I recently read Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time, a book that takes a truly remarkable approach in explaining a complicated subject in a way I hope more books on physics can be.
The book is broken down to 3 distinct sections: first begins the deconstruction of time, second describes the devoid of time, third brings to bear what time brings about for us in a world devoid of it.
I was left convinced after the first two parts that time does not exist; it is nothing but our propensity to rationalise things that happen around us. In a world where “presence” can take an infinity of configurations, the concept of presence — the description of what we experience — is meaningless.
The best grammar for thinking about the world is that of change, not permanence. Not of being, but of becoming.
Time for us all is memory and nostalgia. Memory pegs down the series of stories that form our existence, while nostalgia is the side-effect of longing for the fleeting illusion of permanence in our memories. It is memory and nostalgia that represents the source of our identity and suffering. And time is suffering.
This suffering, however, is what makes us human after all. When nostalgia corners us to painfully acknowledge a moment’s absence, it is in this absence that lies what makes us fundamentally human.
But it isn’t absence that causes sorrow. It is affection and love. Without affection, without love, such absences would cause us no pain. For this reason, even the pain caused by absence is, in the end, something good and even beautiful, because it feeds on that which gives meaning to life.
Since life for all of us exists as nothing but a series of stories, the way we choose to experience them is key to finding meaning in them. If time is what manifests out of our own perceptions of life, then love is what gives meaning to our existence. The real blessing of love is therefore being able to set aside the past and live in the light of love; allowing all beautiful things to naturally follow.
This book has left me convinced that physics can be a suitable medium of expression for modern philosophy.
You can buy the book here (Amazon Link)