“ The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.”
Jalal al-din Rumi
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre …” Yeats keeps coming around again. It’s that spiral effect. Another aspect of this proving has been the recurring dreams. Over and over again the same theme. Whatever’s going on in the dream (and it’s largely unimportant) it’s being simultaneously mapped in terms of either mathematical formulae or computer programming language. This has been a bit of challenge for me since my abilities in both of those areas don’t go much beyond elementary level. Still, I wasn’t about to ignore them. What seemed to be drawing my attention the strongest was the fact that these descriptions all featured repeating nested subroutines.
For anyone for whom this means diddly squat, it’s a means of describing an event such that within an overall context you have increasingly more specific things going on, each nested within its parent context. In mathematics this is described using bracketed expressions, and in programming language, by a variety of conventions depending on the language. But in each instance, the convention is always that each subroutine must be enclosed within its parent. If you don’t close the expression, the whole thing becomes a nonsense and doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.
Why I was getting these dreams was something of a mystery, but when I finally stumbled on the Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid just underlined it. Gödel’s Theorem is an interesting one – published in 1931 by the then 25-year-old logician, it demonstrated that “any logical system comprehensive enough to describe elementary arithmetic necessarily contains propositions which can neither be proven nor disproven.” Also, that “the internal consistency of such a system can never be proven except by employing reasoning which is not expressible within the system itself.” Or, as reviewer Curtis L Wilber states in respect of Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, “Every system folds in on itself, be it physics, mathematics, or any form of language. All these systems are inherently self-referential, and as such, take on a life of their own. A life their creators could never imagine.” In other words, the “reality” of what we take for reality cannot be proven or disproven within its own terms: we’re thrown back on the ultimate subjectivity of our existence every time, and the fact that we’re continually engaged in the process of creating our “reality” largely in our own image. The “life of its own” that comes back to us in the apparent objectivity of what’s “out there” is really little more than a mirror – an idea which the likes of Buddhism has held as a fundamental truth for millenia.
At the same time as all this has been going on, I was having a conversation with someone in the USA about the Christian fundamentalist right and their belief in “the Rapture“. Scarey stuff. It even justifies environmental destruction on the basis that it will just speed up the End Times when Jesus Christ reappears to cart off the righteous to a better place, leaving the rest to rot in what’s Left Behind. It’s that “chosen race” theme again, isn’t it? All too reminiscent of Hitler’s “master race”. She sent me a couple of URLs to explore. As I was looking around wondering at the leaps in logic that allowed some quite outrageous conclusions to be drawn from what appeared to be exceedingly flimsy “evidence”, all I could see was Kurt Gödel perched genie-like atop a spinning vortex with a wry smile on his face. After all, exactly the same criticisms could be levelled at my view of reality, your view of reality, anybody’s view of reality.
Isn’t it amazing where dreams get you …