Monday, June 04, 2007


Going back to E's review of THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE, I had to read the review a couple of times before I knew what E was talking about. I read that book a few years ago and I don't remember the least bit of religion in the book. It got me thinking about the original Junto and how all the members would read a book and then have a group discussion. I'm not proposing outright that we do that here but just that it got me thinking about our unique worldviews and how this forum has become an outlet for our indivual and shared takes on the world. We each have the genres we enjoy and mine is nonfiction science. I could read a book for the science and filter out all the other stuff. Only when E mentioned the New Age bent of the Holographic Universe did I even recall that the author did indeed admit some paranormal awareness in the back half of the book. Meanwhile, E reads self-improvement and religious-themed books so that is the lens through which he read this one. To E, the science was the gobbledly-gook which he filtered out. When Tom reads a book, he latches on to the politics and Steve dissects the psychology. We are a fascinating group, the four of us, so in that spirit, I will offer what I got out of THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE.

In truth, I don't recall much of this book in particular except for one thing - it introduced me to David Bohm, a twentieth century physicist of whom I was previously unaware. The reason he is not well-known to the layman despite being a great American-born thinker, is the fact that he did the majority of his thinking overseas. The reason for his self-imposed exile is because he had communist sympathies in a country and an era which would not tolerate it. This offers an avenue for Stamper to enter the debate as I'm sure he could find parallels between the thinker and the thoughts as manifestations of a leftist worldview, but that is beyond the scope of my review as I will analyze the thoughts and not the thinker.

Bohm was the originator of the concept of the holographic universe which basically says that the third-dimensional reality that we experience directly is a manifestation of a higher-ordered reality which we cannot directly experience. I don't think that is New Age, in fact, I think every religion ascribes to this position in one way or another so it could even be accepted as a scientific expression of a spiritual concept. Bohm described a distinction between the implicate and explicate order in the interaction between matter and our consciousness:
In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the "explicate" or "unfolded" order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders.
His favorite example of this concept involvied placing a drop of ink in a highly viscous substance such as glycerin. The glycerin was then rotated until the droplet became a thread and ultimately became invisible. However, by rotating the substance in the reverse direction, the droplet was reformulated, proving that the order of the droplet was implicate within the substance even when it was imperceptible.

I consider this example whenever I see steam dissipate into the air or watch salt dissolve into my pool water. There is always a point at which the thing I am watching becomes invisible. It is egocentric to claim that it no longer exists just because I can no longer account for it. Yet it is equally wrong to claim that a thing is outside of human comprehension just because it once resided behind the veil. I know I could reclaim that salt if needed - I could boil away the water until the salt reveals itself explicitly once again. This is the connection to paranormal activity - if something manifests itself explicitly, however randomly and unscientifically, then that means there is a hidden implicit order just waiting to be discerned - we simply must figure out what to boil away in order to see the thing more clearly. E and I had a long discussion about evolution vs creationism a few years ago. We have different beliefs but we were united in admitting that there is an implicit order at work behind the scenes - there is energy in the system for which nobody can account, and the argument between the two camps involves the origin of this energy: is it naturally emergent via seemingly random processes (which must be embedded in the system) or is it actively divined by a higher consciousness which some call God?

Back to Bohm, he used the hologram as his metaphor because of the way holograms work: each region of a photographic plate in which a hologram is observable contains within it the whole three-dimensional image, which can be viewed from a range of perspectives. That is, each region contains a whole and undivided image. In Bohm’s words:
There is the germ of a new notion of order here. This order is not to be understood solely in terms of a regular arrangement of objects (e.g. in rows) or as a regular arrangement of events (e.g. in a series). Rather, a total order is contained, in some implicit sense, in each region of space and time. Now, the word 'implicit' is based on the verb 'to implicate'. This means 'to fold inward' ... so we may be led to explore the notion that in some sense each region contains a total structure 'enfolded' within it".
Bohm noted that although the hologram conveys undivided wholeness, it is nevertheless static. We perceive reality as a steady construct of unfolded order which streams forth from the implicate order in which the energies interact, just as our television set plucks from the ether a progressive stream of bits of information and then constructs a corresponding progression of images on the screen. Reality is where consciousness intersects with the information stream. There is really no question any longer that consciousness plays a role in reality as proven by endlessly repeatably laboratory tests using quantum theory and conscousness to direct reality how to behave. I don't know how this affects anyone's religious beliefs, but I do know that belief is one thing and fact another and sometimes we must choose one or the other when they are incompatible.

Bohm's theory is expressed most eloquently in view of the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. In the Einsteinian view of the universe, energy is information with a speed limit. There is no way that a particle on this side of the universe can communicate instantaneously with a particle on the other side of the universe given the well-defined speed limit of light. Einstein called this notion "spooky action at a distance" and the former patent clerk found it patently ridiculous. However, it can be shown without a doubt that entangled particles (subatomic particles which share a common origin) indeed can communicate instantly at great distances and the only way to explain this interaction is to admit that both particles are in communication with some third thing which resides behind the veil.

In Bohm's book, WHOLENESS AND THE IMPLICATE ORDER, he offers a nice analogy: say there is a fish in a bowl with two camera's pointed at it. The cameras are set up perpendicularly such that one shows a front view while the other shows a side view. If a viewer were watching the two-dimensional images of this fish, he might conclude that he is watching two distinct fish, yet he would inescapably conclude that the two fish are related in some fundamental way since whenever one moves, the other moves without hesitation. There is no solution to this puzzle when thinking two-dimensionally; only by moving up a dimension and seeing the two cameras pointed at a single fish is the puzzle solved. There must be a similar mechanism at work which will explain quantum entanglement to the first person who can successfully envision the higher dimension. How I would love to be that person but alas, I am a mere Junto Boy.


E said...

Good work here, Dude. Your incisive take on how each Junto Boy views the same material through his own lens is a gem, and what I enjoy so much about this forum. I tend less toward the abstract and more toward "so what" and practical import, which is also why our arrows sometimes arch past each other, but I respect your genius as I think you do mine. You see things in a way I cannot, and cannot always understand, and your take on things is sometimes so right on that I could never have thought of it. I know sometimes when I am posting that I will not quite be understood, and maybe not agreed with, but I can live with that. The beauty of the Boys is that I can post as sport with no fear of condemnation or rebuke. The occasional accolade from a Junto Boy is worth more to me than a gold doubloon.

Sir Saunders said...

Yes sir! I too read Holographic Universe several years ago and have very much enjoyed both E's and Dude's review. It reminds me and re-inforces the idea that each of us certainly has a wonderful way of clarifing and cutting through. Good job!

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