Gate Once Separating Magic & Scientific Thought
This blog is normally where I share my reflection and redefinitions of words through poetry,—that is, through the line breaks, rhythms, and word play I’ve always preferred when contemplating new ideas, before I realize which ones feel better suited for prose and reshape them to make them so—but today I wanted to mix these mediums together, creating a dance between old and prose-formed ideas vs. new and line-broken ones.
since I have eight blogs
and eight novels I’d like to write
even though that’s an arduous task
I’ve bitten off, the momentous occurence
of an eight-by-eight, side-by-side set
of ideas means I could parallel
them (not that I should,
just that I am am) by
dedicating one blog
to a book, and vica versa
eventually connecting these two sides
to eight spheres in a greater, circular motion
like a solar system of novel/blogs around the central star
that’s the thoughts I’ve whirled around all my life
the golden egg I’d lay, if I were a goose. Part of this realization—”Hey, maybe I can merge these projects together”—happened through the “addictive as gambling” social media practice that echoes through my life from my community specialist, copywriter, and copyeditor days, including this quote I posted on Facebook, back in 2012:
At the time I was quietly reading Steve Hagen’s Buddhism Plain and Simple, worrying about the repercussions of venturing outside of Christianity when I came from a God-loving family; so I’d never suggest, especially in my social media feed, that I was studying Eastern philosophy.
But at a local community college, after my eight-to-five shift at ATLUS—a full-time career that my family doesn’t remember I had, even though I worked there for years (just to put the actual social-emotional connection I have with my family on this story’s radar, vs. any imagined, idealized versions gleaned from subliminal texts)—I was taking a night-time class on Eastern philosophy, as well as a novel-writing class to transfer my wild ideas to paper, and even then, I felt myself spinning.
I enrolled in Asian Art History and photography. Printmaking and glassmaking. These were classes I didn’t take before or after graduate school, but while I was in graduate school; after the head of the creative writing department kindly (truly, he was kind about it) asked me to stop taking courses outside of English, I continued my Renaissance woman pursuits at a different community college.
I’ve learned at five community colleges, and I’ve taught at four of them, just to put my sheer love for community young adult and life-long learning into perspective.
I desperately wanted to figure out how things worked by working with the past, with my hands. I learned from Khan Academy, Coursera, and Kindle Unlimited.
Next came Western Art History, which we just call Art History around here, because it’s America, land of the bigger
phalluses nukes. I’d earn an associates degree in art history concurrently with my master of fine arts in creative writing, supplementing my first two years of college in scattershot studies of anthropology, sociology, and communication studies by adding another two scattershot years of American sign language, drawing, and ceramics, feeling unsatisfied yet stimulated by my undergraduate years in psychology and English, wanting to sponge it all in.
Lately I’ve transferred this insatiable need to learn to Brilliant and YouTube; and I’m thinking about wriggling into my fiance’s Skillshare account.
The more I learned—the more I continue to learn—the more I yearn I’d learned more as a child, and up until a year ago, it broke my heart. While I always had so many books—and I read them!—I’d looked into the past with a craving for more music, fine art classes, and sciences, and it whirled me into an inexplicably complicated depression.
I hated that I couldn’t say I wished I had a better off life.
Then I came to a standstill—where nothing hurt, and nothing felt joyous—when I realized it’s through struggle, not “better off” living, that I’ve reached this roaring need to find out how the universe works. If things were a little easier, would I have pushed beyond high school, where no one had set this example for me?—would I have escalated to graduate school, where my undergraduate years were already deemed more than enough?—would I have tried to go “beyond the horizon,” if I wasn’t always able to see the horizon taunting me, the knowledge I could gain yet hadn’t yet grasped?
It’s my keen understanding of pushing my intellectual pursuits to the edge that makes me creep closer and closer to further horizons, until I’m eventually, always, staring at the face of god.
A graduate-level class on American authors on nature and spirituality really fired me up for starlit self-teaching goals, like string theory (Michio Kaku has some crazy ideas on the universe, religion, and philosophy), higher dimensions, black holes, singularities;
What else can we do?
We can also unlock the secrets of the Big Bang; you see, Einstein’s theory breaks down at the Big Bang, and at the center of a black hole: the two most interesting places in the universe are beyond our reach using Einstein’s equations.
We need a higher theory—and that’s where string theory comes in. String theory takes you before the Big Bang, before Genesis itself; and what does string theory say?
It says there is a multiverse of universes;
Where did the Big Bang come from?—well, Einstein’s theory gives us this compelling picture: we are like insects on a soap bubble; a gigantic soap bubble which is expanding, and we are trapped like flies on fly paper… and that’s called the Big Bang Theory.
String theory says, there should be other bubbles out there; in a multiverse of bubbles, when two universes collide, it can form another universe; when a universe splits in half, it can create two universes, and that’s what we think is the Big Bang.
We studied Alice in Wonderland from this perspective when I was an undergrad, at Cal State Fullerton, in my Children’s Literature class, which was flanked by other semesters where I studied Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained and the philosophical knot-twisting of Shakespearean plays, all in English-major-mandated classes.
While neither of my parents were thrilled with the idea of church, the one time I’d said I couldn’t believe that much further beyond the horizon of religion than an agnostic universe—either we are in a place of atheism, or in a place where all gods are the same—my mother turned to me and asked, “But you do believe in God, don’t you?”
The conversation didn’t sync
with what I was trying to say;
that I believed, even then, in
the youth of my early twenties,
either all gods are the same,
or there are no gods at all,
which are two sides of the same
coin, since quantum physics tells
us we’re all gods with little
universes too, so unless you
say, Every biological life form
is the god of its complex range
of atoms, and unless you say,
every mountain is the god of its
delicate ecosystem, thus unless
you say, Everything is God,
thereby saying Nothing is God,
I don’t think you’re truly
striking the issue on the nail.
