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THE FABRIC OF REALITY REVISITED

Section Index


  1. What We Perceive ..
  2. .. Is What We Believe
  3. Reliability
  4. The Mask of Scientific Seriousness
  5. The Mask of Pseudo-Sciences
  6. To What End is Science?
    Interlude: A Holograhic Model (Michael Talbot)
  1. A New View on Quantum Physics
  2. A New View on Post-Structuralism
  3. Transcendence
  4. Further Transcendence -
    New Perspectives
  5. What We Believe..
  6. .. Is What We Perceive

  What's Related  
  Subseq. Pages - Essays & Papers  
 






caveat: As can be inferred from the date of publication, this article may no longer represent my current views and style. It remains here for archival purposes to provide a sense of documentation and should be treated as such.

1: What We Perceive ..

What we perceive is matter, we can touch it, see it, feel it, it is real, it is solid. We encounter it every day, we rely on it, we also create it. We are surrounded by it, would miss it if it were not here any more. Without matter, we would not have our bodies, would not have our clothing, our houses, our planet: Nothing would be in our reach the way it is at the very moment.

What we perceive is time. We experience the passage of time, the necessary tribute we are paying to it, we see it virtually run away from us, we always need it and lack it; except in such moments when we can't use it - or do we just use it in the wrong way? When we are stuck in a traffic jam, why don't we just observe the world around us instead of constantly hoping the jam would end? It is not time which we don't have, we just have to use it in the right way[1].

What we perceive are borders. We are bound by them into our surroundings, we are confined by them into our daily lives, into our possibilities and options, into our interests and beliefs. We are held back by them; and our energies are either channeled or even restricted. We are being defined by those borders and we also define ourselves by them.

What we perceive are conventions, agreements made to understand and organize human life and human institutions. We are bound by traditions, customs, common sense. Conformity is a result of such conventions; conventions determining how the world is supposed to look like. Apart from the meaning of the word itself, a convention is not necessarily something we will agree upon: Much more often it is others making that decision for us; we have to follow it or we will be outcast.

What we perceive are constructions; constructions telling us how reality is supposed to look like, constructions defining conventions and borders and time and matter, constructions either innate, enfolded, into our general perception of reality, or also artificially created by other human beings. Constructions are telling us what to see, what to perceive. Constructions let us perceive matter the way we do, let us perceive time, borders and conventions - and also constructions themselves. Resulting from that is a subjectivity which is creating a much greater diversity, but also an area of uncertainty: What the heck is reality?

PJK
December 29th, 1998







2: .. Is What We Believe

When we look at our world, at our vicinity, our reality, we use the tools of perception, but applying them almost instantaneously onto the situation we believe is present. So we give, unconsciously, yield to our anticipation more than letting the world tell us, independently, what it wants to say - if we grant the universe the ability to speak to us, to speak for itself. Do we listen - or do we just apply to what we hear the theories we would wish to come true?

Looking for evidence is the key of science, of the scientific method. There are basically two different approaches flowing into one: either an observation comes first, or the theory proceeds it and we accordingly look for evidence to sustain that theory. But in regard to science itself, especially to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, when we observe reality, we alter it - there is no way around it. There is no observation without causing the observed object to be changed by perception! That sounds like the ultimate circular argument being applied - so do we really get evidence, or don't we just create it unknowingly?

Just as if it were natural, we expect progress to be made - progress but is anticipated as happening gradually, as proceding at a certain pace from step to step - indicating or implying, although indirectly, the present generation to be very naturally wiser, cleverer than previous ones. This chronological rise of progress as we see it lets us merely use the past as an example, lets it precede us - dictating the past to be created for us - what an egocentric view. Haven't there always been the same conclusions, the same opinions? Hasn't morality always, if truly applied, led to the same results? When I look at the writings of Cicero, Seneca or Plato, or even the Bible, I do not see how our present thought could be in any way superior.

What we believe in are structures not merely of space, but also of time - what in physics is one, space-time, we differentiate because of our perception. And, to go a bit further, even those sub-structures are truncated by us and not seen in their complexity: Space we see in spatial extensions where there might be none, time we divide into past, present and future. Causality has become our creed, we seem to be much too comfortable with what we want to think. Our limited perception is limiting our actions, too.

What we most strongly believe in is that there would thus be something like reality at all, something graspable, definable, able to be generalized and cataloged, and shared by more than just one person. We believe in the appropriateness of science, of tradition, of history - of the artificial constructions we have been creating - or unfolding.

PJK
January 5th, 1999







3: Reliability

What we constantly need seems to be some kind of constancy, both within our animate and inanimate surroundings. We tend to assume we could rely on reality, rely on what we know about it. But what is it that we know? Is it true that we really could prove anything? As already mentioned, all information is filtered through our perception at least. How to trust these altered pieces of information? Wouldn't it be quite strange to rely on something we cannot prove?

Oh yes, we do have proof, you might say. But then, let us test this kind of proof. Let's say we take such a simple and contemporary thing as gravity. Why does the apple fall to the ground? Because of the force of gravity. But what is gravity? The formula Newton introduced,

F = g · (m1 · m2) / r2

F: force of gravity; g: gravity constant;
m1 and m2: mass of two objects; r: their distance from each other

merely describes an observation. Thus, it does not really provide us with an explanation: So we might know the force involved, but why does it happen? If we delve into a smaller scale, there still is no explanation. For such a force being active, we would expect some carrier particles (like the photons assuming this function for the electro-magnetic force, or W and Z - bosons for the weak force, or gluons for the strong nuclear force) - but such a particle has not yet been found, the speculative graviton has not been proved yet, but searched for: But if we look for it, don't we create it this way?

