Ruminations on MOLTUAE
First published in BLAUGUSTINE 2003-2004

December 12, 2003

Since I always make and never keep New Year's resolutions, I thought I might break the vicious circle by making a resolution well ahead of the fated-to-fail January 1st. The resolve in question is the one toyed with in my Quiz of November 30th: to focus blogging energy on MOLTUAE (pronounced "mohl- tew - eh"), short for Meaning Of Life The Universe And Everything. I've reduced this heavy string of words to its acronym because it has a pleasing Latin sound and neatly wraps the whole shebang in one small package.


The Topmost A-listed Blogger (You Know Who) thought it was a good way to begin the beginning so I'll follow that example. However I don't have a Grand Design and my approach is going to be more of an improvisation - one thing meandering to another and no idea where it's all going to end.

 The Ancient of Days by W. BlakeSo on the left we have the great
William Blake in 1794 imagining "The Ancient of Days" (relief etching with watercolour. British Museum) doing something amazing with a compass whilst perhaps pronouncing "Let there be light". And on the right we have yrs truly, definitely not the Topmost Blogger, attempting something similar in 2003 from a narrower and less ambitious angle. Where is this leading us? Well, to astrophysicist Bernhard Haisch who, with his colleagues Alfonso Rueda and Hal Puthoff, has been working on a theory about the universe, The Zero-Point Field , which I have just been reading about.

Brilliant Disguise: Light, Matter and the Zero-Point Field

"Is matter an illusion? Is the universe floating in a vast sea of light, whose invisible power provides the resistance that gives to matter its feeling of solidity? Astrophysicist Bernhard Haisch and his colleagues have followed the equation to some compelling - and provocative - conclusions." ( from introduction to article in Science & Spirit )

Never mind that I don't understand the mathematics or that there's as yet no proof this is really the Way Things Are (any more than there's proof of the way things are not), the theory is right up my reality-questioning alley and it's also not that new: Eastern religions have always been pointing to Maya, the illusion of matter. But what I like about the Zero-Point concept is that I can visualise it.

"The fact that the zero-point field is the lowest energy state makes it unobservable. We see things by way of contrast. The eye works by letting light fall on the otherwise dark retina. But if the eye were filled with light, there would be no darkness to afford a contrast. The zero-point field is such a blinding light. Since it is everywhere, inside and outside of us, permeating every atom in our bodies, we are effectively blind to it. It blinds us to its presence. The world of light that we do see is all the rest of the light that is over and above the zero-point field."

Variations on a Vermeer

To round off today's meditation, I gate-crashed one of the masterpieces of another awesome creator of light, Vermeer: his beautiful "The Love Letter" (1669-70. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). I am pretending to sweep the floor while deconstructing the scene into its light/dark patterns. Isn't it strange how tenaciously our minds hang on to meaning, even when all that our eyes see is a few patches of light in a field of darkness or paleness?


December 17, 2003


Grandfather Time tic tocsThis is a tough one because Time and I have a special relationship - we hate each other and have nothing in common. I don't trust Time and it doesn't trust me. Why should it? I'm always letting it down - late for this, missed that, overdid the other. Let's face it, the big problem in our relationship is that I don't believe in Time but Time, alas, believes in me. It believes it has a duty to point out that I have a limited amount of its invisible currency allotted to me and when I've used it up, that's it. Finito. No extensions, no loans, no nothing. The clock stops and the bell tolls for me etc. The problem, see, is that no amount of grey hair can convince me that this cock and bull story is true. Time may end for some people but not for me. I've got plenty of time and since it doesn't exist I've got plenty of nothing. We're not talking AfterLife here. Of course I'll get into AfterLife eventually but since time is meaningless there as well, I can't say exactly when I'll turn up. But I can guarantee it won't be for quite a long...erm...time. So. Meanwhile there's this problem to solve here and now: how to stop Time nagging me all the frigging time? I've tried keeping clocks and watches out of sight, but there's still Night and Day and the Seasons. I've tried ignoring all deadlines and timetables, but the price to pay in guilt is just too exorbitant. Time and Guilt, hand in hand, what a pair!

Su Sung water clock towerBut I'm being emotional again. Let's try a cool, scholarly approach. Here we have an ancient Chinese water clock tower (from the excellent educational site A Walk Through Time):

"One of the most elaborate clock towers was built by Su Sung and his associates in 1088 CE. Su Sung's mechanism incorporated a water-driven escapement invented about 725 CE. The Su Sung clock tower, over 30 feet tall, possessed a bronze power-driven armillary sphere for observations, an automatically rotating celestial globe, and five front panels with doors that permitted the viewing of changing manikins which rang bells or gongs, and held tablets indicating the hour or other special times of the day. Since the rate of flow of water is very difficult to control accurately, a clock based on that flow could never achieve excellent accuracy."

If I had such a fabulous contraption to look at every day I could become reconciled to the idea that arranging one's life into some sort of measured order could be a good thing. But then I might spend the whole time playing with this miraculous toy and not bother with anything else at all. That's it, isn't it? The more you enjoy something and are involved in something, the less meaning time has. An hour, a day, a month, a year, what are these? Just words, numbers on a calendar. Time doesn't 'pass' and it doesn't 'flow': it stands absolutely still when you are in love, whether with a person or an idea or a thing or a work. Isn't that why some artists and other creators go on and on?



January 17, 2004


Mystery of numbers


Comment by Natalie: Wake up Augustine! Numbers have been on people's minds since brains began to think. Links too numerous to list but try these:

Michael S.Schneider: A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe

Fusion Anomaly (great mathematical animation)

Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal: Recipe for the Universe

January 22, 2004


What is a problem, what is a solution, etc. Do I have to elaborate on this? I'm trying to use more pictures, less words.

What they are and what to do


February 17, 2004


Asked my digital camera to participate in this project to document the undocumentable. If you focus on anything - anything at all, any detail of the flotsam and jetsam of your everyday surroundings, just randomly wandering around, you collect jewels. Random jewels, fragments of the marvellous. It's all beautiful, all of it, stunningly so. Even the detail within the detail is beautiful. Extraordinary bits of a magic carpet that stretches to eternity. After lining up the pieces, I gave them a twist , a wave motion. I'm dazzled, lost in this translation from the familiar to the unexpected, the random beauty of every thing.

Random objects
wavy random objects


February 19, 2004



folded things
folded and squeezed