Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Finding what I was searching for without knowing what it was

Great Bay as seen from Wagon Wheel Farm: 10/26/14
CC Jean Stimmell 
The less I resist 
the quicksand of living, 
 the more I sink into 
sense of place.

As I grow old and resist less – as I try to say in the ditty above – the more I appreciate the following quote by the late, great Peter Mattheissen:

 “The great stillness in these landscapes that once made me restless seeps into me day by day, and with it the unreasonable feeling that I have found what I was searching for without ever having discovered what it was.”*

Jenness Pond as the sun sets: 10/28/14
CC Jean Stimmell

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A new day will dawn when we embrace entanglement

Echo Lake, Franconia NH
CC Jean Stimmell: September 2014
Maybe it’s because of my hippie past, but I have always been fascinated by the idea of “entanglement.”  Entanglement is the theory that once two objects or particles have interacted with one another, they will be forever joined; thereafter, whatever happens to one will instantly happen to the other, even if one has moved to the other side of the universe.

The notion of entanglement comes from quantum physics and was first proposed in the 1970s by a group of underemployed, alternative-thinking, hippie physicists, outliers whom many in the “scientific community considered to be a threat to the very foundation of Western rationality.”⁠1 Even the broad-minded Einstein was scornful of such “spooky actions at a distance.” 

Yet, over the years, after many rigorous experiments designed to test the validity of entanglement, the tables have turned. This outrageous theory, originally scorned by critics as a hallucination by misguided mystics and drop-outs, is now pretty much accepted by mainstream science. 

As the New York Times recently noted, the theory of entanglement is now all but proven. The final verification depends on one last experiment which is now ongoing; if the results come back negative as scientists expect, it will be a done deal. ⁠2

What does this all mean?  

The ramifications are potentially mind-blowing! That is what excites me and has motivated me to follow this story throughout the years.  Entanglement, to me, is a paradigm shifting event in the history of science, as momentous as discovering gravity or that the earth is flat.  It changes everything by re-introducing mystery back into our staid and small-minded world. 

Rather than smugly knowing everything, suddenly we will know nothing. Our mouths will gape open in awe at possibilities beyond comprehension.

As it was in the beginning, we will see the world as it really is –  as through the eyes of a child, a mystic, an indigenous person, or an artist. As the poet Christian Wiman has written: “If quantum entanglement is true, if related particles react in similar or opposite ways even when separated by tremendous distances, then it is obvious that the whole world is alive and communicating in ways we do not fully understand. And we are part of that life, part of that communication.”⁠3

My hope is that this idea of entanglement has legs enough to shift us from our present ideology of rampant individualism – a death spiral of  dog-eat-dog  competition – to the creation of a new vision for humanity where we can all live peaceably together in interdependent community, nested in our own precious niche within ever-widening ecosystems, participating directly in the wonder and mystery of Life.


–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
1 Let’s Be Fysiksists Again Matthew Wisnioski.  SCIENCE VOL 332 24 JUNE 2011
2 Is Quantum Entanglement Real?
NYT 11/14/14http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/opinion/sunday/is-quantum-entanglement-real.html?_r=0
3 My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian Wiman p.33

Monday, November 17, 2014

Twining all-embracing faith

Twining all-embracing faith
Honeysuckle along the Merrimack
CC Jean Stimmell: 11/12/14
“Faith is the willingness to give ourselves over, at times, to things we do not fully understand… the full engagement with this strange and shimmering world.”

This profound quote comes from The Accidental Universe written by the physicist, Alan Lightman.  His definition of faith is truly ecumenical: as applicable to religious folks as it is to scientists. He does, however, go on to make a critical distinction between the nature of science and the nature of humanity:

By the experimental nature of what they do, scientists must pose their questions very carefully: in order to prove or disprove a hypothesis, they must frame their questions in such a manner that they will have a definite answer.