Apart from particle physics, there's yet another problem: The above cited law applies to the behavior of two objects. Very nice. As if it would be normal to have just two objects involved! Like in our solar system where we not just have the sun and nine planets but also some dozen moons and thousands of asteroids, also lots of comets; I've not even mentioned the influence of the galaxy itself, as soon as other factors enter the equation, we are bothered with quite a problem: Interdependence kills computability! We are not able to calculate the result; the deviations might seem minor at first, but chaotic systems inherit such minor fluctuations which eventually will add up, laughing at our attempts to grasp them. Chaos theory dwarfs all our attempts and, most above all, shows that all such formulas are just models, applicable just under special conditions.

There are models, though, like the one stating that gravitation would create pits in which heavy objects like stars would then sit; forcing other objects onto an elliptic orbit, constantly avoiding falling into that pit themselves - which they would when they didn't circumvent the object in the center. The deepest pits, with infinite depth, black holes would constitute. But such models are just trying to visualize processes, they are no explanation in itself - just as I use them, as a layman, for I am not a physicist. Those who are, please tell me if I'm talking nonsense, or when you will have found the graviton.

So, to leave the example now, and to finish bothering you, dear reader, with physics: The point is that if we do not even understand such a common process as gravity, what do we know then at all? And do not think gravity would be the only thing: We construct formulas and models, but we are just depicting either what we perceive or what we think we perceive. There is nothing like perception without the side-effects of perception. We alter reality by looking at it: When, for instance, a certain elementary particle is to be observed by us, we need to use some kind of energy to make it visible. But if we then, so to say, switch the light on, a part of this energy is being reflected to give us the location of the particle, the rest of it transforms the target object and propels it into another direction. So what we get, is either its place or its impulse (consisting of mass and velocity). But this example, describing Heisenberg's uncertainty theory, is revealing a persisting weakness within our abilities to gain knowledge. As soon as we try to focus on a certain item, former structures vanish and uncertainty remains; we simply have not enough facts. But perhaps facts are not that important? Perhaps deep inside ourselves, we know the truth - but don't know that we know it? Being parts of the universe, isn't the truth indeed in us, and not out there?

PJK
January 11 1999







4: The Mask of Scientific Seriousness

So far, what I have done in this and the previous parts of General Discussion, is basically that I tried to challenge common beliefs relying on a status quo which, as I hope to have demonstrated accordingly, has come to be questioned more and more by the same authorities that for so long a time wouldn't have dared to question it. The critical arguments against traditional knowledge and concepts come from physics and history and philosophy themselves - subjects usually relying on what they now are eagerly questioning.

But haven't such fissures in the fabric of reality been known or at least sensed for quite a time now? When I read texts by Cicero or Seneca, or from the Bible, I often wonder about how easily they seem to fit into the present discussion. Also within American Transcendentalism, especially I am referring to Emerson, words are spoken which seem to precipitate those of much later a time. As I often have questioned plain causality, I am doing it again now: Such thought always has been present, it isn't a special invention of our time. The incarnation might look different; but such themes have been occurring throughout history many times.

Now doesn't it seem that all the constructions science has been maintaining for such a long time are breaking apart in no time, with no real effort taken? All of a sudden, illusions are being revealed as such, having been sustained knowingly or unknowingly - the illusion, most of all, that we were able to know anything at all. What has been told us in schools or within 'educated' books, are nothing but personal perceptions and opinions! How ever they might seem reflected by 'reality' (if you believe in such a thing), as long as there is no definite, thorough proof for it (just check the case of gravity in the previous part), it is all a web of suppositions and artificial constructions. Models dictate our view of the world. If you look at water, you see a surface and you see a fluid. You see it flow and fight like a living being in rivers and creeks, but when you look closer at it, it is just a bunch of molecules themselves consisting of atoms themselves consisting of electrons and quarks themselves consisting of some kind of yet unknown energy. As long as we have no clear idea nor proof of what lies behind, we have no real clue.

Nevertheless, it is just being assumed constantly that we do would have a clue. But hasn't science proven itself wrong or at least incomplete so many times? And yet one gets the impression that there would be a still undisturbed confidence in its method. Why then criticizing religious thought? Science is nothing but a religion of its own - mathematics being its catechism, with faith in a logical structure and in the human capabilities to eventually discover and understand it bit by bit. Sometimes science, when it laughs about ideas stated by science fiction or philosophy or religion or any such outsider, should sometimes remember how it treated ideas different from mainstream science, which then happened to become very popular. Einstein for instance is famous for his neglecting quantum physics.

Scientific seriousness is often nothing more than a mask protecting the established edifice of thoughts against unwanted intruders. Ideas which seem to contradict traditional thinking, themes like extraterrestrial life, telepathy, telekinesis, poltergeist phenomena, stigmata, warp drive, are being brushed away with ease instead of checking their potential. Not many centuries ago, thoughts like men flying with airplanes or even to the moon, or even of Earth rotating around the Sun and not vice versa, were being dismissed by science with 'logical' arguments. Now, did the logic fail, or did science just fail to ascertain the real logic behind and, instead, applied wish-thinking to their theories? I am not questioning science nor the scientific method. What I am saying is that sometimes we should be much more careful when we easily assume we would possess some definite knowledge. I would propose a bit more of humility fitting us well; that we accept that man is not above creation but a small part of it, that the human mind might not be able to grasp the universe, no matter how much trying was involved. In that state of mind I write what I write: As personal reflections, nothing more. I have no knowledge to pass over to others, I can just explain my perception of things - nothing more.

