All I Can Understand About Time Travel

Some months ago, I briefly became pregnant with the child of a Ph.D. in quantum physics, and for a few seconds I understood the nature of time:It was a small sphere, a compressed rubber band. The band was one long path, but its folds and loops touched one another in myriad places. A mite travelling ¬†along the band would experience it as linear, but by hopping one milifraction of a milllimetre it could cross to a section metres from its starting point. The sphere was tennis-ball-size, yet I knew it was infinite…

It is easy to time travel, the physicist says – we do it every day. Travelling backward is the problem. If a man goes backward, it is likely that he’ll do something that would prevent his birth, such a s kill his father. Time travel backwards is impossible unless, the physicist says, you dispense with causality, the belief that one thing can cause another, and embrace a world in which – as in Borges’s garden- there are many forking paths, and anything that can happen does. But if you do that, the physicist says, life becomes random and meaningless.

– Rebecca Curtis,”Morlocks and Eloi”

That makes perfect sense to me. There’s more to this story, but I don’t get it. I also didn’t understand Borges’ story “The Garden of the Forking Paths”, but to be fair, even though it was short, I didn’t read it all.

I wonder if I were to travel in time, either backwards or forwards, if I would develop the capacity to figure things out better. In some ways, I think I would; after all, I had no concept of geography until I drove across the country, and now when I envision some of the states through which I’ve traveled in my mind, they form themselves into the same colored-box patterns any 8th grade map of the US would. But it seems like if you were jumping around in time you’d ¬†begin each adventure as the same dumb-ass you were at the starting point, because you would not have the time to evolve from your experiences, because you kept messing with your own developmental continuum.

Really, for as much as I like the time-space-memory-experience thing, I don’t understand any of it. The most I get is that all those things exist, but that they are only understood through a personal, individual lens, which warps their meanings and makes them impossible to define in a way that is uniform and universally understood.

I guess you knew that already, huh? I wear glasses and all, but sometimes I suspect I’m a dummy.

I read another story by Rebecca Curtis, just to see if I could understand it. This one was LONG – but I liked it, and totally get it. Actually, it was pretty simple. Hooray! I can read! I’m only kinda stewpid!