Monday, April 16, 2018

Rhythm & Resetting Our Internal Clocks

Understanding Rhythm
And How It Resets Our Internal Clocks

On Saturday's I like to go out with my wife and listen to live bands at different clubs. One night as I was tapping my fingers to the music, watching people dancing and getting a bit wild, a thought occurred to me. People were not just having a good time and taking the night off, they were actually resetting their clocks to a different rhythm, different from the Monday-Friday workaday rhythm.

Everything we do as human beings involves rhythm from breathing and talking to commuting and working to eating and making love. It may not be that obvious when putting a spreadsheet together or going shopping but nevertheless, each activity has a rhythm and each environment has an overall rhythm.
While this blog-post is about contemporary society, rhythm has been basic to homo sapiens from the very beginning and to all cultures from 'primitive' to ancient to modern. It would be an interesting psychological study to see how rhythms operate in various cultures today and how they have operated in the past. 
During the week most of us are expected to be fairly rational and meet our deadlines and do our jobs. This often involves quite a bit of planning and then a follow-through that accomplishes what we planned. The work week is dominated by the clock -- be on time, deliver by a certain deadline, prepare the night before for a presentation the following day, keep track of supplies, turn your reports in on time etc., etc. The rhythm we follow Monday through Friday is the rhythm of our work played to the tune of our man-made clocks.

Charlie Chaplin's humorous take on the worker 
as a cog in the wheel of commerce in his movie, Modern Times.

On Saturday's many of us can put the workaday mental to-do checklists aside and instead live more in the moment. I believe this is not only enjoyable but essential. On weekends we as human beings need to reset our rhythms from the man-made artificial time that we live by during the week to a rhythm that feels more comfortable and more in tune with the natural rhythm of our bodies. Music, in particular, seems to have that quality. And most people prefer live music as that has the power of the moment and a rhythm that is spontaneous. 

After writing this blog about time for five years now, it is clear to me that clock time is not natural. Instead, it is manufactured time. While time always passes no matter what, the clock divides time artificially which makes us intensely aware of its passage. Since all clocks are coordinated now with a master atomic clock, they also place us on a man-made time grid. Today we are expected to know when and where we are on that grid during much of the work week.
"Clocks slay time. Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life."   
William Faulkner
See more about our artificial time 
in previous blogs listed at the bottom of this post.

Clock time is a stern master. But most of us, after ten to twenty years of schooling, have become accustomed to its demands. (In another blog I wrote about how school teaches us to operate with clock time.) As adults, many of us have gotten so used to living by the clock that we forget how unnatural it really is. 

See more about time and school at:

Work demands that we keep an on-going mental to-do checklist that we are always updating and also checking off as tasks are accomplished. Because of this checklist we do not -- and in a sense cannot -- live in the moment. We must constantly be thinking about what we should do next. This mental checklist is essential for accomplishing our work, but it also prevents us from enjoying the 'now' moment.
"It seems certain that we do not feel comfortable in our present-day civilization"   
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930

(Left) A visualization of the brain as a kind of factory. 
(Right) But our brains are not mechanical or well organized. They are complex and organic.

Civilization demands that we know how to live and work within the confines of clock time. But our human nature demands that we get back in touch with our natural rhythms on a regular basis. Both are necessary.

When the weekend rolls around or when we take the night off and go to a club to hear music, we are reaching for the now moment. While we have been taught in school to delay gratification, there are times when we need to be immersed in the now moment, to be gratified in the moment. 

Popular or dance music might be seen as the intersection of culture/civilization on the one hand and our animal, human nature on the other hand. Music is crafted in a cultured manner but it gives expression to the primal side of our nature.

A number of songs express these ideas very clearly.

Like a true nature's child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die
Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Song and Lyrics by Cam (Camaron Ochs)
Live for a while, for whatever feels good
In the moment, on the river, rock the chain

The Bad Touch
Bloodhound Gang
You and me baby ain't nothin' but mammals
So let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel

Music, in particular, resets our internal clocks because music flows. That flow is constantly taking us along. Work rhythm is quite different, it is more staccato. It stops and starts, and is full of interrupts. Unlike music which soothes and carries us, work rhythms make us a bit anxious and self-consciously aware of the passage of time.

