Embracing the Opposites: Life as a Musical Menage a Trois

Montreal, September 7, 1999


"The clear-minded ones will take to the road, walking to the place where they are in mourning, and there at the edge of the ashes, one will stand up saying words of sympathy to raise their spirits. At once they will begin to feel relieved, the mourners, and they will resume the path of the great peace." (Kaienerokowa, .. The 'Great Law of Peace' of the indigenous peoples of North America).

Billowing out of the Indefinite comes a continuous oscillation of birthing and dying, and those who simultaneously and harmoniously embrace these opposites would seem to epitomize the evolutionary dynamic of life itself.

Civilizations throughout history have debated over how opposites are reconciled, ... it is the basis of alchemy and myth, ... religious trinities, crosses and symbols, and while the QUESTION is as geometrically simple as which end of a boiled egg one must open, ... the ANSWER selected has massive cultural ramifications.

There are three basic ingredients; ... two opposites and a container from which the opposites emerge and in which they 'do battle'. This triad has been divided up and labelled in numerous different ways over history, good/evil/creation, ... subject/object/container, ... conjunctio oppositorum etc., but the big historical distinction is in whether or not the opposites stand distinct and separate, ... are 'mutually exclusive', ... or whether they are 'enfolded' in themselves, ... 'mutually inclusives', ... as in 'yin/yang' where yin represents 'the void which must be filled' and yang the janus-faced flip side of materiality which 'fills itself'. While the western culture dominated world continues to embrace 'mutual exclusion' as the basis for reality, ... relativity and quantum physics see nature in terms of an enfolded duality of energy and matter, ... an inclusionary geometry in which the container is its own contents and the constituents are their own container.

What difference do these very basic assumptions make as they are woven into culture? Let's say you are a 'part' who's looking for a resonant relationship with another part, ... a 'part-ner'. If you see yourself as being a part of a container (the whole ensemble) which has natural order-inducing properties, then you will clearly seek to establish simultaneous harmony with both your container and your partner. If, however, you see yourself as living in a world which has only parts and where the container is 'void' and inert (e.g. Euclidian space), ... you will focus solely on establishing resonance with your partner out of the context of the space in which you are operating.

'There's a thin line between love and hate', as they say, ... and a partnership seen in its own right may oscillate between attraction and opposition. However, a partnership which is 'grounded' in the common container (the ensemble of the whole) gives both partners the opportunity to balance out their periods of opposition and attraction. It therefore takes 'three to tango', ... as a minimum, in this inclusionary dynamic. How this simultaneous harmony of three parts works, is beyond the scope of the rational mind, but it is available to our senses. We know we can love our common container of nature and a nature-loving partner at the same time, but we can't explain how. That three bodies can come into simultaneous harmony is something which is observed in nature and described by science, ... but how it comes about and why it hangs together is not yet known. Science is working on it, ... in the domain of 'chaos' and resonant systems, ... using the 'mutual exclusion' model of Aristotle and Euclidian space.

Meanwhile, on the level of warm, living humans, it is a fairly common observation, that if two people try to enter into a state of 'co-resonance' and orbit each other, ... WITHOUT first establishing co-resonance with the container, continuing strife may emerge, and maintaining the orbital arrangement will then require much energy and attention. Psychologists will say that the two people need to 'find wholeness' in themselves even as they embrace their orbiting with each other. This 'wholeness' might also be described as 'being at peace with the world', ... or being in co-resonance with one's container. Without both partners having access to this state of 'wholeness' and being able to SIMULTANEOUSLY 'dance' with their container AND their partner, ... the partner-to-partner dancing will pull one or the other into dissonance with their container, ... into a state of 'non-wholeness' or 'unfulfillment'. If only one of the partners is missing 'wholeness', a semi-stable orbit may be achievable; i.e. the one may go into a lunar orbit around the other who has access to the state of wholeness. If both cannot reach wholeness or co-resonance with their containing environment, ... then they will go into a 'co-dependency' oscillation in which each takes turns falling into instability while the other helps them get back into a balanced oscillation.

Thus astronomy and human relationships seem to share some common geometry, and this is not really surprising since attraction and opposition moderated by oscillatory motion permeate all levels of nature, from the atomic to the cosmic..

