This month’s titanic discovery of “gravity waves” derived from the observation by an international team of astrophysicists, confirming Einstein’s general theory of relativity after almost a century, is in fact one of the most momentous discoveries of human history, and yet we’re woefully unable yet to explain just why that is.
How are we to think about its significance, other than to resort to issues that science fiction has offered, such as notions of time travel (at least to the past), wormholes in space and “parallel universes,” as if there’s someone looking at me right now from just beyond my senses who is in an entirely different environment?
All of these are compelling notions for speculative musings, but it is not easy to clear away years of clutter about such imaginative things. I propose that the significance to this species of this discovery on this planet at this point in time (understanding that place and time are, after all, relative) lies beyond the realm of astrophysics and needs to be appreciated on a different level, such as those provided by a fuller array of our species’ best arts and sciences.
So, what in our daily experience is contrary to our present means of reckoning reality? What is outside the realm of our sensory devices that is a telltale clue to the operation of Einstein’s “e=mc2” theory of relativity in our midst?
The answer is simple, really. It is the role of the creative power of a human mind devoted to advancing the human condition.
Poets give the best answers, and philosophers. The differences we need to consider are between truth and falsehood, not science and the arts. As Plato wrote, “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.”
The best philosophers have been poets, as in Plato, the authors of much of the Old and New Testaments, theologians explaining the collapse of Rome like Augustine, of the emerging Renaissance, like Dante, and artist-scientists like DaVinci and Ibn Sina, poets and philosophers like Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe, Schiller, Shelley, Swift and Wilde, scientists and philosophers like Leibniz, Spinoza and Kepler, revolutionary Promethean composers like Beethoven and a century of best romantics in his wake, nation-builders like Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
They and others like them all shared this, that the important realities they affirmed were in each case outside the mere linear extrapolation of sensory experience and the dulling mediocrity it demands and engenders.
They all had in their minds a direct correlation between what one sees with a sense of awe looking to the stars and the infinity of space, and what one sees looking with the deep sense of love into the eyes of another human being. Derived from and between those two perspectives, perspectives that see the same thing in relationship to one another, all of creation can be sensed with a similar intensity, and notions like individual lives, of births and deaths, become subordinated to these most powerful attributes.
So, the “seer” of these things experiences something further even more extraordinary, and a glimpse, a perception, of the noetic, creative process of one’s own human mind, itself, something that stands apart from the perceived, as the perceiver, of this special nature of non-linear reality, and which has the ability to decipher it, so to speak, to put it into some form of language that can be shared.
This quality of the human mind, its capacity for genuine novelty and new ideas born of an apprehension of the singular universe within and without, is the basis for invention, for completely new ideas.
This is what is right before us as the living evidence of “gravity waves,” so to speak. It’s been with us all along, and yet how seldom to we “see” this?
Who could tolerate the numbing mediocrity of our crumbling culture in the face of this? Who could succumb to any priority other than the effort to derive from human mentation as much of its creative potential as possible, from every single human being on the planet?
These questions underlie our socio-political goals of harmony, fairness and universal weal.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]