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  1. : feynman
  2. And so,
  3. by a backhanded, upside-down argument,
  4. was predicted that there is in carbon
  5. a level at 7.82 million volts;
  7. and then experiments in the laboratory with carbon
  8. show indeed that there is.
  9. And therefore the existence in the world of all these other elements
  10. is very closely related to the fact
  11. that there is this particular level in carbon.
  12. But the position of this particular level in carbon seems to us,
  13. after knowing the physical laws,
  14. to be a very complicated accident
  15. of twelve complicated particles interacting.
  16. So I use to illustrate, by this example,
  17. that an understanding of the physical laws
  18. doesn’t give an understanding in a sense of a —
  19. understanding significance of the world in any way.
  20. The details of real experience are very far, often,
  21. from the fundamental laws.
  22. There are, in a way of speaking in the world —
  23. We have a way of discussing the world,
  24. which you could call a,
  25. we discuss it at various hierarchies, or levels.
  26. Now I don’t mean to be very precise,
  27. there’s a level, there’s another level, and another level,
  28. but I will indicate, by describing a set of ideas to you,
  29. just one after the other,
  30. what I mean by hierarchies of ideas.
  31. For example, at one end, we have the fundamental laws of physics.
  32. Then we invent other terms for concepts which are approximate,
  33. who have, we believe, their ultimate explanation
  34. in terms of the fundamental laws.
  35. For instance, ‘heat’. Heat is supposed to be the jiggling,
  36. and it’s just a word for — a hot thing is just a word
  37. for a mass of atoms which are jiggling.
  38. Thought out fundamentally, we should think of the atoms jiggling.
  39. But for a while, if we’re talking about heat,
  40. we sometimes forget about the atoms jiggling —
  41. just like when we talk about the glacier
  42. we don’t always think of the hexagonal ice
  43. snowflakes which originally fell.
  44. Another example of the same thing is a salt crystal.
  45. Looked at fundamentally,
  46. it’s a lot of protons, neutrons, and electrons;
  47. but we have this concept ’salt crystal’,
  48. which carries a whole pattern, already,
  49. of fundamental interactions.
  50. Or an idea like pressure.
  51. Now if we go higher up from this,
  52. in another level, we have properties of substances —
  53. like ’refractive index’,
  54. how light is bent when it goes through something;
  55. or ’surface tension’,
  56. the fact that the water tends to pull itself together,
  57. is described by a number.
  58. I remind you that we have to go through several laws down
  59. to find out that it’s the pull of the atoms, and so on.
  60. But we still say it’s ’surface tension’, and don’t worry,
  61. when we’re discussing surface tension, of the inner workings —
  62. always — sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.
  63. Go on — up — in the hierarchy.
  64. With the water we have the waves
  65. and we have a thing like a storm,
  66. we have a word ’storm’ which represents
  67. an enormous mass of phenomena,
  68. or ’sunspot’ or ’star’, which is an accumulation of things.
  69. And it’s not worthwhile always to think of it way back.
  70. In fact we can’t, because the higher up we go,
  71. we have too many steps in between,
  72. each one of which is a little weak,
  73. and we haven’t thought them all through yet.
  74. As we go up in this hierarchy of complexity,
  75. we get to things like frog, or nerve impulse,
  76. which, you see, is an enormously complicated thing
  77. in the physical world, involving an organization of matter
  78. in a very elaborate complexity.
  79. And then we go on, we come to things, words and concepts
  80. like ’man’, and ’history’, or ’political expediency’,
  81. and so forth,
  82. which is a series of concepts
  83. that we use to understand things at an ever-higher level.
  84. And going on, we come to things like evil, and beauty, and hope...
  85. Now which end is nearer to the ultimate creator, or the ultimate?
  86. So if I make a religious metaphor, which end is nearer to God?
  87. Beauty and hope, or the fundamental laws?
  88. I think that the right way, of course, is to say
  89. the whole structural interconnections of the thing
  90. is the thing that we have to look at,
  91. and that the sequence of hierar —
  92. that all the sciences and all the efforts,
  93. not just the sciences but all the efforts of intellectual kinds,
  94. are to see the connections of the hierarchies,
  95. to connect beauty to history,
  96. to connect history to man’s psychology,
  97. man’s psychology to the working of the brain,
  98. the brain to the neural impulse,
  99. the neural impulse to the chemistry,
  100. and so forth, up and down, both ways.
  101. And today we cannot,
  102. and there’s no use making believe we can,
  103. draw carefully a line all the way
  104. from one end of this thing to the other,
  105. in fact we’ve just begun to see
  106. that there is this relative hierarchy.
  107. And so I don’t think either end is nearer to God’s.
  108. And that to stand at either end,
  109. and to walk out off the end of the pier only,
  110. hoping out in that direction is the complete understanding,
  111. is a mistake.
  112. And to stand with evil and beauty and hope,
  113. or to stand with the fundamental laws,
  114. hoping that way to get a deep understanding of the whole world,
  115. with that aspect alone, is a mistake.
  116. And it is not sensible either,
  117. for the ones who specialize at one end,
  118. and the ones who specialize at the other end,
  119. to have such disregard for each other.
  120. (They don’t actually, but the people say they do. Sorry.)
  121. But that actually,
  122. the great mass of workers in between,
  123. connecting one step to another,
  124. are improving all the time our understanding of the world,
  125. both from working at the ends and working in the middle.
  126. And in that way
  127. we are gradually understanding this connection,
  128. this tremendous world of interconnecting hierarchies.
  129. If you expected science to give all the answers
  130. to the wonderful questions about what we are,
  131. where we’re going,
  132. what the meaning of the universe is and so on,
  133. then I think you could easily become disillusioned
  134. and then look for some mystic answer to these problems.
  135. How a scientist can take a mystic answer I don’t know
  136. because the whole spirit is to understand —
  137. well, never mind that. Anyhow, I don’t understand that,
  138. but anyhow if you think of it,
  139. the way I think of what we’re doing is we’re exploring,
  140. we’re trying to find out as much as we can about the world.
  141. People say to me, "Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?"
  142. No, I’m not, I’m just looking to find out more about the world
  143. and if it turns out there is a simple ultimate law
  144. that explains everything,
  145. so be it, that would be very nice to discover.
  146. If it turns out it’s like an onion with millions of layers
  147. and we’re just sick and tired of looking at the layers,
  148. then that’s the way it is,
  149. but whatever way it comes out its nature is there
  150. and she’s going to come out the way she is,
  151. and therefore when we go to investigate it we shouldn’t pre-decide
  152. what it is we’re trying to do
  153. except to find out more about it.
  154. If you said your problem is,
  155. why do you find out more about it,
  156. if you thought you were trying to find out more about it
  157. because you’re going to get an answer
  158. to some deep philosophical question,
  159. you may be wrong.
  160. It may be that you can’t get an answer to that particular question
  161. by finding out more about the character of nature,
  162. but I don’t look at it —
  163. My interest in science is to simply find out about the world,
  164. and the more I find out the better it is.
  165. I like to find out.
  166. There are very remarkable mysteries
  167. about the fact that we’re able to do so many more things
  168. than apparently animals can do, and other questions like that,
  169. but those are mysteries I want to investigate
  170. without knowing the answer to them.
  171. And so altogether I can’t believe the special stories
  172. that have been made up
  173. about our relationship to the universe at large
  174. because —
  175. they seem to be —
  176. too simple, too connected to —
  177. Too local! Too provincial!
  178. The earth, he came to the earth!
  179. One of the aspects of God came to the earth, mind you,
  180. and look at what’s out there. How can you —
  181. It isn’t in proportion.
  182. Anyway, it’s no use arguing, I can’t argue it,
  183. I’m just trying to tell you why the scientific views that I have
  184. do have some effect on my beliefs. And also another thing
  185. has to do with the question
  186. of how you find out if something’s true,
  187. and if you have all these theories,
  188. the different religions
  189. have all different theories about the thing,
  190. then you begin to wonder. Once you start doubting,
  191. just like you’re supposed to doubt, you ask me is the science true.
  192. We say no no, we don’t know what’s true,
  193. we’re trying to find out, everything is possibly wrong.
  194. Start out understanding religion by saying
  195. everything is possibly wrong; let us see.
  196. As soon as you do that, you start sliding down an edge
  197. which is hard to recover from.
  198. And so with the scientific view, well, my father’s view,
  199. that we should look to see what’s true
  200. and what may not be true,
  201. once you start doubting, which I think to me
  202. is a very fundamental part of my soul,
  203. is to doubt and to ask,
  204. and when you doubt and ask it gets a little harder to believe.
  205. You see, one thing is,
  206. I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing.
  207. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing
  208. than to have answers which might be wrong.
  209. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs
  210. and different degrees of certainty about different things,
  211. but I’m not absolutely sure of anything
  212. and there are many things I don’t know anything about,
  213. such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here,
  214. and what the question might mean.
  215. I might think about it a little bit,
  216. if I can’t figure it out, then I go to something else,
  217. but I don’t have to know an answer.
  218. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things,
  219. by being lost in the mysterious universe
  220. without having any purpose,
  221. which is the way it really is so far as I can tell.
  222. Possibly.
  223. It doesn’t frighten me.
  226. : burke
  227. Well, that’s no better a solution than any of the others, is it?
  228. So, in the end, have we learned anything
  229. from this look at why the world turned out the way it did
  230. that’s of any use to us in our future?
  231. Something, I think.
  232. That the key to why things change is the key to everything.
  233. How easy is it for knowledge to spread?
  234. And that, in the past, the people who made change happen
  235. were the people who had that knowledge,
  236. whether they were craftsmen or kings.
  237. Today, the people who make things change,
  238. the people who have that knowledge,
  239. are the scientists and the technologists
  240. who are the true driving force of humanity.
  241. And before you say,
  242. "What about the Beethovens and the Michelangeloes,"
  243. let me suggest something with which you may disagree violently:
  244. that at best the products of human emotion:
  245. art — philosophy — politics — music — literature,
  246. are interpretations of the world,
  247. that tell you more about the guy who’s talking
  248. than about the world he’s talking about.
  249. Secondhand views of the world
  250. made thirdhand by your interpretation of them.
  251. Things like that:
  252. As opposed to
  253. this:
  254. Know what it is?
  255. It’s a bunch of amino acids,
  256. the stuff that goes to build up a —
  257. a worm,
  258. or a geranium,
  259. or you.
  260. This stuff’s easier to take, isn’t it?
  261. Understandable; got people in it.
  262. This, scientific knowledge,
  263. is hard to take
  264. because it removes the reassuring crutches of opinion, ideology,
  265. and leaves only what is demonstrably true about the world.
  266. And the reason why so many people
  267. may be thinking about throwing away those crutches
  268. is because, thanks to science and technology,
  269. they have begun to know that they don’t know so much
  270. and that if they’re to have
  271. more say in what happens to their lives,
  272. more freedom to develop their abilities to the full,
  273. they have to be helped towards that knowledge
  274. that they know exists and that they don’t possess.
  275. And by "helped towards that knowledge", I don’t mean
  276. give everybody a computer and say "help yourself!"
  277. Where would you even start?
  278. No, I mean,
  279. trying to find ways to translate the knowledge,
  280. to teach us to ask the right questions.
  281. See, we’re on the edge of a revolution
  282. in communications technology
  283. that is going to make that more possible than ever before.
  284. Or, if that’s not done,
  285. to cause an explosion of knowledge
  286. that will leave those of us who don’t have access to it
  287. as powerless as if we were deaf, dumb and blind.
  288. And I don’t think most people want that.
  289. So what do we do about it?
  290. I don’t know.
  291. But maybe a good start
  292. would be to recognize, within yourself,
  293. the ability to understand anything
  294. because that ability’s there,
  295. as long as it’s explained clearly enough.
  296. And then go and ask for explanations.
  297. And if you’re thinking right now, "What do I ask for?"
  298. Ask yourself if there’s anything in your life
  299. that you want changed.
  300. That’s where to start.
  304. : psalm46
  305. How many of you here have personally witnessed
  306. a total eclipse of the sun?
  307. To stand one day in the shadow of the moon
  308. is one of my humble goals in life.
  309. The closest I ever came was over thirty years ago.
  310. On February 26, 1979,
  311. a solar eclipse passed directly over the city of Portland.
  312. I bought my bus tickets and found a place to stay.
  313. But in the end, I couldn’t get the time off work.
  314. Well, anyone who lives in Portland can tell you
  315. that the chances of catching the sun in February
  316. are pretty slim.
  317. And sure enough, the skies over the city that day
  318. were completely overcast. I wouldn’t have seen a thing.
  319. That work I couldn’t get out of
  320. was my first job out of college:
  321. A sales clerk at an old Radio Shack store
  322. in beautiful downtown Worcester, Massachusetts.
  323. On my very first day behind the counter,
  324. a delivery truck pulled up to the front of the store.
  325. They carried in a big carton,
  326. upon which was printed the legend TRS-80.
  327. It was our floor sample
  328. of the world’s first mass-market microcomputer.
  329. The TRS-80 Model I
  330. had a Z80 processor clocked at 1.7 megahertz,
  331. 4,096 bytes of memory,
  332. and a 64-character black-and-white text display.
  333. The only storage was a cassette recorder.
  334. All this could be yours for the low, low price of $599.
  335. This store I was working in had seen better days.
  336. At one time, it had been near the center
  337. of a thriving commercial district.
  338. But like so many other New England cities,
  339. the advent of shopping malls had, by the early ‘70s,
  340. turned it into a ghost town.
  341. Worcester’s solution to this problem was decisive,
  342. to say the least.
  343. The city’s elders apparently decided
  344. that if they couldn’t beat them, they would join them.
  345. And so several square blocks at the heart of the city
  346. were bulldozed into oblivion,
  347. destroying dozens of family businesses,
  348. including the site of a pharmacy
  349. once operated by my great-grandfather.
  350. In their place was erected
  351. a vast three-level shopping complex,
  352. with cinemas and a food court.
  353. When the dust settled,
  354. only a few forlorn blocks of the old Worcester remained standing.
  355. My Radio Shack store was in one of those blocks.
  356. Then, to add insult to injury,
  357. Radio Shack opened a brand-new location inside the shopping center,
  358. less than 500 feet from my store.
  359. So now patrons has a choice between a clean,
  360. well-lighted establishment with uniformed security
  361. and acres of convenient parking,
  362. or a shadowy hole in a seedy old office building
  363. next to an adult movie theater.
  364. Consequently, I had plenty of time to fool around
  365. with the new computer.
  366. I taught myself BASIC programming.
  367. Then I learned Z80 assembly.
  368. Both, of course, so that I could write games.
  369. I also created self-running animated demos
  370. which ran all night in the store window
  371. for the edification of the winos who peed in our doorway.
  372. Strangely enough, the few customers we had
  373. didn’t seem to be interested in our new computer,
  374. even after the 16K memory upgrade.
  375. In fact, most of the people who set off the buzzer
  376. on their way through the front door
  377. weren’t there to buy anything at all.
  378. They were there to exploit a free promotion
  379. which was the bane of Radio Shack employees for over forty years:
  380. The Battery of the Month Club.
  381. The idea of this promotion was simple.
  382. Customers got a little red card
  383. upon which was printed a square for each month.
  384. Twelve times a year, the lucky sales clerk
  385. got to punch out a square and give the customer
  386. one brand new triple-A, double-A, C, D or 9-volt battery.
  387. Of course, customers weren’t allowed to choose
  388. just any grade of battery.
  389. At the time of my employment,
  390. Radio Shack offered three different levels of battery excellence.
  391. First were the alkalines, powerful, long-lasting and expensive,
  392. hanging behind the counter like prescription medication
  393. in gold-embossed blister packs.
  394. These were most certainly not available
  395. through the Battery of the Month Club.
  396. Next were the high-end lead batteries,
  397. sturdy, dependable batteries, moderately priced,
  398. and prominently displayed near the front of the store.
  399. These were also not available
  400. through the Battery of the Month Club.
  401. Finally, at the bottom of the barrel,
  402. were the standard lead batteries.
  403. These were literally piled in barrels,
  404. cunningly located way at the back of the store,
  405. in a dark corner near the TV antennas.
  406. Remember TV antennas?
  407. Customers who came in looking
  408. for their free Battery of the Month
  409. had to walk the entire length of the premises,
  410. past the CB radios and stereo headphones
  411. and remote-controlled racing cars.
  412. Nothing would stop them.
  413. On the first day of every month, like clockwork,
  414. those customers come in waving their little red cards.
  415. I would look up from my programming
  416. and wave them to the back of the store.
  417. It didn’t matter that the batteries
  418. were only worth twenty-nine cents.
  419. It didn’t matter that most of them
  420. were already half dead.
  421. They came. They grabbed.
  422. And, as far as I can remember,
  423. not one of them ever paid for a damned thing.
  424. I was such a crappy salesman. I was young and foolish.
  425. I thought my education in game design
  426. was happening at the keyboard.
  427. I almost missed the lesson coming through the front door.
  428. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only person
  429. fooling around with games on micros.
  430. All over the country, people like me were experimenting.
  431. Scott Adams was coding what would soon become
  432. the world’s first commercial adventure game.
  433. Remember adventure games?
  434. My future employer, Infocom, was being founded,
  435. along with other legendary companies
  436. like On-Line Systems, Sirius, Personal Software and SSI.
  437. Those were exciting times.
  438. Teenagers were making fortunes.
  439. Games were cheap and easy to build.
  440. The slate was clean.
  441. But in 1979, the biggest news in gaming had nothing to do with computers.
  442. On the morning of the autumn equinox, September 20th,
  443. a new children’s picture book appeared in the stores of Great Britain.
  444. This picture book was rather peculiar.
  445. It consisted of 15 meticulously detailed color paintings,
  446. illustrating a slight, whimsical tale
  447. about a rabbit delivering a jewel to the moon.
  448. On the back jacket of the book was a color photograph
  449. of a real jewel shaped like a running rabbit, five inches long,
  450. fashioned of 18-karat gold, suspended with ornaments and bells,
  451. together with a sun and moon of blue quartz.
