Thursday, August 04, 2016

Surprise, But Not Too Much

Been reading a book titled, A Beautiful Question by Frank Wilczek this summer.  His beautiful question is, quite simply, what is beauty?  Or perhaps, is the universe inherently beautiful? A Nobel-prize winner in quantum physics, he has been studying the relationship between mathematical ideas and the universe for decades and his scientific work has led him to this question.

When I heard a conversation with him on the radio one day, I had one of those moments when I thought that scientists were finally catching up with what people knew back in the day of the Buddha.  We already know this stuff - it is written out quite plainly!  But, you know, western scientists need to figure it out for themselves.  In any case, to me, it all seems right at the intersection of art and yoga: perception and understanding the true nature of reality.  And, it is expressed in every major work of art ever made, across genres and disciplines.  How fascinating to delve deeper into the why and the how of it from another perspective.

One of the things he states early on is (to paraphrase) that mistakes are our best teachers.  Our human eyes and brains are always looking for symmetry and have developed patterns based on seeing relationships between things, remembering them, and expecting them to appear again.  When they do, the met expectation brings a sense of pleasure.  When they do not, we wonder why and inquire - thus expanding our understanding of things.  Unless things are so unexpected that we can not make any sense of them, in which case we just see them as "noise".  As Wilczek says, we like surprise but not too much.

He is quick to point out that what is too much surprise to us, as humans, might be just lovely to another species, which means our universe is more like a multiverse.

See?  It's all quite beautiful!

1 comment:

jamnflder said...

Hi Robyn, found you through Shawn O'Hagan's blog & new website. Enjoy your blog thoughts. I am learning from both of you about blogging, which is new to me. Here's my website, still in progress and needs much tweaking and revision:
I intend to migrate it to another URL where I can play and learn more about web design. Challenge is how to balance painting, gardening and web design without becoming addicted to the damned computer!

All the best in your creative endeavours. Angela