The Eckhart Tolle of Space

Many propositions involving temporal concepts which seem obviously and necessarily true are just as necessarily but not obviously true when formulated in terms of spatial relations.” [1] In 2011, the Watkins Review named author Eckhart Tolle “the most spiritually influential person in the world,” in large measure because of the wild success of his book The Power of Now, a book which is in some measure, at least judging by the title, about the temporal dimension. I’m pleased, therefore, that the aptly-named Professor J.C.C. Smart saw fit to include the above insight into the slighting of the spatial dimension in space-time analogies in his tome Problems of Space and Time, and I borrow it to introduce a reflection in a forum that focuses on Place. TIME: The way I see it, and with apologies to Bergson, we true philosophers of the chaos of everyday life have actually understood something by breaking the temporal dimension into three workable categories: 1) “the Future” 2) “the Day” and 3) “the Now.” And the sanest among us have come to the conclusion that in order to live a decent life one eventually has to come to the realization that “the future,” in the words of Stephen Vizinczey, “is a blinding mirage,” and that “the Day” and “the Now” (one practical, and one, admittedly, a bit more mystical), are actually useful categories that, when they play off each other like binary stars, function quite well in an individual’s life and, at the very least, keep one from becoming an insane tyrant. A devotee of “the Day,” however, isolated from “the Now” usually ends up being a “coper”–somebody who just copes–or, inversely, a self-absorbed nincompoop the likes of which are seen in the worst of the band of “Carpe Diem!-ites” in Dead Poet’s Society. True one-day-at-a-timers, though (and most are of this sort) have at least one hand in the honey pot of “the Now,” and this adds the necessary mystical ferments to the practical “Day,” characteristics such as spontaneity, instinct, intuition, and imagination. On the other hand, a devotee of “the Now,” separated from the practical exigencies of “the Day,” tends towards mystical lunacy. These people are now legion, in large part, I reckon, because of the absolutely fantastical success of Tolle’s, (who in 2008 the NTY’s called “the most popular spiritual author in the nation”) The Power of Now.  Just think of the epidemic of babies that have to sit in their soiled diapers for longish periods of time because their moms have taken to hanging out in “the Now.” [2] Working together, however, and in some way tethered, these two categories of time create a pretty good engine to sanely power one through life. Though fans of either “the Day” in isolation or “the Now” in isolation can be humorously indulged, devotees of “the Future” are another case altogether. These people are not only scary but downright dangerous, and when you come across one, my advice is to run for the hills. According to Vizinczey, my favorite guide in dissecting the ways of those high on the future drug, “when somebody tells you, ‘you must think of the future,’ he isn’t thinking of you.”  And, “when you you hear the word ‘inevitable,’ watch out. An enemy of humanity has identified himself!”[3]

Page 1 of 3 | Next page