Time's Storylike Labyrinth

"When I first read the verses of the Four Quartets many years ago, I was sure I had stumbled upon the timeless truth of time itself. 'Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future. What might have been is an abstraction remaining a perpetual possibility only in a world of speculation.' Now those last verses are pretty devastating … Or let me say they were devastating back then when I believed there exists only one timeline, that whatever does not get realized in this particular unfolding of events that we call reality is doomed to remain an empty, all-together primitive, or what T.S. Eliot calls ‘speculative possibility.’ That’s why, when I was younger I used to grasp at things a lot. Driven by an impulse to actualize the array of possibilities that presented themselves to me. But that’s a formula for madness. The madness of a Machiavelli for example, who believed that there is only one world, the world of the real, the world of things as they are, not as they ought to be, for example. Be that as it may, I no longer believe that possibilities exist simply in order to be realized. They exist to give a penumbra of density to human experience. They exist to intimate the adjacency or multiplicity of other worlds than the one in which my provincial configuration of the real takes place ... Of course, this philosophy I’m expounding is a product of my own age, an age when I know in my own body that there are ever so many possibilities I will never turn into reality, no matter how hard I try, time has led me to the conclusion, provisional to be sure, that in other configurations of time, in other timelines or alternate realities, every possibility gets its proper due. Therefore, there’s no need to grasp vainly at the ghosts that surround you. There is a reason why most of what informs life remains in a state of potentiality, not actuality. It’s a way of protecting actuality from falling into the abyss, or what the Greeks called, ‘the apeiron'. Time, or our understanding of it is further complicated by the fact that the temporal unfolding of an individual's life always takes place within the unfolding of a particular historical age. In other words, personal age is bound not only to geological and biological time but to historical time as well.  Thus, something that was true in one epoch reveals its unfounded nature as that epoch gives way to another. Or to put it formulaically, time is ostensive, it is revelatory of truth or of the appearance of the phenomenon. Another way to express the same thought is to say that time is always implauded and that even the most sedentary among us always finds him or herself within time's storylike labyrinth." - Robert Harrison, intro to his podcast episode #71 on Borges with Hans Gumbrecht