A Step AHead and a Head’STart

Sands of Time - Time Out of Mind

(Once upon a point in time)

A skull opened, hold with an arrow three books labelled ‘Socrates’, ‘Plato’ and ‘Aristoteles’.




mixed technique 36x85x18 cm (LED internally lit)

Dedicated to Edward de Bono (and subsequently to Lee Smolin)


Two bookends hold the sum of Western thought in the form of three books labelled ‘SOCRATES’, ‘PLATO’ and ‘ARISTOTELES’.

The fourth book is labelled ‘EDWARD DE BONO’ – the father of ‘lateral thinking’.

The critical thinking processes of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates are reductive, designed to eliminate everything but the truth. Edward
de Bono’s key concept is that this type of logical, linear thinking has limitations, and misses possible, interesting diversions.
He is a proponent of ‘lateral thinking’ as a way to incite ideas that are free from previously locked assumptions.

The left hand bookend supports an opened skull filled with sand (Sands of Time). In the top half of this skull, a clock with no hands has been
(Time Out of Mind) encased. The interior of the skull glows turquoise green, the colour once
believed to be the predominant colour of the universe. Time's arrow passes through the skullcap and (apparently) through the
books to appear on the right hand bookend. This bookend holds a stylised shoe (a step), which holds a head, which holds a
cake (a tart).

Time, as we understand it, was thought until the 1960s to be a human construct. ‘Time only exists to prevent everything happening
at once,’ said Einstein. This is because a particle’s behaviour in the past and future are hard to distinguish from each
other, its movements being essentially symmetrical in either direction. Even when particles do change, while their final state
can be known, what cannot so easily be known is what they were beforehand, and for how long.

In the ‘wacky, counter intuitive, world of quantum physics’, however, it is not always impossible to work out what a particle
once was but no longer is. A group of researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California has been looking
at particles called B-mesons, to see how long it takes for a B-meson to change its nature. This is possible because B-mesons
are sometimes born as conjoined twins. One twin gives away the initial state of the other and how long it lasted in that state.

What the researchers have discovered is that matter and antimatter are not quite equal and opposite, but that matter predominates
over antimatter. This is the first physical evidence that time moves in a forward manner, and that time’s arrow does indeed

This discovery has put the science fiction writers in a spot! But while time may pass in a linear direction, thought need not.