  452. According to the blurb underneath,
  453. this very jewel had been buried somewhere in England.
  454. Clues pointing to its location were concealed in the text
  455. and in the pictures of the book.
  456. The treasure would belong to whoever found it first.
  457. The book was called Masquerade.
  458. It was created by an eccentric little man with divergent eyes
  459. and a talent for mischief named Kit Williams.
  460. Within days, the first printing was sold out.
  461. And the Empire That Never Sleeps
  462. found itself in the grip of Rabbit Fever.
  463. Excited readers attacked the paintings with rulers,
  464. compasses and protractors.
  465. Magazine articles and TV specials dissected the clues,
  466. floated theories, and followed with keen delight
  467. the reckless exploits of the fanatics.
  468. One obscure park, unfortunately known by the nickname Rabbit Hill,
  469. was so riddled with holes excavated by misguided treasure seekers
  470. that the authorities had to erect signs assuring the public
  471. that no gold rabbits were to be found there.
  472. Some hunters ended up seeking psychological counseling for their obsession.
  473. The craze lept over the Atlantic Ocean and invaded
  474. America, France, Italy and Germany.
  475. It sold over a million copies in a few months,
  476. a record unrivalled by any children’s title
  477. until the advent of Harry Potter.
  478. Over 150,000 copies were sold in foreign translations,
  479. including 80,000 copies in Japanese,
  480. despite the fact that the puzzle was only solvable in English.
  481. It didn’t matter that the Masquerade jewel
  482. was only worth a few thousand dollars.
  483. Many seekers spent far more than that
  484. in their months of exploration and travel.
  485. It was the thrill of the chase.
  486. The possibility of being The One.
  487. Treasure hunts, secret messages and hidden things
  488. seem to exert an irresistible appeal.
  489. They’re fun to look for, and to talk about.
  490. And this fact of human psychology
  491. has been exploited in computer games since the earliest days.
  492. It finds expression in the hidden surprises we call Easter eggs.
  493. Atari’s Steven Wright is credited with coining this term
  494. in the first issue of Electronic Games magazine.
  495. The first Easter egg in a commercial computer game
  496. appeared in an early Atari 2600 cartridge
  497. called, simply enough, Adventure.
  498. By a sequence of unlikely movements and obscure manipulations,
  499. players could discover a secret room where the words
  500. “Created by Warren Robinet” appeared in flashing letters.
  501. Over the decades, Easter eggs and their evil twin, cheat codes,
  502. have become an industry within an industry.
  503. Entire magazines and Web sites are now devoted
  504. to their carefully orchestrated discovery and dissemination.
  505. They’re part of our toolkit, our basic vocabulary,
  506. the language of computer game design.
  507. Computer gamers may have been the first to refer
  508. to hidden surprises as Easter eggs,
  509. but we certainly weren’t the first to use them.
  510. Painters, composers and artists of every discipline
  511. have been hiding stuff in their works for centuries.
  512. The recent advent of VCRs
  513. and laserdisc players with freeze-frame capability
  514. exposed decades of secret Disney erotica.
  515. Thomas Kinkade, the self-appointed “Painter of Light,”
  516. amuses himself by hiding the letter N in his works.
  517. A number beside his signature indicates how many Ns
  518. are hidden in each painting.
  519. Picasso, Dali, Raphael, Poussin and dozens of other painters
  520. concealed all kinds of stuff in their paintings.
  521. A favorite trick was hiding portraits of themselves,
  522. their families, friends and fellow artists in crowd scenes.
  523. El Greco loved dogs. But the Catholic Church forbid him
  524. from including any in his sacred paintings.
  525. So he hid them, usually within the outlines of celestial clouds.
  526. Composer Dmitri Shostakovich chafed under the political censorship
  527. imposed by the Soviet Ministry of Culture.
  528. His symphonies and chamber works are loaded with hidden signatures
  529. and subversive subtexts which, had they been recognized,
  530. would have sent him to Siberia.
  531. Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute is filled with musical allusions
  532. to the rituals of the Freemasons, the ancient secret society
  533. of which he and his mentor Haydn were members.
  534. But the most famous purveyor of Easter eggs is that champion
  535. of the late Baroque, the ultimate musical nerd, Johann Sebastian Bach.
  536. Bach was a student of gematria, the art of assigning numeric values
  537. to letters of the alphabet: A=1, B=2, C=3, et cetera.
  538. By comparing, sequencing or otherwise manipulating these numbers,
  539. secret messages can be concealed.
  540. Bach took particular delight in the gematriacal numbers 14 and 41.
  541. 14 is the sum of the initials of his last name: B=2, A=1, C=3 and H=8.
  542. 41 is the sum of his expanded initials, J S BACH.
  543. These two numbers show up over and over again in Bach’s compositions.
  544. One of the better-known examples is his setting
  545. of the chorale “Vor deinen Thron.”
  546. The first line of the melody contains exactly 14 notes,
  547. and the entire melody from start to finish contains 41.
  548. Another of Bach’s favorite games was the puzzle canon.
  549. A canon is a melody that sounds good when you play it
  550. on top of itself, a little bit out of sync.
  551. “Frère Jacques” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
  552. are familiar examples of simple, two-voice canons.
  553. But a canon can employ any number of voices.
  554. And you don’t have to play each voice the same way, either.
  555. You can change the octave, transpose the key,
  556. invert the pitch, play it backwards, or any combination.
  557. Finding melodies that make good multi-voice canons
  558. is a fussy and difficult art, of which Bach was an undisputed master.
  559. Now, in a puzzle canon,
  560. the composer specifies the basic melody and the number of voices,
  561. but not the relationship of the voices.
  562. The student has to figure out the position and key of each voice,
  563. and whether to perform them inverted and/or backwards.
  564. Bach wrote quite a number of puzzle canons.
  565. The most famous, BWV 1076, is part of a fascinating story.
  566. One of Bach’s students was a fellow by the name of Lorenz Mizler,
  567. founder of The Society of Musical Science.
  568. This elite, invitation-only institution
  569. devoted itself to the study of Pythagorean philosophy,
  570. and the union of music and mathematics.
  571. Its distinguished membership reads like a Who’s Who of German composers,
  572. including Handel, Telemann and eventually Mozart.
  573. Applicants for membership in the Society
  574. were required to submit an oil portrait of themselves,
  575. along with a specimen of original music.
  576. With nerdly efficiency, society member number 14 decided
  577. to combine these admission requirements into a single work.
  578. He sat for a portrait with Elias Haussmann,
  579. official artist at the court of Dresden.
  580. This portrait, which now hangs in the gallery
  581. of the Town Hall in Leipzig,
  582. is the only indisputably authentic image of Bach in existence.
  583. The Haussman portrait shows Bach dressed in a formal coat
  584. with exactly 14 buttons. In his hand is a sheet of music paper
  585. upon which is written a puzzle canon for six simultaneous voices.
  586. In 1974, a manuscript was discovered which proved
  587. that this canon was the thirteenth in a series of exactly 14 canons
  588. based on the ground theme of the famous Goldberg Variations.
  589. As if these musical gymnastics weren’t enough,
  590. Bach liked to hide messages in his compositions
  591. by assigning notes to the letters.
  592. His initials B-A-C-H correspond to the pitch sequence
  593. B-flat, A, C and B-natural in German letter notation.
  594. This theme makes its most memorable appearance
  595. in the last bars of his final composition,
  596. The Art of Fugue, published soon after his death in 1750.
  597. The word “fugue” comes from the Latin fuga,
  598. which means flight (as in running away).
  599. So the art of fugue is the art of flight,
  600. the art of taking a theme and running with it.
  601. Bach wrote hundreds of fugues,
  602. but none as sublime as this sequence of 14.
  603. In the last and most complicated fugue in the series,
  604. the first and second sections develop normally.
  605. This is followed by the B-A-C-H signature,
  606. and then suddenly, without any warning or structural justification,
  607. the fugue stops dead in its tracks.
  608. One of the composer’s 20 children,
  609. his son Carl Philipp Emanuel,
  610. claimed that Bach died moments after those last few notes were written.
  611. This story is probably apocryphal.
  612. The Easter eggs in Bach’s music are a pleasant obscurity,
  613. known chiefly to professors and students of Baroque music.
  614. But in March of 2002, when this lecture was first delivered,
  615. those Easter eggs were the talk of the entire classical music industry.
  616. Sitting near the top of the classical music charts that month
  617. was a compact disc on the ECM label called Morimur.
  618. It is performed by the Hilliard choral ensemble
  619. together with a talented but, until then,
  620. little-known violinist, Christoph Poppen.
  621. The music on Morimur is based on a gematriacal analysis
  622. of Bach’s Partita in D Minor for solo violin.
  623. This analysis, by German professor Helga Thoene,
  624. assigns numeric values to the duration of notes,
  625. the number of bars, and the German letter notation of the Partita.
  626. In doing so, she claims to have discovered the complete text
  627. of several liturgical ceremonies encoded in the notes.
  628. The CD presents these hidden texts,
  629. superimposed over the original music.
  630. The result was strangely melancholy,
  631. dark, haunting, and very, very popular.
  632. Quite a few music critics attacked this disc.
  633. They didn’t buy Professor Thoene’s analysis,
  634. dismissing it as a combination of numerology and canny marketing.
  635. Their caution was not without basis.
  636. Numerology is a slippery slope
  637. down which many a fine mind has slid to its doom.
  638. Allow me to offer an amusing anecdote from my own experience.
  639. Back in the early ‘90s, before the Internet took off,
  640. one of the more popular online bulletin board systems
  641. was a service called Prodigy.
  642. I bought an account on Prodigy
  643. so I could join a fraternal interest group,
  644. and gossip with fellow members around the country.
  645. One day, a stranger appeared on our bulletin board.
  646. Right away, I knew we were in trouble.
  647. This fellow, whose name was Gary,
  648. began spouting all kinds of apocalyptic nonsense
  649. about worldwide conspiracies, secret societies and devil worship.
  650. At first we tried to be polite.
  651. We questioned his sources, corrected his histories,
  652. logically refuted his claims, and tried to behave in a civilized manner.
  653. But instead of soothing him, our attention only made him worse.
  654. His conspiratorial warnings became urgent, approaching hysteria.
  655. He began to threaten people who disagreed with him.
  656. To coin a phrase, Gary went All Upper Case.
  657. But his most urgent warnings weren’t about the gays,
  658. the Jews, the Rockefellers or the Illuminati.
  659. According to Gary, the greatest enemy of mankind was Santa Claus.
  660. Gary claimed to possess a secret numerical formula
  661. that “proved” beyond a shadow of a doubt
  662. that Santa Claus was an avatar of the Antichrist.
  663. Intrigued, we pressed Gary to reveal his formula.
  664. In doing so, we walked right into his trap.
  665. We should have known he had a book to sell.
  666. I fell for it. I sent him the fifteen bucks.
  667. Less than a week later the book arrived.
  668. Above an ominous photograph of the Washington monument
  669. was emblazoned the title: 666: The Final Warning!
  670. Inside this privately printed 494-page monster,
  671. Gary reveals a simple gematriacal formula
  672. which he claims was developed by the ancient Sumerians.
  673. This formula assigns successive products of 6
  674. to each letter of the alphabet: A=6, B=12, C=18, etc.
  675. Imagine my dismay when I applied this ancient formula
  676. to the name “Santa Claus,” and obtained the blasphemous sum of 666,
  677. the Biblical Number of the Beast!
  678. I went on Prodigy and reported
  679. to the stunned members of our interest group
  680. that Gary was right, after all.
  681. There could be no doubt that,
  682. according to the unimpeachable wisdom of ancient Sumeria,
  683. Santa Claus was the AntiChrist.
  684. I then went on to point out several other names which,
  685. when submitted to Gary’s formula, also produced the sum 666.
  686. Names like “Saint James,” “New York” and “New Mexico.”
  687. Soon the bulletin board was filled with discoveries
  688. like “computer,” “Boston tea” and, most sinister of all, “sing karaoke.”
  689. Gary left us alone after that. I got my $15 worth.
  690. But Gary is hardly the first person
  691. to connect secret codes to the Bible.
  692. People have been looking for Easter eggs in the Bible
  693. for hundreds of years.
  694. The Hebrew mystical tradition of kabbalah
  695. can be described as a gematriacal meditation on the Pentateuch,
  696. the first five books of the Old Testament.
  697. The advent of computers
  698. has made the application of numerology to the Bible
  699. fast and efficient.
  700. The latest spate of Bible-searching
  701. was instigated by a book published in 1998 by Michael Drosnin,
  702. a former Wall Street Journal reporter.
  703. His book, The Bible Code, applied a skip-cypher,
  704. in which every nth character in a text is combined to form a message.
  705. By applying his skip-cypher to the Hebrew text of the Old Testament,
  706. Drosnin claimed to have discovered predictions of World War II,
  707. the Holocaust, Hiroshima,
  708. the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and both Kennedys,
  709. the moon landing, Watergate, the Oklahoma City bombing,
  710. the election of Bill Clinton, the death of Princess Di
  711. and the comet that collided with Jupiter.
  712. He also found predictions of a giant earthquake in LA,
  713. a meteor hitting the earth, and nuclear armageddon,
  714. all scheduled to occur before the end of the last decade.
  715. The Bible Code spent many weeks on the bestseller lists,
  716. spawning several sequels and dozens of imitators.
  717. The Bible has certainly attracted its share of crackpots.
  718. But for the real hardcore egg hunters,
  719. nothing can rival the ingenuity, the tenacious scholarship,
  720. the stubborn zeal of those who seek the answer
  721. to the ultimate literary puzzle.
  722. A poisonous conundrum that has squandered fortunes,
  723. destroyed careers, and driven healthy,
  724. intelligent scholars to the brink of madness, and beyond.
  725. Who wrote Shakespeare?
  726. The essays and books devoted to the Shakespeare authorship problem
  727. are sufficient to fill a large library.
  728. Several such libraries actually exist.
  729. Not even a day-long tutorial, much less an hour lecture,
  730. can begin to do justice to this complex,
  731. bizarre and dangerously tantalizing story.
  732. Nevertheless, for the unacquainted,
  733. I will attempt to summarize the issue in a few paragraphs.
  734. The undisputed facts of Shakespeare’s life and career
  735. could be scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin.
  736. We know for a fact that a man named William Shakespeare
  737. was born in 1564 in or around the village of Stratford-upon-Avon.
  738. We know that he had a wife and at least three children.
  739. We know he bought property in Stratford,
  740. was involved in several lawsuits with his neighbors,
  741. and died there in 1616, aged 52.
  742. We also know that during those same years,
  743. a man with a last name similar to Shakespeare
  744. worked as an actor on the London stage,
  745. eventually becoming co-owner of some of the theaters there.
  746. We also know that, about the same time,
  747. a number of most excellent poems and plays
  748. were published in London under the name Shakespeare.
  749. We do not know for a fact
  750. that the landowner in Stratford
  751. and the actor in London with a similar last name
  752. were one and the same man.
  753. We do not know for a fact
  754. that either man had anything to do
  755. with the poems and the plays.
  756. All we know is that those poems and plays have,
  757. in the four hundred years since their composition,
  758. come to be regarded as a pinnacle of Western culture.
  759. The works attributed to Shakespeare
  760. appear to have been written by a man or woman
  761. who knew something about just about everything.
  762. They’re filled with references to mythology and
  763. classic literature, games and sports, war and weapons of war,
  764. ships and sailing, the law and legal terminology,
  765. court etiquette, statesmanship, horticulture,
  766. music, astronomy, medicine, falconry and, of course, theater.
  767. Therein lies the problem.
  768. How could a farmer’s son of uncertain schooling
  769. from a mostly illiterate country village,
  770. a man of practically no account at all,
  771. wield such encyclopedic learning
  772. with so much eloquence and wit,
  773. so much wisdom and human understanding?
  774. For the first 150 years,
  775. nobody questioned the traditional history of the Bard.
  776. Then, in the late eighteenth century, Reverend James Wilmot,
  777. a distinguished scholar who lived just a few miles north of Stratford,
  778. decided to write a biography of the famous playwright.
  779. Dr. Wilmot believed that a man as well-educated as Shakespeare
  780. must have owned a fairly extensive library,
  781. despite the fact that not a single book or manuscript is mentioned in his will.
  782. Over the years, he speculated,
  783. some of those books must have found their way into local collections.
  784. And so the good Reverend Doctor scoured the British countryside,
  785. taking inventory of literally every bookshelf within 50 miles of Stratford.
  786. Not a single book from the library of William Shakespeare was discovered.
  787. Neither were there found any letters to, from or about Shakespeare.
  788. Furthermore, no references to the folklore,
  789. local sayings or distinctive dialect of the Stratford area
  790. could be found in any of Shakespeare’s writings.
  791. After four years of painstaking research,
  792. Dr. Wilmot concluded, to his own dismay,
  793. that only one person contemporary with Shakespeare of Stratford
  794. had ever demonstrated the wide-ranging education and expressive talent
  795. needed to compose those poems and plays.
  796. That man was the multilingual author, philosopher and statesman,
  797. inventor of the Scientific Method, Chancellor to the Courts
  798. of Queen Elizabeth and King James, Sir Francis Bacon.
  799. Dr. Wilmot never dared to publish his theory.
  800. But before he died he confided it to a friend, James Cowell,
  801. who, in 1805, repeated it to a meeting of the Ipswich Philosophical Society.
  802. The members of the society were suitably outraged,
  803. and the scandalous matter was quickly forgotten.
  804. Then in 1857, a lady from Stratford — Stratford, Connecticut —
  805. published a book called The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded.
  806. In this book, Miss Delia Bacon, no relation to Francis,
  807. claimed that the works of Shakespeare were written
  808. by a secret cabal of British nobility
  809. including Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Philip Sidney
  810. as well as Sir Francis Bacon.
  811. Delia Bacon’s book electrified the world of letters.
  812. Battle lines were drawn
  813. between the orthodox Stratfordians and the heretical Baconians.
