February 15, 2010

Card Table Time Travel

I used to do this little card trick to fuck with stoners and philosophy majors. I would take a deck of cards and tell them I could prove that it's impossible to live in the present, that they'll always be living in the past. While shuffling the deck I would tell them that I'm going to show them a card and that as soon as they see the card to shout out what it was. I show them a card they yell "five of clubs" or "king of spades" in a hurry. They all look very smug and proud of themselves thinking they won or something (particularly the philosophy majors). I then asked them how long it took from when they saw the card to when they shouted out the answer. They'd say one second or so (five for the stoners). I'd ask if they could do it faster than that. If it was possible to instantaneously say the card they have at the time they see it. They usually concede that they can't (some of the stoners want to try again). I then go on to talk about how its impossible to truly live in the present if it takes your brain seconds to react to whatever is happening around you. Your consciousness will always have that delay. Your brain can only comprehend actions that have already taken place in the past (even if it is the very recent past).

The conversations they sparked entertained me, but deep down something seemed intuitively wrong with this little trick. It just didn't feel right. One day I realized that yes, it is impossible to live in the present if all you're doing is reacting. But, if you are the one acting and everyone is reacting to you then you're in the present while they're stuck in the past. They were reacting to my cards, my stimulus. For just a split second I was living in a different time than the people around me. It's no flux capacitor, but I'm sure there's a life lesson in there somewhere.
Image taken from: http://www.tomandhenry.co.uk/art%20work/pick%20a%20card.gif


  1. Wow, that was deeper than I think you intended it to be. We should be the ones acting instead of reacting, I need to keep this in mind. Some days I feel like all I do is react to things, it's draining.

    PS. Thanks for the v-day gift you left me on your last post. I loved it. Glad it's the 15th.

  2. Huh, Ha ha. This is crazy, I would like it very much if some people stopped reacting to me. It's okay, if it is once, in awhile and there gets to be an exchange. It is a whole different thing, when there are dozens, who get to be sort of lazy and count/rely on you to bring new ideas, new 'blood'...ha ha ha I want to be reacting. Now, lemmee get into the flux capacitor...damn the life lesson..damn it all to Hades....

  3. Interesting life-example, though I'm not sure the logic is impeccable =p

  4. Eva: I agree. Did a bit of that over the weekend, I think that's what inspired this. And your welcome for the gift. I'm glad its the 15th too, its hard to not sing your praises!

    The Me: React away!

    Kassandra: My logic is never impeccable. You'll get used to it.

  5. I'm so tired I don't know what to do
    I'm so tired my mind is set on you
    I wonder should I call you but I know what you would do

    Love love love love this song you are playing. Listening lo-fi out of a suitcase and hiding under a blanket, laughing at the thought.

  6. This is a really awesome blog post. That's all I can muster up at 2 am. I liked it a lot though.

  7. Eco: Yea, being a part-time insomniac this is one of my favorite all time songs. Gotta love the beatles.

    Pseudonym: Thanks! That's all I can muster at 11:52 AM so don't feel bad.


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