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Monday, May 26, 2014

Causality And Sorcerers


"Why, where be oi and what be oi a-doin'?" --Gilbert&Sullivan

A young man is obsessed with idea of love transcending all  social barriers, creating equality. He contracts a sorcerer to brew a love potion.  The whole village falls into enchanted sleep, then each falls in love with the first person seen upon waking. This results in a crowd of mismatched couples. In the end, the sorcerer must sacrifice his life to break the spell and let it sink with him into the flaming red heart of  the world, where it presumably endures in diluted form. It is, of course, a Gospel metaphor. That is, W.S Gilbert wrote it [as a short story, An Elixir of Love] for the Christmas number of The Graphic magazine in 1876. When he teamed up with Sullivan, it became The Sorcerer:
     [from film, "Topsy Turvy"]


This brings us to the enigma of causality. What causes events to combine in such a way that new events are created, and from those collisions other events to radiate through time and space? We meet, make friends, fall in love, make homes together and, in turn, cause exponentially more mischief. What forces cause in combination the meanings and meetings of our lives? Here we see the the universe reacting to itself in an early photo taken by Norma and turned sideways --for special dramatic effect-- by me:
It shows the cosmic plenum cascading from a nozzle in nothing at the beginning of time. The bright shiny matter parts from dark matter and expands into protogalaxies, stars, planets, us.

Us.

Couple days ago --by which I mean our PLANET spun twice in relation to a STAR only seven LIGHT-MINUTES away!!!!!-- Norma and I were visiting friends before they left for Spain --by boarding a jet and SPEEDING through THE SKY!!!!-- discussing the events that brought us together over 40 years ago. Wendy said if she'd not met Norma in the mid-1960s, she would not have met me, nor would Norma have met me years later and married me, nor would Dan have even later met Wendy and married her. They wondered how things might have gone had causality been diverted. Someone said, "We'd be sitting around this table eating your pretzels without the slightest idea who each other was."

And deep within me, from the firey heart of earth, I heard a chorus: "Why, where be oi and what be oi a-doin'?"

27 comments:

  1. I wasn't aware of this particular bit of Gilbert-and-Sulliana... I'll have to check it out; thanks. Your cosmic plenum reminds me of Aleister Crowley's "Star-Sponge Vision," which I'll cut and paste here for good measure...

    "I was on a retirement in a cottage overlooking Lake Pasquaney in New Hampshire. I lost consciousness of everything but a universal space in which were innumerable bright points, and I realized this as a physical representation of the universe, in what I may call its essential structure. I exclaimed, "Nothingness with twinkles!" I concentrated upon this vision, with the result that the void space which had been the principal element of it diminished in importance; space appeared to be ablaze, yet the radiant points were not confused, and I thereupon completed my sentence with the exclamation, "but what twinkles!"

    The next stage of this vision led to an identification of the blazing points with the stars of the firmament, with ideas, souls, etc. I perceived also that each star was connected by a ray of light with each other star. In the world of ideas each thought possessed a necessary relation with each other thought; each such relation is of course a thought in itself; each such ray is itself a star. It is here that the logical difficulty first presents itself. The seer has a direct perception of infinite series. Logically, therefore, it would appear as if the entire space must be filled up with a homogeneous blaze of light. This however is not the case. The space is completely full and yet the monads which fill it are perfectly distinct. The ordinary reader might well exclaim that such statements exhibit symptoms of mental confusion."

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    1. 'Mental confusion' is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, being overwhelmed and disoriented would seem the hallmark of tendrils shooting out of time. At least 'at first,' no?

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    2. Ah, monads or atoms? There's a scientific and metaphysical debate that began in ancient Greece and India, and has succeeded in perpetuating itself. Good argument which I now blame on Leibniz.

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  2. Pretzels with strangers: the spindle of Lachesis in reverse. (Or not.)

    Magnificent post, G.

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    1. I believe there were several other Fates and they all had a say in it. Good thing too!

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  3. The butterfly in China causes a hurricane in the tropics. The 'what if''s....what if Cary and I had moved to Canada in 1971...personally I think it's all random, and we're just along for the ride. But it's an interesting intellectual exercise on a Tuesday morning.
    cheers,
    Mike

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    1. Norma and I considered Canada in '71 also. But then I got a job I didn't mind too much and ...well, who's afraid of a butterfly?

