What are we doing when we make something? And at what point does our creative work manifest in the world?
Most of us think in terms of our efforts today as having an effect on tomorrow’s world – if we are lucky. But maybe our creative acts are not as site-specific, or even as time-specific, as we commonly think.
It may be that the effects of what we do today have already manifested in the past.
There is enough of a tradition of “physics of reversal processes” for a thought-experiment like one of Einstein’s to be performed. As long ago as 1558 the Elizabethan proto-scientist John Dee, well-known as the model for Prospero in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, began to speculate systematically about the force effects of cone-shaped rays “coming from the depths of stellar bodies;” light rays that, “radiant and sensible, surround every … ray… from the body of a star.” Dee believed that as a point of light radiated outward from a star, it increased its influence in space, forming a cone shape. It thus achieved an “expanding influence,” like that of a light bulb in a film projector, except that Dee felt that the star’s light shaped itself into, or at least affected, physical objects. It seems that John Dee believed what we more or less believe today: that the universe is a hologram evidently projected by stars.
More recently the physicist Stephen Hawking has discussed the “future light cone” of the present moment, as well as something he calls a “past light cone,” which he defines as “the set of events from which a pulse of light is able to reach the given event.”
It is this “past light cone” that interests us. For if a set of events is the means by which a beam of light reaches the present, what about those sets of events that are occurring now? Evidently they have a specific point of origin, which can be determined. Certainly we are capable of altering the “set of events” of the present. Can the point of origin also be changed? Might we not, through alteration or coordination of a present set of events, select out different points of origin? Can we change the focus of the past?
Certain matrices of similar events, like eating or voting, might be easier to reckon with than others, both because they are easier to identify as being related to one another, and because their influences and outcome are determinable.
It may be that certain events in the future are the actual cause of certain thoughts or events in the present. Unless we are prepared to believe that all our actions are the result of a pulse in the heart of a star, we might want to admit the possibility that something, perhaps the wide “topmost” part of a cone of influence, can in turn have an effect on its point of origin.
I propose that coordinated, multiple-event “present moments” can, and regularly do, actually change the past.
Anyone can feel that this is intuitively true and can sense “what they’re doing” at other moments, while engaged in some other activity at the present. A one-to-one correspondence between the present and the past can be felt and acted upon. Many religions teach in various ways that both the past and the present can be enriched in this way.
But it is not merely true that an individual can coordinate his present thoughts and actions to his own personal thoughts and actions at some other time. An entire group, say a family at a holiday meal, a symphony orchestra, or even an entire nation, can coordinate its thoughts to the thought of one person or event in some other time or place. And that thought can be thereby magnified in significance.
If we are content with the performing arts and human psychology as scientific laboratories, I suggest that it has already been demonstrated that coordinated “present moments” do affect the past.
We have testimony, some of it dated and in writing, about such well-known composers as Beethoven and Wagner, that they experienced what the former called a “raptus” while composing: a powerful experience of the sort called in some traditions an “epiphany” or “enlightenment.” I can attest to this myself, especially in two very powerful experiences I had in 1990, each lasting several days, when I was working on one of my less unpopular musical compositions. You can read about MY TWO ENLIGHTENMENTS if you like.
I think an individual’s mind can be “expanded” by future events coordinated to the present. Perhaps such mind expansion is available to all, but cannot occur unless a present action occurs to which the future, through its own efforts, can become coordinated. Once that action begins, say the writing of a symphony or an opera, there is a recession of the negative “event horizon” discussed with regard to black holes. The points of the “light cones” of two “sets of events” meet in a single event. Realization becomes possible; then probable; then, bingo: Enlightenment.
I propose that it may be possible to physically cure black holes by “composing” them out of existence. It may be that the universe is comparable to an unfinished symphony. If you believe in God, you might think it might really be true that He needs us to help him finish Creation.
If we can develop time/space coordination to the point that it becomes possible to make predictions with it, we shall have a whole new science.
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So far we have only talked about thought-experiments and psychology, involving composers and the physics of things like holiday meals. What about objects, or even living creatures? Might they relate across time and space?
