On the walk from my office to the train a week ago last Monday, I reflected on the fact that I had all day been curiously alive to moments from my past. In part this was due to the fact that it was my birthday, and people from every era of my life were reaching out to wish my happiness. But other factors were at work, too. I ran into a blog post that linked to a recording of Allegri’s Miserere Mei – one of the most sublime works ever written – and vividly remembered singing it as a boy, and so enacting Heaven. A story I had told my little granddaughter the day before, about the time when I was only four, and went camping with my Dad, and woke up unable to find my way out of the mummy sleeping bag, so that I tried to stand up and get his help, in the process falling down the steps out of the open forest shelter (and almost into the fire he had started), made me chuckle again. So did the memory of her reaction: “Silly Poppy!” I began to remember lots and lots of things from long and not so long ago – some of them tagged (oops!) for later use in the confessional – and suddenly as I walked the moments all crowded in upon me at once. Not in a chaos or a hurry, but as it were quietly, softly.
It was no stampede. Rather, it was a stately pavane.
Suddenly I staggered, thunderstruck by a completely unexpected notion: what if those moments *really were* immediately present to this one? What if I could feel that moment of suffocated terror in the mummy bag as if it were still happening? Clearly, I could: all that I had to do, in order to make that happen, was simply attend to it carefully enough, and without distraction. It might take a few moments of concentration, but if I wanted to I could, I knew, bring back any moment I wanted with as much clarity and intensity as I wished.
Then – this was the strike of the thunder – I thought: “That’s what dreams are like; and it is the way things really are; for, in Eternity, and to Eternity, everything (whether actual or not) is all at once together.”
I wrote my father about the experience that evening (for he had written me to say that, on my birthday, he too had found his mind crowded with vivid memories of my infancy, childhood, youth, manhood):
I pondered the transition from dreaming to waking, and reflected that in dreaming, all times are somehow present, or perhaps rather are immediately adjacent to the dreaming now, so that from that now one can transit to any other moment whatever without any sense of passage, or therefore of violence to the causal nexus.
It seemed to me suddenly, in something rather like a figure-ground reversal, that the dreaming state was the more real of the two; that dreaming is closer to the perfect simultaneity of Eternity, to the way things most truly are, and that waking up is rather like the Fall into comparative unreality.
I conjecture that this is why we call the dreaming state surreal, rather than subreal.
If dreaming is surreal, what is subreal? Insane hallucinations, I suppose, in which nothing is rightly conjoined, so that every transition from moment to moment is an occasion of radical causal violence and existential terror. Nightmare, in other words.
What follows now is a record of the thoughts that then rushed in upon me, a vast slow wave, as I went down into the earth to catch my train home; and nowise much ordered:
- The dream world is the Platonic Realm, what Julian Barbour calls Platonia. It is the set of all possible combinations of the various values of the Platonic forms. Each such combination is a node in its net. Some nodes – this moment I am now enacting – are, or become, actual. Most do not. Incoherent combinations, that cannot possibly be found together (e.g., square circle), are not present in Platonia. Incompossibilities are simply impossible. They do not exist in any way at all. When we refer to them, we don’t refer. Of such is the matter of nightmare. It terrifies because it dissolves being.
- Platonia is the domain of possibilities. Borges called it the Library of the Possible.
- We think of Platonia as a dimensional volume, a space. But that is due only to the fact that we think from within it, and so see the “distance” between different formal possibilities. This distance is just a measure of the difference between different combinations of the forms. This geometrical perspective is not false, but rather relative. Really in itself Platonia is dimensionless; for, all dimensions are as between Platonian nodes, and there is nothing other than Platonia in respect to which Platonia itself could stand in some sort of relation. There is no environment of Platonia; no space in which it could be said to have a spatial volume. Rather, all dimensions are within it, as between its loci in their relations to each other.
- Likewise: the whole cosmos is still, always, a dimensionless singularity. Its expanse is all internal.
- The system of all dimensions is not itself dimensional. So all its points are coterminous; indeed, the whole of Platonia is but one point. E.g.: all the numbers are “in” the point of infinity. And this is why the nodes of Platonia are all accessible to each other, immediately; they all as it were overlap.
- Put another way, each atom is a system of all things (Whitehead); or, the whole of Platonia is logically implicit in each of its nodes (that I am me is that I am not someone else, so that every other else is implicit in me, as not me; definiteness then is exhaustively comprehensive implicity). Thus all the nodes are contained in each of them; not as located inside each other, but as innermostly present to each other, in and by their very definitions. This, in exactly the way – in the *very same way* – that God is innermostly, immediately present to each thing: not as itself, but as the infinitely Other in virtue of which, and in respect to which, all selves have their particular characters.
- Platonia is the system of all moments of all worlds, and thus of their histories. It is not then in itself a world. The multiverse, then – which is a region of Platonia – is not itself a world, or a system of worlds.
- Of worldlines branching off from our own, only our own is actual. The others are, not nonexistent, but rather virtual only (for, were they actual, the quantum collapse simply would not happen, and there would be no such things as actual events of a definite character). As merely virtual, they are inactual; yet nevertheless they have the virtue of influencing actualities. This is what we mean – it is the only thing we can mean – by saying that they have virtual existence.
