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Science is inherently Mythic

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  • Steve Dodd
    [Kinda OT but I thought this might appeal to people on this list -SD] ... From: Tom Healy To: novelty lifeboat Subject:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 8, 2004
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      [Kinda OT but I thought this might appeal to people on this list -SD]

      ----- Forwarded message from Tom Healy -----

      From: Tom Healy
      To: novelty lifeboat <novelty-lifeboat@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: Science is inherently Mythic
      Date: Tue, 08 Jun 2004 08:37:51 -0500

      from an interview w/ cultural historian: William Irwin

      Rebecca: So let me just clarify. You think that myth is the
      memory of the whole history of the universe?

      Bill: Yes. For example when you begin to unpack the
      cosmology in the Rapunzel fairytale, you can show just how
      much information is in that.

      David: You say that this universal memory is not stored in
      the DNA. So where is it stored?

      Bill: It's non-locality. Everything in quantum physics now
      is rejecting the notion of storage and locality.

      David: But wouldn't it be stored in the nucleus of the atom?
      Without localization points how can information be

      Bill: Well, wave functions aren't localized. Bell's theorem
      is all about non-locality and when you're dealing with ten
      dimensions then where's the location? Brian Swimme who is a
      colleague of mine talks about how if you draw a circle and
      you move to a second dimension of a sphere, it's possible to
      move out of that circle without crossing a boundary. If you
      have a sphere and you go from the three-dimensional to the
      four-dimensional you can also do that without crossing a
      boundary. So at three dimensions you can say I'm Euclideanly
      located here, but in the multi-dimensionality of my subtle
      bodies I'm involved with Andromeda.

      Part of the yogic thing is to shift from what's called the
      fu chi. There's the anamayacosa and then there's the
      pranamayacosa, which is the energy body that you use in T'ai
      Chi. The anamayacosa is sometimes called the astral body,
      but it keeps shifting to the pranamayacosa and back again,
      and at each one of those you're adding dimensionality. It's
      getting vaster and vaster and at the same time it's
      recursive and enfolded so that each point prehends a larger

      The whole notion of what is location and what is the body
      gets really dicey. What I break with in American culture is
      the notion that things are located in elementary particles,
      or in genes or in brains, and that by manipulating them
      through elite minds at Harvard or MIT, you can control

      I'm much more involved in a diversity and an ecology of
      consciousness where an individual flame can't exist if
      there's not an atmosphere, that we can't exist if there
      weren't bacteria in our guts taking care of the poisons. The
      new theory about bacteria is that they're actually a
      planetary bioplasm and that we're inside them, they're not
      inside us - it's like a sheath around the earth. So the
      whole notion of location is becoming much more complicated -
      and much more interesting.

      David: So the problem you have with location is similar to
      the problem you have with the idea of representation?

      Bill: Yes, that's a good connection. That's why Varella has
      rejected the whole representational theory of the nervous
      system and wants to deal with concepts like participation

      Rebecca: Can you describe the connections that you see
      between science and myth?

      Bill: If you ask three questions: Who are we? Where do we
      come from? Where are we going? Any answer to those will give
      you a myth. You can give a Marxist answer, you can give a
      sociobiological answer, you can give a Christian
      fundamentalist or Moslem answer. So myth is basically macro
      thinking. Technical thinking is micro. It's saying, I'm a
      neuroscientist, I'm a geneticist and I'm not interested in
      answering the big questions. That was originally why I left
      M.I.T, because if kids asked questions the professors would
      say, forget it and do your problem sets.

      If you step back and ask the big questions then you're
      beginning to think mythopoeically. If you look at the
      narratives of Darwin or even Leakey - all these are
      constructed narratives that are inescapably mythic. The
      whole notion of explanation falls into mythic structures.
      There's a wonderful book on narratives of human evolution by
      Misia Landau.

      She says if you go back and study the structure of the
      folktale about how the hero leaves a safe enviroment, is
      then put through a sequence of challenges and is then
      confronted by someone who gives him a gift to be able to go
      forward and resolve the challenge and then settle into a new
      steady state. You can take that structure of folkloric motif
      and apply it to all these different theories of human
      evolution. Science is inherently mythic.

      When I was saying this stuff in lectures in New York in the
      70's, it was kind of against the grain, but that way of
      thinking began to come up much more in the `80's, because
      Michel Serres in Paris was giving a similar sequence to the
      whole nature of mythic thought. So now it's not quite so

      ----- End forwarded message -----

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      ``I saw grief drinking a cup / of sorrow and called out, /
      "It tastes sweet, does it not?" / "You've caught me," grief answered, /
      "and you've ruined my business. / How can I sell sorrow, /
      when you know it's a blessing?"'' - Rumi
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