About Live Music: Live music, in particular, has the power to take over our bodies, and to wash away clock time for a while. The distinctive beat of popular or dance music is quite different from the uniform slices of time that are dictated by the clock. While a musical beat can be quite precise, a live beat varies a bit in an organic way; it is not the regular beat of a metronome. And this beat can enter our bodies and become part of us. After a while, this beat can, in a sense, reset our own internal clock.

On Saturdays, however, most of us relax a bit and live by a rhythm that is somewhat free from clock time. We even have expressions that indicate this such as "taking time off" or "off the clock" or "down time" or "time out." Oh sure we might go to a movie by a certain time, for example, but movies themselves are never the same length and when we are watching a movie most of us forget about the time. Or we might sit on the couch and watch TV, but not really keep an eye on the clock as we would during the week.

I am making several points here. It is not just that the rhythm at work and the rhythm on the weekend are different, it's that we internalize these rhythms. So at work, we are more alert, more guarded, more on duty, and more aware of the clock. We move differently and we react differently. But there is another point. The rhythm on the weekend is not just more relaxed, it is a different kind of rhythm. At work, we are 'wound up' like the spring in an old mechanical clock -- which is where the expression may have come from. After work or on the weekend we unwind. Or it might make more sense to say that we go back to a more natural rhythm that has always been there.

This idea of rhythm has far-reaching implications. A person's sense of well being is often connected to the rhythms of their life. While rhythm is only one of a number of factors, it should be considered by psychologists in a person's therapy, for example. A comfortable rhythm that is in tune with an individual's lifestyle should help a person live a better more satisfying life. Corporations might study rhythm to see if they can design environments, schedules, and deadlines so that people are more at ease with the demands of their jobs.

The quality of your work will be better if you reset your internal clock every so often. Getting back in touch with your natural rhythm is important for personal health and also for being fresh and relaxed when Monday rolls around and you must step back once more into the rhythm of doing your job.

As the industrial revolution progressed and people's lives became more regimented, popular dances became wilder and more primal. In the 20th Century, dances went from the Jazz Dance of the 1900s to Swing Dance, then Jive and then to Rock and Roll in the 1950s. Each dance was seen as more 'primitive' than the one before. The evolution of these popular dances might be seen as a counterbalance to the increased control and the orderly demands of an industrial society. For example, one of these wild dances, the Charleston of the 1920s, came from a Broadway show entitled, Runnin' Wild.

 --------------------- AFTERWORD --------------------- 

There is probably a way that a psychologist could examine the ideas in this blog post and study the nature of rhythm and its effect on work, play, and sense of well being. I believe it would be a fruitful area of study.

See these blogs of mine that relate to this post:

A Revolution in Time

See the AFTERWORD about the grid:
In the blog: "What Does It Mean To Exist?"
Descartes And 'The Grid' Of The Modern World

The Protective Bubble of Civilization

The Dance of the *Now Moment*

NOTE: Saturday was named for Saturn, the Roman god of time. He was also the god of the end of the year when the Saturnalia festival was held -- the principal week long festival in Rome when people enjoyed doing things that were a bit crazy. So the end of the week, Saturday, and the end of the year, Saturnalia, were also celebrations about time. It is no accident today that Saturday is a time for kicking off your shoes and letting down your hair. This has been true now for thousands of years.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Matter-Time: Are Matter and Time Linked Together?


It was late one sunny afternoon when I was sitting in my car looking out at an inland waterway not far from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Lulled into a kind of daydream state, I was mesmerized by boats drifting, sailing, turning at anchor as clouds were rolling through, the tide was going out, and a gentle wind was blowing as the Sun was setting. I turned to look at the other horizon and a full moon was coming up. 

Then it hit me -- it was one of those AHA moments: EVERYTHING IS IN MOTION. And I mean everything, from atoms that vibrate as electrons swirl around them, to blood cells and the breath in my body, to the turning and orbiting Earth, to the Sun that is moving within our galaxy, to the galaxy itself which is drifting toward our sister galaxy Andromeda, to the Universe which is expanding much faster than scientists previously thought. All of it is in motion. But that was just the start of my thoughts. This gave me an idea about time and physics. 

The Earth [left] constantly rotates at 1000 miles per hour (1600 km). The Sun [2nd from left] moves around our galaxy at about 515,000 miles per hour (830,000 km) and our galaxy, the Milky Way, is moving at about 250,000 miles per hour (400,000 km) in the direction of our sister galaxy Andromeda [third from left], And at the furthest edges, the Universe is moving close to the speed of light (73.8 +/- 2.4 km/sec/mpc). Photo of two galaxies colliding [far right].


