Sketch #1

The Idea

To start, this sketch is incomplete. It is somewhere between an experiment and a journey. It is very possible by the time I finish it, it may be complete. But hey, from the relative position of when I wrote this sentence - it ain’t done.

Ok, so here is the question:

How do we - humans - talk about time and space (and everything within it)?

I am not interested in answering this question, but rather seeing what comes up when I investigate.

A common way to investigate or talk about events (at least in the western traditions) are the 5 W’s:

  • who
  • what
  • where
  • why
  • when

These questions are often used in cases or professions where determining facts or events is crucial. For example, journalism, scientific research, and legal cases.

Here are some sources I used to get started and introduce myself to these ids:

Researching this history is where I came upon the term elements of circumstance, which is maybe my new favorite way to think about how we talk about all the pieces that make up an event, experience, story, and so on. It also means that there is some system of elements we have devised to talk about circumstances.

To me it seems that these questions, or elements of circumstance, actually form the constraints that we can use to understand the world in which we exist. Not to be too abstract, but at this moment it feels to me like they are the how of us (how is sometimes referred to as the 6th question that goes with the 5 W’s).


Humans communicate, and when they do, they place there discussion in one of the elements of circumstance:

What are you doing?

Where did you go?

When will dinner be ready?

Why did that chicken cross the road?

Below are my notes and thoughts as my thinking progressed.

5 W’s

A quick note:

Much of my thinking in this area is influenced and/or started by The Order Of Time, by Carlo Rovelli. I have worked with and researched this subject matter before, but Rovelli’s words are the freshest in my head.

  • 5W’s
    • time is not how things change, just marking changes, or rather, when something changed
    • the when must be at a scale that is meaningful to whatever asks when
    • the who (at least 2) are the things which determine when and where
    • where is the relative position of the who
    • what is then…
      • context
      • sum of parts
      • relative to the who who is being asked
    • why is also a relative matter
  • can a “clock” answer these things
    • we have clocks that measure when (time)
    • we have instruments that measure where (space)
    • ???
      • what
      • who
        • is this the “clock” itself?
        • it is the something in space asking and answering
      • why
        • this is the most abstract one
        • the “clock” is a tool that answers the rest of the W’s, but is not intrinsic to the “clock” itself
        • “clocks” were built to help us answer why? -> no
          • to situate the why?
  • answer it then degrade it
    • pull apart the relatives things until the clock can no longer answer the question it was built to

Exploring 5W’s

Often I find it helpful to create rough illustrations and/or write out my thoughts. The following is a series of those sketches.

To start, I wrote down the 5 W’s and drew a picture of a person and a clock. I tried to “point” to the W’s in the scene. This lead me to think about all of them as just references to each other.

[ Relational Clock ]

Dreaming about having time for myself.

[ Time For Myself ]

Thinking about what the use of all these time tools is actually for.

[ Time For The Machine ]

In this class, and in a couple others, the topic of beats, or ticking has come up a lot. Specifically, both the rate or pace of something, but also, the space in between those. The nothing, or the silence. Also, I considered the 5W’s in a form that looks kinda like planetary movement.

[ Tick -> Tick -> Tick ]

Thinking about points as a way of describing events.

[ Point In _____ ]

This is my favorite drawing of the bunch. Even if it is nonsense, I like it. It is kinda a relational map of the 5W’s.

[ Which W? ]

Playing with the W’s in sentences.

[ Writing On Writing ]

An attempt at breaking down sentences with the 5 W’s

[ W W W W W ]

Time as an actor.

[ Time Did... ]

How We Talk About Time and Space

In another class I am taking, Reading and Writing Electronic Text, I was asked to write code that took in some original source texts, chopped them up, and prints out a new work. I decided to use this assignment as a chance to explore the idea of how we talk about time.

Rather than retype everything I did for that assignment, I will link to that post and discuss some of the highlights here.

First, the link to other post: Digital Cutup

The groupings of texts I chose were important. It was my attempt to create the greatest chance for juxtaposition between the texts in a given group.

The process I went through first involved just getting an idea of what putting random lines involving time, next to each other. After I did this I felt confident that I was headed - somwhere.

I then focused on trying to create something that prodcued works that looked and felt like the drawing and writing I had done. A sort of rambling, but also clearing about something (time and space). A questioning of the sense that words usually have.

I wanted the code to basically do what I was doing, but at a scale that I could not.

Here is an example of the kind of work the final code can produce. I was really pleased with it. I do feel it does, in some way, mimic the process I was going through with marker and paper.

spent one's time badly, but one did spend it; one did do something with
	what one has
	when one sets forth on the enterprise of using all one's time,
	who have to work longer for a living, but there are others who do not
	where we stand
	Why should you be astonished

space-time which we have been studying
	why it should relate to matter especially; since matter is not
	who insist on investing the words with
	where these laws do not apply
	when a
	what the readings of any kind of clock record, what

in the space of my command
	what you are reading,
	where there are a hundred
	when you
	who have intellectual curiosity--the
	Why should you be astonished

there are still definite natural tracks in space-time far beyond the influence
	Why are you specially interested in Euclidean
	who is accordingly travelling with a velocity approaching that of light relative to S
	when their weight vanished altogether at the
	where the broken line shows the theoretical
	what kinds of space-time can