“Is not the sum of your actual experience taken at this moment and added together an utter chaos? The strains of my voice, the lights and shades inside the room and out, the murmur of the wind, the ticking of the clock, the various organic feelings you may happen individually to possess, do these make a whole at all? Is it not the only condition of your mental sanity in the midst of them that most of them should become nonexistent for you, and that a few others–the sounds, I hope, which I am uttering–should evoke from places in your memory, that have nothing to do with this scene, associates fitted to combine with them in what we call a rational train of thought–rational because it leads to a conclusion we have some organ to appreciate. We have no organ or faculty to appreciate the simply given order. The real world as it is given this moment is the sum total of all its beings and events now.
But can we think of such a sum? Can we realise for an instant what a cross-section of all existence at a definite point in time would be? While I talk and the flies buzz, a sea-gull catches a fish at the mouth of the Amazon, a tree falls in the Adirondack wilderness, a man sneezes in Germany, a horse dies in Tartary, and twins are born in France. what does that mean? Does the contemporaneity of these events with each other and with a million more as disjointed as they form a rational bond between them, and unite into anything that means for us a world? Yet just such a collateral contemporaneity, and nothing else, is the real order of the world. It is an order with which we have nothing to do but to get way from it as fast as possible.”
William James, Principles of Psychology, 862-863