Beyond Energy, Matter, Time and Space 
But it is almost taken for granted that everything from physics to biology, including the mind, ultimately comes down to four fundamental concepts: matter and energy interacting in an arena of space and time. There are skeptics who suspect we may be missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.
Jul 22, 2014, The New York Times
George Johnson RAW DATA

Many major advances in science have come about when a scientist connected two things that were not related before. In Einstein's famous equation E = mc2, matter is converted into energy -- thus connecting the two. And then there is also the well-known story about Isaac Newton when he saw an apple fall to the ground and suddenly realized that the gravity which caused the apple to fall was the same force that allowed the Earth to orbit the Sun. 

Newton, as a young man, suddenly understood how the Universe was held together when he saw an apple fall. He made the leap of connecting the fall of a small apple on Earth to the force that governed the planets as they circled the Sun and the force that controlled the moon as it orbited the Earth.

Which takes us to the idea of gravity itself which has never really been completely explained even by Einstein. And furthermore is incompatible with quantum physics.

(Quoted from Cosmos Magazine)
As Newton himself even wondered, how could a force work instantaneously at a distance even through the vacuum of space?
... Einstein...showed that space and time are not separate entities but rather a single four-dimensional continuum...[and] imagined it stretching through the universe like a fabric. Any object with mass, Einstein reasoned, would interact with the fabric of spacetime and cause distortions...
Gravity may be one of the fundamental forces of the universe, but it currently seems fundamentally incompatible with the others. While quantum field theory (QFT) succeeds in bringing together electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces, it struggles with ... general relativity.

There comes a point where the mind takes a leap 
— call it intuition or what you will — 
and comes out upon a higher plane of knowledge, 
but can never prove how it got there. 
All great discoveries have involved such a leap.
Albert Einstein

Einstein imagined riding or chasing a beam of light when he was a teenager. He thought about this for years. Then, one night in Bern, Switzerland, he heard the ancient clock [far right photo] chime the hour and it triggered a thought experiment with light and time that led to the Special Theory of Relativity.


Well, it's really quite simple. As I said everything, and I mean everything from the tiniest to the biggest is in motion. So all matter involves movement but movement can only exist in time because movement means that there is a change over time. Therefore time is not just the arena in which matter operates, time is part of matter. It is an essential element that makes up matter.

And where does this go? Since all matter contains time, then everything from a subatomic particle to a galaxy contains time. 

While the following is highly speculative and frankly I am way over my head, here are some thoughts. This might be the bridge between the very large and the very small that physicists have been looking for: the link between quantum physics and Einstein's cosmology. A large object with a gravitational pull that bends space-time, for example, may also have its own time component -- which comes from its own matter-time field that is a product of all the atoms that are part of it. This body then interacts with Einstein's space-time. And we see this interaction as gravity. An understanding of matter-time at the quantum level and then the way that matter-time interacts and links together in larger structures might lead to a complete understanding from small to large.


When Galileo performed his inclined plane experiments to discover the nature of gravity, he thought originally that the critical element was distance. Yet it turned out to be time (time squared) or acceleration. His equations were perhaps the first in physics in which time was seen as a key part of the dynamics of objects.

Newton went one step further and developed calculus which could handle sophisticated situations with time such as an accelerating cannonball being fired high up into the air. "Calculus is the study of how things change...The fundamental idea of calculus is to study...changes over tiny intervals of time." And change requires time. (Quotes about calculus are from MIT).

Einstein took time two steps further. First, he made time the fourth dimension and also relative to the observer in the Special Theory of Relativity. And then he made time part of the fabric of the Universe with his concept of space-time as a field in the General Theory of Relativity. 

In Einstein's General Relativity, space-time is a field that is bent by objects in the field which we perceive as gravity.

If we have missed part of the puzzle as Johnson said above, it might be because time is always with us and everywhere. It is so close and so much a part of us and everything we do, we don't notice it. However, everything exists in time, nothing exists outside of time.

A deep-sea fish has probably no means of apprehending
the existence of water; it is too uniformly immersed in it...
Sir Oliver Lodge, British scientist

What could a fish tell you about water? Probably not much. It lives in water, it is surrounded by water, it floats and moves in water; water is the world that it lives in -- so a fish is probably unaware of many of the properties of water. I doubt, for example, that it could understand the concept of being wet.

