Cosmos Café: Less Time, More Space, & Hebrew Letter Gestures [1/23]


(Ed Mahood) #1



This is a follow-up session to the Cosmos Cafe from 9 January.

When we met last, we took a look at the Creation Story in Genesis (1:1-25) both in regard to its status as mythology and as a potential statement of fact. The former is the common understanding, the latter an apparently outrageous claim. After providing a bit of background to alternative understandings of the text – primarily via Kabbalah (in a very general sense) – we took a closer look at the work of the Meru Foundation and Stan Tenen’s explorations into what he calls the “geometric metaphors” of the text.

The text appears to be self-correcting; that is, self-referential, and generates a number of geometric models, one of which is the 2-torus (doughnut shape), which some scientists (such as Einstein, Eddington, and Young) believe to be the shape of the universe. The defining topological feature of this form provides a way to describe two, three, and four dimensional views of life in geometric terms. Derived from these findings, Meru has developed a model of Continuous Creation that goes a long way in helping to understand and clarify a wide range of metaphors from various spiritual and religious traditions. One very significant result is the discovery of a system for gesturing the individual Hebrew letters, thereby enabling us to produce what might be called an embodied expression of the text.

In this session, we would like to further explore the Meru findings of course, but also answer questions that may have arisen in the interim and possibly to explore further ramifications of these results.

Seed questions

  • Having had some time to think about it (or not), and aside from details already raised in the follow-up thread online, what do you think is going on in the text, and what consequences do you see arising from that?

  • What is the relationship, for you, of the Book of Genesis (given its multi-dimensionality we’re discussing here) and the Ever-Present Origin? Do you believe that Origin is coded in the various ways we find in Genesis? (ToH to Marco)

  • What is the relationship between encoding, shape, and information? And, is there anything you believe to be inherently ethical about shapes or numbers? (ToH Marco)

  • How does the beginning of the Gospel of John ("In the beginning was the Word… ") in the New Testament relate to the geometry of the Old Testament origin story we are exploring? (ToH Marco)

  • How many dimensions or order – text, sound, grapheme, meta-, etc. – are there, and how do we write poetry in all those dimensions?

Inputs and backstory stuff

Agenda Items

Café sessions


Post Session Documentation

Cosmos Café – Upcoming Events [planning & scheduling]
(Marco V Morelli) #2

@achronon: Let me plant a few more seed questions for noodling over the weekend. What is the relationship, for you, of the Book of Genesis (given its multi-dimensionality we’re discussing here) and the Ever-Present Origin? Do you believe that Origin is coded in the various ways we find in Genesis? What is the relationship between encoding, shape, and information? And, is there anything you believe to be inherently ethical about shapes or numbers? (This gets back to my query last week re: the Logos and violence.)

And one more question for good luck: How does the beginning of the Gospel of John ("In the beginning was the Word… ") in the New Testament relate to the geometry of the Old Testament origin story we are exploring?

(Ed Mahood) #3

Heh, heh, heh … noodling … you need a rolling pin to make those, don’t you? Thanks for the whack. :face_with_head_bandage:

I’ll noodle and perhaps kick off the session from this angle. As synchronicity would have it (I’m not much of a fate guy), I was mulling (a far cry from noodling) over Gebser and Genesis yesterday afternoon.

I’m going to include these in the Seed questions section, just so everyone can mull or noodle or just wonder as well before we meet up on Tuesday.

(Zachary Feder) #4

Just wanted to appreciate this thread as I was a big fan of Stan’s work almost a decade ago and for a time was speaking to him regularly and considering studying under him. A few years before this I had even spent some time writing a psycho-spiritual interpretation of genesis which does correspond to very clear psychological dynamics. If this could ever be tied into our writing group that I believe Marco will be saying something about soon, I’d love to chat more about it … Cheers Ed.

(Zachary Feder) #5

Last time I was in contact with Stan he was very interested in the process of “flocking” not only in animals but humans as well, which for me relates to my own work around Free Will, and how it is not a god given gift but a muscle that must be built. Failing to build that muscle and whether we like it or not, and know it or not, we will simply flock. The fine print being that - all who have no free will flock, but not all who flock have no free will …

(Zachary Feder) #6

(Ed Mahood) #7

Some gifts are never opened, and some that are opened are set aside, never used, and forgotten. That is also choosing, is it not? Not all creatures can choose to the degree we humans can.

