Staying awake at night…

Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

What’s keeping us up at night? One of the largest longitudinal studies to date examined evening consumption of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine among an African-American cohort and objectively measured sleep outcomes in their natural environments instead of laboratory or observatory settings. The study involved 785 participants and totaled 5,164 days of concurrent actigraphy and daily sleep diaries that recorded how much alcohol, caffeine or nicotine they consumed within four hours of bedtime. Results may be good news for coffee lovers, bad news for smokers. (1)

What is keeping is us asleep should be the question. How can we close our eyes and sleep while a cosmos full of dangers, hate, death, misery, oppression? How can we sleep peacefully in a world full of evil? No matter how you look at the question – either metaphysically or literally – the only way to answer is by denying the question itself.

We do not go asleep! There are no dreams!

Unless you are ready to accept your everyday life could be a dream as well. You never close your eyes! It is actually only when you dream that you see the more vivid of visions!

Sleep. The moon is still shining.

Open your eyes. The universe is still watching.

There is no one asleep. No one is awake! Do you see? It is the world that is tired. It is the world that is afraid of us. A world that is constantly awake. Always there. Even when we don’t look. For he is afraid of what might happen when he stops looking.

Take a moment to realize the meaningless of your existence. And you will immediately find its meaning when the moon shines bright in the morning day. And right when the world is not watching, you will for the first time catch a glimpse of it…

Kronus… Hot ice… Cold fire…

The spectacular planetary nebula NGC 7009, or the Saturn Nebula, emerges from the darkness like a series of oddly-shaped bubbles, lit up in glorious pinks and blues. This colourful image was captured by the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The map – which reveals a wealth of intricate structures in the dust, including shells, a halo and a curious wave-like feature – will help astronomers understand how planetary nebulae develop their strange shapes and symmetries. (1)

Cronus gives birth to his children…

Cronus eats his children…

The circle of life and death will never stop.

From zero, One will be born.

Only to end up in nothingness.

A nothingness which breeds universes.

Living and dying.

Dying and living.

Hot ice.

Cold fire…

Transformations. Modern alchemy. Ancient secrets…

Since the Middle Ages, alchemists have sought to transmute elements, the most famous example being the long quest to turn lead into gold. Transmutation has been realized in modern times, but on a minute scale using a massive particle accelerator.

Researchers have now taken a different approach to that alchemists’ ancient goal by making one material behave like another. Theorists at Princeton University have demonstrated that any two systems can be made to look alike, even if just for the smallest fraction of a second. (work published in published Feb. 24, 2017 in the journal Physical Review Letters)

In this context, for two objects to “look” like each other, they need to reflect light in the same way. The Princeton researchers’ method involves using light to make non-permanent changes to a substance’s molecules so that they mimic the reflective properties of another substance’s molecules. In that way the researchers controlled the light that bounces off a molecule or any substance by controlling the light shone on it, which would allow them to alter how it looks. “It was a big shock for us that such a general statement as ‘any two objects can be made to look alike’ could be made,” said co-author Denys Bondar, an associate research scholar in the laboratory of co-author Herschel Rabitz, Princeton’s Charles Phelps Smyth ’16 *17 Professor of Chemistry. (1)

We like making things look the same, transforming them into something else. But the key is not the transformation itself, but something deeper lurking inside this seemingly new knowledge.

The light reflected whispers the unholy secret…

The transformation is useless.

All it does is to show that things are already the same.

While looking different…

A world of unity. Under a veil of uniqueness…

Many waves.

And yet one ocean.

Many snowflakes.

And yet they are all water.

Many humans.

And yet…

Listen to that whisper.

Turn your eyes away from the light.