  814. Literary societies and scholarly journals were formed to debate the evidence.
  815. Hundreds of pamphlets, newspaper articles and essays
  816. were published defending each side,
  817. and ridiculing the opposition with that self-aggrandizing viciousness
  818. peculiar to tenured academics.
  819. Armed with her explosive book,
  820. Delia Bacon journeyed to Stratford-upon-Avon and, unbelievably,
  821. obtained official permission to open Shakespeare’s grave.
  822. However, when the moment came to actually lift the stone,
  823. Delia’s self-doubt precipitated a catastrophic nervous breakdown.
  824. She later died penniless in a madhouse.
  825. Around 1888, things began to get a bit out of hand.
  826. U.S. Congressman Ignatius Donnelly of Minnesota
  827. became interested in the Shakespeare controversy.
  828. One day, browsing through his facsimile copy of the First Folio of 1623,
  829. he noted that the word “bacon” appeared on page 53 of the Histories
  830. and also on page 53 of the Comedies.
  831. He also noted that Sir Francis Bacon
  832. had written extensively on the subject of cryptography.
  833. Donnelly began counting line and page numbers,
  834. adding and subtracting letters,
  835. drawing lines over sentences,
  836. circling words and crossing them out.
  837. The result was a complex and virtually incomprehensible algorithm
  838. which he claimed was invented by Bacon
  839. to hide secret messages inside the First Folio.
  840. The greatest Easter egg hunt in the history of Western civilization had begun.
  841. Here are just a couple of the sillier highlights.
  842. A doctor named Orville Owen of Detroit
  843. constructed a bizarre research tool he called the Wheel of Fortune.
  844. This wheel consisted of two giant wooden spools
  845. wrapped with a strip of canvas two feet wide and a thousand feet long.
  846. Onto this canvas he glued the separate pages of the complete works
  847. of Bacon, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Greene, Peele and Spenser,
  848. together with Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy.
  849. By cranking the spools back and forth,
  850. Dr. Owen could quickly zip across the pages
  851. in search of clues and cross-references.
  852. Employing a large team of secretaries and stenographers,
  853. Owen claimed to have uncovered
  854. a complete alternative history of Elizabethan England,
  855. as well as several entirely new Shakespeare plays and sonnets.
  856. Listen to this hidden verse,
  857. supposedly penned by the mighty Bard himself,
  858. which inspired Dr. Owen to build his Wheel of Fortune.
  859. Take your knife and cut all our books asunder
  860. And set the leaves on a great firm wheel
  861. Which rolls and rolls, and turning the fickle rolling wheel
  862. Throw your eyes upon Fortune
  863. That goddess blind, that stands upon a spherical stone
  864. that, turning and inconstant, rolls
  865. in restless variation.
  866. After publishing five thick volumes of this rubbish,
  867. Owen announced the discovery of an anagram indicating
  868. that Bacon’s original manuscripts were buried
  869. near Chepstow Castle on the river Wye.
  870. Owen spent the next fifteen years and thousands of dollars
  871. excavating the bed of the river with boat crews and high explosives.
  872. He died before anything was found.
  873. A fellow named Arensburg wrote an entire book
  874. based on the analysis of the significance of a suspicious crack
  875. in the tomb of Bacon’s mother.
  876. A ray of sanity finally appeared in 1957.
  877. To those familiar with the science of cryptology,
  878. the name William Friedman needs little introduction.
  879. During World War II, Colonel Friedman was the head
  880. of the US Army’s cryptoanalytic bureau.
  881. He is credited with cracking the Japanese Empire’s
  882. most sensitive cipher.
  883. After the war, the Colonel decided to apply his expertise to the study
  884. of the Shakespeare ciphers.
  885. He interviewed several of the experts in the field,
  886. and prepared a detailed scientific analysis,
  887. which he published under the title The Shakespeare Ciphers Examined.
  888. His conclusion? In a word, bunk.
  889. According to the standards of cryptologic science,
  890. not one of the hidden messages purportedly discovered in Shakespeare’s works
  891. was plausible.
  892. The rules used to extract these messages from the texts were non-rigorous,
  893. wildly subjective, and unrepeatable by anyone except the original decypherer.
  894. The people involved were not being dishonest.
  895. They were channeling their preconceptions.
  896. They were trapped in a labyrinth of delusion, mining order from chaos,
  897. “Angler[s] in a lake of darkness.” Lear III.6.
  898. You would think that Friedman’s cold and ruthless exposure
  899. would be enough to silence the heretics once and for all.
  900. Not a chance. The books and TV specials and Web sites
  901. and conferences and doctoral dissertations keep right on coming.
  902. I should point out that the Shakespeare authorship issue
  903. is not only the preoccupation of cranks and weirdos.
  904. A substantial number of respected authors and Shakespeareans
  905. have expressed serious doubts about the traditional origin of the plays.
  906. The list includes Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson,
  907. Walt Whitman, Henry James, Sam Clemens, Sigmund Freud,
  908. Orson Welles and Sir John Gielgud.
  909. Living skeptics include the artistic director of the New Globe Theater,
  910. Mark Rylance; Michael York, Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh,
  911. and even that most revered and scholarly
  912. of contemporary Shakespearean actors, Keanu Reeves.
  913. The current leading candidate for the authorship is Edward de Vere,
  914. the seventeenth Earl of Oxford,
  915. a theory first proposed in 1920 by an English schoolmaster
  916. with the unfortunate name J. Thomas Looney.
  917. What is it about Bach, the Bible and the works of Shakespeare
  918. that inspires this intense scrutiny?
  919. Nobody’s looking for acrostics in Chaucer or Keats.
  920. There are no hit CDs of the secret chorales of Wagner or Beethoven.
  921. For the answer, we need to recognize the unique roles
  922. which the Bible and Shakespeare have played
  923. in the development of Western culture.
  924. No other single work of literature
  925. has influenced Modern English
  926. more than the translation of the Holy Bible published in 1611
  927. under the auspices of King James I.
  928. The King James Bible exemplifies the meaning of the word classic.
  929. It has been called the noblest monument of English prose,
  930. the very greatest achievement of the English language.
  931. It has served as an inspiration for generations
  932. of poets, dramatists, musicians, politicians and orators.
  933. Countless people have learned to read by repeating the phrases in this,
  934. the only book their family possessed.
  935. Our constitutions and our laws have been profoundly shaped
  936. by its cadences and imagery.
  937. But even the glory of the King James Bible,
  938. compiled by a committee of 46 editors over the course of a decade,
  939. pales before the dazzling legacy of the Swan of Avon.
  940. The lowest estimate of Shakespeare’s working vocabulary
  941. is 15,000 words, more than three times that of the King James Bible,
  942. and twice the size of his nearest competitor, John Milton.
  943. His poems and plays were written without the aid of a dictionary
  944. or a thesaurus. They didn’t exist yet. It was all in his head.
  945. When Shakespeare had a thought for which Elizabethan English had no word,
  946. he invented one.
  947. The Oxford English Dictionary lists hundreds of everyday words and phrases
  948. which made their first appearance in the pages of the Bard.
  949. Addiction. Alligator. Assassination. Bedroom. Critic. Dawn. Design.
  950. Dialogue. Employer. Film. Glow. Gloomy. Gossip. Hint. Hurry.
  951. Investment. Lonely. Luggage. Manager. Switch. Torture.
  952. Transcendence. Wormhole. Zany.
  953. Hamlet alone contains nearly forty of these neologisms.
  954. Who today would have this audacity, this giddy exuberance of invention?
  955. Only one other English author even approaches Shakespeare’s facility
  956. for coining new words: Sir Francis Bacon.
  957. In the modern era, the record holder is Charles Dodgson,
  958. better known as Lewis Carroll, who, interestingly,
  959. also happens to be the second most quoted author in English, after Shakespeare.
  960. Everyone has been profoundly molded
  961. by the influences of the King James Bible and Shakespeare.
  962. Like it or not, all of us peer at the world
  963. through the lenses of these great works.
  964. They are the primary source documents of modern English thought,
  965. the style guides of our minds.
  966. Contemplating these dazzling jewels of wisdom and eloquence
  967. gives rise to an extraordinary feeling.
  968. A potent, rare and precious emotion
  969. with the potential to completely upset your life.
  970. An emotion powerful enough to make a man abandon his wife and children,
  971. forfeit career and reputation,
  972. lay down his possessions and follow his heart without questioning.
  973. That sweet, sweet fusion of wonder and fear,
  974. irresistible attraction and soul-numbing dread known as awe.
  975. Awe is the Grail of artistic achievement.
  976. No other human emotion possesses such raw transformative power,
  977. and none is more difficult to evoke.
  978. Few and far between are the works of man
  979. that qualify as truly awesome.
  980. It is awe that convinces a rabbi
  981. to spend a lifetime decoding Yahweh from the Pentateuch.
  982. Awe that sends millions of visitors each year
  983. to the Pyramids of Giza, Guadalupe and Mecca.
  984. It was awe that drove poor Delia Bacon to her doom.
  985. Now, please don’t come away from this lecture thinking
  986. that the key to awesome game design is the installation of Easter eggs!
  987. Ordinary games, with their contrived Easter eggs and cheat codes,
  988. are like the Battery of the Month club.
  989. You have to trudge down to the back of the store
  990. to get what you really came for.
  991. If super power is what people really want, why not just give it to them?
  992. Is our imagination so impoverished
  993. that we have to resort to marketing gimmicks
  994. to keep players interested in our games?
  995. Awesome things don’t hold anything back.
  996. Awesome things are rich and generous.
  997. The treasure is right there.
  998. One afternoon, I was sitting alone behind the counter
  999. at that old Radio Shack store.
  1000. My boss had stepped out for some reason.
  1001. An elderly woman walked through the front door.
  1002. Like most of our customers, she was shabbily dressed.
  1003. Probably on a fixed income.
  1005. I assumed she was there for her free battery.
  1006. But instead, she placed a portable radio on the counter.
  1007. This radio came from the days when they boasted
  1008. about the number of transitors inside on the case.
  1009. It was completely wrapped in dirty white medical tape.
  1010. The woman looked at me, and asked, “Can you fix this?”
  1011. Slowly I unwrapped the medical tape,
  1012. peeling away the layers until the back cover of the radio fell off,
  1013. accompanied by a cloud of red dust.
  1014. The interior of the radio was half eaten away by battery leakage and corrosion.
  1015. I looked at the radio. I looked at the old woman.
  1016. I looked back at the radio.
  1017. I reached behind me, where the expensive alkaline batteries
  1018. were hanging like prescription medication,
  1019. and removed a gleaming nine-volt cell from its gold blister pack.
  1020. Then I pulled a brand-new transistor radio from a box,
  1021. installed the alkaline and helped the lady find her favorite station.
  1022. No money changed hands. She left the store without saying a word.
  1023. Awesome things are kind of like that.
  1024. Bach offered his students very specific insight into the source of awe.
  1025. In addition to B-A-C-H, two other sets of initials
  1026. are also associated with Bach’s music.
  1027. These initials are not hidden in the notes.
  1028. Instead, they’re scrawled right across the top of his manuscripts
  1029. for the whole world to see.
  1030. The initials are SDG and JJ.
  1031. SDG stands for the Latin phrase Soli Deo Gloria, “To the glory of God alone.”
  1032. JJ stands for Jesu Juva, “Help me, Jesus.”
  1033. Bach wrote all of his great masterpieces sub specie aeternitatis,
  1034. “under the aspect of eternity.”
  1035. He did not compose only to please his sponsors,
  1036. or to win the approval of an audience.
  1037. His work was his worship.
  1038. Bach once wrote,
  1039. “Music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God
  1040. and the recreation of the soul.
  1041. Where this is not kept in mind there is no true music,
  1042. but only an infernal clamour and ranting.”
  1043. The name of the power that moves you is not important.
  1044. What is important is that you are moved.
  1045. Awe is the foundation of religion.
  1046. No other motivation can free you from the limits of personal achievement.
  1047. Nothing else can teach you the Art of Flight.
  1048. Computer games are barely forty years old.
  1049. Only a few words in our basic vocabulary have been established.
  1050. A whole dictionary is waiting to be coined.
  1051. The slate is clean.
  1052. Someday soon, perhaps even in our lifetime,
  1053. a game design will appear
  1054. that will flash across our culture like lightning.
  1055. It will be easy to recognize.
  1056. It will be generous, giddy with exuberant inventiveness.
  1057. Scholars will pick it apart for decades, perhaps centuries.
  1058. It will be something wonderful.
  1059. Something terrifying.
  1060. Something awe-full.
  1061. A few years ago I was invited to speak at a conference in London.
  1062. My wife joined me, and we took a day off for some sightseeing.
  1063. We decided to visit England’s second-biggest tourist attraction,
  1064. Stratford-upon-Avon.
  1065. It was cold and rainy when our train arrived.
  1066. Luckily, most of the attractions are just a short walk from the station.
  1067. We visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, a charming old house
  1068. along the main street which attracts millions of pilgrims every year,
  1069. despite the complete lack of any evidence that Shakespeare was born there,
  1070. or even lived anywhere near it.
  1071. We went past the school where Shakespeare learned to read and write,
  1072. although no documents exist to prove his attendance.
  1073. We visited Anne Hathaway’s cottage,
  1074. the rustic country farm where his wife spent her childhood,
  1075. although no record shows anyone by that name ever having lived there.
  1076. Finally we came to the one location undeniably associated with Shakespeare:
  1077. Trinity Parish church, on the banks of the river Avon,
  1078. where a man by that name is buried.
  1079. This beautiful church is approached by a long walkway,
  1080. between rows of ancient gravestones, shaded by tall trees.
  1081. The entrance door is surprisingly tiny.
  1082. No cameras are allowed inside.
  1083. The interior is dark and quiet.
  1084. Despite the presence of busloads of tourists,
  1085. the atmosphere is hushed and respectful.
  1086. A few people are seated in the pews, deep in prayer.
  1087. An aisle leads up the center of the church.
  1088. The left side of the altar is brightly illuminated.
  1089. On the wall above is a famous bust of the Bard,
  1090. quill in hand, gazing serenely at the crowd of pilgrims.
  1091. On the floor beneath, surrounded by bouquets of flowers,
  1092. at the very spot where Delia Bacon lost her mind,
  1093. the gravestone of William Shakespeare bears this dire warning:
  1094. Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear
  1095. To dig the dust enclosed here
  1096. Blest be the man who spares these stones
  1097. And curst be he that moves my bones.
  1098. Every year, three million pilgrims arrive from every nation on Earth
  1099. to approach this stone and consider the likeness of a man
  1100. whose body of work can only be described as awesome.
  1101. By contrast, the right side of the altar is dark and featureless.
  1102. Nobody of any consequence is buried there.
  1103. The only point of interest is a wooden case, of simple design,
  1104. carved of dark oak.
  1105. Inside the case, sealed beneath a thick sheet of glass,
  1106. lies a large open book.
  1107. A plaque on the case identifies this book
  1108. as a first edition of the King James Bible,
  1109. published in 1611, when Shakespeare was forty-six.
  1110. Not many pilgrims visit this side of the altar.
  1111. Most of those that do simply glance at the book,
  1112. read the plaque and move along.
  1113. A few, more observant, note that the Bible happens to be opened
  1114. to a page in the Old Testament: the Book of Psalms, chapter 46.
  1115. No explanation is given for this particular choice of pages.
  1116. For the initiated, none is necessary.
  1117. If you are of inquisitive bent,
  1118. if you are intrigued by English history and literature,
  1119. if you value your peace of mind, cover your ears, now.
  1120. In the year 1900, a scholar noticed something
  1121. about the King James translation of Psalm 46.
  1122. Something terrifying. Something wonderful.
  1123. The 46th word from the beginning of Psalm 46 is “shake.”
  1124. The 46th word from the end is “spear.”
  1125. There are only two possibilities here.
  1126. Either this is the finest coincidence ever recorded
  1127. in the history of world literature.
  1128. Or, it is not.
  1129. The Earth revolves around only one sun, and has only one moon.
  1130. The moon happens to be four hundred times smaller than the sun.
  1131. The sun happens to be four hundred times farther away.
  1132. And the apparent paths of the moon and sun in our sky
  1133. happen to intersect exactly twice every month.
  1134. Which means that every now and then,
  1135. at long yet precisely predictable intervals,
  1136. the lunar disc slips across the face of the sun
  1137. and just barely conceals it for a few wonderful, terrible minutes.
  1138. A fine coincidence, no?
  1139. In June of 1977, a little man with divergent eyes and a talent for mischief
  1140. ascended a hilltop in the British village of Ampthill.
  1141. At the summit of this hill is a tall, slender cross,
  1142. a memorial to Catherine of Aragorn, the first wife of Henry VIII.
  1143. The sun, high in the south,
  1144. cast the shadow of the cross upon the grassy hillside.
  1145. At exactly 12 noon, the man removed from his pocket a bar magnet.
  1146. He turned the magnet so its north pole was facing south,
  1147. and buried it under the shadow of the cross.
  1148. Two years later, a few hours before the publication of his first book,
  1149. the man returned to that hillside, this time in the dead of night.
  1150. He used a compass to locate the magnet he had buried.
  1151. In that same place, he dug a hole in the ground
  1152. and placed inside a ceramic container inscribed with the following words:
  1153. “I am the Keeper of the Jewel of MASQUERADE,
  1154. which lies waiting safe inside me
  1155. for You or Eternity.”
  1158. : rupert
  1159. Know yourself as the open, empty, luminous presence of awareness
  1160. Open because you say yes
  1161. unconditionally and indiscriminately
  1162. to all appearances of the mind, body, and world.
  1163. Like empty space, you have no mechanism inherent within you
  1164. that can resist any appearance.
  1165. We don’t have to make this the case;
  1166. it is already the case
  1167. Empty because although you, I, this aware presence
  1168. is aware of thoughts, sensations, and perceptions
  1169. it is not made out of a thought, a sensation, or a perception.
