Lesson

What, I wonder to myself in a manner that brings to mind Morrissey, complete with a hint of a self-pitying whine, as I sit by another waterside—this time the almost too picturesque, too pristine Windermere—if life suddenly became real? Would I recognise most of it, still?

I had not intended to involve Sedartis in this query, but since joining me on a train from a small town outside Zürich towards my least favourite city in Switzerland, he has never entirely left my side, and he has honed to an art the disconcerting skill of hearing my thoughts before I’ve had a chance to formulate them, and responding in kind: he never says a word, yet his pronouncements are crystal clear.

I’m not sure I like this about Sedartis. His clarity. His straightforwardness. His unreconstructed linearity. Aren’t we supposed to have moved into the Age of Diffusion? Of vulnerabilities and fluidity, of connectedness, in all directions; of openness and of infinite potentialities? I probably don’t understand him, yet.

If I had a life, I would be that much happier sharing it, I surmise, almost as an afterthought, and Sedartis now latches onto me:

‘Liberate yourself,’ he urges, ‘from the Tyranny of Opinion. Yours and other people’s.’

The expression on my face betrays doubt continued.

‘Banish that.’

‘Really?’

‘Don’t banish doubt, of course,’ Sedartis clarifies, as if the idea of doing so were preposterous, though he himself comes over so doubt-free: ‘and make allowance for their doubting too; but banish weariness and eagerness to please. You had it once, don’t you recall: the Freshness of Thought, the Arrogance of Youth, the Wonder of Everything New.’

There are a lot of capitals, all of a sudden. But I do remember, I remember it fondly and well; but was I not, I also wonder, also just blind to my own …Inadequacies?

(And now italics, as well…)

‘Of course you were! Therein lay your Power. Remember Goethe, remember Boldness, remember Genius.’

I do. I remember Goethe; he is, unsurprisingly, indelibly ingrained on my mind.

Sedartis, I realise, is nowhere near as mild-mannered as I believed I had reason to expect him to be. He reminds me of someone I know—not just a literary figure I have a sense I’m confusing him with, but someone I have actually met—but he’s too fast for me, I get no respite from him; not at this moment, though he counsel patience:

‘Learn to distinguish between those who know what they’re talking about and those who just talk. Listen out for the quiet voices, the tender, the considered, thought-through ones. Those with nothing to say shout the loudest. You live in a terrible, terrible din. Find the dial and tune out the noise. Listen for the Gentle Song of Truth, it always, always plays on, it never fades out; not completely.’

I want to, I do.

‘Opinion is cheap. And instant opinion may well be worthless. If you, or the person you’re listening to, hasn’t had time to reflect, has not expended thought, has not at least slept on their ukase then you are ill advised: heed it not. Demand earnest discourse. Reject quick fixes as you scorn fast food. You would not stuff your face with salt-fat-sugar bombs from a garish-liveried American chain. Why do you allow your brain to be poisoned by rash judgments, soundbites and rushed ratings? Insight and wisdom are dear, they are earnt. They weigh substance with value. Everything else is just froth.’

I get the feeling I’m being lectured to by Sedartis, and having never suffered being told what to do, my porcupine prickle stirs under my skin. His unvoiced tone changes. He is with me, he tells me, not against:

‘Experience everything new. You once knew how to, you still know now. Free yourself from the familiar, and delve into the exhilarating fear of the unknown.’

‘It’s hard, that,’ I offer, all too feebly, ‘pulling yourself up, again and again, summoning the strength, expending the effort, over and over, from scratch…’

‘Of course it is,’ Sedartis asserts, laconic, then suddenly severe: ‘if it were easy it too would be spume, but:…’ I don’t want to hear any more, I feel a little sad now and somewhat dejected. Sedartis pays no attention to my discomfort: ‘…the universe gives us each the challenges we need to grow.’


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{Connexum}

not the essay, just the idea
not the notion that everything is connected, that is not new
and not the question
how connected is everything
but the question
how
if everything is connected
is everything connected.

if things are connected
there must be something that connects them

and for many things that are connected
we know what that is
we can see it, measure it, build it, make it
we can name it:
the axles the shafts
the electric current the
data the code and the signal

but what about things that are connected and we
don’t know what it is that connects them
what about
quantum entanglement
for example, albert einstein’s
spukhafte fernwirkung
what about that?

there is no doubt that things are connected of which
we don’t know how this is
and
if things are connected
there has to be some thing that connects them
even if that is
a thing we have not detected
a thing we have not yet detected and so not yet given a name to
a thing we have not yet detected but may yet find
we can find

that would give us
three things in principle:
energy
information
and the third thing
the thing that connects things
for which we don’t yet have a name
but we have
maybe
names
for manifestations of it
the strong and weak nuclear forces
the electromagnetic force and the force of
gravity

what if these forces are to the third thing as
light sound heat motion are to the first (energy)
and as
data code and semantic content are to the second (information)
what if that third thing is a thing in itself
that exists and that is
as yet only
partly
understood

as humans we like sets of threes
trios, triumvirates, trinities
they give us a deeper reality

at first glance we seem to be living in twos
in the binaries of
male/female
plus/minus
hot/cold
dark/light
day/night
yes/no
1/0

but it only takes one thought to know
that
neat and simple as this looks and sounds

it is patently not our
reality
our reality
here too
needs a third component each time:

male/trans/female
plus/neutral/minus
hot/tepid/cold
dark/twilight/light
yes/maybe/no
1/anything in between/0

even yin and yang are not a duality
but a symbolic expression of the way apparent opposites complement each other as part of
the same

and this
is when it gets really interesting, when
dualities are not augmented by that which is in between
but are understood as the whole:

yin/same/yang

for which the quantum equivalent then could be
on/on-and-off-at-the-same-time/off

what if
we’ve always known this to be the case
and have expressed it in many ways
the elements of
the same the other and the essence
in plato’s timaeus
the father the son and the holy spirit
anicca, dukkha, anattā:
impermanence
suffering
non-self

what if that third thing
the essence, the holy spirit, the non-self
is
in principle
the thing that connects
everything

the third thing
the thing for which we don’t yet have a name but that exists and that
we most likely
will find and be able to identify, a

connexum?

Lesson

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