Friday, January 30, 2015

Interpersonal Neurotheology

Whether you call it grandiose or humble, I could swear that sometimes my otherwise random reading selections are guided by the Holy Spirit.

Then again, maybe the perception is just an artifact of our holistic 20/∞ mindsight, which sees connections others don't. However, even Toots Mondello was prone to seeing connections that didn't exist. But that was mostly after the alcoholic dementia set in.

Yesterday we were talking about the Glass Bead Game, which involves "a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy," and more generally, an integration of "the intellectual and the participatory life." The latter -- participatory -- is key, because embodiment -- incarnation -- distinguishes us from the sleepy herd of infertile eggheads grazing in the politico-academic complex.

So yesterday I began reading this Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB for short). I've only read a few chapters, but the material so far is like a commentary on yesterday's post.

Being that this sort of nonlocal bibliocontinuity happens all the time, it leads me to believe -- okay, insist -- that we are attracted to ideas that simultaneously attract us. There is a mutual attraction going on, which may sound implausible until you realize that behind the idea is a person who wants to be understood.

From yesterday's post: "[F]olks who play the [Glass Bead] game realize that all truth is related, and that it is indeed One Cosmos after all." The rules of the game are simple: "take two subjects or disciplines that appear to have nothing to do with each other, and show how they are related." I should have said two or more, but you get the idea.

The Pocket Guide to IPNB draws upon "a wide range of traditionally independent fields of research -- such as neurobiology, genetics, memory, attachment, complex systems, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology," in the effort to find a "unity of knowledge, or consilience" of "numerous domains of study into a common language and conceptual framework" (emphasis mine).

I've been doing the same thing since my latent cʘʘnvision was awakened on March 4, 1985. Everything I've written since then is a variant of the GB Game.

What especially motivated me was an unwavering conviction that subjectivity is not reducible to objectivity, but rather, that the former is an irreducible category of being. In reality, the two are complementary, not contrary, so any metaphysic that tries to deluminate the subject or reduce it to something else is a non-starter.

Siegel too writes of how he was motivated to create "a common ground in which to bring science and subjectivity into" a fruitful dialogue. The dialogue revolves around "finding the universal principles across many academic fields," and "discovering the consilience that emerges when usually independent research endeavors are explored together" (emphasis mine).

As we will see, I have some slight and/or significant differences with Siegel, one of which would be the idea that the consilience only "emerges" as opposed to being an antecedent condition for the unity. Perhaps he means to say that, but those from the science side of the dialogue would tend to strongly dispute this fundamental Raccoon principle.

Siegel might as well be describing me in graduate school, when "I longed to find a way to connect the power of objective science with the centrality of our subjective mental lives."

Siegel wondered, for example, whether "the molecules I had been studying in the lab that allowed salmon to transition safely from fresh to saltwater" could "be in some way connected to the equally important reality that the way we communicate with another person in crisis can mean life or death" (at the time, he worked on a suicide prevention help line).

There is the Glass Bead Game, and there is Extreme Glass Bead Gaming, and seeking a connection between suicide and salmon molecules would be an example of the latter. Brother Toots, of course, saw the connection, but everybody thought he was crazy.

Eventually Siegel formed a group of forty scientists from a diversity of disciplines, including "anthropology, molecular biology, cognitive science, education, genetics, linguistics, neuroscience, neurosurgery, physics, psychology, psychiatry, mathematics, computer science, and sociology."

Is there any fundamental, underlying principle such a diverse group could agree upon? Frankly, the Raccoon doesn't have time to find out. Rather, he prefers to cut out the middlemen and duit himsoph.

Most scientists won't even try to define the mind, but instead, simply use the word "as a kind of placeholder for the unknown." This is actually not a bad strategery, but only if taken to extremes, which is what I did in the book, giving this empty placeholder the symbol (•). I don't really know how the mind, utilizing its own resources, could define itself, any more than the eye can see itself or the crotch can grab itself -- unless we are able to view the mind from a higher, outside perspective, which science naturally excludes.

One quick point that very much goes to the personal and cultural evolution we recently discussed in the context of Inventing the Individual. Recall how we spoke of the many "disentanglements" that occurred, especially after 1075. Siegel writes of how, "when we differentiate concepts from each other and then link them, we integrate knowledge."

