Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Micro/Macro symmetry...



You know how a the structure of a molecule (nucleus circled by electrons) resembles the structure of the solar system (sun circled by planets)? Where else does that micro/macro symmetry occur? It's been bugging me because there should be another handy example. When I've got big questions to ask about the nature of existence and the cosmos, that's when I turn to the divine words of J.C.

Sure enough, a quick flip through the pages of the good book provides a grandiloquent answer to my query. As he is wont to do, in Part 2, Chapter 2, Campbell is yacking on about the Cosmogonic Cycle and the birth of philosophy. In doing so he gets on a jag about the three planes of being. The first plane is our waking state ("the hard, gross facts of an outer universe, illuminated by the light of the sun, and common to all"). The second plane of being is dreaming ("the fluid, subtle forms of a private interior world, self-luminous and of one substance with the dreamer"). The third plane is that of deep sleep ("dreamless, profoundly blissful, the realm of the unconscious, the room of the inner controller, the source and end of all.").

He goes on to talk about the famous Hindu chant: AUM. (That's "OM" to you and me out here in California.) We often consider that word to be monosyllabic, when in fact, it has three distinct parts. Again, here's J.C.: "The A represents the waking consciousness, the U dream consciousness, and the M deep sleep. The silence the surrounds these sounds is simply called 'The Fourth'." OK, interesting stuff, but remember I'm looking for micro/macro symmetry. You can sense it in all of this but I need it boxed-up and wrapped in ribbon. So, I keep reading, then this...

"The cosmogonic cycle is to be understood as the passage of universal consciousness from the deep sleep zone of the unmanifest, through dream, to the full day of waking then back again through dream to the timeless dark. As with the actual experience of every living being, so in the grandiose figure of the living cosmos: in the abyss of sleep the energies are refreshed, in the work of day they are exhausted; the life of the universe runs down and must be renewed."

Damn, he's good. In my search for micro/macro symmetry I was looking for something simple and visual I could easily point to. But Campbell, like any good magician, is great at pointing out the thing right in front of you that you can no longer see.

Speaking of which, the smog today is terrible. Here in LA we begin the year with sparkling clarity, then in the distance the mountains and sea are shrouded in fog and clouds, until finally, come summer, the entire city is draped in a cloak of bright, eye-stinging smog. I call it the smogonic cycle.

("Powers of 10" by Charles and Ray Eames)

9 Comments:

Anonymous brian said...

"....and it's all just space, just space."
-patti smith

11:13 AM  
Blogger Babycakes said...

Fancy with the moving picture!
One of my personal favorite micro/macro (sort of) is the similarity between that of the conscious and unconscious to the visible stars and the beyond - the not-so-visible universe, following along with the cosmology theme.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Babycakes said...

Oh yeah, also:
Cupcakes and cake!
And whippets and greyhounds!
And cat hats and people hats!

3:44 PM  
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