Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last of 2011

I don't know about you, but for me, the first couple of days on the moon would be O.K.   But after a while, I'd get bored.

The world of Generica

A writer or speaker will draw us out of the dull listless world of fuzzy beings, a country I'll call Generica, by combining different generics to create a picture.  Take the lyrics to "Penny Lane". "At Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs. Of every head he's had the pleasure to have known. And all the people that come and go. Stop and say hello."  We begin with a generic picture of a barber. For me, that is a vague and fuzzy picture of a man dressed in white, perhaps with white hair and a pair of scissors.  But then something is added to that picture.  He is showing photographs.  What initially comes to mind may be some vague black and white photographs.   So no longer do we have just a generic barber.  But perhaps a cheerful barber showing people photographs of everyone he has had the pleasure of knowing.  And then added to this picture is a picture of vague and fuzzy people stopping and saying hello as he is out showing photographs. Outside? Inside? In any event, we find ourselves moving from the dull listless country of Generica.  The world of sameness, of fuzzy generic people and things.  And by combining generics, the writer or speaker draws the listener out of this world and into the world of particulars.  In the case of "Penny Lane", we see subsequent vignettes of children laughing in pursuit of a banker who is driving in his car without a raincoat, a fireman with an hourglass, and the barber giving a customer a shave while the banker waits for a trim.  The fireman then comes rushing in.  We are still left with these fuzzy generic pictures; the banker is still a fuzzy banker, as are the fireman and barber.  But these fuzzy  pictures are being combined in a certain way to draw us out out of the country of Generica.

What would a world composed solely of particulars, with no fuzzy essences, no generics, look like?  Would every item one sees be so shockingly different, so particular, as to make the viewer recoil in fear? Or would every object seems so devoid of shape, so devoid of essence as to escape meaning? A barren moon where each rock escapes notice?


This post is only about color in a metaphorical sense.  Often, when we think, we think in terms of generics, or what some may call essences.  For example, when reading the word "man", a fuzzy undifferentiated picture of a man pops into view.  Not a particular man, just slightly more than a shadow of a man.  What if the world were made solely of such undifferentiated men, undifferentiated trees, cars, children etc?  A world of fuzzy essences.  Every man looking exactly the same but so indeterminate...
But when we look at those we pass by on the street every day, when we look closely, we see individuated men.  And how different each is from the other!! How different every child is from every other child!!! It seems like such a revelation!!!  Such color!!! How wonderful!! Thank God for the "or"!!!
Yes, the "and" is necessary.  It is necessary that we be able to group all males into the category "man" or "men" so that we can converse and function.  Certainly we need to understand what makes us all the same.  But what a dreary world it would be.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

ch ch changes

I want to take a break from our and/or discussion to talk about change.  Change is something we can always write about on various levels.  But let me begin with a phenomenological/existential examination and seque from there into a logical analysis.
Since I live in a fairly well populated city, New York, let us start from my daily walk to work.  A block into my walk, I pass a person I have never seen before.  A half a block later, I may pass a person I have seen before, but have never seen at this spot or at this time of day.  The cars I pass are parked in different spots.  Today, by chance, I didn't have to stop at the traffic light at Atlantic Avenue, whereas yesterday I did.  Let us assign a letter to each of these events.  For example, A = seeing Joe a block from my house. B = seeing Mary a block and a half from my house etc.  The alphabet is quickly exhausted, and we have to start assigning double and triple and quadruple letters to each event, such as AA equaling seeing a fume belching truck at Pacific street.   Many of these events are new.  In other words, change, in its own way, is constant.  But most of it passes by unnoticed.
We can call the above events, micro events.  And they are subsets of larger events; i.e. going to work each day, arriving by a certain time etc.  These larger events, which can also be assigned letters, (we can use bold faced or underlined letters), are the events in which there is relatively little variability.   And when these macro events change, such as when we change jobs, move, etc., we notice.   A person may notice, and if he/she is relatively strong or resilient, change will not change that person.  There are times, of course, when a change in one's personality or being that comes as a result of external change, may be beneficial, and not a sign of weakness at all.
But I digress, because I must relate my phenomenology of the study of change to the study of andorian reality.   For in our examination of micro-events, seeing Joe at Sackett Street, Sally at Kane Street, we see the presence of the "or", the newness of being, which we by and large close our eyes to but is nevertheless there.
In the continuity of macro events, i.e. working at this employer etc., we see the "and".   And, as always, the continuity and presence of the "and" gives birth to the "or."   These micro events would not take place without the continuity of the "and", i.e. going to work each day etc.  The continuity of the "and" also puts these micro events into context, i.e. I see Joe while walking to work at my job at..., I see Sally while walking to my job at etc.  The "and" both gives birth to and connects these micro events, in which we see the "or".
  Intense  and sometimes transformative change, occurs when the continuity of the "and" is broken, and replaced, for a moment, by the "or".  Sometimes it is one of these micro events  or these "or" events, that causes this break in continuity.  For instance, I may be hit by a truck on my way to work.  During my work day, I may have handled something in a way that caused me to get fired.
Thus, we typically see this sequence:  The continuity of the "and" giving birth to the micro events of the "or".  The "or" or one of these micro-events causing a break in the continuity of the "and".  And, ironically, the resulting "or", gives birth to a new "and".   For example, after I get fired from my job, there is a new routine created by unemployment, such as looking for jobs in various ways, online for example, visiting the unemployment office, etc.  And then, hopefully, one of these micro events becomes significant, seeing such a job online leading to a break in the continuity of unemployment, a new "or" giving birth to a new "and".
So what came first, the "and" or the "or"?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quantum reality