PJK
January 12th, 1999







5: The Mask of Pseudo-Sciences

Where there is science, there is also always a movement away from science; consciously or unconsciously. This motion will often be fed by ancient beliefs not integrated into mainstream science; out of what reasons so ever. But inspite of my criticizing science above in some areas, that doesn't make me joining this crusade: Basically, I accept the scientific method as something solid, as being able to sort out some truth from a web of uncertainty.

But this process science is utilizing is taking quite long sometimes, painfully long, and too long for those who need answers now. Science is no place for miracles; science is hard work and based upon a thorough process of selection and testing. That makes science vulnerable to attacks by those who promise quick answers, by those who betray the people by promising them answers where there are none to be given. I am not talking of certain practices like acupuncture or hypnosis or other phenomena; I am talking of those who distort science consciously to steal other people's money.

Pseudo-sciences like the ordinary fortune-telling or like some magical healing methods like certain practices of homeopathy or other miracle-promising stuff are in opposition to science not because of a real substance to their theories, but because they can play on the people's fears and hopes. Some answers are too easy. It's like false prophets leading their parish into the abyss instead of salvation. But then, those practices would not work if there were not a certain willingness to accept other thoughts, a certain desperation which would then force people to trust shabby ideas and concepts. And it becomes a crime when people are dying because of that stuff.

Not to get me wrong - I do not oppose alternative options. But I do oppose blind trust in any of those paths - the scientific or the anti-scientific one. The scientific method has the advantage of building a growing database of knowledge, a systematic procedure to catalog phenomena of nature; as well as a serious attempt of understanding them. I cannot see such a tencency within most alternative methods. But then, this is also again a problem science has created itself: Instead of looking more closely on those alternative theories, it often neglects them or makes no statements. Science has not such a good publicity; and it too often hesitates to take a look from another perspective.

Pseudo-sciences enjoy the convenient privilege of standing outside the realm of science, of not having to apply the scientific method to it. While I am not particularly a fundamentalist follower of that method, I do believe there lies a certain potential in it. Science can make a difference - if it doesn't deny itself new possibilities. What has enabled us to build up civilizations like ours if not science? What might now be an alternative option, may be included into mainstream science after some time if it proves right - and if not, it will return to its tomb. The difference between science and pseudo-sciences is that science - to a certain degree - is able to reflect upon itself and to criticize itself - which none of the non-scientific edifices will do.

PJK
January 19th, 1999







6: To What End Is Science?

After having discoursed about several border areas of science, after having shown some of its weaknesses and strengths, now there must needs the question be answered what science then would be good for at all; this question being posed not in opposition to science, for the position of this text concerning science should be clear by now, should be clearly appreciative, no, this question wanting to either answer some critical other questions I encountered; and probably to pose new questions - as every answer will do, has to do.

Thus I have arrived at my first point: Answers are to be found, but they must not be expected to be the ultimate, final truths - for there is none accessible to us. I do believe in an absolute truth; that would be God; but God is not accessible to us directly; merely via messengers and images and parables - that's part of the definition of the material universe. So what science must not do is to think of itself as such an exclusive, defining force but merely as a describing one; for that's what science is: Its definitions are merely descriptions of what we see; although the definitions then can ultimately also alter the state of the observed. Isn't that a contradiction? But what are contradictions then?

That brings me to my second issue: Science thinks with the help of logical arguments; it deducts new answers from already existing ones. But, this method obviously having its pros, who then tells us that logic is what the universe is based upon, or if it is the kind of logic we are used to? Even if we believe that our thoughts, our imagination, our perception, would have an impact on the universe; is our perception always logical? Ain't it much more emotional than rational? Might I sound now like a Vulcan or an Android, whatsoever; but the notion that humans would be rational beings I would consider ridiculous. We apply ratio as a mask; as a means of being able to interact with others, as a means of finding a common ground - but at the end, and at the very beginning of thought, we are governed by emotions - and this needn't be as bad as it is usually being construed by philosophy.

Now, step three: constructions, which are being created by science, as by any other field of human activity. Even de-construction would establish new constructions; but how to deal with them? Constructions do help us; for we need something to fixate our thoughts; something solid, although perhaps being solid just at the surface; but that superficiality put aside, we are in need of models intended to help our understanding of the universe. What's new then is awareness, the acceptance that such models are nothing but that: artificial constructions, no absolute truths. But constructions are subject to change; nothing stays the same.

Thus, to reach my final point here, science assists in a process which would take place after all: It adheres to the concept of eternal change; of evolution. Science functions as a catalyst: Sometimes accelerating, sometimes decelerating evolution. Science needs a conscience, but primarily regarding to the application of it. Although it ought to stick to ethical and moral standards and must not include methods like those used by Nazi scientists, mere research is just exploration of the universe. The application of it is, like everything, subjected to human nature. Technology, developed by science, is neither good nor bad; the use of it though can be found both in warfare as in peaceful business. It is us who are responsible for the results of such application; abandoning science does not eliminate the danger. What science and the technology it creates do is that they raise the stakes: Of course our destructive potential has risen beyond anticipation; but so has our ability to sustain peace and to give us new opportunities. We are walking on a thin red line between perfection and madness, being given the ability to make the choice, to make a difference. For the consequences of our choice, no one is to blame except us ourselves.

