Monday, September 26, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Part Five

This is Part Four in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, and Part Four can be found here.

At this point, we start to diverge into more speculative territory than the last few posts. These are the sorts of speculations that most "quantum paranormal" models are built on, but they rarely are acknowledged as such. They may wind up as part of quantum physics at some point in the future, once we develop instruments that can measure quantum information more directly. On the other hand, the uncertainty principle might conceivably make such devices impossible to build.

We left off last time talking about meta-awareness. The concept itself is not particularly controversial in psychology; while it is difficult to measure directly, there is substantial evidence for the development of this sort of cognition in the works of psychologists such as Jean Piaget, and the concept has proved useful in education theory and a number of other areas. Ken Wilber has proposed a model in which Piaget's general idea can be extended beyond normal mundane consciousness to include mystical states.

Wilber's model is too complex to recount here, but the basic idea is that each developmental step consists of a level of meta-awareness that includes all the levels that preceded it. Piaget's model ends with Formal Operational, which is a level of meta-awareness that includes Concrete Operational, and likewise, Concrete Operational is a level of meta-awareness that includes Pre-Operational. Wilber proposes that mystical consciousness is essentially a series of levels of meta-awareness that include and transcend Formal Operational.

As I also mentioned last time, this idea is not at all foreign to the various mystical traditions. Buddhism speaks of levels of enlightenment, in Christianity you find the ideas of metanoia and gnosis, and so forth. These are merely examples. Every contemplative tradition has some version of this concept - a sort of meta-awareness that transcends mundane consciousness and opens our consciousness up to a greater and more expansive world than the one we experience through our physical senses.

So if we take into account this idea along with the Penrose-Hameroff model of quantum consciousness, it suggests that the easiest way to understand this is to treat this meta-awareness as field of quantum information with particular properties, and most importantly, a structure. One of the big speculations at this point is the degree to which quantum information can be arranged into higher-order structures. There is currently little evidence that this is possible, but as quantum information is difficult to measure, it's hard to say one way or the other.

Entanglement among groups of particles is the closest scientists have gotten to establishing higher-order quantum structures, and even then, the results depend on interpretation. Last I checked, the largest group of verifiable entangled particles was a little over two hundred. Much larger groupings are necessary for my model to explain magical operations, but those experiments do establish that it is possible to link groups of particles in this fashion.

Remember when I talked about how DeBroglie-Bohm is easier to understand than Copenhagen? I'm going to start discussing quantum phenomena in those terms from this point forward. Remember that Copenhagen makes all the same predictions and might turn out to be a more accurate ontological interpretation in terms of how the physical world works, even if the particle-pilot wave dichotomy makes more intuitive sense. I think this is mostly because it aligns better with our idea of spirit as distinct from matter, even though the distinction is mostly illusory.

The idea is that consciousness itself is made up primarily of quantum information, particularly higher-order quantum information structures. The caveat is that such structures might not be viable, or they might be viable but not at the level of complexity required by the human internal landscape. Because we can't measure them at the current time, we don't know if they exist or not. But the human experience of magick suggests that they do, or that something like them does.

So as a rough working model, you can think of consciousness as a primarily pilot-wave-based structure, and the molecules that make up the brain a primarily particle-based structure. This (possible artificial) duality allows us to map quantum principles onto some particularly interesting and ancient esoteric ideas, with the interaction of the two producing what we experience as ourselves - while remembering that under Copenhagen, these two components are "really" the same thing.

The great Greek philosophers spoke of the dichotomy of Matter and Form. In "entangled universe" cosmology, phenomenological reality is produced by the interaction of "space-time foam" and "quantum information," which fit perfectly with the ancient Greek definition. The position and momentum of space-time foam (Matter) tells quantum information (Form) how to shift, and quantum information (Form) tells that same space-time foam (Matter) how to move. All of this happens on a moment-by-moment basis, in a reciprocal relationship.

Orthodox material science has focused almost exclusively on the Matter side of the equation, for a simple practical reason - it is far easier to measure. Skeptic claims that the only phenomena that exist are those that are measurable according to the scientific method don't hold much water for me. Black holes existed before Einstein, for example, and science by definition is always to some degree incomplete. Just because it is the best model for investigating phenomena that we have, treating it as exclusionary is pretty much wrong by definition.

