Are there actually multiple realities?
Did you ever hear a newborn infant babble as if suddenly there was something very important they had to tell you? And a spell of wonder filled the room, didn't it... a new life with a new opinion, one you could not comprehend for beans. Actually, it was nothing of the kind! It's your G-d-given processing hardware failing you, as 'twas meant to do, and his/hers operating a bit too efficiently. It has not yet sufficiently blunted, you see. For they just saw the world split in half, or thirds, or fourths, or billionths, and they can't believe their tiny eyes. I've been in rooms like this. Sometimes I've had to take the baby, other times a parent or relative; and I've always laughed a bit to see it. And a little child will lead them, indeed.
The X-iverse can only partially be tamed by Sir Isaac Newton's and others' attempts at caging it with laws, however powerful Newton's laws are. And they are. To begin this from your very own microcosm, as it may jog your pre-memory... let us say you were about to step onto a curb in a winter street with your left foot. he earth opens under you. It does! An invisible sword the length of all Creation – let us say it's fashioned of sharpened and hewn dark energy – advances up between your legs and hacks you in half. This occurs at such a speed that you barely noticed it the first time you saw it occur! The blade divides all the world, all the stars, all the aether, all the way to all the ends of the known universe. No, not the X-iverse. That comes later. This is the universe. The one you exist in. In other words, one at a time! Next, the two halves begin to part, each traveling at just under the speed of light, and each of the split halves growing its counterpart. The two complete parallel universes continue on their paths, and the only difference between them (in the first few microseconds) is, you stepped onto the curb with your left foot in one universe; and in the other, with your right. And who knows? Maybe there's a third in which you stayed on the other side of the street.
"An invisible sword the length of all Creation...advances up between your legs and hacks you in half... the blade divides all the world, all the stars, all the aether, all the way to the ends of the known universe..."
A being in this island creation, you have been torn asunder in this fashion every micro-microsecond of your life. There are uncounted and uncountable numbers of you in the X-iverse. Should you ever feel as if you are not alone in a room... you weren't. A large number of you just left that room, and took each their own universe with them. All that differed between these at first was the varying field of possible actions you considered before you chose one and executed it. Ever get an empty feeling too? Possibly some time after that? This is why. And it's all your own doing! Call it a by-product of ego. Another disease that waits to be referred to by its actual name. I'll get around to that. It all began with ego, you understand. Divine ego, but nevertheless. Oh, don't start thinking that atheist nonsense again. Atheism is the human animal arriving at the acceptance of its processing faults. No more. And I'm not going to mention this again. Sir Isaac Newton himself said repeatedly in his writings that G-d had to be present in the universe for his famous equations to work correctly! Well, do they work? So, then? We will contradict G-d at the drop of a corpse, and we have, but not Sir Isaac. To go on: You were created and are ruled by a benevolent G-d (it's the truth), and as your human numbers have increased, it would appear G-d is not entirely unwilling to share hegemony of said creation! For the moment. Too benevolent by half, I'd say. As a result, you humankind would appear to be interested in having an ever more insistent hand at creation's tiller. It is my opinion, in point of fact, that the great engine of history has been driven by the many possibilities of outcome generated by humanity and G-d wrestling for control of the ship's wheel that pilots It All. One reality for each and every separate history, you see! One reality for every shiver and wrench of the wheel! And possibly more. Far more. No wonder we Four Horsemen have been both exalted and humbled over these twenty centuries and change: forced now and again to look above into the continuum at our past selves ripping open the multifarious skies while we ourselves creep below them and squeeze between realities via the tiny doors allowed us, those fore-images sundering many a vault of upper air, our after- images shrinking to your size and smaller... yes, we do get pulled this way and that. Far less often than you do (there remain only one of each of us, after all), but still. And we see the hands that clutch at us. We read their fingerprints. It may be a bit akin to the disorientation the Greek gods must have felt when the ancient mythmakers and dramatists couldn't agree, say, what part of Zeus' forehead Athena sprung from, or exactly into which door to the underworld Ariadne was carried after she fell on Naxos... but yet, for all our caterwauling about the weight of self-knowledge, had we never developed it we might well have ceased to exist 'long ago'! Like the Greek gods. Thanks to you, once again.