PJK
January 26th, 1999







Interlude: A Holograhic Model (Michael Talbot)

There are books which can change your perception of reality; one of them is Michael Talbot's The Holographic Universe (NY: HarperCollins 1991). Being a scientific book, it deals with matters usually seen as being un-scientific. He presents us theses by various scientists and illustrates their impact on our conventional view of the world. Especially, his efforts lead to reinterpreting critical issues of paranormal phenomena.

But the image of reality presented is not at all an invention of today's science: On the contrary, our contemporary science is just about to discover that new scientific theories seem to repeat very much established ideas in philosophy, religion and spirituality. Talbot cites Swedenborg, the Swedish mystic who had made such a deep impression on Emerson. He cites ancient, medieval and modern accounts of paranormal phenomena. All of that is nothing new. But what he does is not to make an X-Filean collection of stories of the unexplained - he is presenting us old tricks within a new understanding.

The holographic model of the universe is quite a recent manifestation of the work of several scientists, amongst them Dres. David Bohm, Alan Wolf and F. David Peat, physicists, Dr. Karl Pribram, a neurophysiologist, Dres. Kenneth Ring and Stanislav Grof, psychiatrists. What Talbot has done is to give this theory, this model, a forum outside the scientific community; to give the general audience some insight into the topic in an easy way. I want to stress again that the specific book is a book of science, and it is to be taken seriously. That is somehow difficult today, for people associated with research in the paranormal usually do not count due to pseudo-scientific prejudice.

The main elements of the holographic model are not so new indeed:

What, monks, is the universe? -: The eye and the forms, the ear and the sounds, the nose and the smells, the tongue and the tastes, the body and the sensory objects, the thought organ and the thought objects[2].

The basic question asked by the holographic model is what the universe is like. That's all. - What is a hologram? Basically, a hologram is a three-dimensional picture of an object, done with a laser. Apart from the fake holograms appearing on credit cards, a real hologram contains the same amount of information in each and every however small part of it. Cut it in half, you'll get two pictures providing the same information. There won't be any loss of information. A hologram fools the human mind by letting it believe that it would perceive a three-dimensional structure where there is none; where there is just sort of a kind of advanced photography to stare at. The main and critical aspects of reality this model is asking are amongst others:

  1. The question of how and where information is being stored and perceived. As every part of a hologram contains the same information, the information thus is stored in a non-local way. Non-locality, when seen through the eyes of relativity theory, would also mean something like non-temporality.

  2. The question of how much space information occupies within a hologram. A hologram is being created by a laser beam. Shifting the angle of the laser within the processing of the image creates other levels of information (responsible for the three-dimensionality). So information can somehow be stacked or stapled; reducing storage space in a drastic way[3].

  3. With Heisenberg's uncertainty principle (the act of perception influences and changes the object perceived) in mind, perception cannot be separated from reality as such. So perception itself and how the brain processes incoming information are also in the center of attention. The question arises of how much we perceive is "real" or illusionary, i.e. whether there is an essential and objective reality out there or if what we experience as real is an artificial construction, an illusion created by our mind.

  4. Questions arising with non-locality and non-temporality are leading to revising some concepts about cause and effect ...

  5. ... and about how deeply connected each parts of reality are. If we are just projections, there has to be a light source, so to say. If this source is non-temporal and non-local, we have to look more closely on the seemingly separateness by which our lives are usually being defined. This leads to questioning individuality, the definition of what is animate and what inanimate substance.

  6. If what we see is an illusion, there has to be a way to manipulate it. Some paranormal abilities seem to be nothing but techniques to overcome the three-dimensional holographic picture we perceive, to tamper with the fabric of reality.

  7. As already indicated, the search for the "light source" leads to matters of life and death. NDEs (Near-Death Experiences) and OBEs (Out-of-Body Experiences) are thus being critically investigated and traditional prejudices questioned.

  8. This excursion into the realm of the afterlife is accompanied by questions about rebirth and other dimensions of existence; touching deeply religious and spiritual matters.

  9. Increasing awareness of paranormal phenomena might indicate a change of humanity itself. If we become much more aware of the illusionary character of reality, traditional concepts will have to be revised. This might also lead to changes of appearance. This is a classic sf topic[4].

  10. The holographic model demands for a nexus between various branches of science as it touches issues of physics, psychology, medicine, philosophy and religion. Some philosophical theories also contain elements of this model; as for instance transcendentalism and post-structuralism.

I'm far from trying to capture the entirety of this model here. This essay aims at being some kind of introduction to these topics. In the following parts I will focus on some selected aspects of it; always in relation to previous essays of mine.

PJK
April 20th, 1999







7: A New View on Quantum Physics

Bohr's model
A helium atom with the nucleus consisting of two protons (1 positive charge each) and two neutrons (zero charged). The two electrons (charged -1) circle the nucleus on specific trajectories.

Before the holographic model and before the discovery of quantum physics, even before the discovery of the structure of the atom, it was being assumed that matter was to be consisting of certain elements; be it earth, water, air, fire. Later, ether was another thing which sort of joined this kind of classification. As the concept of the atom came up, a much more elementary basis was found to explain nature. And it also helped transform alchemy into chemistry. At the beginning of this century now, with Niels Bohr establishing the very basic model of the atom consisting of a nucleus with electrons spinning around it, the pace of the deconstruction of matter suddenly had increased.


uncertainty
Measuring the place of a particle needs energy (illustrated by the lamp). The energy but gives the particle additional impulse and makes it change its position. What we perceive then is not the particle‘s actual position.

