As in the poem ‘All the Time in the World’
the nature of an eternal ‘Other’
that pervades space and time,
cannot be defined in spacetime words,
though they are all we have.
Something other than time and dimension,
pervading space and time
but independent of them,
needs words outside our range.
So how can we talk or think about it?
We do not use language as much as we think.
Multilingual people are sometimes asked,
‘What language do you think in?’
Their answer is often delayed;
rolling language thoughts around,
they usually give an answer
set in the terms of the question.
But many thoughts do not use language
though we may not notice it:
sunlight through leaves, the flight of birds,
fatigue, frustration, longing,
the body language of a friend,
and expressions on a face,
do not need words.
When we communicate with others
our words have personal qualities,
‘qualia’, arising from our past life.
A mountain, a falling leaf, a knife,
each have qualities which differ
from one person to another.
No two people have the same past,
the same experience of any thing.
Your words, my words, have different qualia,
different emotional tones.
You hear my words,
spoken out of my past
and interpret them out of yours.
I heard of an itinerent priest
who preached in town and village churches
when local vicars were away.
It could be several churches on one day.
He joked about breaking the speed limit.
Those listening – drivers, non-drivers,
who had known or not known past accidents –
would have different thoughts about speeding cars,
But we can understand in some degree
the qualia of those different groups
by extension of our own.
Our own qualia can be enlarged
by poetry, story, music,
by the emotions of others,
or our ideas of what they might be.
Physics, mathematics or words of spacetime
cannot define or describe the Other,
but emotions give a feel for it.
Physics, mathematics and words
do this when they stir emotions.
Some find beauty in a formula that others find in music.
That feeling of beauty,
rather than formula,
rather than musical notes,
perhaps as close as we can come,
to the language of the eternal.
The word eternal, ae-ternus,
simply means lasting an age,
an infinite extension of time,
but emotions tell us it is more than this,
something more than the word,
more than mere length of time.