  1170. It is made out of pure knowing or awareness
  1171. And luminous because just like the sun, relatively speaking,
  1172. that renders all objects seeable
  1173. so you, I, this open empty presence
  1174. renders all experience knowable
  1175. In fact we don’t really see objects, relatively speaking,
  1176. illumined by the sun;
  1177. we just see reflections or modulations of the sun’s light
  1178. appearing as a multiplicity and diversity of color.
  1179. In the same way, we don’t really know
  1180. the objects of the mind, body, and the world;
  1181. we just know our knowing of them
  1182. All we know, all that is known, is the knowing of experience,
  1183. and you are that knowing
  1184. All that is ever known is a modulation of our own knowing presence,
  1185. modulating itself in the form of thinking, sensing and perceiving,
  1186. and seeming to become a mind, a body, and a world.
  1187. But we never actually know a mind, a body, and a world
  1188. as they are normally conceived.
  1189. We just know our knowing of them.
  1190. And this knowing, this substance of our experience,
  1191. the only substance of our experience,
  1192. is our self. In other words, we know ourself alone.
  1193. Awareness knows nothing other than itself.
  1194. Be knowingly this open, empty, luminous presence of awareness.
  1195. We don’t need to do anything special to make this happen.
  1196. Above all, we don’t have to manipulate the mind
  1197. in any way whatsoever
  1198. to be this presence of awareness
  1199. This presence of awareness which is simply our self, what we refer to
  1200. when we say "I", is ever-present
  1201. Just check this in your own experience.
  1202. Nothing that I am saying this evening,
  1203. there is nothing that cannot be checked
  1204. in your own direct experience right now.
  1205. I bring no special knowledge to this meeting.
  1206. I don’t have a store of knowledge
  1207. which I am disseminating.
  1208. I’m just, within the limits of language, trying to describe
  1209. the current experience.
  1210. Ask yourself, do I know anything other than now
  1211. Try to experience the not-now.
  1212. Try first to experience the past
  1213. It’s easy to experience a thought about the past.
  1214. But what about the actual past
  1215. to which this thought refers?
  1216. Try to experience that
  1217. Can you step into the past,
  1218. can you go one second into the past?
  1219. Or one second into the future?
  1220. Thought can go there,
  1221. but what about you
  1222. Really try to go there, to make sure that this is
  1223. not just an interesting philosophical conversation,
  1224. but that it is actually your experience
  1225. that the past and the future are never experienced
  1226. And if the past and the future are never actually experienced,
  1227. they are only thought about, and that thought
  1228. about the past and the future is always now,
  1229. if this past and future are never experienced,
  1230. what does that say about time
  1231. Time is a movement between a nonexistent past
  1232. towards a nonexistent future.
  1233. It’s a theory. A necessary and valid theory,
  1234. but a theory that doesn’t refer to the reality of our experience.
  1235. Nobody has ever or could ever experience time.
  1236. When I say "nobody" I mean yourself, awareness,
  1237. the only one that knows or is aware
  1238. When I arrived off the plane from London
  1239. in Washington D.C. last weekend before coming here
  1240. the friend who picked me up asked me how the flight was,
  1241. and she said, "How long did it take?"
  1242. and I experienced thought being cranked up like an old motor,
  1243. a little resistant to get going
  1244. And for a moment I could feel the cogs of thought almost moving,
  1245. trying to work out how much time the flight had taken.
  1246. Because in my experience it had been now all the way
  1247. I had never left London.
  1248. London had left me.
  1249. I had never got onto an aeroplane.
  1250. A flow of sensations and perceptions that thought abstracts,
  1251. and calls a body in an aeroplane,
  1252. flowed through me.
  1253. And I never arrived in Washington D.C.
  1254. Washington D.C. arrived in me.
  1255. Or at least the cluster of perceptions
  1256. that thought calls Washington D.C.
  1257. arrived in me.
  1258. In the same way
  1259. nobody ever walked into this room
  1260. and nobody is sitting on a chair
  1261. and nobody is listening to a talk.
  1262. A colorful flow of sensations and perceptions appears in awareness,
  1263. but awareness never goes anywhere or does anything.
  1264. It is always here and now.
  1265. Not here a place and now a time. Here, this dimensionless,
  1266. now, this timeless presence of our own being.
  1267. That is our experience whether we recognise it or not
  1268. Now the mind may feel a little rebellious when it hears this.
  1269. It may say yes, yes, yes, that’s true, but there is an undeniable
  1270. continuity to my experience.
  1271. And this undeniable continuity would seem to be evidence of time
  1272. Where does this felt sense of continuity come from?
  1273. All we know of the mind is the current thought or image.
  1274. And thoughts and images are intermittent.
  1275. The body is known through sensation.
  1276. And all sensations are intermittent.
  1277. All we know of the world is perception,
  1278. that is sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells;
  1279. in fact nobody has ever experienced a world as such,
  1280. a world as it is normally conceived to be,
  1281. we just know the current perception.
  1282. And all perception is intermittent.
  1283. So if the so-called mind, body, are intermittent,
  1284. from where does this felt sense of continuity come from?
  1285. It comes from the only thing, if we can call it a thing,
  1286. that is truly continuous, or in fact not continuous but
  1287. ever-present now in our experience,
  1288. and that is our own being, the presence of awareness.
  1289. The presence of awareness is the only thing
  1290. that is known to be ever-present.
  1291. Now the mind knows nothing of awareness
  1292. because the mind only knows apparent objects.
  1293. So when the mind looks at experience to find
  1294. what it is that accounts for continuity,
  1295. it cannot see awareness,
  1296. and so it manufactures a substance called "time"
  1297. to account for the continuity of experience.
  1298. In other words, continuity in time is what eternity looks like
  1299. when viewed through the narrow slit of the mind
  1300. Permanence in space
  1301. is what the infinite, unlimited nature of awareness looks like
  1302. when viewed through the narrow slit of the mind.
  1303. Continuity and permanence are pale reflections
  1304. at the level of the mind
  1305. of the true eternal and infinite nature of awareness,
  1306. that is, of our self
  1307. What else can we say about our self from our actual experience?
  1308. Which means right now, what can we know for certain about our self?
  1309. Not what thought may tell us about our self,
  1310. but what we actually know, in this moment,
  1311. derived only from our experience of our self?
  1312. Ask yourself, "Can I, this open, empty, knowing presence,
  1313. can I be agitated?
  1314. Thought can be agitated. Sensations, or the body, can be agitated.
  1315. The world can be agitated. But what about you, the one that knows
  1316. the apparent mind, body and world?
  1317. Can you, this open empty presence, be agitated
  1318. See, in your experience right now, that you are —
  1319. and this of course is just an image —
  1320. are like an open, empty space such as the space of this room.
  1321. Nothing that appears within this room
  1322. can agitate it.
  1323. We are all sitting peacefully now, but if we were to stand up
  1324. and start dancing, or fighting,
  1325. would the space of this room become agitated?
  1326. You are like that.
  1327. You, I, the presence of awareness, are undisturbable, imperturbable
  1328. We don’t need to become imperturbable
  1329. and this undisturbability of ourself
  1330. is not dependant upon the condition of the mind.
  1331. Right now you, awareness, are utterly imperturbable,
  1332. and for this reason another name for our self is "peace".
  1333. Peace is not a quality that our self has,
  1334. it is what our self is.
  1335. Not peace of mind. Minds are more or less agitated.
  1336. This "peace that passeth understanding", that is not of the mind,
  1337. it doesn’t have to be sought,
  1338. it is not hiding the background of experience,
  1339. This very awareness that is seeing, hearing, knowing,
  1340. is pure peace itself shining in all experience,
  1341. however apparently agitated that experience may be
  1342. Ask yourself,
  1343. "Can I, this presence of awareness, ever lack something?"
  1344. Thoughts can say that something is missing; feelings can say that
  1345. something is missing, but what about you
  1346. Without referring to thought or feeling,
  1347. is there the slightest motive in you to avoid the now
  1348. and replace it with the not-now
  1349. See that in yourself, this presence of awareness,
  1350. there is not the slightest impulse or possibility to avoid the now
  1351. And what do we call this absolute absence
  1352. of resistance to the now?
  1353. The absolute absence of resisting what is and seeking what is not?
  1354. What is the common name we give to this
  1355. It is called happiness.
  1356. We all know that when we are happy we are, by definition,
  1357. not resisting the now and seeking in the past or the future.
  1358. By "happiness", of course, I do not mean
  1359. a pleasant state of the mind or the body.
  1360. I mean this absolute impossibility of our self ever to resist or seek.
  1361. To resist what is and to seek what is not.
  1362. So happiness, like peace, is just another name for our self.
  1363. It is not a quality that our self has; it is what our self is
  1364. What else can we say for certain
  1365. based on this current experience about our self
  1366. When I was driving here, or being driven here,
  1367. the day before yesterday, from the airport in San Francisco,
  1368. I was looking in the wing mirror of the passenger’s seat,
  1369. and I noticed the words inscribed at the bottom of the wing mirror,
  1370. and they said:
  1372. A statement of pure nonduality
  1373. Objects that appear in the mirror of consciousness
  1374. are closer than we think.
  1375. How close to a mirror are the objects that appear in it
  1376. Are there in fact two things,
  1377. one, the objects that appear in the mirror,
  1378. and two, the mirror?
  1379. Or is it all just mirror
  1380. All we know of the apparent mind
  1381. is the experience of thinking,
  1382. and thinking is just a modulation of your self,
  1383. a modulation of knowing or awareness.
  1384. All we know of the apparent body
  1385. is the experience of sensing,
  1386. and sensing is a modulation of your self, awareness.
  1387. All we know of the apparent world
  1388. is the experience of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling.
  1389. These are all modulations of knowing,
  1390. modulations of our self.
  1391. In other words,
  1392. we never truly know a mind, or a body, or a world.
  1393. These labels are just abstractions that thought superimposes
  1394. on the intimacy of our experience.
  1395. From the point of view of experience,
  1396. which is the only real point of view,
  1397. experience is much closer, much more intimate.
  1398. So close as to not admit the possibility of two things,
  1399. one, myself, awareness,
  1400. and two, the object that I know.
  1401. Even that is an abstraction.
  1402. It may be a useful stepping-stone, a halfway understanding
  1403. to conceive of thoughts, sensations, and perceptions
  1404. arising in awareness, but nothing arises in awareness.
  1405. The only substance of all experience, the only substance
  1406. of thinking, sensing, and perceiving, is already awareness
  1407. What do we call this absolute absence of two things?
  1408. A subject that knows and an object that is known
  1409. Take now the experience of hearing.
  1410. Go to the sound of the air conditioning.
  1411. Forget about the labels "sound" and "air conditioning".
  1412. Our only knowledge of the apparent air conditioning
  1413. is the experience of hearing.
  1414. How close does hearing take place to you?
  1415. Five meters away? Ten meters away?
  1416. Refer only to your experience,
  1417. not to what thought tells you about sound.
  1418. Where is hearing
  1419. Is it close? Intimate?
  1420. And in the experience of hearing,
  1421. can you find two parts,
  1422. one part that hears,
  1423. and another part that is heard?
  1424. Or is it just one seamless, intimate substance called my self
  1425. And what about this room?
  1426. Thought says I, the inside self in here,
  1427. sees the room, the outside world, out there.
  1428. But what does experience say?
  1429. All we know of the apparent room is the experience of seeing.
  1430. Remove seeing and the room vanishes.
  1431. In other words, we don’t know a room.
  1432. We just know the experience of seeing.
  1433. Does seeing take place five, ten, fifteen meters away from your self?
  1434. Or is seeing utterly intimate
  1435. And can you find two parts to the experience of seeing,
  1436. one part that sees, and another part that is seen?
  1437. Or is it just one seamless, intimate substance
  1438. And what is the name, the common name we give to the absolute
  1439. intimacy of all experience? It is called love.
  1440. Love is the most familiar experience that we all know,
  1441. the collapse or dissolution of the sense of a self in here
  1442. and an object, other, or world out there.
  1443. The collapse of this sense of separateness, distance, otherness,
  1444. not-me-ness, is what we call love
  1445. Love is just another name for nonduality.
  1446. If we call it nonduality, there’s just a few thousand of us in the world
  1447. that are interested in it.
  1448. But if we call it love, or peace, or happiness,
  1449. then all seven billion of us are interested in it
  1450. So why is it, if love, peace, happiness are the natural condition
  1451. of all experience, the substance out of which all experience is made,
  1452. how is it that it seems not to be experienced
  1453. It is because of a single thought that rises in awareness,
  1454. made only of awareness,
  1455. which imagines that awareness shares the limits
  1456. of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that appear within it.
  1457. It is like imagining that a mirror shares the limits
  1458. of the objects that appear in it.
  1459. With that thought alone,
  1460. the ever-present, unlimited awareness, which is what we are,
  1461. seems, seems, to aquire or take on the apparent limits
  1462. of the body and the mind,
  1463. just as the screen seems to take on the limits of an image
  1464. when a film begins.
  1465. As a result of this imaginary collapse or contraction of our self,
  1466. unlimited, eternal awareness, into a body and a mind,
  1467. these qualities of love, peace and happiness are seemingly veiled,
  1468. and it is for this reason that the self,
  1469. the separate self that thought imagines us to be,
  1470. is always by definition on a search
  1471. in the imaginary outside world
  1472. for the apparently lost love, peace, and happiness
  1473. However, this imaginary inside self cannot, by definition,
  1474. find the love that it seeks because its very presence,
  1475. its apparent presence, is the veiling of that love.
  1476. All the separate self seeks is love; in fact, the separate self
  1477. is not an entity that searches, it is the activity
  1478. of resisting the now and seeking the not-now.
  1479. All this seeking ever wants is love,
  1480. but love is the dissolution of this seeking,
  1481. the dissolution of this imaginary self.
  1482. In other words, the separate self that seeks love
  1483. is like a moth that seeks a flame.
  1484. The flame is all the moth wants,
  1485. but it is the only thing it cannot have,
  1486. because as the moth touches the flame, it dies.
  1487. That is its way of knowing the flame
  1488. It becomes the flame as it touches it.
  1489. That is the separate self’s way of finding love,
  1490. by dying in it.
  1491. The death or dissolution of the separate self
  1492. is the experience of love
  1493. So, simply be knowingly
  1494. this open, empty, luminous presence of awareness
  1495. whose nature, whose inherent nature, is love, peace, and happiness.
  1496. Not a love, peace, and happiness
  1497. that is in the background of experience,
  1498. that has to be sought,
  1499. but that is shining in full view at the heart of all experience.
  1500. In fact experience is made out of
  1501. this substance called peace or happiness.
  1504. : gangaji
  1505. So it’s absolutely simple
  1506. what I have to say to you.
  1507. It’s what my teacher said to me.
  1508. And I’m still deeply discovering the reverberation of that.
  1509. And it’s simply, "Stop looking for what you want."
  1510. Not cynically stop looking for what you want,
  1511. because there’s a way of stopping looking for what you want
  1512. in resignation and cynicism and closing down.
  1513. But innocently, openly, stop looking for what you want,
  1514. in this moment, not tomorrow when you have it;
  1515. but in this moment, to take one moment,
  1516. whatever it is you want, however mundane or profound,
  1517. and just stop looking for it.
  1518. And you will find more than what you could ever want.
  1519. Because more than what can be wanted is already who you are.
  1520. Too simple to be grasped,
  1521. but absolutely, completely realizable
  1522. If, and it is a huge ’if’ of course,
  1523. you are willing to give up your hope
  1524. that what you want will be found
  1525. in the next thought, or the next activity, or the next day,
  1526. or the next man, or the next woman,
  1527. or the next teaching, or the next experience.
  1528. So that’s huge. That’s the challenge
  1529. And I’ve blessedly travelled to Australia to challenge you
  1530. in that direction. That directionless direction
  1531. It’s so simple that it has to be said over and over
  1532. because it just slips right by the mind
  1533. and if it’s said over and over and in enough ways
  1534. and then not said ...
  1535. it can just be revealed.
  1536. Not as something new, but as something absolutely fresh.
  1537. Not new but fresh
  1538. Who you are is not new,
  1539. but it is always fresh
  1540. Who you think you are is old and dead.
  1541. We just keep trying to think, think it a little better,
  1542. squeeze some life
  1543. Is that clear
  1544. It is?
  1545. Because that’s really the basis of what I have to say
  1546. It’s not a teaching.
  1547. It’s not a belief system.
  1548. It’s not a way to live your life.
  1549. It’s not a ’should stop’.
  1550. It’s not an "if you stop, you will
  1551. be rich and famous and universally loved
  1552. and never have a sad moment."
  1553. None of that, I promise
  1554. If you’re willing to investigate for yourself
  1555. without believing it, or learning it,
  1556. or hoping to get something from it,
  1557. just a pure investigation
  1558. out of the natural curiosity of the human mind,
  1559. just to investigate for yourself,
  1560. "What is here when I stop trying to get anything?"
  1561. "And how much of that is here?
  1562. And where does that begin and where does that end?
  1563. And then the question, "Am I willing to trust that?"
  1564. Then the challenges get very big.
  1565. But we’ll get to that later
  1566. Any questions about what I just said?
  1567. Want me to say it again
  1568. You already are everything you want,
  1569. only maybe not in the way you imagine what you want.
  1570. And it’s that imagination itself
  1571. that keeps you from discovering that you already are
  1572. everything you want.
  1573. So if you just take this evening as an experiment
  1574. to give up any imagination, any image of what you need
  1575. to be totally fulfilled —
  1576. just give it up!
  1577. It’s just an image, just a thought.
  1578. Maybe a spiritual thought, maybe a worldly thought,
  1579. a relationship thought, a career thought, just give it up
  1580. And directly discover what’s here unthought, unimagined.
  1581. How’s that?
  1582. Good. Good.
  1585. : cusa_clock
  1586. The concept of a clock enfolds all succession in time.
  1587. In the concept the sixth hour is not earlier
  1588. than the seventh or eighth,
  1589. although the clock never strikes the hour,
  1590. save when the concept biddeth.
  1591. Nicholas of Cusa, 1450
  1594. : abbad_wine
  1595. The glass is transparent,
  1596. the wine transparent —
  1597. the two are similar,
  1598. the affair confused.
