Thursday, December 25, 2008

A better algorithm

Algorithms based on causality are retro. I'm talking about "if...then." It is very time consuming to go through all the possibile outcomes in any given situation.

In a chess game, one cannot go through every possibility and analyze the outcomes because there are just too many combinations. A computer can do that but not a person. So experienced players will simply eliminate moves based on pattern recognition; i.e., they know that certain patterns in the chess position are not conducive to an advantage, so they eliminate them without looking into the specific sequence of moves that would result if a particular unfavorable move was played. They come up with a short list of candidate moves and then if necessary "think ahead" about the "if...then" ramifications.

Still, it would be more efficient to be able to eliminate all moves but one completely on the basis of pattern recognition. That could be very difficult to do. Ultimately, though, in life, it would be immensely freeing: to just know what the right thing to do, without having to think about it.

The mind, after all, knows nothing. It is a heuristic device, immensely useful, especially when employed Socratically to penetrate beneath the surface of appearances, but in terms of making choices, its algorithms are painfully slow and indeterminate. The heart and the gut are better choosers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In a room with death

When I was ten years old in 1957, in the days before Roger Ebert, my main source of movie reviews was Parents Magazine. I remember distinctly when The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman first came out, they featured a photo of the Knight, played by Max von Sydow, playing chess with Death. As a chess player I was fascinated to see the movie, although it was not until perhaps ten years later that I had the opportunity to do so. (It of course became one of my favorite movies.)

In my imaginings now, I am in a room with Death, although not the black-garbed archetypal figure; and we are not playing chess. But we are much closer than is customary for either one of us. Death is not personified at all; it is more like a presence, one that is saying "Wake up!" And sends a bit of a chill all over the body to reinforce that message. But almost immediately the chill is replaced by a solar warmth emanating from the heart. And the heat and the light from that mollifies the mind and is in itself the awakening that is spoken of. Fear is never a factor. If one is to be afraid of anything, it would be life.

But why be afraid of that either? One is here and charged with all kinds of projects and plans. There are opportunities. As long as life itself is propelling us, we may as well go with the flow. And if Death mates us in the end, well, thank God for that. Well met, well mated, old friend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

News from the universe

It is time for another segment of "News from the Universe." It appears that there is a disturbance in the Force...again. Truth is, there are going to be quite a few more. That's the only way we can shake off this lethargy that has descended on this planet like a fog. We spend our lives waking up, and struggling to stay awake, forgetting instead, and then at the behest of a spam message or two popping in from reality, jumping back into our skin, putting our infinitude at the full service of inconsequentiality.

I know...harsh! But consider this. Considering the infinitude of possibilities inherent in the random variability quotient of each and every particular moment, couldn't we expect better than this? It is a testament to the artistry of creation that the illusion of concreteness is so convincingly portrayed on the stage of materiality. Convincing us, that is, that nothing else is, than that which is represented in the moment by IT.

Oh yes, the news; that was just the commercial. The powers of the east are arrayed against the powers of the west. How does that grab you? Are we scared yet?

I'm not going to try to win your vote, but just ask yourself one question: are you better off now than you were four seconds ago? Now that's a time frame that's practically near enough to be now.

Well, that's all. If it didn't seem like much, turn on your inner TV. You'll find wall to wall commentary, twenty-four seven, about every issue under the sun. Goodday! (and good luck!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Whose idea was it

...that we should incarnate in this material dimension? Was it yours? Or mine? Or maybe God's. Or maybe not. Maybe it was a demon whispering in our ear. Maybe a good demon actually.

...if it is good that we are here. Good or not, we must find the good in it. In this particular dimensionality. And there is much good; the only place, in fact, a certain kind of good can be found.

...the good feeling that can be found on the interface of yin/yang, self/other, male/female, time/space, whatever opposites can be found, and they can be found in abundance in this world, there is the opportunity to feed them to the senses to become sensation to be turned into feeling. Love. Pleasure.

