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He added that he saw himself then also as quite attuned to things and seemed more in touch with his surroundings than now, in an esoteric way, as one might be who was trying a variety of "mind expanding" offerings, a little meditation, a little "pot," a little peyote, some Eastern philosophy, etc. Source

Why is the bolded word in the past?

  • Because it’s the informal way of saying were in that instance. – tchrist Feb 1 '14 at 2:10
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    If one were singular, surely it would have made a difference. – tchrist Feb 1 '14 at 2:13
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    Because of the tense the writer chose with "he saw himself then"; that makes the seeing in the past. – Elliott Frisch Feb 1 '14 at 2:13
  • No, not really. I was just teasing. You could use the were form there in the hypothetical, but it sounds rather old-fashioned to say the least. Everything is in the past, so just stick with that. – tchrist Feb 1 '14 at 2:46
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    @username901345 No, it's not subjunctive. Translate it into the present: He sees himself now as quite attuned to things ... as one might be who is trying a variety of ... It's simple past, simply because 'He' is talking about how he saw himself in the past. – StoneyB Feb 1 '14 at 2:46
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He added that he saw himself then also as quite attuned to things and seemed more in touch with his surroundings than now, in an esoteric way, as one might be who was trying a variety of...

The author is speaking of himself in the past tense. He continues this during the narrative. This is consistent with the rest of the passage.

The addition of the word now doesn't change anything. The "now" in the passage is still in the past.

Just yesterday she said how much she loved life now that she was a mother. Today she's gone.

  • I'm not entirely sure why this answer is being downvoted. I think it is an acceptable answer. – MrHen Mar 4 '14 at 20:49
  • @MrHen - Thank you. Sometimes people downvote because they don't want "bad questions" to be answered at all. I don't bother myself too much with downvotes. They happen for as many reasons as there are opinions here. But thanks for your concern. – anongoodnurse Mar 4 '14 at 20:52

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