“But artists and humanists often don’t care what the answer is because definite answers don’t exist to all interesting and important questions. Ideas in a novel or emotion in a symphony are complicated with the intrinsic ambiguity of human nature. … For many artists and humanists, the question is more important than the answer*”
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* Physicist Alan Lightman from his acclaimed book The Accidental Universe, as quoted in http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/15/alan-lightman-accidental-universe-science-spirituality/

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Psyche yearning to be free from oppressive confines of modernity

Psyche yearning to be free from oppressive confines of modernity
Graffiti at Sewells Falls 11/8/14
CC Jean Stimmell

Psyche making her escape!
Graffiti at Sewells Falls 11/8/14
CC Jean Stimmell

Monday, November 10, 2014

Day of Reckoning After the November 4th Election

Day of Reckoning After the Election
CC Jean Stimmell 11/10/14
I took this photograph yesterday of the remains 
of Madame Sherri's Castle in Chesterfield, NH,
a dissolution, not only of a dream and a way of life. 

A coyote sprang to mind I had once photographed, 
lean and hungry, ready to devour any weakened prey. 
To me the composite represents the result of the election.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Our survival depends on reconnecting to mythos and the rhythms of the universe

A foolishly sweet elf disguised as milkweed on Harmony Hill
CC Jean Stimmell: 11/03/14
In today's world ruled by the cold logic of technology and science, nature is defined as dead matter, separate from ourselves,  something we can manipulate, abuse, use up, or eradicate as we please.⁠1 However, as Carl Jung first observed, a tragic consequence of reducing our world to  numbers and empirical facts is that we become estranged from who we really are: 

“Man feels isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of a god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree makes a man's life…Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants and animals.⁠2
Our salvation – literally our continued existence – depends on reconnecting to myths⁠3 which, by definition, ask deeper questions about reality, welcoming all beings, all voices, seen or unseen. 

Real myths, while they may not always pass the literal fact checks of abstracted empiricists lost in the labyrinths of their minds, are psychologically and symbolically true – and absolutely necessary to complete us as fully functioning human beings.   Myths are essential, as Joseph Campbell tells us, to pull us “into accord with the rhythm of the universe.”⁠4 

Put another way, myth is the software that grounds our abstract minds in the real, putting our ego in harmony with our body, our sense of place, and mother nature.

Great danger looms – unending war, pestilence, and catastrophic climate change come to mind – if we stay on our present path,  disconnected from the real because we have repressed the contents of our unconscious, disregarding the magic and mystery that resides there. Apprehending the growing chasm between our conscious everyday life and the vast depth of the psyche, Jung long ago laid out the task required of us if we are to survive:

“We do not understand yet that the discovery of the unconscious means an enormous spiritual task, which must be accomplished if we wish to preserve our civilization.”⁠5


In a bit of synchronicity: An Ode to Elves by Carl Jung:

In Jung’s Red Book, an exquisite red leather‐bound folio manuscript,which recounts and comments on his imaginative experiences between 1913-16, he had this to say about elves:

“These…elemental spirits, dressed in wrinkled garb,…with delightful misshapen forms, young and yet old, dwarfish, shriveled, unspectacular bearers of secrets arts, possessors of ridiculous wisdom… What should your appearance be to us? What new arts do you bear up from the inaccessible treasure chamber..? You still have roots in the soil like plants and you are animal faces of the human body; you are foolishly sweet, uncanny, primordial, and earthly.”⁠6

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
1 http://www.depthinsights.com/pdfs/On_Depth_Psychology.pdf
2 Sabini, M. (Ed.). (2005). The earth has a soul: The nature writings of C.G. Jung, pp. 79-80)
3 and developing new myths for our time and place
4 Campbell, J., & Moyers, w. B. (1991). The Power of Myth.
5 Sabini, M. (Ed.). (2005). The earth has a soul: The nature writings of C.G. Jung, p. 145
6 http://www.reddit.com/r/tryptonaut/comments/186c6b/