What is Consciousness?
About five years ago, in the conventional way of thinking, I listened to an interview on CBC Radio about how time may not exist. In fact, there are some fundamental problems with time.
At first, I have to admit, I thought that the idea was preposterous. The basic argument is that at the moment of the big bang, everything was created in one shot. Everything that was, is, and will be, exists simultaneously. Individuals are consciousness moving through a series of nows. This gives us the illusion of time. To put this into perspective, right now the big bang is happening. Dinosaurs are roaming the Earth. Julius Caesar is being stabbed to death. You are reading this. Flying cars are being made. The end of the universe is happening. All at once.
Even if you don’t buy into the theory at all, and who can blame you if you don’t, there is one important question that arises from this. What is consciousness? Many scientists want to chalk it up to electrical impulses in the brain. Others claim that it is simply self-awareness. None of this truly explains why we are the way we are. Nor does it explain how we form meaning in the world. There are no definitive theories on why we make sense of the world the way that we do. And there are very few theories that explore the possibility that consciousness is responsible for how we perceive time.
As a writer, I am fascinated by the subject. My mind comes back to this topic again and again. I think about the endless possibilities that this generates for storytelling. I could explore the science behind the theory, write about time travel, or contemplate what consciousness really is, to name a few of the more obvious connections. Perhaps most importantly, it is something for the intellect to chew on.
You can listen to the interview at http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1474895158.