Not only that, but we integrate the person who has differentiated and then re-integrated the concepts. I would say that this is actually a two-way process: that it takes an integrated person to synthesize the diversity, while synthesizing the diversity makes us more integrated. Which is the point of life, for it really goes to what we call "mental health," which runs in the direction fusion --> disentanglement --> integration.

As I wrote in the book, mental health can really be defined along two axes: integration and actualization, the former giving momentum to the latter. As Siegel writes, "when we move energy and information flow toward something called integration, we move toward health." This "makes a stronger, healthier, more flexible, and resilient mind."

So integration results in greater strength, flexibility, and resilience, which is of course the purpose of our daily verticalisthenics, and the anti-purpose of multiculturalism (which flows in the opposite direction, toward disintegration and therefore mental and cultural pathology).

Now, Siegel is at pains to emphasize that human beings are always embodied and embedded. What he means by this is that we have a brain which, via the nervous system (which is just the periphery of the brain), extends throughout the body. Where is the brain? Only partly in the head. It's really "in" the whole body (although it's probably more accurate to say that the body is in the mind, i.e., a representation of it).

But at the same time, "Our mental lives are profoundly relational," and really take place in the space between our neurology and other persons. Thus, "Embodied and embedded is the fundamental nature of mind."

Guess what this made me think of? Yes, the second person of the Trinity, who indeed becomes "embodied and embedded" with the restavus. We explicitly focus on the embodiment -- incarnation -- but it is for the purpose of embeddedness, i.e., the offer of relatedness. If Christ is God's icon of man (and man's icon of God), this should not surprise us. Rather, shock us.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Law and Music

"Law and music."

While gazing at the blank computer screen, that phrase popped into my head. Should I follow up? Is it another cryptic memo from Petey? Or is it just craptic noise? Only one way to find out.

As an aside, I was very much influenced by Herman Hesse's Glass Bead Game (AKA Magister Ludi), even though I don't think I understood a word of it. But I did understand the description of what the book was supposed to be about, and that was enough.

This experimental novel "is set in a 23rd-century utopia in which the intellectual elite have distilled all available knowledge of math, music, science, and art into an elaborately coded game." Just like here in Upper Tonga.

Another review says the book is an intricate bildungsroman....

Excuse me. Bildungsroman?

Ah: "a novel dealing with one person's formative years or spiritual education." As if I didn't know that.

Anyway, as I was saying, Magister Ludi was a big part of my own intricate bildungsroman. It is "about humanity's eternal quest for enlightenment and for synthesis of the intellectual and the participatory life.... Since childhood, [the protagonist] has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy. This he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game)."

So, the folks who play the game realize that all truth is related, and that it is indeed One Cosmos after all. And although I didn't understand the book, I've been playing the game ever since. It goes like this: take two subjects or disciplines that appear to have nothing to do with each other, and show how they are related. I do it all the time. Or, maybe I can't help doing it.

So, the whispered fragment "law and music" is like an invitation to play the game. Or maybe a taunt. In any event, it doesn't mean I'll win the game. After all, if the outcome were known, it wouldn't be much of a game, would it?

It says here in Law and Revolution that "the most significant difference between Roman law" and law as it later developed in Christendom is that the former, "with certain rare exceptions, was treated as finished, immutable, to be reinterpreted but not changed."

In contrast, the canon law of the Church, for example, "had a quality of organic development, of conscious growth over generations and centuries." "This gave it a somewhat disorderly character," whereas Roman law was nothing if not ordered.

Applying a musical analogy, we can say that the Christian development of law was much more jazzy and swingin', whereas Roman law was staid, static, and predictable.

But of course, it's always a balance of complementaries, isn't it? At the opposite extreme from Roman law is Obama-style lawlessness, whereby the law is so flexible that it is anything he wants it to be.

But even Obama always obeys the law in a rigid manner. It's just a question of deducing the law he obeys and the tune to which he is dancing. For example, what is the ancient law that makes him treat Prime Minister Netanyahu in the hateful manner he does? It is not any explicit "law of the land" -- being that this is a deeply philo-Semitic land -- but rather, an implicit law that governs the squalid precincts of his soul.

Whatever it is, it is very rigid and not subject to learning via experience. One could say the same of his warm feelings for Islam, which seem to be insulated from the influence of any real-world behavior of Muslims. Thus, as of yesterday, the Taliban is not a terrorist group, just an armed insurgency, like the Continental Army.

