Friday, August 14, 2009
The Wheel of Multiple Histories
Peregrine Cafe at Eastern Market. The best. Really, the best. Tastes as good as it looks
Like many lovers of modern physics, I am a fan of Richard Feynman, who showed, by way of some mighty fancy equations during the 1960's, that particles travel from one location to another along every path through spacetime. Yes, every path. There really is never a single story or a single truth. All stories are true. From this set of ideas came a cascade of other theories about alternate realities, alternate universes. Ultimately "M theory" came into being. I love M theory so much because that description resonates perfectly and exactly with my experience of the world.
I was thinking about M theory last night in conjunction with the idea of luck. Maybe a lucky streak is a time when in some way or another we make the leap to a more fortunate reality, a reality in which things swing our way with slightly more ease. Do you think I could be on to something? I do. And I think there's something about the physics of turning, spinning, whirling, circling, that might be a part of how that happens.
"S Curve" - the mirrored sculpture by Anish Kapoor in the lobby of the Sackler
In my dream last night: Hammer and I have stayed up way too late, sitting around on what we have decided is a round skylight. It is slightly elevated from ground level, maybe 3 feet or so, and about 15 feet in diamter. Beneath the skylight (we think) is one of the Smithsonian museums. The round thing has many panes of glass but we can't see through them. It's night. We're hanging out on the round thing, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
(We're smoking Marlboros - which is truly a different reality since I have never smoked cigs and I don't think Hammer has either, not to mention the fact that at night I never drink coffee. With Hammer, it's almost always beer, not coffee. But of course this is a dream.)
At some point, we have fallen asleep because the next thing I know in the dream, we're being awakened by the anonymous yet eager dream people who have come to take their quantum ride. "What?" we're saying, blinking in the bright light of morning. It turns out the round thing is some kind of supersonic merry-go-round that takes the riders to a similar, but alternate reality. The panes of glass slide back to reveal nice cushioned seats beneath them. The people climb in, excited and chatting to each other.
Instead of being entranced with what we learn about the round thing, both Hammer and I are quite annoyed. We decide to drink more coffee but the anonymous dream people have finished every drop. Boy are we mad about that!
In the dream I was cranky, but I woke up laughing. Though I'm guessing I'll never really understand what luck is, I am tickled by my mind's capacity to wonder, to imagine, and to keep me entertained at night. A salute to my mind and while I'm at it, to my friend Hammer, too. Why not? Nice!