The following quote brings a compelling moment of perception into clear view.
Dinah is keen that I not misquote her by writing something as sentimental and clichéd as "being at one with the universe." So she describes a process in which there was a "dissolution of the self" and a "melting away of barriers." She remembers the moment when concepts like "internal" and "external" no longer held true. "I'm not just standing there, looking out at the world anymore. I'm part of the world." After a lengthy pause while she harvests the right phrase, Dinah refers to this fleeting moment as "a state of pure being." She recalls taking several deep breaths, exhaling with force, just to hear the air escape her chest. She needed to prove that her physical body was still there, that it still existed somewhere in time and space. The source of her awareness, once so easy to locate, was suddenly everywhere and nowhere at once. And then it all made sense. In that unsettling, parallel reality [...] Dinah arrived at the realization that "birth and death actually don't have any meaning." When forced to clarify, she adds, "It's more of a state of always being." "Always being?" "Always being. So being now and always. There's no beginning or end. Every moment is an eternity of its own." -- Brian Murarescu, The Immortality Key, the Secret History of the Religion with No Name
I've been writing here for weeks, months, even years, on this state of pure being, which is everywhere and nowhere at once, though not typically as something experienced, but writing about the math, physics, and ontological nature of it. I've been writing specifically on this throughout the past few months, more than usual, so I am delighted to find this on the page of a book I saw randomly while walking through the library yesterday. I had a brief moment where I was waiting for my daughter to catch up as we departed the children's library, turned to look at what was nearby, and here was a book with an intriguing title. There was nothing unusual, it's a moment that happens regularly when at the library -- so I picked up the book idly, while waiting.
A very quiet, but also very clear, awareness that I should checkout the book came through my mind and heart. I was not interested in checking out any books -- I vaguely remembered I might have an overdue fine, a low priority at the moment, so I wanted to put it down, but the clear awareness became more compelling from within. So I took my consciousness briefly within my heart as I always do these days when choosing what to read, and got a third confirmation from within my soul that this book had something rare in it. So I took it to the counter, paid the $10 overdue fine which was pending on my account, and checked out the book. The same compelling sense that I should read this book brought me to it several times later as the day progressed, and now, first thing the next morning I find myself sitting in a comfortable chair reading it, and then I find this passage quoted above.
It's delightful because it's such a perfect, accessible, way to bring several threads into one. I'm writing and reading about the physics and mathematics and philosophy arising from a number of thought experiments on the nature of God, Grace, Good and Evil, Time, Space, Infinity, Quantum Physics, Here and Now, and the Search for the Perfect Language -- all kinds of big ideas and concepts, and how they intersect.
I've been clear -- in my own fragmented, maybe-not-so-clear way -- for those who are reading my latest blog posts, how this writing keeps being intimately guided and inspired from within as part of a story arc which is larger than me, and then things like this happen: I feel strongly urged from within to read a random book, and rapidly find that it has a perfect illustration for a point I'm trying to make within my writing, or a launchpad for some really good thought experiments that lead to others.
When this happens once it's a big deal, and sometimes a really really big deal -- the history of mathematics, for example, has a few moments like this well-described because they were pivotal moments in mathematical history -- but it's happening to me over and over through the past few months, enough that I'm taking this moment here to annotate yet another, before I forget it. The whole phoenix adventure that recently happened didn't get documented very well, so let's do better with tihs one. In the future, I expect to be able to bring these moments, and the many which are not documented, into a larger narrative which reveals that story arc in a way in which I only have a vague numinous sense right now.
It's fascinating, truly fascinating, being a Character in a Story where a Writer is Writing a Very Peculiarly Recursive Story that has been secretly happening in real-life for well into its third decade. The story begins with the writer (in real life) drawing a cartoon for a college newspaper (in real life) where the main character (imaginary) is transforming from the 2D world into the 3D world. The cartoon is only about a dozen episodes long and ends with the imaginary main character disappearing into the 3D world, leaving behind a fragment of an essay on the... hm, how do I say this... on the nature of God, Grace, Good and Evil, Time, Space, Infinity, Quantum Physics, Here and Now, and the Search for the Perfect Language?