  1599. There seems to be wine
  1600. and no glass,
  1601. or glass
  1602. and no wine
  1603. Sahib bin Abbad, circa 990
  1607. : einstein_cosmic_religious_feeling
  1608. I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling
  1609. is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research.
  1610. Only those who realize the immense efforts
  1611. and, above all, the devotion
  1612. without which pioneer work in theoretical science
  1613. cannot be achieved
  1614. are able to grasp the strength of the emotion
  1615. out of which alone such work,
  1616. remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue.
  1617. What a deep conviction of the rationality of the universe
  1618. and what a yearning to understand,
  1619. were it but a feeble reflection
  1620. of the mind revealed in this world,
  1621. Kepler and Newton must have had
  1622. to enable them to spend years of solitary labor
  1623. in disentangling the principles of celestial mechanics!
  1624. Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived
  1625. chiefly from its practical results
  1626. easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality
  1627. of the men who, surrounded by a skeptical world,
  1628. have shown the way to kindred spirits scattered wide
  1629. through the world and through the centuries.
  1630. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends
  1631. can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men
  1632. and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose
  1633. in spite of countless failures.
  1634. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength.
  1635. A contemporary has said, not unjustly,
  1636. that in this materialistic age of ours
  1637. the serious scientific workers
  1638. are the only profoundly religious people.
  1639. Albert Einstein, 1930
  1643. : augustine_silence
  1644. Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down,
  1645. along with all our busy thoughts about earth, sea, and air;
  1646. if the very world should stop, and the mind cease thinking about itself,
  1647. go beyond itself, and be quite still;
  1648. if all the fantasies that appear in dreams and imagination should cease,
  1649. and there be no speech, no sign:
  1650. Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still –
  1651. for if we listen they are saying,
  1652. We did not make ourselves; he made us who abides forever –
  1653. imagine, then, that they should say this and fall silent,
  1654. listening to the very voice of him who made them
  1655. and not to that of his creation;
  1656. so that we should hear not his word through the tongues of men,
  1657. nor the voice of angels,
  1658. nor the clouds’ thunder,
  1659. nor any symbol,
  1660. but the very Self which in these things we love,
  1661. and go beyond ourselves to attain a flash
  1662. of that eternal wisdom which abides above all things:
  1663. And imagine if that moment were to go on and on,
  1664. leaving behind all other sights and sounds
  1665. but this one vision which ravishes and absorbs
  1666. and fixes the beholder in joy;
  1667. so that the rest of eternal life
  1668. were like that moment of illumination
  1669. which leaves us breathless:
  1670. Would this not be what is bidden in scripture,
  1671. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?
  1672. Augustine of Hippo, circa 400
  1676. : tashih_gate
  1677. One nature, perfect and pervading,
  1678. circulates in all natures;
  1679. One reality, all-comprehensive,
  1680. contains within itself all realities.
  1681. The one Moon reflects itself
  1682. wherever there is a sheet of water,
  1683. And all the moons in the waters
  1684. are embraced within the one Moon.
  1685. The Absolute of all the Buddhas
  1686. enters into my own being,
  1687. And my own being is found
  1688. in union with theirs....
  1689. The Inner Light is beyond praise and blame;
  1690. Like space it knows no boundaries,
  1691. Yet it is even here, within us,
  1692. ever retaining its serenity and fullness.
  1693. It is only when you hunt for it that you lose it;
  1694. You cannot take hold of it,
  1695. but equally you cannot get rid of it,
  1696. And while you can do neither,
  1697. it goes on its own way.
  1698. You remain silent and it speaks;
  1699. you speak, and it is dumb.
  1700. The great gate of charity is wide open,
  1701. with no obstacles before it.
  1702. Yung-chia Ta-shih, circa 700
  1707. : ryonen_autumn
  1708. Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing
  1709. scene of autumn
  1710. I have said enough about moonlight,
  1711. Ask no more.
  1712. Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no
  1713. wind stirs.
  1714. Ryonen, 1711
  1718. : dhamma_153
  1719. Through many births
  1720. I have wandered on and on,
  1721. Searching for, but never finding,
  1722. The builder of this house.
  1726. : einstein_library
  1727. Your question is the most difficult in the world.
  1728. It is not a question I can answer
  1729. simply with yes or no.
  1730. I am not an Atheist.
  1731. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist.
  1732. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds.
  1733. May I not reply with a parable?
  1734. The human mind, no matter how highly trained,
  1735. cannot grasp the universe.
  1736. We are in the position of a little child
  1737. entering a huge library filled with books
  1738. in many languages.
  1739. The child knows someone must have written those books.
  1740. It does not know how.
  1741. It does not understand
  1742. the languages in which they are written.
  1743. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order
  1744. in the arrangement of the books
  1745. but doesn’t know what that is.
  1746. That, it seems to me,
  1747. is the attitude of the most intelligent human
  1748. toward God.
  1749. Albert Einstein, 1930
  1754. : einstein_mystical
  1755. The most beautiful experience we can have
  1756. is the mysterious.
  1757. It is the fundamental emotion
  1758. that stands at the cradle
  1759. of true art and true science.
  1760. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder,
  1761. no longer marvel,
  1762. is as good as dead,
  1763. and his eyes are dimmed.
  1764. It was the experience of mystery —
  1765. even if mixed with fear —
  1766. that engendered religion.
  1767. A knowledge of the existence
  1768. of something we cannot penetrate,
  1769. our perceptions of the profoundest reason
  1770. and the most radiant beauty,
  1771. which only in their most primitive forms
  1772. are accessible to our minds —
  1773. it is this knowledge and this emotion
  1774. that constitute true religiosity;
  1775. in this sense, and in this alone,
  1776. I am a deeply religious man.
  1777. I cannot conceive of a God
  1778. who rewards and punishes his creatures,
  1779. or has a will of the kind
  1780. that we experience in ourselves.
  1781. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive
  1782. of an individual that survives
  1783. his physical death;
  1784. let feeble souls,
  1785. from fear or absurd egoism,
  1786. cherish such thoughts.
  1787. I am satisfied with the mystery
  1788. of the eternity of life
  1789. and with the awareness
  1790. and a glimpse of the marvelous structure
  1791. of the existing world,
  1792. together with the devoted striving
  1793. to comprehend a portion,
  1794. be it ever so tiny,
  1795. of the Reason
  1796. that manifests itself in nature.
  1798. Albert Einstein, 1931
  1804. : jeans_eos_1
  1805. Looked at on the astronomical time-scale,
  1806. humanity is at the very beginning of its existence —
  1807. a new-born babe,
  1808. with all the unexplored potentialities of babyhood;
  1809. and until the last few moments
  1810. its interest has been centred,
  1811. absolutely and exclusively,
  1812. on its cradle and feeding-bottle.
  1813. It has just become conscious of the vast world
  1814. existing outside itself and its cradle;
  1815. it is learning to focus its eyes on distant objects,
  1816. and its awakening brain is beginning to wonder,
  1817. in a vague, dreamy way, what they are
  1818. and what purpose they serve.
  1819. Its interest in this external world
  1820. is not much developed yet,
  1821. so that the main part of its faculties
  1822. is still engrossed with the cradle and feeding-bottle,
  1823. but a little corner of its
  1824. brain is beginning to wonder.      
  1825. James Jeans, 1928
  1828. : jeans_eos_2
  1829. In any case, our three-days-old infant
  1830. cannot be very confident of any interpretation
  1831. it puts on a universe which it only
  1832. discovered a minute or two ago.
  1833. We have said it has seventy years of life before it,
  1834. but in truth its expectation of life
  1835. would seem to be nearer to 70,000 years.
  1836. It may be puzzled, distressed, and often irritated
  1837. at the apparent meaninglessness
  1838. and incomprehensibility of the world
  1839. to which it has suddenly wakened up.
  1840. But it is still very young;
  1841. it might travel half the world over
  1842. before finding another baby
  1843. as young and inexperienced as itself.
  1844. It has before it time enough and to spare
  1845. in which it may understand everything.
  1846. Sooner or later the pieces of the puzzle
  1847. must begin to fit together,
  1848. although it may reasonably be doubted
  1849. whether the whole picture can ever be comprehensible
  1850. to one small, and apparently quite
  1851. insignificant, part of the picture.
  1852. James Jeans, 1928
  1856. : niffari_sea
  1857. God bade me behold the sea,
  1858. and I saw the ships sinking
  1859. and the planks floating;
  1860. then the planks too were submerged.
  1861. And God said to me,
  1862. “Those who voyage are not saved.”
  1863. And He said to me, “Those who, instead of voyaging,
  1864. cast themselves into the sea, take a risk.”
  1865. And He said to me,
  1866. “Those who voyage and take no risk shall perish.”
  1867. And He said to me,
  1868. “In taking the risk there is a part of salvation.”
  1869. And the wave came
  1870. and lifted those beneath it
  1871. and overran the shore.
  1872. And He said to me,
  1873. “The surface of the sea is a gleam that cannot be reached.
  1874. “And the bottom is a darkness impenetrable. And between
  1875. the two are great fishes, which are to be feared.”
  1876. Niffari, circa 970
  1878. What?
  1881. : sandwich
  1882. God bade me behold the sea,
  1883. and I saw the ships sinking
  1884. and the planks floating;
  1885. then the planks too were submerged.
  1886. And God said to me,
  1887. “Those who voyage are not saved.”
  1888. And He said to me, “Those who, instead of voyaging,
  1889. cast themselves into the sea, take a risk.”
  1890. And He said to me,
  1891. “Those who voyage and take no risk shall perish.”
  1892. And He said to me,
  1893. “In taking the risk there is a part of salvation.”
  1894. And the wave came
  1895. and lifted those beneath it
  1896. and overran the shore.
  1897. And He said to me,
  1898. “The surface of the sea is a gleam that cannot be reached.
  1899. “And the bottom is a darkness impenetrable. And between
  1900. the two are great fishes, which are to be feared.”
  1901. Niffari, circa 970
  1903. What?
  1904. I'm going to the store, do you want a sandwich or something?
  1905. You've been standing there for like an hour.
  1906. I didn't want to interrupt.
  1907. And I don't like sandwiches. Have you ever seen me with a sandwich?
  1908. Why would you think I'd want a sandwich?
  1909. Sorry.
  1911. I need some sleep.
  1912. It's okay, we're all working hard.
  1913. I just want to read it right.  
  1914. We're going to be hearing this _a lot_ of times.
  1915. Every little thing matters because it gets so multiplied.
  1916. It's good. It's already good.
  1917. Thanks. Yeah. But we've kind of picked high goal posts.
  1918. Every little bit matters.
  1919. Can you get me a coffee?
  1924. : arabi_veils
  1925. There is nothing in existence but veils hung down.
  1926. Acts of perception attach themselves
  1927. only to veils,
  1928. which leave traces in the owner
  1929. of the eye that perceives them.
  1930. ibn Arabi, 1231
  1934. : tagore_voyage
  1935. I thought my voyage had come to its end
  1936. at the last limit of my power —
  1937. that the path before me was closed,
  1938. the provisions exhausted,
  1939. and the time come to take shelter in silent obscurity.
  1940. But I find that thy will knows no end in me
  1941. And when words die out on the tongue,
  1942. new melodies break forth from the heart;
  1943. And where old tracks are lost,
  1944. New country is revealed with its wonders.
  1948. : tagore_end
  1949. Ever in my life have I sought thee with my songs.
  1950. It was they who led me from door to door,
  1951. and with them I have felt about me,
  1952. searching and touching my world.
  1953. It was my songs that taught me
  1954. all the lessons I ever learnt;
  1955. they showed me secret paths,
  1956. they brought before my sight many a star
  1957. on the horizon of my heart.
  1958. They guided me all the day long
  1959. to the mysteries of the country of pleasure and pain
  1960. and, at last,
  1961. to what palace gate have they brought me
  1962. in the evening at the end of my journey?
  1965. : tagore_boast
  1966. I boasted among men that I had known you.
  1967. They see your pictures in all works of mine.
  1968. They come and ask me, "Who is he?"
  1969. I know not how to answer them.
  1970. I say, "Indeed, I cannot tell."
  1971. They blame me and they go away in scorn.
  1972. And you sit there smiling.
  1973. I put my tales of you into lasting songs.
  1974. The secret gushes out from my heart.
  1975. They come and ask me,
  1976. "Tell me all your meanings."
  1977. I know not how to answer them.
  1978. I say, "Ah, who knows what they mean!"
  1979. They smile and go away in utter scorn.
  1980. And you sit there smiling.
  1981. - Rabindranath Tagore, 1910
  1985. : endgame
  1986. a star at dawn
  1988. : bubble_in_stream
  1990. a bubble in a stream
  1992. : flash_of_lightning
  1993. a flash of lightning in a summer cloud
  1995. : flickering_lamp
  1997. a flickering lamp
  1999. : a_phantom
  2001. a phantom
  2003. : and_a_dream
  2005. and a dream.
  2010. : hofstadter_activation
  2011. Our hangnails are incredibly real to us;
  2012. whereas to most of us, the English village of Nether Wallop
  2013. and the high Himalayan country of Bhutan,
  2014. not to mention the slowly swirling spiral galaxy in Andromeda,
  2015. are considerably less real,
  2016. even though our intellectual selves might wish to insist
  2017. that since the latter are much bigger and longer-lasting
  2018. than our hangnails,
  2019. they ought therefore to be far realer to us
  2020. than our hangnails are.
  2021. We can say this to ourselves till we’re blue in the face,
  2022. but few of us act as if we really believed it.  
  2023. A slight slippage of subterranean stone
  2024. that obliterates 20,000 people in some far-off land,
  2025. the ceaseless plundering of virgin jungles in the Amazon basin,
  2026. a swarm of helpless stars being swallowed up
  2027. one after another by a ravenous black hole,
  2028. even an ongoing collision between two huge galaxies
  2029. each of which contains a hundred billion stars —
  2030. such colossal events are so abstract to someone like me
  2031. that they can’t even touch the sense of urgency and importance,
  2032. and thus the reality, of some measly little hangnail
  2033. on my left hand’s pinky.
  2034. We are all egocentric, and what is realest to each of us, in the
  2035. end, is ourself.  
  2036. The realest things of all are
  2037. my knee, my nose, my anger, my hunger,
  2038. my toothache, my sideache, my sadness, my joy,
  2039. my love for math, my abstraction ceiling, and so forth.
  2040. What all these things have in common, what binds them together,
  2041. is the concept of "my",
  2042. which comes out of the concept of "I" or "me",
  2043. and therefore,
  2044. although it is less concrete than a nose or even a toothache,
  2045. this "I" thing is what ultimately seems to each of us
  2046. to constitute the most solid rock of undeniability of all.  
  2047. Could it possibly be an illusion?  
  2048. Or if not a total illusion, could it possibly be less real
  2049. and less solid than we think it is?  
  2050. Could an "I" be more like an elusive, receding,
  2051. shimmering rainbow
  2052. than like a tangible, heftable, transportable pot of gold?
  2053. Douglas Hofstadter, 2007
  2057. : heisenberg_on_pauli
  2058. The physicist Wolfgang Pauli once spoke
  2059. of two limiting conceptions,
  2060. both of which have been extraordinarily fruitful
  2061. in the history of human thought,
  2062. although no genuine reality corresponds to them.
  2063. At one extreme is the idea of an objective world,
  2064. pursuing its regular course in space and time,
  2065. independently of any kind of observing subject;
  2066. this has been the guiding image of modern science.  
  2067. At the other extreme is the idea of a subject,
  2068. mystically experiencing the unity of the world
  2069. and no longer confronted by an object
  2070. or by any objective world;
  2071. this has been the guiding image of Asian mysticism.  
  2072. Our thinking moves somewhere in the middle,
  2073. between these two limiting conceptions;
  2074. we should maintain the tension resulting
  2075. from these two opposites.
  2076. Werner Heisenberg, 1974
  2080. : zen_points_beyond_language
  2081. In a sense, what modern physics is to the history of Western thought,
  2082. Zen is to the development of the Eastern worldview:
  2083. the ultimate refinement of more than two thousand years
  2084. of incisive debate, discussion, and critical development.
  2085. Yet the difference between the two could hardly be more marked.
  2086. Whereas physics is interested above all
  2087. in theories, concepts, and formulas,
  2088. Zen values only the concrete and the simple.
  2089. Zen wants facts — not in the Western sense of things
  2090. that are measurable and numerical (which are, in fact, abstractions!)
  2091. but as living, immediate, and tangible.
  2092. Its approach to understanding is not to theorize
  2093. because it recognizes that previously accumulated ideas and knowledge —
  2094. in other words, memories of all kinds —
  2095. block the direct perception of reality.
  2096. Therefore, Zen adopts an unusual approach.
  2097. Its buildup involves language — which is unavoidable.
  2098. Any method, even if it turns out to be an antimethod,
  2099. has first to convey some background in order to be effective.
  2100. But the way Zen uses language is always to point
  2101. beyond language, beyond concepts to the concrete.
  2102. David Darling, 1996
  2107. : zen_physics_intellectual_catastrophe
  2108. Two major schools of Zen exist in Japan:
  2109. the Rinzai and the Soto.
  2110. Both have the same goal, of seeing the world unmediated,
  2111. but their approaches are different.
  2112. In the Soto school, the emphasis is on quiet contemplation
  2113. in a seated position without a particular focus for thought.
  2114. The method in the Rinzai school, however,
  2115. is to put the intellect to work on problems
  2116. that have no logical resolution.
  2117. Such problems are known as koans,
  2118. from the Chinese kung-an meaning “public announcement.”
  2119. Some are mere questions, for example:
  2120. “When your mind is not dwelling
  2121. on the dualism of good and evil,
  2122. what is your original face before you were born?”
  2123. Others are set in a question-and-answer form, like:
  2124. “What is the Buddha?”
  2125. Answer: “Three pounds of flax”
  2126. or “The cypress tree in the courtyard”
  2127. (to name but two of the classic responses).
  2128. According to tradition
  2129. there are seventeen hundred such conundrums
  2130. in the Zen repertoire.