The necessary but not sufficient condition to pre-establish the potential for SIMULTANEOUS harmonizing capability with container and partner, is to have the candidates sing Bob Dylan's [1] 'All I really wanna do, is, baby, be friends with you', while wired to a lie detector. Since there is a natural precedence of wholeness over togetherness, the second aspect is to determine whether there is scope for personal co-resonance while each one maintains their container co-resonance. As the three-body problem implies, ... the establishment of this three way harmony is a simultaneous thing and cannot be determined 'sequentially' by the 'sum of the behaviors of the parts'. All of this three-way resonance discussion, of course, .... presupposes that one see the container as a party to co-resonance with its own constituents, ... and this is not, in fact, the western assumption. The container does not enter into anything in the western assumption, ... there are only 'parts' and what happens is seen as being fully determined by 'cause and effect' emanating from the physico-chemical behaviors and interactions of the parts.

The choice worldviews, ... the western one in which the opposites are mutually exclusive, and the eastern and aboriginal one in which the opposites are inclusively enfolded in each other, ... go back to the first millemium B.C. when civilization was shifting (probably not for the first time) from a worldview based on myth dealing with the anthropology of the Gods, ... to a worldview based on 'understanding how the world works' (Heraclitus). But rather than reviewing the choice from that point, we can pick up from where science was picking up on the same choice, in seventeenth century physics and astronomy, and reconcile that choice with quantum mechanics. The basic issues emerge from the following three quotes;

* * *

"An exact solution for three bodies, exceeds, if I am not mistaken, the force of any human mind" .... Isaac Newton 1687

"Futhermore, a great distinction exists between the consonances of the single planets [two bodies, sun and planet] which been unfolded and the consonances of the planets in pairs [three body harmony]. For the former cannot exist at the same moment of time, while the latter absolutely can;"

.... Johannes Kepler, 1619

"If an oscillatory signal is applied to two opposite poles of a four-pole armature and an imaginary signal formed from its quadrature applied to the other pair, a field is set up which induces resonant motion within itself" [paraphrased] .... Denis Gabor

* * *

The optional worldviews which emanate from these natural phenomenological observations or their manifestations woven into more complex natural phenomena underlie the split between east and west, and between native north american and western european. They also source a sea of conflict on the scale of nations and on the scale of personal relationships, which is ongoing today.

What Kepler 'saw' and was articulating in the above quote was a 'simultaneous unity and plurality' which emanated from the universe itself, ... from the 'container', while what Newton 'saw' and was bemoaning, was the fact that here in the three-body problem was something which could not be explained rationally and was thus relegated to the domain of God, ... to 'creation'.

Gabor work was (and is) misunderstood much like Kepler's was and his holography theory was resisted by science until the invention of the laser demonstrated it and vaporized the resistance (Gabor discovered holography in 1948 and was awarded a Nobel prize for it in 1971).

What Gabor is saying in his above quote, paraphrased to cut through the equations and jargon, is that if you redevelop the theory of communications, removing the Euclidian abstractions and making it fit both physical reality and quantum mechanics, ... that the 'real' (rational) signal (which is all we currently use) becomes 'complex' (has an imaginary component) and that instead of the basic units of communication describing a two-state oscillation, analogous to the 'two body oscillation' in planetary orbitals, ... the complex signal now describes a 'field' which induces resonant movement within itself. The effect is as if the 'voice' which is communication, ... switches from being the 'voice' of a part, to the 'voice' of the container itself (the voice of the 'whole').

An interesting characteristic of this 'dynamo field' arrangement can be visualized in thinking about the rotation-inducing field set up within the four poled armature (two dipoles in a crossed or rectangular geometry). As the rotating magnet moves forward to embrace its opposite, the opposite is transformed into its likeness and it is repulsed by it and is driven forward out of the embrace towards the next pole which it is being attracted to. In effect, the spinning magnet is continually embracing the opposites of 'birthing and dying', ... the emerging of a new love on the horizon beckons him even as the loss he is coming to terms with also gives him motive force. Since we are speaking about communications here, and the dynamo and its rotation-inducing field were simply an analogy, we can say that while our existing communications approach (pre-quantum physics) is based solely on real, rational signal (binary 'is' or 'is not' states of being), the voice of 'things', ... the post quantum mechanical communications approach of Gabor is based on complex (real plus imaginary) signal (a rotation-inducing field), the voice of the 'container'.

