In the movie Arrival, why did China's general have to share his phone number and repeat what Louise told him because he knows she knew them anyways!

1 Answer 1


OK… this is tough to explain… bear with me.

At the time he gave her the number and phrase, she didn't already know them.

As soon as he told her… she had always known them.

He had to tell her 'now' in order for her to have known it back 'then'.

No matter what time she acquired the info, at some point in her life/time-line someone had to tell her. Because of the non-linearity of time for her after her interaction with the heptapods, she would then have always known/will know it.

Make sense now? or then?

  • To put it another way: Even though you can experience time non-linearly, you still can't know the futures that do not happen, only the one that does
    – HorusKol
    May 30, 2020 at 12:23
  • She is experiencing all of the time of her life simultaneously. Any new information is information that all of her time-selves know simultaneously. Yet, she can not necessarily change the past. Maybe because the time-selves in the alternate universe where she did not know the non-linear nature of time continue on their timeline not knowing the information. Nor, can she know events that have not happened. Perplexing. It is almost like her time-steams diverge the moment she grasps the true nature of time.
    – Dean F.
    May 30, 2020 at 22:55

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