Artist’s Day Off

Let’s stop kidding ourselves.

The facts are in. No matter what we believe, during the last 120 years, we learned that time is a personalized conception, space also a convenient creation and that everything in the universe rests on a supercharged bed of possibility. We ignore the truth, maybe, because it’s too weird to manage, completely out of range from what we’ve been taught.

Blame Einstein

It’s Albert Einstein’s fault. Initially, anyway. Without his genius, we might’ve missed it, carrying on just fine, comforted by our illusions, maybe for centuries, even forever.

Einstein proved that time is relative, that is, different for everyone, a useful invention that helps us build sequential stories that aren’t all wadded up in one extremely congested place. The resulting reality is itself a fiction, but at least we get to share it.

Before Einstein’s mind-bending equations proved that time and its life partner, space, were individually sculpted by us, Max Planck set the table, demonstrating that the world we see, touch and feel relies on a foundation of quirky fundamental particles he called quanta.

Not as well-known today as other quantum pioneers, probably because he stayed in Germany under Nazi rule while his Jewish colleagues fled West, Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918, before the allies gummed up European politics, setting the stage for Hitler and, less significantly, Planck’s diminution.

Einstein got more ink, but Planck’s idea opened doors to the mystifying world of quantum theory, the science of tiny particles, some so small they pass through the earth by the billions every day without changing course.

To be frank, countless tests of quantum theory confirm that virtually everything we thought was true at the turn of the Twentieth Century was only nonsense, apparently true at a superficial level.

It was useful, and we got used to It as we all chugged down the road together. This did not make it any less tommyrot.

Quantum theory shows us that billions upon billions of fundamental particles making up galaxies, planets, palm trees and your fingernails are so bizarre that they’re not material at all. They’re bundles of energy that snap into form when “observed,” a hopelessly neutral term that disguises the fact that we make it all up out of sensations hurtling in huge volumes at breakneck speed inside our craniums.

With external guidance, of course. Everything’s connected in an ocean of energy and information. You can use any of fifty ways to leave your lover, but you won’t really.

There’s no objective reality out there, just a sea of potential until we make something of it, which we never cease doing, even when asleep. You’d call it an obsession, except this one’s essential, and you vanish if you manage to break the habit.

Even those who accept all that quantum theory’s taught us to be true know it’s next to impossible to routinely validate in daily life, but there’s more — or worse, depending on your point of view.

In 1964, John Stewart Bell introduced an eponymous theorem, variously extrapolated as “nonlocality” and “quantum entanglement.”

Bell’s Theorem, in short, tells us that it’s not just time about which we’re kidding ourselves. It’s space too. Like, there isn’t any. Of either.

So, what do we really have?

The answer is: you know, but what are you going to do about it?

How will you be the artist who creates a world?

David Stone is a New York City based writer whose books include The Witch Next Door, a memoir, and What If You Died, Right Now, And Went To…


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