Luke Mastin states that a temporal illusion is where our internal clock changes speed. This distorts or misconceives the time that occurs naturally in the world. 

A temporal illusion is a distortion in the perception of time that occurs for various reasons, such as due to different kinds of stress. In such cases, a person may momentarily perceive time as slowing down, stopping, speeding up, or even running backwards, as the timing and temporal order of events are misperceived. When we say that time slows down, what we actually mean is that our internal clock speeds up, which gives the impression that time in the rest of the world slows down…

The kappa effect is a form of temporal illusion which can be verified by experiment. It refers to occasions when the temporal duration between a sequence of consecutive stimuli is thought to be relatively longer or shorter than its actual elapsed time, as a result of the spatial separation between consecutive stimuli…

Chronostasis, also known as the stopped clock illusion, is where the first impression following the introduction of a new event or task demand to the brain appears to be extended in time. The most commonly encountered example is when the second hand of an analog clock appears to freeze in place for a short period of time after a person initially looks at it. A similar illusion can also be found within the auditory system…

The so-called “oddball effect” occurs when the brain experiences something unusual or out of the normal run of events. In this case, the brain pays special attention and spends more time processing the event, recording as much information as possible on the novel circumstances, which can lead to a feeling that time has slowed down (Mastin 2019).

Mastin, Luke. 2019. ‘Temporal illusions.’ Exactly what is…time?  http://www.exactlywhatistime.com/psychology-of-time/temporal-illusions/.


RobinB Creative posits that the subjective experience of time is not a true reflection of objectively quantifiable time. However, in order to appreciate the quality of one’s time, one must dedicate themselves to a quantifiable amount of objective time.

Just because “time flies when you’re having fun”, or a boring lecture may seem “the longest hour of my life”, does not mean that we really believe that units of time literally changed to our dis/advantage. We all understand that subjective experience of time has no true relationship to time as an objective measurement.

More seconds, minutes, hours, days, and/or years = a greater quantity of time. Simple.

Quality of time, is quite a bit harder to pin down. There is no objective measurement for time-quality, as there is for time quantity. Quality of time is purely subjective. Two people, experiencing the same things, at the same time, may have completely different, even opposite opinions regarding the quality of that time. Think, for example, of a father, attending a Justin Bieber concert with his tweenie daughter — or, family game night.

I recently read a very good New York Times article, by Frank Bruni, entitled The Myth of Quality Time. In it, he very convincingly proposes, that quality time is a direct result of commitment to quantity time.

Here’s the gist. (don’t let it discourage you from reading his excellent article) He speaks of quality and quantity time in relation to relationships — more specifically, family. Quality time, is time spent relating, that specifically results in greater relationship depth, sharing, and/or closeness. His primary point is that such quality time is next to impossible without a commitment to quantity time. In other words, quality time requires quantity time to occur.

Bruni states it in terms of family members being unlikely to open up to each other, unless quantities of time are set aside, just to be with each other. However, the thought occurred to me, that this also directly applies to our creative lives, artistic and/or otherwise creative.

Let me first state it bluntly, and then look at it in more depth. High-quality creativity will occur when you commit to spending quantities of time, working on creativity.

Anyone, who has practised creativity, knows the myth and the reality of the “flash of inspiration”. The reality is that we do, sometimes receive apparently sudden flashes of inspiration. The myth is that these flashes appear out of nowhere.

Inspiration, no matter how sudden, proceeds directly from time spent working on, thinking about, and marinading in our craft, art, problem to be solved, etc. This is true from start to finish (Creative 2017).

Creative, RobinB. “Creative time – quality vs quantity.” Medium.com. August 23, 2017. https://artplusmarketing.com/creative-time-quality-vs-quantity-293780ce01c9.


Michael Flaherty explores the difference between the subjective impression of time’s passage, versus how much of that time has actually passed. The distinction is established between a reality of time, and contingent impressions of time.