So you can see that Obama plays his own twisted version of the Glass Bead Game whereby he proves to himself that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." He is indeed an "intellectual," a word that does not imply any quality of the thought.

Rather, as Sowell describes it, an intellectual is simply a person who deals in ideas, whether we're talking about someone as brilliant as Thomas Aquinas or someone as retarded as Thomas Friedman or Charles Blow. Being that most ideas are bad ones, most intellectuals are therefore harmful, in particular, if their ideas should be put into practice via politics.

Everyone talks about the "separation of church and state," which, despite the hypertrophied vertical hostility of its votaries, at least reflects a kernel of truth, in that problems arise when terrestrial and celestial powers converge in the same person or institution. This salutary principle found its first historical instantiation with the idea that the Pope is the Pope and the King is the King: two heads of two hierarchies.

Few people, however, talk about the separation of ideology and state. But since leftism is a secular religion, my own glass bead game long ago led to the recognition that the consequences of their fusion are worse even than the convergence of church and state, since it redounds to the consolidation -- the re-fusion -- of unalloyed power unleavened by a trace of spiritual truth.

This is why the politico-media or the university-politico complexes are so destructive of our liberty. It is as if they play an outwardly improvisatory melody rooted in pure expedience, all the while dancing to a predictable Marxian tune.

Consider the movie critic Howard Dean, who makes the outwardly insane observation that the people who like The Sniper are just angry and hateful tea-partiers. But the comment makes perfect sense from a Marxian class warfare perspective. The latter is Dean's "higher law," even though it makes his utterances sound like chaotically insane word salad to us.

More generally, the left masks its power under the form of chaos. It is like compulsory chaos, if you like. For example, a ruling just came down in California that judges are not permitted to be members of the Boy Scouts. Why? Because the latter would prefer to conform to the eternal vertical order, and not have members who might be posing as Boy Scouts while scouting for boys. Being that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, the freedom-loving Boy Scouts are just homophobic terrorists.

Back to music. Now, music cannot actually be static, in the sense that it is always deployed in time. But it can be repetitive, like an Obama speech or a troll comment. Berman describes how, as the seeds of Christian moral intuitions began sprouting in history, "a new sense of time" appeared, and with it, a "new sense of mission to reform the world. A relatively static view of political society was replaced by a more dynamic view."

Politics is always about order, but here we see a radically new conception of order, which is oriented toward an open future, instead of the future being foreclosed by the repetitions of the past. Note that those living in the old order will resist the new order, either because of fear, or inadequacy, or settled habit, or because it threatens the legitimacy of their power, which is rooted in custom and tradition.

Here again, we're talking about a repetitious tune grounded in some self-serving murky-mythic encounter with ultimate authority, vs. a new reality in which we are at liberty to compose our own damn melody, free of the state's tedious ditty blaring in our ears.

"In the twelfth century there appeared the first European historians who saw the history of the West as moving from the past, through stages, into a new future." The Christian "yearns ardently," in the words of Peter Brown (in Berman), "for a country that is always distant but made ever present by the quality of his love and hope."

The leftist flatlander collapses this love and hope into the now, and as we all know, "Attempts to create heaven on earth invariably produce hell."

Brown also suggests that the great disentanglement of secular and spiritual was analogous to nuclear fission, accounting for the tremendous "release of energy and creativity" that followed. Which is why America quickly became the most energetic and creative nation. And which is why we should be every bit as frightened of the left's attempts at nuclear fusion as the Mullah's efforts at nuclear fission.

Well, we didn't get too far with the music side of the game. We'll end today with a quote by Zuckerkandl:

How is music possible?.... [W]hat must the world be like, what must I be like, if between me and the world the phenomenon of music can occur? How must I consider the world, how must I consider myself, if I am to understand the reality of music?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Performing the Theo-symphony

Not much time this morning, but might as well give it a go. We've been discussing the nature of music, and have concluded that music itself, in its very structure, tells us something -- or sings to us, rather -- of the nature of reality.

For example, music is organized and yet spontaneous; continuous and discontinuous; vertical (harmonic) and horizontal (melodic); inexhaustibly creative (despite a finite number of notes, we'll never run out of tunes); always happening in the moment and yet reaching toward its own fulfillment; holistic and particulate; yada yada.