Having said that, I couldn’t agree with the flocking metaphor more. I’ve thought of it in terms of herding, but there is a nice dynamic in flocking that’s missing in the herd, I suppose.

Glad to hear Stan’s work is getting around. Slowly, but surely …

(Zachary Feder) #8

There is a certain mobius strip kind of false logic that surrounds conversations of Free Will that doesn’t quite take into account what one sees when doing work with the unconscious on a regular and long term basis, something I’m keen to document in the book I’m hoping to work on in a writing group here - mainly that until we accept that Free Will is simply a de-conditioning and re-conditioning process of childhood, cultural and epigenetic programs, there is really no option to have much in the grand scheme because all major choices prior to that de-conditioning will be pre-determined, as if the game cannot be played because one has yet to set foot on the field …

That being said perhaps you’d be open to kicking the tires of my own clinical observations as they are increasingly put to paper, @achronon?

“We must believe in free will. We have no choice.” - IBSinger

(Ed Mahood) #9

Perhaps this is what I meant by “opening the gift”; it sounds like it to me.

I doubt you’ve ever read Gebser’s Ever-present Origin, (which we read here a while back in one of the first reading groups in which I was involved). He describes a model of the consciousness unfoldment of humans, but he works with two very powerful notions: latency and transparency. In his terms, free will is latent even in our pre-hominoid ancestors, but over time (can) become(s) more transparent. It seems to be a natural process on the one hand, but there is a certain amount of involvement that is necessary to keep the process moving. You might find him a worthwhile read.

We also took a look at Arthur Young’s The Reflexive Universe, which is one might call a physicist’s view of what is often referred to as “the evolution of consciousness”. He develops a 7-stage process model that provides an perhaps unorthodox, but well-reasoned view of how consciousness is inherent in universe because light, from which all else arises, is itself consciousness. His view of the double-slit experiment, for example, is that light chooses its paths, and this has important consequences for what comes later. Just another idea set to throw in the mix.

But, I don’t think any of this contradicts what you have seen, yet may help clarify what I’m thinking. If you are going to go through what you describe as a “de-conditioning”, then you must be de-conditioning something, and it seems to me, perhaps to phrase it differently, that this is to recognize that we even have a free will to develop. Something has to be there, it would seem to me, that can be freed.

Of course, if you think I might be able to help with what you’re working on, I’d be happy to kick tires or throw in my own 2-cents’ worth or whatever helps you move along.

(Zachary Feder) #10

Thanks for the micro summary of Young and Gebser. I actually bought the latter and was ready to dive in with you all back in the day but missed the boat. Stan also frequently referenced Young as one of his great influences. I shall have to absorb them at some point to make sure I stay true to these streams of wisdom. Cheers Ed, so much more to say. I look forward to more … much appreciation to you.

(douglas duff) #11

In my loose research from the references found in the Posthumanity thread, I came across The Poetics of DNA by Judith Roof. Though less on the mathematical, it has some connections to our CCafe discussion. Chapter 2 “Genesis” and Chapter 3 “Flesh Made Word” do not have any further references to biblical codes, but interesting connections nonetheless. The book is a study behind the current culture’s use of language and metaphors to place DNA as the new ‘code.’

Book, Chapter 2-3 Summary by author (with 2-3 highlighted)

This book examines how modes of identifying and describing
the DNA gene function in contemporary culture to allay fears about
changes in order and the logics of systems and to rewrite the truth of
humanity in safe and conservative terms. There are two basic arguments.
First, the ways we think of DNA and genes are themselves the logical
product of centuries of thought. DNA isn’t what it is because that is
what it is. Rather, the emphasis on structure and function attached to
our understandings of DNA are the capping response to several centuries
of reductionism and dialecticism. Second, the analogies derived
from DNA’s position as a structural answer to questions of life and
deployed to describe and explain DNA genes are also metaphors that
import particular compensations or remedies for the cultural fears excited
by the discovery of DNA and other systemic ways of thinking.
The ways we conceived of DNA and genes in the second half of the
twentieth century are not only an effect of a history of thought that
ends up with the idea of structure as an answer in itself, they also perpetuated
this notion of structure at the very moment they imported
alternative ideas of system and complexity.

