Saturday, April 04, 2020

Quantum Objects


"Quantum objects present us with a choice of languages, but it’s too easily forgotten that this is precisely what it is: a struggle to formulate the right words, not a description of the reality behind them. Quantum objects are not sometimes particles and sometimes waves, like a football fan changing her team allegiance according to last week’s results. Quantum objects are what they are, and we have no reason to suppose that ‘what they are’ changes in any meaningful way depending on how we try to look at them. Rather, all we can say is that what we measure sometimes looks like what we would expect to see if we were measuring discrete little ball-like entities, while in other experiments it looks like the behavior expected of waves of the same kind as those of sound travelling in air, or that wrinkle and swell on the sea surface. So the phrase ‘wave–particle duality’ doesn’t really refer to quantum objects at all, but to the interpretation of experiments – which is to say, to our human-scale view of things."

-  Philip Ball (1962 - )

Friday, April 03, 2020

Frozen Thoughts


"Bowman was aware of some changes in his behavior patterns; it would have been absurd to expect anything else in the circumstances. He could no longer tolerate silence; except when he was sleeping, or talking over the circuit to Earth, he kept the ship's sound system running at almost painful loudness. / At first, needing the companionship of the human voice, he had listened to classical plays--especially the works of Shaw, Ibsen, and Shakespeare--or poetry readings from Discovery's enormous library of recorded sounds. 

The problems they dealt with, however, seemed so remote, or so easily resolved with a little common sense, that after a while he lost patience with them. / So he switched to opera--usually in Italian or German, so that he was not distracted even by the minimal intellectual content that most operas contained. This phase lasted for two weeks before he realized that the sound of all these superbly trained voices was only exacerbating his loneliness. But what finally ended this cycle was Verdi's Requiem Mass, which he had never heard performed on Earth. The "Dies Irae," roaring with ominous appropriateness through the empty ship, left him completely shattered; and when the trumpets of Doomsday echoed from the heavens, he could endure no more. / Thereafter, he played only instrumental music. 

He started with the romantic composers, but shed them one by one as their emotional outpourings became too oppressive. Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, lasted a few weeks, Beethoven rather longer. He finally found peace, as so many others had done, in the abstract architecture of Bach, occasionally ornamented with Mozart. / And so Discovery drove on toward Saturn, as often as not pulsating with the cool music of the harpsichord, the frozen thoughts of a brain that had been dust for twice a hundred years."

- Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Towards Silence


"Somewhere in the
onrush of everydayness
I lost track of myself.
Now I lie beside this chaste sea
watching a skyful of sun, clouds,
and birds sailing towards silence.
Music enters the afternoon,
weaves the air then gently falls
on me with the uncertainty of rain.
Suddenly all things beneath the sand
are moving with the restless wind.

Preoccupied with the perishable day,
I am deaf to yesterday's churning
with its graveclothes and honors.
All I want to hear, or feel, is music,

So, I will remain by this partisan sea,
running without moving,
shedding the thick skin of doubt,
listening to the sky sing, watching--
still waiting to bring myself
to this place where I should arrive."

- Gordon Parks (1912 - 2006)

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Uncalculating Mind


"Whatever evaluation we finally make of a stretch of land, however, no matter how profound or accurate, we will find it inadequate. The land retains an identity of its own, still deeper and more subtle than we can know. Our obligation toward it then becomes simple: to approach with an uncalculating mind, with an attitude of regard. To try to sense the range and variety of its expression—its weather and colors and animals. To intend from the beginning to preserve some of the mystery within it as a kind of wisdom to be experienced, not questioned. And to be alert for its openings, for that moment when something sacred reveals itself within the mundane, and you know the land knows you are there."
- Barry Lopez (1945 - )

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Peculiar and Hypnotic


"It's peculiar and hypnotic,
the way you stare
and kind of start thinking
when you're watching
something which is still."

- Sam Taylor-Johnson (1967 - )

Monday, March 30, 2020

Mysterious Encounter


"Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face

grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am."

- Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Nature's Eternity


"If we are absorbed in a movie it may seem at first that the screen lies behind the image. Likewise, if we are so captivated by experience that we overlook the simple experience of being aware or awareness itself, we may first locate it in the background of experience. In this first step, being aware or awareness itself is recognized as the subjective witness of all objective experience. Looking more closely we see that the screen is not just in the background of the image but entirely pervades it. Likewise, all experience is permeated with the knowing with which it is known. It is saturated with the experience of being aware or awareness itself. There is no part of a thought, feeling, sensation or perception that is not infused with the knowing of it. 

This second realization collapses, at least to a degree, the distinction between awareness and its objects. In the third step, we understand that it is not even legitimate to claim that knowing, being aware or awareness itself pervades all experience, as if experience were one thing and awareness another. Just as the screen is all there is to an image, so pure knowing, being aware or awareness itself is all there is to experience. All there is to a thought is thinking, and all there is to thinking is knowing. All there is to an emotion is feeling, and all there is to feeling is knowing. All there is to a sensation is sensing, and all there is to sensing is knowing. All there is to a perception is perceiving, and all there is to perceiving is knowing. Thus, all there is to experience is knowing, and it is knowing that knows this knowing. Being all alone, with nothing in itself other than itself with which it could be limited or divided, knowing or pure awareness is whole, perfect, complete, indivisible and without limits. 

This absence of duality, separation or otherness is the experience of love or beauty, in which any distinction between a self and an object, other or world has dissolved. Thus, love and beauty are the nature of awareness. In the familiar experience of love or beauty, awareness is tasting its own eternal, infinite reality. It is in this context that the painter Paul C├ęzanne said that art gives us the ‘taste of nature’s eternity’."

- Rupert Spira (1960 - )