Can a time traveler be any different?
How is it possible that a person so deeply integrated into the only worldview they know may learn to accept and work within different cultural paradigms when traveling through time? Any time traveler brings to any new time he visits the opinions, world views and biases that are representative of his origin time.
For example, if a time traveler were to travel from his origin time of 1815 to 2015, he would be forced to confront a world so different from his own that it scarcely can be comprehended. But those differences between his time and ours are more than just new gadgets, technology or basic science such as electricity or internal combustion. The differences between his time and our own are also cultural. In our friend’s time blacks are property and not freemen. But in 2015 they may hold the highest offices in the land.
For a time traveler to be comfortable and of use in the times that he visits, he must be comfortable with not only the technologies with which he is unfamiliar but also the cultural changes that inevitably happen in a civilization over time.
But this obvious point then brings up an interesting question: How can any organized time travel Program be certain that an employee of that Program has the ability to operate in these foreign times and not be incapacitated by the many disorienting differences? Are these abilities innate? Learned? Both? Is it possible that there is a training regimen that inculcates the employee with this ability? And considering the technological aspects of our favorite topic is it absolutely necessary to wait until a new employee begins work on his first day to measure innate abilities or begin training?
My point here is that it would make sense that any member of a time travel Program would need to be indoctrinated and integrated into a sovereign new way of thinking about the world. This new way of thinking would likely act to homogenize attitudes and understanding of the expanse of the Universe and bring these attitudes more in line with actual truth than any perversion of truth proffered by any given power structure. This fundamental truth would necessarily have to transcend any paradigm present in any given time period so that the traveler would not get caught up in all the political, economic or social constructs or power structures that are present in the times he visits.
By providing the time traveling employee with this fundamental truth, he could be anchored in a more fundamental understanding of reality itself and the Program may ensure that their drivers are not seduced by a given time period or set of circumstances. Incidentally, this may also work to instill a sense of loyalty to the Program considering the Program is providing truth of the universe and not merely instilling some sense of external control over the traveler himself.
Ultimately, there likely must be some mechanism in place to avoid the otherwise inevitable cultural clashes that would likely occur when two representatives from two different times/cultures meet and interact. This mechanism likely must demonstrate a deeper truth that resides beyond the day-to-day sound and fury. Just as important is the notion that this deeper, more foundational, truth must be integrated into the sovereign individual himself; it is an internalized understanding of reality.
But our questions do not end there. Up until now we have focused on the process of acclimatization of a time traveler as he accepts this new foundational understanding. But what of the results of such an inculcation of truth in his everyday interactions with those who are not privy to such truth?
When a driver, fully armed with the bedrock of understanding of the universe’s true intent, how difficult must it be for this driver to interact with those who are not aware of this foundational truth? Does not the knowledge of specialized information work to actually isolate an individual from those without it? And considering the knowledge and understanding that a driver possesses is the ultimate in specialized and rarified information, does this also represent the ultimate in isolation?
There are many who consider the actual question of time travel and apply a pop cultural estimate of the possibility informed by any number of fictional books or movies on the topic. But considering the above, is it possible that the time travel question is orders of magnitude more complex than many even imagine? Is it possible that traveling through time requires more than a flux capacitor and a sports car but an entirely new philosophy? Does it require a fundamental change in a sovereign individual’s estimate of the Universe itself? T.E.R.