One of the most important properties of music is its temporality. If music really mirrors reality, then this suggests that time is of the essence, not just an entropic field of accidents, repetitions, decay, and disintegration. Something "holds music together" from the inside out, analogous to the surface tension of water.

For example, Frankophiles always talk about how he was able to "get inside" a song. While that sounds like a metaphor, perhaps it isn't. You can take almost any performance by Frank from the Great American Songbook, and it will be the definitive version. Once you hear his, others sound almost fake or mannered by comparison.

If it is possible to "get into" music, this implies that it is possible to be outside it. But isn't that the very definition of bad or substandard music? Even for the great performer who is having an "off" night, it will likely be because he or she isn't able to get "inside" the music. A discriminating listener can always tell the difference, because the music won't be as "alive."

Now, I agree with Rosen that biology must be more general than physics, which is why you can get from life to matter but not vice versa (in other words, not from the bottom up). However, we must think of this ontologically, not chronologically. In other words, Life is ontologically prior to matter but chronologically later: the physical cosmos was apparently here for some 10 billion years before life kabloomed from its colden darkwomb.

But that hardly means that life can be reduced to matter, any more than we could take all the notes of a symphony, put them in a big pile, and say, "that's where the symphony came from." A simplistic metaphysic such as materialism or Islam simultaneously explains everything and nothing, not even itself.

Just flipping through Nature, Man, and Society, and there is an essay by the Tibetan Buddhist monk-scholar Lama Govinda, who writes of the problem of past, present, and future. Again, when we listen to music, it is always in the now. And yet, we are implicitly aware of the notes leading up to the now, while the now is always anticipating its forward movement.

Thus, there can be no abstract, zero-dimensional now that is radically disconnected from the past and future. Rather, this is just a kind of fantasy derived from the quantitative abstractions of physics, or a denial that particles reveal waves and vice versa. (Einstein suggested that time for physicists is nothing more than a "stubborn illusion.")

So, it takes a non-Einstein to realize time is movement. Which I suppose is why a symphony has movements. We could also say that the past must have been pregnant with the now, just as the now is pregnant with the future.

What this implies is that the future has some kind of influence on the present, just as in music, wherein no note can be understood outside the context of the whole song. Again, it is not just moment-to-moment random notes, but a flow of interior relations.

Thus, as Govinda writes, "the future is essentially contained in the past and focalized in the present." Therefore, what we call "evolution" is "the unfoldment in time and space of something that is already potentially existent in its essential features, though indeterminable in its individual realization" (emphasis mine).

That's my story and I'm sticking to it, because no alternative makes sense.

"The manner in which we accomplish this individual realization is the task of our life and the essence of our freedom." In Buddhist terminology our freedom would consist of choosing whether or not to follow and actualize our dharma or "to become slaves of our own ignorance," whereas from the Christian perspective it would be the freedom to choose between good and evil.

The leftist imagines he can bring about goodness by restricting our freedom of choice, but that not only undercuts man's dignity at the root, but denies his reason for being. If we are not free to do bad, there is no merit. Likewise, if success is outlawed, only outlaws will be successful.

This complementarity of notes and melody is a key principle. It implies that it is not a question of being or becoming, but rather, being as becoming, and vice versa. "Both are ever united, and those who try to build a philosophy upon only one of them, to the exclusion of the other, lose themselves in verbal play" (ibid.).

And "just as a picture gets its meaning, i.e., becomes a 'picture,' because it is related to a frame, so freedom has meaning only within a framework of or with reference to law.... Though the frame imposes a limitation on the picture, it strengthens it at the same time" (ibid.).

Which I think is how we might understand the ten commandments, or four cardinal virtues, or three theological virtues, etc. They are like the divine chords in which we compose our melody.

Which I think brings us back to the "arc of salvation," which is like the overall melody -- or symphony -- in which we are situated. Balthasar discusses it in terms of "theodrama," but I think we could just as easily call it a "theo-symphony."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Building an Astral Body in the Comfort of Your Own Skin, or I Never Speculate!

Continuing this gnostalgic romp through Nature, Man, and Society, biologist Harold Morowitz describes how "each living thing, including man, is a dissipative structure," meaning that "it does not endure in and of itself but only as a result of the continual flow of energy in the system" -- like an eddy in a stream, or a welfare state from the flow of taxes.

