If time moves in a circular pattern (an idea that I believe I have now beaten into the ground), then does that mean nothing new is ever produced? I originally stipulated among several posts dealing with this matter that while time, and by extension history is circular, there is always a slight difference in each recurrence. However, how long before the slight difference also becomes engulfed in the closed circuit of time? Basically, at what point do events, all events, exist within a loop of repetition and a complete cessation of novelty happens?
So maybe history and time are not a single geometric shape, but rather a combination of circles, ellipses, and lines of various sizes, interacting and counteracting.
Small events, like a person’s life, revolve around the axis of one circle, whereas history, in the larger conception of it, operates along the axis of a different circle. Do these circles then become bifurcated, intersected and altogether skewered by infinitely continuous lines, reinvigorating circular repetition with an onslaught of newly produced events?
It would seem that the lines interact with everything to varying degrees where some gently graze circuitous paths, and can be identified as inconsequential events, while others violently impale respective circles to produce events of mass significance. But even so, these new events then become absorbed within the circular paths, hence recurring wars, or non human inventions like climate changes outside the immediately visible cyclical seasons and delving into categories like massive eras of varied temperatures.
While this seemingly alleviates the problem of lack with an ongoing infusion of new events that will eventually become consumed into the cycles, one of two things must occur. Either the cycles infinitely expand, or are destroyed. This is apparent in the human life cycle, abundant in repetition, along with seemingly new events, and the circular path each person follows expands until it ceases to exist at death. But how does this play out in the larger spheres of the universe? If each circle represents history and time, does time then expand? For how long? What happens when expansion can no longer be accommodated?
In The Gay Science Nietzsche first asks this very question of eternal recurrence, beginning his life long obsession with the repetition of time (and while most will recall this thread from Zarathustra, which is definitely his most quoted and often anthologized work, Gay Science precedes with this strand). I don’t believe he ever answered this question, and instead (perhaps ironically) came back to it on multiple occasions, getting a bit closer to some sort of truth, fully aware there is not one, but multiple truths that can satisfy his theory, and refused to fully acknowledge any of them.
His idea of eternal recurrence, despite the name, reminiscent of an ever complete circle, is actually more similar to particle theory in which events scattered throughout will randomly combine and recombine in almost identical patters in order for repetition to occur. I think his failure to pin down logistics to such a theory is partly due to his omission of a force acting upon said particles. While they may recombine there is little to suggest they should do so in any specific pattern, or that recurrence can happen with any regularity.
Kierkegaard earlier came to an understanding of a similar principle and did in fact take into account that something must act upon events in order for “free range repetition” or repletion to occur, but he too did not identify the force and for the most part simply acknowledged that it occurs through some sort of leap of faith (which for my purposes here is an exaggerated oversimplification of his many works).
Scientifically the universe is expanding, and has been doing so since creation (however you may want to believe that transpired), alluding to the idea that time exists within an even larger sphere, existing before itself. In other words, there was time, expanded to its point of saturation, ceasing to exist, and regenerated ad infinitum. Otherwise how else could it be explained that time simultaneously exists cyclically and linearly? It would have to be one or the other, and it just simply is not.
I will not negate that there are particles, but I will argue that they are not free floating, and rather prearranged within the sphere; it is not the particles which recombine to form reoccurring events, but the sphere itself that moves them along. However, this too leaves several unanswered questions. To argue that the particles are prearranged implies agency to do so at some point. When? Further, it implies a start and a finish, relegated into the idea of recurrence where the beginning and end are but one, yet it still does not account for how they got there to begin with.
Do they randomly combine into a string along the circle, and then repeat over and over again, engulfing new event particles as they come into contact with the linear string of events until the entire thing implodes upon itself only to begin again? And if so, then the next time there is again no guarantee that they will represent the same formation, meaning it is not an eternal recurrence per se, but rather an approximation. Marbles scattered on an endless ground.
Where are we in all of this? Do we exist at some indiscriminate point of this repetition, or are we currently inhabiting a time right before the entire structure breaks down for renewal? Nietzsche was terrified of the idea that our lives, as they are, will be repeated without end. Camus accepted it. Kierkegaard seemed to be indifferent.
Nietzsche focused primarily on the negative aspects of life that must be played out over and over again across a multitude of lives, recirculating our pain with each recurrence. Camus filtered the theory through the microcosm of one life span in which we perform redundant tasks throughout.
Regardless of whether we are performing and reperforming the same acts, or bound to live the same life over and over again, the difference is only in whether repetition happens in the short or long term. I would think it is both (picturing the spheres of existence as nesting dolls) and repetition happens on every level.
The next series of questions has less to do with the physical or temporal limitations of this theory, but rather with the repercussions on the human psyche – a most fragile structure.
The idea that your life will repeat itself eternally is only horrific under two circumstances: focusing solely on the negative aspects of your existence and the refusal to acknowledge and/or accept fate (with the various nuances and implications associated with that word). The first of these can deplete the human mind, stripping it of its most essential source of survival, hope.
Hope needs to be brutally murdered in a dark alley. It’s sheer existence presupposes disappointment because in hoping you are setting yourself up for failure. However, the human mind feeds off hope, blind to its degenerate nature, and when hope exists in short supply there is a preconditioning towards depression, nihilism, and general despondency. If where you are now you will be again, then hope for anything else is not just futile, but perverse. Should all notions of hope for “something else” cease to exist, a prevailing sense of acceptance can be born from that void, essentially counteracting the second horrific circumstance of eternal repetition, which is to say, resistance.
But how can the mind be scraped of hope? And, dare I say, is all hope bad? Does hope come in categories? If it does, how are they segregated? We live the same life over and over again, unconsciously even when cognizant of it. For example, I may now realize that the same events have transpired hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of times, but my cognizance does not breed consciousnesses; I do not know what happened after this immediate point of my existence in this very moment. In other words, I may have lived tomorrow a hundred times, but I, right now, do not know what will happen. So can I hope that X will happen even if it never did, and never will? And what if it does? Does hope provide some sort of relief? Does the relief not then get taken away when what I hoped for does not transpire? Is hope in itself a never ending cycle where we are all destined to continuously hope for that which we will never have?
The more I continue and offer posits to reduce the gaps in understanding time and how we interact with it, it appears infinitely more questions arise, ones which I cannot answer, and don’t believe anyone else can either except with further theories that themselves will produce further questions. If that in itself doesn’t prove everything is a giant loop, then I can’t imagine what would.