Monthly Archives: November 2010

A Slight Hitch…

Hello Allie Allbright Fans! Those regular visitors to my episodic adventures will have noticed there is a decided lack of recent posts. Unfortunately I have been the victim of  a faulty motherboard it would seem! My computers’ motherboard decided to give up the ghost last week.

But fear not Allie Allbright fans, I shall soon be back up and running as soon as I can get the replacement part through UK customs (its a long story!) Look out for the next insightful update, coming soon!

Backwards and Forwards

I’m back from an invigorating few days in one of my favourite places on earth-St Ives. It’s a good time to go there, as there are no crowds, the sea is lashing the rocks and the winds blowing in off the Atlantic are fierce and passionate. Margery and I took a small, white apartment right next to tiny Porthgwidden beach, which has a cafe with a chef hungry to prove himself. So it was scallops, mackerel, paella and moules all round. Mmm.

Now its back to The Warren and all that constitutes city flat living; dust, autumn leaves and a cat upstairs that often has a mad moment in the middle of the night. The dust and the leaves I can do something about, so this morning, while the world gathered round monuments to the fallen, with wreaths of red, I gathered up the bichla bitha from my sideboard and gave it a good wash, in time for the winter candlelight and fairy lights, revealing the gold decoration on the edges of my grandmother’s plates. And while I did this, I thought about all those young men who became a generation’s sacrifice of a projection of fear and nationalism and aggression. And I wished that the poppy could somehow become truly meaningful  and that we could all rise up and say no to any wars and the meaningless butchery that ego demands as a sacrifice to dualism.

It is ten years since I last visited St Ives and I ask myself why it has been so long, when I love it so much? The only answer I can think of is the fact that the last ten years have flown by and there have been so many other things to do and places to visit. Standing in the Tate looking out over the beach and the headland to the ever- changing sea, I felt a powerful sadness for the losses that my inner tide has washed away in those years. People have died yet babies have been born. The only constant is love. There is also growth; in gratitude and inner calm. Jean- Claude says I am growing like a well- pruned tree, strong and measured and regular. But how I miss the passion of ten years ago, when the sea lashing the rocks echoed what was going on inside. Now I look out and as the wind takes my breath away, I am so very glad it comes back and for a time at least, I am here and living, full of wonder.

Crop circles 2010

I leave you with this amazing video while I head off for a few days at the seaside. Enjoy the beauty and ignore the smug circlemakers who have been popping up on the BBC clutching their stompers like skateboards. They have never proved that they are capable of producing circles like these. In comparison the QI logo is straightforward!Thank you Zennrabbit-a great job.

And so on…

When I first saw the Mandelbrot set being computer generated, I nearly fainted. This was because of the intensity of connection with what I was observing. It was something profound and I had a visceral response to it. So having heard that Benoit Mandelbrot had died  October 14th, I feel that I should mark his passing with a few words about the difference he has made to my understanding of life. Or try to anyway.

Wasn’t it Einstein who said that the most beautiful thing that we humans can experience is the mysterious? Well, locked inside the generated Mandelbrot set is something so mysterious it speaks of mandalas, hallucinations and maps of the psyche.

“What you ask is the beginning of it all ? And it is this…Existence that multiplied itself for the sheer delight of being. And plunged into numberless trillions of forms, so that it might…find itself…innumerably.” The words of Sri Aurobindo help to lead me to meet the Mandlebrot set on its own terms. The brain holds a wealth of symbols and many of them appear as if by magic from the computerised form of a simple equation that is made visible through an integrated feedback loop and the possibilities opened up by the computer age.

Mandelbrot was a mathematician employed by IBM in the late seventies, with the enlightened brief to play around with the new machines and see what he came up with. On March 1st 1980 he found something that would change the way we see the world for ever and ushered in the possibilities of a fractal universe. The key to this world lay in iteration-numbers flowing in two directions round and round in a loop, like a dog chasing its tail. The mathematician Julia had guessed at his sets but he couldn’t see them in action. Noone could, until the day when the astonished Mandelbrot watched his set come to life, seeing all the forms of energy emerging from a frontier that is infinitely complex, where each piece holds a miniature of itself and islands of order are created in a sea of chaos. Fragmented and irregular he watched as it took him up and out of the totality, without lines or circles but with a rhythm that the subconscious recognises. So the semaphore of nature was revealed and we are now able to witness how the physical world tells itself what it wants to be. The Mandelbrot Set ushered in a revolution in thought and a new mathematics to which Mandelbrot himself gave the name Fractal.

 A fractal geometer can describe a cloud like an architect can describe a house. Under high magnification convoluted atomic landscapes appear and a mathematics was needed to describe them. The fractal world is one which simplicity and order at the root grows into something that contains infinity and the mystery of infinity.

What Mandelbrot’s extraordinary discovery points to is the fact that the human brain is the missing 5th element and that DNA is the ultimate fractal generator. It is like a new map leading us ever on to new treasures.  They will lead to an unfolding within us.

One journeys into the Mandelbrot set and visits spirals within spirals, seahorses, whirlpools and so on. Every now and again a replica of the whole is buried within the boundary structure. The 2D set looks like a frilly double kidney with self same accoutrements but the point of it is multidimensional. It is an interesting thought that LSD and fractal geometry emerged historically in synchronicity. In deep structure we find the route to the mystery.