And so, like the fish, we live surrounded, but not by water but by time. There is no way out -- no way around it. While we work with it every day and every moment, we are so immersed in it, we have trouble grasping its complexities.

It has taken four hundred years, starting with Galileo to include a dynamic sense of time in our scientific view. Perhaps it is now time to take the next step.


To be honest, I am only an advanced amateur in these matters. But I have been studying Einstein and the stars since I was 13 when I also got an A in algebra. Later I in college I got A's in Calculus and also in a course in Modern Physics at UNC-Chapel Hill. And I took four semesters of a laboratory physics course. And recently I just finished writing and researching two 10k word eBooks on Galileo and Einstein for a client. Yet I don't pretend to understand Quantum Field Theory. 

However, much of my work has a scientific bent and the study of time has been at the heart of my efforts.

In my own work, I have made a PowerPoint presentation based on Eames' Powers of Ten in which I presented photographic images from the furthest galaxies to subatomic particles -- photographs that were not available when Eames first made his animated film. And I have been writing this blog, DeconstructingTime, about time for five years now. In this blog, I have covered a number of scientific topics and presented a number of scientific ideas. For example, I have proposed that it can be proven scientifically that the Neolithic culture at the Newgrange Passage Tomb in Ireland built an accurate and sophisticated device that magnified the Sun's rays so that the device could indicate the day of the winter solstice in real time, which the Greeks and Romans could not do 3000 years later.

Animal Senses Compared to the Human Sense of Time

Computing the Winter Solstice at Newgrange: Was Neolithic Science Equal To or Better Than Ancient Greek or Roman Science?

And I spent a summer reading and notating the wonderful, A History of Scientific Ideas by Charles Singer. So I might know more than the average bear, but probably not a lot more. Nevertheless, I will take a chance and put my ideas out there, because who knows...

Using equipment I modified, I tweaked an old color analog TV set so that it received the maximum amount of static from the cosmic microwave background radiation or CMBR created when the Big Bang exploded. Then using a photographic technique developed by me, I was able to take a clear photograph that exaggerated the static which I then enhanced with computer software. These pictures are enlargements of the static after I processed it. I was interviewed on NPR Radio about this as well.

It is also important to note that some major ideas have come from thinkers who, while not scientists per se, thought in scientific terms. A good example is the friar Giordano Bruno who was the first person to state around 1600 CE that the stars were other suns and much more distant than believed at the time. Plus he thought many of the stars might have planets around them -- an idea which has only been taken seriously in the last half-century. His ideas were totally radical at the time. And, come to think of it, Galileo was not an astronomer -- with none of the training or experience of his contemporaries such as Kepler or Tycho Brahe. Yet he was able to discover things they had not.

------ AFTERWORD ------


During a church service, Galileo saw a huge bronze lamp swinging above him in the Pisa Cathedral when he was a college student [second picture from left]. Being a medical student at the time, he timed the swings with his pulse and then suddenly understood that pendulums moved with a regular motion. This revelation would stay with him his entire life. Before he died, when he was blind, he worked with his son on a design for a pendulum clock. Just a few years later Christiaan Huygens made a pendulum clock based on Galileo's ideas which would be the most accurate design of a clock for the next 300 years [drawing of the mechanism and the actual clock, third and fourth from left].

For Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, an AHA experience was crucial to their discoveries. 



Einstein's Clocks and Thought Experiments

It's Not A Cookie-Cutter World 

September 19, 2013
Pure Speculation About the Physics of Time


The Gentle Wind That Blows Through Atoms


the gentle wind
that blows through atoms
that curls and lies quiet
waits for a mind
to focus it
like burning sunlight
and penetrate
the weave of space

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

After 100 Years Jean Sibelius Triumphs

After 100 Years Jean Sibelius Triumphs

This blog is about the human experience of time. A major part of our experience is when and where we are born, i.e., the era and the environment into which we are born is part of our destiny. This blog is about two people and the era in which they found themselves, me and the composer Jean Sibelius.

Snow in Connecticut and an old gigantic console radio.
Snow in Connecticut and an old gigantic console radio.