- Ideas that are not yet anywhere actual, but that are now becoming actual, or are about to become actual, or that could become actual – such as the idea of my going to bed this evening – nevertheless manage to find ingress into actual worlds, to become actual. This is only to say that they manage to influence what actually happens, even though they are not yet themselves actual. This is what we mean when we say that they influence actual creatures virtually.
- This is how the multifaried Roland, of whom there are many virtual faeries, most of which are nowhere actualized in any way, can yet influence actualities like me. The real Roland and the Roland of the chanson and the Roland of Orlando Furioso all cooked out of the far more multifaried virtual Roland of Platonia.
- This is how my guardian angel, whom I have not yet fully actualized (God forgive me) can influence me. But he is of course actual.
- Demons, likewise.
- Or likewise any influences of any events – actual or virtual – upon any others. The influence of the actual D-Day on the me of five minutes hence is not yet actual. It is still only virtual.
- All actual causation then runs through virtuality. Actuality is a subdomain of virtuality.
- So Gandalf, even if he is nowhere actual, is nonetheless virtually quite influential. He may not be anywhere an actuality, but he is everywhere a virtuality. So then also for Narnia.
- Has Ogier the Dane lived in my imagination? Has he influenced me? Yes. Insofarforth, then, is he somewise actualized in me.
- Our taproot in Eden leads down from it to Platonia; Valhalla likewise.
- That’s the key, then: the distinction between actuality and virtuality. Forms not actualized are yet virtual (they must be virtual first in order to become actual; all forms are virtual; some virtual forms are also actual).
- The various heavens and hells are actual causal orders that cook out of Platonia. Not that they ever leave it. There is no place outside it. This moment now is in it.
- It is in this sense that Meinong’s Jungle is a true description of reality; with the actual world a little domesticated clearing therein. All the myths and legends and histories meet up together sonorously and agreeably, without a jot of conflict or confusion (could we but see it, properly) in Platonia, wherein each is recognizably an echo or implication of all the others.
- Ordinary routine physical transactions, of the sort we call normal, are a restricted sort of synchronicity, and not vice versa. It is synchronicity that is basic. Physical reality cooks out of the synchronous – the synspacious, the synlocous, the synoptic, the Eternal.
- This is what David Bohm was getting at with his notion of the Implicate Order, from which actual worldly events emerge explicitly only in virtue of their prior virtual implicity in Platonia.
- Bohm’s error was in looking for his hidden variable in physics. The hidden variable is prephysical; is supraphysical; for it is a character of the logic of Platonia, felt as its virtue, its motive allure. It is just Providence.
- There can be no physical evidence for or against Providence. That’s why they call it hidden. It is hidden in plain view. For, every actual event whatever is its artifact. No way to control for actuality, after all; all experimental results are going to be actual.
- Platonia is the End of Time – of all times – not just in Julian Barbour’s sense that the idea of Platonia is the death of thinking that time is fundamental (and certainly *not* in his unwarranted inference that, as supervenient upon Platonia, time is somehow therefore illusory (how, pray tell?)), but that (even *more* fundamentally) it is the source and end of all time, the alpha and omega.
- So, prayer, spells, incantations, gospels, wishes, curses, imprecations, condemnations: this is how they work.
- Actual events are prayers somehow answered. So physical transactions are a restricted sort of response to prayers of prior actualities.
- Wishes do really make it so; it’s just that there are lots of competing wishes, and God’s wishes trump all; so that most of our urgent urges seem to come to little, in the great scheme.
- But this is only a seeming. For, in Platonia – which is the realm of all things that are possible – nothing is overlooked. No node of Platonia is in no way at all influential in what actually happens. Every prayer is reckoned and somehow answered; every alluring possibility is felt somehow as such.
- That the answer to a prayer then is “no” does not mean that the prayer is disregarded, or causally mute, or moot. On the contrary. “No” is a recognition of importance.
Shortly after this brainstorm first overtook me (on April 24), articles began to appear all over the reactionary web – the web I follow – orbiting the same basic idea. This itself was an instance of synchronicity; of Providence; of Dreamtime. Or, perhaps, articles like that are always there, and I just noticed them for a change.
What is the difference between these two notions that makes a difference? Does the fact that we only rarely notice synchronicity mean that it is rare? Does it not rather indicate that it is common, *so that* we don’t notice it much?
The immediate adjacence of all the nodes of Platonia accommodates all possible coherent explanations of any phenomena whatever; for it subsumes all their factorial relations. It cannot then, logically, be false.
So, Dreamtime is real. It is more real than waking time. Or rather, waking time derives its reality from Dreamtime, of which it is a participation, and a part.
This raises the parlous question, the deeply terrifying question: since we can dream actively – since, i.e., we can act at all, and all our acts are implementations of Dreamtime – what do we do about this? How should we act? How can we avoid nightmare?
Better fall to our knees, pronto, and beg earnestly for mercy, and for guidance, from the All who is the Good.