We are inexplicably dual

“We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do”  Einstein (in relation to wave-particle duality)

Quantum mechanics has repeatedly proved that energy and matter is contradictory – it is both a wave and a particle at the same time. In addition, it is observation that crystallises out our particular reality from the infinity of possibilities.

“When bodies to their graves, souls from their graves remove” John Donne

There is almost incontrivertible evidence that there is meaning within the universe. The physical constants are incredibly finely tuned to allow even atoms to form, never mind reflective consciousness. There are those who fervently wish to deny this meaning. (Why?). Their only defence is what is called the multiple universe proposition – that there are infinity universes and we happen to live in the one that has these constants aligned. Their problems are these. Firstly, there is not a shred of evidence for the proposition. Secondly it fails the test of simplicity (this is certainly not the simplest solution).  Thirdly, even were it true – what then is the origin of the multiverses? Indeed, by definition Universe is all that is, and so multiverses are subsets of that. I personally dismiss this concept for what it is, materialist desperation. The Universe is significant and not simply material.

Material is but one aspect of reality, there is another a dual aspect. John Donne would call that “soul” as distinct from “body”…

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
.. and the great Jesuit scientist Teilhard de Chardin distinguished a Within from a Without, of all things. He posited consciousness within all matter, evolving through physical, chemical and biological realms through waves of emergent realities. Man represents a new dimension with the arrival of reflective consciousness – self awareness. It was Teilhard de Chardin who proposed that evolution has now moved from biological into the realm of ideas – what he called the noosphere. *

“The attitude of the “I” towards an “It”, towards an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience. The attitude of the “I” towards “Thou”, in a relationship in which the other is not separated by discrete bounds…human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships”  Ich und Du, Martin Buber

Martin Buber expresses this duality in his wonderful verse-philosophy “Ich und Du”. Not only is there duality in all-that-is, but it is in the dance – the relationships between the Within-Without, the wave-particle, the Ich-Du – that meaning exists.

People have called that meaning by all sorts of names. Who cares about semantics – a rose is still a rose by any name. If you’ve felt the connectedness of the Universe, then you’ve known joy in all its emphemerality, within the life of this body at least.

Dual, we certainly are, and inexplicably so. Although maybe…

“And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flames are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one” TS Elliot

*   There is a tradition of theft within evolutionary science. Dawkins stole the concept of evolution in the noosphere and clothed in the language of the “meme”. He did not credit Teilhard de Chardin. Charles Darwin stole the concept of evolution by natural selection from James Hutton, who in 1794 wrote “in conceiving an indefinite variety among the individuals of that species, we must be assured, that, on the one hand, those which depart most from the best adapted constitution, will be most liable to perish, while on the other hand, those organized bodies, which most approach to the best consitution for the present circumstances, will be best adapted to continue, in preserving themselves and multiplying the individuals of their race”.

Social media imprisons us on the island of I-It

“No man is an island” John Donne. But social media is trying to keep us there. The communion between each of us, real warm messy and vital – has always been the anodyne to our loneliness and insecurity. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. They give the illusion of connection, but not the substance; and they are in it for their profit. Money puts up these barriers, and we follow.

“The primary word I-It can never be spoken with the whole being” Martin Buber. The difference between the isolation of the material existence and the vibrant human living in community is beautifully expressed by the jewish existentialist Martin Buber. He describes the two modes of man’s existence as I-It and I-Thou. If we interact with the world and people as material (It), then our I – our self – is material too. We imprison ourself on an island. If we acknowledge the other as Thou, then we are connected in a true sense. We each are transformed in our communion.

Consider. In the United States children talk to their friends in their break via their mobile phone – with so-called “social” media. Even though their friend may be sitting next to them. In Japan almost half of younger men and women prefer on-line sex and will not contemplate the “horrid” actuality of love-making. Face to face. Human.

Direct interaction is certainly messy and can be frightening. But it’s where joy flies leaping. When communion is real and vital, then we are each present to the other. It is the human condition to be insecure and lonely – inside and apart. We each live on our island with our inadequacy. Life and meaning is in the flow and community between us.

“The development of the function of experiencing and using comes about mostly through decrease of man’s power to enter into relation. How does this same man, who made spirit into a means of enjoyment for himself, behave towards the beings that live round about him?

Taking his stand in the shelter of the primary word of separation, which holds off the I and the It from one another, he has divided his life with his fellow-men into two tidily circled-off provinces, one of institutions and the other of feelings – the province of IT and the province of I.

Institutions are “outside”, where all sorts of aims are pursued, where a man works, negotiates, bears influence, undertakes, concurs, organises, conducts business, officiates, preaches. They are the tolerably well-ordered and to some extent harmonious structure, in which, with the manifold help of men’s brains and hands the process of affairs is fulfilled.

Feelings are “within”, where life is lived and man recovers from institutions. Here the spectrum of the emotions dances before the interested glance. Here a man’s liking and hate and pleasure are indulged, and his pain if it is not too severe…But the separated It of institutions is an animated clod without soul, and the separated I of feelings an uneasily fluttering soul-bird. Neither of them knows man; institutions know only the specimen, feelings only the “object”; neither knows the person or mutual life. Neither of them knows the present: even the most up-to-date institutions know only the lifeless past that is over and done with, and even the most lasting feelings know only the flitting moment that has not yet come properly into being. Neither of them has access to real life.”

“There is no I taken in itself, but only the I of the primary word I-Thou and the I of the primary word I-It. When a man says I, he refers to one or other of these. .. The primary word I-thou can only be spoken with the whole being. The primary word I-It can never be spoken with the whole being.” Martin Buber, Ich und Du

The Passionate Salmon and The River’s Reply

Christopher Marlowe wrote “The Passionate Shepherd” and Sir Walter Raleigh the riposte – “The Nymph’s Reply”. They lived just before the Union of the Crowns under the Scottish King James VI. The “independence” debate is of course a fishy affair with salmon, sturgeon and even “silver darlings” (Scots word for herrings).

The Passionate Salmon
Come live with me and by my love
And we will all our pleasure prove
Forsake these meads, their gentle lure
For mountain air and waters pure
Live there with me and me alone
And we will wish all care begone
That London sews and Brussels sprouts
For Irish, Welsh and English clouts
And we will swim around the rocks
Of wars and economic shocks
To shallow rivers by whose falls
Melodious fish sing madrigals
The River’s Reply
If all the world and love were young
And truth in every politician’s tongue
Thy pretty pleasures might me move
Alone to be with thee my love
But summer’s babble easy flows
Which wayward winter icy shows
Thy siren’s tongue, but heart of gall
A salmon’s spring, but sorrow’s fall
And once your upward urge is spent
Thy fishy soul be seaward bent
For lonely pleasures lonely prove
And ocean treasures all, my love