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Art Explained: The Now

August 28, 2019

 

J. Antonio FARFAN

The Now 
Thinker Series, No. 12 
2019
11 x 14 in. ( 27.9 x 35.5 cm) 
Acrylic and oil on linen
1,490 
 

 

The Confessions, St. Augustine’s autobiographical work written at the end of the third century made great efforts to analyze the nature and creation of time in its three intervals of past present and future. The bishop’s words and thoughtful approach are written as prayers to God and have been the catalyst and precursor to many great philosophies thereafter.  The chapters of the book are a fascinating look at the life of a man strongly connected to his faith and his human nature.  Contemplating these words brought about an invention of Time that considers why it seems to get shorter and shorter as we age. 


Early memories are strong in many of us. As children the focus and attention we have for an event forms its later vividness. The novelty of the environment and impulse for discovery keeps a young attention focused on that moment without consideration to time or conditioning.  As we get older those same childhood memories are sometimes strong enough to override the reality of the present. 

When we reach a specific point in our lives, different for everyone, we start to think about those early memories alongside the immediate present and the future.  The catalyst for the change of attention on the present may be our environmental conditions, adult responsibilities or even thoughts on our mortality. It is at this point that we no longer think as children because our focus is broken into three parts. The present moment erodes into flashes of memories from our past alongside an imagined future.   The older we get the less time we spend focused on the present and as a result days continue faster.  The power of the mind is such, that it can completely transport us to a different realm of time. In a moment, we can be in the past or choose to move forward into an unknown future.  As St. Augustine points out, time is of three types, past present and future.  We decide how long our present moment is by focus alone.  A child therefore,  bound by their inquisitive nature and interest in the world around them thinks very little of the past and future. Their focus is in efforts to understand or in a fascination of their present environment.  Most children then, live in the moment where an hour is very close to a full sixty minutes. 

By contrast, most adults are not focused on the present.  The amount of memory of that day  is reduced to whatever time is spent on the present.  For adults, hours are shorter because sixty minutes are shared between three types of time.   The longer time that is spent on the past and the future the shorter the present becomes.  And since our thoughts and actions in the present are fogged with intervals of past and present the memories of the present become vague and uncertain.  We continue with very little time for the present, and our memories then are directly related to how much focus we had at that moment.          

Centered with a long golden timeline indicating the past present and future, the pink painting titled The Now, simplifies Augustine’s types of time.  The flickering red light is a call for attention that becomes less and less of a novelty as we get older. An indicator of sorts that brings nostalgic memories mixed with ideas for the future … unlike a child that would see a read button in the middle of a pretty pink painting.   

 

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