Dreadful beyond all fathoming are the mysteries of time. Even I, the priest and initiate, though wise in the secret doctrines of Aforgomon, know little enough of that elusive, ineluctable process whereby the present becomes the past and the future resolves itself into the present. All men have pondered the riddles of duration and transience; have wondered, vainly, to what bourn the lost days and the sped cycles are consigned. Some have dreamt that the past abides unchanged, becoming eternity as it slips from our mortal ken; and others have deemed that time is a stairway whose steps crumble one by one behind the climber, falling into a gulf of nothing.

The Chain of Aforgomon by Clark Ashton Smith

The phenomenon of the past proceeds from the development of the present, the occurrence of the potential future.

The assumption of the existence of a past is completely superfluous. It explains nothing that would not be explainable without it as well.
The existence of the past is an extremely unfruitful hypothesis, perhaps the least productive of all since no inferences can be derived from it. It explains nothing, it lacks results.
The hypothesis of the existence of a past does even suffice to explain our documentation of the past (history books, fossils, sediment layers, Troy, etc). For this, the present development is completely sufficient.

I observe a pad with carbon paper. Then I write a 1 one the first page and circle it in. Then I tear the first page off and burn it. Next to the carbon copy 1 I now place a 2, circle both of them in and once again tear off the top sheet and burn it. Then I put a 3 alongside of it, etc.

A historical time arrow, originating in a present-time occurrence.
The top page of the pad constitutes the present, i.e. the present condition of the pad. The pages under the top sheet constitute the future, i.e. the future condition of the pad. By contrast, the torn off and burned pages are the past.

  One sees:

1. The present puts its imprint on the future, i.e. present conditions survive temporally (they are written through onto future pages) since for their future existence there is a great basic probability. In the future we will have documents from the instantaneous present.

2. For this reason, we will in the future have documents from the past. This is also the reason why we today have documents from the past (for Jules Vernes we ourselves were the future).

3. Information from the past stands in a rather specific hierarchy:
Earlier documents are always partial quantities of later documentation.

4. The historical hierarchy of documents follows simply from present development without recourse to a past.
The proof of this lies in the fact that past documents, i.e. torn-off pages of the pad were immediately burned and thus had no more effect on the present condition of the pad.

It follows from this:

The “past” (i.e. the existence of a hierarchical order of documents in the present) is the complete result of the relationship between present and future. The historical time arrow is not a product of the past, but a product of present-time development.

The “existence” of a past does not have to be assumed in order to get at testimony to a past in the present.

Not the existence of the present, but the existence of the past is a subjective illusion, an optical illusion lacking a physical, i.e. measurable basis.

The existence of historic documents in the present suggests the existence of a past alongside the existence of the present.

Penrose writes:

The past is over, we feel, and there is nothing to be done with it. It is unchangeable, and in a certain sense, it is `out there` still. Our present knowledge of it may come from our records, our memory traces, and from our deductions from them, but we do not tend to doubt the actually of the past.
Even our entire grammar pays tribute to this error with its equally-weighted division of time into past, present and future. A physical theory of time may not, however, argue on the basis of grammar but must relate to empiric phenomena.

Such a phenomenon are the annual rings of a tree:

The annual rings of a tree grow in the present and document the hierarchical order of time.
The annual rings of a tree are a historic document of the weather of past years (thick rings testify to fruitful years, thin annual rings testify to lean years). Trees grow exclusively in the present. Although the annual rings thus document the past, they “come” to a certain extent not from the “past” but solely from the present.
Past events do not occur, rather only present events occur, and the past is only a result of this in the present (to wit, as a present-day document).

It is exactly the same with all documents from the past. They are all the present. We in fact know no past at all “outside” of the present. The past itself does not exist. Precisely this specific type of non-existence (namely no-longer-existence) is designated by that word.
But wherever something positive is designated with that word, it refers to the following: “Past” is another word for documents which we now possess in the present.

There is no past outside of the present!

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