As it so happens, that was one of the main arguments of my doctoral thesis, later published in 1994 as Psychoanalysis, Chaos, and Complexity: The Evolving Mind as a Dissipative Structure. I must have only found this book after completing my dissertation, because it's not in the bibliography. At any rate, it would certainly have been a confidence booster to have the authority of an esteemed theoretical biologist at my back, instead of having to rely solely on Raccoon night-vision.

We hear a lot about biology, but not enough about theoretical biology, or what might be called "meta-biology." Or maybe I just don't know where to look. Meta-biology would be to life what metaphysics is to existence, or historiography to history, or metapsychology to psychology -- a more general set of assumptions and principles that helps explain and contextualize the particulars.

There is a glut of books on the meaning of modern physics, but comparatively few on the meaning of biological life. Whitehead certainly touched on it, what with his philosophy of organicism, and physicist Erwin Schrödinger (famous for writing the play Cats or something) wrote a classic little meditation on the subject called What is Life?

Now, there's something I didn't know: the wiki article says that a number of thinkers formed a secret cult, just like the Raccoons, called the Theoretical Biology Club, founded "to promote the organicist approach to biology. The Club was in opposition to mechanism, reductionism and the gene-centric view of evolution. Most of the members were influenced by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. The Club disbanded as funding was failed from the Rockefeller Foundation which was needed for them to carry out their investigations." D'oh! Foiled by the conspiracy!

In the subsection immediately above, it mentions Robert Rosen, who may be dead but at least now has his own page, so he's got that going for him. Alert readers will recall that my stumbling into his phase space was a kind of eureka moment for me, as his ideas helped me build the bridge between matter and mind in the bʘʘk. Without him, I might have have been reduced to merely speculating about the nature of ultimate reality.

I believe I have told the story about contacting his literary executor -- his daughter -- for a blurb. When I described the nature of the book, she was initially very enthusiastic. However, I made the mistake of sending her the infamous Cosmogenesis section, and never heard from her again. I guess some people only permit themselves to be so weird.

But in my opinion, Rosen was plenty weird. Although he published his ideas in respectable journals, one can easily see how they could be plundered by unrespectable Raccoons and made to look weirder than he might have wanted. A good summary from the wiki entry: he

"believed that the contemporary model of physics -- which he thought to be based on an outdated Cartesian and Newtonian world of mechanisms -- was inadequate to explain or describe the behavior of biological systems; that is, one could not properly answer the fundamental question What is life? from within a scientific foundation that is entirely reductionistic.

"Approaching organisms with what he considered to be excessively reductionistic scientific methods and practices sacrifices the whole in order to study the parts. The whole, according to Rosen, could not be recaptured once the biological organization had been destroyed. By proposing a sound theoretical foundation via relational complexity for studying biological organization, Rosen held that, rather than biology being a mere subset of the already known physics, it might turn out to provide profound lessons for physics, and also for science in general."

That last bit is what really caught my attention: that biology might be more general than physics, and explain more about it than vice versa! My first thought was that I wanted to buy some pot from him, but by then he was already dead.

The other thing that riveted my attention was the whole idea of relational biology, I mean RELATIONAL biology. Hello?! He's talking about Life Itself as an icon of the trinity. Of course, he never said that, and if I had let that slip to his daughter she would have obtained a restraining order, but what can you do? The Raccoon has no place to rest his head among the tenured, so that's nothing new.

Here are some of the key principles of a relational biology: it "maintains that organisms, and indeed all systems, have a distinct quality called organization which is not part of the language of reductionism.... [O]rganization includes all relations between material parts, relations between the effects of interactions of the material parts, and relations with time and environment, to name a few. Many people sum up this aspect of complex systems by saying that the whole is more than the sum of the parts."

Now, what is a relation? It cannot be the parts as such; rather, it is in the space between. Or in other words, there can be no relation in the absence of this space. Without it there would be the opposite of relatedness, just an undifferentiated, monadic oneness. (Seriously, just look at all the space!)

Now, as mentioned in our book, we do not say that God is the way he is because physics or biology are the way they are; rather, physics and biology are the way they are because God is the way he is. Which is precisely why both are wholly relational right down to the ground. There is nothing "beyond" relation because God is relation. In the absence of God -- a specific type of God -- interior relations would be impossible and unthinkable. So there.

