Thursday, April 8, 2010

Science and Its Discontents

C. P. Snow made a career describing what he called the gulf between religion and science.  Nobody reads him much anymore, and that is mainly because that battle is over. That gulf may even, as one wag said, have never been more than a ditch anyway.

Still scientists seem not to have gotten the word. They spend as much time distancing themselves from the those intellects who feed on the fumes of the fast food wrappers that scientists leave, as they do denouncing religion.  In both cases one has to ask what is going on here.  

Why expend energy on denouncing the kooks and fundamentalists?  The evidence of quantum entanglement is not proof of mental telepathy.  Why waste your breath on denouncing such rooky thinking when there is the mystery of dark energy to occupy one's intellect. Nobody but the scientists takes certain fundamentalist preachers as exemplars of religion. And especially since there is a sociologically interesting class of intellects-- the scientific popularizers-- whose job it is to keep the borders of science pristine, why expend your energy in this direction. 

 What are they afraid of---an invasion of a faculty meeting by people waving diagrams of perpetual motion machines or rattling rosaries at them. .

I do not suggest there are not shades of gray here. Look at Perelman, declining the Field medal, the Nobel for mathematicians. I mean ---LOOK at his figure in photographs. Is he not the picture of a Russian staretz? (The holy men from the steppes of Czarist Russian).  

Nor is my intent to denigrate scientists, they are a critical portion of humanity, the mechanical brain in fact.

Still this wasteful use of humanity's brain cells, leads me to propose, just a thought, and probably not by any means a comprehensive explanation, but--- it is as if scientists are trying to forget, trying to obscure aspects of a planetary reality, wherein the distance between a scientist and a foil capped  kook, is so small as to be insignificant, compared to the cleavage plane between  a master of radical mysticism, and the natural scientists.

Evidence in favor of my idea is the questions scientists do not ask. Scientists never ask how come we have to continually rediscover man's lack of free will and then continually forget about it, they do not ask whether it is logical to take the most literal of spokesmen for religion and treat them as exemplars of philosphical and religious insight. They do not ask whether the lack of answers to childish prayers is a relevant consideration to one exploring the dimensions of humanity. The glaring inconsistencies and illogical approach to any survey of humanity, on the part of the scientific establishment, leads me to treat their behavior as a puzzle of the piece. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Habit of Royalty

Perhaps you wonder why purple is the color associated with royalty.  Some relate that it derives from an old dye used in the ancient world, but how could that explain the persistence of the color as emblematic of a ruling class.  The vision of spring color, that fresh minted quality, that is unique to latitudes where there are distinct seasons, is what brought up the question. Spring denotes a rebirth, a reassurance.  There is also perhaps a sense of excess, of extravagance in the flowers and blooms of that season.  Darwin in fact, said that nothing puzzled him more than how to explain the fact of flowering.  Royalty in the past was an inherited status, and nothing was less compelling to one of royal birth than the expectation that he or she needed to explain, to justify, their right to power.  A sublime sense of entitlement was the result and the potency of their genetic heritage.  An example of this, that Jan Cox pointed out, though in a different context, was the way that dispossessed royalty merely grouped on the border of their former territory, waiting the opportunity to regain control----giving up was simply not an option--it did not cross their minds.  In the color of purple, so predominant in spring blooming,  we see this sense of unearned glory, sheer celebration, and it occurred to me that this was parallel to the attitude of royal folk and might explain their preference for the color. 

What such a class did not comprehend was the idea of another kind of royalty, a mental, self minted, royalty which was always individual, never a group label. Both kinds of royalty share a disdain for verbal justification. And both are ultimately transitory. Only, though, the mental self-minted royal, builds in an awareness of the transitory. This recollection, of the vanishing, is not as obvious as the royal class insistence on dynastic succession, but it is more realistic. More realistic, and the opposite of a group royalty in that it must be, invisible, to the world.