This 'voice' issue, ... who is doing the speaking, ... is the significant difference between assuming a 'simultaneous unity and plurality' (container-content-coevolution) and a 'sequential unity and plurality' (thing-behavior based 'causality'). In the former case, it is the 'container' which speaks, and while the voice emanates from a particular part (the rotational effect of a field is invisible and is made manifest by putting 'something' in the field), the 'voice' of the 'part' in this case speaks for the whole-and-part at the same time as it speaks for itself. The inductive resonance is the 'reciprocal disposition' effect coming from the configuration of magnets (parts).

In the latter case,however, the 'voice' coming from the part speaks solely for 'itself' ('I am' or the binary bit '1') since the classical theory is based solely on 'things' out of consideration of the spatial configuration in which the things are immersed.

In curved space-time which characterizes the 'simultaneous unity and plurality', what each 'part' 'says' expresses both its own forward opportunity and the opportunity of all other parts in the whole (via 'reciprocal disposition' effects). In Euclidian space, which characterizes the 'sequential unity and plurality', what each 'part' 'says' is constrained to an expression on the immediate 'cause and effect' on itself and the neighbours it physically interacts with. 'Dick and Jane went up the hill' is a statement which is both 'real' and 'sequential' and spoken by another, fully detached voyeur 'voice'. Since our language uses 'nouns' which follow the mutual exclusion assumption, it is not possible to directly speak from the container, since that requires an imaginary component (see 'Footnote to 'Slipping Up on the Slopes of Curved Space').

By using the game of pool as a 'go-by', one can see that one has the option of thinking in terms of 'sequence'; i.e. in terms of which balls were actually touched on this shot. This approach sees 'space' (material structure) out of the context of time; i.e. one sees the game in terms of the sequential mechanical change to the configuration. Alternatively, one has the option of thinking in terms of 'simultaneity'; i.e in terms of how the forward opportunities of all balls are altered by the shot (how the interference patterns or 'reciprocal disposition' changed in the configuration). This approach sees space-time as a curved (self-interfering) continuum. Clearly, if one embraces the 'sequential' mode as one's choice of worldview, ... one focuses on the immediate mechanical result of one's action without considering how every constituent's (every ball's) forward opportunities are being impacted. If one embraces the 'simultaneous' mode as one's choice of worldview, however, ... the impact on future opportunity (and the cultivation thereof) is the primary focus, while the immediate and sequential mechanical effects are of secondary import.

What Gabor's quantum physics compliant communications theory does, is to suggest that the 'story voice' must come from the 'container' for the theory to be reconcilable with physical reality and quantum physics. The imaginary signal which is added in to achieve this is the analogue of the 'reciprocal disposition' in the curved space-time of billiards or the real world (per relativity theory), since both forms of reciprocal disposition represent relational order between a particular 'real' part and the containing whole.

In the domain of language, as Vygotsky says, ... "A word relates to consciousness as a living cell relates to a whole organism, as an atom relates to the universe." This is the psychological reality, which corresponds to the 'simultaneous unity and plurality' assumption. However, the common cultural convention is to regard a 'word' as a fully stand-alone, independently definable entity (like a 'thing'); i.e. that it is mutually exclusive of the ensemble of words in which it appears. This simplified view is analogous to the situation in pool where the 'sequential unity and plurality' choice of worldview is embraced, .. . that is, ... the focus on words is seen in terms of their immediate mechanical interplay and the 'game' of communication is seen as a sequence of mechanical transactions which ADD UP to the 'whole story' in an explicit knowledge context. Conversely, if the 'simultaneous unity and plurality' assumption is embraced, the reciprocal disposition effects of the words (on consciousness) will be monitored and cultivated as a first priority. Since 'consciousness' is the enveloping field or 'container' in which the words are being uttered, this approach is equivalent to giving voice to consciousness and to 'container-content-coevolution' or eitherwise stated, 'consciousness-knowledge-coevolution'. Linguistic co-resonance, discussed by Charles Kahn in the Footnote to 'Slipping up on the Slopes of Curved Space' is a technique for achieving this co-evolution.

