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Time is a Trip

October 10th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Sci-Fi, The Freak Show

Discussions concerning the problems associated with time travel always seem to center on the scientific and the mathematical.  The problems with time travel I envision center on the individuals doing the time travelling and also on the mindset and social conditioning of people in general. Time travel, one can speculate, will place demands on the physical self that can be generally predicted, but it may also place mental demands on the self that will affect each individual differently; with some individuals able to make quick yet demanding mental adjustments and some unable to make this mental shift. Time travel will prove to be something like an LSD trip: some will have a good trip and some will have a bummer trip.

The first problem with time travel will be the means by which an individual time travels: will it require a machine or conveyance? If so it can be presumed that it will be expensive to construct, require sophisticated training to operate, and will, in all likelihood, be the property of corporations and the military; the two social entities capable of financing such an enterprise.  (Even if time travel will be possible via a transporter as in Star Trek, the individual will travel without the machine but he still must transport to and from the Enterprise-a military vessel). If indeed, these “time machines’ become the property of corporate/military overlords, a whole host of problems present themselves.

Time TravelFirst, the people time travelling will almost assuredly be military personnel with an agenda, and this agenda won’t be the I-come-in-peace-type-agenda. Second, the corporate/military ownership of time machines will preclude average people from time travelling. Time travel will become a “national security” issue with all the black ops/special forces personnel that term has come to imply. Third, time travel will come to have sinister applications such as Terminator-like assassinations of political dissenters or progressive foreign leaders. So, the problems associated with military/corporate ownership of the means of time travel can fill a book. Suffice it to say, such ownership of the means of time travel presents a vast array of endless problems that will predictably victimize citizens/average people in the present and in the past. (What if, for example, the new federal prisons aren’t places but times)? Perhaps the best that can be hoped is that time travel is possible by means akin to remote viewing or astral projection: that is, the individual can achieve time travel independent of external conveyances and at will.  By this, an individual’s body/mind becomes the means of conveyance. But this “democratization” of time travel presents its own problems.

If a person can physically time travel, that is to say, propel his body through time and physically manifest at a given time coordinate, it has to be presumed that upon arrival the individual possesses the same body and consciousness in this past time as he left with from the future time. The “me” that is in 2009 will be the same “me” that manifests in 1865 and interacts physically with the people and objects of 1865. But here we may have a problem. If a person time travels within the time span of his own life, does he manifest as his earlier self? If I travel back to when I was 19, am I 19 again? Can I be physically 19 but possess my future consciousness thereby vacationing in my own younger body? Or do I manifest as my current self? If I manifest as my current self, is my past self pushed aside to make room for the future self? Or, is it like that Twilight Zone episode with gig Young, do both selves exist simultaneously? If they exist simultaneously can they exist harmoniously?

What would be the mindset prompting one to time travel? Do you want to go back and have sex with an old girlfriend again? Manipulate the past for enrichment like in Back to the Future where they knew the scores of games and bet on them. Attempt to make corrections in your past like Thomas Berger’s book “Changing the Past”? It has to be determined whether one can “interact” with the past or if one “witnesses” the past. Interacting with the past opens up a multitude of problems for people travelling to the past and the people living in the past. Witnessing the past also presents a range of problems that must be anticipated.

What if 10 million Christian Americans travelled back in time simultaneously to witness the crucifixion of Christ only to discover Christ never existed? What would happen when these 10 million Christian Americans simultaneously re-manifested in the present of 2009? What they witnessed in the past completely destroys the core beliefs that construct their present “reality.” Witnessing the past has shown them they are living a current fiction. Will they riot thereby negatively impacting people in the present and possibly change the course of the present? Will they have nervous breakdowns or become suicides? How will they react? Witnessing history could present as many negative contingencies for individuals as interacting with history. Many people simply don’t possess the mindset to weather the terrible truths presented from witnessing the past. If people are mentally incompetent to witness the past they will prove even more incompetent socially interacting with the past. The bill for these mental and social shortcomings will come due in the present.

So it seems apparent that a fundamental problem with time travel is that some people will be mentally competent to handle the daunting truths time travel will present and others won’t. Historians, social activists, serious journalists, readers, and artists will very likely prove competent to time travel while fundamentalist Christians, Fox news viewers, corporate personnel, and non-readers will not. People who have taken LSD and profited from the trip have inadvertently prepared themselves for time travel, will take to time travel, and prove to be good time travelers. Think of it like The Fellowship of the Ring. Would you rather have as your travel companions Bob Dylan, Salvador Dali, Charles Bukowski, and Robert Crumb. Or would you rather have Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Bill O’Reilly, and Jerry Falwell?

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