“We are not subtle enough to perceive that probably absolute flow of becoming; the permanent exists only thanks to our coarse organs which reduce and lead things to shared premises of vulgarity, whereas nothing exists in this form. A tree is a new thing at every instant; we affirm the form because we do not seize the subtlety of an absolute moment”. (Nietzsche)
Talking about the flow of time, of becoming and being. Nietzsche’s coarse organs which break the flow of time into hold-able, readable instances that have duration enough for an imagining of steadiness of an apparent instant we can call ‘now,’ time enough to enable a reading of the just passed ‘now’ through our memory of it and of other past presents and time enough to anticipate a future. As in Goethe’s Urpflanze series, becoming is broken down into a series of events informing the previous and the subsequent.
And then a comparison to reading a word embedded in a series of words, understanding through the memory of the other words which frame it. Meaning dissipates when a word is completely isolated, just as an instant we call ‘now’ is meaningless without memory of the past and anticipation of a future. However without the division in the flow of language to single words and the apparent division of time into past/now/future, memory and language cannot function. Time passing appears unintelligible to us without the apparent breaking of the flow into individual instances of what we term present.
Without (self reflexive, self-aware, symbolic) language we have no meaningful (self reflexive, self-aware, symbolic) memory. And – turn again – without memory the words are without context and become meaningless. Without memory our world is meaningless. Without memory our self is meaningless.
Could it be that it is not our perceptory organs that are too coarse to perceive the flow of being or ‘becoming’, but memory itself which acts in some way to prevent the perception of becoming? The process of linguistic memory (in which experience is abstracted into hold-able, re-readable symbols) appears to break the flow of time into a steady, hold-able, readable present. Is this what is necessary to perpetuate a sense of self?