The present is always with us. We can say, even, that
the present itself is unchanging and only its contents change.
In a sense, the present is eternal. As long as you live. What is
it then that we have that creates the present in us?
We call it timeconsciousness. In the place of an infinitesimal
point sweeping along the time line, we have a finite time slider
on which we sit, so to speak, that slides along time, carrying
us piggyback. The slider is the omnipresent present. In my
earlier work of the seventies I showed that a good measure of
the duration of the present is about 180 milliseconds. It is
the duration of a syllable, of the minimum time during which
a decision cannot be reversed, motor reaction time, and the
time for which a slowly moving object is seen as moving, rather
than stationary. More recently we have also found that it is
the preferred time for a composers fastest independent pulse
components, at least in Mozart and Beethoven Allegros.
But a word is not a substitute for understanding, or should
not be. We know little about timeconsciousness. Through
our work in music, we have found evidence for four different
clocks and processes involved in different aspects of timecon-
sciousness in our brain. These clocks involved in music operate
in our timeconsciousness. Since it is possible to think music
while dreaming, they are transferred also to our changed time-
consciousness while dreaming some of them. Somehow,
in dreaming our timeconsciousness is rescaled how come?
We dont know.