Some of the appeal of the fractal is that in each part lies the possibility of an image of the whole. That, to lost mankind, feels like a clue about the nature of existence. Although the Mandelbrot Set is only one of many fractals, it is the one that has most captured the cultural imagination of the world. It is the most popular self similar fractal generated by a recursively iterating formula. You can think of a fractal generator as working a lot like a MRI scan, which crosses over a patient’s body making a computer graphic representation of a 2D cross-section of a 3D object(the patient).

Fractal mathematics broke barriers imposed by standard Euclidean geometry. No wonder it grabbed my attention. Shapes and patterns believed to be random could perhaps be created by mathematical principles. This is still working through the system and shaking up the sciences. It is bringing the physical and the metaphysical close-too close for the comfort of some scientists. Just as there is a genetic code within us there could be a code for the universe and it could be a fractal equation. But we are unlikely to find it as we are not that clever yet. Best be content with the mystery and rejoice in the experience of being a part of the fractal revolution by letting our minds ‘go home’. Try it here.

River’s End

On December 13th 2010 I will have been blogging for a year and the experiment will be over. I only ever intended to do this for a year, then I will download all 200 odd(some say very odd) posts and get on with other aspects of my creative life; the novels that need a rewrite, the blank canvases that wait for paint, the new books that are brewing. For blogging has been all- consuming experiment, that has taken me up rivers and into new lands that I had no idea existed a year ago. I find, to my astonishment, that I have been on a somewhat obsessive hunt, no less, for the origins of knowledge. It is the 21st computer- led equivalent of the Victorian explorer going off to Africa. I am the Mary Kingsley of my day. Perhaps.

At the moment I am paddling my dugout up a very interesting river. On one bank is Western scientist’s take on DNA and on the other, the far more luminescent and intuitively pleasing, Amazonian rainforest/shamanic take on DNA.

The information contained in DNA makes the difference between life and inert matter. It is a cosmic molecule, only ten atoms wide, so miniaturised that it approaches the limits of material existence. It is in our hair, our eyes, our ears and in every other part of us and the extraordinary thing is that it is also in everything else around us that is alive. The extraordinary thing about DNA is that it changes while remaining the same. It is the master of transformation.

If one stretches the DNA contained in one nucleus of one human cell, it stretches to a 2 yard long thread ten atoms wide.This means it is a billion times longer than its width. Even the most powerful optical microscope cannot reveal it. Its great length packs into the nucleus of a cell (which is 2 millionth of a pinhead) by coiling up endlessly on itself. As you and I are each made up of 100 thousand billion cells and each cell has the above length of DNA, there is about 125 billion miles of DNA in each of us. Your personal DNA is long enough to wrap around the earth 5 million times. But only parts of it tell a story. The rest, which could so easily have been named ‘mystery DNA’, is in fact labelled ‘junk DNA’, which says rather more about the attitude of scientists than it says about DNA.

While mountains have been raised and  flattened, seas grown and shrunk, and more species come and gone than remain today, DNA and its cellular machinery for replication has remained constant. All cells in the world, animal, vegetal and bacterial, contain DNA and that DNA is bathed in water , the salt content of which is exactly the same as the water in the oceans. When we weep, we weep the seas. The four bases of DNA are insoluble in water so they pair up and twist to avoid contact with the surrounding water modules which is what creates the helical twist.The mechanism of DNA is the same for all that lives; only the order of instructions is different. The information contained in the genome of the first bacterium is enough to fill a telephone directory. This is said to have emerged ‘spontaneously’ from the lifeless chemical soup. How could that be? Is it any wonder that I prefer to go to the W. Amazonion shaman for my information, rather than a molecular biologist with a huge blind spot?

 Not everyone can be a shaman. It requires know-how, discipline and courage. Success rests  on the outcome of a terrifying initiation , during which the shaman learns to take his consciousness down to a bio-molecular level. Then the plant spirit speaks in a language that has meaning. What shamans probably do is to tap into the DNA photon exchange that speaks to them in the manner of a language. It’s like turning on the radio and picking up information, via waves, that the brain reassembles as meaningful. With ayahuasca and tobacco(not the sort you smoke as toxic sticks) a shaman can pick up the waves coming through, in order to see and hear what the plant wants to tell. Thisadds up to a lot, as indigenous West Amazonian tribes have held the key to this knowledge and have been doing this for 5000 years.

The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby is another brave book on the subject.  For those of you, like me, interested in the unorthodox, it is a great read. The problem with orthodox science today is that it hangs onto a postulate of objectivity at all costs and so blinds itself to the possibility of recognising intentionality in nature. After reading this book (lets face it, I was almost there already) I am convinced that nature has a goal, intention and consciousness. It speaks in a coding that resembles our language and coding systems have always been thought to be the the sign of an intelligent mind.

The human mind  can communicate via defocalised consciousness with a global network of DNA based life.  Then out of the third dimensional background rises a whole bunch of other contrasting images. Buy a Magic Eye book and start practising. Nature speaks in signs. Hidden from normal vision, in an irrational and subjective world, is the gateway to information critical to our ailing planet. The shaman tells us that they start singing along and as they sing they understand. Sounds a bit like writing this blog.