The following chapters trace and analyze the sets of ideas that
have come into play in attempts to present DNA genes to the general
public, demonstrating how apparently simple analogies convey complex
sets of ideas that respond to contemporary anxieties and interests. The
second chapter, “Genesis,” traces the conceptual family tree of the DNA

gene, showing how the gene is the “natural” heir to a mid-twentiethcentury
convergence of structuralism and reductionism. Following several
trails of thought from the Greek philosophers to the more recent
inventors of cybernetics, psychoanalysis, and systems theory, the second
chapter suggests that if there hadn’t been such a thing as a DNA gene, we
would have contrived it anyway, since the DNA gene is the point at which
many long-lived ideas about the order of the universe converge. It argues
that our conceptions of the DNA gene as the secret of life are already
conditioned by our ideas about language and binary modes of organizing
knowledge. It also argues that the forms our understandings of DNA
take are themselves already the defensive and compensatory adoption of
the more familiar forms of structuralism such as a code or language in
the face of the more threatening epistemologies of the equally contemporaneous
(but much less conventional) systems theory, which might have
provided a more accurate and less exploitable set of genetic concepts.

Chapter 3, “Flesh Made Word,” examines the uses and effects of
textual metaphors such as the book of life, the code, the blueprint, alphabet,
or recipe employed to describe DNA, suggesting that these textual
metaphors produce a continued sense of human control and agency over
genetic processes and provide the conceptual basis for turning genes into
property via patents. They also enable structural fantasies that override
far more complex ideas of system, complexity, chaos, and other ways to
understand the interrelation of phenomena.

Thanks @achronon for another stimulating session and for allowing me to attempt to cruise at your pace…like a toddler triking behind his father’s car as he leaves for work…:grin:

(Ed Mahood) #12

Thanks ever so much for the pointers and links.

When DNA and the unraveling of the human genome were becoming all the rage, the curmudgeon in me (I know, I know, whoda thunk?) was wondering just what all the hype was about. One of the things the bothered me most deeply was the loud assumption that we had discovered the (physical) secret of life. In the long tradition of human hubris, we were finding genes for everything from alcoholism to cancer susceptibility … the materialist technophiles were once again on the verge of saving us from ourselves.

What only slowly came to light was that what had been identified or decoded or whatever it is you want to call it, made up only 2% of human DNA. The other 98% was called junk, because it was non-coding DNA, and it is still severely neglected because our structuralist-reductionist mentality doesn’t allow for such inefficiencies. They may not be inefficiencies, but the particular view of science and knowledge that declares is “junk” has no way of dealing with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking knowing anything about the 2%, but in other contexts, such as the species relationship between say humans and chimpanzees, where the DNA difference is roughly 2% but the real difference between chimpanzees and humans is more in the realm of orders of magnitude, well, we end up with another little puzzle that simply doesn’t get the attention it needs.

What results from all this uncertainty, of course, is fear, I suppose, because that notion plays a big role in Ms Roof’s apparent discussion of the subject. We, as humans, as a downright, talkative (I hesitate to use the term “communicative” because that’s what we probably do least well) species, deal with the notion of language a lot. We’re always trying to figure out what we’re trying to say or not say or proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’re really not saying anything anyway (my phrasal encapsulation of my understanding of post-modernism). I would almost suspect that the chapter headings were chosen as a scholar’s attempt to set the real record straight on how we got here and what we’re all about. The Bible, regardless of the central role it plays in making sense of the world – mostly indirectly via literature (and a whole lot of other textual influences) – needs to be proven wrong. It is common wisdom that the Bible and science are simply incompatible. (I really hope I’m not doing Ms. Roof an injustice … I’ll apologize profusely if I am.) But, there is – as we have seen in our two little CCafe sessions – most likely a stronger and deeper relationship between the two than we would like to admit.

One of the things that Stan Tenen has written is about the relationship between scientists and wordsmiths, and I couldn’t but help think about that when reading your post, the linked post, and as much of the book online as a non-subscribing individual can see (related to the chapters in question, of course). You might find it interesting as well. (BTW, just about every reference I make to the Alphabet in Genesis text can be found somewhere on the Meru website; I’m merely referencing the printed version.)

One of my own personal take-aways from all this engagement with the Meru material is that we need to re-think a whole lot that we have simply taken for granted up until now. The mere fact that the first verse of Genesis may be factually as well as literally true is a really hard notion to wrap one’s head around.

