Your sense of ‘space’

Here’s a diagram (Fig. 1.) I produced during 2013, to aid me in thinking about the relationships between the sense of space I experience with different states/senses during wakefulness.

When I say, ‘sense of space’, what I’m really talking about is my perception of the location for each of these states/senses, in relation to where my sense of ‘self’ is currently located. If your not sure what I’m talking about, don’t give up, it should become clearer as you read more.

Ordering of my perceptions, according to the sense of space they produce.

Fig. 1. Ordering of my perceptions, according to the sense of space they produce.

Note that the scaling of the diagram, and the positioning/ordering of the labels are completely arbitrary. It’s my own idea, I don’t know if it has any validity, or indeed whether others have already documented these relationships in the past.

At the time, I just found it interesting that starting at the top of the diagram with ‘vision’, you could perhaps order the senses according to their decreasing sense of space, so ‘vision’ would perhaps have the greatest sense of space, whereas perhaps ‘feelings’ might have the least sense of space.

When you order them as I’ve done in the diagram they appear to move from my external world to my internal world. So that ‘vision’ at the top gives a truly ‘external’ sense of perception… ‘touch’, ‘smell and ‘taste’ move closer into and around my body… and ‘thoughts’, ’emotions’ and ‘feelings’ are ‘internal’ perceptions.

I struggled a little with the specific ordering of ‘touch’, ‘smell’ and ‘taste’, you can put them any way you like… but I generally felt their spatial location in relation to ‘self’ was closer than ‘vision’ and ‘hearing’… but spatially further away from ‘self’ than my ‘thoughts’, ‘feelings’ and ’emotions’.

Your sense of ‘time’…

The ordering of each perception shown in Fig.1. seems to be inversely related to each perceptions sense of time. So that ‘vision’ is what I would perhaps call a very fast perception. I can move my eyes from one scene to another with little sense of lag, my visual perception almost seems instantaneous, with little sense that a past visual state is affecting my present visual state.

My sense of hearing seems slower, I need to hear both the start and end of a musical note, or the start and end of a spoken word, which takes a little time. Hearing just the end of a note, or the end of a word, without it’s beginning makes it difficult to understand. Thus it seems to me that the past affects the present in a more temporally separated and clearer way in hearing, than it does with vision.

My sense of taste seems to have an even greater lag. My perceptions of the taste of a food I’ve eaten in the near past, and it’s effect on a food I’m eating in the present seems to have a very clear temporal separation. No one I think would question that a mint tasting food, dramatically changes the taste of a coffee that is drunk immediately afterwards, when compared with ones usual experience of coffee.

My emotions seem really quite slow indeed. Vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste all seem to combine into ‘thought’, and multiple ‘thoughts’ eventually seem to result in an emotion. Take the experience of being cut up when driving in traffic. Consider another driver who overtakes your car, and pulls back into your lane so closely, that you have to take avoiding action by slowing or breaking. Immediately after the experience, thoughts about the experience appear, and a short time later, often the emotional sense of anger begins to be experienced.

In Fig 2. I’ve now added my sense of ‘time’ orthogonally, to my sense of space.

My spatial perception, orthogonally related to my temporal perception.

Fig. 2. My spatial perception, orthogonally related to my temporal perception.

I think another interesting observation from this orthogonal relationship between my perceptions of time and space is shown the top of the diagram in Fig 3. where ‘vision’ resides. At this position ‘time’ is actually very compressed, with a corresponding massively expanded sense of space. For many years I had considered ‘time’ in the ‘present’ as some type of ‘slice’ of the whole of time. But now, I think I was probably wrong.

Fig 3. Time is compressed when perceived spatially.

Fig 3. Time is compressed when perceived spatially.

At the top of the diagram in Fig 3, ‘Time’ appears to be compressed, so that it’s cumulative information is not lost to us. Instead this information still appears to exist somehow within ‘space’. The only way this makes any sense to me is to consider that when ‘time’ is compressed with a consequent expansion of space, information is spatially perceived by me as ‘matter’.

Lets think about the popular notion of ‘time’ for a moment. How do I reliably (and practically) pass information forward in time, so that I can usefully use this information again, perhaps a month into future at the same location?

To do so, it seems to me that in every single case, information needs to be encoded in spatial patterns of matter.

I’ll try and give some examples. I might record on a CD or DVD, in a spatial pattern of dots, or I might record on a USB flash drive in a spatial pattern of stored charges, or onto a hard disc drive in a spatial pattern of magnetised areas. When I write with a paper and pen I record in a spatial pattern of contrasting ink.

In all these cases, I use space to record the information in spatial patterns, these spatial patterns are always laid down in what we perceive as ‘matter’, and these spatial patterns which are held in matter, seem to allow me to pass information through time, so that I can usefully re-access information through them in the future at the same location.

In the external world, ‘matter’ thus becomes something to do with ‘time’, and it seems to me that I have learnt to manipulate it, so that I can pass information through time to myself.

I’m forced to consider that this is probably what external ‘matter’ is, nothing more than my summed perception of ‘time’, temporal information if your will, when encoded in ‘space’.

My perceptions, and my sense of their ‘time’ and ‘space’ seem to come together within me, so in the diagram below (fig. 4.) I’ve placed my body in between the external world, and my internal world (labeled in the diagram as ‘mind’), which is exactly where my bodily senses/perceptions of ‘self’ seem to be located.

space-time7 In future posts, I intend to explore some of the interesting and practical things that seem to be exposed by this new way of looking at my reality.


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