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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 03/29/2004
Volume 2, #118

Seeing Double

I've gotten to the point in my grapplings with what I call reality so that I'm prepared to admit that superheroes are perfectly possible and in some instances real. And I do mean the old fashioned comics superheroes-- guys and gals who can fly, lift tall buildings, see through solid objects and hear an insect brush its wings a thousand miles away and, of course, move even faster than the speed of light. Yes, Einstein said that was impossible, but since Einstein we've had Bell's Theorem and Alain Aspect's experiments pointing to a condition known as non-locality through which instantaneous faster-than-light signaling between photons can and does happen.

In fact, DC has really fallen behind the times in trying to make Supes more realistic by reducing his powers to a more believable level. They just haven't kept up with what's believable. Not even after the appearance of part one of my "unbelievable" autobiography, AN UNLIKELY PROPHET. Hey, anybody want a copy, just pop in on my Round Table and I'll send you an autographed copy for $12, postage paid. There's even a very very rare set of hardcovers, only a hundred were ever produced. Well, one of those will cost you $50 with an autograph and free postage. But those are rare!

Anyway, I started thinking of all these new wrinkles to reality just the other day, shortly after the announcement of the discovery of another planet in our solar system, just beyond Pluto. Not only is our view of the solar system expanding, but even our notions of space and matter and the nature of the cosmos itself. Dark matter, invisible matter, alternate realities, other universes, almost as if anything we choose to imagine soon begins to present itself as hard scientific reality. So, compared to some of the new findings that scientists are taking very seriously, how can the possibility of Superman be questioned anymore? He may, in fact, be knocking around among us under the secret identity of Joe Blow, or whatever.

But it's time, really, to step back and seriously ask ourselves what it all means and where it's all going. What the hell is reality anyway? It may, in fact, as I've suggested in this column before, be entirely a matter of imagination. To quote from Blake again, "Nothing ever existed that was not first imagined."

Note too that I've only talked so far about the world of the very large. But there's also the world of the very small. In fact, there's a growing field in science known as nanotechnology where they can produce wires so thin and small you can't even find them with an ordinary microscope. We seem to be developing the ability to deal with forms of matter so small that they too, like our own expanding cosmos, seem to shrink endlessly back to infinity, making the whole question of largeness or smallness merely a habit of the imagination and not a reality in itself. What seems to be real, is NOTHING.

Now, in a way, all this stuff isn't so very new anymore. Scientists are finding this out in one way or another every day. Because it's beginning to look as if there's really nothing out there at all. We're not even flesh and blood anymore, not since it's been shown that we're dealing essentially with wavelengths and it all gets down to a kind of incomprehensible wave-particle duality. And nobody is quite sure anymore what a particle is either, a discrete cloud of indefiniteness? An idea? Can we say then that we are ideas about ideas?

You see, you get into this stuff and pretty soon, you've dissolved everything. There's nothing out there and nothing happening. Except that in this great magical impossible mind game, we still go ahead and pick up the papers and see that George Bush is lying like hell about why he chose to attack Iraq instead of really going after Al Qeda. And we get all worked up about the coming presidential election even though, as I've already clearly demonstrated, it really doesn't even amount to a molecule. So how do we live with this kind of contradiction?

William Blake, who lived and worked some centuries before us, came up with the only answer to the question that I've ever thought made sense. He spoke of having "double-vision." It's real and it's not real. It's there and it's not there. Treat the matter with total seriousness. Take Bush seriously. Take the rubble he's left in his wake seriously. But always know that, in the end, you never have to despair or feel hopeless. It really isn't there, but if you didn't live as if it were, you wouldn't be fulfilling yourself. This isn't easy to state, but let's put it this way. Use the "emptiness" as a cushion. You came out of that emptiness and so did everything else. But if you don't participate in the game that produced you, you lose yourself. In Sanskrit, the word "vac" is often translated as emptiness. But it's also the root of the word "vache", that's French for cow. There is no emptiness, you see. Only the full undifferentiaton of reality. It's there, after all. But without meaning. Total fullness. The all. We have to make something of it. And that's what I'm doing when I write this column and otherwise live my life. That's double vision. It's there and very important. But not really. Enjoy it.

--Alvin

<< 03/15/2004 | 03/29/2004 | 04/05/2004 >>

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