As you will see if you continue your endeavor to injest Gebser, he brings lots of examples in Part II which he feels are indicative of the integral structure of consciousness, and as we touched on in the CCafe session, his notions of systasis, synairesis and eteology are not as easy to grasp and identify as most philosophical concepts. Gebser is talking about something actually new. But, if I have ever run across statements and texts that meet the criteria that Gebser has set out for this consciousness structure that we may be mutating to, they are Stan’s.

Of course, as I noted, yesterday, if Stan is right about Gen 1:1, that is the clearest example of a eteologeme, a statement of being-in-truth, that we could hope for. Whether we can “ware” that is, of course, another issue. I keep trying, but I’m not sure that I often succeed. Of course, as the Beatles noted, “with a little help from my friends …”, who knows?

It would be rude, as well, not to at least thank you for the compliment … as undeserved as I think it is … because I get the distinct impression you’ve got a motor built into that trike that I can’t see out the rearview mirror. Could that be? :open_mouth:

(john davis) #13

I deeply regret I missed your presentation yesterday, but I look forward to viewing the video when it comes out. Today, I got The Mereon Matrix and The Alphabet That Changed the World, Both books look really interesting, and way over my head, but I will come to you, Ed, for help. I do hope we can continue in this direction. Has anyone made a decision about what happens at the next Cafe?

(douglas duff) #14

…only smart enough at this stage of my development to tie a rope to your fender and enjoy the ride :red_car: :heavy_minus_sign: :bike: :rofl: I was about to provide a worthy response to your first few paragraphs…then realized I was being taken on another ride into the Ma"hood"…dangerous ideas lurk there…as I zoomed into the later words!

Speaking of Genesis: I would like to know others’ thoughts about LibraryGenesis (see too their letter of solidarity)…I have been very hesitant to use this site for ethical reasons, though it seems to fall into the legitimate and legal realm…I can imagine it as a necessary library, one open to the less fortunate of location, financial stature, access (I personally cannot afford 1/10 of the items mentioned here, let alone the thousands of other books I’d like to purchase)…and I can imagine it as ruining creativity, something that is the antithesis to the creative work we are starting here.
I dont want to get us off topic or create another mess of a conversation… I think this could be a separate thread/seed question. just wanted to hear other’s thoughts and experience with such matters.

(I mention this because Roof's book is available there)

A personal thought: I am not necessarily interested in purchasing the book. But I thought a few here would be interested…this may lead to one of you purchasing the book. Though I do not intend on reading the book nor purchasing it…I now have a copy. I have deleted it, as I only wanted to extract a little information and provide a couple chapter summaries. I may have just helped out Roof’s sales by “promoting it here” …by making it known…and I may have just stolen the book. Or It can be seen as checking a book out at the library…do you see the challenging thoughts around this?

The integrative Impulse: Sri Aurobindo's Experimental Praxis
(john davis) #15

There is considerable evidence that biology and culture co-specify. Language and culture as well as math and logic are correlated and metaphor shapes our experience profoundly. There is lots of discussion about how trance states allow for deep integration of slower and faster dynamics in our nervous system. The parasympathetic needs to slow down to recover and the use of metaphor and story can actually can induce this relaxation response. We have 90 minute cycles of rest and activity ( ultradian rhythms) that occur spontaneously, which our manic mono-phasic culture distorts by hyper arousal, with devastating effects. The first thing we need to do is throw away alarm clocks and allow power naps for everyone. Productivity would go through the roof!

(Ed Mahood) #16

We certainly missed your wit and charm, John, but anytime you want to kick anything around, John, you know where to find me. I’m always ready and willing to get the cobwebs out of my own thinking and be made aware of possibilities in material that I have not seen (or am incapable of seeing).

As you will see on the recording … we just fell into the rabbit hole and called it quits (benevolently) at the 2-hour mark.

I know that a paper from Democracy.Earth has come up as a possibility for the next go-around, but nothing concrete as far as I know as of this writing.

(douglas duff) #17

YES! And I hope by productivity we could interpret it in the most productive manner…and not just to earn an extra buck or push someone aside as we step ahead in line.

Stan and, in the discussion @achronon and @madrush, touch on this. Waiting to hear your insightful responses from this CCafe video once you have a chance to watch it. Perhaps a John-video response could be spliced into the conversation to make it feel like you were there.

