Posted by Ben Koch
Readers are well aware by now that I’m a fervent fan of cutting edge science that ignores dogma and dares to poke around in that blurry but luminous space between Newtownian textbookisms and mysticism. So you’ll be as surprised as I was myself that Lynne McTaggart’s landmark gem, The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe, had escaped me until now.
In it, McTaggart ties a narrative thread through the stories and discoveries of a growing number of respected, credentialed scientists who are tiptoeing–or in some cases tripping accidentally–into that bright, enlightening space mentioned above.
A couple major insights of the first few chapters are worth pausing for, and one of them resonates beautifully with a poem I included in my book of poetry, the frequency of whispers. McTaggart is summarizing the work of scientist Hal Puthoff when she succinctly states its implications that the universe …
“…constantly refreshes itself and remains a constant unless disturbed in some way. It also means that we and all matter of the universe are literally connected to the furthest reaches of the cosmos through the Zero Point Field waves of the grandest dimensions” (p. 25).
“If all subatomic matter in the world is interacting constantly with this ambient ground-state energy field, the subatomic waves of The Field are constantly imprinting a record of the shape of everything” (p. 26).
You mean the universe remembers everything that has been and that atom at the tip of my eyelash still writes to his cousins at the edge of the Milky Way?
I was exploring precisely this sense of interconnection and material memory when I wrote the poem “Questions on the Life of Atoms”. In it, I play with the concept that the building blocks of matter are continuously recycled throughout the universe–a sort of reincarnation, if you will, at the atomic level. Then I take it a step further, suggesting that those atomic particles might maintain some “memory” of those objects which they have temporarily helped manifest.
Questions on the Life of Atoms
by Ben Koch
I wonder, for instance, if there exists a rigid caste
system between them, so that maybe comprising the edge
of a diamond has more prestige than say, holding
together a growth on the ass of a sewer rat.
And is there a doctrine of rebirth among them
that lessens the stress of constant decay, of losing grip
so that if I were somehow able to hold one between my fingers
and explain, in the voice of Buddha, how there is no death, only
constant recycling throughout the universe, would it doubt me?
This understood, that the atoms never actually disappear
when an object, like say, my childhood blankie, is torn
or frayed in the dryer, or singed at the dangerous border
of the fireplace, or just slowly dissipated, evaporated
from existence by the heat of adolescence and buried
by the avalanche of adulthood–that the old crew
that comprised that magical talisman, protector
from night frights and storms, whip against
annoying brother, cooler of fevers, that it
could be called back together. Those atoms
are somewhere, after all. Could I corral them,
temporarily (would their new objects really miss
a single atom?) for what we might call
an “object reunion,” they get the chance
to show off their new molecules, see how
everyone’s evolved, I’d get to hold it all together
Where would I find them crawling the thresholds
of space-time, I mean are they even
on the planet anymore? In a sense imagining
their life-after-life float across the atmospheres
and into space, putting gazillions of miles
between them, stretching the echo
of their original hug, is a comfort; to feel
its cool fabric caressing the cheek
of the universe, erasing its demons.
McTaggart, Lynne. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe (2008). Harper: New York.
Lynne McTaggart is also the author of The Intention Experiment.