Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Romance of Statistical Mechanics

Driving around town a couple of weeks ago, I composed a little poem or rather, since I didn’t set out to compose anything, it simply occurred to me:

Molecule by molecule
The gale that felled the tree
Was not the mighty fist of Jove
But merely tendency.

Later on I gave the verse a title: Things and Events are the Public Relations of Atoms. And then I pretty much forgot about it until I had a dream the other day in which a duplicate me responded:

I really have to call a foul
On your ersatz Emily,
If ever Jove had had a fist
It was also tendency.

Charlie Hedbo

As mystics experience and philosophers deduce, God is a name for the superlative degree of nothingness, the abominable singularity that constantly threatens reason from within. Religion is the accretion disc that forms around the intolerable mystery, the scab that covers the wound that cannot heal. The sane believers renormalize the equations of theology to avoid absurd solutions and resort to idolatry and superstition to protect themselves from the murderous implications of the faith. Since only a suicidal fanaticism is fully consistent with monotheism, it’s literally true: you can’t look on Yahweh face-to-face and live.

Even atheism is not necessarily a perfect defense against this lethal nonsense. It depends on how you gloss the slogan “Nothing is sacred.” Which is why there is such an obvious affinity between the jihadis and the Red Brigade terrorists of the Nietzschean left. Or to make the same point in the other direction, you might say that the real Shahada of the Salafis is “There is no God, and Muhammad is his prophet.” Allah is the emptiness in the middle. There really isn’t anything in the Holy of Holies. That’s the obscene secret.

Perhaps the votaries of the Assassins were being redundant when they said “There is no God. Everything is permitted” since what they based their sect upon was the recognition that God was a way of referring to our terrible freedom. That everything is permitted is God.