Books Language

Books and Bosons

In applause of Peter Higgs, and the legacy of over 5 decades of research– I will attempt to outline another implication for the (near-certain) discovery of the god particle.
The relationship of matter to mass. How does former attain latter? In the case of particle physics, it’s by moving through the Higgs field. In the case of thoughts and information, it’s through language [beneath which I cram all literature, art, speech, media, etc.]. In order for thoughts to attain mass, they need to be (to the regret of some) slowed, downgraded, passed through the Higgs Field equivalent, and given shape by some communicable medium. This is in itself a profound step.
Charlotte was vexed by my conclusive point in Figuration to Abstraction— that humans may soon evolve out of language. Where will all the magic of communication go? The core joy of art and literature, she says, (the following metaphor is hers; I fittingly couldn’t come up with a better one) is the friction of ideas against language; of the originally articulated thought against its conveyance and the perceptive cortexes of its recipients. The heat arising from this friction is fertile and volatile– her favorite moments are born upon the discovery of unexpected meanings through miscommunication. From a strictly technical point of view, the challenge is finding in language the perfect match for your thoughts. (Now my metaphor. Dumber.) It is going shopping for a word. The perfect word to match your thought is like the perfect shoe or dress. In fact, that one can never find a perfect match because the two are of a different nature serves to give thoughts even more meaning. There is something behind every painting, every critical essay, that simply cannot be communicated no matter how you articulate yourself. That something is the original thought. We both are trying to give form to something inherently formless, and which should structurally remain so if we are to proceed with our lives in any coherent way– we keep the ghost, the expelled language-heat, at arm’s length on purpose.
Thus, all that stuff we love is really just residue of the cosmic thought-soup. This is further emphasized by the fact that, like CERN says, the universe is defined less by the planets and stars and chunks of matter than by the void surrounding them. What does this imply? It implies that the language around us is really an illusory blip on the radar of thoughts. If thoughts are the universe, language is the light-matter. Dark matter equates the realm of dreams, ideas, feelings, emotions, memories, regrets, hopes, opinions, instincts– all that which has not yet congealed. This has repercussion both in past and future thoughts: most of us have probably been thinking about thoughts unrealized; before the fact. But just as interesting are thoughts that were once turned into art but have since dissolved. The number of these may be far greater than initially imagined. Stuart Kelly wrinkles these waters in The Book of Lost Books.
“Hence, perpetually and essentially, texts run the risk of becoming definitively lost. Who will ever know of such disappearances?” -Jacques Derrida, “Plato’s Pharmacy”.
A delightful read. But after meandering through its passages I was overrun by the dreadful sense that life and all its exigencies is a failed struggle against the relentless tide of our disintegration into that dark soup.
Time itself may be such a struggling element. Time seems to be a rupture in the perfect balance of all things, the tendency for all matter to equalize and dissolve like sugar in water. As we are learning, time is anything but constant and is in fact a function of relationships. The reason time appears as it does to us (passing, flowing through everything like a breeze) is because the speed at which we move compared to the speed at which light and the edges of the universe move is a fairly fixed ratio. Speed up, halve the ratio, and things start to change…. Same thing in reverse. All that would happen is the discovery of new patterns in things close to you to help exercise that part of the brain which maintains that despite the building evidence, the illusion is real and discrete things can be sorted and organized. Not that everything is everything, but that there is permanent difference. And with that illusion in closer focus, so do answers to questions beginning with “why” appear simpler to reach.

By the.vonz.himanen

Ivan Himanen is an architect, writer, and artist based in New York City.

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