If the story voice does not represent the containing consciousness but only a 'stand alone part' or individual player within the storyfield, ... and if the focus is only on the linguo-mechanical constructs, ... the linear summing of the knowledge fragments, ... otherwise known as rational discourse, the container of consciousness may be disturbed in such a way that its constituents forward opportunities are impacted in an uncontemplated manner (i.e. they may get 'snookered' and unable to move towards their expressive purpose.) The difference between the two approaches (simultaneous and sequential) can be seen in reconciling an aboriginal council meeting and a standard western-style business meeting, as describes in 'Slipping Up, ...'.

Thus, the embracing of one model or the other (simultaneous unity and plurality or sequential unity and plurality) has an impact which permeates communications and human relationships on multiple scales.

This precedance of the 'simultaneous unity and plurality' (simultaneous harmonies) was made clear by Kepler in 'Harmonia Mundi';

"For even without the epilogue, the following thesis is upheld by incontrovertible demonstrations: THAT IN THE FARTHEST MOVEMENTS OF ANY TWO PLANETS, THE UNIVERSE WAS STAMPED WITH THE ADORNMENT OF HARMONIC PROPORTIONS; AND, ACCORDINGLY, IN ORDER THAT THIS ADORNMENT MIGHT BE BROUGHT INTO CONCORD WITH THE MOVEMENTS, THE ECCENTRICITIES WHICH FELL TO THE LOT OF EACH PLANET HAD TO BE BROUGHT INTO CONCORD. The most wise Prince [his boss, Emperor Rudolph II] will easily reckon how great an addition this makes in illlustrating the glory of the fabric of the world and of God the Architect" (text emphasis was Kepler's).

Kepler is saying that even in the most remotest movements of any two planets (three-body combination), the 'natural resonances in the container' (harmonic proportions stamped into the universe) are apparent. Further, in order for this simultaneous harmony emanating from the universe (container) to be brought into concord with the two-body harmony of a single sun-orbiting planet, it is the planetary eccentricities which have to submit to orchestration. In other words, the individual orbital resonances were 'pre-ordained' by the container (the overall resonant system). Kepler underscores this further with his statement; " ... For if the ratios of the journeys [orbital periods] are harmonic, all the other affects which the planets have will be necessitated and bound up with the journeys, so that there is no room elsewhere for establishing harmonies."

One expects this primacy of the simultaneous configurational effect in a relativistic curved space-time container since the self-interference between the parts of the ensemble pre-determine opportune (co-resonant) 'paths' if you like, as in the game of pool. The expectation, described this way, is, however from the 'back door', since physics is currently working on understanding the nature of this type of resonance (see Friedrich Cramer: 'Chaos and Order' and discussion on the Rings of Saturn ) in the context of the three-body problem (p119) and 'centers of order' (p. 124).

As Einstein says, in difficulty lies opportunity, and there is clearly difficulty in understanding how what Kepler thought was his greatest discovery, this harmonic adornment of the universe, this confirmation of the 'logos' of Heraclitus or primacy of the 'simultaneous unity and plurality', .. no-one else paid much attention to, and it was totally dropped out in Newton's laws, .... laws and scientific inquiry which in themselves constitute the embrace of the 'sequential unity and plurality'.

Just how excited Kepler was, can be seen in his Proem to Harmonies of the Word;

"But now since the first light eight months ago, since broad day three months ago, and since the sun of my wonderful speculation has shone fully a very few days ago: nothing holds me back. I am free to give myself up to the sacred madness, I am free to taunt mortals with the frank confession that I am stealing the golden vessels of the Egyptians, in order to build of them a temple for my God, far from the territory of Egypt. If you pardon me, I shall rejoice; if you are enraged, I shall bear up. The die is cast, and I am writing this book --- whether to be read by my contemporaries or by posterity matters not. Let it await its reader for a hundred years, if God Himself has been ready for His contemplator for six thousand years."

So why did everyone yawn?

