Thoughts & Insights

Life-Time and World-Time

In terms of our individual lifespans, we humans are mortal. As World-time beings we are part of an immortal integrated Total Subject.

Each single, subjective, individual person in their limited lifespan is always also part of a World-time being and thus endowed with immortality. From this perspective we can see the series of successive human generations as one identical person who never ceases to exist and as such represents a single great World-experience.

As soon as the present becomes the past it becomes part of this collective memory. What this means is that in each moment of history, we can reach out beyond our own individual finite lifespan to the past but also to the future as well.

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This applies objectively to each person as part of an integrated Total Subject, in other words it applies to the whole of humankind from its beginnings onwards. However, it by no means seeks to imply that this is something that every living human being is aware of, or that as subjective individual entities in their own limited lifespans they have any notion of themselves as infinite beings or at least as beings forming part of World-time. And it certainly doesn’t mean that they behave as Universal Beings. Only a very few people can do this, and, as the length of the past continues to extend, it becomes increasingly difficult for the individual human to actively integrate the knowledge and experience of the “Ancients” into their present activities not merely with the aim of knowing and understanding it but with the aim of driving it forward and enriching it with the power and plenitude of their own spiritual and mental development.

Those people who are capable of such feats, use, during the time they are on earth, the progress accomplished in World-time as a bounty that gives something like an atemporal dimension to human existence. The experience of the past, the present and the future is equally at their disposition in their efforts to create something which, in its own turn, will serve to enrich the collective pool.

These and many other related thoughts are to be found in the book of the philosopher Hans Blumenberg, which draws, among other sources of inspiration, on the works of Fontenelle and Pascal, two French philosophers of the seventeenth century. The attempt to imagine one single integrated Total Subject composed of an aggregation of all human experience lived by people since the dawn of humankind is indeed an extraordinarily fascinating venture.

The decisive questions for each single individual are in the first place whether they can grasp what all this means; how they can access the collective memory of World-time and how they themselves can add to the integrated Total Subject during their own limited life-times. Personally, I believe that this idea can have a positive effect on the quality of our own lives because it shows that, over and beyond the limited temporal nature of our own lives, there is an atemporal dimension of which we also form part. This could be seen as a consolation but actually it’s much more of a challenge. To be able to deal with such a challenge what we need is a bon esprit cultivé as Fontenelle put it, a good and cultivated mind. OUBEY was such a mind. This is one of the major reasons why his works – in which this well cultivated mind created such a unique and individual form of expression – speak something like a universally understandable language.

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The film OUBEY – An Element of the Universal which was premiered last week is an attempt to discover why OUBEYs art seems to speak a universal language that can be understood by people from all around the world. His work embodies the knowledge of “seven million years of human history” as the paleoanthropologist Professor Friedemann Schrenk commented in his Encounter with one of OUBEYs paintings. His paintings “transcend time” was what one of the visitors to the Maori school festival said during her Open Encounter with another of his paintings. Both of them figure in the film. To get a foretaste of what’s in store, click here to view the one-minute trailer.