But what year is it, really?

Cooch
So where do you stand on time being an artificial construct that gives us the illusion of moving forward rather than in circles?
Bast
Well, we are the only species – as far as we know – to understand the passage of time. So we have a history and a future. Although I’ve always thought elephants and dolphins might surprise us.

Cooch
I wonder if dolphins and elephants – and maybe some others – have a collective memory that verges on wisdom rather than just intuition … or maybe they perceive events and other beings as they are in the moment, rather than in the context of what has come before, and that gives them a more genuine understanding. Then again, there are those female elk
Bast
As a historian, I suppose the past is a construct – of subjective pieces of evidence that have been fortunate enough to survive. I’ve often wondered what history would look like if all documentation had survived. Like if the Library at Alexandria had not burned. Or if victors had not always written history. Of course, we are finding more diverse voices all the time.  
Cooch
Rewriting history from another perspective – I like it.
But I do wonder how it would be if we hadn’t started numbering the years, and instead were still referring to time in the context of what happened: time of the flood, time of the drought, time of the mass exodus …
Bast
That’s rather like how people live with dementia, in the moment. And that’s why it so frustrates those who love them. They live without the context of history. 
Bast
I think it would get too confusing without a numbering system. Which flood? When? We talk about the 2013 floods here in Calgary, yet there were other floods in other places.
Bast
It’s a neat and tidy way of reckoning time, the calendar. Although there are many versions, and there’s no good reason to believe it’s actually 2018. That’s the subjectivity to me.
Cooch
Aha! Well, would it matter, is my question. Life and time are both fairly cyclical. I’m not promoting a calendar-free existence, mind you, just thinking outside the calendar boxes. A new year, however subjective, is a good time for that kind of thing.
Bast
Well, we haven’t always lived with calendars – lunar cycles were probably more important to many humans.
Cooch
This interesting book I’ve been working my way through – The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages by Jean Gimpel – has a bit in it about the first calendar clocks and the battles Roger Bacon and others had with the Catholic Church at the time. After ignoring the mathematics for 300 years, the Julian calendar was adjusted 10 days at once, so October 5, 1582 became Oct. 15, 1582, and the in-between days never actually happened. That’s subjectivity for you.
Bast
Yes, when I studied Spanish medieval history, I always had to adjust the dates 38 years, because they used something called the “era”. And when I studied English medieval history, the documents I used had the regnal year, so you had to figure out when they became king to figure out the date. I’ve never really had much confidence in the dates we use because of this.
Bast
Just FYI, I’m currently flipping between bingeing on past and future: Downton Abbey and Star Trek.
Cooch
Of course, Star Trek is both the past and the future …
Bast
Well Star Trek IV is for sure …
Cooch
Back to the whales …
Cooch
Oops – I guess we were talking about dolphins earlier. Still, I feel like whales might also have that collective wisdom thing happening.
Bast
I’ve always said that I’m far more comfortable living in the past or the future – it’s the present that makes me uncomfortable most of the time.
Bast
Although the present passes to the past in a moment.
Cooch
There should be a name for that … the uneasiness of living in the present.
Cooch
“Temporal temerity”?
Bast
“Temperity”
Cooch
Believe it or not,
we both “said” that at the same time.
Cooch
Same time … get it?
Bast
Ha!
Bast
Well, off to feed the cat. There is no time or year in Catlandia.

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