The fact is that you cannot get to this notion of 'simultaneous harmony' by rational means or rational logic or equations etc., .... you can only get to it by 'feeling' it. So when Kepler says, these planets are in simultaneous harmony, ... if you are in your normal rational voyeur mode, it is just words. But the same feeling comes from a jam session or some sports situation like hockey where multiple bodies are skating to where the puck is going to be. In those 'container-content-coevolutional' moments, one can feel that the group (it takes 3 or more) is responding to their own 'containing envelope' of music or harmonic motion. They can sense the zones of resonance as they move into them because they ARE them.

Does this 'simultaneous harmony' represent a real state or not? (is it just imagined?). It is definitely a real state as it is readily observable and documented in resonant systems from the astronomical to the atomic level. But how one 'feels' about it is another matter. If I get in the 'zone' or 'grooze' playing pool (it doesn't happen that often), the 'shape' just keeps evolving beautifully for me, and I don't ask myself any questions, I just keep drinking my beer and 'not-trying' to stay in the groove. Most pool players and motorcyclists (bike-man-container triads) and rock or jazz musicians do not doubt that this resonant 'zone' is real. One can 'feel' it and describe it qualitatively, but one can't rationally explain it. This is because it is not a mechanically structured thing based on the behaviors of independent 'things' but a dynamical SPATIAL flow wherein the participant jointly cultivates his own containing dynamic.

As mentioned, the resonant zones in nature are a live topic of research, and being examined in the context of 'chaos' and poincare maps etc. Like Newton, and most modern scientists, ... the assumption is that the answers will come from our 'bottom-up' 'rational' scientific inquiry based on 'things' and their properties and behaviors. According to the premises of this essay (and various notes published in *Complexity*), the resonance of space are innately unexplainable in the rational scientific terms of 'things' and their properties and behaviors. Currently, scientific inquiry rarely incorporates relativistic curved space-time, because in relativistic curved space-time one cannot have 'independent things' and the 'law of non-contradiction' does not rule.

So, the 'comprehension' of 'simultaneous harmony', while a 'real' phenomenon, eludes the scope of detection of rational, scientific inquiry. The question remains, at this point, why Kepler 'got it' and why Newton 'did not'.

Kepler, though a Lutheran, embraced neo-platonist philosophy and believed that 'geometry was God' (the order in nature was divine), ... that man was 'contained' in nature. He separated, in his mind, his Lutheran faith (which was more about community and birthright it seemed) from the doctrine which was continually being written and then changed by the 'doctors of the church' against whom he continually railed for getting the philosophy and physics wrong. In other words, Kepler knew the answer before he 'discovered it', and Newton knew his answer beforehand as well (Newton was a literalist with respect to the Bible). For Newton, the idea that the space around you was 'possessed' with order, would have been an 'occult' thought, and he probably struggled with this since he was also an alchemist on the side, however, his correspondence reveals that he did not believe in letting this type of idea out, for fear that it would do great harm. As for Kepler, his mother came close to being burned at the stake, ... was nearly served papers for delving in the occult, and was eventually excommunicated for his Copernican and other beliefs, indicating that his ideas were not so constrained as Newton's nor was his expression of them (Kepler had the security which went with working for Emperor Rudolph).

The prime question which needs to be laid to rest here seems to be; ... is it possible to feel a real physical effect which is not explainable in the rational terms of mutually exclusive 'things', their properties and behaviors, and their causal dynamics, .... and which instead come to our senses from the 'shape of space' and its associated flow dynamics?

But wait a minute. Is that the right question? Or is it simply a question which tries to overpower the prevailing choice of 'mutual exclusion'? A course of action which is not recommended by Max Planck, as indicated by his statement; "A new scientific truth does not win acceptance by converting it's opponents and making them suddenly 'see the light'. But rather the opponents eventually just die off, and a whole new generation grows up that is simply familiar with it." (rebirth occurs but rarely within the living adult).

The problem is, as has already been indicated, that those who advocate sticking to the classical paradigm of 'sequential unity and plurality', argue that it is only a matter of time until resonance in space will be explained by the standard classical approach. This is indeed the contention of the vast network of those 'in control', ... the good doctors of the church of classical science, as Kepler might well have called them were he presently with us.

