Things that aren't there, A blog by Philadelphia based Artist and Writer John Faherty -Important things of little substance. This Blog focused on the author's views on the transient nature of existence, and how the images of this nature intertwine to become the fabric of memory.
I will admit that I
do enjoy the role of the devil’s advocate. I do it so often that I do it
without consciously thinking about it. It’s kind of a verbal exercise in which
I make statements concerning things that are at the same time both factual and not
entirely true. The goal of the exchange is to elicit a response an then perhaps friendly debate.
Last weak as I was preparing to be away for several days, I had need to communicate some last minute instructions to my coworkers. After having written a fairly complex set of instruction to one particular coworker via email I asked if there were any questions I could answer before
I go. In response Dana who sits beside me in the next cubicle posed a question.
“What does it all mean?” To which I answered automatically, “To consume and to
be in turn consumed”. She responded with
her usual sarcastic tone. “What about love?” I must admit I was uncharacteristically
caught off guard.
Days later while sitting in
my beach chair by the Jersey shore my mind wandered back to this question.
Gazing out along the black rock jetty I imaged a long ago time when life as we
now know it began to flourish. Encrusted there upon a craggy spring-tide edge a
rusting patina of bio-film held precariously. In those hard times had
spontaneously arisen a fundament of a body.
Roland Thaxter - Thaxter, R. Botanical Gazette 17(12):389-406 (1892
Cells had differentiated perhaps by
accident preserving resources in the process. Cells over generations continued
to specialize in myriad experimental expression. In the process blind alleys
and dead ends would be exposed and eliminated by natural selection. After a
near infinity of trial and error a configuration akin to a system of tissues
was achieved. A fruiting body would then rise to perchance preserve its
fragile survival until the hard times had passed. In Parallel we too must
survive the rigors of this world. We however through the lenses of everyday
life tend to be blind to the struggle.
Animals have been
documented by science to possess many amazing senses and abilities that far outpace
our own. Our brains it would seem had needed to reorganize with nature
selecting to replace or abandoning others deemed less valuable survival
mechanisms. Through some chance genetic bottle neck the landscapes of our minds
were altered. A race in tune with the well fare of its kind created a new way
of life in which we could sense for the first time our essential oneness with others.
Valuable senses were lost in the process. Dull to the world around us we are
surrounded instead by a ring of family bound by love. It was perhaps on the
edge of a sea not unlike this one where our ancient ancestors were busily
collecting crab and fish first felt these budding emotions. They in time would
become so tightly bound to our new way of life that they became integral to it. It
was then that to protect and care for each other went from a weakness to
In the breadth of time on Earth in which life has existed
what we think of as purely human emotions are relative newcomers. In comparison
within the billions of years prior to the advent of our line life’s only goal
was survival. The first order of life
did so by, consuming the abundant chemical and solar energies that were so
readily available. As competition grew fierce an arms race was triggered in
which it was far more economical to let someone else do their work of
collecting energy for them. This way of life persisted as the primary mode of existence
onward up until the end of the last ice age.
If you imagine these ephemeral ideas such as the emotion of love
as being creations of the sentient mind or recognized from the primordial wellspring,
either way these notions are new to us. So why then do we insist on placing
them squarely at the top of our existential spectrum? It is I think not merely
the fact that this is a human-centric world. Can it be that simple that the desire
to love and be loved merely a mechanism through which we by extension increase
our genetic survivability? By recognizing the essential oneness with those of
our kind we have gained a powerful tool that allows us to more easily able to share and exploit common resources. Enhanced
over millennia there traits have been ingrained into every aspect of culture. When
all is said and done the equation To consume and to be in turn consumed, still rings true. It is also true however that Together we survive and alone we perish.
When looking out upon the roiling sea I am reminded of when
in my days of youth how complex it all seemed. Through the eyes of a young
artist I was obsessed with trying to capture in graphic form what I was
experiencing. With my limited abilities I could not achieve anything
approaching a facsimile of experience. It would take me a few years of trying before I realized
that such a feat was unachievable.
Our experience of the natural world through our senses has
been altered to where we can only reference it through abstract patterns. We
must infer meaning of imagery through the sieve of the mental and cultural images we have already created.
This is the nature of Art and this is why it is so important to us. It is our nature
then to weave from these emotions a landscape of connections. Despite the incessant call of the doomsday naysayers there is one unavoidable fact. Never before in all of the history of our species have we lived in an age of such abundance. Take a moment now and again take note of it.