In February at the age of thirteen, I was alone in our house in the mountains of northern Connecticut. Out the window, thick snow stretched as far as I could see. That afternoon in 1958 I turned on our huge old tube radio with a two-foot wide speaker and did my best to tune in a New York radio station that played live classical music on Sunday. To my delight the reception was perfect. For the first time, I heard the Symphony #1 of Sibelius. I already had a love of classical music and knew a few works quite well such as Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and Beethoven's Fifth.  

The effect this composition had on me has lasted a lifetime. His music turned the bleak white roads with snow banks into magical landscapes of hunters with their horns calling across the hills. Or something like that. In any case, he spoke to me.

Then I was sent to an even more remote and colder location, the prep-school of Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter New Hampshire. There I began to collect what were called LP or long-play records of the Sibelius symphonies. Over the next four years, I bought all seven symphonies along with his violin concerto and tone poems. In the cold, remote and oppressive atmosphere of this school, the music of Sibelius helped me survive. But not once did I find a music lover who thought his music was any good. In fact, my piano teacher hated Sibelius and was sure there was something wrong with me if I liked him.

A portable record player and an LP (long play) record   with the new technology of microgrooves.
A portable record player and an LP (long play) record 
with the new technology of microgrooves. 

People who hated his music often deferred to critics such as Virgil Thompson who wrote this about Sibelius's most popular Symphony #2, "I found it vulgar, self-indulgent, and provincial beyond all description. I realize that there are sincere Sibelius lovers in the world, though I must say I've never met one among educated professional musicians." 

For some reason, none of these negative opinions had any effect on me. I continued to listen to the work of Sibelius and to make it a cornerstone of my musical appreciation. 

Later I realized that the time period into which I was born had allowed me to hear music in a new way. The recording technology was important because I could now hear an entire symphony on one LP record instead of 20 sides in a 78 album which had been the technology just a few years earlier. And this made all the difference, It meant I could listen to a symphony over and over, study it and learn it -- which gave me an understanding that was not possible before.


But this blog post is about two people me and Sibelius. 

Sibelius was born in Hameenlinna, Finland in 1865 when Finland was part of Russia known as the Grand Duchy of Finland. The Czar of Russia was the head of state. It turned out to be the perfect time for this composer, as his work would reach to the deepest part of the Finnish spirit and play a major role in Finland's future. There are few artists who were given the opportunity to do what Sibelius did: to create orchestral patriotic music that would help the independence movement, to create music that an entire nation would sing, and to create music in the classical tradition that would eventually be considered one of the pillars of the tradition of classical music.

Early on Sibelius wrote tone poems and works based on Finnish folklore. These were widely acclaimed in Finland. Then in 1899, Sibelius wrote a tone poem for the Press Celebrations which was a disguised protest against new controls and censorship that were being imposed by the Russians. The piece was later known as Finlandia but went by a number of names such as A Scandinavian Choral March, Happy Feelings At The Awakening Of Finnish Spring, and Finland Awakes to hide its true purpose from the Russians. Designed to be a popular piece it succeeded in becoming a rallying cry for much of what was to happen in the next tumultuous 20 years.

He followed this work with his First Symphony which seemed to reach even further into the Finnish soul. In 1900 the Finnish government gave Sibelius a small annual stipend. They recognized that he understood the Finnish spirit and he did not disappoint. 

In 1902 his Second Symphony was performed and it went to the heart of the nation. One Finnish composer said, "There is something about this music — at least for us — that leads us to ecstasy; almost like a shaman with his magic drum." And yes, this is the symphony that Virgil Thompson said was terrible.

Jean Sibelius: Left to Right: 1904, 1913, 1928, 1940
Jean Sibelius: Left to Right: 1904, 1913, 1928, 1940

Sibelius would follow this symphony with five others -- each one unique in classical music and quite different from the others. He lived at a time when the symphony was changing so he was free to innovate and try out new ideas. Yet all seven symphonies can be taken as one gigantic work. They are now considered one of the world's great symphonic cycles. 

Much of what he did was technically innovative and added to the language of classical music. He is best known for rethinking and reshaping sonata form which the symphony and many other classical works are based on. Sonata form has been a principal part of classical music for hundreds of years. Generally, it is structured in this manner: exposition (the central theme), development (the theme broken up and reworked), and recapitulation (a restatement of the theme). This structure is also known as ABA. Sibelius turned sonata form upside down or inside out. To oversimplify, he starts with a development, moves onto an exposition where he puts the development together into a theme and then ends with a development in which the main theme is broken apart again. So at the beginning of a movement, he introduces a number of musical 'pieces' and then as the movement progresses he puts these pieces together in unexpected ways and often into magnificent themes that seem to come out of nowhere before they dissolve again at the end. For a long time, no one really understood how he did this and many critics simply did not 'get it'. 

