Light and the Feel of Numbers
December 4, 2012 7 Comments
I once watched a show on a young girl named January who was a schizophrenic. Childhood schizophrenia is not a common mental disorder, but what fascinated me in this particular case was the fascination January had with numbers. In fact, she even “felt” numbers and had a certain emotional relationship to them. What immediately struck me was the insight in the midst of this dark situation that January gave: what if, aside from her real mental problems, January was actually on to something—something that her parents and counselors had never considered. What if January was right, and that numbers do have a “feel”?
I once interviewed a recognized mathematical genius who explained that when he was younger, math was difficult because he was more interested in the look of the numbers (as symbolic representations), than in the actual conceptual manipulations of the integers. In both of these examples we have a different perspective on something very common: the look and feel of a number. Similar statements are also made by those who experience altered states of consciousness on drugs, particularly hallucinogens. In those cases, the senses are often mixed up, and so numbers might be mistakenly thought to have a “taste.” While these three cases are not “proofs” per se, they do point in the direction of something I’ve intuited for a few years now.
In the modern Western world nothing is more divorced from one another than the supposed domain of numbers, reason, and logic, set over against the supposed independent domain of feeling, intuition and aesthetic creativity. In another sense, we have right brain versus left brain. The degeneration and collapse of the West is, as I have argued many times, intimately tied to the division of the sciences into specialized, discreet unrelated “fields,” resulting in a compartmentalization of knowledge.
This compartmentalization actually has a tremendous effect of stunting any real progress, leading to a bunch of incompetent drones who (in their minds) master “biology” or “physics” with a ridiculously myopic, stunted, and philosophically nonsensical, contradictory worldview. The average “science” major walks away with his government certificate certifying sound and fury signifying nothing: this “graduate” could no more think his way out of a paper bag than he could give a coherent explanation of the supposed subjects he has “mastered” by repeating socially engineered textbooks by rote. Those who study other exceedingly worthless fields like “sociology” are even more foolish.
But back to the feel of numbers: what if this division and disintegration is actually a much deeper problem? What if the division and disintegration that we witness with anything in the realm of becoming, be it thermodynamics, academia, cultural breakdown, and even psychological dissociation or the fracturing of the psyche are indicators of a much larger division – a division of a former union. If one is biblically inclined, there are interesting speculations about the fall of man cutting off our entire dimension, if you will, from higher, spiritual reality. Viewed in a Platonic sense, the realm of Ideas or Forms is somehow mirrored in this world, yet this world of becoming (in the Platonic scheme) is somehow flawed. How the realm of the forms interacted in this realm was Plato’s dilemma, but the same basic problem was taken up by Wolfgang Pauli, whom I’ve recently been citing on this blog. Pauli wrote to Jung as follows on this matter in Atom and Archetype:
“The psyche…as a medium participates in both Spirit and Matter. I am convinced that it (the psyche) is partly of a material nature. The archetypes, for example, are Ideas (in the Platonic sense) on the one hand, and yet are directly connected with physiological processes on the other; and in cases of synchronicity they are arrangers of physical circumstances, so that they can also be regarded as a characteristic of Matter (as the feature which imbues it with meaning).” (pp. 100-01)
The Fall effected the entire universe, formerly operating under the dominion of man, with man having the ability to directly perceive the reason/meaning, or the logoi, of things. The divine energy at the base of all reality would have immediately given man a direct understanding and experience of the divine energeia or sephiroth infused in and through all reality. When the Cherubim erected the flaming sword at the Gate of Paradise, the gateway to this higher dimension was sealed to man. Now, man would toil under the burden of the elements, rather than as master of them, and the natural realm would be alienated. From the tilling of the dirt to the interactions with predatory animals, the world that was meant to be the direct experience of God to man became a harsh, deadly enemy of man, thus placing man in a position of experiencing all the negative emotions that attended the division of this dimension from the higher.
Now, modern physics is mathematically certain of these higher and smaller other dimensions/worlds, and on the verge of “proving” (to use their vernacular) their existence at CERN and the Large Hardon Collider (or if not proving, at least having an indirect indicator of their existence), assuming these accounts are true. What Pauli’s intuition was telling him was directly connected to the kind of explanation Jewish and Greek theologians have expounded upon. For the “Magian worldview” (as Spengler titles it) of Jewish mysticism, which has its basis precisely in the biblical texts (and not in fables), and in the Greek mystics and theologians, a similar trend emerges of all reality being infused with a divine energy and power, which functions as the essence, meaning, and telos of things, that is no longer directly perceived, yet potentially could be.
The direct perception of the logoi of things fits well with some of the philosophical ideas like intentionality presented by Husserl, for example. For Husserl, the mind was so constituted as to directly perceive universals and essences—the human mind just simply does this, and it is philosophically demonstrable that it does so. For Pauli, there had to be a connection between the inner structure of atomic and subatomic particles and the inner and outer worlds of the psyche and physics. This was not fanciful nonsense, but a real consideration of a philosophical necessity of connecting the inner archetypes of the psyche with the outer archetypes in the material world that are thus “arranged” by those archetypes. In this regard, Pauli notes:
“…[T]he radioactive nucleus is an excellent symbol for the source of energy of the collective unconscious. It indicates that consciousness does not grow out of any activity that is inherent to it; rather, it is constantly being produced by an energy that comes from the depths of the unconscious and thus has been depicted in the forms of rays from time immemorial” (Atom and Archetype, p.14).