Last week over the course of a number of days I had read
several contradictory reports in regards to the apparent confirmation by NASA
scientists of a controversial new space technology. Beyond
the claim itself which was remarkable I found myself fascinated by an ensuing
drama. In most instances such as this when extraordinary claims are made a
phalanx of establishment detractors’ rise up against the claim in judgment and
ridicule. However in this instance it was not the usual case of “The Dreamers”
versus “The Nay Sayers”. An observant reader could easily see that as battle
lines were being drawn that the Nay Sayers were careful not to mock too
The major bone of
contention is the fact that this technology, what British Engineer Roger Sawyer
calls anEmDrive should not work at all. According to the
theory electric power is converted directly into thrust, bypassing the need for
propellant. Within a sealed vacuum
chamber high energy radio frequencies are bounced around somehow propagating
thrust from the quantum ether.
In a recent report published
by NASA it has officially reported that experiments to either confirm or
disprove this technology were conducted in 2013. The published results seem to
back up earlier reports out of China that confirm that small but measurable
levels of thrust were detected. I
thought it was rather interesting how the NASA abstract states right from the
beginning that it is in no way trying to explain or describe their observation
beyond the results. It would seem that the scientists at NASA the venerable
granddad of space science are at a loss for word as to explain or describe
their observation beyond the results. As for now it is standing by its results
and has published them to the internet.
An abstract of the report entitled
“Anomalous Thrust Production
from an RF Test Device Measured on a Low-Thrust Torsion Pendulum” was published July 28th and can be found
at the following link.
At the bottom of the abstract one of the
indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an
electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to
any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially
demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. Future
test plans include independent verification and validation at other test
Science is often scared to get ahead of
itself. According to accepted conventional physics this theoretical technology
breaks the law of conservation of energy therefore it cannot work. However with
NASA making such extraordinary claims the scientific community should take a moment
to examine these findings. It will be curious to watch this unfold over the
next months or years. In the worst case scenario if they are proved wrong you
can still reserve the right to say I told you so and then it’s back to giant
rocket that goes nowhere. However if it proves to be true this could lead to a
golden age of science and could possess the side effect of offering economically
priced space travel to all. So for the moment let’s indulge the dreamers. In
this case it’s the right thing to do.
Though we sometimes pride ourselves on our high degree of science,
culture and our unique individuality within it, there is a legacy from which
we cannot yet escape. With good reason we rarely doubt what we are able to observe
and confirm against those preconceived ideas that populate our paradigm of
reality. For we surely would not have survived the rigors of wild nature
without such dependability built into our landscapes. Despite our advances in
science and technology, the manner in which we observe the world forms our
experiences. However we do this in much the same fashion that our Stone Age
ancestors did. This legacy inherited from our primordial past is not in truth
very much removed from those of our mammal cousins. For me however
a question remains. Was this inherent hard wired dependability a natural
product of our environments, or was it rather a manifestation of our uniquely
human senses? Will these senses eventually
evolve to a point through which the new theories will be readily observable to us?
Until such a time we must be satisfied with the knowledge that advances in
fields of general and quantum physics that tell us now that all is not exactly
as it seems.
The concept of
space-time is by no means a new Idea. Although it has been accepted for over a
century by most experts it however remains contrary to common sense. It in
essence states that what the universe of our experience is a four dimensional
object through which an observable particle’s course through it can in theory
be plotted at any point in its existence. The past then, once thought to be
only a construct of memory could one day in theory be charted as navigable
points along the arrow of time. However current ideas on expansion in which it
is postulated that at one time the universe expanded at a rate far faster than
the speed of light.
Quantum entanglement or what Einstein called Spooky action
at a distance describes in essence that a pair of particles separated by great
distances can affect each other’s characteristic states instantaneously as if
they are entangled. This includes particles separated by distance greater than
that which light can travel in that same time. This exchange of information
between the pair apparently is contrary to general relativity which sets the
cosmic speed limit at the speed of light.
Schrodinger postulated in his famous cat
in a box thought experiment that an outcome cannot be known until it is
observed and until that moment it can exist in all of its potential states at
once. This thought experiment was examined in the equally famous Double
slit experiments. Where in evidence was discovered that when unobserved
particles behaved as both particles and waves, fixing their states only upon measurement.
The same is true of the cat he is both
alive and dead until we observe the cat.
Furthermore what we consider to be matter is no more than fields
of force conferring their constituent characteristics such as mass onto otherwise nondescript particles or waves. All of these things due to the limitations of
our innate senses seem immediately to be counter intuitive or out and out false.
All through advanced techniques however are observable, quantifiable and
considered by most to be scientifically correct. The question then remains. Will
the human race evolve to possess a deeper understanding of the universe and own
place in it or shall we go the way of the Dodo?