  2131. And their common aim is
  2132. to induce a kind of intellectual catastrophe,
  2133. a sudden jump
  2134. which lifts the individual out of the domain of words and reason
  2135. into a direct, nonmediated experience known as satori.
  2136. Zen differs from other meditative forms,
  2137. including other schools of Buddhism,
  2138. in that it does not start from where we are
  2139. and gradually lead us to a clear view
  2140. of the true way of the world.
  2141. It is not a progressive system in this respect.
  2142. The sole purpose of studying Zen is to have Zen experiences —
  2143. sudden moments, like flashes of lightning,
  2144. when the intellect is short-circuited
  2145. and there is no longer a barrier
  2146. between the experiencer and reality.
  2147. David Darling, 1996
  2151. : feynman_wine
  2152. A poet once said, "The whole universe is in a glass of wine."
  2153. We will probably never know in what sense he meant that,
  2154. for poets do not write to be understood.
  2155. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine
  2156. closely enough we see the entire universe.
  2157. There are the things of physics:
  2158. the twisting liquid which evaporates
  2159. depending on the wind and weather,
  2160. the reflections in the glass,
  2161. and our imagination adds the atoms.
  2162. The glass is a distillation of the earth’s rocks,
  2163. and in its composition we see the secrets of the
  2164. universe’s age, and the evolution of stars.
  2165. What strange array of chemicals are in the wine?
  2166. How did they come to be?
  2167. There are the ferments, the enzymes,
  2168. the substrates, and the products.
  2169. There in wine is found the great generalization:
  2170. all life is fermentation.
  2171. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering,
  2172. as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease.
  2173. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence
  2174. into the consciousness that watches it!
  2175. If our small minds, for some convenience,
  2176. divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts —
  2177. physics, biology, geology, astronomy,
  2178. psychology, and so on —
  2179. remember that nature does not know it!
  2180. So let us put it all back together,
  2181. not forgetting ultimately what it is for.
  2182. Let it give us one more final pleasure:
  2183. drink it and forget it all!
  2184. Richard Feynman, 1963
  2188. : feynman_uncertainty_of_science
  2189. If we were not able or did not desire to look in any new direction,
  2190. if we did not have a doubt or recognize ignorance,
  2191. we would not get any new ideas.  
  2192. There would be nothing worth checking,
  2193. because we would know what is true.  
  2194. So what we call scientific knowledge today
  2195. is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty.  
  2196. Some of them are most unsure; some of them are nearly sure;
  2197. but none is absolutely certain.  Scientists are used to this.  
  2198. We know that it is consistent to be able to live and not know.  
  2199. Some people say,
  2200. “How can you _live_ without knowing?” I do not know what they mean.
  2201. I always live without knowing.  That is easy.  
  2202. How you get to know is what I want to know.
  2203. This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the sciences
  2204. and, I believe, in other fields.  
  2205. It was born of a struggle.  
  2206. It was a struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure.
  2207. And I do not want us to forget the importance of the struggle
  2208. and, by default, to let the thing fall away.  
  2209. I feel a responsibility as a scientist
  2210. who knows the great value
  2211. of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance,
  2212. and the progress made possible by such a philosophy,
  2213. progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought.  
  2214. I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom
  2215. and to teach that doubt is not to be feared,
  2216. but that it is to be welcomed
  2217. as the possibility of a new potential for human beings.
  2218. If you know that you are not sure,
  2219. you have a chance to improve the situation.  
  2220. I want to demand this freedom for future generations.
  2221. Richard Feynman, 1963
  2225. : feynman_atoms_with_curiosity
  2226. It is a great adventure to contemplate the universe, beyond man,
  2227. to contemplate what it would be like without man,
  2228. as it was in a great part of its long history
  2229. and as it is in a great majority of places.
  2230. When this objective view is finally attained,
  2231. and the mystery and majesty of matter are fully appreciated,
  2232. to then turn the objective eye back on man viewed as matter,
  2233. to view life as part of this universal mystery
  2234. of the greatest depth,
  2235. is to sense an experience which is very rare, and very exciting.  
  2236. It usually ends in laughter and a delight in the futility
  2237. of trying to understand what this atom in the universe is,
  2238. this thing — atoms with curiosity —
  2239. that looks at itself and wonders why it wonders.
  2240. Well, these scientific views end in awe and mystery,
  2241. lost at the edge in uncertainty,
  2242. but they appear to be so deep and so impressive
  2243. that the theory that it is all arranged as a stage for God to watch
  2244. man’s struggle for good and evil seems inadequate.
  2245. Some will tell me
  2246. that I have just described a religious experience.
  2247. Very well, you may call it what you will.
  2248. Then, in that language I would say
  2249. that the young man’s religious experience is of such a kind
  2250. that he finds the religion of his church inadequate to describe,
  2251. to encompass that kind of experience.
  2252. The God of the church isn’t big enough.
  2253. Richard Feynman, 1963
  2257. : einstein_searchers
  2258. Of all the communities available to us,
  2259. there is not one I would want to devote myself to,
  2260. except for the society of true searchers
  2261. which has very few living members at any time.
  2262. Albert Einstein, 1924
  2266. : cezanne_motif
  2267. “You see, a motif is this...”
  2268. (He put his hands together, drew them apart, the ten fingers open,
  2269. then slowly, very slowly brought them together again, clasped them,
  2270. squeezed them tightly, meshing them.)
  2271. “That’s what one should try to achieve.
  2272. If one hand is held too high or too low, it won’t work.
  2273. Not a single link should be too slack, leaving a hole through which the emotion,
  2274. the light, the truth can escape.
  2275. You must understand that I work on the whole canvas,
  2276. on everything at once.
  2277. With one impulse, with undivided faith,
  2278. I approach all the scattered bits and pieces.
  2279. Everything we see falls apart, vanishes, doesn’t it?
  2280. Nature is always the same, but nothing in her that appears to us, lasts.
  2281. Our art must render the thrill of her permanence
  2282. along with her elements,
  2283. the appearance of all her changes.
  2284. It must give us a taste of her eternity.
  2285. What is there underneath? Maybe nothing.
  2286. Maybe everything.
  2287. Everything, you understand!
  2288. So I bring together her wandering hands.
  2289. I take something at right, something at left,
  2290. here, there, everywhere,
  2291. her tones, her colors, her nuances,
  2292. I set them down, I bring them together.
  2293. They form lines. They become objects,
  2294. rocks, trees, without my planning.
  2295. They take on volume, value.
  2296. If these volumes, these values, correspond on my canvas,
  2297. in my sensibility, to the planes,
  2298. to the spots ... which are there before our eyes,
  2299. then my canvas has brought its hands together.
  2300. It does not waver.
  2301. The hands have been joined neither too high nor too low.
  2302. My canvas is true, compact, full.
  2303. But if there is the slightest distraction,
  2304. if I fail just a little bit, above all if I interpret too much one day,
  2305. if today I am carried away by a theory
  2306. which runs counter to that of yesterday,
  2307. if I think while I paint, if I meddle,
  2308. whoosh! everything goes to pieces.
  2309. Paul Cezanne as related by Joachim Gasquet, 1921
  2313. : eddington_entering_a_room
  2314. I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room.
  2315. It is a complicated business.
  2316. In the first place, I must shove against an atmosphere
  2317. pressing with a force of fourteen pounds
  2318. on every square inch of my body.
  2319. I must make sure of landing on a plank
  2320. travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun —
  2321. a fraction of a second too early or too late,
  2322. the plank would be miles away.
  2323. I must do this whilst hanging from a round planet
  2324. head outward into space,
  2325. and with a wind of aether blowing
  2326. at no one knows how many miles a second
  2327. through every interstice of my body.
  2328. The plank has no solidity of substance.
  2329. To step on it is like stepping on a swarm of flies.
  2330. Shall I not slip through?
  2331. No, if I make the venture one of the flies hits me
  2332. and gives a boost up again;
  2333. I fall again and am knocked upwards by another fly;
  2334. and so on.
  2335. I may hope that the net result will be that I remain about steady,
  2336. but if, unfortunately, I should slip through the floor
  2337. or be boosted too violently up to the ceiling,
  2338. the occurrence would be, not a violation of the laws of Nature,
  2339. but a rare coincidence. These are some of the minor difficulties.
  2340. I ought really to look at the problem four-dimensionally
  2341. as concerning the intersection of my world-line
  2342. with that of the plank.
  2343. Then again, it is necessary to determine
  2344. in which direction the entropy of the world is increasing
  2345. in order to make sure that my passage over the threshold
  2346. is an entrance, not an exit.
  2347. Verily, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
  2348. than for a scientific man to pass through a door.
  2349. And whether the door be barn door or church door
  2350. it might be wiser
  2351. that he should consent to be an ordinary man and walk in
  2352. rather than wait till all the difficulties involved
  2353. in a really scientific ingress
  2354. are resolved.
  2355. Arthur Eddington, 1927
  2359. : eddington_eyes
  2360. As scientists, we realise that colour is merely a question
  2361. of the wavelengths of aethereal vibrations,
  2362. but that does not seem to have dispelled the feeling
  2363. that eyes which reflect light near wavelength 4800
  2364. are a subject for rhapsody
  2365. whilst those which reflect wavelength 5300
  2366. are left unsung.
  2367. We have not yet reached the practice of the Laputans, who,
  2368. “if they would, for example, praise the beauty of a
  2369. woman, or any other animal,
  2370. “they describe it by rhombs, circles,
  2371. parallelograms, ellipses, and other geometrical terms.”
  2372. The materialist who is convinced that all phenomena
  2373. arise from electrons and quanta and the like
  2374. controlled by mathematical formulae,
  2375. must presumably hold the belief
  2376. that his wife is a rather elaborate differential equation,
  2377. but he is probably tactful enough
  2378. not to obtrude this opinion in domestic life.
  2379. If this kind of scientific dissection
  2380. is felt to be inadequate and irrelevant
  2381. in ordinary personal relationships,
  2382. it is surely out of place
  2383. in the most personal relationship of all —
  2384. that of the human soul to a divine spirit.
  2385. Arthur Eddington, 1927
  2390. : eddington_humor
  2391. We have two kinds of knowledge which I call symbolic and intimate.
  2392. I do not know whether it would be correct to say
  2393. that reasoning is only applicable to symbolic knowledge,
  2394. but the more customary forms of reasoning
  2395. have been developed for symbolic knowledge only.
  2396. The intimate knowledge will not submit to codification and analysis,
  2397. or, rather, when we attempt to analyse it
  2398. the intimacy is lost and replaced by symbolism.
  2399. For an illustration let us consider Humour.
  2400. I suppose that humour can be analysed to some extent
  2401. and the essential ingredients
  2402. of the different kinds of wit classified.
  2403. Suppose that we are offered an alleged joke.
  2404. We subject it to scientific analysis
  2405. as we would a chemical salt of doubtful nature,
  2406. and perhaps after careful consideration
  2407. we are able to confirm
  2408. that it really and truly is a joke.
  2409. Logically, I suppose, our next procedure would be to laugh.
  2410. But it may certainly be predicted
  2411. that as the result of this scrutiny
  2412. we shall have lost all inclination we ever had
  2413. to laugh at it.
  2414. It simply does not do to expose the workings of a joke.
  2415. The classification concerns a symbolic knowledge of humour
  2416. which preserves all the characteristics of a joke
  2417. except its laughableness.
  2418. The real appreciation must come spontaneously,
  2419. not introspectively.
  2420. I think this is a not unfair analogy
  2421. for our mystical feeling for Nature,
  2422. and I would venture even to apply it
  2423. to our mystical experience of God.
  2424. There are some to whom the sense
  2425. of a divine presence irradiating the soul
  2426. is one of the most obvious things of experience.
  2427. In their view, a man without this sense
  2428. is to be regarded
  2429. as we regard a man without a sense of humour.
  2430. The absence is a kind of mental deficiency.
  2431. We may try to analyse the experience as we analyse humour,
  2432. and construct a theology,
  2433. or it may be an atheistic philosophy...
  2434. But let us not forget that the theology is symbolic knowledge,
  2435. whereas the experience is intimate knowledge.
  2436. And as laughter cannot be compelled
  2437. by the scientific exposition of the structure of a joke,
  2438. so a philosophic discussion of the attributes of God
  2439. (or an impersonal substitute)
  2440. is likely to miss the intimate response of the spirit
  2441. which is the central point of the religious experience.
  2442. Arthur Eddington, 1927
  2445. : eddington_generation_of_waves
  2446. One day I happened to be occupied with the subject of
  2447. “Generation of Waves by Wind.”
  2448. I took down the standard treatise on hydrodynamics,
  2449. and under that heading I read —
  2450. If the external forces p’ yy, p’ xy be given
  2451. multiples of e ** (ikx + at), where k and a are prescribed,
  2452. the equations in question determine A and C,
  2453. and thence, by (9) the value of eta....
  2455. And so on for two pages. At the end, it is made clear
  2456. that a wind of less than half a mile an hour
  2457. will leave the surface unruffled.
  2458. At a mile an hour the surface is covered
  2459. with minute corrugations due to capillary waves
  2460. which decay immediately if the disturbing cause ceases.
  2461. At two miles an hour the gravity waves appear.
  2462. As the author modestly concludes,
  2463. “Our theoretical investigations give considerable
  2464. insight into the incipient stages of wave-formation.”
  2465. On another occasion the same subject
  2466. of “Generation of Waves by Wind”
  2467. was in my mind;
  2468. but this time another book was more appropriate,
  2469. and I read —
  2470. There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
  2471. And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
  2472. Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
  2473. And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
  2474. Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
  2475. A width, a shining peace, under the night.
  2476. The magic words bring back the scene.
  2477. Again we feel Nature drawing close to us,
  2478. uniting with us,
  2479. til we are filled with the gladness of the waves
  2480. dancing in the sunshine,
  2481. with the awe of the moonlight on the frozen lake.
  2482. These were not moments when we fell below ourselves.
  2483. We do not look back on them and say,
  2484. “It was disgraceful for a man with six sober senses
  2485. and a scientific understanding
  2486. to let himself be deluded in that way.
  2487. “I will take Lamb’s Hydrodynamics with me next time.”
  2488. It is good that there should be such moments for us.
  2489. Life would be stunted and narrow
  2490. if we could feel no significance in the world around us
  2491. beyond that which can be weighed and measured
  2492. with the tools of the physicist
  2493. or described by the metrical symbols of the mathematician.
  2494. Of course, it was an illusion.
  2495. We can easily expose the rather clumsy trick
  2496. that was played on us.
  2497. Aethereal vibrations of various wavelengths,
  2498. reflected at different angles
  2499. from the disturbed interface between air and water,
  2500. reached our eyes, and by photoelectric action
  2501. caused appropriate stimuli to travel along the optic nerves
  2502. to a brain-centre.
  2503. Here the mind set to work
  2504. to weave an impression out of the stimuli.
  2505. The incoming material was somewhat meagre,
  2506. but the mind is a great storehouse of associations
  2507. that could be used to clothe the skeleton.
  2508. Having woven an impression, the mind
  2509. surveyed all that it had made
  2510. and decided that it was very good.
  2511. The critical faculty was lulled.
  2512. We ceased to analyse and were conscious
  2513. only of the impression as a whole.
  2514. The warmth of the air, the scent of the grass,
  2515. the gentle stir of the breeze,
  2516. combined with the visual scene
  2517. in one transcendent impression,
  2518. around us and within us.
  2519. Associations emerging from their storehouse grew bolder.
  2520. Perhaps we recalled the phrase “rippling laughter.”
  2521. Waves—ripples—laughter—gladness—the ideas jostled one another.
  2522. Quite illogically, we were glad,
  2523. though what there can possibly be to be glad about
  2524. in a set of aethereal vibrations
  2525. no sensible person can explain.
  2526. A mood of quiet joy suffused the whole impression.
  2527. The gladness in ourselves was in Nature,
  2528. in the waves, everywhere.
  2529. That’s how it was.
  2530. It was an illusion. Then why toy with it longer?
  2531. These airy fancies which the mind,
  2532. when we do not keep it severely in order,
  2533. projects into the external world
  2534. should be of no concern to the earnest seeker after truth.
  2535. Get back to the solid substance of things,
  2536. to the material of the water moving
  2537. under the pressure of the wind
  2538. and the force of gravitation
  2539. in obedience to the laws of hydrodynamics.
  2540. But the solid substance of things is another illusion.
  2541. It too is a fancy projected by the mind
  2542. into the external world.
  2543. We have chased the solid substance
  2544. from the continuous liquid to the atom,
  2545. from the atom to the electron,
  2546. and there we have lost it.
  2547. But at least, it will be said,
  2548. we have reached something real at the end of the chase —
  2549. the protons and electrons.
  2550. Or, if the new quantum theory condemns these images
  2551. as too concrete and leaves us with no coherent images at all,
  2552. at least we have symbolic coordinates and momenta and Hamiltonian
  2553. functions devoting themselves with single-minded purpose to ensuring
  2554. that qp-pq shall be equal to ih/2π.
  2555. I have tried to show that by following this course
  2556. we reach a cyclic scheme which, from its very nature,
  2557. can only be a partial expression of our environment.
  2558. It is not reality but the skeleton of reality.
  2559. “Actuality” has been lost in the exigencies of the chase.
  2560. Having first rejected the mind as a worker of illusion
  2561. we have in the end to return to the mind and say,
  2562. “Here are worlds well and truly built
  2563. on a basis more secure than your fanciful illusions.
  2564. But there is nothing to make any one of them an actual world.
  2565. “Please choose one and weave your fanciful images into it.
  2566. That alone can make it actual.”
  2567. We have torn away the mental fancies
  2568. to get at the reality beneath,
  2569. only to find that the reality of that which is beneath
  2570. is bound up with its potentiality of awakening these fancies.
  2571. It is because the mind, the weaver of illusion,
  2572. is also the only guarantor of reality
  2573. that reality is always to be sought at the base of illusion.