The ancient Romans had an expression, Sator arepo tenet opera rotas, the five words of which form a tidy palindrome, and which means, when read in one direction, “the farmer works the field,” but read in the other direction means “the field creates the farmer.” I believe the ancient Romans may have had something like our dual-directional lines of force and change in mind (some ideas are easier to believe if you allow for magic), which is also one of the meanings ascribed to the Star of David, being two pyramids or cones superimposed, precisely indicating the dual shape we are talking about. There are other ancient teachings that suggest a cognizance of the joining of worlds, in such a way that for each thing that happens in one world, a corresponding thing happens in another world. There is the occultist ideal, “as above, so below,” and the teachings sometimes thought to be implied in the phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
And what if the “farmer” and the “field” in question were even millions of years apart? This could put a whole new spin on “farming.”
I propose the creation of another new science, to be provisionally called “mechanobiology,” through which we can discern and systematize actual correspondences that may exist between animals and machines, including correspondences across time, and across the cones of space and light. Human involvement is capable of causing and/or enhancing these correspondences, in ways suggested in the first half of this two-part essay.
What do I mean by “correspondences between animals and machines?”
I suggest that one of the effects of a machine is to enact that well-coordinated “set of events” that finds its own “point of origin,” changing biology and even history by forcing the issue like a drill into the past. It could be that the machines (and other things) that we create actually manifest as animals, in the present or at other times.
We may have created certain animals into being by creating their mechanical models. We create machines and the Earth responds with living creatures that parallel our creations. We create in our time and place, though the planet might respond in others. This is how we rule our planet. At the same time, our planet creates us.
The concept of “ecosystem” may have to be expanded. Not only might it be possible to change the past, it seems that’s what we’ve been doing all along.
It may be that we are responsible for things in other times and places, things that have already happened. All that remains is to explain them. When we create we don’t just alter the continua of our own activities and crown the creative act with the created thing. We also reshape other continua of activity. That is, we rewrite history. First we put a new “spin” on it. Then we find things we didn’t know existed.
Perhaps at this early date in the development of the new science of mechanobiology it would be best to offer examples that are unusual in both the mechanical and the animal worlds. By focusing on dramatic and parallel exceptions in biological and machine design, we may be able to find models of animal-mechanical correspondence that are relatively easy to identify. From these models we may be able to learn to generalize. With the help of knowledge about ecosystems and how these may correspond to other, for example urban, “ecosystem” environments, we may be able to find models of societies of animals that answer to the interactive patterns of various machines.
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Here are a couple of clear examples of the type of mechano-biological correspondences I have in mind, in which certain machines we have created already have parallels in the animal world.
The double-articulated firetruck with two drivers, one in the back and one in the front, corresponds fairly clearly to the brontosaurus, which, astonishingly, had two brains, one in its tail, and one in its head. That particular firetruck, which we all have seen, is the only motor vehicle in common use with such a dual design, and the brontosaurus seems to be the only creature yet that has had two brains.
By creating the firetruck, we may have brought the brontosaurus into being.
It has always seemed strange to me that though it was nearly the biggest slowest piece of meat to ever heave on haunches, the brontosaurus, so we are told, had no predators. Wouldn’t old T. Rex have found it to be a virtual supermarket?
I suggest that some aspects of biological ecosystems might derive from the patterns of use of the machines to which certain creatures may correspond. There may be “social structures” that parallel the interactive functions of the corresponding machines, an aspect of the “ecosystems” difficult to predict without appeal to cross-existential correspondences of the type we are attempting. Like the firetruck, the brontosaurus may have kept to its own places and only ventured forth when it was the “priority” entity. No creature would challenge it. Why? Because other dinosaurs were no more likely to eat it than police are likely to cite firetrucks.
Another reasonably clear animal/machine correspondence has the advantage of involving living creatures, whose ecosystem is therefore better known than that of the brontosaurus.
Let us consider the rhinoceros. What is interesting for us here about this large thick-skinned animal is that it has an intresting eccentricity from the usual animal "design" that may help us to determine a plausible machine-animal correspondence. It has either one, or two, horns. And those horns are, unusually, on its nose. Every schoolchild learns that the word “symbiotic” describes the relationship between the lumbering rhino and his bird companion, flying around him, which does the rhino the favor of eating his parasites. A funny pair, the rosacea-nosed W.C.Fields of the animal kingdom, and his little chickadee.