Either the god is not all-powerful or is not all-good;
but it can’t be both given all the ways the Universe wants to kill us;
there are so many ways to die—not at the hands of someone else who has free will—so I don’t know what is the nature of the god that you’re talking about;
…I would like to think that preserving health and longevity:
that is a nice, operational definition of something that’s “good.”
—Neil de Grasse Tyson
These are the questions I’ve always
tangoed when I write prose, even though
it may seem they’re most directly addressed
when I’m protected by my line breaks, and I feel
brave enough to venture to places plainly,
planely, into two-dimensional wordspace.
We have to be very scientific, we have to define what we mean by “god”;
If god is the god of intervention, the personal god, the god that parts the waters… then you have a hard time believing in that.
However, the god of order, harmony, beauty, elegance… because he thought the universe was so gorgeous: it didn’t have to be that way; it could be chaotic, ugly, messy…
But here we have the fact that all the equations of physics could be placed on a simple sheet of paper.
We want to know, where did that equation come from; did [a] god have a choice; was there any choice in building the universe;
When Einstein woke up in the morning, he would say, I’m going to create a universe, I’m going to be a god today; what kind of universe will I create?—this is how he created much of his theories.
In my current largest Wattpad project, Emergence No. 7, I’m wrestling with these curiosities more boldly than I’ve attempted in the past;
I’m trying a new genre called arcanepunk, which uses science to define the magic system of a fantasy world, versus the safety net of high fantasy, sword-and-sorcery fantasy, the genre I most dearly loved before graduate school told me, “Don’t write genre fiction,” same as graduate school told me, “Stop taking classes outside the English department.”
In this (what we tell ourselves is a) free country—which means you should have freedom of thought—I don’t care what you think; I just don’t.
Go think whatever you want. Go ahead. Think there is one god, two gods, ten gods, or no gods; that is what it means to live in a free country.
The problem arises when you have a religious philosophy that is not based in objective reality that you then want to place in the science classroom. …This is not science. Keep it out. This is where I stand up; otherwise, go ahead.
—Neil de Grasse Tyson
But I dearly loved graduate school; something about being forced into an elegant clay mold makes you wake up to the idea of the clay mold, and this design isn’t by mistake.
My graduate school professors were constantly, relentlessly, heroically demanding from each of us: “Well, what do you think?”
In an MFA in Creative Writing, literary fiction is stressed because it’s quality writing we’re all after, and we can’t very well figure out the essential qualities of writing until we strip the rest of the rules of fiction buttocks naked. (Or as we called it on the border of Anaheim and Fullerton, “buck-ass motherfuckin’ naked.”) Genre writing wasn’t taboo because it was wicked; we even had one awesome professor who arranged a genre fiction class to study the very thing we were told to skip writing.
Rather, genre writing was taboo because we didn’t want to spend a half hour of workshop debating unicorns vs. debating the skeleton beneath the sentences and paragraphs. We all willingly climbed into clay vessels so we stopped judging what each other looked like, and started asking, “Is that how you really feel?”
On one side, we have my esteemed colleagues who are one-hundred percent certain the universe is pointless, meaningless, and there is no god…
On the other side, we have another group that is one-hundred percent certain the universe has a point, has a meaning, and there is a god…
My personal view is: they’re both wrong.
What is science? Science is decided based on decidable statements… statements that you can test, reproducible, decidable, falsifiable, but this question—does god exist, does the universe have a point—is undecidable; it is not part of science; it’s like trying to disprove of a unicorn.
I hated ceramics. But I loved my ceramics teacher, a fellow graduate student who was teaching a beginner-level class in his field to get his curriculum vitae beefed up. I was doing the same thing at night, teaching everything from college-level rhetoric and essay writing to beginning-level fiction writing courses,—oh, and my favorite class to teach, preparatory English, for the first-year undergrads who aren’t quite up to writing snuff.
The reason I love that class?
They’re actually up to writing snuff.
They wander to their desks defiant, or terrified, all with “strong opinions of English class,” most thinking “I’m not a good writer,” and if life were a little easier on them, or a little harder on them, then they wouldn’t be in this perfectly frightful place today, in that preparatory class with me, where I skip them straight over all the hand-holding and get right to it:
“Well, what do you think? Is that how you really feel?”
It’s the first time many of them have been asked these questions.
Of course, the big questions—what is god? what is meaning? what is matter?—I don’t assign these as paper topics; but I use them to scratch the surface for their journal entries, before we tone it down and ask the questions that are easier to tackle, so we can then learn how to wrestle with the idea of a question itself:
What are “generations”? Which generation belongs to you, based on timelines? Do you feel like you belong to your generation, based on what generalizations say? Why? Why not? Goodness, if there is but one skill English studies must teach, it’s why and why not.
In Emergence No. 7, rather than teaching through questions, I try to explore where questions can take us; because as a teacher, it’s my job to help students realize their potential, (whatever potential that is,) yet as an author, it’s my job to define the very nature of potential, the very potential of nature; I have a much freer, single-voiced-spaced to challenge the great-and-looming beast behind the clockwork of thinking, and I intend to do just that.
I’m a physicist: my goal in life is to complete Einstein’s dream of an equation, perhaps no more than one inch long, that will summarize all physical knowledge and will allow us to “read the mind of god.”
In string theory, the candidate for the mind of god would be:
cosmic music, resonating through eleven-dimensional hyperspace.
Featured image is from an ink spill I made in my sketchbook, then tried to reshape into jellyfish with the other drawing materials I had on hand.