The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.
— Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory
But, then, I cannot escape the objection that there is no state of mind, however simple, which does not change every moment, since there is no consciousness without memory, and no continuation of a state without the addition, to the present feeling, of the memory of past moments. It is this which constitutes duration. Inner duration is the continuous life of a memory which prolongs the past into the present, the present either containing within it in a distinct form the ceaselessly growing image of the past, or, more profoundly, showing by its continual change of quality the heavier and still heavier load we drag behind us as we grow older. Without this survival of the past into the present there would be no duration, but only instantaneity.
― Henri Bergson, An Introduction to Metaphysics
The command, in the most literal rendering, means “find East!”, as the word orient comes from Latin meaning rising and daybreak, and implies the direction of the sunrise. Thus, it is a highly curious, question-begging verb.
Is the command “orient yourself” suggesting that you must know where you are in space?
After all, east is a spatial direction. To orient yourself using a map means to find where you are on the map, and understand where other things are that relate to you, your lateral and vertical distance from them, and so forth.
But perhaps the command “orient yourself” suggests that you should know where you are in time, instead.
By virtue of knowing where east is during the day, you can assess the sun’s current position and know the time, the progression of the diurnal cycle, and with a little more knowledge, say much about the season of the year, the length of the day, and more. With an understanding of the constellations and our planet’s movements, we can know even more about when we are.
Properly understood, orientation is about knowing where we are in space and when we are in time. We can know neither of these with exhaustive precision and detail, of course. To fully understand where we are in space, we would need to understand our proximity to every other body and particle in all of existence.
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