In 1938 the critic Theodor W. Adorno wrote, "Sibelius’s scores are a ‘configuration of the banal and the absurd;’ all details sound ‘commonplace and familiar,’ but their arrangement is meaningless, ‘as if the words gas station, lunch, death, Greta, plough blade had been arbitrarily put together with verbs and particles...."

To 'hear' what Sibelius has to say, a listener must suspend their disbelief and let the inner logic of his work unfold. The 'pieces' that fill his work might be thought of as voices half-heard or as phrases from an old forgotten song. But eventually, they come together, combine in remarkable ways, and are filled with emotion. Today this aspect of Sibelius is greatly admired. 

Many musicians felt that sonata form had played itself out, so to speak, and were looking for other means of musical expression. Sibelius breathed new life into this form which allowed the classical tradition to continue to develop and work with the form's wonderful musicality.

Yet Sibelius never forgot that a sense of song was at the heart of music and so he created haunting melodies that seem both ancient and modern at the same time. And he had a very simple approach saying, "Whereas most other modern composers are engaged in manufacturing cocktails of every hue and description, I offer the public cold spring water."

While Sibelius wanted Finland to be independent and hoped to help it on its way, he could not have foreseen the break away from Russia after the Russian Revolution followed by a terrible Finnish civil war between the Reds and the Whites, as in Russia. Only, in this case, the Whites won. Also, Finland would again have to face Russia in 1940 when Stalin attacked in an attempt to make Finland part of Russia as it had been under the Czar. While Finland lost a significant part of its territory, it stayed independent.


After he turned sixty he reworked what was known as the hymn section of his tone poem Finlandia, into a stand-alone hymn. During the war with Stalin, this hymn was well known and probably sung by every Finn. Many people think that he just took a folk song and reworked it, but, in fact, he wrote it entirely on his own, showing that even in a simple short work he had a deep reach. The Finlandia hymn is the unofficial anthem of the country. It is also known worldwide and different words have been used with it across the globe. See the two videos here: one is of a flash mob singing it in a train station and the other is of a video of thousands of people (not an exaggeration) singing it at a celebration of Sibelius's birthday.

Thousands of Finns singing his hymn on his 150th birthday.

A flash mob in support of a political party in Finland.

Because of the nationalistic side of Sibelius, many European critics tried to write him off as simply a patriotic composer who was not important to the tradition of Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms. Yet now, finally after more that one hundred years, he is recognized for being a great late-romantic composer with his first two symphonies and a most important early modern composer with his last five symphonies.

Julian Anderson, a contemporary and well-respected composer said, ‘The influence of Sibelius on contemporary music is now so substantial and lasting that one can speak of him as a key figure in the shaping of current musical thought.’ Sorry, Virgil Thompson, today many well educated professional people in music love his work.

An orchestra performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto,
An orchestra performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto,
one of the ten most performed works of classical music today.

So now, more than 100 years after the premiere of his most popular 2nd Symphony, how goes his legacy? Since the year 2000, there have been about 150 recordings of just that symphony alone which is unheard of in classical music. And do people still argue about him? Well, in a sense, yes. I looked at a classical music forum that caters to professional musicians. They were arguing but the discussion was about which of the seven symphonies was their favorite and in what order. Dozens of people knew and loved all the symphonies and each list was quite different -- showing how diverse Sibelius's work is.

Sibelius lived his life in a manner that Bernard Shaw would agree with: "The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time." By staying true to himself, true to his period in time and true to his Finnish heritage, he was able to make a universal statement.

Unfortunately, Sibelius never lived to see the almost complete acceptance and praise of his work today, but he did know that he had touched the soul of his countrymen. He famously brushed off the various critics who disliked his work. He said, “Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic."

So in a sense, Sibelius lived in just the right time to say what he had to say and to innovate but in some ways, he lived at the wrong time for being appreciated as the genius he truly was. 

And I lived at the right time, to hear his music on LP records, to stick to my opinion and then later to have the music world come around to my point of view.

