Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's A Strange Multiverse

Let's Keep It That Way

Screenshot: New York Times, July 21, 2012; Certain
Advertising Elements Have Been Altered Just Because.
(Click On Image To Enlarge! It's Easy And Fun!)

I admit not knowing any answers to The Big Questions: What the universe is, how it works; its origins or its purpose; and what our reason for existence -- as a species, and personally -- may be in that universe, if any.

I do assume that it had to come from somewhere, and have a structure 'midst the maelstrom of physical and chemical chaos that even the most casual observations of our immediate environment will show.

Essentially, the universe is like a rerun of Three's Company, with pants, gigantic waterfalls, bats, toilet paper, sex, jets and elephants, and Mitt Romney (I don't know about you, but I'm happy with the bats and waterfalls and elephants, and throw up in a bucket when I see Mitzy. I am deeply grateful for the sex. Also toilet paper). However, I don't claim to have any answer as to where whatever-all-this-is came from, where it's going, what its structure is, how it operates or whether 'it' even notices we're here.

No matter how much I yearn to know the answers to The Big Questions, I have an instinctive distrust of anyone who claims to know what they are. My personal bar for the burden of proof on that is astoundingly high.

For Some Questions, The Bar Is Low: Local Phenomenon
(Click On Image To Enlarge! It's Easy And Fun!)

For example: You've got your Macro level of the universe, where certain observable phenomena (chemical reactions; Newton's laws of motion; Lard Boy's steady weight gain) can be tracked. This is the big-stuff world where we live, the E-Ticket ride of trips to the beach, bad teevee, rude people on public transportation, paychecks, and Spam™.

But wait! On the really micro, Sub-Atomic level, a whole 'nother kind of physics applies -- where particles (smaller stuff, that makes up the big stuff) can be in two places at once, move forward or back in time, or change their characteristics depending upon whether or not they're observed. It also allows for our existence in a Multiverse -- with many many multiple copies of Mongo, and You, and everything else, playing out all the various outcomes of all actions at all levels of existence.

It also means that in some of these alternate universes, the nazis and Japanese won the Second World War; that the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 was not defused by backdoor diplomacy and ended in thermonuclear war; or that Mary Sue actually did let you Get Lucky on Prom Night, instead of telling you that you should take her home.

Somewhere in all this is the belief that the physical world can be manipulated for the benefit of those able to do so, based upon practices and doctrines thousands of years old and passed down through a variety of traditions, nearly all of them secret.

If you accept this view, Alchemy may be metaphorical and the perception of the observable universe on a seven-minute DMT trip may be closer to the true structure of the Multiverse. Daniel Pinchbeck may know that better than I do (but as a Dog, I tend to get around, so maybe).

Floating on the surface of this interpretation of the universe are public traditions; storefronts, if you like -- portals to finding an answer to the Big Questions: Buddhism, traditional and non-traditional christanity; Islam; Gurdjieff-Ospenskyism; Talmudic study and Kaballah; Yoga and Zen.

Fire Bad; Repeat: Fire Bad

Stupid Is Not Covered By Your Health Plan

Then, there are the real storefronts of mysticism -- est; Scientology; Course Of Miracles; The Secret; Think And Grow Rich. The people who run some public storefronts are often greedy but harmless (though some have very dark, toxic motivations). They have a strong, personal belief that the Universe is as they perceive it; this perception works for them, and they want to share it, generally for a price.

This is where I have difficulty with some philosophic or esoteric traditions, and in particular the Pay-For-Play types: Things which are not manifest in the observable world -- that is, something seen and consistently verified -- are more difficult to claim as being "true". They may be, for the person who experiences them, but not for everyone, and not in the Big World with the sex and elephants and Spam™ and Lard Boy's hefty abdominal fat, which is the place most of us live.

So, this weekend, a number of people discovered, as Young Frankenstein did -- a simple truth: Fire Bad!! In walking (oh, come on; you run) across hot coals at a Tony Robbins motivational seminar here in the Bay Area, "Unleash The Power Within", 21 people suffered burns.

It's a Big-Tent world, and as a Dog, I've seen all kinds of stuff. Good or bad, almost anything can happen.

I'm willing to admit to the possibility of changing the immediate physical reality around you through the power of belief -- but more often, it's of the Fat Karl Rove, "We create new realities for you liberals to ponder" variety of belief; an "I have The math", two-plus-two equals 271 kind of belief, which ultimately leads to a constricting hubris, a third chin, and the inability to walk for a week or more.

Fat And Stupid (In A Philosophic Sense) Is No Way To
Spend A Life, No Matter How Rich You Think You Are

I don't know what the universe is. I do know this much: It's a pleasant Summer's day out; I'm hungry, have nothing in my Dog Bowl at the moment, and am going out under the blue sky to see what I can see. And while that may not provide an answer to the Big Questions, or uncover a massive conspiracy to keep the bulk of humanity in a state of ignorance about the true nature of Things, it'll have to do. Plus, I'll still be able to walk at the end of it.

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