When a microscopic particle is being observed, you need energy to do that. Even switching on the lights qualifies: Light is nothing more than a stream of wave-particles called photons. When they hit the target, the target absorbs and reflects some of the energy thus arriving at it. The reflected energy might return to the observer and give us the location of the particle in the instant of the "collision". But meanwhile, the partial absorption of the energy has led to the particle changing its position. So what we get isn't the actual position of the particle but a glimpse into the past. Heisenberg discovered a formula for that:

uncertainty principle

with x being the place and p being the impulse (= mass * velocity). The change of place now is indirectly proportional to the change of impulse. That means the more concrete the place of a particle can be determined, the less we know about its impulse, and vice versa.


quantum model
A helium atom with its electrons circling the nucleus in specific orbitals (areas of probability).

With the discovery of quantum physics, the old atom model was outdated. Quanta are small amounts of energy, of whom elementary particles are assumed to consist. Those quanta therefore share properties of both particles and energy; they can possess both a particle and a wave character. Such discoveries explained certain anomalies previously observed with the behavior of light (i.e. interference patterns etc.). Quantum physics cannot anymore operate with particles in the strictest sense: The borders between matter and energy have disappeared. And, according to the uncertainty principle, as it isn't possible to determine the exact place and impulse of a particle, it isn't anymore possible to assign certain trajectories to the electrons circling the atomic nucleus. The quantum atomic model therefore features areas of probability in which the electrons are most likely to appear, depending on their energy. Those areas are called orbitals.


quarks The atomic model has yet undergone another change. Protons and neutrons, as well as all other hadrons, would consist of so-called quarks. The quarks would possess electric charges of e.g. -1/3 or +2/3 (or, for the anti-quarks, +1/3 and -2/3) adding to the non-fractioned charge of the particle they form. Quarks can supposedly only exist in a combination with other quarks; being glued together by even smaller energy particles, the gluons. With this seemingly never-ending chain of even smaller and smaller elementary particles, what once seemed to be a solid little ball, the atom, has in the understanding of science mutated into a blurring zoo of energy and smallest particles spinning around each other and around themselves. This has led to alternative theories, such as the so-called string theory.


The holographic model now adds another touch of madness to the already confused observer: Why is it that we always discover new and smaller elementary particles? Why are there particles which, although supposed to be individual particles, seem to be connected even via large distances? Why do certain particles behave differently when different effects are being projected? A holographic nature behind this all could explain such effects - could explain that where there is supposed to be separateness, there are infinite connections, where there is supposed to be just empty matter, there is a mind behind it. What is the essence of it? We are only able to see the enfolded, the implicit - what lies beneath, is hidden.

"Perhaps most astonishing of all is that there is compelling evidence that the only time quanta ever manifest as particles is when we are looking at them. [..] Physicist Nick Herbert [..] says this has always caused him to imagine that behind his back the world is always 'a radically ambiguous and ceaselessly flowing quantum soup.' But whenever he turns around and tries to see the soup, his glance instantly freezes it and turns it back into ordinary reality. He believes this makes us all a little like Midas, the legendary king who never knew the feel of silk or the caress of a human hand because everything he touched turned to gold. 'Likewise humans can never experience the true texture of quantum reality,' says Herbert, 'because everything we touch turns to matter.'"[5]

The search for reality is becoming more and more desperate, and today it spans all kinds of science. Nothing which previously seemed to be so solid and so true can hold, everything is under suspicion and under investigation. The pace of science has led to its re-inventing some concepts philosophy and religion have been dealing with for quite some time; the holographic model is not the end of such discussions - it is merely the beginning.

PJK
April 17th, 1999







8: A New View on Post-Structuralism

So far, we've seen the edifice of reality being deconstructed bit by bit; being questioned and investigated more thoroughly than ever before. Is that true? I mean, that it is being questioned more? Heven't there always been questioning and asking? Yes, the answer is yes. But the answer is also no: For it is Western tradition which we have to overcome, at least to a certain extent. Western tradition has for centuries put the foucs of interest on science, on a science without spirituality, on a science which has been trying to act as some kind of a neutral element.

But science cannot be neutral, science cannot be seen and practiced without linking itself to philosophy, spirituality and religion; and also fiction. Science and science fiction - they are one, they have always been one. In the mind of the researcher, what he or she practices might be science, but what they think of is science fiction. Great inventions have always started as kind of science fiction; as an idea, a fiction of science. Not every such fiction has become true. But that's not the criterion, it can't be. What I'm aiming at is a much more honest way for science to present itself in the media. Science has been disconnected from society, from real life. That has made it possible for impostors claiming to be dealing with paranormal phenomena to discredit the part of science which is science fiction; and the part of science which should be dealing with paranormal phenomena; for those are paranormal because science hesitates to deal with them officially.

"So it appears that fear of ridicule may be as much if not more of a stumbling block as disbelief in getting the scientific establishment to begin to treat psychic research with the seriousness it deserves."[6]

With post-structural thinking in mind, such borders and limitations have to fall. If science is supposed to prosper, it has to be able to deal with certain issues without being regarded as un-scientific. Science has its Fox Mulders as well as its Dana Scullys. But still society laughs about the Mulders and doesn't excpect the Scullys to be dealing with what the Mulders are interested in. But science needs both believers and skeptics. The paranormal needs science to once and for all lose its undeserved stepchild position. Also, science needs the paranormal to chart new territories and to get answers for questions which have remained unanswered for too long.

