You lay out a both broad and incisive argument for a conceptual grounding that seems possible, but still illusive. As someone approaching physics from a philosophic perspective, I would offer up a few observations;
Say reality is a dichotomy of energy and form. Energy manifesting and motivating form, while form defines and consequently constricts energy. For instance, consider human society, in which biological and social energies are always pushing against the limits of their civil, cultural and economic forms.
Then to push this envelope a bit further and consider galaxies, in terms of radiation expanding outward, as gravity coalesces inward. Potentially setting up what amounts to a cosmic convection cycle.(Which poses the question of whether gravity is a property of mass, or mass an effect of gravity.)
Then to going back in the other direction, consider that evolution has given us a central nervous system to process form/information and the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems to process energy.
So what is the relationship? Logically energy is dynamic and presumably conserved, so it is both creating new forms and information, as it dissipates the old forms. Effectively this means energy and form go opposite directions of time. Energy goes from past to future forms, as these forms coalesce and dissolve, thus going future to past. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns.
Which also goes to the relationship of process and entities. Consider a factory, in that while the product goes start to finish, the process points the other direction, consuming material and expelling product. Life is similar, as individuals go from birth to death, being in the future to being in the past, while species are constantly moving onto new generations, shedding old, past to future.
Consider as well, that the relationship between thought and consciousness is similar, in that consciousness is constantly expanding out to new perceptions, as old ones fade into the past.
Consequently I would argue that time is an effect of activity, not an underlaying dimension. Duration is simply the state of the present, as events form and dissolve.
Time is asymmetric because it is a measure of action and action is inertial. The earth turns one direction, not both. Different clocks can run at different rates because they are separate actions. A faster clock will use energy quicker, like an animal with faster metabolism will age quicker, than one with a slower rate. Yet they remain in the same present.
The future is not predetermined by deterministic laws, because it is the occurrence of events which fully calculates the total input into them, such as light coming from opposite directions. As Alan Watts put it, the wake doesn't steer the boat, the boat creates the wake.
This makes time an effect of action, similar to temperature, rather than space. As such, these are the two primal aspects of action. We could correlate measures of temperature and volume, using ideal gas laws. One, the temporal, is linear, while the other, thermal, is cyclical.
Which are the conceptual bases of your two explanatory structures, reductionism and the feedback loops which power emergence. Form coalescing inward, as energy radiates outward.
It could also be argued that the left, rational hemisphere of the brain is temporal and linear, while the right, emotional side is thermal.
The Feral Philosopher
also another Marylander,