While rebels like Lee Smolin suggest that the old paradigm is a naive way to approach something like the Gaia hypothesis, or living cosmos (which is implicit in the 'simultaneous unity and plurality', establishment voices such as that of Edward O. Wilson continue to see 'life' as something which developed out of inorganic material through some mysterious process, ... in other words that the universe is 'dead' but it sprouted some life in it a few billion years ago (rather than seeing the universe as coevolving with its own content, wherein plant and animal life would be 'enfolded order' within the living universe).

Wilson, Harvard biology professor, two time pulitzer prize winner ('On Human Nature' and 'The Ants'), 'considered to be one of the worlds greatest living scientists', says in his best-selling book 'Consilience';

The cutting edge of science is reductionism, the breaking apart of nature into its natural constituents. ... Complexity is what interests scientists in the end, not simplicity. Reductionism is the way to understand it. The love of complexity without reductionism makes art; the love of complexity with reductionism makes science."

My point in quoting him is not to put him down. In the inclusionary view of the 'simultaneous unity and plurality', ... one does not 'discard' the reductionist paradigm, but views it as a valuable but limited special case of the more general paradigm. My point is to point out the 'religious' manner in which the axioms of reductionism are being advocated as 'the only way', ... 'the breaking apart of nature into its NATURAL constituents' already presupposes that the choice of 'constituents' is nature's choice. Does the earth break itself down into atmosphere, oceanosphere and lithosphere? which seem to involve simultaneous harmonies, ... or is this a structure we impose upon nature, as Wittgenstein and Poincare would say?

Wilson, in the second part of his statement, effectively 'excommunicates' from the 'church of the sequential unity and plurality' those who sought to explain complexity in terms other than reductionism. Even then, Wilson says elsewhere; "Science, like art, and as always through history, follows patronage.", .... a statement which has more than a little curved-space-time flavor of 'container-content-coevolution' in it.

The point is that the directions of popular science are established more by economic and political forces than by the reconciliation of theory with physical phenomena. Newton's theory was extremely valuable for predicting mechanical dynamics, but it did nothing for living systems such evolving ecologies. The disciplinary 'policing' of the acceptibility of theory, as pointed out by the rebel biologist Henri Laborit, prejudges that understanding how the world works will be a 'sum of the parts' ('sequential unity and plurality') affair. This also explains why transdisciplinary researchers are 'on their own', ... since their 'bootstrapping' formulations fit no disciplinary models (they seek out the common geometric essences).

So, it is well established that there are questions of complexity which have not yielded to the 'sequential unity and plurality' (reductionist) approach, and the positions on how to get there may even have hardened since the time of Newton, given his following statement on page four of his 'Author's Preface' to the Principia;

"I wish we could derive the rest of the phaenomena of nature by the same kind of reasoning from physical principles; for I am induced by many reasons to suspect that they all may depend upon certain forces by which the particles of bodies, by some causes hitherto unknown, are either mutually impelled towards each other, and cohere in regular figures, or are repelled and recede from each other; which forces being unknown, philosophers have hitherto attempted the search of nature in vain; but I hope the principles laid down will afford some light either to this or some truer method of philosophy."

Back in 1999, we still don't have an answer in rational inquiry for the naturally occurring resonance-inducing zones in the container, and other complexities, and we don't seem to want to resort to the use of relativistic curved-space-time and the associated notion of 'container-content-coresonance', because we have such a strong faith in our ability to explain everything in material, mechanical dynamics terms (causality).

Other than political and economic entrenchment of the old scientific paradigm, is there some emotional attachment? Is it so bad to subordinate our voyeur rationality to relational perception in which we are immersed constituents of our containing space?

What the shifting of paradigms would amount to is a recentering of 'we're coming from', from voyeur views to immersed 'experience'. Right now our community actions are 'coming from' our rational perspectives which are debated and voted on with the majority results being put into rules and imposed on all constituents. This approach pre-empts us from using our experience, and its only our experience which can get at the issue of 'reciprocal disposition' effects (table shape, whole-and-part harmony, future opportunity of everyone in the ensemble), because it requires an imaginary component which is derived from the space-time phase relationships amongst things.

What we are talking about is the need to be coming from the 'story' around the actions whatever they are. Those who modify the configuration have to be 'immersed in story', in experience-centered mode,... they must be the eyes and the voice of the (local) container and of course when everyone is in that mode, the stories network and connect and the group (the consciousness of the group) constitutes a 'container' which induces co-resonant behaviors in its constituents.