But that's not all. When reading philosophic texts, I cannot help myself but wonder what those people are talking about; and whom they are talking to. Philosophy for quite some time now has become equally unreadable as scientific journals; equally disconnected from reality, equally departed from real life. Where science needs to turn its eyes to philosophy and spirituality, philosophy has in turn to turn its eyes to science much more.

What I am trying to do with these internet pages I'm maintaining is to show that there very well is a common ground for science, philosphy and fiction; and that when combined, all of them will prosper. In fact, they will cease to exist in a separated way - as separations are not just artificial but also quite empty constructions. They might have some justification, but just as it is impossible to tell where a single drop is situated in an ocean, as equally impossible it is to make clear-cut definitions without losing something in the process. Post-structuralism has to deconstruct itself, to deconstruct philosophy - and it will see that there must needs to be a unity of science and fiction.

PJK
April 25th, 1999







9: Transcendence

Right now, I am sitting at my desk, typing letters into my computer. This is, so to say, reality; I am here right now, at this specific place, at this specific time. I am perceiving all sorts of sensual input; watching the letters appear on the monitor, in the background my tv is on, where a rerun of Voyager is running currently. Actually, it isn't a rerun, I've just seen the English version already on tape. Whatever. My fingers feel the touch of the keys of my keyboard, my palms are touching the desk, I myself am sitting in my chair. I'm also hearing the birds' songs and smelling spring smells through the open window above me. That's what's going on right now.

Right now, I am also standing in Paris, on top of the Arc de Triomphe. The cars are flowing around it, under me, there are a lot of people around me. To the East, I can see the center of town, to the West, I can see La Grand Arche de La Défense. The sky is blue, it's quite warm, even hot, the sun is burning on my skin. I hear the sounds of the traffic, smell the city and can touch the railing.

Right now, I am also standing above Bryce Canyon, standing on the rim, taking a look around. The majesty of this vista is undescribable; there is a general sense of greatness around here, around this place; and I am utmost happy that this site is a National Park, protected by law. Concerning that, there's a quote written on one of the information panels at Brye Canyon:

"If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it."

- Lyndon Baines Johnson

I am also standing at a site situated in Dinosaur National Monument; the quietest place I have ever encountered. There is virtually no noise around me, the temperature is something approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but it's a dry heat. The soil looks as if I were on Mars, the plants seem not to have gotten any water for quite some time. But this deserted place has a strange fascination, a strange beauty - in it's emptiness it is full of calmness; a place for deliberation, a place for realizing how small we human beings actually are.

Actually, except from the first moment, all others are being construed as belonging to the past. But are they therefore less real? When I concentrate enough, I can really relive these moments; actually, I could not differenciate between now and then - I could not tell which one would be more, which less real - except from my perspective right now. But if perspective, if perception is what differenciates between what we call reality or present and what we call past or future or dream or fiction; how can we make such a statement at all? Can we really de-fine, diminish reality in such a drastic way, or doesn't reality much more transcend conventional conceptions of it? Moments are followed by moments - they stay real, only our access to them is being limited. Moments following moments - Dharmas following Dharmas?

PJK
May 1st, 1999







10: Further Transcendence - New Perspectives

Reality, following the holographic model, is non-local and non-temporal. Both such restrictions, locality and temporality, are something created by ourselves. They are images, deceptions being created within and by our brain, and we fool ourselves by this. But such thought isn't as new as it might have been indicated, might be suspected. On the contrary, as also said above, and I want to stress it again, it is a very old idea which can be found in various places. Reality is nothing fixed, it can be changed.

All things are possible to him who believes[7].

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will[8].

Buddhist and Hinduist thought goes even further - what we see and perceive is maya, deception, illusion. The essence behind it, brahman, is invisible to us, enfolded. - What we see around us, are masks and webs of deception - but who is creating them? Where is their origin? The holographic model basically offers us two alternatives: First, we dwell and move within something like a great holodeck, whose substance is nil, but for us it seems real. Or second, as the brain functions in a holographical way too, it is us creating the hologram out of something which is indeed very much different.

Both options are, however, intertwined - the truth lies in between: Otherwise the deception would be less perfect. The brain is the interpreter, it functions as a mere translatory machine, translating the language of the hologram for us. That's done by our perception and by our perception being processed in our brain. But the question slowly arises: What is brain, what is mind, what are we ourselves? Is there a soul, an immortal soul? - Christan, Jewish, Islamic and Hinduist belief would agree to that while Buddhism denies the existence of atman, of an immortal soul. According to Buddhist thought, we are being defined by our deeds and their resulting consequences (karman), and nothing but karman initiates rebirth. The next level of being will neither be us, nor will it not be us. According to Hinduism, rebirth means reincarnation of atman, of the soul. The tree Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, however, might not explicitly share the idea of rebirth, but they share the idea of a soul - and an afterlife.

The holographic model doesn't just mean transcendence in place and time, it also indicates a spiritual kind of transcendence. What in a religious context, like in Hinduism, would be called pantheism, now is a scientific term - by firstly eliminating artificial separations within our daily reality, and secondly, by deconstructing those separations with the world beyond this obvious reality, by transcending into a wider, greater state of being. In essence, it isn't just that everything flows, but everything is also connected. And everything really means everything. The separations and divisions and definitions we see and explain ourselves by, those are merely artificial constructions based upon some obvious differences. Obvious these differences are because they belong to the unfolded reality; but the unfolded state isn't everything.