Time flies. For centuries, this has been one of the stock phrases in Western civilization. But, on occasion, we are struck by the sense that time has passed even more quickly than is usually the case. This is to say that, in particular circumstances, it feels like much less time has elapsed than has actually been measured by the clock or calendar. Regardless of whether the relevant interval is ten hours or ten months, it seems to those of us in such circumstances that a much shorter length of time has gone by. Therefore, we can refer to this sensation as “temporal compression” (Flaherty 1999, 104).

Flaherty, Michael. 1999. A watched pot: How we experience time. New York: New York University Press.


Gail Weiss argues that subjective time, and the time of clocks and calendars and planetary movements, are not mutually exclusive. In describing how clock time is embedded within corporeal movements, and vice-versa, Weiss likewise suggests that planetary movements are integral to clocked representations of time.

One danger of emphasizing the gulf between temporality and time as I have done thus far, is that it makes us liable to forget the ways in which our own lived experience continually traverses the divided between them. For surely it is overly simplistic to say that time, as measured by calendars, watches, sundials, and the movement of planets and stars, is “out there” while our temporal experience is within us; rather, we “inhabit” time and are inhabited by it, through our own bodily rhythms and movements, and through the interconnections between our own durée and the durée of all that we encounter. Indeed, to the extent that the conventions of clock time are themselves based on the movement of the earth around the sun, clock time is not merely an external, analytical device that helps us negotiate our everyday affairs, but is based on corporeal movement, movement that is inscribed in our own bodies (Weiss 1999, 112).

Weiss, Gail. 1999. Body images: Embodiment as intercorporeality. London and New York: Routledge.


Jonathan Kramer explores the position that a real, musical time, exists. In comparing the clocked measurements of the durations of musical notes, with how long such notes seem to a listener, a consideration is developed of which constitutes the real time of music.

Many writers on music acknowledge, directly or indirectly, that music provides more than one kind of time experience, more than one temporality…Some writers address implicitly, some explicitly (and some not at all), which of music’s temporalities is/are “real” and which are, in some sense, virtual or illusory or transitory or imaginary…

I will take up questions of time taken vs. time evoked in a musical performance, real time as a performer’s or a computer’s reaction without delay to a musical stimulus, real time as objectively measurable (clock time) vs. real time as the essence of subjectively perceived music, and the relationship among the composer’s, the performer’s, and listener’s real time.

The distinction – between musical time that is real and musical time that somehow is not – is meaningful not only on the abstract philosophical level addressed by my questions above. Even in the pared down context of a simple sequence of durations, the question fo what time is real is complex…We now understand that the durations implied in musical notation do not generally correspond to the “actual” durations performed, yet our perception of these durations corresponds more closely to the notation than to their clock-time measurement. Consider, for example, this series of durations, which has been studied by Henkjan Honing and Peter Desain.

Honing and Desain have found that, in an expressive performance at a certain tempo, the duration of note A is 0.34 seconds and the duration of note B is 0.35 seconds. Note B – a sixteenth note, presumably representing a quarter of a beat – is performed slightly longer than note A – an eighth note of a triplet, presumably representing a third of a beat. Yet listeners do not perceive B as longer than A. Quite the contrary: they invariably hear A as longer than B, because of the rhythmic and metric context.

So: which is the “real” time? The objectively measured time, which tells us that B is longer than A, or the musical time as interpreted by performers, which tells us that A is longer than B? The answer depends on just what we mean by “real.” Is real musical time an objective time, out there in the world, or is real musical time the way listeners perceive musical events in relation to one another? Scientists may be more comfortable calling clock time “real,” but performing musicians may well feel the opposite. The musical time they feel and project, and that they hope listeners sense, is for them the essential musical reality. Musicians tend to disparage or dismiss outright objective time…

So, which is the real time? The lengths of sections as measured by the clock, or their apparent lengths as felt by listeners? (Kramer 2016, 161-62).

Kramer, Jonathan. 2016. Postmodern music, postmodern listening. New York and London: Bloomsbury.