Tuesday, May 29, 2012

a new creation

it has been a while since my last post and i know the whole world has been waiting on tinterhooks, so here's a report on my latest project. (which is actually a return to an old project as i shall explain below.)

maybe five years ago now i started observing lent with a koan. it started because i had found the epistle reading for the first sunday in lent befuddling, and i thought i needed some time to 'solve' it. this year my koan was paul's statement that thelast enemy is death: very rewarding and fruitful, it seemed, with readings fromthe egyptian book of going forth by day and the tibetan guide through the bardols, with revisiting the controversy of the toll houses; and the nature of time and eternity.

then came pascha and i thought another koan for the great fifty days might keep me out of trouble. so, i'm trying to 'solve' the new creation, which jesus is said to mention in the gospel according to matthew and which paul says exists for any man who is in christ.

so i've been reading cosmology and physics and such.  one of the interesting continuities through the history of cosmologies is a sort of agreement with the claim of genesis that we (human beings) are created in the image of our creator, even amongst folks who don't really recognize 'creation.'  one of the other continuities, parallel with the first, is our tendency to describe creation or the cosmos in terms of our latest invention, the thing of which we're most proud. this crops up in places we don't always notice.  isn't john doing it in his gospel when he says 'in the beginning was the word . . . and the word was god.'? think how rare it is for a saint in an icon not to be holding a book. famously after the invention of reliable clocks allowed the english to navigate the empire, the universe became a clock, and the creator a clock maker (a big boost to protestantism and pre-destination).

now of course the universe is a computer. (the photograph is an ancient greek 'computer' recently reconstructed.  i think it might also be considered a clock or a calendar, but that's not likely to happen this year.)  and not only a computer, but a quantum computer, of course.

how does any of this 'solve' the new creation as a koan?  probably in no way. but it does remind me that most of the philosophic, epistomilogical concepts underlying the 'new physics' are part of the neo-platonic tradition of eastern orthodoxy.  i love the constant of the speed of light and marshall mcluhan's claim that light is pure information wit no content and that in genesis the first thing created is light. 

but none of this is new.  our noticing it is new.  but then again jesus is over and over saying that knowledge of the kingdom of heaven is for those with ears to hear or eyes to see. 

one of the more interesting aspects of these ponderings for me is how much of it is a return to the readings of my early education.  plato and boole and leibnitz. of course mr. eliot would not be surprised, although i do not imagine that i am close to the end.