My Quantum Life
From Chris Wayan's journal 1994/1/8
I'm reading Quest for a Theory of Everything by Stephen Hawking. He says his life actually improved when his illness got serious: he was given two years to live (30 years ago), so he dropped his cynical Oxbridge attitude about work, and decided he had to focus to accomplish something before he died. Increasing weakness meant strengthening his will, and the illness forced him to streamline his life into freedom from responsibilities almost all other adults have to fulfill. Even the descent from full speech to mumbles to muteness led to getting a voice synthesizer, leading to the chance to lecture again, to organize his thoughts in a new way.
Such personal insights are what the vast majority of readers probably relate to most easily, not his cosmology. But... as Hawking describes his view of the fine structure of spacetime, all knotted and pitted and wormholed, I'm struck how familiar it sounds. To me, at least. In shamanic dreams, and increasingly in the waking world, the spacetime I live in feels just as he describes. It's like an osmotic filter, a semi-permeable membrane. Ghosts, dreamworlds, precognition and far memory, clairvoyance, all become explainable as a tuning in or a constellation of thin/faint patterns of wavicles (or other information carriers) barely detectable underneath the roar of this continuum's input, like those distant radio stations you can normally pick up only late at night... Patterns from past or future folds, or from other continua entirely, leak through capillary wormholes. Universe as sieve! It's not exotic at all--his theory describes my nightly experience.
THREE WEEKS LATER
I fly out over the desert. I don't need a plane: I just grow hawkwings! I spot several women I know, who all have similar animal forms, catlike, very furry. But when they go to another spacetime we know of, where everyone looks rigidly human, and they live in towns and use lots of machines and stuff... over there, our animal forms change. Cat people all look like humans wearing tailed jumpsuits with masks. After their lithe, living bodies back home, so sleek and expressive, these masks seem bland and stiff to me. But that's the local consensus: the machine people just can't accept shapeshifting, so that's all the felinity their spacetime will accept.
Not that our desert doesn't have its limitations too. We wonder about some paper-white ghostly humanoid forms that sometimes appear, then fade. Several different entities, by the looks of them: faces like women we used to know. But they don't seem to act like people, not even like ghosts, who mostly repeat their own obsessions like tape-loops, oblivious to us. These white forms seem more like masks for something LESS aware than a person--lures, decoys? They worry us.
I find myself talking over the problem with a psychologist, in the hall of my parents' house, leaning up against the washing machine and dryer. Hmm... something about the white enameled metal of the machines reminds me of the white blankness of the "ghosts."
I find myself saying: "I remember entities like these white things in a story by James Tiptree! Humans, it turned out, were just gametes, and when they met beings of another world, they fused into these nonmaterial things, vaguely like ghosts, and apparently not intelligent. All our strivings, all our dreams, were just the tail of the spermatozoon driving us toward this mindless fertilization. Intelligence was just part of the mobile reproductive apparatus of some vast organism that might be no more spiritual than a cabbage!"
Could similar unawarenesses be intruding on our desert?
And I think Hawking's theory is right. For despite all the ghosts, my moment-to-moment life--my quantum life--is happy.
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