"Long before our own genesis, ego was inseparable from its many forms of expression. Art, science, religion, magic, philosophy, all were one."
So do take this evidence of your handprints upon all the worlds as a given! Plagues often have their positive sides – the Black Death, let's recollect, certainly made real estate more affordable - and ego (again, if it is a disease; you can see I remain of two minds about this) is no exception. All inquiry is based upon ego, after all, whatever its reason – recall the opening line of Aristotle's Metaphysics: "By nature, all men long to know" -- and the greatest of these inquiries is philosophy, be it 'natural' (science, that is) or otherwise. It begins with, "Who am I? What am I? How did all this get here? What am I meant to be doing?" and then one chooses one's route of inquiry. To what purpose (given how little it matters in the long run), well... In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. Science, as you know, clings to reality observable. Most of the time. Philosophy prefers to extrapolate. Again, most of the time. As Alfred North Whitehead wrote in 1927:
"The study of philosophy is a voyage towards the larger generalities. For this reason in the infancy of science, when the main stress lay in the discovery of the most general ideas usefully applicable to the subject matter in question, philosophy was not sharply distinguished from science. To this day, a new science with any substantial novelty in its notions is considered to be in some way peculiarly philosophical."
(From Process and Reality, copyright 1978 by The Free Press, New York)
As evidence of that, consider (again) string or M-theory!
So are science and philosophy each a subset ailment of ego? If. Mmm, not to the present point. Soon enough! Not so long ago, however, as you mark time, science and philosophy joined together again, to our advantage; more on that shortly, as you may not have noticed it. Come to think of it, if you had done, all the Earths might be charnel houses by now...
Long before our own genesis, ego was near inseparable from its many forms of expression. Art, science, magic, religion, myth, philosophy, all were one, just as once all art was sacred art. All these went their own ways over the last millennium and change, products of the varying facets of the human ego (at first), science for example being content to seek explanations of why this did that via what clues one could perceive... though now and again, as certain hypotheses became better known and more widely believed, the X-iverse molded to fit to them! Really. If you alone can create entire multiple parallel realities simply via making a decision, why could a group of you not alter whole scads of realities by sharing an opinion, after all? I remember the first time I noticed that... but again, not now. Anon.
Philosophy, in contrast to early science, was born of the more subtly active ego. It's always struck me as an attempt to place a grid around the realities you inhabit, to deliberately suggest same's invisible pinions and extremities. Ergo it has often had far greater sway on this creation than science: it is the interior architect within you all building and rebuilding the realities it (and you) live in by popular acclaim. Far greater changes can result, given its designs upon the macro- instead of the micro-. Don't get too excited at this; as has been said, it takes a certain number of humanity to believe something in order to make real and true its alterations. Note David's essay on the Last Days; that'll explain some of the wreckage about you left behind by countless failed Antichrists! How many of you are required to effect a change of this sort? As David previously put it, we are not the ones to say; my brothers and I have been too busy hacking heads off or in twain, or infecting them with madness, to count them! One can't do both.
I do on occasion remember when there was but one reality, or so I assume. It's a bit dim from here, I have to go back and look. Having consciously arrived to understand our condition at a particular absolute point in said Time, I can't exactly posit if we just didn’t notice it either, or if one day the heavens opened for the first occasion while we happened to be there to mark it, and filled in behind, to part and go their separates. No, for some reason we've never ourselves split in halves, eighths, 256ths. Lucky you! To be frank, we no longer notice 'the splits' either unless we concentrate. But, let’s on to the first great thinker who surmised that he saw something written in the aether and elected to divine (pun intended) a possible reasoning! Plotinus of Lycopolis (204-270 C.E.) was a neo-Platonist, a follower of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, the spiritual progenitor about whose work our man extended his predecessor's superstructure. Sometimes called 'the last man of antiquity' (I would nominate the Roman emperor Julian (331-363 C.E.) for this regrettable honor, but that's just my opinion...), Plotinus very basically opined that the universe contained a divine Triad. Don't you Galileans, er, Christians, begin salivating just yet. There was, to Plotinus' mind, as follows: the One, that which first existed; an Intellect (or 'the nous'), that which first thought; and the All-Soul, that which is the first and only Life Principle. All matter (er, Matter) comes from this Divine Triad, said he, and all returns to it. Sorry! No father, son or holy spirit just here. You'll get over it. We did.
