Sunday, May 6, 2007

Great new blog to read

Ulrich Mohrhoff

In addition to his fascinating website, Ulrich Mohrhoff also writes a blog called koantum matters that I have been enjoying immensely. Mohrhoff covers a wide variety of topics, such as observations in other branches of science, essays about his own work in quantum mechanics, and more personal and philosophical matters.

Here's part of a recent post about John Horgan's book I liked:

On p. 261 of The End of Science, John Horgan describes a mystical episode that he considers “the most important experience of my life” (p. 281):

“Years ago, before I became a science writer, I had what I suppose could be called a mystical experience. A psychiatrist would probably call it a psychotic episode. Whatever. For what it’s worth, here is what happened. Objectively, I was lying spread-eagled on a suburban lawn, insensible to my surroundings. Subjectively, I was hurtling through a dazzling, dark limbo toward what I was sure was the ultimate secret of life. Wave after wave of acute astonishment at the miraculousness of existence washed over me. At the same time, I was gripped by an overwhelming solipsism. I became convinced — or rather, I knew — that I was the only conscious being in the universe. There was no future, no past, no present other than what I imagined them to be. I was filled, initially, with a sense of limitless joy and power. Then, abruptly, I became convinced that if I abandoned myself further to this ecstasy, it might consume me. If I alone existed, who could bring me back from oblivion? Who could save me? With this realization my bliss turned into horror; I fled the same revelation I had so eagerly sought. I felt myself falling through a great darkness, and as I fell I dissolved into what seemed to be an infinity of selves.”

This was written a decade ago, but it’s such a fine demonstration of the little self’s fear of the big Self — the self of all selves — that it merits comment. For once John is lifted out of the confines of his little self, its bottomless aggressive ignorance and its petty self-confident knowledge (which we all share), merges with the conscious substance that constitutes and contains the world, with the ecstasy that creates the world by expressing itself… and shrinks back in horror. Oh ye faint of heart! What need is there to bring you back to your little self, to save it? You missed your chance! You think the big Self can’t do much better everything you did, and much more? You fell back into the habitual darkness of your little self — you hadn’t realized before how dark it was — but still you noticed, at least in reverse, that we all — this infinity of selves — are fragments of the big Self.

Now go add koantum matters to your bookmarks!

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