(Ed Mahood) #18

Anyone who has ever written a word in hopes of seeing it in print somewhere someday has wrestled with the “intellectual property” issue.

While I personally see no reason to have anything copyrighted more than it was in the old days (17 years, and the possibility of a 15-year renewal, or something like that), I’m opposed to the current formulations. In contrast to what many others think, I only think that literature (traditionally conceived: novellas, novels, poetry, etc.) are the only texts that should be copyrightable anyway.

Worldwide, real research is publicly funded – either through outright government grants and similar programs; hence, the public paid for it, the public deserves access. When private interests pay for research it is most often because they want specific, if not private, results. It’s more often tainted before it even gets started. Consequently, I don’t think they deserve any protection at all. You want to use public resources, give the public access. (I find private universities both oxymoronic and unethical, but that’s just me.)

In other words, I fully understand your qualms of conscience, but we also have to understand that just because something is declared illegal that doesn’t make it wrong. There was not a Jew sent to the gas chambers illegally. There certainly is such a thing as unjust laws. Having said that, we always have to be aware that any choice we make in life has consequences and we have to be aware of them and be able to live with them.

There is more than once that I’ve had access to texts when perhaps I shouldn’t have. I have read them and in many cases I have subsequently acquired them by usual, socially-acceptable means. When the ideas come up then in discussions I can take the text from my shelf and give it to another to read without any qualms of conscience, qualms I must have if I even let someone read a text on my Kindle in the cafe (read the license agreement!).

So, you now know where I stand on this.

(john davis) #19

I think we should have at least two hours of each day devoted to something that has nothing to do with making money. If you can update me on how to do zoom talks and record them we could perhaps schedule a response. I can certainly ask you some clean questions about your views on our human potentials. I saw the video on the puffer fish. Mind boggling!

(Marco V Morelli) #20

Thanks for the reference, Doug. I was mostly out of the loop today because of car trouble: a ~$300 bill. I may be making use of Library Genesis, as needed. If my little rowboat takes on another few lifetimes of karma (could the penalties be so stiff?), so be it. But I do feel you on the question, and it’s something I’ve given some thought to, on platform as well as personal levels. Are you familiar with Creative Commons?

I believe we should integrate this (and other regenerative, ethical licensing systems) more explicitly into our whole platform. Right now, it’s only in the fine print—and most of the fine print hasn’t been written yet. Of course, this is open to discussion, and there are various schools of thinking on this among P2P, FOSS, and Commons oriented networks—but just to say, we should keep it on our radar.

Are you familiar with the story of Aaron Swartz?

Another fork…

I do try to respect a living individual writer or artist’s wishes w/r/t copyright. As with most things, there is a balance to be struck. On the one hand, culture “wants to be free” (we could debate this of course, but go with me here)—on the other, the livelihoods of “culture creators” need to be sustained (less to debate on this one). Why can’t we do both, as much as possible?

Back to our talk. I did a poor job with the details of the movie Arrival. The lead character, “Louise Banks,” is not a physicist but a linguist. Her counterpart is a physicist. There are other salient details—e.g., the aliens are called “heptapods” because they have 7 limbs—to suggest that @achronon would have a field day with this film. (If you watch it, Ed, let me know and I’ll re-watch it too and we can do a special ‘A/V club’ episode of the Café.)

One stray thought: If anyone would like to suggest a more appropos title AFTER a café talk, or better description for our YouTube summary, let’s add that into the mix of what gets discussed or simply directly done. Often, I write something up quickly, but its from my own slant and may leave out important themes or details. I would like participants to feel free not just to contribute to content of our thought, but also to the meta-data, which will make everything more indexable and findable in the future. Did we talk much about time and space (more time than space, via Gebser, actually?) in this talk?

Last note: I have also been having machine transcripts made of our talks. They are raw, errorful, and do not distinguish between speakers—but my dream would be 1) that these get better, until we get accurate, time-coded transcriptions via AI, and/or 2) that future Infinite Conversationalists who wish to can do this work in exchange for LitCoin.

As we have more conversations, on more diverse topics, I think it will be important that we can easily refer back to previous conversations, as well as laterally to talks we may not have been a part of, but which may be related. This is another fork, of course. Speaking of which, I’ll put a fork in this post now; it’s done.