To go on... it is the Intellect which interests us most, because with the concept of the Intellect Plotinus begins the great moving principle which has brought the X-iverse to its current condition at the 'time' and 'place' and in the 'reality' or 'membrane' in which you read this. According to our ancient guide ('ancient' to you; why, I dusted his house with leprosy just 'a few moments ago.' But let's continue...), the Intellect is a whole which is made up of Forms, all of which are themselves intellects. With a small 'i.' Each Form sees the Intellect of which it came from a different perspective, and each Form, as a perspective, projects itself upon the Matter of which physical reality is made. This was hardly the first time anybody conceived of this island creation as a manifestation of an all-
"...Neoplatonism remained influential until the Roman Emperor Justinian closed the Academy in Athens in 529 C.E. Too late, though. No hegemony lasts forever. Sorry, Justinian!"
in-one and one-in-all, a central entity to which one returns after it has emanated from same (your Eastern philosophers have been all over that concept), but note if you will how a Form as a separate frame of reference could be considered a gateway to a separate reality (if not exactly the separate reality itself) from some central or first reality! Clearly each of these would be considered separate from other Forms as well. Or realities.
Now. Plotinus' successor and chief follower Porphyry of Tyre (233-309 C.E.) did not enumerate or expand upon the number and the idea of the Forms which might theoretically be possible in creation any more than did Plotinus – Porphyry seems to have thought that building his own superstructure upon the Lycopolitan thinker’s essays was a better way to pass his time (?? Calling them the Enneads does not make them more comprehensible, I assure you. In a way I'd say Porphyry was to Plotinus as August Derleth was to H.P. Lovecraft, but let us proceed) -- although Porphyry's student Iamblichus of Chalcis (245-325 C.E.) had other ideas still. As such he further solidified the concept of separate realities (Forms) within one continuum (again, the Intellect). Using the structure afforded him by paganism as it was practiced at that time (the reign of Imperator Constantine 'the Great' and his high opinion of Christianity notwithstanding), Iamblichus incorporated into Plotinus' system a series of 'points of view' (once more, 'Forms') which he referred to as 'gods,' 'angels,' 'demons,' 'heroes,' et al., in a grand mathematical emanation. The further one ventures from the Triad towards the material world and humanity, he said, the greater number of emanations, or Forms, one will encounter. Mark you his seeming personalization of these Forms! Incidentally, Iamblichus is also credited with positing, as others had before him, that all things divine and material are subject to mathematical formulae! Don't forget that bit. We have mentioned it previously here and shall return to same.
So when exactly did the realities begin to subdivide? As I believe we became 'aware' some time after, I must admit I don't know and can’t be sure. You'd be surprised how little we’re allowed to razzle about in the time between our arrival on the isle of Patmos in 90 C.E. and our sudden awakening, which I would put at about 590. Now and again we're 'allowed' to go back and look, but it's a torturous series of portals we have to climb and descend through to get there. It becomes more difficult all the time. So we only do it when we must. I have wondered at the reason for these screens and barriers; something must have occurred back then which Someone would rather we not know about. Well, again, not to the present conjecture.
Christianity's spread and the fall of the Western Roman Empire may have slowed the cataloguing of the number of Forms that were thought to exist (and one day came to exist) – the young future Emperor Julian's neo-Platonist tutor Aedesius of Cappadocia (280-355 C.E.), for example, knew that agents of the very marginally Christian Constantius II Augustus were peeking over his shoulder so he had to wax secretive – yet Neoplatonism remained influential until the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian (even more marginally Christian than was Constantius II, given history) closed the Academy in Athens in 529 C.E. There was a crime! One wonders what made him do it, over and above the demands of the period’s clergy. Who knows, equally, what his relatively illiterate soldiers burned at the Academy that the Visigoths hadn't when they sacked Athens during the 3rd century C.E., or when they had another go in 396! Too late, though. The sundering of the universes would appear to have been in process well beforehand, I suspect, and a few burned scrolls weren't going to change that. No human-wrought hegemony lasts forever, Justinian! All inquisitions and persecutions run out of steam eventually, most often from fatigue. Do keep that in mind.