...Feel it. Love. Pleasure. Bliss vibration. Without measure.

...Good idea.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I am I

I am I, not me, grammatically speaking. The verb "to be" does not allow a predicate in objective case. Grammar will not let me objectify myself. So why should I objectify anyone else? You, for example...take you. This message, which I now send in intimacy, is directed to the subjective you, completely bypassing the objective self which you have erected to confound me. I ask a simple question for you to ask yourself: what do I want?

Monday, July 07, 2008


In terms of a space journey, the first place one thinks of going is the Moon. It is like an encounter with one's lonely self, the only member of its class, silent, solitary. What romantic and tortured past can we read into the scars the Moon bears? What inner musings can we attribute to the yellow voyager's regular swings around this blue behemoth on which we live? How fitting that the astronauts who first visited the lonely orb ended up abandoning the place, leaving their tawdry detritus behind to freeze under a fine moon powder, letting the Moon keep its own company again. So this object of humanity's first space lust, probed first in Cyrano de Bergerac's fabulations and by many thereafter, remains finally virginal and unconquered . . . while we sublunaries reflect on our own strange solitary fate as we sail forth on this cosmic sea of mystery.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The future of the past

As a region of time, the future has very different characteristics from the past. Unlike the past, which is a multitude of possibilities (as proven by people's varying memories, versions, and interpretations of it), the future is fixed and definitive. Predestination is not an idea dreamed up by theologians; it is, unfortunately, simply the way things are. Get used to it. The idea that different possible futures exist is not borne out by the fact that one present is the inevitable outcome of that definitive future coming, inexorably, waiting to pounce on us, its unwilling prey.

It is a certainty, for example, that the Milky Way galaxy will one day become absorbed into the local group of galaxies around it, torn apart in the process, while all the other galaxies in the universe gradually drift off so far that we will no longer see them. In the same way the past drifts off from us, the lights of memory gradually fading until a kind of cosmic Alzheimer's pushes the whole existence of another reality we vaguely knew into the darkness.

If we really want to know the future or the past, we must look deeply into the present for clues. The solutions of the future only reveal themselves in the coded revelations of science fiction, as dictated to skeptically minded writers who rarely give credence to their own channelings. Similarly, the vast project of past remembrance, which spawned the world's longest novel as well as libraries of nontranquil recollections, is an all-encompassing occupation which can only be prosecuted in the here and now, where the shadows thrown by past people and objects relentlessly flicker. The snows of yesteryear may finally melt tomorrow, but we ourselves are the food of the future, which is digesting us at a frightening rate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Self seeking

If the self cannot be sought, because the seeker is the self, why is it felt that the search for self is the fundamental quest of human life? Any thoughtful person knows that the conditioning that passes for identity is not self, and that egoic thoughts about one's desires, although endlessly diverting, are not self either. The spiritual soul, or the deeper consciousness principle, represents in its many significators what the quest of life is all about. And yet, it is a quixotic enough quest that by definition has no meaning.

Self seeking, indeed, is a self-seeking proposition. Who benefits most from the discovery of this goal than the self itself? For what more prestigious prize could anyone hope to gain than that thing that everyone else is also seeking? How admired is anyone who in the full confidence of self, expresses their essence through their every gesture and glories in the truth of their own existence! What a celebrity is he who knows that, and whom everybody else knows he knows that. What a prodigy is she who wears her own self-discovery like a fabulous garment, and is as comfortable in it as in her own skin. For indeed though the skin cannot contain it, when the skin is worn it becomes as genuinely transformed into the self, and thus is indistinguishable from it.

