The Here-and-Now


here and now

“Every moment is utterly unique and will not be continued in eternity. This fact gives life its poignancy and should concentrate your attention on what you are experiencing now.”
― Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

“She was thinking how all those paths and the lawn, thick and knotted with the lives they had lived there, were gone: were rubbed out; were past; were unreal, and now this was real; the boat and the sail with its patch; Macalister with his earrings; the noise of the waves–all this was real.”
― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse  

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
― Henry David Thoreau

The here-and-now is the “possibilization” (with apologies to Sartre) of being. If there is no here-and-now there is no possibility of being, much less of becoming. The here-and-now doesn’t exist but it makes existence possible. Perhaps, we could say it is existence itself. As an epistemic category, it is a “knowing-of-being” to establish the essence of “being here and now” as a matter of awareness over and beyond the superficial consciousness of mere location. We are not simply located in space-time (the scientific equivalent of the philosophical here-and-now); we signify our being in it. And in such condition, we ask the questions: (1) Why am I here? (2) What must I do? and (3) What can I hope for?

The here-and-now is the scaffolding of experience. There is no experience outside of the here-and-now. There is no here-and-now prior to experience; it is in the thematization of the occurrence of experience that the here-and-now reveals itself to us. It is only in this very condition of thematization that the epistemological cause-effect description may be applied to the here-and-now where experience is the cause of how we get aware of it. However, the ontological reality is a different landscape where such cause-effect sequence is not an issue since the here-and-now is in simultaneity with experience. Neither one of them causes the other.

My here-and-now is the present state of affairs where I am now. In a sense, I am here now because I have chosen to be here now. In many instances, it is so. But there are also many instances where I am in right here and now but such is not of my own choosing; certain events in the course of my life have brought me here now. Of course, it is not always the case that I like and enjoy the here-and-now where I am in but difficulties due to limitations make it almost impossible for me to get myself out of it. With a sense of acceptance and resignation, I may just settle down and give up with the final thought that this is my lot in life–my destiny, if you will. In this sense, I could reasonably say that my own personal limitiations set the very limits of my here-and-now.

Nevertheless, not all limitations within my circumstances are personal. I am part and parcel of a larger reality whose immensity imposes limitations not only on me but on every living soul, so to speak, within the frontiers of such a reality. Reckoned as it is, I am just a tiny speck of being within the hegemonic confines of this extensive here-and-now. It is also my here-and-now but not of my creation. In a lot of ways, this enormous here-and-now affects my thoughts and non-thoughts, my actions and inactions. This is the here-and-now before which I am paralyzed to go against and hence of which I am disempowered to act in defiance.

The here-and-now within the range of human experience is therefore not wholly personal in the existential sense; it is also politico-economic in the global and thus objective sense. In the context of this understanding, the here-and-now is a matter of power in the hands of manipulators and exploiters. It is actually the Zeitgeist–the Spirit of the Time–that is in control of our lives in the present era. We are all ensconced in this global here-and-now where the more privileged enjoy the comfort of affluence and wealth while the rest are wallowing in all levels and degrees of impoverishment brought about by the greed, covetousness and over-indulgence of certain ravenous powers-that-be who have exhausted their global influence and might to destabilize, ravage and finally ruin resource-rich societies through proxy wars.

In the final analysis, we could come to the conclusion that one’s here-and-now is not exclusively hers/his. Having this thought in mind, we could even say that the personal here-and-now is actually something that each of us share with another’s here-and-now.  At the end of the day, we get to the realization that the here-and-now we have been thinking about is a collective one–a sharing of the same horizon in the hope of achieving common goals from day to day.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 29 December 2015