Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 9: the actual processes of culture (i)

Poussin's The inspiration of the poet, ca. 1629
There are many websites which will give tips on staying in the present and explain to you all of the benefits of doing so. From a physics point of view, though, the present is a place you really would not want to be. But you don't have to worry about that because we cannot experience the present at all. Think about it: when you see something, it means that light coming from the object has traveled to your eyes and then various neurons have fired in order to bring that image to your consciousness. By the time you see it, it is already in the past. You cannot even touch something in the present as it takes time for the sensation from the nerves to reach your consciousness. We all experience this with the sound of lightning: you see the flash and then, sometime later, hear the thunder. The present is the division between the past and the future and it has no dimensions at all. As it (obviously) has no persistence, it has no time, no energy, and no space. From its "perspective", time could travel in any direction. So how do we know there even is a present? We know that because of the quantum jump (or leap) of an electron. In one instant it is in one place and in the next instant it is in another, but it never traveled between the two points. The nature of this is what Wolfgang Pauli called "potential being" (part 7 of this series), when he wrote: "I have opted for the third road…in interpreting the unconscious (as well as the characteristics of the electron and the atom) as ‘potential being.’"

In part 4.iii of this series Nicolescu gave the name "the hidden third" to the "abyss", in Heisenberg's statement: “Only intuitive thinking can pass over the abyss that exists between the system of concepts already known and that of new concepts; the formal deduction is helpless when it comes to throwing a bridge over this abyss.” Nicolescu envisioned the hidden third as a circle containing two other circles: one being subject, the other object. This is the same structure as the the Seal of Solomon with its circle containing the two conjoined triangles: one of them is psyche, the other matter. The whole is the Unus Mundus, and both psyche and matter are expressions of it and carry something of its nature within them. I look at the larger (symbolic) circle as the present with infinite potential, others might prefer to mythologize it as God and perhaps even give it a personification. It really does not matter: being outside of even the multiverse, however we describe it can only be as metaphor. It goes beyond even geometry.

The use of the term "quantum leap" to describe a sudden change in thinking or a new development that seems to either come out of nothing or from things previously thought to be completely disparate is more than just a metaphor. Such things are also expressions of the Unus Mundus as "potential being", they are just at a grosser psychic or physical level. I suppose we could (metaphorically) say they are diluted or harmonics.

"Every morning a divine hero is born from the sea and mounts the chariot of the sun. In the West a Great Mother awaits him, and he is devoured by her in the evening. In the belly of a dragon he traverses the depths of the midnight sea. After a frightful combat with the serpent of night he is born again in the morning.
"This conglomerate myth undoubtedly contains a reflection of the physical process. Indeed this is so obvious that many investigators assume that primitives invent such myths merely to explain physical processes. There can be no doubt that science and philosophy have grown from this matrix, but that primitives think up such things merely from a need for explanation, as a sort of physical or astronomical theory, seems to me highly improbable."
C. G. Jung, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8: Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche, The Structure of the Psyche: 008 (p. 153). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
This was originally published in 1927, and nearly ninety years later mythology is still commonly thought of as a primitive way of explaining nature, or as a method to create some sort of  social or religious unity. Archaeology, too, uses the Wikipedia definition.

"If we go still further back into history, we find what we call science dissolving in an indistinct mist. The culture-creating mind is ceaselessly employed in stripping experience of everything subjective, and in devising formulas to harness the forces of nature and express them in the best way possible. It would be a ridiculous and unwarranted presumption on our part if we imagined that we were more energetic or more intelligent than the men of the past— our material knowledge has increased, but not our intelligence. This means that we are just as bigoted in regard to new ideas, and just as impervious to them, as people were in the darkest days of antiquity. We have become rich in knowledge, but poor in wisdom. The centre of gravity of our interest has switched over to the materialistic side, whereas the ancients preferred a mode of thought nearer to the fantastic type."
 C. G. Jung, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 5: Symbols of Transformation, II Two Kinds of Thinking (Kindle Locations 879-885). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
"...I was with the Elgonyi, a primitive tribe living on Mount Elgon, in East Africa. At sunrise they spit on their hands and then hold the palms towards the sun as it comes over the horizon. “We are happy that the night is past,” they say. Since the word for sun, adhista, also means God, I asked: “Is the sun God?” They said “No” to this and laughed, as if I had said something especially stupid. As the sun was just then high in the heavens, I pointed to it and asked: “When the sun is there you say it is not God, but when it is in the east you say it is God. How is that?” There was an embarrassed silence till an old chief began to explain. “It is so,” he said. “When the sun is up there it is not God, but when it rises, that is God [or: then it is God].”"
C. G. Jung,  Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8: Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche, op. cit., 008 (p. 154). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
That old chief, unlike mainstream modern archaeology, understood the role of the psyche and the use of metaphor. More tomorrow.

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