As Rosen wrote, "The human body completely changes the matter it is made of roughly every eight weeks, through metabolism, replication and repair. Yet, you're still you -- with all your memories, your personality... If science insists on chasing particles, they will follow them right through an organism and miss the organism entirely."

Now, take that same idea and apply it to the vertical: a human being is not just an open system on the biological level, but also open on the psychological/emotional/intellectual plane, and even more critically, on the vertical/spiritual. In short, we are always open to O, and cannot not be open to O, on pain of a living spiritual death.


No, I never speculate. This is completely logical, empirical, experiential, and I would even say necessary, in that no other theory can account for the phenomena (or better, theomena).

In our open relationship to God, something is "taken in," metabolized, and assimilated. In a dissipative structure there is a continuous flow of matter, energy, or information. What is the medium of exchange in the divine vortex? You could call it grace. Or, if you spent too much time hanging out at the Bodhi Tree, shakti, or chi, or orgone, or kundalini. In the book I tried to simplify matters by just calling it (≈).

The following could apply equally to horizontal or vertical systems: "The build-up and breakdown" of order is "linked to the environment around us: the inflows of energy must come from outside ourselves, and we in turn must radiate energy to our surroundings." Just say "downflow" of grace and prolongation into the world, and you've got it: downcarnation, you might say. So start spreading the nous!

Cosmological biology tells us that there is more to the universe than we have yet dreamed of. --Harold Morowitz

Monday, January 26, 2015

The World Cannot be a Little Bit Pregnant with Meaning

Since no other subject occurs to me, we'll just keep whistling this tune until the music's over. In a book that made an impact on me back in the day, Nature, Man, and Society...

Well, first of all, it's actually a compendium of essays from an interdisciplinary journal called Main Currents in Modern Thought. As for why it made an impact, check out its vertical mission statement: "A cooperative journal to promote the free association of those working toward the integration of knowledge through study of the whole of things, Nature, Man, and Society, assuming the universe to be one, intelligible, harmonious."

The journal was founded by F.L. Kunz in 1940. If I recall correctly, its editorship taken over by Ken Wilber at some point, and presumably went downhill from there, into Chopraville, Franklin Jonestown, and Coheny Island. But it was once a serious forum for the sorts of things we discuss here.

I can't imagine how difficult it must have been back then, in the days long before the internet made it so easy for scattered members of vertical diaspora to reconnect. How did these oddballs find each other?

Probably in the usual way, via nonlocal attractors synchronistically drawing them together into the same vertical phase space. In fact, it was probably the same nonlocal attractor that drew me to this obscure book and caused me to pluck it from the shelf at the old Bodhi Tree bookstore in West Hollywood.

Before Amazon opened the floodgates and put every book at our fingertips, the Bodhi Tree was the only place in town for all types of spiritual weirdness, high, low, and in between. Whereas the typical chain store might have a couple of books on UFOs, the Bodhi Tree had a whole wing. But they also had entire sections devoted to Christian mysticism, Vedanta, Buddhism, the occult, weird and wacky science, etc. Without the Bodhi Tree, I don't see how I would have ever gotten off the ground.

In fact, the store was divided in half, East and West. I remember once seeing George Harrison there on the eastside, perusing the yoga section. Which is a synchro-circular nicety, since his interest in yoga had been one of the early influences that piqued my own. I well remember my 11 year old Bobself pondering the pseudo-profundity of the space between us all / And the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion / Never glimpse the truth, then it's far too late, when they pass away.

(?!) So when I saw George at the Bodhi Tree, there was only one thing to say: Can I buy some pot from you?

Back to this book I read all those years ago, probably in the mid-1980s. I see that some of my marginalia could have been marginalized today: "metabolism recapitulates biogenesis." "We are foci for the build-up of order." "Physics is 'psychics' inverted." "Life is quite as primal as energy" (that one from Kunz).

But let's focus: music. In an essay called The New Dimensions of Nature and Man, a Donald Andrews writes that the behavior of the "fundamental entities" of the world "is characterized less by a particle-like and more by a wave-like nature."

Of course, the particles and waves are irreducibly complementary, so the former may be analogized to notes and melodies, the latter to harmonic structure. He concludes that "in a word, both the universe as a whole and we in particular are not matter but music."

