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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 04/19/2004
Volume 2, #121

Just Because Nobody Sees It Doesn't Mean It Isn't There!

In fact, what is not there is more than what is there.

A strange, cryptic statement? Only superficially. In fact, this column has to a great extent been dedicated to the "what is not there" more than anything else. I've used words to describe aspects of Reality mostly ignored because they're outside the spectrum of our everyday experience. Yet all that we do in the arts, especially in the comic book art that created "impossible" superheroes, is largely because the "not there" exerts a compelling force on all of humanity and provides a lens through which we can leap beyond the known world and explore realms of reality that challenge the imagination.

I think it's very important to bring this up from time to time, because as I said in a recent book, even though strange things happen all the time, we tend to forget them quickly and as the rabbi character in the book says, explaining why he gets up every night to wash the dishes, "the dust gathers on the dishes every night." That is, unless we get reminders from time to time, we forget about our strange and often enlightening contacts with the "not there."

So just to make sure you understand what I'm talking about, note well the words of one Philip Ball writing in Nature (Nov 3 2003):
Different rules may apply in the dark, deserted corners of the Universe, a team of astrophysicists is proposing.

This is worrying, they warn. We simply look where the light is - like hunting for your keys only in the puddles of streetlamp light, it is about all we can do. But in so doing, we may be getting a biased view of the Universe, they argue.

Most of our Universe is composed of lightless voids, inside which stars and galaxies cannot form, say Jeremiah Ostriker of the University of Cambridge, UK, and his colleagues. But these dark regions, they argue, might not be as empty as they appear.

Astronomers have generally assumed that where there is more light, there is proportionately more matter. Some of this matter is visible, in the form of bright stars and galaxies; some of it is mysterious 'dark matter'. No one knows what dark matter is - it is detected because it exerts a gravitational pull on luminous matter.

Ostriker's team contends, however, that light is not necessarily a good way of tracing matter. Their computer simulations of the structure of the Universe indicate that light actually switches off rather abruptly as the total density of matter in space falls.

Below a certain mass density, they calculate, it becomes difficult for stars to form. Yet this darkness should not be assumed to imply emptiness.

The gloomy voids are like pieces of a "lower-density Universe", say the researchers, where there is matter but no stars. They take up 85% of the Universe, the team estimates, and contain 20% of its total mass.
In other words, many orthodox scientists are coming to believe that what is "not there", that is outside our general purview of reality may be more important to the universe than what we think is there. In bringing this up today, my hope is to remind all of you that the so-called impossible things I often talk about here, people that glow, the eternal now, the illusoriness of time, even little Nissans that I've learned how to use to chauffeur me back in time to the Greenwich Village of the 1940s, yes, even that is possible if you can master the art of stepping outside the circle of known light.

In the despairs we often experience, in the disappointments that often hound us, in the so-called failures of our existence, we are only arriving at such states because we tend to measure or evaluate them in terms of a common light. Among those common and often false lights are such credos as patriotism, religions that make their case by fiat, scores of beliefs that have become common because they represent, we are told, lighted areas. Nor am I saying that the light is not good. Rather that to quantify its validity, it's good or right only about fifteen percent of the time.

Consider then that whatever difficulties you see yourself as enduring at this moment, I'm, not saying they're false or unreal, but rather that you only really see about fifteen percent of the problem. There's a kind of guaranteed eighty-five percent of hope for you. In short, the odds are heavily in your favor. But, and there's a very big but, you've got to become aware of how much more there is than the limited circle in which you see your troubles which may, in the larger picture, not be troubles at all.

Now this is the kind of column that should be self-extending. I know I get a lot of readers, but they don't often have a reason to jump in and join the conversation on the Round Table.. Lately it's been just a few guys advertising their own comic strips, like Sal Cipriano.(Actually his stuff's pretty good) or blabbering about Smilin' Jack. But, hey, think about what I'm saying. What's really going on in your lives this week that you might want to be able to see in a broader light? Let's talk about it on the Round Table.


<< 04/12/2004 | 04/19/2004 | 05/03/2004 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.

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