When the last benighted human has at last turned sage and ascended the mountain of spiritual realization, to put aside all earthly things and contemplate the glory of his own being, it will suddenly strike him that there is yet another peak beyond the self that he has conquered. And that remote prominence may be at last truly unknowable and frustrate the most persistent of questers. Like the quantum particle, it never submits to knowledge, but only presents its manifestations to the instrumentation of measurement, or the intrusive gaze of the senses. That ineffable mathematically "imaginary" numberless number reigns beyond the hyperborean realms, in a dimensionally involuted infinity of intransigent inaccessibility. Until half a moment past "is", that is.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

En soph

In reading about the Sophists in Richard Tarnas's history of ideas, The Passion of the Western Mind, I encounter the following passage:

Despite the positive effects of their intellectual training and establishment of a liberal education as a basis for effective character formation, a radical skepticism toward all values led some to advocate an explicitly amoral opportunism. Students were instructed how to devise ostensibly plausible arguments supporting virtually any claim. More concretely disturbing was the concurrent deterioration of the political and ethical situation in Athens to the point of crisis--the democracy turning fickle and corrupt, the consequent takeover by a ruthless oligarchy, the Athenian leadership of Greece becoming tyrannical, wars begun in arrogance ending in such critical circumstances, the philosophical denial of absolute values and sophistical commendation of stark opportunism seemed both to reflect and to exacerbate the problematic spirit of the times.

It gives one pause to wonder if the antithetical spirit of our time: i.e., the capitalist greed and blind lust for wealth and power, versus the progressivism and idealism which is perhaps making a comeback since its brief efflorescence in the 1960s, is not posited on the same shaky sophisticated foundation. Postmodernism tends to dismantle its own underpinnings, including the spiritual dimension, leaving the questing imagination with no metaphysical targets to shoot for. What is left is the eternal mundane, always there to comfort you with its relativistic nipple when all else fails.

Is it fair, then, to pin the excesses of the Greed Decade (the 80s, Reaganism, Gordon Gekko) down through the Iraq War in this post-Constitutional era, on the solipsistic and linguistically obtuse meanderings of "sophisticated" academics? Perhaps so. Every word that is uttered makes an impact on the whole universe. Truths can be denied, but Truth herself if spurned can be a vengeful lover, and bring a whole plague of apocalypses down on our silly heads!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dimensional shift

Leaving aside the question of whether the universe contains ten or eleven dimensions, as in string theory, or many mansions of indeterminate number, as in the New Testament, let us suppose that this multiverse, or set of all possible universes, consists of n dimensions, so we feel absolutely unconstrained about what is possible. Also let us suppose there is no particular decorum about whether, in shifting from one dimension to another, we have to go through them in order. So if you want to go from the third to the fifth dimension, you do not have to go through the fourth in the usual manner. This would be possible if there were an interdimensional henadic cosmitorium, a manifold hall of portals, each one of which leads to a different non-prexisting spontaneously manifesting surprise. A Schrodinger cat in every garage?

Friday, February 08, 2008

The qubikuity project

The long range project here is to produce an evolving body of commentary that finds a higher integrating perspective on a variety of subjects, from physics, philosophy, literature, and psychology. Through writing, I hope to gain more insight into the deeper connections between ideas that resonate in me, but which may not have an obvious relationship. I enjoy looking back at earlier qubikuity history where I often find echoes of future posts.

The word "qubikuity" combines the "qu" from quest or question, the curiosity that underlies this ongoing investigation; "qube" is what I call a four-dimensional hypercube, representing the idea of higher dimensions which is intrinsic to this quest; "Ubik"--the title of a novel by Philip K. Dick where Ubik is the saving grace, the principle of universal intelligence; and of course "ubiquity," or omnipresence.

Eventually there will be a book Qubikuity based on material generated in the blog. An outline of topics is being developed which contains three main divisions: The Luminous (the phenomenology and psychology of mystical/transpersonal states); The Abyss (the philosophy and manifold creative activity of the gap between the intransigent dualities of existence); and The Matrix (spacetime physics in the interdimensional multiverse).

