PreCubist art and time

Turtles All the Way Down

“The world rests on the back of a giant turtle.” What does the turtle stand on? “Another turtle.” What does that turtle stand on? “It’s just turtles all the way down!”

If you Google the phrase, you get a lot of references to Stephen Hawking and Bertrand Russell. Great men these may be, but I find the setting up of a straw man by reasoning from a literal interpretation of a mystical concept a bit silly, and strangely akin to the claim some folks make to a belief in a “literal” interpretation of the (old English translation of the Latin translation of the Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic) bible. But then, science as an intolerant religion, and what it means to be truly rational…that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find references to John Grinder and Gregory Bateson. Now you’re getting closer to what I mean. There is something deeply moving in the contemplation of infinite recursion. It is one way to come face to face with a mystery, that everything is a construct of my consciousness except right here, right now. That I don’t know where my consciousness came from, that it seems to stand on the back of the previous moment’s consciousness, which stands on the back…

“This statement is false.” Suppose that the preceding statement is true, then it can’t be true because it says that it is false. OK then, supposing it is false, then it must be true because it says that it is false. While you’re thinking about that, someone kicks you in the shins.

Here’s a couple of quotes from the truly mystical mathematician G. Spencer Brown:

“A mystic, if there is such a person, is not a person to whom everything is mysterious. He is a person to whom everything is perfectly plain.”

“Those of us who have gone back and remembered our births, remembered what we knew, and remembered the covenant we then made with those standing around our cradle, the realization that we now have to forget everything and live a life…”