Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thoughts to Chew On -- Fred Alan Wolf and Gretel Ehrlich

I devoured a few books this week and chewed on a few thoughts worth sharing. First up was Fred Alan Wolf's "Parallel Universes,"which neatly lays out the theory that parallel universes likely exist and we likely brush up against them more than we realize. Is Einstein right? Do black holes serve as bridges to other realms? Can alter egos spring into existence at the flip of a coin? Do lucid dreaming and schizophrenia mark the overlap of parallel worlds? Are synchronicities merely clues that my future self is giving to my present self to help get me through a day?

Stop and consider that. Really. It just blows my feathers off. He writes:

"These additional bubbled not only do not exist in just one universe, they exist in parallel universes--universes that can be reached from our universe via a process called quantum tunneling. In this process an electron is able to suddenly vanish in one universe and appear in another. Indeed, if this idea is correct, much of what we now call psychic phenomena, altered states of awareness, channeling of conscious beings, spirits, ghostly apparitions, flying saucers, and other unexplainable phenomena could be explained as information tunneling---coming from parallel universes" (pp. 176-77).

Gretel Ehrlich is another poet-writer I admire, especially her ruminations on space and home. She possesses the uncanny ability to transport one into her experience, her moment, with the dash of a few staccato words. In "A Match to the Heart," Ehrlich describes her experience of being struck by lightening and her movement through recovery. Many passages of the book make me want to spray paint the words on the sides of buildings. I resist but share them here:

"I thought of another Eskimo shaman story: "When the bear of the glacier comes out he will devour you and make you a skeleton and you will die. But you will awaken and your clothes will come rushing to you" (p. 149).

"In the Bardo Thodol, known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, bar means "between"; and do "a landmark that stands between two things"; joined together, bardo means "gap." It refers to the wandering state between life and death, confusion and enlightenment, neurosis and sanity. The past has just occurred, and the future has not yet happened. In the bardo of the human realms we experience the body as illusory. Our relationship to our own existence and nonexistence is lukewarm. The whole world is a hiatus; the gap is not a widening in the road before the next bend, it is where the road falls off the cliff.

"The bardo has also been described as a vast and desolate plain littered with corpses and bleached bones and feral animals feeding on remnant flesh, a plain that is crowded and empty at the same time where animals copulate wildly, fall away from each other, and move on. Then it's a gray ocean again with no surface and no bottom, no reference points, no lighthouse, no breakwater guarding the harbor, no guiding light to lead me home. The bardo state occurs not only at the moment of death or the moment before death, but all during our lives; the bardo is the uncertainty and groundlessness we often feel" (pp. 39-40).

"I felt like a river moving inside a river: I was moving but something else was rushing over top of me. There was too much to take in: the deep familiarity with a place where I had lived for so long and the detachment a year away brings. The rivers were layers of grief sliding, the love of open spaces being nudged under fallen logs, pressed flat against cutbanks and point bars. I felt as if I'd never left, and at the same time as if I could never come home" (p. 140).

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