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Archive for May, 2010

0∞1 = Us

Before leaving the subject of existential math, let me offer up a peek at how it applies to you and me.

If you, like myself, have ever been possessed of what’s commonly thought of as the scientific rationalist world-view, and if you, also like me, ever went through a period or reading authors like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Kurt Vonnegut, Issac Asimov, our marvelous, towel toting friend, Douglas Adams, or even if you’ve ever just found yourself looking “up” at the night sky a lot, you may have come to feel somewhat underwhelmed by the likely deservedness of humanity’s self-estimation of centrality in the grand scheme.  Perhaps, also like me, you concluded it was extraordinarily improbable that, given the relatively infinitesimal size of our solar system, infinitesimally infinitesimal relative size of our planet, and even infinitesimally infinitesimaler relative size and duration of ourselves, combined with the obviously indifferent, ruthless, red-in-tooth-and-claw nature of nature, it cannot be rationally assumed that the  gloriously infinite creator of all this, whatever s/he/it may be, places so much importance on little ol’ us.

Or to put it another way – we think we all that, but we ain’t s/he/it.

If that is or was your world view, you’ll get no criticism from me for it – I still think there’s much to recommend it as the most honest and rational among the usual ideological suspects.

It’s just that that’s not enough – because, everyone in the lineup is guilty of something. That is to say, all ideologies are incomplete and therefore, to a greater or lesser extent, misleading and false.

So speaking to you now as a relentless seeker of truth, what if it were suggested that the seeming incompatibility of our unfathomable cosmic smallness and grand existential significance dissolves under the lens of basic mathematical reality?

Consider this:  In the world of math, the omniverse may be likened to the whole numbers,  starting at nothing and extending to infinity. Meanwhile, we humans are like the range from 0-1.

Compared to the full endless span, any given number is dwarfed to seeming irrelevance, and it would be easy to dismiss our little 0-1 continuum as irrelevant. But to do so would be to lose a subtle, yet all-important fact – that within each of us, just as between zero and one, there lies a hidden cosmos, an inner infinity every bit as endless as the outer. This is the realm of pure consciousness, of which mystics have spoken for eons, and which is freely accessible to each of us, should we but choose to turn and look.

As infinities of any scale are equally absolute parts of the holographic fractal we call reality, what rational person could claim the intellectual authority to rank the existential importance of one such infinity over another?

I sure can’t.

Categories: Uncategorized

Two MDs sharing a Contentious Practice = Existance

Before getting into politics and matters of individual liberty, let’s start with the fundamentals of reality that underpin people’s political outlook the same way quantum spin underpins one’s eating of a cheeseburger. The element I have in mind right now is the ubiquity of paradox. This is a subject that definitely bears on the complimentary-opposite-outlooks manifesting as political left and right. I’ll come back to that in future posts, but for the moment, I think it best examined in its purest form: mathematics.

Wait… where at you going…? Don’t click away – this’ll be interesting, you’ll see…

Now, I never was a “math person”, myself.  I always resented being forced to learn anything  I saw as basically inapplicable in my real life – doubly so concerning math, since not even the teachers could give me a compelling case for it’s relevance.

That persisted until, in my mid twenties I underwent a period of  mental, physical, and emotional rebirth – a metamorphosis that has infused every aspect of my life since. One of the epiphanies I received during that time, was to recognize the glory of math as a window into the very operating language of existence. When you look deeply at this language, you can see paradox permeating all levels – and to my mind, nothing exemplifies this more beautifully than that most mysterious of mundane figures, the circle.

The circle is a finite construct. You can take it in at a glance. Yet Pi, the mathematical soul of this shape, goes on forEVER and NEVER repeats EVER. Let your mind suck on that for a moment and savor the sweet, juicy futility of trying to grasp ∞.  It is truly an everlasting gobstopper of gorgeous incomprehensibility. Just consider the implications – you could calculate Pi to a number of digits that surpassed the number of quantum particles in the known universe and just keep right on going.  So we have the infinite underlying and birthing the finite – the finite concealing and structured upon the infinite.  The same is true of the infinity between one and two, and infinite array of other numbers. Infinite infinities infusing and comprising every square inch of the fabric of existence, while a cubic inch yet remains a sharply defined limited volume.  If that’s not the mother of all paradoxes, I don’t know what is. And in the case of Pi, it’s one the Greeks couldn’t handle – it gummed up their tidy materialist world view, so they refused to deal with it*. And, as I’ll discuss in future posts, that abdication is one of the main factors gumming things up for us as their intellectual heirs – especially in the realm of politics…

and so we come…

full…

wait for it…

waaaaaaaiiiiiiit for it…

circle.

*Radical** oversimplification duly noted. Definitely true of the Pythagorean though.

** Mathematical pun intended***

*** I’m usually not geeky, but puns + math, I confess, make for a major exception.

Categories: Uncategorized

Happily Obsessed

May 14, 2010 1 comment

They say the first thing you need to do when you have a problem is own up to it, right?

So OK, I admit it – I’m obsessed. Obsessed with issues surrounding the fate of the individual in an increasingly power-centralized world. Obsessed with finding how to let the agonies of our collective past finally fade, for humanity to grow into her potential and finally be worthy of the name. Obsessed with how to live this life with room to pursue the highest human aspirations not under some de facto “authority’s” coercion and definition, but, of my own judgment and accord. In other words, I’m obsessed with the welfare, propagation and triumph of human liberty – the free choice of the individual.  And this is the worst kind of addiction – one that elicits no sympathy from others. There’s no 12 step program to get over it. No one’s going to lose sleep praying for my salvation, or give me methadone, or produce a made-for-TV movie with John Travolta dramatizing my heroic struggle for freedom from freedom.

Nope, just gonna have to stick it out on my own.  But at least you’re here. Thanks for coming. Maybe you care about individual liberty too…? And maybe not in some xenophobic, jingoistic, finger-pointy, flag-worshipy kind of way, but in one that leaves the door open for everyone. A way that speaks to the fundamentals of what it means to be human, a commonality of Being that, fed on attention and bolstered by courage, can blossom into the love of liberty in every human heart.  I hope so. But either way, that’s cool – I’m glad you’re here. And as you continue to read, maybe you’ll find you truly resonate with what I have to say, share your own thoughts, and help build a conversation worth having. Screw the 12 step program – I’m glad I’m obsessed.

Categories: Uncategorized