Friday, October 30, 2009

The John Greeley School of Quantum Awareness

It's a well-kept secret that John Greeley--a man of many talents--in addition to performing weird poetry in the BistroScene also proposed a new school of quantum theory, as an alternative to Niels Bohr's better-known Copenhagen Interpretation and N. David Mermin's Ithaca Interpretation. Greeley's scheme slyly bypasses quantum theory's conceptual paradoxes and focuses instead on direct experience of the quantum world. While searching for something else in my files I discovered today this early draft of John Greeley's seminal contribution to quantum thinking and decided to share it.

The Greeley School of Quantum Awareness is modeled after the zen monasteries of Japan where the goal is to experience transcendent awareness by means of a sudden awakening, sometimes at the end of a stick.

To understand quantum mechanics is, in the Greeley School, analogous to sen awakening, but it must not be a shallow understanding in the manner of classroom rote learning, but something which is directly experienced, requiring, as an absolute requisite, freedom from the spell of language.

All discussion in the Greeley School is conducted only with action verbs, with hand signals, or by direct contact with nature. Naming any "thing" (which mistakingly localizes "objects" in space) is a punishable offense, the worst offense being to apply a name to a living creature. Matriculants are encouraged to use art, poetry, music and mathematics to express themselves. Anyone who quotes an author will likely be kicked or struck, have cold water thrown in his or her face, or be sprayed with a CO2 fire extinguisher, which makes a terrifyingly loud roar that tends to freeze misconceptions. Matriculants may in turn attack the teacher if his or her approach is found wanting, but a false attack is a CO2 offense.

Students are encouraged to wrestle, eat, drink, smoke, laugh and play games. The highest goal is laughter, but one of the worst offenses is shallow laughter.

If you are in doubt about your sanity or your emotional stability, do not attend the Greeley School. Anyone claiming they have found or "got something" will be expelled. Only those who have already gone past psychologism, or who have never been involved in it, need apply.

The objective of the Greeley School is simply to understand quantum mechanics. Since such an understanding is admittedly indescribable, and since there is no agreement as to what it means anyway, this would seem to be an impossible task. Therein lies the paradoxical lesson of the school, which, if you already understand, means you need not take the course.

There is no pretense of "experiencing the eternal Now" or any of that mystical sounding stuff. However, one of the greatest attainments is to stretch time, which is conceived of as a malleable function of consciousness, through the creative process. "Abandon all thought of past, present, future, ye who enter here."

Greeley himself is a tolerant man, but there are several things he will not endure, and which are strictly forbidden as subjects for conversation or artistic expression. These include patriotism, love of technology (especially computers), love of some saint or savior, and what the prices of things are when you go shopping.

The central message of the Greeley School is embodied in the following words: "The particle is a misconception; the wave is a misconception; likewise, the notion that particle and wave are misconceptions is also a misconception."

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