Sunday, January 13, 2013

Illumination Becoming Dark

Archimedean Theorem VII

I am indebted to the intersubjective signal encoding of language and the metaphoric abuse of the global patent system for the title of this post and for the portal it affords this week's commentary.  In Asahi's U.S. Patent 6,001,058 issued in December 1999, Hiroshi Sano and his colleagues claimed to invent an interchangeable power supply for a surgical endoscope.  In their patent, they describe the dimming of a light when the battery dies with the following embellishment:

 there are cases where the battery runs down, and hence the illumination becomes dark

In a week where Aaron Swartz ended his tormented life at the age of 26 partially as a consequence of his exasperation at a system that locks information behind contrived economic monopolies after being funded by public research; and, in the same week that public officials seriously discussed defrauding the world with a platinum coin, I'm sympathetic to the prophetic irony in this Japanese patent.  Contemporaneously, I was delving into the works of several philosophers in a quest to disentangle my inexorable conviction that our present manic systemic failure is entirely a function of the optics with which we observe ourselves and the world in which we live.  And, courtesy of the platinum coin option (the legality of which hinges on the fact that our laws only govern coinage limits on gold, silver, and copper) I was struck by the irony that our moral and financial default could be 'solved' courtesy of the periodic table.  

Whether we give Empedocles or the Babylonian Enûma Eliš credit for the notion of essential elements (fire, air, water, and earth) or expand our view to include the Buddhist and Hindu insight of the animating fifth aether or akasha, our present thinking is inextricably linked to the work of Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev.  Mendeleev began classifying elements based on their atomic mass in 1869 and presented his findings to German scientists who appreciated the quantifiable discipline of his approach.  But it's English physicist Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley's X-ray spectroscopic analysis in 1913 that actually illuminated the path to our precise understanding of elemental differentiation by understanding the diffraction of energy through crystals.  Regrettably for Moseley, his inquiry was abruptly ended on August 10, 1915 when Atomic Number 29, propelled by a rapid interaction between Atomic Number 8 and Atomic Numbers 16, 6, 19, and 7, ripped through his body in the Battle of Gallipoli.  Another bright 20-something communicator and scientist, like Aaron, exterminated for the noble cause of…?  It's not the guns that kill people, right?

Now by now you're probably wondering what this meandering missive has to do with the economy or the usual InvertedAlchemy fare.  Bear with me my intrepid friend.

Somewhere around 1668 we began segregating light with greater fervor than the 15th century early Renaissance glass and paint masters who allowed life to reflect in their expressions through a deeper understanding of light.  Newtonian optics, inspired by nearly three centuries of inquiry, sought to understand stellar light by enhancing the powers of observation.  While Himalayan masters aspired to cosmic reunion through ascension, European occultists sought to reel the light in.  Ironically, both introduced a common Archimedean obstruction - dimension.  Essential Light, both literal and metaphoric, does not transform when we obstruct it through geometric forms.  By placing a prism in a coherent flow of energy, we don't understand light more fully.  In fact, through diffraction, we actually create the illusion of uncommonality and by segregating perceptible boundaries, we actually more clearly apprehend less.  Christiaan Huygens 1678 postulate that spectral waves travel "forward", and Francesco Grimaldi's (the progenitor of the term "diffraction" in the 1660's) notion of directionality discerned through interference entirely ignore the persistence and dynamics of the energy of that light (or other energy) that is not subject to our introduction of obstructions.  

Here's where I hope a few of you have the 'ah-ha' moment.  Those places where we're drawn into the complexity of our 'problem space' are likely also those places where we've introduced obstacles of segregation which, when removed, also render the problem ephemeral.  Swapping out prisms, while more precisely clarifying the pathetic segregating dissociation of ourselves to our ecosystem, is actually not the solution.  Further contributing to our confusion is our incapacity to observe phenomenon in motion.  I am sympathetic to Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck's lifetime effort to rationalize action quantum into static representation ultimately representing his insights with a precisely infinitesimal number 6.62606957(29) x 10-34 J•s.  When taking the periodic table elemental atomic stasis and turning it into the animated motion picture called reality, you need the Planck constant shutter speed to see life happen.  Talk about I-MAX, Dolby-Surround Sound!  It would be virtually reality!  Or you could just walk out of the theater of illusions and experience…wait for it… REALITY!

So here comes Archimedean Theorem VII (for those counting):

The greater the segregation of diffracted categories in an observation of intractable problems, the more dimensional obstruction is being placed in the path of unconstrained energetic emission.

Charles II was King of England, Oliver Cromwell was posthumously executed, the Qing Dynasty was dealing with small pox with vaccination technologies, the Hudson Bay Company was making 'lasting treaties' with the North American tribes, and we formalized the breaking of light for its understanding nearly 350 years ago.  As I consider the present situation, I could infer that, to quote my Japanese inventor, the "illumination becomes dark."  We are, in fact, in Plato's Allegory of the Cave.

Plato wanted a philosopher to come into the cave to enlighten the prisoners who were chained to the wall and forced to watch the illusion of reality played out in shadows on the blank wall.  But herein lies the irony.  The shadows in Plato's cave are now actually cast by the prisoners and, if one casts light into the cave, we'll have to come face-to-face with the reality that we've been blocking the light and projecting our own illusions.  Our separations, our conflicts, or struggles are of our own animation.  When we want the drama to end, we merely need to stop the show.  That would involve accountability.  That would involve each of us acknowledging the role we've played in deceiving ourselves and others into thinking that crisis and resolution is the mandatory cyclical monotony of life.  It isn't.  Let there be Light!


  1. Thank you for this article, it was very well written and very thought provoking.


  2. To the hundreds of you who, in honor of Aaron, have been introduced to this blog, thank you for you many expressions of kindness. I trust that we all will strive for a future where transparency of information is a common assumption rather than a case of isolated activism.

  3. Thanks David....

    In love and light, Jan


Thank you for your comment. I look forward to considering this in the expanding dialogue. Dave