I was reading about entropy and time just before I went to sleep last night. I was so fired up about what I read that I disturbed my wife’s sleep with some mad ramblings about video frame compression and diffs. Effectively, what I was saying was that, as a kid, I had read so much science fiction about time travel that I’m inclined to believe it’s possible. It’s not that I have faith that time travel will occur, it’s more that I can’t ignore the possibility.
As I was drifting towards sleep, a vixen breathlessly barking outside, an old blog post came to mind, one from my charity walking and fund raising days. Perhaps it was a dinner of roasted root vegetables that altered the function of my brain but it was acting without me. I was but an envelope holding letters of bewildering random musings.
I woke thinking of the same blog post. I remembered there was a word I had stumbled over that quite fascinated me and I blogged about it. Or I think I did because I’d forgotten the word and I couldn’t find the blog. But I thought it began with the letter f. I know it’s a long word and quite arcane so I took out the dictionary and started scanning the letter f. But then, three pressed flowers fell out of the dictionary. So I scanned those instead.
The flowers have been in the dictionary for a long time, disturbed only by people interested in words starting with a-m. My wife had pressed and saved the flowers while writing her memoir In Your Face about her experiences with mouth cancer. At the time she preserved the assemblage of petals as battle keepsakes In Her Dictionary, she had no idea if her war was winnable.
There isn’t much continuity in this post, so you might have decided that it’s as worthless as any of the last 280-something daily journals. And if you did, I wouldn’t blame you. But I have to tell you this is what I was thinking about last night and again this morning. Floccinaucinihilipilification is that very thing, the habit of estimating something as worthless, a word so long you couldn’t lose it. Or so you’d think.
You’d guess that a word like floccinaucinihilipilification should be easy to find in a blog. At first, I couldn’t remember how to spell it but I knew it ended with ‘cation’ (pronounced as keɪʃ(ə)n). But most search engines make it hard to search for anything other than whole words or perhaps the first few letters. It’s a funny thing that I was reading about this yesterday too, how phones are corrupting the languages of the world. But that’s a story for another day.
Those flowers I mentioned earlier, that were pressed in 2006 and scanned this morning, over fourteen years after the initial battles, survive as a selection from a huge collection, an inpouring of floral support that created a kitchen table thicket in which lurked the grandson’s dinosaur, a beast far less threatening than the monster that lurked in Lia’s head. It became a photo made into a poster that dominated the hospital room where Lia recovered and flowers were banned.
And so it’s time to close for the day. Time did temporarily reverse and forward motion has been restored. As to video and diffs, well, I’ll close with a quote from the book I was reading last night.
‘The idea, in video compression, is that most frames bear some marked resemblance to the previous frame … instead of encoding the entire picture … you just encode the (difference) between the last frame and the new one … In order to render the frame you’re jumping to, the decoder must wheel around and look backward for the most recent keyframe, prepare for that, and then make all of the changes between that frame and the one you want … Would it be going too far to suggest that delta compression is changing our very understanding of time? … Time no longer passes. The future, rather than displacing it, revises the present, spackles over it, touches it up.’
– The Most Human Human by Brian Christian (2011)
Could it be that our future is simply a revision of our past?