Some twelve centuries along from Aedesius, Giordano Bruno's (1548 – 1600 C.E.) own neo-Platonist leanings (not that he hadn't any number of others, of course) led him to write the following in his essay De Infinito Universo e Mondi:
"It is... unnecessary to investigate whether there be beyond the heavens Space, Void, or Time. For there is a single general space, a single vast immensity which we may freely call Void; in it are innumerable globes like this one on which we live and grow. This space we declare to be infinite, since neither reason, convenience, possibility, sense perception, nor nature assign to it a limit. In it are an infinity of worlds of the same kind as our own."
Bruno, as we can see, took away the personalizations of Iamblichus' Forms and emphasized the frames of reference they represented. He named them 'worlds.' Consider how well-traveled he was and how convincing so many university students and fellow professors found him. Not all, true... but possibly enough? Enough to keep his suppositions as real as were Iamblichus'? Yes. Exactly.
As to the Vatican Holy Office, they may well have burned Signor Bruno for the foregoing quoted paragraph alone, whatever the additional charges! Imagine the 16th-century peasant confronted with the idea of billions of Christs, trillions of Popes... quintillions of Judases! Well, yes, we knew of them already; all betrayals are simply someone other than the betrayed following a different set of orders. Emphasize Time in this inferred equation, in point of fact, and Judas leads his Creator by example! Doesn't he. But to continue a bit further...
Next we arrive at the point at which science re-encounters philosophy: in 1957 one Hugh Everett III presented his Ph.D. thesis "The Theory of the Universal Wave Function" at Princeton University. In same he stated that given how quantum theory implies that every particle's location and path cannot be exactly predicted (unlike those nice neat nuclei and nice neat orbiting electrons in the atomic models in your high school Physics textbook), there must therefore be a field of possible locations and trajectories for a particle at any chosen time. And given also how one cannot entirely predict all the gravitational pulls and other impedimenta a particle might encounter on its way, including the effect of whoever may be watching (see Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle), all locations and trajectories within said field must be considered equally possible! This has been referred to as Everett's 'many-worlds' interpretation of quantum theory.
Sound like no great shakes? The previous (and still-, to many) accepted 'Copenhagen interpretation' preferred that quantum mechanics be an abstract idea pertaining to nature, not a description of nature. Any time an observer looked to see where the particle in question was, according to the Copenhagen interp, the field of possibilities would devolve or 'collapse' so that said particle would only be in one place. Would that existence were so cooperative! Everett's model, however, stretched itself to fit the original theory, and neatly may have assisted in taking reality with it (though this was already the case, thanks to Iamblichus and Bruno): to Everett's view it should not matter whether there was an observer seeing the particle go by or there wasn’t. The field of possible locations and paths remained, each just as possible. Again I suggest you look up that Werner Heisenberg fellow and his Uncertainty Principle, and then, theoretically, remove the observer yourself. It's fun for the entire family. Parenthetically, you know, we have removed the observer in any number of ways over the millennia, and yes, the cloudlike field of possibilities (another of those...) stayed right where it was, that we noticed. Fascinating. One of those experiments which we can conduct but with which you have somewhat greater difficulty!
Now, let us recall again how Iamblichus of Chalcis stated that all matter and all divinity is subject to mathematical formulae. He too (and all the others who agreed) must have had
"The final nail in the rational universe's coffin... is the sci-fi author [who] peruses the odd theoretical physics journal... another few thousand who read [their story] start to wonder at their own slowly increasing sense of disorient."
some influence as well; how many times have you noted the similarity between the standard picture of electrons revolving about a nucleus (your old high school physics text book again), and an image of the sun (Sol Invictus) orbited by its planets? As goes the microcosm, so goes the macrocosm, and vice versa. Human indifference is entropy applied to biology. As above, so below. Ontogeny replicates phylogeny. What is bound... what is loosed... and so forth. Given all this, and given how the rules that govern the tiny are not so different from those which rule the massive, we can at last conclude that what is a cloud of possible particle paths and locations Within is a cloud of possible Earths and universes and outcomes Without! Each again as possible as any other. No wonder Everett made the connection in his thesis! Which renders your present time and place the collective past of an infinite number of futures. Care to invent a language tense to cover this? And may I point out that simply because no equation is directly known to you which predicts this very phenomenon does not mean that the connection between macrocosm and microcosm does not exist. It's all right there in the good Doctor’s paper. Sorry, it's too late to run around burning all the copies...