This self-referential induction of co-resonance between container and content is what happens in the native american tradition, in the sharing which goes on in the council sessions. The invocations and circles of hands before and after the meeting are part of a 'container-building' process. As the sharing occurs, the implicit 'container' is engendered which will induce co-resonant responses from the community constituents. Information flows up the council through sharing, ... the council creates and sustains the implicit container and the needed co-resonant responses are induced through both discursive and non-discursive nudging and imagination.

In conclusion, two competing views of space-time have emerged in history pertaining to how conflict is resolved, ... a 'simultaneous unity and plurality' (primacy of the 'Indefinite') which involves inclusionary (non-rational) reasoning and a 'sequential unity and plurality' (primacy of the 'One') which is fully rational. What we are talking about here are dual optional interpretations of the very basic principles of how the world works, ... basic principles which are more deeply woven into our attitudes and processes than the historical debate over whether earth or sun was at the center of the world, ... the former assumption being so deeply woven into the fabric of our daily lives, as Thomas Kuhn describes in 'The Copernican Revolution', that it was long resisted and took more than a century to be subsumed by helio-centric assumptions.

As is Bart Kosko's practice, the following genre of question directed to an imaginary readership may shed some insight;

'Hold up your hand if you believe (One) that the world can be described as an ensemble of 'things' whose properties and physico-chemical behaviors determine the order in the world as we experience it?

Hold up your hand if you believe (Indefinite) that the world can be described as a 'containing space-time field' which precipitates 'things' and induces resonant order within itself?

I can't see your hands, but I can tell you how some other people voted, and I can also tell you that all of those who voted for 'Indefinite' also voted for 'One', ... because they see 'One' as an approximate (special case) way of looking at the MORE COMPLETE 'Indefinite' model. In other words, they voted for the Indefinite in the primacy over the One. Having noted that the 'Indefinite's' voted twice, when I refer to the 'One's', I shall intend only those who voted for 'One' and not for 'Indefinite'.

Those who historically voted for One include Parmenides, Aristotle, Descartes, Newton, the Jewish, Christian and Islamic churches and the vast majority in western civilization including mainstream science.

Those who historically voted for (the primacy of the) Indefinite include Heraclitus, Kepler, Faraday, Nietzsche, Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Wittgenstein, Joseph Campbell, the Buddhist and Hindu religions and the vast majority of aboriginals around the world, including native north americans.

The questions of why we seem unable to evolve out of the old paradigm are not the same as those dealing with how we originally got in. It would appear that religion influenced the choice in the west since the idea of a transcendent God presiding over a non-divine nature precluded the notion of nested containers (man, community, nature) associated with the Indefinite-in-the-primacy choice.

While it appears that the shift in thinking required is of a sufficient magnitude that it will have to be achieved in the manner suggested by Max Planck, .. carried in by youth, ... there is a problem in that youth are under rising pressure to prepare themselves for 'the old way', and do not have the respected space for cultivating an entirely new 'way'.

The budding efforts of north american natives to create the needed space for youth and to rekindle their old ways based on the primacy of the Indefinite, as outlined by Taiaiake Alfred in 'Peace, Power, Righteousness: an indigenous manifesto, could provide a useful 'crucible' for a more general engendering of the new way and for cross-fertilizing congruent initiatives amongst other cultures.

With respect to the title of this essay, 'Embracing the Opposites: Life as a Musical Menage a Trois', the point intended was that the three way co-resonances, ... container-individual, individual-individual, individual container, ... are needed to induce their own simultaneous harmony. In this arrangement, each participant is sensing the change in the 'shape' of the order around him, ... not in terms of the material-structural order, ... but in terms of the 'reciprocal disposition' or 'opportunity' of those around him (animal, vegetable, mineral). For example, in hockey, the three offensive players simultaneous respond to the formation of a 'hole' in the other team's defence and this induces coherent order in their movements. Rational inquiry cannot get to dynamically opening holes of opportunity because this requires the interplay of imagination and rational 'signal', ... bringing real and imaginary experience into connection in the mind, which yields implicit (inarticulable) experiential understanding.