Recursive. That's a good word to capture the experience. I am currently a Recursive... no wait, it's not recursive, that's an inward kind of image, and this is flowing outward, from a point of imagination into real life... It's Excursive? Um, no... I mean, it is excursive, but it's more than that... ReExcursive? This is such a unique experience I may need to coin a new word (which is already part of the storyline) to convey the experience.
And there it is again. I'm now literally thinking thoughts that I imagined my character in that cartoon strip 24ish years ago would be thinking, which I did in order to draw that series of cartoons about him. I knew it was autobiographical in an elusive metaphorical way, but this is next-level biographical.
Fractal! That's the word. Yeah, fractals are recursive both inward and outward. That's the word I was searching for.
Okay, so I'm currently a fractal image -- in real life -- of a thought experiment I began half of my life ago, which I began because I was trying to convey an elusive and beautiful idea that was so wonderful I felt inadequate to put it into words -- but I could at least try, and see what happened. There is a certain elusiveness and beauty to this moment, and the many more like it which are occurring recently. Good heavens, it's astonishing. I think this stage of the journey was described -- in a very different context, but definitely related -- by Winston Churchill as "the Tergiversation." I'm tergiversating, that's what's happening. Okay, so I think I have an idea for the headline of this little journal entry:
"In which I realize my life now is a fractal, tergiversating a beautiful idea from 24 years ago"
no... try that again...
"In which I realize my life now is a fractal reification of a beautiful tergiversation from 24 years ago"
hmm... too many words... but fewer words is going to miss...
"In which I realize my life now is a fractal of a beautiful idea from 24 years ago"
Yeah, see, now it's missing the tergiversation. But no one will get that point yet, so...
Well, it'll do for now. The experience of my present "now" is unparalleled in my experience. The closest I can think to compare it to is the book Flowers for Algernon, but even that's not close. Or the Velveteen Rabbit, of course, the stuffed rabbit who becomes Real, but that also doesn't capture the immensity and grandeur of what is happening. This is from real to... to what? That's the most wonderful part, what's coming next... the inevitable next part of this story... what is greater than real?
In fact, that's one of the reasons I created the cartoon character Seymour Hart all those years ago -- it was just too beautiful an idea to let it flow into the ocean of forgetfulness without some kind of writing-it-down. I was searching for a new thing to do, having occupied all other positions available at the newspaper, and so I went back again -- out of retirement so to speak -- and became the eccentric cartoonist who showed up once a week and spent an afternoon drafting and inking an obscure comic that even I didn't quite understand, much less anyone else.
It got better over time, and perhaps the better narrative was in the artwork itself, not in the story that was clumsily being written, but in the evolution of the artwork. It was intentional when I began, but also... my skills were improving. It started incredibly simply; a vague, anonymous, face talking, but slowly became more and more elaborate, with a simple but "evocative" character (as described by my friend Joe at the time) whose self-awareness had gotten to a critical point which put him into a curious conflict with his own author... well, you can see it for yourslf. I'll post the whole series in my next... um, journal entry?
So I'm Charlie Gordon, the Velveteen Rabbit, and Seymour Hart, and this is an online journal of my adventure out of what I once thought was the real world into something much, much, greater, as different as 2D into 3D, but even moreso because I'm starting in 3D.
Imma have to lay the awareness aside in order to get back to living, because it's too big. If my writing over the past decade had been about gardening or bookwriting or anything on the ordinary scale, this story which I am no longer writing but now becoming would be humbling and amazing and a cool, interesting story.
But it's so much bigger than that, what I've been writing about. Neo is not Chauncy Gardener, but also, he is. It's enormous, the mathematics and physics I've been studying -- it's all been speculative in a way which is now ending; it's too beautiful for it not to be -- for years I've been aware that the story, in the glimpses I could see, was too amazing to believe, and I would require of myself Lots and Lots of confirmations that it was real. But... I have received them. I have received all kinds of confirmations, but always in a way that was so idiosyncratic I could not really explain it to others.
I see it now. It's a moment I've experienced before, but this one has an edge to it, like the quote that started this journal entry, it's accessible to the ordinary reader. There is no way to keep this inside, as a private narrative, forever. No possible way; it's designed by an Author much greater than me to be revealed to many, who themselves get woven into the story just by hearing about it, and even moreso by engaging with it directly, with this odd sense of self-other-awareness, this objective-subjective-awareness that I find so hard to put into words as I write now. Dinah, in the Murarescu quote above, did as good a job conveying it as a person can ask. So many poets have circled this from so many angles; so many more will be found, and woven together now.