The final nail in the 'rational' universe's coffin, of course, is the sci-fi author –and there have been any number of these -- who like your classic Jack Of All Trades And Master of None shall stick their nose where it doesn't belong and peruse the odd theoretical physics journal; upon seeing a paper by one of Dr. Everett's myriad progeny (his mentor, John Wheeler, for example), he'll shoot the basic (if suitably bowdlerized) concept of the many-worlds interp through with all manner of racy interludes and 500-foot tall monsters, et al. And another few thousand read his/her story and start to wonder at their own slowly increasing sense of disorient. "So that's why my socks keep disappearing!" Parallel realities under the bed? An infinity of planets in one's toothpaste? And we're off to the races. Odd, really; I'd thought science fiction was supposed to be cautionary as opposed to fatal... at least once the Cold War began.
Some may cavil at how I have neglected such utter essentials as relativity, Murray Gell-Mann, Professor Hawking's under-construction Theory of Everything, Richard Feynman, the admitted variations in physical law between macro- and micro- et al, and all these do play a part. But to keep things reasonably understandable it appears proper that I only lift the veil where it’s necessary, like all those partially draped stone urns one sees on Jewish grave markers; the entire hyperstructure is a bit hard even for myself on occasion to take in. One has to stand a few eternities away from the 'X-iverse' to get the full effect, you see! I will tell you the reason later, but that's also getting more difficult all the time. Actually, by now you may have guessed why. Let us also not forget that all about said hyperstructure of parallel universes is a meta-aether of sorts in which souls depart and arrive; their excursions to and fro occur within this area which is completely outside all time and matter (sorry, Time and Matter). The theoretical physicists, I believe, call it the 'Bailter space.' That concept shall have been arrived at by one Augustus Bailter, Ph.D. I do believe the Kabbala already refers to this placeless place as the Kaf Hakela. The point is, you really wouldn't want to go out there in order to see It All unless you absolutely felt you must. High alkaline content. Completely eats away any who’s overexposed to it. Possibly even us, if we stay out there long enough. And no, it is not Purgatory. That's somewhere else entirely. Why the corrosive content of this meta-aether? I've now and again wondered if it is not to keep the souls moving back and forth. What if they were to meet and converse? Possibly some are meant to make acquaintance in the world they inhabit; others are not. Yes, the 'Bailter space' would, at the time you read this, appear to be the last refuge of fate. Not for long, though.
The main point I shall use to answer those who cavil at my thesis here (and it isn't a thesis, it's real! We Horsemen can observe things you cannot) is, yes, the veritable avalanche of those science textbooks I have mentioned above; they clearly show a similar structure shared by the atom and its electrons, mimicking the solar system you inhabit. To say nothing of all the other ones you can see! So many millions of children have read them and seen no reason to disbelieve said similarity and said implied connection that (yet once more) it cannot possibly be untrue. Or at least, not any longer. Again, a little child shall lead them. Should you still think that I've built an impossibly fanciful bridge of suppositions here, a staircase to No Place, then ponder me this. Why would several ancient Greek philosophers, an early Italian Renaissance cleric, and a 20th century physicist each come up with basically the same idea? Unless it were true! Sorry, simplicists. It has to be hypothetically true. It certainly is true in practice.
So how did you (and we) get used to seeing those great carving blades that sliced up one universe after another doing their work? One wonders if it's not unlike how a person sniffing roses will suddenly stop being able to smell them. The human nose clears itself out to ready itself for other smells. A predator, for example. A good thing, if so; the sight could drive one mad in no time. Well, madder than you are now. But insanity is as relative as aught else.