So magick, then, focuses on the Form side - the quantum information itself. We actually have a wonderful measuring instrument for this called the human mind, but unfortunately by its very nature it is difficult to objectively quantify. So until new technologies develop, we have to work at this on our own. Cognitive psychology survived many of the same issues by designing clever experiments that highlighted some of the inner workings of the psyche, but that involved massive statistical analysis of large samples. Even then, many findings are not strongly replicable even today, and we are not sure why.

As I see it this is the "best case" for magick at present. But it required abandoning many of the traditional notions within esotericism. In particular, secrecy regarding the technology of magick (Note: not Mystery Tradition rituals like initiations - those are different because of how they work) must be largely abandoned if we are to move forward. Techniques should be tested, findings published, and results subjected to peer review. If we keep all of our methods to ourselves, how can we ever turn magick into a progressive science that evolves and changes and makes new discoveries?

But back to the model. In DeBroglie-Bohm terms, a group of entangled particles all share the same pilot wave, as would a higher-order quantum information structure like that which I am here associating with consciousness. So if you have access to even one of those particles, you can in theory affect it via the conjoined pilot wave and propagate those effects to the rest of the group. Any magician will recognize what I have just described. This is a Contagion Link, the idea that material that was once in close contact with your magical target can be used to influence that target.

The other kind of link is a Similarity Link, and it is less explicable along basic quantum theory lines. One scientist who has developed a possible model for it, though, is British biologist Rupert Sheldrake. He calls his model morphic resonance, and the idea is that nature on some level is made up of structures that connect with others that share similarities. This implies that over time, some aspects of the natural world behave like "habits." That is, when two outcomes are of equivalent energy states, the one that most commonly occurred in the past becomes more likely.

Sheldrake has performed a number of experiments considered "weird" by other scientists that seem to show this effect could be real. It should be pointed out that original Sheldrake model published in 1981 ascribed some effects to morphic resonance that we now understand better, such as epigenetics. Sheldrake addresses some of those criticisms in the latest revision of the model, published in his 2009 book, Morphic Resonance: The Nature of Formative Causation.

The biggest hurdle for Sheldrake's model is that, like my model of magick, it basically relies on the existence of higher-order quantum information structures, a hard sell to many physicists. The reality is until the existence of such structures can be demonstrated, both my model and Sheldrake's must remain speculative. But it does seem that many magical processes fit well with the morphic resonance model, particularly Similarity Links.

Magicians know that it is possible to influence an external target using an image like a photograph, or even a strong visualization. Since there is no physical connection between the magician and the target, the link must work in some other way. Employing morphic resonance, we arrive at something like this.
  1. The magician forms, within his or her consciousness, an image of the target. Note that this basically happens automatically when looking at an image because of how the brain processes sensory information.
  2. Morphic resonance aligns this image with the form of the target.
  3. Magician applies the desired change to the internal image.
  4. This change then propagates to the target.
To be fair, the logic there does come out circular when stated like that, because it essentially states that morphic resonance works because it works. It requires a mechanism that can be applied as definitively as entanglement can to Contagion Links. It should be relatively obvious that morphic resonance falls on the Form or quantum information side of reality, just as magick and similar processes do, making it difficult to measure, and therefore it will not be validated by formal science until such measurements become possible.

Nonetheless, I am convinced that both processes, or something similar to them, have a significant role in how practical magick works. As I keep saying, the data to prove it definitively and objectively does not currently exist, but I expect that at some point in the future it probably will. They do line up with the experimentation that I have been able to do involving practical magick, and provide a little more insight into why things work the way they do.

Essentially, structured quantum information makes all sorts of things possible that magicians have been claiming for centuries, and on that alone, I think the idea is worth exploring. Next time around, I'll be talking about how mystical consciousness, illumination, and spirits all naturally follow from this concept, and discuss more of my (admittedly speculative) ideas of how all these pieces go together to produce various magical and mystical effects.

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