Human Time and Clock Time are far from the same.

CLOCK TIME AND HUMAN TIME Mike Disney (originally 2001)

Old people know that each year slips by faster than the last. What may seem an age to a young boy, to his grandfather may feel no more than a month. Human time and Calendrical time not only seem different, they are different. Only an accident of history has given them both the same label, the same name. An extra year of life at age 80 is by no means as precious as a year lost when you are 20. Old age prolonged by medical science is no great gift; young life cut off in its prime is a tragedy. Why then do we count time only by the ticks of a mechanical clock, or the artificial marks on a calendar? Let us compute time as it really seems to be to us as sentient beings, not as it is to some blind watch that will go on ticking on our wrist even after we are dead.

Human time is surely logarithmic, that is to say that a year when you are twenty seems like a twentieth of a lifetime but only a sixtieth when you are sixty. That being so it is possible to compute one’s human age, as it feels, as against Calendrical or Clock time as follows:

Clock age above in years versus [Human age ] in years below.

Table A

On the upper row is somebody’s age in Calendrical, i.e. Clock Time, on the bottom, in square brackets, their Human Age as they really feel it. Look at the dramatic differences, particularly in childhood and old age. A boy who really feels like a young adult [25] is still a young child of only 10 by the Clock. A maturing woman of [37] is still counted by the clock as an immature teenager of only 15, although by then in the natural age before ‘civilization’ she would have been rearing children of her own. Then look at old age. In living Calendrically from 70 to 90 the old person has gained only [6] years of real life. It can be very comforting to a family who have just lost a beloved member at the all too young age of calendrical 40 say to realise that in human terms they were [58] years old and thus had enjoyed most of their real life.

And we can invert the Table:

Table B

Human Age (above) versus Clock age below

which shows only too vividly how childhood crawls in Calendrical Time but accelerates out of control in Human Old age.

The use of the word “Time” to describe two entirely different concepts is purely a convention with all sorts of unintended consequences, many of them very unfortunate in my opinion. In the modern world childhood is grossly undervalued; children are rushed off into care so that their parents can go out to work all hours to earn pensions for their comparatively worthless old age. That’s pretty obvious when you think about it. Our whole values system is being twisted. Likewise humans are nowadays expected to spend their first 24 years or so at ‘schools’ of various kinds which means that by the time they get out into the real world they are almost [50] years of age. What a waste, what a tragedy!

The invention of tic-toc time was a very useful modern development [largely driven by the railway system in the Victorian age] which enabled us to organize all manner of great things from assignations to concerts to airline tables. What would we do without it? But who said it ever should have had anything to do with Human Time? That simply happened by accident. I believe we should all ponder very deeply about this. Very deeply indeed. A new word to describe tic-toc time is needed to distinguish it from the real thing. Time is a profoundly mysterious concept, as scientists recognize. Assumed to be Absolute in Newton’s physics, we now know it is nothing of the kind.

If you want to follow the simple calculation which enables one to convert between the two types of age and time go to the url:


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