In reading the James Redfield novel, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, I was very annoyed by use of the phrase ”energy field” in connection with the human body. This phrase denotes a familiarity and intimacy with physics viewed through the prism of a grand self-delusion. Does the body have an ”energy field”? Probably. But just having an ”energy field”, as used by new-agers, is apro pos to nothing specifically and excess verbiage in general.
Since the time of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, the schmoozing with the jargon of physics has only gotten worst. In his book, THE QUANTUM BRAIN, Jeffrey Satinover, uses the phrase “pop quantum mysticism” to describe the use of physics to explain the mysteries of human thought. Perhaps delusion is too strong to describe this marriage of the laws of physics with the manifestations of spirituality. But the desire of spiritualists and philosophers to mate and marry matters of spirit with physics is extraordinarily strong―and maybe misguided. Philosophy based on the latest intricacies of physics? Quantum physics? Even better. The spiritually focused folks may be aiming for a conciliation between spirit and the physical where no conciliation is needed nor possible. HOLOPHANY, by Clara Szalai comes very close to recognizing this fact of reality. But of course, there is the physics jargon.
HOLOPHANY: THE LOOP OF CREATION is an ebook by Clara Szalai and constitutes the first ebook reviewed in this journal. (The book is a free download on the Barnes & Noble NOOK Reader website). Of the number of ebooks I’ve read, I have come to a couple of conclusions about this new technology.
The information deluge has finally encountered a damn to manage the flood. Electronic books. HOLOPHANY is a perfect book for the magic of electronic presentation.
While reading HOLOPHANY, I made copious notes and liberally highlighted passages. Being able to highlight and make notes without magic-marker and pen is a new ingredient in my reading experience. A little reflection has lead to the conclusion however that reading non-fiction is appropriate for note-taking; reading fiction is not. In turn, I have concluded that reading fiction on an e-reader is a bit of overkill. Frankly, turning a page while reading an intriguing novel is more satisfying than swiping a finger on a LCD monitor. The only reason to read fiction on an e-reader is perceived convenience. Perceived perhaps, but not realized? I bring this up because having skimmed the surface of HOLOPHANY as presented in Szalaz’s book inclines you to examine your attitude toward values you place on little snippets of time. But I digress.
What makes HOLOPHANY such an enjoyable read, in addition to the medium through which it was read, is that it is so well written, intrinsically addressing those moments of skepticism with a third-voice author―a Clara right and a Clara left. Author Clara Szalaz definitely has a knack for reading her readers. As for the philosophy of Holophany itself, there is a website devoted to it.
Holophany is “the process of manifesting wholeness”. The philosophy unfolds from a foundation that says that there is nothing beyond perception and that perception defines reality. In turn, the mechanics of perception are ultimately derived from Nothing, which is the process of perception defining itself. It has a similar feel to Soren Kierkegaard’s and Fredrich Nietzsche’s existentialism.
In existentialism, the individual is the motive force behind defining meaning in life. Holophany extends and encapsulates existentialism into a system of logic. Start with the unknown which remains unknowable except through faith (which is the essence of both science and religion). Taking a couple of footnotes from quantum physics (the act of perceiving affects the object being perceived, one of the major contributions of Werner Heisenberg to physics), what we think is known is only known relative to something else. That something eventually leads back to Nothing, the process of definition, sprouting other “knowns” in a continuous loop. Of course God too, being part of the process of manifesting wholeness, is God because God defines being God as not-God. Can anyone really argue with that?
The logic of holophany is ironclad. The trouble of course is the premise. The whole schema of human perception is more than a simple matter of belief (emotion) wrapped in paradoxes. This is the chasm between science and matters of spirit―religion to be precise. Szalaz comes close to filling the void with the science of logic.
Rene Descartes’ “I think, therefore I exist”, which Szalaz says created the dualism of mind and body, “launched a new epoch of pragmatical science”, which in turn, perpetuates the paradox of a reality. The dualism springs from the premise that an observation has been made, ”I think . .” , followed by a conclusion or fact or definition, “therefore I exist”. It is of course a paradox (how can you not exist and not think? because if you did not think, you would not know you exist, etc.) But life is rift with paradoxes within paradoxes. Szalaz relates this delightful story of a CEO who is forced to cancel a planned conference to instead go on vacation with his grandson. His grandson’s teacher is the mistress of the husband of the CEO’s secretary who planned to attend the conference with the CEO. So the teacher-wife cancels classes for the week of the conference, resulting in the grandson begin free, resulting in turn in the grandson requesting the CEO to spend vacation time with him. When the CEO tells the secretary that he must cancel the trip because his grandson will be free the week of the planned conference, the planned conference is canceled. The secretary’s husband is no longer free and the husband’s mistress, the teacher, has no reason to cancel her classes for a week, therefore the grandson is no longer free to spend vacation time with the CEO. A loop of circumstance typifying a paradox, initiated again when the CEO finds out he can no longer plan on spending time with his grandson.
Later in the Epilogue of HOLOPANY, Szalaz uses Zeno’s “dichotomy paradox”, from which we derive the conclusion that all movement is an illusion, to question whether the objects we define as “real” are in fact merely “dynamics (motion)” of our process of perception. While such a question is an integral element of the logic philosophy she has designed, the premise itself is to be questioned.
What is “new” about holophany as a philosophy is that it provides a semantic structure for asking annoying questions such as, what is the meaning of life. But how different is holophany from such currently existing structures: faith based religions of all sorts for example? The answer is not much. Instead of saying, “my faith compels me to believe”, one may now say, “the logic of my faith compels me to believe”. No small difference, to be sure. But the real contribution of holophany to a life of faith is that it forces us to realize that we can observe a paradox, but we can not live a paradox. A realization which brings us right back to Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and the rest of the existentialist philosophers. In turn, this brings us to a circle within a circle and raises the more significant question of why bother observing at all? Live! Live well! And prosper.