Just a moment with Mary Ruefle . . .
A few days ago, I quoted Mary Ruefle on her sense of the "moment":
[W]e have only fragments -- but even this seems fitting, for what is the moment but a fragment of greater time? (Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey, 13)Now that I'm re-reading her book, I learn the size of that fragment:
Okay, three seconds -- as the approximate duration of the present moment has been defined -- not quite the speed of light, but about the time it takes to look at the moon. (Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey, 17)I'd never heard this fact before -- or maybe I heard in a moment of distraction and thus didn't hear -- so I looked it up and found a book by Peter Swirski, Literature, Analytically Speaking, that speaks of this established fact:
A good place to start may be with the research into the duration of the present moment originally conducted by Frederick Turner and Ernst Poppel. In a series of experiments, subjects were asked to reproduce the duration of a light signal or a sound or else to respond to the dilations of time intervals in the so-called metronome test (designed to measure the extent to which people subjectively group intervals). These early experiments have established what, since then, has been confirmed by a multitude of studies in developmental and adult psychobiology: the duration of the personal subjective "now."Apparently, this fact holds for -- among other things -- poetic recitation, and Swirski informs us that Miroslav Horlub (whom we also met on this blog) inferred that the three-second line appears to be a "carrier wave" in poetry throughout various language systems (164-165).
It turns out that in most people the dimension of the present moment is about three seconds, although for some it can be about a half-second shorter or longer. (Swirski, Literature, 163-164)
What's the practical significance of this fact? I don't know. Maybe practice reciting poetry in units of the moment? Translate poetry that way as well?