This ray or light is the same divine energeia I have been speaking of, and it is interesting that Pauli links it to the collective unconscious, as if the very nucleus itself is a kind of mirror of the rest of reality. Philosophers will recognize a commonality here with Leibniz’s monads. While the totality of the monadology may not be correct, something here I think is, and it is the notion that contained within the essence of a thing is the multitude of infinite relations it shares with every other thing. This is a very complex metaphysical question because classically, the essence of a thing is generally sequestered as, say, the “non-essential” properties, or the “secondary qualities,” to use Lockean jargon. In this model, whatever remains is the “essence.”
But as Leibniz mentions in the Discourse on Metaphysics, the question becomes more difficult when we consider all the various components that go into making a thing that thing. As I have argued in other posts, it is not really possible to speak of a laboratory where we can go in and observe some object and thus perceive its essence. The reason for this is because there is no privileged position of being able to talk about the possibility of determining essences apart from the present world we inhabit. In other words, I bring my whole life experience, as a being connected to the whole rest of this present world to the experiment, in which we are supposedly going to find an essence. Since we are presently confined to this world, the objects of our experience are therefore life objects – they are objects which we experience within the continuum of the totality of our experiences. The rock on the lab table we are examining is that rock at this time that we are experiencing. The meaning of that rock is thus connected to all other things. While the universal we can perhaps speak of as independent of space and time, yet interpenetrating it, the particular individual rock is that rock with its unique history and infinite set of relations.
The infinite set of relations (such as over there, in relation to me, ad infinitum) suddenly opens up a new notion here: the set of relations for that thing are infinite. While at first glance, it might appear that in a finite universe, the set of relations would also eventually be finite, it one takes into account the movement of time, as any division of time passes, the variable set of relations also changes. One can think here of ATUM or Atom of ancient Egyptian and Greek mysteries, which indicate the starting point of the monad or the One (God), diffusing out into infinity through divine operations.
Thus each atom infinitely mirrors all the others, and the essential relations of objects mirror all others, as Leibniz thought. The universe is structured this way, and bears this imprint throughout. Because every thing can be described and understood in this mathematical perspective, we can see how it is that Pauli was all the more correct when he said “consciousness does not grow out of any activity that is inherent to it; rather, it is constantly being produced by an energy that comes from the depths of the unconscious and thus has been depicted in the forms of rays from time immemorial.”
I do not think the soul, or psyche, is entirely material, like the ridiculous materialists think, but Pauli was correct to understand that matter and Spirit interpenetrated one another, though spirit is, to most of us in this life, more veiled, if you will. This spirit, of anima mundi, is directly connected to the inner matrix that is the psyche (according to Jung). The biggest difference between this worldview and the modern is that this view sees fundamental reality en toto as rational and unified, whereas modernity has fallen into disintegration.
I’m reminded of the scene in the existentialist film “I Heart Huckabees” where one of the characters literally begins to fall apart into disparate blocks and pieces in the midst of a conversation. In the same way the unified view of the medieval and ancient world has been cast off for a shoddy, ridiculous, contradictory naïve empiricism that still dominates the West. This is also a great analogy for the radical divergence between the modern materialist worldview that collapses all reality into a meaningless monism, rejecting consciousness absolutely, versus the opposite perspective that posits reason or consciousness as the very ground and being of all things.
This does not mean pantheism is correct, but panentheism: that God is directly and immediately involved in the very existence of all things, as their meaning and being, since only a personal God with an infinite Mind could encompass and connect all these infinite sets of relations and meanings. Such being the case, in reality there is no division between feeling and number, though we find this notion to be odd. In fact, the aesthetic pleasure we sense at the sight of something beautiful, like a mountain or a painting, are not divorced from the object’s essence, nor is aesthetics compartmentalized as some foreign domain unrelated to something like mathematics. It should in fact be common sense that mathematics is the very basis of the form and structure of what occurs in nature or artificial art.
Fundamental to this spirit or substructure of all things is light. Light itself encodes information like DNA, and it is not by accident that modern theoretical physics is so entranced by zeroing in on the infinitesimally tiny particles that make up energy. The actual nature or makeup of light remains a mystery precisely because the totality of reality and all events is itself encoded in light. It is also not by accident that all information we take into our eyes and process in our psyches is all done by the information encoded in light. This is also how light is now technologically able to transmit and encode data: it is simply mimicking the actual operation of light in nature. Indeed, much of what Darpa does is modeled on the natural world itself. So January was right—numbers do have a feel, because the universe is light, and is encoded information that are also archetypal geometrical forms, which include the intuitive, emotional “feel” a thing has.