Double exposure, Kalutara hills
They (those magical scientists) have measured quantum effects on a large object. That is, they’ve gotten a small paddle to both vibrate and not vibrate. This is interesting in that quantum physics is weird, but I really dug this quote: “if trillions of atoms can be put into a quantum state, why don’t we see double-decker buses simultaneously stopping and going? Cleland says he believes size does matter: the larger an object, the easier it is for outside forces to disrupt its quantum state. “The environment is this huge, complex thing,” says Cleland. “It’s that interaction with this incredibly complex system that makes the quantum coherence vanish.” It is as if reality really is a consensual hallucination.
I have always been curious about social reality, or reality as something not exactly real. This is not quantum physics mind you, just rambling. One thinks of many things as real, like pain and pleasure, but also concomitant things like dislike and like, and then language itself gives the sensation of reality to a great many things which are not conventionally real at all. Money, culture, concepts, etc. It is as if we take this common core and wrap more and more fanciful things out of it, like complex mathematics derived from a few rules, or traits spooling out of DNA. At some level it breaks down. Like mortgage derivatives.
At another level any division is actually false, including the division into true and false. On a Buddhist level this divisiveness is irrelevant to the greater end of simply being there, but it is also not fundamentally real. With things like culture it becomes more confusing because there are so many other factors involved. One does things for reasons, some of which are lies. And this can be OK if it serves a greater end. Rituals somehow exist and work if you believe in them and don’t if you don’t. That is, I do believe that things can be in two states at once. I think that they are.
I firmly believe that our own consciousness creates (or certainly participates) in our reality. On a basic, neurological level memory is as much reconstruction as recollection and there is top-down processing involved in everything from perceiving shapes to appreciating music. This is what Chomsky called poverty of the stimulus. It is simply computationally impossible for kids to acquire language if they don’t already have significant acquisition software on board. We simply don’t have enough information in the environment to function in this world, which is why it’s so hard to build machines that do. There is actually significant infrastructure in the brain to perceiving what we sense to be self-evident.
Yet, I find it interesting that even quantum particles get their reality from interaction with a complex system. If only as a metaphor. We get our sense of reality from observing the people around us. Solomon Asch showed that people will even give an obviously incorrect answer if there’s enough social pressure. Culture in a very deep sense defines what is real around us, even though none of it is intrinsically real. It acquires its reality because other people believe it.
Some look at people in kovils or churches like what are they doing prostrating in front of that cow, but it is not particularly less real than freaking out in front of Bloomberg or at a football game. Nor is it much more weird than using money, or driving on the left (or right) side of the road. It is a system which only exists within references to itself. I have often, being a fool, wondering what was at the end of various forks, like how people make money. Like, where does the money come from? It seems like a bunch of people paying way too much or too little for stuff within a system they don’t really understand. I always assumed that I didn’t see the underlying reality because I was stupid, but there may be no underlying reality at all.
Seeing as culture is a hallucinogenic force (one which can even shape genes), I also wonder whether the manifestation of culture, that is, social networking, might one day manifest itself as something manifestly real. That is, will one day the Internet or Google become sentient and, for lack of a better word, God-like? This seems unreal, but it’s all unreal, and I don’t see this Kali Yuga speeding ahead to another destination. I do believe that these godlike things are present in the primitive, meditative and ritualistic technology of ancient men, but our modern age requires more proof, and we have stopped believing. However, as we introduce error correction and high technology into our consensual hallucination, is it not possible to actually sustain these higher consciousnesses? I’m not saying you could run God on a server, but on a cloud server perhaps.
I used to think this was an unabridged good and carried Kurzweil’s Age Of Spiritual Machines like a neon bible. It certainly seems awesome, machines that can talk and play games, intelligences that are encoded at light and travel beyond the universe. He spoke of the Singularity, where change becomes so fast it becomes imperceptible and everything is awesome and everyone lives forever. I used to hope to live that long. Now I wonder.
I cannot, for example go too long without that Facebook or Twitter crack, and yet I have seen some amazing sunsets that require no electrical stimulation at all. That are, indeed, ruined by such intrusions. I have seen things in the back of my eyelids that give me more serenity and a finer pleasure than any screen. So I wonder. I’ve also been hearing about this Age Of Kali (the scary manifestation of Parvati/Durga with the necklace of severed heads) where everything goes to a lustful and sinful pot. I’ve heard this described as a speeding up and breaking down of perceptions, which worries me.
I see some consciousness emerging from the net, perhaps even one which can guide us back to compassion and conservation in a sort of rule-based and object-oriented environment. However, sometimes I wonder if it’s all just going to hell. But I digress. Mainly I just wonder.