  2574. Illusion is to reality as the smoke to the fire.
  2575. I will not urge that hoary untruth “There is no smoke without fire”.
  2576. But it is reasonable to inquire whether,
  2577. in the mystical illusions of man,
  2578. there is not a reflection of an underlying reality.
  2579. Arthur Eddington, 1927
  2584. : schweickart_eva
  2585. Up there you go around every hour and a half,
  2586. time after time after time.  
  2587. You wake up usually in the mornings.  
  2588. And just the way that the track of your orbits go,
  2589. you wake up over the Mid-East, over North Africa.
  2590. As you eat breakfast you look out the window as you’re going past
  2591. and there’s the Mediterranean area,
  2592. and Greece, and Rome, and North Africa,
  2593. and the Sinai, the whole area.  
  2594. And you realize that in one glance that
  2595. what you’re seeing is what was the whole history of man for years —
  2596. the cradle of civilization....
  2597. And you go around down across North Africa
  2598. and out over the Indian Ocean,
  2599. and look up at that great subcontinent of India
  2600. pointed down toward you as you go past it.  
  2601. And Ceylon off to the side, Burma, Southeast Asia,
  2602. out over the Philippines,
  2603. and up across that monstrous Pacific Ocean,
  2604. vast body of water —
  2605. you’ve never realized how big that is before.
  2606. And you finally come up across the coast of California
  2607. and look for those friendly things:  
  2608. Los Angeles, and Phoenix, and on across El Paso
  2609. and there’s Houston, there’s home,
  2610. and you look and sure enough there’s the Astrodome.
  2611. And you identify with that, you know —
  2612. it’s an attachment.
  2613. And down across New Orleans and then looking down to the south
  2614. and there’s the whole peninsula of Florida laid out.  
  2615. And all the hundreds of hours
  2616. you spent flying across that route,
  2617. down in the atmosphere,
  2618. all that is friendly again.  
  2619. And you go out across the Atlantic Ocean and back across Africa.
  2620. And you do it again and again and again.
  2621. And that identity - that you identify with Houston,
  2622. and then you identify with Los Angeles,
  2623. and Phoenix and New Orleans and everything.  
  2624. And the next thing you recognize in yourself,
  2625. is you’re identifying with North Africa.  
  2626. You look forward to that, you anticipate it.  
  2627. And there it is.
  2628. That whole process begins to shift
  2629. of what it is you identify with.
  2630. When you go around it in an hour and a half
  2631. you begin to recognize
  2632. that your identity is with that whole thing.  
  2633. And that makes a change.
  2634. You look down there and you can’t imagine
  2635. how many borders and boundaries you crossed
  2636. again and again and again.
  2637. And you don’t even see ’em.
  2638. At that wake-up scene — the Mid-East —
  2639. you know there are hundreds of people killing each other
  2640. over some imaginary line that you can’t see.  
  2641. From where you see it, the thing is a whole,
  2642. and it’s so beautiful.  
  2643. And you wish you could take one from each side in hand
  2644. and say,
  2645. “Look at it from this perspective.
  2646. Look at that. What’s important?”
  2647. And so a little later on, your friend, those same neighbors,
  2648. another astronaut, the person next to you goes out to the Moon.  
  2649. And now he looks back and sees the Earth not as something big,
  2650. where he can see the beautiful details,
  2651. but he sees the Earth as a small thing out there.  
  2652. And now that contrast between
  2653. that bright blue and white Christmas tree ornament
  2654. and that black sky, that infinite universe,
  2655. really comes through.
  2656. The size of it, the significance of it —
  2657. it becomes both things,
  2658. it becomes so small and so fragile,
  2659. and such a precious little spot in that universe,
  2660. that you can block it out with your thumb,
  2661. and you realize that on that small spot,
  2662. that little blue and white thing  
  2663. is everything that means anything to you.
  2664. All of history and music and poetry and art
  2665. and war and death and birth and love, tears, joy,
  2666. games,
  2667. all of it is on that little spot out there
  2668. that you can cover with your thumb.
  2669. And you realize that that perspective ...
  2670. that you’ve changed, that there’s something new there.
  2671. That relationship is no longer what it was.
  2672. And then you look back on the time
  2673. when you were outside on that EVA
  2674. and those few moments that you had the time
  2675. because the camera malfunctioned,
  2676. that you had the time to think about what was happening.  
  2677. And you recall staring out there at the spectacle
  2678. that went before your eyes. Because now
  2679. you’re no longer inside something
  2680. with a window looking out at a picture,
  2681. but now you’re out there
  2682. and what you’ve got around your head
  2683. is a goldfish bowl and there are no limits here.
  2684. There are no frames, there are no boundaries.
  2685. You’re really out there, over it, floating,
  2686. going 25,000 mph, ripping through space,
  2687. a vacuum, and there’s not a sound.
  2688. There’s a silence
  2689. the depth of which you’ve never experienced before,
  2690. and that silence contrasts so markedly with the scenery,
  2691. and the speed with which you know you’re going.
  2692. That contrast, the mix of those two things,
  2693. really comes through.
  2694. And you think about what you’re experiencing and why.  
  2695. Do you deserve this? This fantastic experience?
  2696. Have you earned this in some way?
  2697. Are you separated out to be touched by God
  2698. to have some special experience here
  2699. that other men cannot have?
  2700. You know the answer to that is No.
  2701. There’s nothing that you’ve done that deserves that,
  2702. that earned that.
  2703. It’s not a special thing for you.
  2704. You know very well at that moment,
  2705. and it comes through to you so powerfully,
  2706. that you’re the sensing element for man.
  2707. You look down and see the surface of that globe
  2708. that you’ve lived on all this time
  2709. and you know all those people down there.
  2710. They are like you, they are you,
  2711. and somehow you represent them when you are up there —
  2712. a sensing element, that point out on the end,
  2713. and that’s a humbling feeling.
  2714. It’s a feeling that says you have a responsibility.
  2715. It’s not for yourself.
  2716. The eye that doesn’t see does not do justice to the body.
  2717. That’s why it’s there, that’s why you’re out there.
  2718. And somehow you recognize that you’re a piece of this total life.
  2719. You’re out on that forefront
  2720. and you have to bring that back, somehow.
  2721. And that becomes a rather special responsibility.  
  2722. It tells you something about your relationship
  2723. with this thing we call life....
  2724. And when you come back, there’s a difference in that world now,
  2725. there’s a difference in that relationship
  2726. between you and that planet,
  2727. and you and all those other forms of life on that planet,
  2728. because you’ve had that kind of experience.  
  2729. It’s a difference,
  2730. and it’s so precious.
  2731. And all through this I’ve used the word “you”
  2732. because it’s not me, it’s not Dave Scott,
  2733. it’s not Dick Gordon, Pete Conrad, John Glenn,
  2734. it’s you, it’s us, it’s we, it’s life.  
  2735. It’s had that experience.
  2736. And it’s not just my problem to integrate,
  2737. it’s not my challenge to integrate, my joy to integrate —
  2738. it’s yours, it’s everybody’s.
  2739. Russell Schweickart, 1975.
  2744. : skinner_autonomy
  2745. In the traditional view a person is free.
  2746. He is autonomous in the sense that his behavior is uncaused...
  2747. That view, together with its associated practices,
  2748. must be re-examined when a scientific analysis
  2749. reveals unexpected controlling relations
  2750. between behaviour and environment....
  2751. By questioning the control exercised by autonomous man
  2752. and demonstrating the control exercised by the environment,
  2753. a science of behavior also seems to question dignity or worth.  
  2754. A person is responsible for his behavior,
  2755. not only in the sense that he may be
  2756. justly blamed or punished when he behaves badly,
  2757. but also in the sense that he is to be given credit
  2758. and admired for his achievements.  
  2759. A scientific analysis shifts the credit as well as the blame
  2760. to the environment,
  2761. and traditional practices can then no longer be justified.  
  2762. These are sweeping changes,
  2763. and those who are committed to traditional theories and practices
  2764. naturally resist them....
  2765. As the emphasis shifts to the environment,
  2766. the individual seems to be exposed
  2767. to a new kind of danger.  
  2768. Who is to construct the controlling environment
  2769. and to what end?  
  2770. Autonomous man presumably controls himself
  2771. in accordance with a built-in set of values;
  2772. he works for what he finds good.  
  2773. But what will the putative controller find good,
  2774. and will it be good for those he controls?
  2775. Answers to questions of this sort are said, of course,
  2776. to call for value judgements.
  2777. B.F. Skinner, 1971
  2782. : skinner_reciprocal
  2783. The relation between the controller and the controlled
  2784. is reciprocal.
  2785. The scientist in the laboratory,
  2786. studying the behavior of a pigeon,
  2787. designs contingencies and observes their effects.
  2788. His apparatus exerts a conspicuous control on the pigeon,
  2789. but we must not overlook the control exerted by the pigeon.
  2790. The behavior of the pigeon
  2791. has determined the design of the apparatus
  2792. and the procedures in which it is used.
  2793. Some such reciprocal control is characteristic of all science.
  2794. As Francis Bacon put it,
  2795. nature to be commanded must be obeyed.  
  2796. The scientist who designs a cyclotron
  2797. is under the control of the particles he is studying.  
  2798. The behavior with which a parent controls his child,
  2799. either aversively or through positive reinforcement,
  2800. is shaped and maintained by the child's responses.
  2801. A psychotherapist changes the behavior of his patient
  2802. in ways which have been shaped and maintained
  2803. by his success in changing that behavior.
  2804. A government or religion prescribes and imposes sanctions
  2805. selected by their effectiveness
  2806. in controlling citizen or communicant.
  2807. An employer induces his employees
  2808. to work industriously and carefully
  2809. with wage systems
  2810. determined by their effects on behavior.
  2811. The classroom practices of the teacher
  2812. are shaped and maintained
  2813. by the effects on his students.
  2814. In a very real sense, then,
  2815. the slave controls the slave driver,
  2816. the child the parent,
  2817. the patient the therapist, the citizen the government,
  2818. the communicant the priest, the employee the employer,
  2819. and the student the teacher.
  2820. B.F. Skinner, 1971
  2824. : gangaji_silence
  2825. When we choose silence,
  2826. we choose to give up the reasons not to love,
  2827. which are the reasons for going to war, or continuing war,
  2828. or separating, or being a victim, or being right.
  2829. In a moment of silence,
  2830. in a moment of no thought, no mind,
  2831. we choose to give those up.
  2832. This is what my teacher invited me to.
  2834. Just choose silence. Don't even choose love.
  2835. Choose silence, and love is apparent.
  2836. If we choose love we already have an idea
  2837. of what love is.
  2839. But if you choose silence, that is the end of ideas.
  2840. You are willing to have no idea,
  2841. to see what is present when there is no idea,
  2842. past, present, future.
  2843. No idea of love, no idea of truth, no idea of you,
  2844. no idea of me. Love is apparent.
  2845. Gangaji, 2009
  2849. : kingsmill
  2850. What is divine in man is elusive and impalpable,
  2851. and he is easily tempted to embody it in a concrete form –
  2852. a church, a country, a social system, a leader –
  2853. so that he may realize it with less effort
  2854. and serve it with more profit.
  2855. Yet the attempt to externalize the kingdom of heaven
  2856. in a temporal shape must end in disaster.
  2857. It cannot be created by charters or constitutions
  2858. nor established by arms.
  2859. Those who seek for it alone will reach it together,
  2860. and those who seek it in company will perish by themselves.
  2861. Hugh Kingsmill, 1944
  2867. : denck_nobody_finds
  2868. O my God, how does it happen in this poor old world
  2869. that Thou art so great and yet nobody finds Thee,
  2870. that Thou callest so loudly and nobody hears Thee,
  2871. that Thou art so near and nobody feels Thee,
  2872. that Thou givest Thyself to everybody
  2873. and nobody knows Thy name?
  2874. Men flee from Thee and say they cannot find Thee;
  2875. they turn their backs and say they cannot see Thee;
  2876. they stop their ears and say they cannot hear Thee.
  2877. Hans Denck, circa 1520
  2880. : chuang_tzu_boat
  2881. Suppose a boat is crossing a river,
  2882. and another empty boat is about to collide with it.
  2883. Even an irritable man would not lose his temper.
  2884. But supposing there was some one in the second boat.
  2885. Then the occupant of the first
  2886. would shout to him to keep clear.
  2887. And if the other did not hear the first time,
  2888. nor even when called three times,
  2889. bad language would inevitably follow.
  2890. In the first case there was no anger,
  2891. in the second there was;
  2892. because in the first case the boat was empty,
  2893. and in the second it was occupied.
  2894. And so it is with man.
  2895. If he could only roam empty through life,
  2896. who would be able to injure him?
  2897. Zhuangzi, 4th century B.C.
  2901. : mitchell_ttc_11
  2902. We join spokes together in a wheel,
  2903. but it is the center hole
  2904. that makes the wagon move.
  2905. We shape clay into a pot,
  2906. but it is the emptiness inside
  2907. that holds whatever we want.
  2908. We hammer wood for a house,
  2909. but it is the inner space
  2910. that makes it livable.
  2911. We work with being,
  2912. but non-being is what we use.
  2913. Lao Tzu, 6th century BC
  2917. : wordsworth_peak
  2918.                     Lustily
  2919. I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
  2920. And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
  2921. Went heaving through the water like a swan;
  2922. When, from behind that craggy steep, till then
  2923. The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
  2924. As if with voluntary power instinct,
  2925. Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,
  2926. And growing still in stature, the grim shape
  2927. Towered up between me and the stars. . . .
  2928.                      But after I had seen
  2929. That spectacle, for many days my brain
  2930. Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
  2931. Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts
  2932. There hung a darkness, call it solitude,
  2933. Or blank desertion.
  2934. William Wordsworth, 1888
  2939. : clifford_shipowner
  2940. A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship.
  2941. He knew that she was old,
  2942. and not well built at the first;
  2943. that she had seen many seas and climes,
  2944. and often had needed repairs.
  2945. Doubts had been suggested to him
  2946. that possibly she was not seaworthy.
  2947. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy;
  2948. he thought that perhaps he ought to have her
  2949. thoroughly overhauled and refitted,
  2950. even though this should put him at great expense.
  2951. Before the ship sailed, however,
  2952. he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections.
  2953. He said to himself that she had gone safely
  2954. through so many voyages and weathered so many storms
  2955. that it was idle to suppose
  2956. she would not come safely home from this trip also.
  2957. He would put his trust in Providence,
  2958. which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families
  2959. that were leaving their fatherland
  2960. to seek for better times elsewhere.
  2961. He would dismiss from his mind
  2962. all ungenerous suspicions
  2963. about the honesty of builders and contractors.
  2964. In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction
  2965. that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy;
  2966. he watched her departure with a light heart,
  2967. and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles
  2968. in their strange new home that was to be;
  2969. and he got his insurance-money when she went down in
  2970. mid-ocean and told no tales.
  2971. What shall we say of him?
  2972. Surely this, that he was verily guilty
  2973. of the death of those families.
  2974. It is admitted that he did sincerely believe
  2975. in the soundness of his ship;
  2976. but the sincerity of his conviction
  2977. can in no wise help him,
  2978. _because he had no right to believe
  2979. on such evidence as was before him_.
  2980. He had acquired his belief
  2981. not by honestly earning it in patient investigation,
  2982. but by stifling his doubts.
  2983. And although in the end he may have felt so sure about it
  2984. that he could not think otherwise,
  2985. yet inasmuch as he had knowingly and willingly
  2986. worked himself into that frame of mind,
  2987. he must be held responsible for it.
  2988. William K. Clifford, 1874
  2991. : clifford_busy
  2992. If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood
  2993. or persuaded of afterwards,
  2994. keeps down and pushes away any doubts
  2995. which arise about it in his mind,
  2996. purposely avoids the reading of books
  2997. and the company of men
  2998. that call into question or discuss it,
  2999. and regards as impious
  3000. those questions which cannot easily be asked
  3001. without disturbing it —
  3002. the life of that man is one long sin against
  3003. mankind....
  3004. “But,” says one, “I am a busy man;
  3005. “I have no time for the long course of study
  3006. which would be necessary to make me in any degree
  3007. a competent judge of certain questions,
  3008. “or even able to understand the nature of
  3009. the arguments.”
  3010. Then he should have no time to believe.
  3011. William K. Clifford, 1874
  3014. : brooke_the_dead
  3015. These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
  3016. Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth
  3017. The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
  3018. And sunset, and the colours of the earth
  3019. These had seen movement, and heard music; known
  3020. Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended
  3021. Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
  3022. Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended
  3023. There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
  3024. And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after
  3025. Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
  3026. And wandering loveliness. He leaves a whit
  3027. Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
  3028. A width, a shining peace, under the night
  3029. Rupert Brooke, 1914
  3032. : cusa_impossible
  3033. Therefore, I thank you, my God,
  3034. because you make clear to me
  3035. that there is no other way of approaching you
  3036. except that which to all humans,
  3037. even to the most learned philosophers,
  3038. seems wholly inaccessible and impossible.
  3039. For you have shown me that you cannot be seen
  3040. elsewhere than where impossibility confronts and obstructs me.
  3041. O Lord, you, who are the food of the mature,
  3042. have given me courage to do violence to myself,
  3043. for impossibility coincides with necessity,
  3044. and I have discovered that the place where you are found unveiled
  3045. is girded about with the coincidence of contradictories.
  3046. This is the wall of paradise,
  3047. and it is there in paradise that you reside.
  3048. The wall's gate is guarded by the highest spirit of reason,
  3049. and unless it is overpowered, the way in will not lie open.
  3050. Thus, it is on the other side
  3051. of the coincidence of contradictories
  3052. that you will be able to be seen
  3053. and nowhere on this side.
  3054. If, therefore,
  3055. impossibility is necessity in your sight, O Lord,
  3056. there is nothing which your sight does not see.
  3057. - Nicholas of Cusa, 1453
  3060. : cusa_invisible
  3061. Formerly you appeared to me, O Lord,
  3062. as invisible by every creature
  3063. because you are a hidden, infinite God.
  3064. Infinity, however, is incomprehensible
  3065. by every means of comprehending.
