George Spencer Brown
Only Two Can Play This Game

Bantam Books 1974


Note 2
page 137

"What a man desires to know is that (i.e. the external world).
But his means of knowing is this (i.e. himself).
How can he know that!
Only by perfecting this."
Kuan Tsu.

Considering this ancient doctrine with relation to modern physics, we can note that the analyse of either view amounts to this: that the universe we see is the equivalent of a measure of the instrument we use for looking at it: in other words it is itself the consequence of the capacity of its partIcular observer: and thus we have only to change our own fundamental capacity, and this is sufficient to change, in any desirable way, the universe we actually experience.

Note 3: "In short, the world must then become quite another. It must so to speak wax or wane as a whole. The world of the happy is altogether different from the world of the unhappy."Wittgenstein.

The fact that a "normal" person can recollect little, if anything, from the first five years of his or her life, and in particular from the first three, is not irrelevant to this discussion. His or her early indoctrination or brainwashing requires, to give the illusion of necessity, permanence, and, above all, a characteristic exclusiveness to the "reality" that is to be imposed on the child as "the only sensible" interpretation of its experience, that the child shall forget that such an indoctrination ever took place. Those upon whom the indoctrination didn't properly "take", can eventually find that the content of their first five years is as readily available as that of any other five years, and can see in what ways the usual forgetting of these important years, although "normal" to our culture (it is not I think normal to every culture), is unhealthy and unnecessary, and how it in fact prevents the development of our insight and fixes our view of the outside world. Why the form of the indoctrination, once started, perpetuates itself is obvious enough: no "normal" adults, who have lost so much of their reality because of it, are able to bear the thought of any child possessing, in its understanding of the world, what would amount, if they didn't do something about it, to a huge advantage over themselves, and so they take steps, self-protectively and instinctively, and practically from the moment of its birth, to make the child into "one of us" i.e. to put a stop to what it knows that we now don't know. Moreover, the really telling part of this procedure takes place at an implicit kvel, not overtly, so that no one who doesn't know what to look for can see what is really geing on.

This is of course, a process by which the basic ground of any culture is automatically transmitted from one generation to the next, and generally there is no need to interfere with it. But when a culture somehow reaches a point in its history where its own built-in values will inevitably lead it to disaster, as is now obvious, in our case, even to people who are still operating from within the nexus of these values, it becomes necessary, for as many of us who can do so, to take the lonely road out of it as fast as we can, to see what the alternatives are. There are quite a few of us, in every level of society and from all walks of life, who are doing just this, and what we have in common is that we all feel, now, that there is no solution (other than its total self-destruction) to be found within the values of the culture itself.

When we drop out, it is not from any wish to "wash our hands" of our native culture, or to "escape" from it, as its obtuser adherents so interminably and so vociferously complain, but as a necessary, difficult, and dangerous operation to save what seems to us to be worth saving from a fate they either cannot see coming or haven't the remotest idea what to do about if they can.

Note 4: The reader who thinks I am having her on would do well to glance at some not-too-difficult summary of the development of quantum physics between the two world wars. A glance, for example, at A History of Science by W. C. Dampier (he was originally called W. C. Dampier Dampier-Wetham but dropped the Wetham and one of the Dampiers on the understandable ground, I imagine, that ie was too much. I confess I never think of him without great concern for his problem of what to do with his name. He is dead now so he won't mind this), a cursory glance, as I was saying, at p. 396 onwards, will show what I mean.

Very briefly, after thousands of years of investigation, physicists have found no "solid matter" at all. Only little "storms" of "waves," of which we can somehow perceive a few sideeffects, although we can't see them, feel them, or sense them in any way with any outward-probing sense or instrument. We don't know what they are or where they are, in short, the only "reality" they possess is the mathematical equation that predicts not what they will do, but what we might experience.

This is what led physicists like Eddington and Jeans to say that the universe is made entirely of mathematIcs. But the elements of mathematics, although we know they exist, don't in fact exist in any physical form. The numerical elements, for those who are interested in such things, exist in the Fifth Order with the first time, i.e. two levels deeper than the physical. It is, I think, what is called the astral plane in magic. As we travel inwards, it is the last of the material existences. Its structure is transparent and crystalline. In the middle ages it was projected out and called the crystalline heaven, although it is not technically speaking, an eternal region. It is where the eternal regIons are first plotted and counted for there are no numbers in eternity itself. You cannot count without time. When we proceed from here into the heavens themselves, we lose all numbers in a blinding flash as we return through the fifth veil into the outer heaven. From here on, if we are to survey what we see mathematically, we have to use Boolean elements, which are not numerical.

Eddington and Jeans thus seem in a way to be right, although the view they present is somewhat too narrow. For example we can't take the mathematics in with us into any of the eternal regions, any more than we can bring it out wth us into physical existence. We can use it only in its own place, either to formulate what we can observe of its own and other temporal structures, or to relate, from a temporal existence, what we can remember of the eternal structure. In the next note I shall hope to illustrate this.

Note 5: If you raise a number n to the power of a prime number p, and divide the result by p, there will be a remainder of n. For example

47 = 4 X 4 X 4 X 4 X 4 X 4 X 4 =16384

Dividing this by 7 leaves a remainder of 4. It doesn't matter if we make p smaller than n because the theorem doesn't say that the remainder has to be the smallest. It just says that one of the possible residues remaining after taking p from np an appropriate number of times will in fact be n. And it says it is so, not only in the cases we have actually tried, but in all of the infinity of cases we haven't tried and can't because we haven't time to try them. In other words, it: says something not merely about temporal existence, but about eternity.

Certain particulars of this theorem were known to the Chinese in 500 BC, but a more general statement of it appears in the private correspondence of Pierre de Fermat, a French lawyer, in 1640 AD, and the theorem usually bears his name.

A proof that it is true can be found in any university textbook of elementary arithmetic. You will find if you examine such a proof that it has two parts, a numerical part and a Boolean part, a calculation and an argument, and that it is the marriage of these two, the temporal form with the eternal, that bestows upon the theorem the gift of certainty.

Note 6: Old English :cunnan, whence keen, ken, know, can, and con = steer, navigate, as in conning tower.

Note 7: In celebrating these great journeys into outer space, we tend to overlook the colossal and equally heroic journeys in the opposite direction undertaken, for the occasion, by men such as Isaac Newton. Without the extremely diflicult, disciplined, and equally dangerous journeys into inner space, no journey into outer space could ever succeed.

Note 8: "Here blinded with an Eye: and there Deaf with the drumming of an Ear.

Note 9: This has long been a sore point between heaven and earth. God, by which I mean the first manifestation of the IHVH, and not the moralizing father-figure we project for the purpose of worship, has practically no understanding of good and evil, and is constantly amazed by our apparent preoccupation with "objects" of which He, as Himself, has no experience whatever.

Spencer Brown


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