A kind reader has inquired about my domain name, in reference to the blog being entitled First Circle. I realize I haven’t defined all ‘terms’ here in hell yet, part of that is method and intentional (the road to find out that ever winding journey nearing a destination but never arriving you might say, Tantalus pilgrims in Phrygian caps caught betwixt an internal rebellion against the anti-intellectual tyrannical forces at work in our lives and those three D’s: duty, dedication, and determination committing us to a greater ethical good, stronger than the bonds of social contract theory and the dictates of local morality). But in reference to the domain name, a simple oversight on my part.
Inexhaustible superflux is a term I ran across in a world history of religion course I took my freshman year at university. A slim survey book The Religions of Man by Huston Smith was required reading for the course, and within the pages, the author quoted a poem by Robert Penn Warren:
Oh, it is real. It is the only real thing.
Pain. So let us name the truth, like men.
We are born to joy that joy may become pain.
We are born to hope that hope may become pain.
We are born to love that love may become pain.
We are born to pain that pain may become more
Pain, and from that inexhaustible superflux
We may give others pain as our prime definition.
This struck me on first reading, as most profound. Not just in terms of Buddhist philosophy, but the nature of existence in general, and even upon reflection, universal.
But a curious thing happened, I soon realized my understanding of the poem which was taken from a Buddhist mindset, was interpreted by others through a stoic or worse, a sadist vantage point, and as such was quickly rejected, as if they were unable to process the ideas through their own personal western philosophy container. This disturbed me greatly because even when one explained that this poem was about stripping the human experience down to attachment and loss, from a cycle repeating continuously through life from birth to death, there was an unwillingness to accept such an interpretation among my peers. To them, pain was malevolent, Satanic (Judeo-Christian conception of Satan as the tester of mankind, i.e. Job), something to be avoided as much as possible, and not inherent in the original human condition, but just punishment added to mankind after Eden.
But for the agnostic me, it made sense. Birth itself is a separation from a state of oneness, and we ‘lose’ something in the process that causes ‘pain’. And this cycle is repeated in the possession of things, including positive emotions, and people and relationships, throughout life, bringing more pain as you are separated from them. Losing joy first as age sets in and experience makes novelty and wonder wane. Hope next, as entropy colors everything with the grey wastes of decay. Love finally, as those closest to you are taken away. Cumulating with you, yourself, causing others pain in your passing, the prime definition of yourself in other’s minds coming from leaving this world, the eternal separation giving final definition, as it were, of your life, a closed out log book bringing finality to deed and time.
This wasn’t to say I agreed with the conclusions reached in Buddhist philosophy in light of these observations, much like Das Kapital and Marx, I can validate observations without agreeing to purposed solutions. But the observations themselves resonated within me and I imprinted on them, and eventually incorporated them into my virtuous pagan motif and First Circle concept/conceit, my own personal interpretation of religion and mythology. I like to think of it in light of those Norse/Germanic Odin underpinnings akin to Jung’s Wotan essay but not as severe, as a hybrid of stoicism and epicureanism. A revolving bipolar orbit that makes one at times a stoic epicurean and at other times an epicurean stoic, much dependent on the eye of the beholder, i.e. observation, and perhaps as whether one is guest or host. The feast and famine of the creative, artistic mind at work.
The First Circle Pub itself a placeholder idea for a concept of a mental space that occupies not just hell, but Valhalla and those like places beyond. A nexus of thought that embraces a place for those who sought to live virtuous lives in deed and thought on their own terms, self-validated in an ethical understanding of revealed truth from wisdom gleamed from the universe itself. Not just the blind acceptance of a dogmatic reality created by those soulless minions of orthodoxy on the behalf of a tyrannical authority. Authorities I might add that seek to claim dominion on you not only in this life, but in the afterlife as well. Subject slaves indeed. That is a most distressing thought for this absent minded philosopher, and one of those seeds of personal rebellion at work in my heart. Now that’s some mighty fine hubris if I do say so myself as I pour another round for my gathered absent minded brothers on the road to find out.
But I realize the inexhaustible superflux question remains undefined to some extent. Even more than Warren’s musings on pain and suffering from the Buddhist perspective, that term inexhaustible superflux poked me like a golden needle in the backside when I encountered it. Platonic golden realms aside, I was already playing in a sandbox of ideas that is now becoming known as the holographic universe today. I had hit upon a recursive exercise for a research project, a sacred geometry affair of repeating triangles on a star of David approaching infinity suggesting such a design could be used for a crystal based lattice structure for binary memory storage, at the time, my mind seeing only the laser used for read and write as the limitation to such an idea. Of course I was unaware as a young college student that better minds were already playing around in a quantum playground with much more complex versions of my primitive geometric musings, but the exercise reinforced in my eyes the need to probe the microcosm for solutions to delaying the costs of entropy and entropic fragmentation of our ‘reality’ in general.
So after pondering inexhaustible superflux for a good bit that year, I had a series of dreams in which I formed this conception (and this is a personal model, not suggesting it has merit in the realm of actual physics) that due to local gravity, the time bubble we are caught in cuts us off from observing ‘events’ outside our bubble. So dark matter and energy are the sum of potentialities that lie outside our ability to observe. The infinite earths/universe theory. In this sense we are caught in a potential well so to speak. Our shared observed reality just one of an infinite we are blinded to by time and gravity. About this time I also became fascinated with information theory and black holes and singularities. Not exactly arriving at the universe is a holographic projection yet, but seeing black holes as a matter/energy memory recovery program for the physical universe. Inexhaustible superflux becoming a placeholder name for this idea of mine of a subspace nexus where black holes connect to, and reclaimed information is kept in a flux state, not matter, not energy, something else that waits to be…in essence pure potential, fundamental and alpha/omega god-like. Beyond the veil of heaven lies the secrets of creation as it were.
As my recreational reading of quantum mechanics continued through the years, I realized I was vainly attempting to anthropomorphize concepts my limited intellectual capacity could not grasp mathematically and rationally. I needed a story in essence to inform me about these exciting new words like supersymmetry, entanglement, uncertain principles, and hypercubes/tesseracts, and I do like a good story, especially transcendental ones.
So you might say for my First Circle Pub to exist, I needed Warren’s inexhaustible superflux prodding me along that road to find out. It is the nexus from which my reality is projected from. A long winded answer, I know, to a simple question! I do like to ramble.