Jupiter
Jupiter's Red Spot as an example of how chaotic systems can develop stable states

A good example for the unfolded/enfolded or explicit/implicit levels of reality can be found within chaotic systems[9]: What at the surface and most of the time seems to be chaotic, can seemingly suddenly transform itself into a seemingly stable state. Hidden structures then appear, giving us a glimpse at an implicit order of things. One example for such innate order can be Jupiter: Its very extensive atmosphere, like that of Earth also, is a chaotic system with various currents with various velocities, the gases circling the planet in various directions. Like on Earth too, cyclons can appear, which are relatively stable systems (like a hurricane). One of such cyclons is the so-called Red Spot, which has been observed for centuries: Quite an amazing amount of time. And when you observe Jupiter more closly, you'll find many more such spots. On Earth, cyclons might not be stable for such a long time, but they appear with quite a regularity - they are not stable locally, but temporally. - Vice versa, stable systems can seemingly suddenly fall into a chaotic state. At a certain point, this can be predicted - but what can be predicted is only that a change is immanent. What now is the more fundamental state? Chaos or order? I think it would most properly be both. Chaos and order coexisting, constantly enfolding and unfolding the fabric of reality.

PJK
May 2nd, 1999







11: What We Believe ..

Without belief, there would be no knowledge. But isn't belief a subjective concept? Isn't knowledge, isn't the pursuit of knowledge, isn't science supposed to be objective? But that's just the construction: Of course, science is construed to be an objective entity. But this also means that it is being constructed to be construed in this way: And it is really fitting that both verbs, to construct and to construe, share the same etymology, both being derived from Latin (con-)struere, to build. Both the process of "creating" and "understanding"/"analyzing" something are utmost similar things.

As we have seen so far throughout the entire essay, and also through the other essays in this General Discussion section, there exists a certain dilemma in regard to what we perceive as reality: Once seemingly sacred truths had to be revised, sometimes quite drastically. But always we have thought of science as being modern, advanced, top-notch. Just as we are quite sure that today we have the greatest scientific and technological abilities, at least compared to the past, just as much past generations thought that of their time. Just as much as we might laugh about ancient conceptions of what an atom looked like, just as much will future generations laugh about us. But still, we belief we've found the truth.

What we call knowledge is often not much more than the belief in something we have discovered. But there musn't be neither mindless belief nor mindless mis-belief - the first step towards recognizing the problems we're creating by our very own, though often not ill-willed, actions is to critically analyze what made us come to the conclusions we've arrived at, what made us make our decisions. We have to critically question the structures behind what we usually would accept as a general truth. This process is called deconstruction[10].

Questioning knowledge most of all leads to questioning the methods and means to arrive at this specific knowledge. It perhaps is somehow like debugging a computer program. When you need to find the mistake in the program, you have to check line by line. And while most programming languages have debugging tools doing just that, with HTML it is much more difficult. When writing on a text editor, you are not being told when something you did was wrong. You just get to notice it when the end result doesn't look the way you intended it to look. And if your page works with one browser, that doesn't necessarily mean it would work with another. And even when you don't notice a certain mistake, it could have an impact still invisible.

There perhaps is no other way for us to perceive the world other than to believe. If we wouldn't believe in what we see, we wouldn't be able to survive in this world. But perhaps, when you'd have not even the slightest doubt, when you'd be so out-of-touch with the outside world, you probably would be able to see behind, to actually take a glimpse at the fabric of reality. But what then? Is the level beyond this one, beyond the obvious, is this other level more real? While it might be less obvious than the one we call reality, that needn't say it would be the ultimate answer. This other level of reality might very much just be another projection, another way of making us believe what we see. But should that hinder us from trying to reach out to other levels of existence? Should we be discouraged? Why would that be! The higher the risk, the more complicated the task, the much more rewarding would it be to actually achieve this aim. And belief, however binding it might be, might also be turned in favor of our quest for understanding. When we begin to believe that we do not live in a world that's static or fixed or three-dimensional, when we believe that we can witness wonders of still unknown magnitude - when we believe, we will achieve.

PJK
May 13th, 1999







12: .. Is What We Perceive

When I have to translate a Latin text for a language course, I usually kind of hesitate before actually doing it for I still have not that kind of routine. A Latin sentence like the ones written by Seneca or Cicero is a small piece of art, cryptic almost in its grammatic construction - but then cryptic just for the unpracticed eye. But understanding the contents you mostly cannot do by simply looking up every word, every grammatic element. The sentence reveals its innermost thoughts by trying to communicate with it. While this might sound ridiculous, this is but how I generally perceive what seems to me the best way of dealing with a foreign language. Latin is most extreme because it is not really a spoken language any more, there is little practical speaking and writing. But from mere analysis you won't be able to get behind. Another example is Spanish. Ever tried a Spanish course? It is a wonderful language, very logical and also very easy regarding to reading it - while listening is complicated to a great extent by the speed of speech. But as long as you don't think about what you're hearing, as long as you try to think in that language, may it be Latin, Spanish or any other language, you're much closer to it. Like Star Trek's Changelings put it, "to become a thing is to understand a thing".

