The gift of time

23 April 2018

This Easter, I’ve received an unexpected gift: the gift of time. Being tired of holidays into the future, I decided to revisit my past. So I spent a day wandering through the halls and amphitheatres of my old university. A lot of it has changed, perhaps for the better — there are vending machines in the corridors now, and pretty paintings on the walls. A lot of posters in foreign languages. And a new bookshop. But to me, what hasn’t changed is even more special. The air in some big amphitheatres. The smell of wood. The silence. The sense of something hanging in the air — it could be unspoken words, or a shared understanding, or unfinished sentences at the end of lectures. Whatever it is, it lingers behind in classrooms after everyone has rushed out, and it reverberates into a memory theatre, when you return, retracing your steps from many years back. It’s like time has stood still, in these amphitheatres. The gift of time.

So now when I am back from holiday and we resume our philosophy sessions, I mention Carlo Rovelli’s recent book, The Order of Time, to my students. And we debate the impact that space has on it, and whether either has any kind of reality to it. We do this using reasoning and argumentation, precise articulations. Next time, we should include examples of situations where space and time have become relative (or outright absent), in our own life experience. Not all philosophy happens in texts, words, and lines of arguments.