Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The "space" inside atoms, and our heads

Axioms, short statements generally accepted as not needing to be proved, are necessary to posit before the logic of syllogisms (or mathematics) can produce meaningful results. But we sometimes forget that what can to an axiomatic truth in one context might well not be so in another. As in six “days” of creation: “the evening and the morning were the first day” – but only on the fourth day did God “divide the day from the night” and create signs “for seasons, and for days, and years.” Without our spinning Earth and rotating solar system, we grasp at straws for units of measure, and find in those straws something like the old query, “How long is a piece of string?”
Outside of our perceptible universe, including what we can see with magnifiers, are areas where the axioms we’ve usefully posited no longer reasonably apply. The first second after the “Big Bang” has no real meaning, nor does “space” inside an atom. Math has been used to refer to “crunched” dimensions and infinities larger than other infinities, but I hereby suggest that we recognize not only the axiomatic contradictions in those “ideas” and their lack of real utility, but also that we have limitations of scope, conceptuality and potential. We cannot become immortal and still be what we are; we cannot travel in time except in the way that we already do, and we cannot map the universe. Even of something tiny (to us), we cannot make an all-inclusive mapping, though it be way larger. We have limitations, but an unlimited amount of things we still may do (including deceive ourselves).
We can speculate on a ‘before’ to the way things are now, but was there really anything ‘before’ there was any observation? We cannot really say, any more than we can discuss, with any real meaning, what is beyond what we can perceive (directly, or even indirectly). Through mathematics we can refer to 5th, 6th and more dimensions, but despite that, we really know precisely nothing of them. My father had a heart-attack, felt he was traveling thru a tunnel towards a light, then was brought back by an electrical jolt – still knowing nothing of what lies after death. And I experienced a sensation of leaving my body, transcending dimensions and encountering another intelligence (or two), but the utility derived from returning to my normal state after that ‘perception’ has hardly translated well into much of a contribution to the lives of others.
Whether you accept that we “were created” or not, we exist within certain parameters which we can spend energy struggling against (although it is futile). There are, clearly, wiser struggles to choose – as there are things we can accomplish. We can dream of defeating death, or of time travel, or of better defining light, explaining gravity, or just making a better mousetrap, but it is important to wisdom to discern the distinction between what might be possible and what is clearly not. Still, some make a good living pretending involvement in enterprises which the more discerning among us well know can never accomplish anything of material significance. Hope, though, holds real utility, so that kind of behavior will continue to go on, as unmerited as it might seem to many a rationalist. Ours is not always a rational world, or existence.
Still, $US8 billion for a super-collider, while many starve, or die of preventable and curable diseases, and the wonders of nature we’ve inherited rapidly cease to be, thru our own folly? It is hardly judicious utilization of available resource. We should be more discriminating of value, more aware of the relative value of terminology throughout the changes of circumstance humans can, and will, endure, and more careful of the pratfalls our tendency to egotism and egocentricity tend to bring us. Unless, perhaps, we truly enjoy tragedy.
Fantasy is OK, and imagination important, but we needn’t get too carried away with believing in how much greater one voice, one person, might be, relative to all others. We are each part of something larger, never solely responsible for anything, and no one mind really soars above the rest. Some create well, etc., but we like to take the idea of genius, of superiority, far too far.
Perhaps it affords some comfort, but insofar as that comfort undermines us, it is false.

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