Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quantum Tantra: Conceptual Underpinnings

"Although goods and services based on quantum tantra now account for more than 60% of America's GNP, the primary import of The Brand New Science is the extraordinary revolution it has wrought in ordinary peoples' ways of conceptualizing, feeling and experiencing the natural world. Inner space is BIG, as most of you know, and full of surprises that its pioneers could never have imagined."--Wall Street Journal, December 2033

Until he finds a way to directly experience the inner life of other beings, EACH MAN IS AN ISLAND.

Hence the goal of quantum tantra--to use our knowledge of quantum physics to build bridges between islands by directly connecting your mind to the minds of numerous other beings.

Quantum physics describes the world in two different ways depending on whether the world's being measured or not. 1. An isolated quantum state is described as a superposition of WAVE-LIKE POSSIBILITIES. 2. When this state is measured, some of its possibilities turn into PARTICLE-LIKE ACTUALITIES. The uncomfortable fact that physicists have not been able to agree on what causes quantum possibilities to change into actualities is called "the quantum measurement problem" and this aspect of our ignorance is the biggest unsolved mystery of quantum physics.

Quantum tantra's first big assumption is that every mind in the world is associated with some macroscopic quantum state. Human minds are associated with quantum states localized in the brain but since everything in the world is ultimately made of quantum states, it follows that THE WORLD IS FULL OF MINDS (see The Wordsworth Conjecture). The world is full of minds, many physically very close to us, minds of whose existence we, in our islandic isolation, remain totally ignorant.

One clue suggestive of the quantum nature of our minds is the existence of two qualitatively different subjective modes of experience which may correspond to the two kinds of existence that quantum states seem to enjoy. First, there exists the wordless, unitary experience of 1. WHAT IT FEEL LIKE TO BE NICK. I associate this mode of experience with the quantum state's unbroken superposition of wave-like possibilities. Secondly, there exists the explicit messages from the senses that constitute 2. WHAT NICK FEELS. I associate this second mode of experience with the quantum state's particle-like actualities.

Like the isolated quantum state, "what it feels like to be Nick" could in principle be enjoyed with no sensory input whatsoever. It resembles what some mystics have called "consciousness without content". I call this mode-1 type of experience the wave aspect of my mind or wave-mind, for short.

On the other hand, the particle-like actualities of the quantum state and "what Nick feels" both depend on the presence of measuring instruments--some lab machine in the case of the quantum state, and a sensory nervous system in the case of Nick's mode-2 type of experience or what he calls his particle-mind.

All our commerce with the world, with both what we call the inanimate world and with the world of minds, is presently carried out solely through the medium of the senses, that is, particle-mind. Quantum tantra seeks to change this. We want to achieve "Vulcan mind-meld" not only with other human beings, but with the minds of animals and plants, with the minds of our internal organs, with the minds of cells, and eventually perhaps with the minds of atoms and molecules. What does photosynthesis actually feel like from the inside?

Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics, declared that, no matter how bizarre and different from classical thinking our QUANTUM EXPLANATIONS of the world might be, the results of our QUANTUM EXPERIMENTS must necessarily be expressed in classical language. Bohr believed that human beings are bound to see the world only through classical goggles and can only infer the existence and nature of the quantum world by indirect argument from these classical-style observations.

Eighty years of increasingly sophisticated quantum experiments have not proven Bohr wrong. Although quantum theory seems to require that an UNBROKEN WHOLENESS underlies the phenomenal world, no physicist has ever yet experienced that wholeness by merging with his apparatus. Although the results of quantum experiments differ radically from 19th-century expectations, the instruments of our era (the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, for example) do not differ in principle from the quaint polished brass instruments of the Victorian Age. They all produce classical-physics-style results.

Quantum tantra aims to change all that. More than just a new particle, more than just a new equation, quantum tantra aspires to be a brand new way of doing science. Quantum tantra seeks to connect human minds directly to the living insides of things, to open up for human exploration an immense inner space frontier, wherein we exchange experiences with billions of bizarre new intelligences, touching and being touched by alien minds that, during our entire human history, have unknowingly been dwelling right next door.

Nature's hinting there's new ways to meet Her
More intense, more engaging--and sweeter
But like shy maiden aunts
We say "O dear me, no!" to Her Dance
"We'd rather be reading our meters."

Quantum Illustration by Rian Fike
More Quantum Tantra at Rudy Rucker's FLURB


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the bridges are already there and the idea that we are islands is an illusion?