A new world is emerging from invisibility. Because it has never been seen, we must learn how to see it. Once we do, we see it has always been so.
It matters how we think about matter. And for that matter, it matters how we think about things in general. The metaphors we use as conceptual shorthand for encoding our understanding matter most; because these, essentially poetic, explanations of how we believe the world operates at any given time are creative and formative – they exhibit a feedback effect: your view of the world is what gives your life its meaning and what guides your creative interaction with the world.
We are also bound to each other by our commonly held views. Shared memes have increased viability. This enhances their ability to convey information. We evolve toward our shared visions.
The new global paradigms of human awareness are in significant part, scientific. We are now quite familiar and conversant with scientific metaphors. They pervade our popular culture and provide concise and useful explanations of trends and events. Also, as we inhabit increasingly technological environments, scientific metaphors are well-suited to our lived narratives.
Because contemporary science involves relativistic and quantum effects, indeterminacy, probability, theories of entanglement, and hypotheses of multiple dimensions, many worlds, and parallel universes, the new scientific paradigms have much in common with perennial philosophical inquiry, metaphysical speculation, and the aesthetic imagination.
The classical idea – that the universe is made of matter, which is composed of constituent particles that obey a special set of universal laws – has value when calculating the trajectories of things like planets, billiard balls, and bullets. Contemporary notions of waves, quanta, fractals, chaotic systems, complexity, information theory, and holograms have great value as metaphors for understanding the world we live in now. They are essential constituents of the cybernetic paradigm, in which vast amounts of complex information are moved, stored, processed, and retrieved by means of the manipulation of electrons. This kind of information processing is echoed in the genetic evolution of species and ecosystems, and it is a reflection of cosmic evolution through multiple dimensions. It is also a very powerful model of consciousness and intelligence.
In future entries of this series, we’ll look at ideas and metaphors most helpful in making sense of the new ways of thinking that are everywhere emerging into human awareness.
Image – “New World” By Tullio DeSantis, altered image and ink drawing, 2011.
YouTube Video – Alan Watts: Life is a Dance of Pattern