There can be no music without matter-in-motion, so our lives are a musical matter. Again, that would be the point of the Incarnation, which is very much analogous to the composer jumping into and taking part in his own composition. "Word made flesh" is essentially identical to "composer become music"; it is especially apt because it factors in the dynamic/temporal element, not just the spatial/static. Which is why the Incarnation is a melody that is still playing today, an oldie but goodie.

"So I think that Pythagoras with his vision of the universe as music or waves deserves as much credit as Democritus with his vision of the particulate or atomic aspect of matter." Exactly: not either/or, but both/and.

Having said that, as Hartshorne writes, of the two sides of a complementarity, one will always be more fundamental than the other, even if we never see them apart. As for wave/particle, the wave must be ontologically prior, because it is impossible to get from random particle to coherent wave.

The wave is kind of boundary condition. There is freedom within the vibrational phase space, without which there would be only random chaos: "the internal tensions and boundary conditions make possible only certain definite vibration patterns. This means that the atom can exist only in certain energy states.... these may be said to be the tones..." Thus, the boundary conditions of the waves are analogous to the score to which the electron dances.

So: because music is "pure dynamic form, I think that it is both suggestive and meaningful to say that the atom now appears to be music."

Note that music has the interesting property of being simultaneously continuous and discontinuous: a melody is composed of notes. Outside the context of the melody the notes have no meaning, but without the notes the melody cannot be composed or played. This reveals one of the fundamental complementarities of existence, i.e., continuous/discontinuous.

Which is really the basis of a number of other irreducible complementarities such as part/whole, form/substance, individual/group, linear/holistic, subject/object, interior/exterior, analysis/synthesis, freedom/necessity, participation/detachment, one/many, PS <--> D, etc.

Before we move along, let me just see if there is anything else we can pluck from this book...

The great physicist Werner Heisenberg contributed an essay that makes a point that has captivated me ever since. Speaking of his colleague Wolfgang Pauli, he writes that he too "was captivated by the attempt to talk about material and psychical processes in the same language." He even spoke of the possibility of a "common language" to describe both physical and psychical processes, what he called "psycho-physical monism," a "mode of expression for the unity of all being."

Which was precisely the mission of my doctoral dissertation, and later the book: again, if it is One Cosmos, then there must be One Truth, and this One Truth can only be the One God. Otherwise nothing makes any sense. In other words, this is very much a binary, all-or-nothing question, God or nihilism, O or Ø, with no alternatives in between. The world cannot be a little bit pregnant with meaning.

Pauli was skeptical of the Darwinian reduction of evolution to accidental mutations. Rather, he proposed a nonlocal order of the cosmos revolving around archetypes that shape "matter and spirit equally." For example, there are mathematical archetypes (i.e., boundary conditions) to which matter dances, just as there are spiritual archetypes -- those helpful nonlocal operators standing by, ready to assist us -- that help guide our journey.

So, "contrary to the strict division of the activity of the human mind" into binary opposites, Heisenberg proposes "the ideal goal of surmounting the opposites" via what I would call a transcendent third.

Physicist Jean Charon writes that "evolution reveals a tendency toward unification and toward differentiation," such that "the universe has evolved out of its chaotic beginnings into a present state which is infinitely more unified and more differentiated..."

This goes to our recent discussion of the Invention of the Individual, in that the arc of this invention involves many distinctions and differentiations from a prior fusion, for example, of self and group, law and custom, mind and nature, etc.

Here Charon speaks of the Great Attractor, O, through which "each living element has an awareness of the final state to be attained," "defined by boundary conditions which... guide life toward the goal which evolution has assigned it." That's not the most elegant or precise way of putting it, but as we were saying the other day, "One need only observe how life multiplies itself in the living cell to be convinced of this."

In fact, the biologist Harold Morowitz defines biology itself in a much broader sense, as a study of organization as such, "of the underlying principles behind the organization of matter, the evolution from less organized to more organized states."

And speaking of the wave/particle complementarity, he writes of how "at the genetic level there is a clear-cut distinction between all individuals" (the particles), within the context of "a continuum point of view which stresses that no individual human exists in any kind of biological isolation: every individual is really very much a part of the global system and his existence itself is related to the existence and the properties of the continuum" (i.e., wave). Can't have one without the other.

And with that I gotta run...

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