Photograph of the Finnish sculptor Eila Hiltunen creating the relief   of Jean Sibelius for the monument in Helsinki.
"Photograph of the Finnish sculptor Eila Hiltunen creating the relief
 of Jean Sibelius for the monument in Helsinki." 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Overview of the Human Sense of Time


This is now the sixth year of my blog, DeconstructingTime. 

For this January 2018 post, I have put together 34 articles from my archives. These articles describe, in roughly chronological order, the development of human time from our earliest beginnings as homo sapiens sapiens up to today. 

This realistic painting of a bison is about 15,000 years old and was painted by a Paleolithic 'caveman' in the Cave of Altamira in Spain. This work was accomplished with a multi-colored spray-paint technique in the darkness of the cave. This demonstrates the remarkable skills, powers of observation, and memory humans had even in Paleolithic times.   And a photograph of a European bison today (a somewhat different bison species), showing the accuracy of the cave painting.
 (Left) This realistic painting of a bison is about 15,000 years old and was painted by a Paleolithic 'caveman' in the Cave of Altamira in Spain. This work was accomplished with a multi-colored spray-paint technique in the darkness of the cave. This demonstrates the remarkable skills, powers of observation, and memory humans had even in Paleolithic times. 
(Right) A photograph of a European bison today (a somewhat different bison species), showing the accuracy of the cave painting on the left.

These ideas are similar to and concur with the modern science of prospection. This new science holds that the key difference between humans and animals is that we are constantly thinking about the future which requires a sense of time and a memory of the past.

The Modern Science of Prospection Confirms Ideas in This Blog, 

This blog has been online since 2012. It has now registered 59,000 pageviews and in the last two years has averaged 1500 pageviews a month. The audience is worldwide as this publication reaches people in more than half of the countries in the world. Several blog posts have been reprinted at major websites.

I have also compiled five years of this blog into a 600-page ebook which you can download for free at:

FREE: (PDF/eBook) Deconstructing Time, 3rd Edition: Illustrated Essay-blogs About the Human Experience of Time

The eBook is also available in the epub format:

All of my work on this blog is now published under the Creative Commons copyright which means you can use and quote my material as long as you credit me.

Most of these blog-articles are also available as stand-alone pdf documents you can view and/or download for free at the website. In the last three years, has recorded over 6000 views of my documents, with about 1500 downloads, 200+ followers, and with an audience from more than half of the countries in the world. My work has consistently been in the top 2-5% at this academic website for the last two years.


The following links are in roughly chronological order,
i.e., the order that the human sense of time developed,
expanded, and then became part of cultures and civilizations.


Human Biology: Animal Senses Compared to the Human Sense of Time

Patterns & Memory

The Human Revolution: Symbolic Culture

How Our Concept of Time Is Embedded & Derived from Our Language

Time & Consciousness

Virtual Human Meta-Time


The Genius of Cavemen

The Birth oF Religion: A Response to the Ideas of Jacques Cauvin

Creation Myths and Consciousness

The Modern-centric Bias Against Prehistoric Cultures: Part 1 & 2


Computing the Winter Solstice at Newgrange: Was Neolithic Science Equal To or Better Than Ancient Greek or Roman Science?

The Ancient Manipulation of Time: Part 1

The Development of Consciousness & the Origins of Modern Religion

Stone-Age Scientific & Astronomical Instruments: Newgrange & Portuguese Burial Tombs Compared

Neolithic Fertility Symbolism During the Winter Solstice at the Newgrange Passage Tomb in Ireland

The Myth of Prometheus and the Modern Science-Psychology of Prospection

Winter Solstice Celebrations: Roman Saturnalia and Modern Christmas

How the Cities Were Dark and the Stars Visible Until Modern Times

How the Discredited Geocentric Cosmos Was a Critical Component of the Scientific Revolution

The Ancient Manipulation of Time: Part 2


Ancient Beliefs in Modern Culture

How Photography Changed Time: Part 1 & 2

A Revolution in Time in the Modern Era

Modern Time: Time as a Commodity

School's Most Important Subject: Time

How Culture Plays With Time: Part 1 & 2


Global Warming & the Future: Part 1 & 2

How our ancient instincts continue to affect our behavior, especially with modern technology and climate change.

Why We Don't Deal With Climate Change

Human Nature, Climate Change, and Modern Technology