Monday, July 28, 2008


Five hundred years after reason showed faith that the earth is not the axis and purpose of the universe, in denial of a god’s special gift to his special creations, even astronomers still say the “moon rises” and the “sun sets.” Before civilization began thinking for its citizens, peasants could easily have grasped the alternative way to perceive the apparent passing of heavenly bodies in daily review as, not the worship of the nest god made for humans, but the result of living on a huge merry-go-round watching a vaster, much less concerned universe going about its own business. Even before the church’s official dominotion it wouldn’t be hard to assume a terracentric perspective just from its immense relative stability compared to its fleeting inhabitants and swirling skies.

While living in my first tipi I developed a daily habit of greeting the end of the day facing west on the edge of a cliff over Lake Travis, sipping a bowl of nature’s finest and eventually recognizing what at first felt like a breeze at my back each time the sun was covered by the horizon. I’ve come to see that as the same sort of relativistic error as saying, “sunset.” What I was experiencing was my back penetrating the edge of Earth’s cooler shadow dwelling in sol’s lee awaiting the turbulent mixture with the freshly sun baked atmosphere that accompanies the land on the rotisserie as we rode into it at the speed of eight-hundred and ninety-seven miles per hour here at thirty degrees north latitude. This continuous quenching of hot air following Earth’s rotation into the night side at speeds of up to a thousand and thirty-six miles per hour at the equator is the prime generator of our weather patterns, condensing clouds back into the puddles and lakes they’d evaporated from in a twenty-four hour breathing cycle.

I quite enjoy employing the geometry I acquired during the engineering education phase of my lifelong endeavor to satisfy my curiosity in appreciating that even the sphere of Earth, with its surface’s diminishing distance from the rotational axis as one goes from the equator toward the poles, does this weather brewing at a corresponding latitudinal variation of suddenness in the system that forms anything from mild zephyrs to hurricanes out of thin air along the way. Trigonometry allows me to calculate how far away the curvature that blocks the sun before and after its appearance may be by adding a six foot tall person to the radius of the Earth for the hypotenuse of a triangle whose sides are that radius and the line of sight along a tangent to the surface, showing that in a vast desert or at sea the horizon is a mere three and a half miles away.

And this is just about the shape and rotation of our celestial nest without mentioning the profound effect that the twenty-three and a half degree angle our rotational axis makes with the ecliptic. Just calling Earth’s orbit plane the ecliptic leads one to realize that, without the plane of the moon’s orbit around the earth being five degrees against it, we would have alternating solar and lunar eclipses every two weeks. Earth’s axis, while slightly wobbly, essentially points to the same place in space requiring the assignment of new stars the role of Polaris over millennia as the whole of the universe shifts outside our galaxy and we within it. This regularity of polar direction leads to a regular change of season as the north and south poles take turns pointing toward Sol for their summers and prolonged daylight and nightdark in latitudes within the Arctic and Antarctic Circles when the horizon blocks the sun, or cannot, for many successive rotations. Between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn there is nowhere the sun does not strike directly due to the alternation between twenty-three and a half degrees above and below the equator from the axis tilt, leaving the other eighty-seven percent of Earth to take what they can get.

This post is an outpouring of thoughts accumulated over a lifetime and brought to the surface in the past few years of extended periods of pondering it all while just sitting a gawkin’ and a grokkin’. It came to a head with a post by Bean Sprouts on establishing a mnemonic to remember moon phases where I commented, “I find it depressing that you think people are that stupid,” to which depression 12 other commentors added. I suppose, like the sunlight’s distribution due to the tilt of the axis, eighty seven percent of humanity never receives enlightenment directly through their own perceptions and must rely on faith in the slanted certainty of authority about that which they believe they cannot know for themselves. They might as well join Jim Carrey in the Truman Show for all the care they have for the reality of nature having anything to do with their "real world" … you know, the created one.


Michael said...

The universe is not only mechanism, it is mechanism with consciousness, and the universe within is at least as great as the one without.

gregraetgar said...

I agree, Michael, but, being a different person, I phrase what you said, "the universes is a consciousness that may be analyzed as a mechanism, so long as consciousness is not confused with conscience; judgment of conscious acts left to individuals.

Michael said...

Greg, placing qualifications on the nature of the consciousness of the universe seems a bit presumptuous. Surely every neuron in your brain is conscious in its way, as you are conscious in a holistic way which includes and transcends that single neuron.

When you sleep, where is your consciousness?

I am part of your superconscious. I cause your mind to reflect upon things that I say, and by the same token, you are part of my mind. We are one consciousness in the same way as neurons of the brain are one consciousness, communicating across the gap.

gregraetgar said...

Well, hell, Michael, you make it sound like you don't agree with my way of agreeing with you. So be it. I see nowhere in your comment any mention of my presumed qualification, "conscience," I presumed nothing in claiming it to be no part of the consciousness of the universe, since I also presume that we agree that it is also my consciousness — about which I need presume nothing, its being direct sensory evidence of consciousness, and all that.

Michael said...

I think maybe what you are saying is that you are sovereign, and so you are. And so I am. And so we are, together. Every part is possessed of the whole.

To which of us does Wikipedia belong?

Sorry if this is difficult for both of us, it has never been an easy thing to communicate. I do not tell you that you are wrong, but I do not think it is meaningful to speak of conscience and judgment being only in one place.

gregraetgar said...

Here we go again. I do not think it is meaningful to read into anything I said that lets you say I speak of conscience and judgment being only in one place. Individual parts of the universe exercise conscience whenever they perceive or invent purpose in addition to the awareness of being alive. This in no way gives the universe a purpose, direction or any other authority to violate.

Michael said...

But how can you say that the universe has no purposive intention? It is not a matter of violating that purpose, which seems also meaningless, since you are obviously part of the universe and presumably serve a purpose to the universe.

gregraetgar said...

presumably serve a purpose to the universe

Now who's being presumptuous?

If there is any purpose to my existence is to see existence as it is. Any purpose sought eliminates more than it sees.

Michael said...

As you wish, then that is your purpose.

Michael said...

See existence as it is.

gregraetgar said...

First comment:
Michael, I just love the way you seem to be giving me permission to do as I will while stating that whatever I do proves your point. Pretty omnipotent trick — on those seeking omnipotent validity for a self that cannot believe in itself.

Second comment:
I must agree. One hour of lecture and Q&A on any subject is existence as it is. But if you are saying this particular lecture on one of many theories of consciousness explains existence as it is once and for all, I am hearing the same argument as put forward by religion, "My way or the highway." Existence in this universe may be perceived differently by each and every instance of consciousness without any of them being wrong. Correctness or adherence to purpose requires the invention of intent which, so far as I can tell, is created in the mind of man and projected on the universe.

Attempting to convert the world to adhere to one's pet theory believing uniformity makes better connection is done at the denial of the primal, pre-existant, purposeless connection between all parts of the body, space and time of the universe.

Michael said...

The particular metaphor is unimportant, and you keep fighting as if I have ever said otherwise. Reality is quantum entangled, that is not optional, mechanistic reductionism is false, all is Maya.