You are on page 1of 4

1 of 4



Ian Beardsley

2 of 4

From The Time Traveller by H.G. Wells:

‘I do not mean to ask you to accept anything without reasonable ground for it. You will soon
admit as much as I need from you. You know of course that a mathematical line, a line of
thickness nil, has no real existence. They taught you that? Neither has a mathematical plane.
These things are mere abstractions.’

‘That is alright,’ said the Psychologist.

‘Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a real existence.’

‘There I object’, said Filby.’ ‘Of course a solid body may exist. All real things—‘

‘So people think. But wait a moment. Can an instantaneous cube exist?’

‘Don’t follow you,’ said Filby.

‘Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real existence?’

Filby became pensive. ‘Clearly,’ The Time Traveller proceeded, ‘any real body must have
extension in four directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and, — Duration.’

Let us think about this in terms of Buckminster Fuller, who wrote Synergetics years later. In his
analysis of Reality, he considers that an object like a cube, which has length, breadth,
thickness, and mass, as physical, but he categorizes thought as metaphysical, because it has
none of these things. But in light of what the Time Traveller said I would like to say that, though
massless, and not occupying space, thought does have Duration—the time it takes for me to
say associate everything I can think of that makes green, like when I look at the grass in a
springtime pasture, my thought is lush, fresh, and the middle color in a rainbow. Certainly the
thought has duration, I do not sense the thought of green when it forms in my head as having
taken place over no time at all. Any dimension of length, breadth, or time is an abstraction like
our line with thickness nil. The only spacial extension the green grass has is one that is
abstract, generated by a matrix that is the brain, where the network of neurons may associate
lush across a horizontal network, fresh across a vertical network, and a rainbow through a
network of depth. We must distinguish between what is the brain, and what is the mind. The
brain exists in space and time, but the mind, the results produced by this fantastic machine —
the thoughts — only have duration, are weightless, and do not occupy space.

Which takes us to the philosopher, Kant. When we observe something, like, let us say the cube
of H.G. Wells, a thought is formed in our abstract matrix — the mind — which is created by a
machine, namely the eye which is a lense, which focuses the light reflected by it upon certain
structures in the eye that react with it it chemically. And, when the brain receives this
information, it creates from its operating system — the neural network — a thought in the mind
that associates it with the characteristics which we have experienced for similar data input. For
example, if the cube was painted green, this would mean according to science, that the
pigmentation of the paint is such that it absorbs all colors of light, which are frequencies of
light, like blue, red, yellow,…except that frequency which is green. It is the frequency that
processed by the brain-machine. But, this is exactly the point, the brain is a machine and it
interprets the object as a cube painted green, but what is that really? There is no way to know.
There is no way to know what the object actually is, what Kant called the thing in-itself. This
brings us to modern physics, or Quantum Mechanics. Today the physicist is saying things are
in an indeterminate state, until they are observed. That the mind creates reality. How do we see
this? If I take a photo of our cube while it is in motion, the camera shutter must be open to
3 of 4

receive the light from it, so it can be absorbed by chemicals that interpret its shape, color,
texture, and so forth. But if the shutter is open over a period of time, I am capturing an image
of the object smeared over a period of time, and, therefore, am not capturing the instantaneous
cube of H.G. Wells. If I wish to capture the instantaneous cube the shutter has to be open for
no time at all. And, if I do that, light from the cube will not enter the camera, there will be
nothing for it to interpret, and I will have captured nothing. This is analogous to Quantum
Mechanic’s Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which essentially states this conundrum
mathematically, saying we cannot know reality precisely. Thus, back to reality is in an
indeterminate state until it is observed. I believe I have captured my guitar in an indeterminate
state. It is the head stock for which one of the stills from a video of it in motion produces a
head stock that is neither edge- on:

Or, face on:

But, indeterminate: Notice, the lit computer screen can be seen behind the stalk between the
vertical protrusions (it is not face-on) but we see the white nut and and top and bottom of the
neck (it is not edge-on). Indeed, this must be due to the frame having been smeared over time,
but it is remarkably in focus for that, producing the effect of an indeterminate state. I should
like to be able to replicate such a still. This was the result of luck:

4 of 4

The Author