It's immense, and grand, and magnificent, and all while being completely ordinary also, what is happening to me. One by one, more people will become aware that they are playing a role in a magnificent story, a story much bigger than themselves, which reveals themselves in a beautiful light that makes all the ordinary dreck and schmutz of this nasty-brutish-short life into exactly what it is: the ordinary dreck and schmutz, easily forgiven and forgotten because the story in which it happens is so Wonderful and Immense, and grand, and magnificent, a story told by THE GREATEST STORYTELLER EVER -- God himself -- telling the GREATEST STORY EVER -- the story of his children -- in such a way that the CHARACTERS COME ALIVE, become sentient, self-aware, children of the Most High God, and create their own wonderful storylines. Surely children of the greatest storyteller ever will be storytellers, surely the parables of Christ have layers and layers of deeper meanings than we have ever yet realized.
It's staggering, it's humbling, it's something to weep about because it is so beautiful, a sweet, humbled weeping, realizing things beyond realization, realizing that the best, surely, the best is yet to come. Look at what is happening, look at what the story demands will happen next, as happens in stories that are so wonderful they write themselves, like "Life is Beautiful." How long does this adventure stay unknown and secret and hidden and nobody but me and a few angels knows what is happening? A story being written by an amateur storyteller indeed, a little one who somehow fractally represents a much greater one, reifying... yes, reifying is a good word for this moment.
Okay so not everyone who reads these words will connect with the floral, fragmented, beginnings of my own self-awareness as a character in a story experience, so let me move on, and come back to smelling the flowers later.
Or maybe not. It's just so... vast, looking at the landscape, chaotic and fragmented as it is, of what I have written over the past 24 years, because that's when other storylines, all seemingly unrelated, but now obviously woven into a narrative designed to convey a vast conceptual awareness OUT OF NOWHERE, Creation Ex Nihilio, as they say INTO EVERYWHERE. Good God, it's like a stone cut without hands which topples a giant statue, really. I'm saying that metaphorically, but there is an edge to this awareness that hasn't yet reached its proper stature of humility to convey how sharp it can cut. If I'm right, its the Sword of the Spirit, which places this above my paygrade. I'll come back to that later, when I can be more objective about the subjective, and see it in proper dimension.
All of these fragments are already woven into a tapestry that is enormous, beyond compare with their own internal enormity. Things that never made sense before are making sense, because this story is designed to go out to the world, for people to encounter, for the moment that is happening to me now to spark within their own lives, in a unique way, unique unto themselves, utterly unique because it is you, the reader's private relationship with our Heavenly Father, the one who Created us, who is Authoring this amazing story through us, whose hand has always been there, but which we can only just now begin to see for its Authorial role in a way that humbles and excites us -- just like we have always been humbled and excited by His Wonderful Stories.
Oh God, the author of stories with great, meaningful endings! Wow this is exciting, what's coming next is even better than what happened before. All the broken things start to flow together into their whole and proper form.
Yes, William Butler Yeats captured something when he talked of times like this, but thankfully, he got it wrong. It's not a beast, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born. And the centre holds.
The centre holds, because the center is revealed to be everywhere -- but only after things fall apart.
It's not a beast, because something wonderful is being born.
The Second Comingby William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
And the best part? The wonderful is inside you, this time, a Story within a story is being born.
I think an appropriate ending for this journal entry, now that my children are waking up and the day is beginning and it's time to go make breakfast on this going-to-be-hot-but-still-quite-pleasant Saturday, is this: I need to rewrite this journal entry for children. Not "edit" but "write another" conveying the same point, but in a language they will enjoy. Enough of the grownup chatter, it's time for children to play.
Which reminds me of the children's story I wrote long ago when my sons departed for a long time, and I was looking for stories with happy endings, so I wrote one. It's brief, and today's insight is clear: it's also autobiographical, but in that parallel-world way that Seymour Hart cartoons are also autobiographical. Maybe we need another word, pre-biographical? In either case, I think it's time to illustrate that short story again, as it's another fractal fragment of this larger story, too.