Underpinning this whole enquiry is the quantum cosmosophy which posits a "godbeing" questioning at the source of human becoming. The answers generated here are contingent and temporary, but I hope my attempt to capture the sands of the moment in the grasp of the mind's porous net will not be in vain. Great energies can be released in tiny atoms. We are all so small and yet so hugely powerful; we must remember that we are sitting on forces unutterably huge, within the earth, within our bodies, within the atoms that adhere temporarily in this cosmic flux to grant us a moment of recognition.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The next question

Theodore Sturgeon, who was equal parts master of science fiction and apostle of love, had this symbol to represent his personal life philosophy. It was the letter Q with a forward-pointing arrow through it and it means "ask the next question." He explained that this simply means that we must question every assumption that is presented to us; and then when our question is answered, we ask another one. The next question we ask may be as simple as "Why?" But we keep asking it until, if ever, we arrive at an irreducible truth that is so simple that it cannot be further questioned.

Life proceeds as an infinite series of questions that are posed to us and through us. Whether we pose the questions out of our free-thinking mind or whether they appear to be thrust upon us by circumstances, we can each make a case that in our particular atom of awareness, in our particular universe, each of these questions is of great moment. The coiled up question mark is like a spiral of energy that seeks to be released in some kind of "answer." But never is surcease found in that release; always whatever form or container we find for that energy, that further refines and raises the vibration of the whole universe, the pot must be broken one more time by the yearning spirit, always, forever and ever, insisting upon asking the next question, and the next, and the next. As Tennyson's Ulysses said upon sailing out on one more voyage, even after the Odyssey had brought him back to Ithaca, seemingly his true and final home:

Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cannibals and hedgehogs

There is absolutely no relationship between cannibals and hedgehogs. Or so it would seem. After picking these two words completely out of the air, I discover there are 14,500 results when I google them together.

The first result points out that in fact Indian hedgehogs behave at times like cannibals, in that those who are sick and infirm fall prey to those healthy country club hedgehogs. Who would have thought it?

The second result references a book called Liberals and Cannibals: The Implications of Diversity, by Stephen Lukes, which embarks upon an interesting typology of hedgehogs (i.e., those who adhere to a single, central, coherent vision): positivist hedgehogs, uniformitarian hedgehogs, and so on. To characterize hedgehogs as monolithic in their mode of thinking is perhaps to make a leap of faith. Still it is comforting to reflect that there may be in nature a species with a unified consciousness. It is certainly not the human being...unless, of course, we turn to the saints and mystics of the race, most of whom live in caves, and so may be said to constitute a type of the earth-dwelling hedgehog. They would not, however, ordinarily be found among the cannibal sects, which seem mostly confined to places like Washington, D.C.

The point of this is that there no two words can exist without there being inherent connections between them. Perhaps these connections are only inherent in the mind. Still, they are real enough. Do not let your thoughts burrow too far into the rooty conspiratorial mass of potential associations or you will find they will eat their own young, and in the process, you.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


"Words, words, words," says Hamlet. Are they alive or dead? Are they husks of thought to be cast into the sea of troubles or seeds of life to regenerate our barren world?

We are living in an age of devaluation of the word. If the word was once made flesh, it is now bone. It is bereft of life and love. The political and media babblers have cheapened the world of discourse while academic scribblers have freighted the golden wings of poets with leaden, prosaic expostulations.

At this point in my mini-rant I arrive at a point analogous to the final quatrain of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29:

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising
Haply I think on thee, and then my state
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate.

And I regain my hope. As did Hamlet himself:
"There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all."

Yet it will come. Be ready.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy newish year

The year having just begun, barely out of the box, it must nevertheless be considered slightly used. Already certain cliches have been replayed: thirty killed in a Baghdad funeral bombing, Democratic presidential candidates are still disparaging each other's electability, and 2008 data is expected to further confirm global warming. Which means Iowa will get colder. The New Year's greetings are freezing on the lips here as cars spin in the day's new accumulation of snow.

So in the spirit of eBay, Happy Newish Year, slightly used, with faintly soiled dust jacket. May you enjoy many happy reruns. I mean returns. Of course, the new annum is non-returnable. So get used to it and make the best of it. It's going seem like a year till the next one rolls around.