I’m thinking about creative and conventional views of reality this morning, as I’m reading Quantum (by Manjit Kumar).  It’s a great read, about the mind-blowing conundrums at the heart of modern physics and a very human look at the men who brought them to us.

Lacking the mathematical language to grasp some of the concepts, I have to take the science in the book very, v..e…r…y… slowly but I’m fascinated by how the quantum worldview supports a creative perspective — much more so than classical physics.

Those of us who are drawn to that which is ‘beyond’ the world of reason can justify this as a (ahem)… reasonable stance when geniusscientists explain how the raw material of the material world is, actually, non-material.

If I investigate the desk I’m writing on with my eyes and hands, it seems solid but if I look at it through a microscope, it is revealed as a teeming exchange of energy.

Additionally, about 96% of our universe is now known to consist of invisible “dark matter” and “dark energy.”

And quantam physicists are observing how, for example:

  • electrons move in a discontinuous way depending on their orbit;
  • one particle can instantaneously – faster than the speed of light – influence a distant particle;
  • electrons appear as either a particle or wave, depending on the observing consciousness.

The language of quantum physics is maths, so those of us who don’t have the mathematical training can only follow it so far. But it seems that what we experience as fixed “reality” comes into being only when a consciousness interacts with “virtual realities of infinite possibilities”, to bring about one.

This view of life, and creation, is closer to that held by mystics and poets than than classical scientists, who traditionally saw the world as fixed, with objects and systems moving on well-defined paths, through definite, traceable, histories — a view now discredited, as it cannot account for the atomic and subatomic.

Consciousness interacts with energy and information to bring about all that is — while still being full of what is not.

Long before this knowledge filtered down, at the very time when Einstein and Bohr were taking the first steps towards understanding the quantum, a poet called Rainer Maria Rilke was on the same quest, working every day on what he called the “object poem”, his  attempt to do what the physicists do with numbers, to describe with utmost clarity physical objects, the “silence of their concentrated reality.”

Here are some of my favourite lines from that quest, from  The First Elegy:

Yes, the springtimes were in need of you. Often a star
waited for you to espy it and sense its light.
A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past,
or as you walked below an open window,
a violin gave itself to your hearing.
All this was trust. But could you manage it?
Were you not always distraught by expectation,
as if all this were announcing the arrival
of a beloved? (Where would you find a place
to hide her, with all your great strange thoughts
coming and going and often staying for the night.)


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