#17 Ethical Time Travel

| r |

Dear Internet, dear Nana,

After Escobar deciphered the last notes, I looked up the physicists names. I have pretty decent half- knowledge about popular physics terms… or so I thought. I understand nothing, really. They all talk about time travel, but only on a teeny tiny scale. I can’t believe Benjamin could extrapolate proportions to this degree. And apparently he didn’t, or at least not by himself. Who is Sid? I asked Arjin, but she only knows Ben’s artist friends. He must have kept his circles separate – either on purpose or by chance. At least this Krasnikov guy seems to be a real person. Is Sid in Russia? How can I go to Russia?! I have no passport, no papers, no money…

There are many places I would love to see if I had those things, though. The Amazon still exists; the ice has yet to melt in Greenland. But a lot of things are gone already. Many cultural treasures in the Middle East have been destroyed by some fanatics. There would have been better times to go and see that region, for sure. Conflicts keep the borders up as well.

Sometimes I feel like screaming:  “Look around, you live in a magical time and you are bent on obliterating it.” But it would be in vain; I’ve seen the death blow happen. I have wondered sometimes whether I could do anything to change the future. I mean, besides the horrifying consequences it could bring, doesn’t this apply to everybody who is alive now? The only difference is that I know of one possible outcome all of our combined actions will have in roughly 100 years from now.

M. wrote I shouldn’t be so negative, but really, I am not a pessimist. I love my world; I just wish it didn’t have to go through the growing pains. This isn’t a negative outlook, it’s the advantage I have because I have information. Sorry M., the future is very likely going to suck for a while before it gets good. How much we can do something about it really depends on how deterministic time is…

Who is Sid?

I’ve actually brooded over this problem a lot since I began to grasp the nature of my travel. As a time foreign subject, are my actions escalating events, pushing time from its’ supposed path with an x^2 integer? Or is the radius of my behavior so small as to fade under an assumed event horizon?

Let’s say I break a lamp in 2018. Will it simply be replaced by someone?  Is that all it takes to iron out any change in time? Or is there some truth to the butterfly effect?

And another thing: I dropped in Ben’s entombed atelier, breaking a bunch of his stuff in the process. But before that, when I arrived there in the future, those things weren’t broken. So is this already a different timeline? In Ben’s description of «closed time-like curves» the realm I am now in is a mere probability that only exists until I leave it. Dear reader, do you feel like a probability in a statistical universe? I feel very real. I have blisters on my feet from exploring the city and I can smell the burning wood of one of the last working chimneys down the street mixed with my neighbors cooking animal meat as soon as I open the window. I have memories of this timeline and mine that are both equally certain. But then again I am an observer and can’t be objective.

You might say it’s a moot point to try and figure out the theoretical workings behind my journey, and in the end, that’s what I landed on as well. There is no way to know for sure if I can return to my time and if it even will be my time until I go and then I’ll know. However, I would feel irresponsible if I didn’t even consider it. I could be the equivalent of a human cataclysm and not even know it.

I feel very real.

There’s plenty of theory to go around about this stuff, but as far as I know, I am the first empirical trial subject, meaning I had to decide early on what etiquette should be applied in time travel.  Dear Internet, dear Nana, here’s what I’ve got so far:

Etiquette of the ethical time traveler

Time is fragile – Do not disturb it.

Time is singular – Bearing witness is an honor.

Time is precious – Do not waste it.

Time is endless – It will survive you.

Time is fierce – Beware of it.

an illustration

I guess this could apply to everyone who is traveling in time – me, who took a jump, and all of you walking single file in history. I wonder if I’ll ever meet another time traveler. Will I ever see Ben? Ben, if you are in the future, maybe you can read this, we need to switch back. There are things I am meant to do in 2107.

Remember Hawkins’ party? Maybe no one attended because there isn’t a way to control time travel – yet… no, wait, that doesn’t work.  Nana, has my writing changed your timeline? Am I missing in my time? If I ever return, will it be to the instant after I left or does time move along/keep moving, like it keeps moving/moves along for me now?

 I have begun to decode a few of Ben’s pages by myself, and have gotten better at it with the help of some friendly internet people. There are still some I haven’t figured out though; I’ll post those next week.

breaking lamps and cypher,


4 thoughts on “#17 Ethical Time Travel

    1. Dear Escobar,
      thank you for your effort! I agree, this tube certainly looks like it is trying to achieve the same goals as Ben did. Sid must be the one to hold all the keys, because Krasnikov certainly seems only at the beginning of this. I found more of Ben’s stuff, I’ll be posting Sunday. Let me know, what else you can find.

  1. Dear Rielle,

    happy to see that you are finding new answers and even more questions. Personally, I also think that the whole concept of time travel and influencing the course of history is highly puzzling. I think we all have individual effects on the future, yet I always have trouble following Terminator-like (that’s a movie, by the way, or another classic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_City_on_the_Edge_of_Forever) narratives. Certainly, there may be certain individuals that invented or discovered stuff for the first time, but I do not believe that they are/were the only people that could do it. Technological, scientific and social discoveries are often driven by some human needs. Sure, Einstein was a smart and clever individual who enriched the world with his thinking on time and space. Yet, was he the only human ever to live to be able to think these thoughts? Isn’t it probable that someone, sometime would have developed an equivalent theoretical construct that could better explain our perception of e.g. planetary movements? I am a strong believer in the “nanos gigantum humeris insidentes” idea – we are driven by needs and develop cultural technologies by relying on what others have accomplished – but we do so more as communities than as solitary individuals.

    I do think that you have an impact as an individual, though. Not by breaking lamps, but by interacting with other people. I am certain your personality and ideas will impact those people you meet and call friends, cascading to many more people in their social reach. This is how we change our world, by communicating with others, I think.

    I also like your etiquette! 2-4 could also be read as a “memento mori” for the non-time-traveling part of us 🙂

    Looking forward to read more about your journey and poor Ben, who is now probably having an even harder time as a barbarian in the future.


    1. Dear towe,
      you are right of course! I haven’t even thought about how Ben might be doing in 2107…or is it now 2108? Is my time moving parallel to his?
      Any way, happy new year(s)!
      I would like to think that Ben will enjoy his journey. My time is welcoming to strangers. He might even find better treatments for his psychological discomforts. All in all he seems to be curious and open minded, and in all fairness, at least he had some idea of what he was getting himself into. Though I doubt he calculated me in, because how could he. The more I learn about him, the more I wish we could meet. Everything Arjin tells me about him paints him as a magnetizing person, someone people want to be around. At the same time he seems to not be wanting to be around himself…
      My great grandfather, the first chrono-haj.. well chronologically I guess the second. 2107 will love him. We love stories, we love experimenting, we love art… I think after a short adjustment period he should be fine. Maybe he can even find my blog, or Salma can find him and show him (… hi Ben! …) if only there was a way for him to communicate with me. He could help me to get home. I am really happy that he might influence my time, as I might influence yours. I will certainly try my best, whether it will matter in the long run or not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *