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    Senior Member United States Dumpster Diver's Avatar
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    Karma ending? I doubt it. Too many folks need lessons. Thus more reincarnations...

    So the old joke: My Karma ran over my Dogma.
    "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the object of your anger to die” ~ Anon
    "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." ~Yogi Berra
    "You can observe a lot by just watching." ~Yogi Berra
    “When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.” ~Will Rogers
    "If life gives you melons...you might be dyslexic" ~ Aixelsyd Dnarber

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    Administrator Aragorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dumpster Diver View Post
    Karma ending? I doubt it. Too many folks need lessons. Thus more reincarnations...

    So the old joke: My Karma ran over my Dogma.
    Reincarnation can be a mechanism for rectifying karma, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Karma is merely a balance that was upset and that needs being restored, one way or another.
    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

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    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    One of the more unfortunate ways is when a karmic victim draws energy from you when they need it...

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    I come now to Virginia Woolf, featured in the final chapter of Jonah Lehrer’s book. She authored achingly beautiful books like To the Lighthouse or The Waves between bouts of depression. By the time her last book came out, she had committed suicide, and Between the Acts was published unrevised, including typos, and is frankly a mess, albeit an interesting mess. You don’t need to know much about anything to realize that suicide is a sure sign that something is not working out the way it should or could. Whatever our purpose in life – even if none is apparent or even exists – ending that life has got to be counter-productive. Hence, if someone suffering from that kind of condition has something to tell us about the human mind, it is not going to be about the healthy mind, but about some disorder. Something is not being done right, and if neuroscience can embrace this information – namely that the ‘self’ is a ‘fiction’ that ‘emerges from the chaos of consciousness, a “kind of whole made of shivering fragments”’ (Lehrer, p. 174), then something is not being done right in neuroscience either.

    Alternatively, supposing there is nothing wrong with the science, if Woolf’s disturbed mind says something about the supposedly healthy modern mind, then perhaps the modern mind has been radically altered, in ways that were initially unbearable for a sensitive soul. They may not be that much more bearable even now.

    When someone feels suicidal, they don’t want to hurt their nearest and dearest, and sometimes say so; but they cannot help themselves; that is the problem, they are beyond help. Togetherness has broken down completely. Sometimes this is because, in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Hell is other people’. This seems to have been the case with Virginia Woolf. To the Lighthouse is an elaborate novel, with a variety of characters, but I just want to focus on the story indicated by the title, as it is rich in autobiographical content. A small child receives conflicting messages about a possible treat the following day: a boat trip to the lighthouse, half promised by its mother, Mrs Ramsay, who is optimistic that the weather might pick up. The father immediately rules out the whole project as being impossible because he knows this is wishful thinking – falling barometer, westerly wind.

    The story itself is symbolic of the parent-child relationship. The sea is a symbol of the maternal function (womb), and the phallic symbolism of the lighthouse is obvious. The boat trip to the lighthouse becomes an exploration of these two relationships. Taking the two elements in conjunction, the horizontal and the vertical, suggests a reversal of the usual symbolism. The presence of a lighthouse indicates a dangerous sea and is a safeguard against that danger. Hence, tides, currents and rocks make it dangerous in less than ideal circumstances, and the mother fails to act protectively in suggesting to her child that it might be feasible.

    However, what we find is that the mother is revered as much as the father is detested. This is because all the nurturing is coming from her. His knowledge of weather patterns and boating skills is of no help in raising a family of small children. Years later, after the war and after his wife has died (of illness, but there is an interesting hint of strangeness that war should be the death of a woman, not a man), he can take his youngest kids on that trip, but by now they are sulking teenagers, and he is still completely out of step. His son has navigated through the dangerous waters where some recent fatal shipwrecks are remembered, and is delighted to receive some rare, ever so faint praise: ‘Well done!’

    As a father myself, I see two major parenting issues with Mr Ramsay. The golden rule is for parents to speak, not as one – they cannot do that – but in support of each other, brushing over their differences. When an adult guest can reflect that ‘what happened to her, especially staying with the Ramsays, was to be made to feel violently two opposite things at the same time’ (Penguin, p.118), we have to transpose this experience to the youngest of eight children overhearing this exchange:
    There wasn’t the slightest possible chance that they could go to the Lighthouse tomorrow, Mr Ramsay snapped out irascibly.
    How did he know? she asked. The wind often changed.
    The extraordinary irrationality of her remark, the folly of women’s minds enraged him. He had ridden through the valley of death, been shattered and shivered; and now she flew in the face of facts, made his children hope what was utterly out of the question, in effect, told lies. He stamped his foot on the stone step. ‘Damn you’, he said. But what had she said? Simply that it might be fine tomorrow. So it might.
    Not with the barometer falling and the wind due west.
    To pursue truth with such astonishing lack of consideration for other people’s feelings, to rend the thin veils of civilization so wantonly, so brutally, was to her so horrible an outrage of human decency that, without replying, dazed and blinded, she bent her head as if to let the pelt of jagged hail, the drench of dirty water, bespatter her unrebuked. There was nothing to be said (p.37-8).
    The second parenting issue is that if you have an exciting Plan A that is contingent upon outside circumstances such as the weather, then you have to have a decent Plan B to avoid huge disappointment; you cannot simply stay at home and do nothing. It so happens that this is a major theme of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, predating Wolf’s novel by a decade or so. Plan A eventually develops into a whole novel, The Guermantes Way, and Plan B is the subject of another whole novel, Swann’s Way, which actually takes precedence as the first and most important in the series. The Guermantes Way, leading past the Guermantes country estate, is the long Sunday walk taken on fine days, while Swann’s Way is the shorter walk taken when the weather is not so good, and which passes Charles Swann’s place; the two walks being totally separate in the narrator’s young mind. The big picture revealed only at the end of the whole cycle is that the two paths come together in a full circle. Swann’s daughter Gilberte, seen on those damp Sundays, has married into the Guermantes family, and shows how Swann’s Way is actually a scenic shortcut to the Guermantes estate, she herself being the very embodiment of that conjunction.

    This is not the subject of Lehrer’s chapter on Proust, which is about memories being fictions. But it illustrates to perfection his remark quoted in my opening post:
    After the inputs of the eye enter the brain, they are immediately sent along two separate pathways, one of which is fast and one of which is slow. The fast pathway quickly transmits a coarse and blurry picture to our prefrontal cortex, a brain region involved in conscious thought. Meanwhile, the slow pathway takes a meandering route through the visual cortex, which begins meticulously analyzing and refining the lines of light. The slow image arrives at the prefrontal cortex about fifty milliseconds after the fast image.
    The bliss first achieved with Proust’s madeleine moment occurs when synchronicity is experienced. What happens at the end of the novels, in Time Regained, is that such synchronicities begin to pile up and become the norm. Proust is not talking about fifty milliseconds: he has slowed the whole operation down to more like fifty years. While fifty milliseconds is short enough to trick the brain – just as 24 images per second is enough to simulate a moving picture – fifty years is long enough to analyze what is going on. This suggests that bliss is actually the result of synchronizing two out-of-synch pathways, and hence it is the normal background experience for a correctly functioning brain. Ultra-short-term memory work starts at fifty milliseconds. Proust’s mammoth novel is about putting the spring in the narrator’s step to the point where he can actually start writing something like the novel we are just finishing.

    What this means for Virginia Woolf’s narrative is that the alternative pathway is not in place at all, hence the brain is stuck in a kind of limbo waiting for a completion of the process that never comes. To the Lighthouse is on the contrary about sapping the author’s vitality to the point of depression where she is unable to write or do anything at all (her novel ends at this point of ‘extreme fatigue’) – to the point where another father figure, the doctor, prescribes total rest in bed, doing nothing more dangerous than staring at the ceiling, except that she is cogitating all the while.

    So to this extent at least, Virginia Woolf is the anti-Proust. Supposing for a moment that he was a neuroscientist, then she has to have been something altogether different. What I am seeing is that Virginia Woolf must have been a... quantum physicist. Let’s see how this would work.

    The above fictional scenario has all the apparatus for quantum physics’ double-slit experiment used to determine whether light behaves as a wave or as particles. In possibly the clearest exposition of the subject I have read, Einstein’s Moon: Bell’s Theorem and the Curious Quest for Quantum Reality, F. David Peat actually illustrates this experiment with a harbour wall, having one, then two openings, where a straight wave enters from the sea, creating an interference pattern. The basic problem is that light particles, even when sent individually, behave like waves, and so do electrons, when they should be following predictable straight-line trajectories, like bullets.

    The Ramsay’s lighthouse is on an island, with openings at either end. They are hardly slits, but the setup is basically the same: waves come in from the sea on either side, creating an interference pattern on the landward side. You even have quanta of light flashing from the lighthouse, again not exactly right position-wise, but this is only a mind’s-eye prevision of the scientist’s laboratory experiment. What emerges is that the patriarchal contribution of male knowledge and certainty, as expressed in the beams of light, has the unexpected, counter-intuitive outcome on the female water element of producing probability waves. Hence, it is fatuous to predict with certainty tomorrow’s weather: especially with notoriously changeable British weather; there has to be an outside chance of it turning out somewhat different. David Peat actually states:
    The weather is a good example of such a probabilistic system, since a great many complex effects act together to create tomorrow’s weather. Fifty years ago, our ignorance about the physics of weather, as well as our inability to collect accurate data, was so great that weather forecasts were given in a fairly informal way: “It will be sunny tomorrow with a chance of rain.” (p.8)
    Mr Ramsay’s prediction was about fifteen years older again. At about the time of Peat’s writing, a BBC weather forecaster was dismissing as a trifling gale what turned out to be the great storm of 1987. Even today, the weather is forecast in terms of probabilities; we have a better idea of tomorrow, but next week is still pretty hazy. Virginia Woolf ended up reaching a similar conclusion with regard to the unpredictability of her brain. As Lehrer states:
    She decided that she had “no single state.” “It’s odd how being ill,” she observed, “splits one up into several different people.” (p.172)
    Back then, it would seem that for Woolf ‘being ill’ sometimes amounted to being female in a masculine world. In the context of quantum mechanics – discovered by Heisenberg in 1925 (Woolf’s novel came out in 1927) – this kind of ‘being ill’ seems much closer to the complex pulse of reality. I began to wonder if neuronal activity is affected by quantum effects. I came across an article summarized thus: ‘Quantum physics is relevant to synaptic processes in the brain. This provides a potential mechanism for free will, free choice of our thoughts and actions.’ http://implications-of-quantum-physi...free-will.html

    The conclusion is: Because the wave function for a single calcium ion quickly spreads around the synapse, the quantum state of the synapse is a linear combination of passing on and not passing on the pulse. Thus quantum mechanical considerations certainly cannot be ruled out for brain processes.
    Free will. Templates. There is a book (Ref. 5) by the Nobel laureate brain researcher John Eccles called “How the SELF Controls Its BRAIN.” Because of the spread of the calcium wave packets, the wave function of the brain is a linear combination of trillions of different possible thoughts and signals for bodily actions. The Mind, if one subscribes to The Mind-MIND interpretation, can ‘freely’ ‘control’ the thoughts and actions by choosing one of those neural states to concentrate on. But the organizational problem, how to pick out just the right combination of firing neurons to cause a particular thought or bodily movement, is formidable (although it is not really not so much more formidable than the classical organizational problem). It must presumably be solved by some combination of the structure of the physical brain along with a set of organizational templates that are indigenous to the ‘non-physical’ Mind.
    The ‘non-physical’ Mind. My emphasis.

    Virginia Woolf’s double-slit experiment would not be complete without some device to track the behaviour of the particles passing through the slits. Incredibly, she actually does set up such a device: throughout the trip to the lighthouse, the house guest Lily is painting a picture. Since the canvas is lily-white only at the outset, Lily is ‘gilding the lily’, actually moving away from her pure self.

    The novel’s last scene, to which Lehrer devotes his final paragraphs, describes an ultimate brushstroke that bears the hallmarks of quantum uncertainty, in a manner that Lehrer completely misses.
    By the end of the novel, Lily knows that her problem has no solution. The self cannot be escaped: reality cannot be unraveled. “Instead,” Lily thinks, “there are only little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.” Her painting, full as it is of discordant brushstrokes, makes no grand claims. She knows it is only a painting, destined for attics. It will solve nothing, but then, nothing is ever really solved. The real mysteries persist, and “the great revelation never comes.” All Lily wants is her painting “to be on a level with ordinary experience, to feel simply that’s a chair, that’s a table, and yet at the same time, it’s a miracle, it’s an ecstasy.”
    And then with that brave brushstroke down the middle, Lily sees what she wanted to express, even if only for a moment. She does this not by forcing us into some form, but by accepting the fragile reality of our experience. Her art describes us as we are, as a “queer amalgamation of dream and reality, that perpetual marriage of granite and rainbow. Our secret, Lily knows, is that we have no answer. What he does is ask the question. The novel ends on this tonic note of creation:
    “With a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre. It was done; it was finished. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.“ (Lehrer, p.189)
    This is an accurate quotation of the last couple of lines. However, he overlooks certain details, and most of all it hallucinates something that is not in the original text at all. A page earlier, Lily says loudly, ‘He has landed (...) It is finished.’ Her painting, started at the very moment he sets out, is like a recording of Mr Ramsay’s trip to the lighthouse, like the trace left by quantum particles in the double-slit experiment. The lighthouse is by now ‘almost invisible’, having ‘melted away into a blue haze’, so the actual moment of landing can only be guessed at. But the painting is said to be finished before this afterthought of the final brushstroke, the meaning of which has to be in doubt.

    What Lehrer overlooks is that, before she takes up the brush again, Lily’s final thought is not of attics but of destruction: ‘it would be destroyed. But what would that matter? (...) She looked at her canvas; it was blurred.’ Obviously, she has been painting a picture of the lighthouse with Mr Ramsay’s boat in the foreground, clearly seen for a while, then gradually receding to a point and less than a point – and the lighthouse itself has disappeared in a blue haze too. Meanwhile she has been trying to keep up, adding haziness to her anti-Cézannian picture until it looks like something by Eugène Leroy, years ahead of her time. http://www.artcritical.com/2012/12/22/eugene-leroy/

    Lehrer’s interpretation of the final brushstroke betrays masculine certainty: ‘down the middle’ he says. However, there is nothing to suggest it is a vertical line: it could be a woman’s feminine, horizontal line, restoring some balance. Or for all we know, it could be a combination of the two: an oblique line, like crossing the whole thing out – a tonic note of... destruction. The painting is ‘done’, ‘finished’, perhaps in more senses than one, we don’t know how; all that is left is a past vision, a possible future now in the past, very close to nothing at all.

    Hence, if there is one thing we do know in this sea of indeterminacy, it is that the men are wrong and the women are right.

    The men are wrong. In science, the greatest mind of the 20th century (Einstein) proclaimed that ‘God does not play dice with Universe’. Here was ‘God’ himself, or the Universe, proclaiming, ‘Oh yes he does! He’s an inveterate gambler!’ Similarly, Woolf’s eminent intellectual Mr Ramsay has a splendid mind, but one which in the alphabet of knowledge, she says, gets stuck on the letter Q: ‘Here at least was Q. He dug his heels in at Q. Q he was sure of. Q he could demonstrate’ (p.40). A likely place to get stuck: Q is the letter of all manner of Questioning, Queries in-Quiry, Quandaries and Quagmires. In the Romance languages, Q is like Wh- in English: Who? What? When? Which?... become Qui? Quoi? Quand? Quel?... in French. The word Quantum of course means How much?/So much. As letter 16/26, Q starts with the value 0.615 (16 divided by 26); hence the word/notion of Quanta lies fairly precisely at 0.618, the golden mean, the point where art/creativity and beauty meet, and where knowledge comes unstuck, this much we truly know.

    The women are right. Mrs Ramsay is exactly right in thinking, ‘To pursue truth with such astonishing lack of consideration for other people’s feelings, to rend the thin veils of civilization so wantonly, so brutally, was to her so horrible an outrage of human decency’. That is something we can all take to heart and act upon right now – take to the bank as they say. And, through her artist character, Virginia Woolf is exactly right in thinking ‘I have had my vision’. Something that is not destroyed (she published her novel). The ‘I’ in that sentence is not the uncontrollable illusory self as advertised by ‘Woolf the (materialist) neuroscientist’. Something real and true has fleetingly emerged from this sea of indeterminacy – ‘presumably (...) by some combination of the structure of the physical brain along with a set of organizational templates that are indigenous to the “non-physical” Mind.’ In other words, what I have been calling the ‘soul-brain interface’.

    Of course the sea itself is a good analogy for this notion of selfhood beyond indeterminacy. ‘Sea level’ is a major datum point, but no more than an abstraction. Given the constancy of waves and troughs, ripples and foam, rising and falling tides, and killer storms, the surface of the sea is a hard place to be looking for what we call sea level, since many or most points will not actually be at that level at all. We are only talking about probabilities and averages. Hence there is plenty of room for a primeval fear over rising sea levels engulfing us with quantum uncertainty. Where free will comes in to still the waters and approach a better approximation of sea level is, all together, by approaching averageness, something than cannot be shouted from the rooftops but can only happen discreetly.
    It seemed now as if, touched by human penitence and all its toil, divine goodness had parted the curtain and displayed behind it, single, distinct, the hare erect; the wave falling, the boat rocking, which, did we deserve them, should be ours always. But alas, divine goodness, twitching the cord, draws the curtain; it does not please him; he covers his treasures in a drench of hail, and so breaks them, so confuses them that it seems impossible that their calm should ever return or that we should ever compose from their fragments a perfect whole or read in the littered pieces the clear words of truth. For our penitence deserves a glimpse only; our toil respite only. (To the Lighthouse, p.146)
    We can now fully understand how Virginia Woolf could not survive this ordeal, when one of the main protagonists of quantum theory, Wolfgang Pauli, nearly went crazy and/or drank himself to death, saved by extended psychotherapy under CG Jung to connect him to his feminine side. The original double-slit experiment was empirical – performed to see what would happen; it turned out to be totally counter-intuitive, going against perceived reality. Virginia Woolf came at the problem from the opposite angle; from a theoretical position from which to make a prediction, namely that the perceived reality was wrong. Her prediction proved true, showing that she was not crazy at all, simply the victim of a crazy pseudo-reality. To this day, quantum mechanics is a scary idea even for neuroscientists like Jonah Lehrer. The way towards feeling comfortable with it would seem to be littered with tiny signposts congruent with what might briefly be termed ‘feminine values’ rather than a huge lighthouse.

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    Senior Member Paloma's Avatar
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    "A match struck unexpectedly in the dark."
    Your excellent posts (articles) have this effect on me.
    Paloma, not normally known for dishing out flattery....

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    There is a fundamental ambiguity at the heart of the behaviour of quanta in the double-slit and subsequent experiments based on the Bell theorem. On the one hand, they demonstrate what David Peat calls ‘quantum wholeness’: the interconnectedness and oneness of all things. This still holds even when Alain Aspect’s experiment uses photons collected from a star in a distant galaxy. Yet the double-slit experiment is evidence that oneness itself is beyond reach: when you try to see what a single particle does, it behaves as if there were more than one particle. You can bang particles into each other, and some of them might split into smaller particles, but there comes a point where a veil is drawn and beyond which nothing can be discovered.

    This leads to a whole range of thoughts, including metaphysical, physical, sexual, psychical, and not forgetting the possibly more than intriguing poetical reflections produced by a literary turn of mind.

    Metaphysically speaking, there seems to be two aspects to oneness. Not only does one become two (this being the story of God and his Creation), but oneness becomes twoness and multiplicity. Hence there is an original oneness whence multiplicity springs: there is no going back. And there is a final oneness where multiplicity is headed: the only way is forward.

    The lesson from Proust is that there is no shortcut back to Swann’s Way: he has to take the long way round, moving forward. The circularity of this route ensures that going forward is the only way to go back without having a reverse gear, a necessary expedient in the context of linear time and space. Final oneness is an enriched version of original oneness. It would seem to be the end purpose of creation to move from the oneness of relative ‘loneliness’ to the oneness of togetherness. It is all about quality; quantity is merely one more aspect of quality.

    As I indicated in my previous post, according to Jonah Lehrer, the human brain operates on the same lines as Proust’s quest. What I am suggesting is that the double-slit experiment, which is an attempt to objectify things outside of the human brain, also operates on these same lines. The truth of the universe would be that there is no single fundamental particle, but always several interacting in the direction of greater complexity. If you try to go into reverse, you will be turned back. This is reportedly what happens to souls seeking a shortcut via suicide. It may be what happens to researchers trying to get too close to understanding the ultimate basic science. Like enlarging a low-resolution photograph beyond individual pixels, all you get is a blur. You hit a brick wall protecting a kind of no-go area.

    There are two possible types of reaction to this situation. Either it is seen as a harmless bit of fun and games. Say you are playing with a small child and pretending something that is not true; an older child comes along and starts protesting, until you silence him with a wink. Santa Claus is a good example. Or it could be seen as downright deceitful, and some self-righteous whistleblower will come along and denounce this hateful abuse of our children. This would appear to be the reaction of Satan and his rebel angels: ‘God is not who he says he is, so he is less than God’. This is the twisted version of saying ‘God is not who he says he is; as the giving principle itself, he is so much more than the Santa Claus scaled down for the intention of immature humans’ immature children’.

    Now here are an ordinary layman’s thoughts, subject therefore to correction of any misunderstandings; I do not have all the ‘facts’ at my fingertips. The laboratory experiment ultimately does no more than reproduce the everyday gesture of dimming a dining-room light and finding the same effect all the way down to the last photon. The common-sense conclusion would be that light functions as a wave because waviness is a property of photons, both collectively and singly. If you switch the dining-room light on with two doors left ajar, you will be able to find your way around both the kitchen and the sitting-room, even when you cannot see the light bulb. This is because, like sound waves in a concert hall, light waves travel in every direction, bounce off walls, ceiling, floor and furniture, leaking through doors and windows like floodwater. The common-sense conclusion from the experiment is that a single indivisible photon does precisely the same thing, even when you try to fire it like a particle. It doesn’t take two to tango. This would at least clear up the mystery of how it manages to travel through both slits: it is not one particle behaving like two, it is a wave sloshing around the entire space, and passing through those slits, not just once or twice, but several times over.

    It would seem that science still likes to see photons as basically being particles for their day job while occasionally moonlighting as waves. In other words, it hasn’t come to terms with the implications of photon waviness. Take the ever so faint light from a distant star. You have to ask how its photons got here. Reading the literature, it sounds like they have been travelling in a straight line for eons, i.e. like particles. When they reach another object (star), Einsteinian gravitational lensing takes them in two or more routes around that object, exactly as if it was an obstacle between two slits in a double-slit experiment. Gravitational lensing would then be the ‘particle’s eye view’ of a wave motion: if you see light as a wave, getting round a star standing in the way is no harder than for seawater splashing round a lighthouse.

    If you see light from a distant star as, maybe not a light bulb in a sitting-room but a street light in a park, then you would expect it to have reached us after bouncing off any and every object in the vicinity of our line of sight, losing energy along the way. This roughly corresponds to the ‘tired light’ theory as an explanation of red shift. It suggests that the wave-particle duality stems from the more readily understandable mass-energy duality whereby a particle has both mass and the energy of movement (momentum, or mass times velocity). The experiment destroys the particle as energy dissipated throughout the apparatus. Just as a strong light would energize the apparatus in the form of heat, one photon energizes the entire apparatus in a quantitatively negligible but qualitatively significant way. It is overlooked because it is mostly absorbed ahead of the slits. Wave interference patterns behind the slits are all very interesting, with crests doubling in height and troughs doubling in depth; but this only happens on a much reduced scale compared with the original wave. Hence the waves inside the harbour wall are so much weaker than in the open sea; that is what a harbour is for. I wonder what would happen if the double slit experiment was set up with the photon detector placed ahead of the slits...

    Virginia Woolf’s poetic version of this experiment in terms of a ‘battle’ of the sexes suggests a duality to be seen in terms of sexual energy: even the smallest particle contains both masculine and feminine energy, one in the form of mass, the other in the form of momentum. The lighthouse-in-the-sea analogy emphasizes the experiment as a sexual, or more precisely, generative, act. The sex act, producing vibrations throughout the apparatus, is downplayed in favour of the generative act, whereby the emission of particles through a slit produces an outcome, a ‘child’; ‘unfortunately’ however, it is not a boy but a girl.

    In the terms of this analogy, an experiment using individual photons is comparable not to natural insemination, more like artificial insemination at an IVF clinic. If you have seen a video on how natural insemination works, you will know that one spermatozoon has no chance on its own; it does not even win some kind of race; the process is carried along by a large team working together to push one of their number all the way. Hence fertility requires large numbers of fertile spermatozoa, as well as the other constituents of semen. This works on the macro human scale. You can take one football supporter in the street. He may wave a flag and shout ‘Come on United!’, but will give you no idea of what happens when a 50,000 crowd gets behind their team in the stadium, in other words what ‘United’ really means. Or take a cycle road race: team members take the strain for one of their own, who travels with less effort in their slipstream, each in turn, and so can finish ahead of them all. Now imagine everyone being on the same team.

    To get a better grasp (or not!) of the ambiguous status of an individual team member, think how grammarians distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns. An uncountable noun such as ‘bread’ has various corresponding countable nouns: a loaf, a crumb, a slice, an ovenload, a bakeryful. Conversely a countable noun such as ‘spermatozoon’ has various corresponding uncountable nouns: semen, sperm, ejaculate; and they may have another layer of countables, e.g. sperm sample. Sometimes countable nouns can be used as uncountable nouns; hence ‘have some fish’ could mean either a fillet off one large fish, or several fishes if they are sardines. Or it could mean half a sardine if you forgot to do the shopping! In other words, the so-called uncountable is really just uncounted: it is perfectly countable, but it is perhaps deliberately vague: you may get different results according to circumstance. Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand is an example of extreme circumstances where a few loaves are divided into a thousand chunks each, and his listeners enjoy a few crumbs of fish to go with them.

    What can be taken away from the above paragraph is that we are dealing with a subject that is conceptually rather complex, and this is a Gordian knot that a scientific experiment may slice through, without necessarily solving anything. The very notion of a particle is in itself a conceptual oversimplification.
    Half a loaf is better than no bread, they say, but this doesn’t work for truly uncountable objects like photons and spermatozoa. – Note, that was not a typo: there is a huge paradox here, for while these things are also truly countable (we even talk of a man’s sperm count), they are uncountable in the sense of being indivisible things that don’t come in halves. – Working at this level is what we mean by artificiality. What goes on in a physicist’s laboratory is comparable only to what goes in on in a physician’s laboratory, not to what goes on in the real world. Any leakage into the real world (e.g. test-tube babies) does not remove the likely fact that such elementary, uncountable particles have, in addition to quantitative properties of mass and momentum, a third, qualitative property, namely gregariousness, or togetherness (cf. the quantum notion of wave-particle complementarity). What makes a test-tube baby viable is that the moment of singleness (one could say of next-to-nothingness) as a spermatozoon is immediately offset by the togetherness of bonding with an egg. Being a pack animal, a lone wolf can survive, but only for a short while. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_wolf_(trait) Likewise, a wild cat will not survive long in a cleanroom; it will go sniffing for mice and not find any, merely proving that it is not a laboratory animal. Similarly, not only is there is no such thing as half a spermatozoon, there is no such thing as a single spermatozoon, except for a very brief moment out of sight in the deepest recesses of the womb, where it is definable as half of something else, with its short-term survival dependent on reaching wholeness fast.

    This may be why a single photon in a piece of apparatus will behave in its normal way, as part of a collective that happens not to be there, as part of a wave, bouncing off every available surface. Hence what it does naturally coincides with what it would do if it had intelligence and went in search of its ‘other half’. Like sound waves in a concert hall, bouncing off every solid surface, including each other, the resulting vibrations are what produces quality as opposed to mere quantity. Solid surfaces include the audience itself, which is how the listener has an effect on the sound production. Individually the effect is slight, but for the huge overall effect, you need to compare a full hall with an empty one. The best pair of ears in the world cannot do this alone.

    Since the particle-slit experiment inadvertently simulates the female reproductive tract, what is being entirely overlooked is what happens in the antechamber: in other words, the aspect of female cooperation and indeed sexual excitement/pleasure is totally ignored. However, the quality of this male/female co-vibration is what generates the emission of sperm and ultimately informs which spermatazoon gets to fertilize the egg. This is crucially important because every spermatazoon is different, with different qualities. Conceivably (pun intended), if all these sexual encounters were handled a little better, then the next generation would literally be different people. Clearly this is a huge issue which has really come to the fore at this very moment in time. You see, the same thing happens with the thoughts that pass through our heads, and when they pass through enough heads, they hit the headlines around the world.

    Quality is the one aspect that the single photon or electron is not considered to possess. They are all literally the same, interchangeable. But is that really true? In human relations, it would be seen as a form of racism: all blacks look alike until you learn to see otherwise. Or sexism: all women are interchangeable objects of lust. Of course they are not. But sometimes, things are a little more complicated than that. Take a human chain passing buckets of water to put out a fire. Very different people actually do become temporarily interchangeable because their differences are not relevant to the job at hand (unless of course they are not up to the job). The buckets are also interchangeable, it doesn’t matter whether they are made of yellow or green plastic, wood or metal, just as long as they hold water. They can also be the same buckets going round in a circle. Any given bucket in any given pair of hands may look the same as any other; what is different is the water being transported. And what is important about the water is entirely to do with quantity, since you want as much of the stuff on the blaze as possible, tap water, bottled water, pond water, salt water, dirty water, it’s all the same. The key aspect is energy transfer. But this situation, where quantity is the only desired quality, is the exact opposite of what is being attempted by examining just one particle.

    Individual photons, we are told, have no special qualities. Yet if you can say that photons in a given experiment were captured from a distant galaxy or star, then that makes them different. Every photon has its own history, from its creation up to where it is at, and how it got there. How far it gets depends on its energy level, i.e. initial energy level, presumably constant, minus energy depletion, which would be variable, depending on how many collisions it has had. Sunlight is different from other kinds of light (moonlight, starlight, artificial daylight, floodlight, torchlight, firelight...) and can have various qualities of its own; it gets red-shifted in the morning and evening for having a thicker atmosphere to pass through. (Notice how this red shift is independent of the light itself and entirely dependent on where it travels; it is still yellow when it reaches the Earth and it remains so if it happens to pass by the planet.) According to the tired light theory, which is older than big bang theory, starlight gets red-shifted for similar reasons of energy depletion. According to Paul LaViolette’s 21st century update, it actually loses energy to the ether, at the rate of 7.4% per billion years, so the effect is not local. None of the above of course will apply to a photon produced and immediately destroyed inside a piece of laboratory apparatus.

    What might affect a photon inside a piece of laboratory apparatus, on the other hand, would be if it behaved like a wave. While some of its colleagues travel the universe for billions of years, this is a real abortion of a photon, killed off almost at birth. Say the experiment is in the order of three meters across (I have no idea of its actual size); a photon travelling through one of those slits at three hundred million meters per second has a life expectancy in the order of one hundred millionth of a second. Not much in terms of quantity; what about quality?

    They say Marshal Ney had a two-way choice between being shot by firing squad with or without a blindfold and chose not to wear it. Not much of a choice; he could not choose poison, hanging or a reprieve: either way he was to be shot. He could put on a brave face for the short time it took to carry out the sentence/pass through the other slit. He was a dead man walking, maybe not so very brave after all. Had he died with the life instinct of a woman, rather than this dignified particle-like behaviour, he might have thrashed about in the undignified manner of a wave sloshing around the entire available space. After a hundred rebounds or a few hundred, such a photon’s life expectancy would have risen to something like a millionth of a second in what might be described as a botched execution.

    The point of this observation that a single particle appears to be showing the survival instinct of an animal is that if it somehow seems alive, maybe that is because it IS alive, and so the entire universe is alive. The fact that this is also a good description of Virginia Woolf’s own human life-and-death struggle is not mere anthropomorphization. While scientists are still discovering the relevance and importance of the anthropic principle, this may be putting the cart before the horse. It is not so much that the universe behaves like us as that we as one with the universe.

    What we see then is the death of a particle, but the survival of the wave energy, which started out at a given point, to be diffused and absorbed throughout the apparatus. Hence, while the particle Virginia Woolf is no longer with us, the energy of The Waves and other stories continues to reverberate. In other words, her life and writings offer a ‘photon’s-eye-view’ of life. From this viewpoint, brevity is no weakness compared with billions of years of zero interaction. It suggests that ‘making a point’ is not the most effective way of leaving one’s mark. What is truly important is something that the double-slit experiment ignores entirely: what light is shed on the universe in that tiny flash.

    That light appears to be in the order of intelligence, as distinct from thought. See an interesting discussion between the physicist David Bohm and Krishnamurti, a few extracts of which are given below.
    http://jiddu-krishnamurti.net/en/awa...n-intelligence
    Bohm: Would you say matter is also born from that source more generally?

    Krishnamurti: Of course.

    Bohm: I mean the whole universe. But then the source is beyond the universe.

    Krishnamurti: Of course. Could we put it this way? Thought is energy, so is intelligence.

    Bohm: So is matter.

    Krishnamurti: Thought, matter, the mechanical, is energy. Intelligence is also energy. Thought is confused, polluted, dividing itself, fragmenting itself.

    Bohm: Yes, it is multiple.

    Krishnamurti: And the other is not. It is not polluted. It cannot divide itself as "my intelligence" and "your intelligence". It is intelligence, it is not divisible. Now it has sprung from a source of energy which has divided itself.

    Bohm: Why has it divided itself?

    Krishnamurti: For physical reasons, for comfort...

    (...)

    Bohm: Yes, they are different forms of energy. There are many analogies to this, although it is on a much more limited scale. In physics you could say light is ordinarily a very complex wave motion, but in the laser it can be made to move all together in a very simple and harmonious way.

    Krishnamurti: Yes. I was reading about the laser. What monstrous things they are going to do with it.

    Bohm: Yes, using it destructively. Thought may get something good but then it always gets used in a broader way that is destructive.

    Krishnamurti: So there is only energy, which is the source.

    (...)

    Krishnamurti: No. I think it is fairly clear, Sir. You come upon it when you see the whole thing. So insight is the perception of the whole. A fragment cannot see this, but the "I" sees the fragments and the "I" seeing the fragments sees the whole, and the quality of a mind that sees the whole is not touched by thought; therefore there is perception, there is insight.
    Bohm: Perhaps we will go over that more slowly. We see all the fragments: could we say the actual energy, activity, which sees those fragments is whole?

    Krishnamurti: Yes, yes.

    Bohm: We don't manage ever to see the whole because...

    Krishnamurti: ...we are educated - and all the rest of it.

    Bohm: But I mean, we wouldn't anyway see the whole as something. Rather, wholeness is freedom in seeing all the fragments.

    Krishnamurti: That is right. Freedom to see. The freedom doesn't exist when there are fragments.

    Bohm: That makes a paradox.

    Krishnamurti: Of course.

    Bohm: But the whole does not start from the fragments. Once the whole operates then there are no fragments. So the paradox comes from supposing that the fragments are real, that they exist independently of thought.

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    What is the relevance of the double-slit experiment to Virginia Woolf’s condition, namely that she experienced her ‘self’ as a series of unconnected selves, in other words as a string of distinct particles instead of a steady stream or wave – rather like seeing a movie film as separate frames? Well, what happens to the single particle in the experiment? In the terms of quantum mechanics, it would appear that the wave function fails to collapse, although it does collapse when there is just a single slit. So what is going on?

    The experiment is set up in an ambiguous manner: the two slits themselves create a degree of quantum uncertainty that the single particle is designed to remove. This photon is a typical Libran: given any kind of choice, it refuses to choose.

    Again, this material can be approached from all sorts of angles – meaning that an oriental-type synchronistic approach is called for, instead of western straight-line thinking. Lily Abegg in The Mind of East Asia (1952), referenced by Carl Jung in his study of Synchronicity, describes and illustrates the two approaches.

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    https://archive.org/details/mindofeastasia030168mbp

    Here we see that the two types of thought, western and East Asian, together resemble quantum physics’ particle/wave dichotomy, and appear to be subject to a similar uncertainty principle; from the above pages:

    This way of thinking possesses the advantage that one very quickly knows roughly what the issue is, but it also has the disadvantage that one rarely knows exactly what it is all about. It seldom happens that one shoots completely at random, as with intellectual thinking, but it is equally rare for all the arrows, or at least enough of them, to come near enough to the mark.

    The chief characteristic of this way of thinking lies in the fact that it remains constantly aware of the relative value of the actions of individual functions. One function hereby controls the other; sensations control feeling, the intellect and the will, the intellect controls the sensations, the emotions the will and so on and all are directed collectively by the psychical centre, the middle point of the 'self'.

    One of these converging arrows would relate to another dichotomy in western thinking, between the arts and science, the former being more in line with the above oriental model. This is not to say that western art is in any way comparable to eastern art (obviously not). Simply, why the artistic temperament has been and still is often viewed as ‘Bohemian’, i.e. unconventional and not really a part of polite society, is probably due to its exotic mindset. In other words, any true artist will suffer from not fitting in, and Virginia Woolf, being a supreme artist, would feel that most acutely. This is how someone like me finds himself on alternative forums... not comfortable, but you have to try and live with that. We are talking about the observer here – it is no good stressing the importance of the observer in the quantum experiment without actually studying who they are and what they do.

    This post offers a musical example; the following post one from painting.


    A possible analogy for what is going on might be the following. Take a one-armed pianist and watch him play. If he’s a total beginner, he might restrict his activity to just one half of the keyboard. Hopefully, he will still have his right hand and can play the tune part rather than the accompaniment. But if he’s an experienced player, he will do what he always did, covering the entire keyboard, only with one hand instead of two. Piano playing is not simply divisible into one hand playing a tune, the other an accompaniment, it is altogether more intricate than that. When things get difficult, either hand is constantly in several places at once, or as nearly simultaneously as possible. A little time dilation is all it takes for a single hand to weave an accompaniment around a melody (or maybe several), along with such things as varied emphasis on individual notes – very much business as usual. It turns out what we hear as a flowing tune can be a sequence of distinct notes, sometimes very perceptibly distinct notes, with a lot of other stuff going on in the background in between. In other words, melody is the particle aspect of sound waves. As such, it is somewhat perverse, or at least ambivalent, since it offers a view of discontinuity in terms of continuity: separate notes blended together – known as legato. Piano playing with one hand shows it up as a smooth staccato.


    The concert pianist Paul Wittgenstein (the philosopher’s brother) lost his right arm in the First World War, which did not stop him performing single-handedly, here in a concerto for the left hand specially commissioned from Ravel.

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zQteXqbY


    Here is the full concerto in a version, I was going to say, for the left hand and the right leg – but then I scrolled down and found my little joke in the comments section!

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbEtk1kdYx4


    Here are a prelude and nocturne by Scriabin where the interweaving of accompaniment and melody is particularly clear.


    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI25JGfiHxI


    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9A37Y6U3HI


    There is a problem with physical balance that Wittgenstein, having no right arm, deals with in his own way. The problem is slightly different for the others: what to do with it? Hold on to the piano for dear life? The female soloist finds a novel use for it as a digital page-turner. But the music itself is balanced, albeit perhaps a little deeper in tone, like a baritone voice. On the other hand (pun inevitable), the perfect simultaneity of huge crashing chords is no longer possible. Like a phantom limb, the missing hand can produce sensations that are not there, except those produced vicariously through the other hand.



    Hence I see the particle in the double-slit experiment as being like the left hand doing the work of two. Or possibly more than two: I once attended a recital where four pianists played music for one, two, four, six and even eight hands. The real particle does go somewhere, but the effect is blurred by the presence of countless phantom particles. If Virginia Woolf were to be identifiable with such a single particle, this would be a source of difficulty for anyone. The double slit can be likened to the two parental voices, the one saying definitely yes/no (here definitely no), the other saying definitely maybe. In the second part of the novel, when the mother is dead, the father operates alone (like a single slit), the probability wave collapses, and a definite outcome can occur, in other words the boat trip to the lighthouse can take place.


    But this is no more than the biographical angle. As a creative writer, Woolf embodies the entire experiment in all of its parts, including the parental functions, and the entire creative process from particle emission to its outcome. And she does this by embodying the active observer function: what makes this fiction as opposed to some kind of witness testimony is the active aspect of that role. It does not necessarily involve straying from, in the sense of embellishing, the truth; it is more about extracting something and building it up into something bigger – which is a neat enough description of the creative/generative process. It is impossible to get down to every last particle of any one thing or event, so you have to select. But it is equally impossible to examine that one thing or event in isolation since the observer, being outside of it, must also take into account... the observer him- or herself, observing.


    Hence there is never only one thing; the closest we come to that is the observer him or herself, telling a single particle of light ‘you are not alone!’ In quantitative terms, the notion of oneness means one; but in qualitative terms, it means (potential) multiplicity and structure. One has the quality of being expandable into two, three and beyond. This is the direction of growth; the opposite, illusory, course leads to stultification. It is illusory because there is no point at which togetherness is not a component of existence; there is only a point at which one will be turned round and shown back the way one came. We are on the path of complexification, towards a greater collective. Anything a single particle does, it does on the shoulders of giants.


    Earlier I mentioned countable/uncountable nouns. On that same grammatical level, we also collective words such as flock (of sheep), herd (of cattle), school (of whales)... Most words implicitly fit into this category; for example we don’t say a piano of keys, but we could – instead we have the collective word ‘keyboard’. This set of vocabulary expands endlessly outwards to a (solar/star) system, a galaxy (of stars), a universe of galaxies – and breaking the barrier of oneness, a multiverse of universes. The term omniverse (of multiverses) would only be the latest attempt to put a cap on this phenomenon. There may be such a thing, but it would be way above our human pay grade to conceive of it. Then we go off in the opposite direction in search of absolute singularity, but when we come to atoms (the word means indivisible), we go and split them; when we come to black holes, we find that they are maybe not entirely black or wholly holey, and so on. Why would particles be any different? All we have is mathematics saying ‘the buck stops here’, but the buck seems to just keep going regardless.
    See this post: http://projectavalon.net/forum4/show...l=1#post931543
    Quote Originally Posted by dan33 View Post
    LOVE ARAUCARIA'S EXPERIMENTS. :doh:

    Quote Originally Posted by araucaria View Post
    Here’s a practical experiment: take a patch of colour from maybe a reproduction of a painting, then zoom in until you can see the individual pixels: you will be surprised at the quantity and variety of extraneous material that goes into producing the overall unaided visible effect. For example, the deepest black may be printed with no black ink at all. In which case, if black was something you wanted to remove, where would you start? Answer, nowhere: there is no black to be removed.

    While we may see the rationale in terms of pure science, it doesn’t make much sense in human terms. Looking relentlessly for limits and finding none suggests that one is determined to be a prisoner in a cage, despite all evidence to the contrary. Eternal discontent instead of endless contentment. I know a cat, rescued from the animal welfare service, who knows what it is like to live in a small overcrowded room and now has acres to call home. I guess she could walk all the way to Outer Mongolia without getting her feet wet, but this doesn’t seem to be in her plans, since everything she needs and desires is much closer to hand – so many aspects of freedom and togetherness both at once.


    So there are two kinds of uncertainty: need to know and no need to know. Do we need to know what Outer Mongolia is like? Probably not. I don’t think even the spy agencies are very interested in Outer Mongolia. Instead of seeking the ultimate in all directions, a possibly better idea might be to develop the proximate. It would seem therefore that Virginia Woolf’s issue was not so much with the succession per se of different particles or points of self in her life as with the attempted reversal of this natural process: what happened to those particles remained shrouded in a probability cloud of potentiality instead of being resolved in actuality. The fewer particles you sample the more phantoms you create. The father in To the Lighthouse estranges his own family until they become like phantoms to him, and he a hateful irrelevance to them.


    But this is only half the story; the half that has you entering the river and going with the flow... but for the stones in your pockets. The other half of the story is human duality: most of us do not have a real arm/hand and a phantom limb; these things come in complementary pairs, two opposable hands each with opposable thumbs. Arms and hands are not the only things we have two of. Present reality is more than enough to be going on with. It is a matter of how much of it one can take.

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  15. #23
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    Thank you for yet another brilliant post again, araucaria. It is very deep, thorough and thought-provoking, and — not to put myself in the spotlight — it very much dovetails with some of the things I've already been saying earlier, so I for one can appreciate your essays, and I find myself in agreement with your vantage — notwithstanding that I've never read anything by Virginia Woolf, even though I know who she was.
    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

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  17. #24
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    One thing is for sure, scientists do feel profound discomfort with quantum theory. Until very recently, I believed that the 'Big Bang' represented the limits of 'knowing' on the cosmological scale, and 'Planck's Constant represented the same on the quantum scale. Never to be stymied there are theorist's that are exploring the 'curvature' of the universal space for signs of 'gravitational' tug from extradimensional universes. And others are considering that the Einstein-Rosen bridge explains quantum entanglement behavior as a logical probability function that is physical in nature (Einstein's spooky action at a distance). They are doing that by correlating the cosmological 'wormhole' (Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen bridge) which is defined as a physical space connection, albeit hyperspace, between two blackholes with a 'single mirrored quantum composition interior'. The position states they are equivalent with one phenomena taking place at quantum level and the other at the cosmological scale.

    More to the point of the above posts, I think it speaks well to the notion that writing is becoming a lost art. Actually, I think what digital technology is doing is delineating between those that are never would-be's and those that are will-be's. And I don't intend that to be denigrating because I was a never would-be for many reasons. It's creating space for the writers and the artists that aspire to such and putting a fine point to it, heh heh. The educational system still supports those pursuits and many youngsters are inspired by them.
    "We are one thought away from changing the world!"

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