Other of my readers may ask how it can be that Neoplatonism can have stolen a march on the structure of the universe cum X-iverse, when early Christianity did not. Easy enough. Far more informed Neoplatonists must have existed at exactly the correct absolute Time than did informed Christians! How many Tertullians and Origens and Augustines et al. can have been active at said time, as opposed to active Neoplatonists? We'll never know, will we, given how many of the latter were no doubt hunted down and eliminated by Imperator Valentinian I's, Imperator Theodosius the Great’s, Bishop Ambrose of Milan's, and Imperator Justinian's bully boys. To name a mere few. If this seems an unfamiliar anecdote of history, well, why would the Christian victor of Western civilization incriminate himself of the elimination of anyone who didn't agree? Who writes history, again? Concomitant with that, what of the massive group of peasant Christians who never read a Bible (1) because the church elders kept it to themselves until John Wycliffe translated it in the 14th century? (2) because said peasants were far more valuable to their society for their labor than for their brains? They 'believed' because they were told to or suffer the ultimate ostracism, and death. It would appear from evidence that one only counts for something in this X-iverse if one has a point of view and if one means it. That's what the early Church, and not just the early Church, gets for imitating the persecutions that the pagans once inflicted on them. Another lesson far too late for the learning.
Now, as per that relativity Francis spoke of in his monograph concerning 'connections': you've already noted there that in your reality(ies), contradictions are allowed to exist, the actual and dead-on truths are often unavailable for consumption in certain areas, and all is approximate. Or something to that effect. Just as in some areas in the world you inhabit, some religious faiths are more prevalent in that neighborhood, and others yet in this countryside. This may partially explain all those blank realities we stumble into from time to time, by the by, parallel 'non-worlds' in which one particular other reality Is Not; it exists, I would think, in order that another actual reality 'Is.' And those fogs, streams, estuaries and eddies of Time (sorry, 'time') that David spoke of some while back exist also, you see, within each membrane. No, the 'non-membranes' I just mentioned don’t have them. To make it all even further 'iffy,' the more twists of this island creation's ship's wheel occur as G-d and humanity tussle for control, the more realities come into being and the larger the theoretical gravitational pull exists on any one of those realities from all the other ones. Just as any number of binary stars in the heavens turn one another into ellipses of nuclear fire as they dance one another about! Why would every reality not itself twist out of true as well, gravitationally put upon as they are? So much for 'connections, eh? How much longer do you suppose they'll hold? Equally, you see why I've never tried to build a model of the 'X-iverse.' To paraphrase Shakespeare, look at all thy perception cannot contain.
Now I'll leave you with one last thought. What of all those hypothetical 'billions of Christs' that might well have appeared to so agitate the Church in Signor Bruno's time? Billions of Popes? And so on? I have hypothesized earlier that once, there was only one world, one reality.. until some time after Iamblichus multiplied Plotinus' surmise in his published works! (Actually, thanks to the seer from, Chalcis, Signor Bruno and Dr. Everett, Gnosticism suddenly rears its head again, doesn't it... a fitting revenge upon the Vatican Holy Office. Which still exists, by the way. Wonder what they do now...) Should I have the previous correct, then, there were most probably ever only twelve Apostles, one Rabbi Joshua bar-Joseph, one St. Joseph, and (sad to say) one Mary Magdalene. The reality which contained them (the original one, obviously) most probably did not split off into any others until much later! We'll ruminate more about that also, but this is the gist. It would seem that The Wait had its positive side! I knew that it was out there somewhere.
So, should you have an interest in how many had to agree on neo-Platonism, or the Coriolis effect, or Saturday mail delivery, or Everett's 'relative state' or 'many-worlds' interpretation, to shift the realities as they did, that these hypotheses suddenly became truth; to say nothing of how many would be necessary to alter your reality onto your chosen path? As before, my apologies. I never stopped to count. Clearly the number is not very high; much of my blather herein certainly never made it to the Chicago Sun-Times, Asahi Shimbun, or Der Spiegel. But then, consider how few were humanity in those 'long-ago days' (as you perceive them, yes) and how many there are now. The unknown number may well have grown. It's also possible that how fervently one believes makes greater or smaller the required number of souls. But here's your invitation! Figure that number, or the required equation to determine it, and who will need to wait any longer for a Mahdi, a Moschiach... or an Antichrist? Think on all within your grasp.
Or someone else's. –P.