By Aneesha Puri
How can an instant seem like an eternity?! Yet those who have experienced it would know that it can. The nineteenth century French philosopher Henri Bergson in his path breaking work titled Matter And Memory attempted to explain the experiencing of time by classifying it into two categories- Chronological Time which conforms to the rigid demarcations of hours, days, months and years and Psychological Time which is a more fluid conceptualisation of time and deals with one’s intuitive response to the passing of hours, days, months and even years and explains the inevitable back and forth movement in time that the sight, sound or even smell of something remembered fondly or detested badly can spark in our consciousness. Moments last for either too long or not long enough and deep down this is accompanied with the implicit awareness that nothing lasts forever. So how do you explain the experiencing of time or can it be rationalised at all? Does the tripartite division of past, present and future contribute to simplifying the overwhelming conundrum or only add to the time chaos? Fundamentally memories denote the past, anticipations stand for the future and actuality connotes the present but they are all so unbelievably intermingled that you cannot clearly comprehend the connectivity between the three or tell one from the other because the linear measured movement of time is often not in sync with fluid subjective experiences.
The contemporary urge to post the images of cuisine you had last night on social networking sites is an altogether different league of frivolity to preserve the so called moment and has in fact irredeemably ridiculed the whole notion of transforming the moment into photographic memories. But if we go beyond the social networking sites and transcend the social media compulsions and brood over how the present thrives on the past, then how can you completely discredit the significance of memories, especially when life often makes more sense in retrospect. If life is all about the fuss of having the climactic moment, then would not you want to treasure the moment by capturing it into impeccable memories?
Chronological charting of time rarely dovetails with psychological experiencing of time and the primary reasons for this contradiction are memories and anticipations. Memories and anticipations simultaneously perform the functions of sustenance and torment and this further complicates the understanding and experiencing of time. In this overwhelming time puzzle, when memories, ongoing moments and anticipations co-exist in such irremediable concoction, how can you even tell whether the moment is more important or the memory of its perfection?! So perhaps as Henri Bergson famously remarked “The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory. ”
Aneesha Puri is pursuing her Masters in English Literature from Miranda House. A self-confessed book- ravisher , keen surveyor of society and its ideological politics, loves deconstructing and decoding anything and everything that even remotely concerns people, ranging from celebrated, canonical literary texts to popular cinema and advertisements. Her idea of utopia is a truly emancipated world which allows everyone, unfettered freedom to foster his/ her potential to the maximum.