Why’s Next?


My metaphysical wrestling today takes place on the continuum (and I apologize to sensitive readers out there for almost having spelled it “cuntinuum”).

I was thinking today about an oft-repeated mental refrain, the wonderment I have at why my consciousness came to be in this particular time and place. Anybody could have been born to exist here and now, in this body, sitting in this chair, typing something (maybe even the identically same thing): But why me?

But I’ve taken it further recently. What is Here, and why the heck does it exist? Do not go gently into that good entropy and all that, yes, I know, that’s meaningful. But how, just how, physically, does this whole business of being next to something come about? Adjacency puzzles me, because it’s really not necessary in the way things manifest physically. There needn’t be neighborhoods, distance, near and far. Does the fact that there are such things verify that the Universe we perceive, and thus maybe consciousness itself, are not simply illusion (down to the point of nobody real being fooled by the illusion at all)?

I eat a muffin. I did not have to travel across the universe to get it. My wife baked it, and it persisted. Like Philip K. Dick’s concept of reality, this muffin stuck around whether I believed in it or not. It didn’t suddenly become a cockroach, or a skyscraper, or a colorful umbrella with a secret transmitter in its handle, or William Dozier. And what’s more germane to what I’m saying now, it stayed put. So did myriad other objects. So did dreams and memories. They’re all where I seem to remember to have left them, unless something explainable happened to move them.

But there’s the mystery. What’s so special about “right there” or “two feet away from me” or “next door” or “against my forehead”? What power makes it stay? Is it only the power of illusion, yet another trick of self-perceiving nothingness? A great many particles that seem to be next to each other are gonna be pretty pissed off about having been fooled, if this is the case.

I don’t mind if Dawkins and Dennett and Maher and Pullman and others argue there’s no God. We unjust zealots who have a lineage of killing in His name deserve to have to fight this battle this late in the Age of Man. But when they argue there’s really no Me, I contend that they’re also arguing there’s really no Next To. And I can’t make that sum work out. At some level, something is happening, and there’s some sense that it’s happening Somewhere. And that means there can be Heres and Theres. And there goes total deconstruction, in my view.

One response to “Why’s Next?”

  1. This almost gets into the metaphysical territory of quantum theory – the idea that, in some sense, observation of a phenomenon changes it in some fashion; that it is one way and becomes another due to your presence, not your direct interaction with it.

    Now this is a gross simplication, I’ll admit, but I’ll also admit that some of the higher precepts of modern science seem to support, rather than refute, spirituality or, if you’re not into that sort of thing, metaphysicality. Saying that to scientists gets them to cough and shuffle their feet a lot, in the same way that theologians do when you start discussing that rock that God can’t lift. Both arguments are rather specious, but there’s enough of a kernel of substance to make everyone just a leeetle bit uncomfortable.

    I hope you and yours had the best of holidays.

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