Section 4 from The Pressure of Light by Malcolm
“Incidentally, I believe I have made the acquaintance of this man in Prague. He apparently belongs to a small philosophically and zionistically infested circle, which was loosely associated with the university philosophers, a small troop of unrealistic people, harking back to the Middle Ages, with whom you have become familiar on reading the book.”
– Letter from Albert Einstein to Hedwig Born, 1916, about members of the Fanta Salon in Prague, in which Einstein makes apparent his irreligiousness and distaste for Zionism
“The news about the bitter experience that you had to live through affected me very much. I know what it means to see one’s mother in death throes, without being able to help. There is no consolation. We all must bear such tribulations, for they are inseparably bound with life. One thing does exist, though: loyal friendship and mutual support in carrying the burden. We do share so many beautiful things together that we do not need to succumb to numb brooding. Dead elders do live on in the young. Don’t you sense it now when you, in mourning, look at your children?– “
– Letter from Hedwig Born to Albert Einstein, 1920, which followed the challenging years of WWI, Einstein’s difficult divorce, his sudden rise to world-fame, and then the loss of his mother to cancer, and which was sent only a few months before the Bad Nauheim debate.
“Now let us have another look at those who have found favor with the angel. Most of them are somewhat odd, uncommunicative, solitary fellows, really less like each other, in spite of these common characteristics, than the hosts of the rejected. What has brought them to the temple? That is a difficult question and no single answer will cover it. To begin with, I believe with Schopenhauer that one of the strongest motives that leads men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from personal life into the world of objective perception and thought; this desire may be compared with the townsman’s irresistible longing to escape from his noisy, cramped surroundings into the silence of high mountains, where the eye ranges freely through the still, pure air and fondly traces out the restful contours apparently built for eternity.
“With this negative motive there goes a positive one. Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world; he then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, and speculative philosopher, and the natural scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.”
– Albert Einstein, Motives for Research, a lecture given in honor of Max Planck, 1918, in which he makes apparent the emotional and intellectual fortitude that allowed him to be so successful in just about any scientific community.
“Meanwhile, though, you are the old Diogenes again, I hope, and are laughing at the beasts driveling into your tub! It absolutely does not fit the image I have of you, which I have placed, among other venerated holy men, within the shrine of my heart, that people could still disappoint it or provoke it out of its tranquillity. You would not have withdrawn from the wild bustle of life into the still temple of science (see your Planck speech) if you could have found in that bustle, in your fellow men, exactly those illusions, that happiness, and that peace as is in your temple. If the world’s scummy floods are now lapping at your temple’s steps, then just close the door and laugh! And say: it was not without reason that I went into the temple. Don’t be angry! Stay the holy man in the temple and—stay in Germany! Scum exists everywhere, but not such enthusiastic smart[-ass] preachers as your quite pretentious
– Hedwig Born, 1920, in a letter following the Bad Nauheim debate, in which Albert Einstein succumbed to respond to a surprise attack against general relativity that descended into antisemitisim, and after which he was bruised and embarrased, for the first time ever for this famously emotionally-impennetrable man, and after which, he relinquished his pacifism, and anti-nationalism, to become a most important zionist.
There are two types of time that your mind travels. Do not see this as it pertains to the present moment, because what matters is that you are simply a body passing through the universe, miraculously accumulating knowledge as you go. You will behave, decide, and perform in bizarre ways based on an eclectic accumulation. The Pressure of Light investigates the possibility that two types of time are responsible for that accumulation. In mirror-time you are inundated with your drive to establish purpose, cause, context or intention behind the existence of a thought. You are an artist. Or you are inundated with a drive to establish rules every time such and such thought happens, to establish prescription. You are a technologist. In normal-time the self has no interest in perceiving any event as just another example of this or that, instead the self walks the path of time with nothing but curiosity for what lies ahead. In normal-time, you are a philosopher-scientist, meaning above all you develop knowledge that is intrinsically good and useful in real-events, regardless of whether it illuminates connections or has practical applications. In the form of philosopher-scientist, you are concerned most with knowledge that is developed from observations of events that were at first unexplainable, knowledge which is most useful in navigating events that are unpredictable, and knowledge that survives above all by continually proving it’s value through unexpected challenges faced along the dependably heterogeneous path of normal-time.
There are so many known types of selves that fit the form of the philosopher-scientist: the artist or athlete in-the-zone, the rescue-worker acting on impulse, the worker who moves through the day like a zombie; anyone who has reported a time when they were very much applying their mental capacities to life, but without the ability to report on a memory from that time about a thought or a feeling. Being in the zone appears to flavour this experience with enjoyment and a heightened lack of concern for whether the self’s internal processing is at risk of failing her task. Memories from these times are memories of life unfiltered by separation into the particulars of each sensory perception. The memory is of content only, the story of the win, the rescue, or the vaguely remembered workday, with the only medium being the act of recounting the memory out loud. If the memory of the win is recounted inwardly, over and over, then that beautiful moment in the zone becomes a memory of remembering being in the zone, along with memories of mental analyses of what that means. At this point a familiar dilemma may emerge, where contemplating and wanting the zone inversely makes the zone harder to reach or even remember experiencing.
In the context of The Pressure of Light, this is the dilemma experienced by the artist-technologist when attempting to jump time-states, or even just understand the perspective of the philosopher-scientist. The problem inherent to their view is that they are just another iteration of many iterations of artists-selves and technologists-selves, because seeing the universe as nothing but a collection of parts that are each nothing more than one in a projectable series means you also become nothing but one iteration in an infinite iteration of selves. Artist-technologist-selves that come to believe their self-regulating-cycles-of-thinking-analysis are superior to the philosopher-scientist’s immersion-in-action-without-hesitation, run the risk of sinking into a vision of life as nothing but iterating events, like the single life of a video-game character, a life that’s only unique in the sense that it’s a variation on the iterating lives experienced by other iterations of video-game-selves. He then lives completely in mirror-time, forever looking away from the actual path-of-time to instead stare into the pairs of infinitely-regressing-mirrors, each one holding a smaller and smaller version of himself, as he takes clunky and resistant steps forward through time. Without escape, this time-scape becomes a meaningless and unhappy dimension.
If the universe were to trap her in a time-scape like this, the philosopher-scientist would not like it one bit. She’s too committed to seeing every twist and turn in the path as revealing something never before seen, too committed to waiting until the last moment before deciding what knowledge she’ll need at the next challenge. She identifies herself as someone living a truly unique life, as someone living a story, epic in its originality, and with a plot line that nobody will ever predict, least of all her. This doesn’t mean she needs fame to help her stand out, she doesn’t need recognition at all, if she did that would mean she’s only original in the sense that she is a noticeable iteration among fame-seeking iterations. What she needs is to see time as exactly what it is, unpredictable, but dependably heterogeneous, and to see that single path through space-time that only her body travels. On the path of normal-time she gets to do what she does best, reach into her neurology’s network-of-knowledge and draw-out a perfect set of information that never would have come together in the face of any other challenge, at any other point in space-time, or for anybody else. That is happiness for the philosopher-scientist.
Section 5: The Principle of Infinite-Heterogeneity-in-Time