To what reason do we owe man’s struggle to master time?
Being an ardent follower of several science fiction essentials related to time travel (i.e. Doctor Who, 12 Monkeys, HG Wells’ The Time Machine, etc.), the details in the documentary were not of general surprise. Fiction has already transcended the facts of time travel’s physical possibility; that we are continually amazed by the hard science and continue to speculate the what if of controlling past, present, and future.
What was surprising, though, was the interest with which these physicists explained and convinced their audience, as if it assumed that we were already hooked in the first place – and we were. Time travel is as attractive to man as is the thought of immortality. The fact that it is one of the most commonly used science fiction tropes only confirms man’s obsession with this phenomenon.
Is our attachment to life tantamount to our attachment to time? As humans, most certainly, we are bound to our mortality as we are to the normalcy of the ticking second. Our lives are governed by time as we are by the prospect of death; we are all going to die someday, as we are supposed to wake up at a certain time the next day.
Both are proofs of our limited humanity, and time actually bears the heavier scale because the course of our lives (towards death) is linear, defined by time. Our being death-bound is dependent on our being time-bound.
What does time travel have to do with all this? Like most developments in science and technology, time travel is an attempt to tip over the scales of humanity, to overcome these limits that keeps man chained to the laws of nature regarding his life and how he travels through it. Additionally, if time travel were possible, man would overcome the struggle of not knowing certain things like the backdoors of history or what he is bound to be in the future. He can even save himself from a certain direction of fate if only he knows where he’s heading; he can live a life that spans a million years with just one visit to the past, and another to the future. He can immortalize himself, leaving a mark all through the universe, that man the unlimited has done what he thought he cannot.
But one of the reasons why we still continue to struggle for it is not because we cannot, but because the laws of nature themselves are restraining humans from exploiting the most organic forces of the universe. Order will be disrupted as every change causes ripples through the time-space continuum, and knowing this, we ask ourselves: were we really meant to control time, or is this the universe’s way of controlling us and reminding us that after all, we still are humans?
Christine Joy L. Galunan