  3066. Later you appeared to me as visible by all,
  3067. for a thing exists only as you see it,
  3068. and it would not actually exist unless it saw you.
  3069. For your vision confers being,
  3070. since your vision is your essence.
  3071. Thus, my God, you are equally invisible and visible.
  3072. As you are, you are invisible;
  3073. as the creature is,
  3074. which exists only insofar as the creature sees you,
  3075. you are visible.
  3076. You, therefore, my invisible God, are seen by all,
  3077. and in all sight you are seen by everyone who sees.
  3078. You who are invisible,
  3079. who are both absolute from everything visible
  3080. and infinitely superexalted,
  3081. are seen in every visible thing
  3082. and in every act of vision.
  3083. Therefore, I must leap across this wall of invisible vision
  3084. to where you are to be found.
  3085. But this wall is both everything and nothing.
  3086. For you, who confront
  3087. as if you were both all things and nothing at all,
  3088. dwell inside that high wall
  3089. which no natural ability can scale by its own power.
  3090. - Nicholas of Cusa, 1453
  3093. : cusa_name
  3094. O Lord God, helper of those who seek you,
  3095. I see you in the garden of paradise,
  3096. and I do not know what I see,
  3097. because I see nothing visible.
  3098. I know this alone
  3099. that I know that I do not know what I see
  3100. and that I can never know.
  3101. I do not know how to name you,
  3102. because I do not know what you are.
  3103. Should anyone tell me
  3104. that you are named by this or that name,
  3105. by the fact that one gives a name
  3106. I know that it is not your name.
  3107. For the wall beyond which I see you
  3108. is the limit of every mode of signification by names.
  3109. Should anyone express any concept
  3110. by which you could be conceived,
  3111. I know that this concept is not a concept of you,
  3112. for every concept finds its boundary
  3113. at the wall of paradise.
  3114. Should anyone express any likeness
  3115. and say that you ought to be conceived according to it,
  3116. I know in the same way that this is not a likeness of you.
  3117. So too if anyone, wishing to furnish the means
  3118. by which you might be understood,
  3119. should set forth an understanding of you,
  3120. one is still far removed from you.
  3121. For the highest wall separates you from all these
  3122. and secludes you from everything that can be said or thought,
  3123. because you are absolute from all the things
  3124. that can fall within any concept.
  3125. - Nicholas of Cusa, 1453
  3129. : dirac
  3130. I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion.
  3131. If we are honest — and scientists have to be —
  3132. we must admit that religion is a jumble
  3133. of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
  3134. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination.
  3135. It is quite understandable why primitive people,
  3136. who were so much more exposed to the overpowering
  3137. forces of nature than we are today,
  3138. should have personified these forces in fear and trembling.
  3139. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes,
  3140. we have no need for such solutions.
  3141. I can't for the life of me
  3142. see how the postulate of an Almighty God
  3143. helps us in any way.
  3144. What I do see is that this assumption
  3145. leads to such unproductive questions
  3146. as why God allows so much misery and injustice,
  3147. the exploitation of the poor by the rich
  3148. and all the other horrors He might have prevented.
  3149. If religion is still being taught,
  3150. it is by no means because its ideas still convince us,
  3151. but simply because some of us
  3152. want to keep the lower classes quiet.
  3153. Quiet people are much easier to govern
  3154. than clamorous and dissatisfied ones.
  3155. They are also much easier to exploit.
  3156. Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation
  3157. to lull itself into wishful dreams
  3158. and so forget the injustices that are
  3159. being perpetrated against the people.
  3160. Paul Dirac, 1927
  3161. as related by Werner Heisenberg
  3162. So you see what I'm saying here.
  3163. Yep. This one doesn't fit either.
  3164. How would you characterise the way in which it doesn't fit?
  3165. It's ... about arguing, and it's about being greatly disturbed
  3166. by issues that are relatively small.
  3167. It's not aiming high,
  3168. it's not about ultimate truth, not really.
  3169. It's mostly about what some stupid people are doing
  3170. that is wrong, compared to what I am doing that is right.
  3171. But Paul Dirac was definitely a truth-seeker ...
  3172. in the domain of physics at least.
  3173. Yeah but I don't feel that attitude in this piece at all.
  3174. If a belief is just formed in opposition to other beliefs,
  3175. ... it can't be fundamental? It can't be that deep.
  3176. But you know, where he says the thing about natural processes,
  3177. he starts to outline an actual philosophy.
  3178. Hmm, interesting. There's something that could stand on its own,
  3179. that isn't just rejection and opposition.
  3180. But then he drops it.
  3181. Well, this isn't the atheist manifesto we need.
  3182. I'll keep looking.
  3183. You know, at one point Dirac also wrote this:
  3184. "One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that
  3185. God is a mathematician of a very high order,
  3186. and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe."
  3187. I think he meant God in an Einstein kind of way.
  3188. He said that? Same guy?
  3189. Same guy. Later in life though.
  3190. People are strange. Scientists are stranger.
  3191. Yes they are.
  3194. : dreams
  3195. Then the occupant of the first
  3196. would shout to keep him clear.
  3197. And if the other did not hear the first time,
  3198. nor even when called three times,
  3199. bad language would inevitably follow.
  3200. In the first case there was no anger,
  3201. and in the second there was;
  3202. because in the first case the boat was empty,
  3203. and in the second it was occupied.
  3204. And so it is with man.
  3205. If he could only roam empty through life,
  3206. who would be able to injure him?
  3207. Zhuangzi, 4th century B.C
  3208. So how'd it go?
  3209. I don't know
  3210. I don't remember.
  3211. What?
  3212. Oh, it's not — it's normal for me.
  3213. I never remember my dreams.
  3214. If I try right when I wake up, I can just barely remember
  3215. fragments. Later in the day, even 20 minutes later,
  3216. those fragments are gone. Unless I wrote them down —
  3217. then if I read them later, it's like,
  3218. _these are the ramblings of a crazy person_.
  3219. Yeah, but, then, how do we know there aren't side effects,
  3220. I mean, do you remember everything else? About your life?
  3221. It's fine! We're just doing suppression, not —
  3222. lobotomies. Everything's still there.
  3223. In dreams we often take on personalities
  3224. that are a little different;
  3225. we forget details of our waking life
  3226. and 'remember' fictions in their place.
  3227. How does that happen?
  3228. Well ... we're just using the same pathways. It's fine.
  3229. But really, how should I know if something's missing?
  3230. If you forget a few random little things,
  3231. how would you remember that you forgot?
  3232. Nothing big is missing. I don't think.
  3233. Wait. Who are you, again?
  3234. Oh God, why did we let you go first.
  3235. First hasn't happened yet!
  3236. I was just dipping my toes into the pool.
  3237. _Real_ first happens when someone dives right in
  3238. and gets to decide for themselves when to come out.
  3239. Who's _that_ going to be?  You?
  3240. Ugh. I long for the days when we weren't so sure
  3241. we'd be doing anything this scary.
  3242. It'll be fine! It's not scary. It'll be fun.
  3243. So fun you don't even remember.
  3244. Okay now. Shoo. I want to re-record this one before I go home.
  3245. I have some new ideas about it.
  3246. What, because of the test?
  3247. Yes, because of the test. Possibly.
  3248. I thought you didn't remember anything
  3249. Hmm. Interesting.
  3250. Yeah. Have a good night. I'll see you tomorrow.
  3254. : mine
  3255. The concept of a clock enfolds all succession in time.
  3256. In the concept the sixth hour is not earlier
  3257. than the seventh or eighth,
  3258. although the clock never strikes the hour,
  3259. save when the concept biddeth.
  3260. Nicholas of Cusa, 145
  3261. That's mine, you know.
  3262. Yeah. Well — I have some ideas about it.
  3263. I just wanted to give it a try. See how it goes.
  3264. Next thing I know, you'll be taking over all the Cusa pieces.
  3265. What kind of ideas?
  3266. I don't know! Subconscious drives, right?
  3267. Like with anything creative.
  3268. Did you feel this way before your trip to the island,
  3269. or after?
  3270. Well ... I think ... after. Mostly after.
  3271. I had a seed of it before,
  3272. even back when I first heard the piece,
  3273. when you first picked it out,
  3274. but I didn't really notice then.
  3275. Now it's like the Princess and the Pea.
  3276. I don't mean to be stepping on your toes though.
  3277. Really the drive is personal —
  3278. I wanted to record this one,
  3279. so I can hear it the way I want to hear it,
  3280. just to set something right. For myself.
  3282. I'm going to file this under the category "Good Problems to Have".
  3283. So your attitude to the piece changed, or clarified,
  3284. maybe based on the trip. That means it's working.
  3285. Something's working. Maybe.
  3286. Back when we started,
  3287. I would have counted us lucky to ever get this far.
  3288. But here we are.
  3289. Here we are. Record away, and I will take my leave,
  3290. thanking you for this opportunity
  3291. to introspect on my aversive feelings.
  3292. You're welcome!
  3295. : authenticity
  3296. ... just reading these well,
  3297. picking the right takes, placing them.
  3298. I don't think it pays to be too neat.
  3299. I want to leave some traces of us.
  3300. For the intrepid to find.
  3301. What do you mean? Any visitor to that island
  3302. is going to hear quite a lot of us, if they poke around.
  3303. Sure but I mean showing what's happening
  3304. behind the scenes a little bit.
  3305. To ensure we keep some authenticity.
  3306. Because if we get too concerned
  3307. with saying a bunch of wise things
  3308. in the least personally-revealing way,
  3309. then we're basically putting up a front,
  3310. in danger of becoming a false front.
  3311. It's a slippery slope,
  3312. and you know how easily we could slide into pomposity.
  3313. Nobody wants that, but would we notice if it happened?
  3314. Or are we too close to the project?
  3315. If we include some of our interactions,
  3316. show that we aren't transcendent perfect beings,
  3317. that we get stuck sometimes,
  3318. that we get into arguments,
  3319. or get depressed,
  3320. then at least it's not a false front.
  3321. At least we're not hiding.
  3322. Authenticity is good. Yes.
  3323. But you can find human drama anywhere.
  3324. We're drowning in it from day to day.
  3325. We're supposed to be building a quiet environment,
  3326. _away_ from drama, not ... celebrating it.
  3327. Look. These are objects of contemplation.
  3328. These are about focus and clarity.
  3329. We agreed at the outset.
  3330. I know, and I don't want to change any of that.
  3331. Just a little added twist, tucked away deep.
  3332. It doesn't have to be drama. Just reality.
  3333. Reality? So, what? We should record a meeting and stick it in?
  3334. Maybe! But we already have some good stuff, for example,
  3335. a little encounter the other week
  3336. where you offered to buy a girl a sandwich.
  3337. Her mic was running, so it's in the archive.
  3338. But look, it's fine. In context it's perfect.
  3339. Because we're not lecturing from on high.
  3340. These recordings are part of an endeavor
  3341. built by human beings,
  3342. and they aspire to Truth-with-a-capital-T
  3343. but we must also remember that they cannot actually get there.
  3344. We should be clear to the intrepid that we know this.
  3345. It'll make it all better!
  3346. Okay, sure. We'll at least see how it feels.
  3347. On that island we are going to be in _very_ susceptible states.
  3348. Be careful with it.
  3349. It seems I get to be the pioneer of being mildly embarrassed.
  3350. Also, I should probably let you know, I am recording this conversation right now.
  3351. Oh, come on.
  3352. I'm serious.
  3353. It will make it better. Trust me.
  3356. : conference
  3357. ... it's just the new teapot beeping.
  3358. It boils fast but that beep bothers me. Moving on?
  3359. So next I want to raise this problem,
  3360. which is that I think we don't have
  3361. enough smart representation from materialist atheists,
  3362. physicalists, anything in that neighborhood of ideas.
  3363. And I've been trying to do something about that but it's hard.
  3364. The problem is that most coherent atheist screeds
  3365. are focused on defeating some specific idea of God
  3366. or are angry about the historical activities
  3367. of organized religions —
  3368. rather than, say, from first principles,
  3369. making a good case for the impossibility
  3370. of any concept of God,
  3371. which would be more like what we're after.
  3372. I'm having the same problem.  
  3373. So many justifications of atheism devolve
  3374. into assertions of the implausibility of Bible stories.
  3375. Someone like Bertrand Russell, a very advanced thinker,
  3376. but his commentary on religion
  3377. all seems to be like 'Why I am not a Christian',
  3378. very limited in scope.
  3379. It is way too small compared
  3380. to the vision of God in the pieces we're juxtaposing.
  3381. Can you
  3382. Can you repeat that last part? You dropped out a bit.
  3383. Oh, just that it's a very provincial idea of God
  3384. that's usually advanced in those arguments,
  3385. sometimes even a straw-man God,
  3386. and doesn't have much in common
  3387. with the God visualized by Cusa or Spinoza
  3388. or the great Sufis, or even Einstein, whoever.
  3389. So it just doesn't play on the same field.
  3390. When people are explicitly pushing materialism they're
  3391. usually philosophers or writers ...
  3392. not physicists, not people who actually
  3393. do the front-line work
  3394. of understanding the physical world.
  3395. With the heavy hitters in physics, it's very hard.
  3396. It's hard to find good statements
  3397. that aren't just arguing against straw men.
  3398. And it's strange because in the modern age
  3399. a reasonable portion of working physicists are atheists,
  3400. not all by any means, but a reasonable portion;
  3401. but it's hard to get strong and articulate statements
  3402. from that sector.
  3403. Yeah, the closest you get is somebody like Feynman,
  3404. where science gives us a great degree of certainty
  3405. about certain things,
  3406. but outside those it's not a good idea to tell ourselves nice stories,
  3407. and speculate, it is just best to realize we don't know yet
  3408. about the bigger questions, etc.
  3409. But we have a lot of Feynman already.
  3410. Paul Dirac was at least a staunch atheist, at one point in his life,
  3411. but I don't know if he has direct statements on record.
  3412. I'll keep an eye out.
  3413. Dirac was far from a materialist though —
  3414. he believed the universe is made out of math.
  3415. That's an oversimplification of course.
  3416. He even mentioned God a few times,
  3417. in an Einstein kind of way.
  3418. This is all so crazy because among scientifically-educated people
  3419. ... it's the cultural default, right?
  3420. If you are a scientist
  3421. or a computer programmer kind of person,
  3422. materialism is supposed to be the basic belief —
  3423. If you're not a materialist you're stupid.
  3424. But if we can't find anyone who makes a good case for it,
  3425. how does that happen?
  3426. Well, it's easy to be convinced of the absurdity of stories in
  3427. common Christianity, Judaism, whatever ...
  3428. so if that's your picture of spiritual beliefs,
  3429. and you have an aversion to digging too hard
  3430. into your own worldview, which most of us do,
  3431. then there you go — anything that seems religious
  3432. is goofy bible stories,
  3433. and materialism is anti-religious,
  3434. and it's the general impression
  3435. that smart people are materialist,
  3436. and I want to be smart, so ... case closed!
  3437. Also, there are all those so-called spiritual people
  3438. who will believe basically anything
  3439. and try to convince everyone ...
  3440. In addition to goofy bible stories, did I forget to mention
  3441. ghost stories, astrologers, spoon benders
  3442. and all kinds of frauds.
  3443. ... it's a ton of noise, it makes it almost impossible
  3444. for an outsider looking in to see high-quality thought
  3445. in the world of spirituality.
  3446. If I can even generalize "spirituality" to one thing.
  3447. So it's easy if you're already leaning toward materialism
  3448. to see these flaky spiritual people,
  3449. extrapolate that to _all_ spiritual people,
  3450. and say all that stuff is garbage.
  3451. That's how it worked for me. For a while.
  3452. Okay. But despite all this
  3453. there's a large contingent of present day real scientists
  3454. who believe in some form of atheist materialism
  3455. and whose beliefs have been carefully considered.
  3456. So we need to ensure we respect that viewpoint.
  3457. I remember there's —
  3458. It's so frustrating —
  3459. Sorry.
  3460. No, you go.
  3461. Oh, I was just going to say,
  3462. Carl Sagan has a good piece in, umm, Demon-Haunted World?,
  3463. where he talks about science
  3464. as a profound source of spirituality.
  3465. But he doesn't mean mystical spirituality,
  3466. he means ...
  3467. this pure dedication to truth,
  3468. and the development of a wise perspective
  3469. on our place in the world.
  3470. It's nice. And it's a picture of atheism
  3471. that isn't hostile or contemptuous.
  3472. Yeah, I read that,
  3473. and what you're talking about is a beautiful piece,
  3474. and I tried to get it,
  3475. but Sagan's people want too much money.
  3476. Can't we just pay more?
  3477. No, it would trigger a bunch
  3478. of 'most-favored-nation' clauses,
  3479. then we have to pay everyone a lot more,
  3480. and we go broke.
  3481. So no Sagan for us.
  3482. It's a shame since he was such a great thinker,
  3483. and eloquent too.
  3485. : credits_ios
  3486. Additional iOS programming by
  3487. Amandine Coget
  3490. : credits_shield
  3491. Android/Shield port developed by NVIDIA:
  3492. Development:
  3494. Sheikh Abdul-Ajees
  3495. Denis Barkar
  3496. Ilya Bukalov
  3497. Shaveen Kumar
  3498. Peter Lapko
  3499. Alexander Potylitsin
  3500. John Ratcliff
  3501. Seth Williams
  3502. QA:
  3504. Joseph Astillero
  3505. David Bean
  3506. Amanda Bott
  3507. Eric Cameracci
  3508. Adam Chamberlain
  3509. Andre Faiman
  3510. Benjamin Feuerstein
  3511. Trevor Holm
  3512. Whitney Kitchur
  3513. Willy Lau
  3514. Lindsay Moore
  3515. Andrew Park
  3516. Harsh Patel
  3517. Jeremy Patterson
  3518. Joel Sansait
  3519. Sunny Thakkar
  3520. Zichen Wang
  3521. Yuvin Weerasinghe
  3524. : credits_xb1
  3525. Additional programming for the Xbox One
  3526. by Aaron Melcher
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