My good friend & colleague Melanda Schmid sent me a fascinating article about how time, for a tribe from Papua New Guinea, flows uphill. Yes, that’s uphill.
Once thought to be universal, this “embodied cognition of time” is in fact strictly cultural. Over the past decade, encounters with various remote tribal societies have revealed a rich diversity of the ways in which humans relate to time (see “Attitudes across the latitudes”). The latest, coming from the Yupno people of Papua New Guinea, is perhaps the most remarkable. Time for the Yupno flows uphill and is not even linear.
For the Yupno the past is always downhill, in the direction of the mouth of the local river. The future, meanwhile, is towards the river’s source, which lies uphill from Gua.
When inside the Gua point towards their doors to indicate the past & away from the door when talking about the future.
Go figure. For a Western culture bent on commodifying time (time can be cut, shaved, banked & saved) it’s a novel perspective.