I’m using a spatial metaphor to try to get across a difficult conceptual notion. Do you know how electrical fields and magnetic fields generate each other at right angles to one another? A similar metaphor.
Consider the following sentence:
“At the moment of choice between aspiration and mere ambition—she chose ambition.”
(That’s from CoJ, by the way. Plug, plug, etc. )
This is a fictional character who doesn’t personally exist and so ‘who’ isn’t really ‘choosing’ anything. But it could be a description of an actually existent person, too. It succinctly describes an action she chooses to take and the circumstances in which she chooses to take one action instead of another. Also, despite some thematic complexity, it’s a relatively short sentence. Many readers (hopefully you, too, or this principle illustration won’t work very well…! ) should be able to keep the whole sentence ‘in view’ at once.
The reader, being non-omniscient, still has to ‘read’ it in a linear fashion at least once of course. But once you’ve read it and gotten a basic grasp of what the sentence is describing, you should be able to go away for a minute and then, coming back, see the sentence itself as a unity: this ‘shape’ represents ‘these meanings’. You shouldn’t have to read it again linearly; you could in fact spot-read pieces of it in any order, maybe focusing on particular portions for consideration of ideas.
If you’ve gotten to that point, you’re approaching (in our limited derivative fashion) how the ultimate Independent Fact if it is actively sentient (i.e. if the IF is God), transcendent of natural history, can view all history. You’re acting (in a spatial metaphor) perpendicular to the bit of ‘history’ that you’re contemplating.
I can actually borrow a similar illustration from earlier in CoJ, in regard to the perceptions of that same character. Portunista is using a special type of sight to try to understand a highly complex piece of circuity which constitutes a whole large map of a valley inscribed into a ceiling.
"]Where to begin?
She didn’t have the faintest clue.
So, she tried to get a simple feel, for its shape in total.
She tilted her head, deep in thought. How peculiar—now she seemed to be looking down on the valley from high above. The trees and streams and contours all were there; there were the ridges and mountains, too; there was the Tower. But, it wasn’t like looking at any map, or even seeing it like a bird.
It was…like feeling every tree and shape, in detail, all at once. She didn’t have to move her focus here or there. All the map, all the sigil, twenty-four paces across or more, seemed to be one point—a point with the strength of a unity.
Was this…how the Eye beheld the whole world…?
One difference is that God would not have to read it linearly to start with. He would always be acting perpendicularly to it in His understanding of it. Similarly, the whole system would exist (as my sentence there does not, by the way) in continual dependence upon His creation of the system, not even as a mere temporal fact (in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth), but constantly at every point of its existence.
“Point” is a good word because there’s an interesting confluence there between geometry and quantum physics. A “point” in geometry is a limited non-spatial existence. It has zero physical dimensions, yet nevertheless exists. But it only exists due to the intention of something positing it into existence.
A ‘point’ that Portunista perceives, by the way, to her own annoyance…
"]I preferred to be a fortress to myself. To be, instead, invested in another’s value, left me open to attack!
And yet, I still could taste the fear I’d felt: when I had seen that a point, itself, has no true strength. A single point can’t even claim existence!—except by postulation, by the grace, of something other than that point.
Which, not incidentally, is a main reason why she chooses ambition instead of aspiration in that key sentence above.
Anyway, if you can see that shorter sentence up there all at once and hold an understanding of its meaning all at once (or as close to ‘all at once’ as a non-omniscient creature like ourselves can do), then you are actively perceiving at ‘right angles’ (so to speak) to the ‘reality’ of the sentence.
And if you have authorship authority, you can add things to the sentence, making your own contribution to the shape of it. As merely human authors we can only do this within our own linear history, but the ‘history’ of the written work both does and does not necessarily correspond to our linear history: it does in the sense of being part of our linear history, but I can hop back and forth in the story introducing effects as I choose and so creating and altering the shape of the whole–which, depending on how competent I am as an author, I am hopefully able to keep sufficiently in mind at any given time! (When I do not, I generate compositional and thematic problems.)
But my fictional history isn’t real; and the persons are not real persons. Yet in principle I could interact with a real (though subordinate) history with real persons in much the same way. (Certain Christological theories involve the Incarnate 2nd Person interacting with ‘past history’ relative to the Incarnation in such a way: it is in fact the Incarnate Son acting as the Visible YHWH eating dinner with Abraham, for example, or sitting under a tree talking to Gideon, or speaking with Moses “as a man speaketh to a friend”–even though in terms of this natural history, the Incarnation itself “hasn’t happened yet”.)