Read Johnny's "Metaphormorphic Book of Days, Dreams & Shadows"

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An addition to my Metaphormorphic Book

"No," I told her. "There is no such guarantee. If there were there would be no point..."...

The other women in the room sat uneasily in the silence. "Then why do this at all?" another woman asked. "Why would we risk the unknown changes that this knowledge could bring into our lives?"

I paused and considered it for myself. "For Freedom," I said. "I risk it for the freedom, to see what is true, what I really want in my life, and I will live with the consequences of those choices. But if I want to live a life close to my deepest desires, I have to risk knowing who I really am and have always been. Knowing this, then I can choose."

You could taste the fear in the room.

From Oriah Mountain Dreamer's "The Invitation", relating to the section about The Fear, on her poem of the same name:

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool,
for love,
for your dream,
for the adventure of being alive.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Many worlds" quantum theory made enjoyable...

"Let's collapse the wave function and get it on"

*(Useful scientific applications of cosmological theory thanks to Questionable Content)

Ancient Truths

Seeking union. Good Fortune.
It is for mutual help.
On the Earth, there is Water
Flowing together, an image of Union.

The king drives game on three sides,
and leaves those running out the front

Discard those who are adverse
Accept those who are submissive
and lose those running out the front

May those that want to go to the left, go left;
Those that want to go to the right, go right.

Friday, January 25, 2008

To be against happiness is to embrace ecstasy

From an essay adapted from Eric G. Wilson's book "Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy"

A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that almost 85 percent of Americans believe that they are very happy or at least pretty happy. The psychological world is now abuzz with a new field, positive psychology, devoted to finding ways to enhance happiness through pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Psychologists practicing this brand of therapy are leaders in a novel science, the science of happiness. Mainstream publishers are learning from the self-help industry and printing thousands of books on how to be happy. Doctors offer a wide array of drugs that might eradicate depression forever. It seems truly an age of almost perfect contentment, a brave new world of persistent good fortune, joy without trouble, felicity with no penalty.

Why are most Americans so utterly willing to have an essential part of their hearts sliced away and discarded like so much waste? What are we to make of this American obsession with happiness, an obsession that could well lead to a sudden extinction of the creative impulse, that could result in an extermination as horrible as those foreshadowed by global warming and environmental crisis and nuclear proliferation? What drives this rage for complacency, this desperate contentment?

Surely all this happiness can't be for real.


Suffering the gloom, inevitable as breath, we must further accept this fact that the world hates: We are forever incomplete, fragments of some ungraspable whole. Our unfinished natures — we are never pure actualities but always vague potentials — make life a constant struggle, a bout with the persistent unknown. But this extension into the abyss is also our salvation. To be only a fragment is always to strive for something beyond ourselves, something transcendent. That striving is always an act of freedom, of choosing one road instead of another. Though this labor is arduous — it requires constant attention to our mysterious and shifting interiors — it is also ecstatic, an almost infinite sounding of the exquisite riddles of Being.

To be against happiness is to embrace ecstasy. Incompleteness is a call to life. Fragmentation is freedom. The exhilaration of never knowing anything fully is that you can perpetually imagine sublimities beyond reason. On the margins of the known is the agile edge of existence. This is the rapture, burning slow, of finishing a book that can never be completed, a flawed and conflicted text, vexed as twilight.

Via Marginal Revolution

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Big Brain Theory: Have Cosmologists Lost Theirs?


Jan. 15, 2008 New York Times

It could be the weirdest and most embarrassing prediction in the history of cosmology, if not science.

If true, it would mean that you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions.

This bizarre picture is the outcome of a recent series of calculations that take some of the bedrock theories and discoveries of modern cosmology to the limit. Nobody in the field believes that this is the way things really work, however. And so there in the last couple of years there has been a growing stream of debate and dueling papers, replete with references to such esoteric subjects as reincarnation, multiple universes and even the death of spacetime, as cosmologists try to square the predictions of their cherished theories with their convictions that we and the universe are real. The basic problem is that across the eons of time, the standard theories suggest, the universe can recur over and over again in an endless cycle of big bangs, but it’s hard for nature to make a whole universe. It’s much easier to make fragments of one, like planets, yourself maybe in a spacesuit or even — in the most absurd and troubling example — a naked brain floating in space. Nature tends to do what is easiest, from the standpoint of energy and probability. And so these fragments — in particular the brains — would appear far more frequently than real full-fledged universes, or than us. Or they might be us.

Link to the rest of the article

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Physical World as a Virtual Reality

Brian Whitworth
Massey University, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine
Sir Arthur Eddington


This paper explores the idea that the universe is a virtual reality created by information processing, and relates this strange idea to the findings of modern physics about the physical world. The virtual reality concept is familiar to us from online worlds, but our world as a virtual reality is usually a subject for science fiction rather than science. Yet logically the world could be an information simulation running on a multi-dimensional space-time screen. Indeed, if the essence of the universe is information, matter, charge, energy and movement could be aspects of information, and the many conservation laws could be a single law of information conservation. If the universe were a virtual reality, its creation at the big bang would no longer be paradoxical,as every virtual system must be booted up. It is suggested that whether the world is an objective reality or a virtual reality is a matter for science to resolve. Modern information science can suggest how core physical properties like space, time, light, matter and movement could derive from information processing. Such an approach could reconcile relativity and quantum theories, with the former being how information processing creates space-time, and the latter how it creates energy and matter.

Link to paper (.pdf)

Via Boing Boing