The clock is meant to represent the "timelessness" of Eternity. Spinoza points out in several places that Eternity (as he uses the term) has nothing to do with time or duration. Although our ordinary life seems to us to be a sequence of events that follow each other this appearance, Spinoza shows, is really a confused presentment of our own imagination with the association of impressions on our body arising from "the fortuitous play of circumstance" through our senses. [Note] ... [it has been said] that "Now is the only real moment" though I believe [it] is meant by this more than just the "now" that seems to sit between past and future and to be continually moving. "Now" in this sense is the "Eternal Now" and this is very hard to find because our imagination is filled with fragmented ideas that cloud our "inner vision" and turn Eternity into time. Spinoza says:
============ E5: PROP. 23, Note:
He says elsewhere:
============ E5: PROP. 34 Corollary, Note:
In the clock both the confusion of Eternity with Time and the idea that Eternity is "beyond" or "outside" of Time are meant to be represented. You see the hand moving from what is usually taken to be moment to moment but then perhaps you notice that all "moments" are Now. The imagination can make nothing out of this but a sequence of separate moments while to the Understanding it is quite another thing. Understanding, which term has a very specific meaning in Spinoza, is not the imagination, memory, or words but rather is the very act of affirmation which arises from our Essential Nature as a thinking thing. Our Essential Nature is not some independent being, as we usually imagine it, but rather is a particular expression of the Infinite and Eternal One, without which nothing has being and beyond which there can be no being.
Years ago I took an hour glass and removed the sand. You never have to turn it over, it always represents "Now". Of course "always" usually means an infinite amount of time and we can hardly escape that illusion while the body "endures". Even this idea of the body "enduring" for some period of "time" is really a confused idea in our own complex bodily sense associations that is our imagination and memory. Even while this confusion continues, Spinoza points out, we can learn to "see" beyond it the Eternal and Infinite One.
These ideas are very simple but it is a paradox of true Understanding that Simple, Clear Ideas are often the hardest to grasp while the complex but confused ideas of our own imagination run rampant and present to us the continually changing illusion of life. Real Life is Eternal, Infinite, and Unchanging. Spinoza points out:
============ E2: PROP. 47, Note:
None of this is of course true because someone wrote the words. We can only know the truth or falsity by coming to the ideas for ourselves. This does not mean simply reading words but coming to the ideas in our own mind. Not an easy task but then what else does life seem to offer? Spinoza early on expressed that Riches, Fame, and Sense Pleasure had become for him "vain and futile" and that he sensed there was something greater to be found. It would seem he found the Essence of Being and tried through his writings to help us find it too.
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