“Speed” Responses

“People moved at different speeds; animals much more so. The wings of insects moved too fast to see, though one could judge their frequency by the tone they emitted-a hateful noise, a high E, with mosquitoes, or a lovely bass hum with the fat bumblebees that flew around the hollyhocks each summer.” (Sacks 2004: 1)

In the very beginning of this piece, Sacks brings up facts that almost everyone knows, but never pays attention to. Of course we know that the insect is flying because it is moving its wings. Although we cannot see it, we know it to be true. This article, in a way, slows things down for the reader and allows us to realize the speeds in which everything travels.

“The hours and minutes still seem excruciatingly long when I am bored, and all too short when I am engaged…There is an exaggerated consciousness of time in such situations; indeed, when one is bored there may be no consciousness of anything but time.” (Sacks 2004: 3)

This quote intrigues me because it is absolutely true. When you think about time, you are consumed with it, and it seems as if it will never move forward. However, if you are unconscious of time, you are lost in it. Time can move much faster when you are not paying attention to it.

“The subject of space and time perception is becoming a popular topic in sensory psychology, and the reactions and perceptions of athletes, and of people facing sudden demands and emergencies, would seem to be an obvious field for further experiment, especially now that virtual reality gives us the power to simulate action under controlled conditions, and at ever more taxing speeds.” (Sacks 2004: 4)

Controlled time, as seen with simulations, can be used as exercises for us to catch up with its increasing speed. In the beginning on this article, Sacks points out that everything is rapid motion. Simulations are used to help us perceive time and to better our coordination with it.

“Dreams can take wing, move freely and swiftly, precisely because the activity of the cerebral cortex is not constrained by external perception or reality.” (Sacks 2004: 5-6)

Time in strictly manmade. This being said, reality cannot touch dreams and that it why everything moves freely in dreams. What seems to be a lifetime in your dream is actually only seconds in reality.

“Nevertheless, we humans, even the fastest among us, are limited in speed by basic neural determinants, by cells with limited rates of firing, and by limited speeds of conduction between different cells and cell groups. And if, somehow, we could accelerate ourselves a dozen or fifty times we would find ourselves wholly out of synch with the world around us…” (Sacks 2004: 9)

There is a reason that our brains can only process so much at one time, and that includes processing speed. If we were to speed up, we would not be in sync with our environment.

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