Consider this: these beasts are already seen in the urban ecosystem, in the guise of the street sweeper and its companion, dashing around it: the meter maid. The rhino’s well-known poor eyesight results from the fact that its “motor function” is not that of most vehicles of flesh and blood. Like the rhino, the street cleaner is concerned only with the patch of ground directly in front of him. Neither of them uses their eyesight to the usual driver’s, or animal’s, purposes.
It is a remarkable arcanum that the rhino’s horns are not made of bone, they are made of tightly packed hair. And they are on its nose, of all places, a rather strange place for horns. But all this makes sense if the horns correspond to the one or two large brushes (depending on the vehicle model) located at the front of the street sweeper, “on its nose.”
As everybody knows, if you get in front of a rhino you will make it angry. Just like a street sweeper! At other times, it is quite placid; some zoos allow people to climb on them occasionally, at least for gags in front of the TV camera. The operator of the street sweeper has no reason to be annoyed with other autos in its vicinity, except, of course, those in its “appointed path.” This is where the meter maid comes in.
The illegally parked cars in the rhino’s way are probably the “para-sites” removed, or at least neutralized, by the “meter maid” birds. Essentially, if the street cleaner sights you, the meter maid cites you. The street cleaner’s visual distraction and automotive annoyances manifest for the rhino as poor eyesight and parasites on its body, that are remedied for the rhino by the symbiotic seeing-eye bird which is comparable to the meter maid that “issues tickets” at the “para-sites,” tickets that force the car owners to relinquish a fee, just as the parasites relinquish their lives as food for the bird. One more evidence that MONEY IS ALIVE.
Are cars implicated as being in correspondence to parasites? Maybe; but remember, we don’t understand the new science of mechanobiology very well yet, so I would advise caution here, especially since there is an important aspect of the mechanical model that might affect the way the corresponding animals manifest.
For we musn’t forget the cosmic significance of “no parking” zones. It could be that the correspondences change according to an obvious “Cinderella’s Coach” effect. We must consider the physics of how, one minute after midnight, her coach turned into a pumpkin. The minute before the “no parking” injunction goes into effect, the parking place is not yet a “para-site,” that is, it is not yet theoretically unavailable to the car parked in it, and the automobile might be in correspondence to one kind of creature, very possibly its owner or driver. One minute later, its presence illegal, it might be manifesting as some other, edible, creature. (The government wants to eat us alive.)
There is fertile room for speculation about the “architectonics,” that is, the possible mechanobiology of the extraordinary September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. By their nature very exceptional, they might correspond to unusual things. For example, just a few weeks after the attacks, the largest known incidence of self-beaching whales occurred on our eastern seaboard. Occasional beached whales are not unknown, but this was an epidemic of some dozens, yet in only one or two locations. I suggest that its cause was due to a correspondence between whales and airliners. The whales were “driven” to commit suicide by “crashing” on the beach. There is the further suggestive notion that if the whales correspond to the jets, then their media correspond, ocean to atmosphere. And perhaps the whales’ behavior suggests that the beaches of our continent correspond to the former World Trade Center, that the World Trade Center was America.
There might easily be other, and multiple, correspondences to those I have offered. The rhino/bird model exists between both the street sweeper and its meter maid, and the aircraft carrier and its planes.
It might be possible to develop the science of correspondences to the point that wise decisions may be made about which species to allow to become extinct, and which to defend, or breed into other creatures. Do we really need suicidal insects that fly into night lights? Should they properly be other creatures, that don’t suffer from some as yet undiscovered “skyjacker syndrome?” Or maybe they just need some kind of work-study therapy. Are lemmings a mistake for which some humans are partially to blame, because they have not been proper shepherds of the earth? When we watch lemmings commit self-destruction, are we watching rodent prophets of ourselves, running as fast as we can into extinction in global warming?
Is there an “up side” to this line of speculation? Perhaps such edible, flightless birds as chickens and turkeys were brought into existence because, for a few days in 2001, the nation’s airplanes were grounded by law.
First posted 1/12/2010.