The "and" and the "or"  underlie quantum reality as well.  Such a lovably fuzzy creature that quantum reality is!!! Take our famous friend the electron.  We can't say it's here.  We can't say it's there.  We can say there is a 45% chance it is here, 10% chance it is there etc.  In a way, it is almost here, there and almost everywhere at the same time.   Thus, the "and" underlies its essence, or more accurately, it struggles to underlie its essence.  That it may not seem to be at one place at any time is the wavelike nature of the electron's reality, and the "and" underlies this wavelike being.
However, the great quantum physicists said that the act of observing a particle fixes its location, providing the particle-like aspect of its being.   It is no longer here and there; Rather, it is somewhere determinate.  It is here and not there. The act of observation draws it out of its indeterminate location, differentiating it from the ether, giving it its "orness".  It is here or there, but it is not both.
There is this interplay between the "and" and the "or" that is constantly at work in quantum reality.  The "and" and the "or" are everywhere in this world. Its pretty intense.

I think I know why the universe is expanding

Of course, our utter powerlessness and lack of knowledge are still quite stunning. According to Hawking, if the earth were a grain of sand, it would take a bowl of sand 8 miles long to fill the universe.  And now astronomers are positing the existence of dark matter and dark energy to explain phenomena they don't understand.
It is true, though, that in some ways, the "or" appears out of control.  But the "and" may also be operating at a deeper level.
  Consider for a moment the theory of relativity, at least from the standpoint of someone who is not a physicist.  The faster an object, say a spaceship, moves, the slower time travels for people inside that spaceship, relative to the passage of time on earth.   There is an inverse relationship between space covered and time covered.  In this way, space and time and connected.  Speed is what connects the two; visually, it is the vortex at which the two come together.  Speed functions as the "and", and physicists speak of units of space time. During the course of our everyday lives in the Newtonian universe, space  and time are separate entities or measures.  But in the universe of speeding objects, or the universe that physicists now say more accurately describes the reality, the "and" is operative.
   The theory of special relativity establishes a further level of connectivity.   For now we see that gravity affects the space-time fabric.    Massive objects slow down the passage of time.  A hermit living on earth ages at a slower pace than a hermit floating in outer space (assume for the the moment that the latter has an adequate supply of oxygen, food and water to sustain him.)  Like a medicine ball placed upon a mattress, gravity appears to expand space covered, while contracting time covered.   In sum, mass and speed function as the "and".
 So we see these different "ands" that underlie reality.  But can we penetrate deeper?  Is there a pure "and" underlying these "ands"? From which these "ands" derive sustenance?   In which these "ands" participate?
Perhaps there is.  And perhaps it is so deeply entrenched that the "or", to achieve balance with the "and", is pushing galaxies further apart.  For we have said that a healthy individual and a healthy society are  ones whose "or" and "and" are in balance.
Thus, the expansion of the universe may not be such a bad thing.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A cosmic emergency

It is said that the universe is expanding at an expanding pace.  Galaxies, stars and particles are being pushed farther and farther apart.  The "or" has gone wild.  And that is not good. The diversity that resulted from the luxurious interplay of the "and" and the "or" is under threat.  And if history is the result of particles, objects etc interacting with each other, history is coming to an end.  And, of course, if time is also measured by these interactions, time is coming to an end as well.  It would thus appear that a worthy cause over the next 20 or so years would be to devise a plan to halt the expansion of the universe.