The consciousness of time creates suffering. Living within the mental construct of time we posit a goal we will reach at some point and our identity. Without time we would each have no identity or story. If we create things in order to find ourselves in the creation, the creation will only complicate rather than improve the story of ourselves and bring pain. What it would be like to create with no consciousness of time?

    If you wake up and just for a minute forget who you are, within that little gap there is so much space, so much freedom, so much relief. This is particularly noticeable if you have suffered some sort of trauma or devastation which for a second or so you may not remember when you wake; then the memory dawns, your identity returns and the horror begins again. It is a little bit like that every day when we wake and we sink back into our story, but we are so used to the bondage we don't notice it. Apparently the brain cells which hang onto story and identity are about the size, en masse, of a peanut. And they are not actually 'us'. Someone can have their memory wiped out and still be themselves, essentially. They can begin again.

     I wanted to stop writing because I did not want any more 'story', any more time, any more me. T. S. Eliot says time is the medium words move in. Words, then (existing only in relation to one another, unless merely to label things), cannot exist without it. Can time exist without words? I suppose there would be nothing to describe it. Animals do not seem to have a sense of time (I saw my cat after four years the other day and he remembered me instantly, as if I had just popped out of the room for a moment and then returned again), and nor do they have language. Time is indissolubly linked to words because the left hemisphere of the human brain is the language centre and a serial processor, as opposed to the right, which is a parallel processor, and does not think in words. The left hemisphere separates us from others and the world around us. Recently a woman experienced astounding peace when she lost the use of her left hemisphere due to a stroke.

    There is a very interesting plate (the 11th) in Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell about poets infusing things with life, then giving them names, and systems growing up and enslaving people, 'attempting to realise or abstract the mental deities from their objects'. '[T]hus,' Blake says, 'began Priesthood'. His tirade is a latter day version of the righteous rage Christ turned against corrupt Judaic traditions and pettiness, and a rally call to all real lovers of words: to stop imprisoning, stop getting caught up in them. Words can be beautiful and truthful and powerful but ultimately they deaden. They displace that which is now, that which is in presence before us, and in its place leave time, a sequence, a substitute. An exchange takes place between something real and something unreal. Christ, the mediator between God and men was fittingly called 'The Word.'

          Note 17:

The Word in Time


stories and things



leaving the text alone

Beckett and mysticism

why real directors are writers

Dr Seuss and Tom McCarthy

why the novelist's job is harder than God's

the thing about autobiographical fiction

how to write a successful novel

George Herbert and Judith McPherson

the value of not doing

thoughts on TLOD

don't judge a book

things I was thinking when writing TLOD

time, words, are the enemy

the master's voice


why I didn't want to write anymore

the value of not knowing

when do you give up on a book?


what makes a book great

divine fancy


time, identity and fiction