By William Markiewicz
I made up this antonym in reference to the elusive concept of "united field" which as we know has not been found up to now and may never be found; I mention it in "Dance of the Ghosts" (Vagabond February 96). In our quest to understand a variety of seemingly separate phenomena we try to formulate common denominators. In this way we generated our logic, science, methodology, which has been so useful in the development of Western thought and made possible the shaping of our world. However in the domain of purely abstract thought philosophers quite soon understood that there will always be an unsurpassable barrier between symbols, concepts and reality. One of the most concrete examples comes from the Polish mathematician/philosopher Korzybski who said: "The map is not the territory." We will never have at our disposal all the elements which would allow us to apply, in complex matters, the simple logic of Aristotle's Triangle. But we are so marked by Aristotle's Logical Triangle, that we stubbornly avoid this non axiomatic approach and we constantly come to hasty "logical" conclusions like: "pollen makes me allergic!" - when it may be the weakened immune system that causes this allergy. After all, pollen is older than allergy, but for our day to day logic this is less evident.
More examples of how simple logic becomes a bad guide in situations that transcend our daily life. We may confound the call with the light, the road with the goal. It's perhaps what happened to one Vietnamese merchant and "bon vivant" when he was called by the founder of a religious sect to take his place after his death. And this man, who didn't belong to the sect and who had never manifested any spiritual inclination, abandoned the material world and indeed became his successor. It doesn't prove that the sect represented some universal truth, it only proves that the human being may take "leaps" caused by some latent spiritual hunger, itself caused by who knows what.
We try always to explain one thing by another while in general each thing proves only itself. If a faith healer heals with a miraculous picture it doesn't prove that the picture is miraculous, it only proves that he is a good healer. If somebody is a telepath, a clairvoyant, or "remembers" happenings and places from the past, it doesn't prove that reincarnation exists, only that this particular person possesses this particular talent which we are not in a position to explain.
Such axiomatic logic may be applied also on high professional levels and lead to theories, not always correct. I attended a very interesting talk by an expert handwriting analyst. Her expertise branched into the detection of brain disorders, forgery, learning abilities, teaching techniques, etc. I didn't agree with her idea that words and thoughts are ultimately linked. If "the map is not the territory" then there must be some no-man's land, a generating point where thoughts and words are born separately and eventually find the way to each other. This no-man's land may forever remain inaccessible for us. The "little man inside" cannot observe himself and we cannot be simultaneously our transmitters/receptors.
Since relativity, quantum mechanics and even long before that -- as in the domain of poetry, surrealism -- words and thoughts have gone their own separate ways. A French poet whose name I don't remember said that the poet doesn't look for words for his ideas but for ideas for his words. Pope John Paul II, who is also a poet, wrote about states in which thought bars the way to words and vice versa. After giving a talk, Niels Bohr declared, to the great relief of his audience: "Ladies & Gentlemen, I don't understand a single word of what I just told you." Our modern knowledge is based more and more on symbols for which we still have no thoughts or words and who knows if we ever will. For the quantum mechanists like Hiley and Pauli, the "ultimon", meaning the smallest possible particle, doesn't exist. For Hiley, after passing a certain threshold of reduction there is no more material particle, only movement. The question "movement of what?" is irrelevant. We are reaching the domain of pure metaphysics with Pauli concluding that matter cannot exist. Still we know it exists which is a paradox. Why is the "infinitely" small ruled by laws so different from those in "our" dimension, and why should we be the point of reference? Where or when appears the "point" at which "movement" becomes "matter"? Will there ever be an answer for it and will it ever be expressed in thoughts and words? Probably it will remain in the domain of symbols which eventually we will name with words forever unattainable for our thoughts.