Saturday, April 17, 2010

Depth for the Present

Responding to Nietzsche's idealizing of youthful ignorance as, "Not yet having a past to disown," Miroslav Volf writes...

"Complete immersion in the present might produce happiness - that is, if our present circumstances were happy ones - but our lives would be shallow, not to mention downright dangerous. Imagine chasing a stray ball across a busy highway without looking for oncoming cars because you 'blissfully' ignore your knowledge about automobile accidents and fail to consider your mortality! Assuming we could survive, however, our lives would lose depth and richness for lack of memory and hope to bring the past and future into the present. For the way we experience time is similar to the way we hear a sound from a good stringed instrument. When we hear a sound from a good cello, for example, we don't hear a tone produced only by the base length of the string - co-present in that sound are tones from the string's half-length, fourth-length, eighth-length, etc. This is how a stringed instrument produces a complex tone. It is similar with the music of our lives. At any given time, we do not hear only the simple, solitary tone of the present; rather in that present resonate many sounds of past actualities and future possibilities. This is how our present acquires depth." ("The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World," pp. 72-73)