It takes a minimum of three bodies to make a container which can induce its constituents into coresonant states (simultaneous harmony). With two bodies, only oscillations or 'sequential harmonies' are possible. In the real world where there are many bodies, ... putting the partnering of two bodies into primacy over natural induction which seeks to produce simultaneous harmonies is likely to lead to dissonance since simultaneous harmony is more fundamental than sequential harmony. In the case of two individuals, it is therefore essential for them to put their harmony with their container (their 'wholeness') into the primacy over their sequential harmony with their 'partner', to prevent 'wobble' and 'orbital' instability. Single issues; i.e. 'problems', when treated out of the context of the whole, can lead to the same type of instabilities.

To close the loop on the opening theme, ... the embracing of opposites, as the choice of the 'simultaneous unity and plurality' for worldview implies, is something which can lead to a profound peace and wholeness within the individual, as is attested to in the works of many poets.

David Whyte, in 'The Heart Aroused' says;

"If things are dying or falling away, we dismiss it, we refuse to see it as the second half of the very same cycle and think there is something "wrong" with us. We think something terrible has happened and we need to do a whole list of things to put it right. Much of our stress and subsequent exhaustion at work comes from our wish to keep ourselves at full luminescence all month, even when our interior "moon" may be just a sliver in the sky would my life be like if I had as much faith in the parts of me that were fading away as I had in the parts of me that were growing?"

The burden which comes with the choice of separate and mutually exclusive opposites is the burden of 'purification'. To choose 'sequential unity and plurality' is to commit oneself to a sisyphusian purification if, indeed, good and bad are enfolded in each other since to liberate good is to also liberate evil. These absolute opposites are, of course, abstract notions of static 'being' not found in reality, .. . has anybody ever seen a 'pure good' in captivity, or a 'pure evil'?. Reality is a space-time dynamic rather than a frozen state thus one can speak instead in terms of harmony and dissonance.

The 'lightening' which comes with the choice of connected and mutually inclusive opposites is the lightening of music. To choose 'simultaneous unity and plurality' is to choose 'the voice of the container', the voice of the music-maker. It is the essence of music to keep moving so that one makes dissonance over into harmony. If you are making a note you need to appreciate when to be silent, .. .and when you are silent you need to appreciate when to make a note, ... you need to be the 'container' from which these opposites are continually being delivered and reclaimed, ... that 'full emptiness' from which all harmonies flow forth.

As Jalaluddin Rumi says in;

'This World Which Is Made of Our Love for Emptiness';

Praise to the emptiness that blanks out existence. Existence:

This place made from our love for that emptiness!

Yet somehow comes emptiness,

this existence goes.

Praise to that happening, over and over!

For years I pulled my own existence out of emptiness.

Then one swoop, one swing of the arm,

that work is over.

Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope,

free of mountainous wanting.

The here-and-now mountain is a tiny piece of a piece of straw

blown off into emptiness.

These words I'm saying so much begin to lose meaning:

Existence, emptiness, mountain, straw:

Words and what they try to say swept

out the window, down the slant of the roof.

* * *

[1] Bob Dylan, "All I really want to do is, baby, be friends with you."

i aint lookin to compete with you,

beat or cheat or mistreat you

simplify you, classify you,

deny, defy or crucify you,

all i really want to do

is, baby, be friends with you

no and i aint lookin to fight with you

frighten you or uptighten you

drag you down or drain you down

chain you down or bring you down

all i really want to do

is, baby, be friends with you

i aint lookin to block you up,

shock or knock or lock you up

analyze you, categorize you,

finalize you or advertise you

all i really want to do

is, baby, be friends with you

i don't wanna straight-face you,

race or chase you, track or trace you

or disgrace you or displace you

or define you or confine you

all i really wanna do

is, baby, be friends with you

i don't wanna meet your kin

make you spin or do you in

or select you or dissect you

or inspect you or reject you

all i really wanna do,

is, baby, be friends with you

i don't wanna fake you out,

take or shake or forsake you out,

i aint lookin for you to feel like me,

see like me or be like me

all i really wanna do,

is, baby, be friends with you.

* * *

Return to '98/'99 Update Page and Index of Essays