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  4. Dear Geo.,
    being a romantic, I love "the idea of love transcending all social barriers". That happens, all the time and at any age. If it succeeds in "creating equality" - I don't know. Depends on scale and duration. And on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rXhXLsNJL8&feature=kp
    Not for nothing they call themselves The Searchers :-)
    As to meeting soulmates: maybe there is destiny (ha) - at least I prefer it to the explanation of simple hormone-excess. Did I mention that I'm a romantic? But hopefully with brain.

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    1. The Searchers had the right idea; we're all searchers. And yes, I recognize a brainy romantic when I have the great pleasure of encountering one --like you, dear Brigitta.

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  5. Ah, it's always interesting to ponder what would have happened if we'd chosen to take the other forks in the road, and whether the choices we DID make were manifestations of free will or predestination. In one way or another, it seems as though all things are somehow interconnected, and one thing leads to another to another. Like George Gobel said, "If it weren't for electricity, we'd all be watching television by candlelight."

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    1. Thanks, Susan! I am content to conclude we have free will whether we want it or not.

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  6. Your post made me wonder what path my life might have taken 'had I not gone to Boston (from Nova Scotia) to take on Nanny duties to 3 young boys when I was 21 (seems so long ago and it was) It was 'written in the stars' as from there I met my true love and 'the rest is history'

    Great post, Geo, loved it.

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    1. Most kind Margie, now THAT'S an intriguing beginning, about which I would like to learn more. I am reminded of the 1st paragraph of "David Copperfield"!

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  7. Very nice!

    Nice table. Pass the pretzels. Now, who are you again?

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    1. Older I get, the more I ask myself that very question. But, so long as there are pretzels and the company of good minds --yours included-- I postpone pursuing it.

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  8. Hey, here I am - better late than never.
    I'm very familiar with Donizetti's "Elixer of Love" but I had no idea that Gilbert and Sullivan utilized the same theme.

    As for "what if's"....
    heck, if I never came to Texas I'd still have my sanity, my looks, and my sense of humor. And I'd feel 30 years younger.
    Too damn dry for pretzel-eating.

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    1. Very sharp memory, Jon! Donizetti's "L'elisir d'amore" predated "Sorcerer" by 30 or 40 years and its wizard --Dr. Ducamara-- ended up much richer and happier than "Wells" did in the G&S operetta.

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  9. It's a little freaky when you think of the delicacy of space, time, and causality. All the things that needed to be in place for things to happen ... good and bad things ... it's mind boggling. When I deleted my photo library a few weeks ago I remember thinking, whoops, rewind! Go back, make a different choice, set things straight. It actually felt like an option for a moment.

    I love Norma's baby photo of the universe. It was so cute back then!

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    1. A rewind button would doubtless get a lot of use. With so many variables, life is bound to have a sizable oops-factor.

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  10. I used to ponder "what ifs" Geo, but I don't these days. I have become a firm believer that where we are is where we are meant to be at the moment, and we will ultimately end up where we are meant to end up. When you really think about it, why do we ruminate about things we have no control over (like the past and the 'what ifs'). Sure, things may have been better had we taken a certain fork in the road, but they also may have been worse. Just my two cents :)

    And to answer your question that you left on my blog, yes we most certainly feel that it is wise. We are both in our 30s and we both know with absolute certainty that this is what we've been looking for our entire life :)

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    1. Indeed, Keith, love is a state of convergence that outshines old uncertainties and roads not taken. I hope you know my question was facetious --there is great wisdom in choosing happiness.

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  11. Destiny causes such magical happenings and most of the time we have no idea that we are in the midst of them.

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    1. Indeed, sometimes it's like trying to fly a kite amid dustdevils.

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  12. Make a left turn or a right turn, and history of some sort changes. So very true.

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    1. For each new future, a new history. Reality is really bendy!

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  13. Life is not so much like a box of chocolates as it is like a choose your own ending mystery novel

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    1. "Clues come from within." --Agatha Christie. Boxtop map would help though!

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