The holographic model which I have discussed in this essay - what does it mean? Is it just another attempt at creating a holistic or monistic image of reality? How new are the ideas uttered by it - and what relevance do they have to so-called real life? Let me start with some deliberations on the word itself. Holographic - (de)scribing something in its entirety. But the pun holo- / hollow is something also coming into mind. Another thing which I was reminded of, to finish this brainstorming attempt, was the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 7.23 'Emergence' in which a new life form tries to communicate with the crew of the Enterprise by using the holodeck. Thoughts and speech are translated into pictures which can be understood by the crew, but the pictures, the holodeck reality, doesn't have any substance of its own. The actions done within the holodeck environment are, however, affecting reality - making the holodeck events an allegory of real life. And this is perhaps the most striking realization made by the holographic model: We might perceive a reality, we might live and act in it but it is just an illusion. The illusion, however, is mirroring a deeper level of reality, something which could also be illustrated by the Q way of life[11].

What we believe is what we perceive. Not everybody would agree to that, which is very natural. But think about it. It is our eyes and ears et cetera we have to use to perceive reality. Scientific experiments, the so-called empiric method, is based upon that principle.

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.[12]

So only what we see is what we believe. But what is it we see? Hasn't the time come to question perception itself? Not that this would be anything new, as we have seen in part 10 and in the interlude, such thought is far from being new. It just has gone unnoticed in recent decades and centuries, which is a natural process. The more we adjust reality to our needs (in theory at least), the more we rely on technology, the more we get used to it. We are being told by science and technology that it is us who is in control of things. We have constructed a reality in our minds, we have created an illusion. What post-structuralism does is to question and deconstruct those constructions regarding social and literary discourses. But the holographic model goes even further - it is affecting each and every part of life, science's way of self-criticism, having started with discoveries in quantum physics (see part 7).

Man in Black: No other object has been misidentified as a flying saucer more often than the planet Venus. [..] Even the former leader of your United States of America, James Earl Carter Junior, thought he saw a UFO once, but it's been proven he only saw the planet Venus.

Rocky: I'm a Republican.

Man in Black: Venus was at its peak brilliance last night. You probably thought you saw something up in the sky other than Venus, but I assure you it was Venus.

Rocky: I know what I saw.

Man in Black: Your scientists have yet to discover how neural networks create self-consciousness, let alone how the brain processes two-dimensional retinal images into the three-dimensional phenomenon known as perception. Yet you somehow brazenly declare seeing is believing? Mr. Crikenson, your scientific illiteracy makes me shudder, and I wouldn't flaunt your ignorance by telling anyone that you saw anything last night other rhan the planet Venus, because if you do, you're a dead man.

Rocky: You can't threaten me.

Man in Black: I just did[13].

We're always trying to see things from an objective perspective. But how can we assume such a thing exists - when even our own methods of gathering knowledge are preventing us from actually being objective. Objectivity has to be rather a sort of self-reflexive and self-conscious, controlled subjectivity, gaining an objective look at things from comparing several subjective arguments with each other. Relativity in its truest sense - everything being related to each other. So what we see is what we believe, and what we believe is again what we see. A circular argument? Rather our only way of survival. Denial of reality doesn't help either. If we stopped living because we would cease to believe in what we see, would this mean salvation, or wouldn't it rather mean dying? The things I've said here are not aimed at abolishing reality, at losing it. On the contrary. Deconstruction finally is aimed at a much healthier and much stronger understanding of reality. Understanding the basics of it all is both an aim very suitable to understanding reality, and an aim impossible to reach. But we can try. We have to try, and we would be foolish not to try. We have been given a playground - why not use it. And eventually every child has to grow up, to leave its playground - being prepared for the really big game then.

I now have to reach a conclusion. But there is no closure, there cannot be. But to conclude I have - to being able to go on, and for you to save you some time. What I have been doing in this essay, as well as in the previous ones, and as well I'll continue doing so on the next pages, with a slightly shifted focus; all of that is just my reflecting on what I see, on what's around me (or rather on what I perceive of being around me); the tools of my reflecting on reality not originating from my very mind but from the discourse of reality. That's where we derive our ideas from - we mightn't be as conscious about that as we should be, but somehow civilization and culture, which are virtually the same, are creating a collective consciousness, thus indeed making us much more than just the sum of our parts. Thus a creative (or rather re-creative) atmosphere is being formed, with us struggling to grasp our position in the universe. But we cannot yet see the picture in its entirety because we're still a part of it. But when we take a step aback we'll realize that everything which has happened to us or around us has had a deeper and much more profound meaning than we would ever have anticipated. Nothing is irrelevant. Everything matters, for everything is connected.

PJK
May 17th, 1999

(The entire essay was minimally reworked by July 25th 2001, concerning spelling and minor corrections, while the substance of it was left intact.)






Endnotes

[1] Seneca
[2] Samyuttanikaya 35, 25, 3 IV. quoted from: Hans Wolfgang Schumann. Buddhismus. Stifter, Schulen und Systeme. München: Diederichs, 1997, 74 [my translation; English Version: Buddhism, an Outline of its Teachings and Schools. London 1973 / Wheaton 1974, 31989]
[3] Please note that these statements about holography are just gross over-simplifications of mine. For a more detailed description of holographic techniques please consult Talbot's or a physics book.
[4] cf. Star Trek ep. 1.26 'Errand of Mercy', Star Trek: The Next Generation ep. 3.25 'Transitions' (and the nature of the Q) and Babylon 5, F3 'The River of Souls'
[5] Michael Talbot. The Holographic Universe. 34 - cf. also 'The Matrix'
[6] Michael Talbot. The Holographic Universe. 296
[7] Mark 9,23 (Revised Standard Edition)
[8] Mark 11,23-24
[11] cf. Star Trek: Voyager episode 3.11 'The Q and the Grey'
[12] John 20,24-29, Revised Standard Version

For a bibliography, please check the Selected Bibliography page.





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