By Andy Thomson

(you were who you are who you will be)

There are many illusions of the real that you naturally and readily take on with your body. Your binocular vision tells you that railway tracks converge to a point of vanishing on the horizon. This construction of perception allows you to understand and negotiate spatial terrain, and your sense of self in relation to the objects that appear in your field of perception. It could be said that, after your body, the aura of objects that people make and use is that which comprises your field of unfolding or developing perception. Objects speak but they are also mute, they exist in a flow of time, but the new objects that cluster with, around, and in front of them cause an heterogeneity of signification in that continuum. It is a world apprehended as a field of time with the body in it as an object among objects its consciousness occupied with things and with descriptions of the real, past present and future.

The effort required to hold many trifling misapprehensions of the past is phenomenal and requires more energy than you have to spare. You are living in a state of unconsciousness due to your reckless remembering of the effects of the real, which you are subliminally aware of as false or misapprehended. By a process of psychological review you can free up the energy required to hold these misreadings in memory. Only then can you live in the quotidian with a truly energised state of consciousness. Otherwise you will, and do, spiral down into a misunderstanding of the real and its truths, creating a causal chain of inappropriate reactions to prior experience. This emotional tableau is probably the setting for a primary consciousness, related to the animistic; it pervades all subsequent self-developments. ‘Time is the affecting of self by self’.

The perception of a horizon between the present and the future is less lucid than awareness of the one that resides behind the present (as it were), because memory almost entirely constructs the atmosphere of the past. Whereas memory plays only a partial role in the projection of the future. You live in anxious anticipation of the future because success, failure and death reside there and memory can’t yet reconstruct it according to the dictates of the self. The horizon to the future is more fraught with trepidation than the one to the past and less easily approached with pleasure, although from moment to moment it seems necessary to cross it continuously and unconsciously. What is to be had by going there, cantilevering your plans precariously into a vacuum of future events and synchronies? Faced with multiple presents, pasts and futures, each endlessly conflated with the other, you sublimate this confusion by creating a subjective real that is smooth and continuous, just as a projector unites the individual frames of a film into a frequency that fools your eye and mind. The future is the realm of ideas where you may perceive and you may act. ‘The world, which is the nucleus of time, subsists only by virtue of that unique action which both separates and brings together the actually present and the presented; and consciousness, which is taken to be the seat of clear thinking, is on the contrary, the very abode of ambiguity’.

You are here in the present. You can feel your body in space. Slight breezes touch your skin, you hear the beautiful song of a blackbird, you can sense the blood in your veins. You are thinking, but only a little. Thoughts about work float in and out, you investigate and interrogate the recent past and your role in it, feeling emotions, hearing, smelling, tasting and aching. You really can’t focus on the illusory present while you conduct little sorties into the past. Whilst sensing its pleasures and pain, you disregard the future as much as possible. The present is made ‘concrete’ by activity. Washing up, drinking, eating, working with manmade objects. You avoid the future as if preventing a force from coming into you. A decision is an incision in time and you have decided, albeit without conscious thought, to try to locate yourself in the present, the self being a manifestation of an upsurge of time.

Time is like a river flowing by. In order to verify this common analogy, you need two observers. The one upstream observes himself throw a stick into the river, and the one downstream immediately sees the stick floating down the river towards him. On both occasions of observation the river and its contents are consigned to the past. Time seems to be flowing backwards once observed. The metaphor of the river as eternity could here be said to be true, not in its physical movement, but in its oneness with itself. This problem of the observers disrupts the analogy and suggests that it might be better to say that time is ideal, that action is the style of the self as it throws light on the subjective, and that consciousness unfolds time and establishes it.

You give yourself in exchange for time and your sense of yourself. The logic of this gift eludes you, but you see in it a kind of aesthetic of cause and affect. Your past is a former future and a recent present, your present is an impending past and a recent future, your future is a present and even a past to come. There is the you that is the present, the you who is the past, and the you who is the future. In a sense, time stands still. Someone has to witness time, as at its centre is your gaze. Time is not for you, it is you.

Andy Thomson is an artist and writer living and working in Melbourne and Glasgow.