November 16, 2003

Baroque Quantum Mechanics

Posted by shonk at 02:24 AM in Words of Wisdom | TrackBack
If with the eye of Argus I could penetrate the polygons of this coral and the filaments that spread inside it, and inside each filament that which makes up the filament, I could go seeking the atom unto infinity. But an atom divisible to infinity, producing parts ever smaller and every more divisible, would lead me to a moment where matter would be nothing but infinite divisibility, and all its hardness and its fullness would be sustained by this simple balancing among voids. Matter, rather than feeling a horror of the Void, would then worship it, and would be composed of it, would be void-in-itself, absolute vacuity. Absolute vacuity would be at the very heart of the unthinkable geometrical point, and this point would be only the island of Utopia we dream of, in an ocean made always and only of water.

Hypothesizing a material extension made of atoms, then, we arrive at having no atoms. What remains? Vortices. Except that the vortices would not pull the suns and planets, true matter that feels the influence of their wind, because the suns and planets would themselves be vortices, drawing minor vortices into their spiral. Then the maximum vortex, which makes the galaxies spin, would have in its center other vortices, and these would be vortices of vortices, whirlpools made of other whirlpools, and the abyss of the great whirlpool of whirlpools would sink into the infinite, supported by Nothingness.

And we, inhabitants of the great coral of the Cosmos, believe the atom (which still we cannot see) to be full matter, whereas it too, like everything else, is but an embroidery of voids in the Void, and we give the name of being, dense and even eternal, to that dance of inconsistencies, that infinite extension that is identified with absolute Nothingness and that spins from its own non-being the illusion of everything.

(Umberto Eco, The Island of the Day Before, pgs. 472-3)