Only then will everything be revealed…

Iced water. With no ice. Alchemy. Summer breeze…

Water can remain liquid below zero degrees Celsius. It is called supercooled water and is present in refrigerators. At even smaller temperatures, supercooled water could exist as a cocktail of two distinct liquids. Unfortunately, the presence of ice often prevents us from observing this phenomenon. (1)

Water has got super high surface tension and apparently, if it gets cold enough fast enough, it might have two different kinds of liquid form, with a phase transition (i.e. the threshold between liquid water and supercooled water) somewhere around 228 kelvin (-49° F). But, for now, that’s just a theory. The problem is that it is tough to get enough of this supercooled liquid water together to examine it with any precision. In fact, scientists refer to liquid water below 232 K (-42° F) as a “no-man’s land,” because it’s so hard to get there. (2)

Now physicists had the idea of replicating the tetrahedral shape of water molecules using DNA as a scaffold to create tetrahedral molecules and thus removing the interference of ice formation. The researchers confirmed previously published ideas suggesting that it is the structure of the monomers and their network which makes it theoretically possible to have a dual liquid phase (one with high-density and one with low-density liquid) if the resulting lattice is sufficiently empty to allow for partial interpenetration of molecules and sufficiently flexible to avoid crystallization into ice. (3)

Given the right conditions everything can exceed its current limitations.

However, it can never be “something else”.

Supercooled water is still… water. No matter the state it is in.

Can we change water?

Can we make water something else?

Drink the water.

Transform it into a man.

Can we change the cosmos?

Pure water in it.

Make life.

Make a man.

Talking non-sense in the summer breeze.

Super cooled. Super warm inside…

The secret of the Dark Flower

The book entitled “The secret of the Golden Flower” is an oriental alchemistic work which gained much reputation after Carl Jung commented on it and interpreted its content through his deep knowledge of the occult, alchemy and psychology. The book is essentially a guide to meditation and it is written in very simple language – or so we are meant to believe. Because after all everything must be simple for the “simple people” to understand, right?

The Secret of the Golden Flower was first translated into German by sinologist Richard Wilhelm, a friend of Carl Jung, who had been introduced to the work by his Chinese teacher. The work was later translated from German to English by Cary F. Baynes. In 1991, the text was translated afresh from the Chinese original by Thomas Cleary, a scholar of Eastern studies, who criticized the validity of Wilhelm’s translation, characterizing it as incomplete and inaccurate. [source]

In Cleary’s words…

Because the still-current Wilhelm/Jung/Baynes edition of this manual contains dangerous and misleading contaminations, a primary consideration was to make the contents of The Secret of the Golden Flower explicitly accessible to both lay and specialist audiences.

Cleary gives some examples of the way that the text was commonly misinterpreted by Wilhelm and Jung, and describes such an instance in the very beginning of the text:

In the first section of this text, for example, Wilhelm translates zhixu zhiling zhi shen, which means a spirit (i.e. mind) that is completely open and completely effective, as “God of Utmost Emptiness and Life.” Based on this sort of translation, Jung thought that the Chinese had no idea that they were discussing psychological phenomena. He then tried to repsychologize the terminology, but since he did not quite understand it to begin with he could not but wind up with a distortion in the end.

But is the Wilhelm translation really so bad?

Let’s see Cleary’s translation of the above-mentioned passage…

The above section is much lengthier in the respective Richard Wilhelm translation…

Is the first more “clear(y)” translation better than the latter? Can we ignore the theo-logical dimensions of the thoughts in this text and just refer to an «open spirit» in the same way we refer to an open door or an open house? Is the spirit in Cleary’s translation something different than the “god of utmost emptiness” of Wilhelm?

What is that “spirit” that Cleary mentions anyway, in the context of his own text which is full with words like “heavens”, “marvels” and “celestial immortals”? In that context it does not seem so wrong to call it “god” instead of “spirit” – the other way around would be actually a good criticism to Cleary himself. Why would we go into referring at all these “godly”-like entities and then criticize someone for using a “godly” word to describe the word “god” at the end? And it is also worth noting that the “god” in Wilhelm’s translation is almost obviously not a “god” in a Christian-like context but indeed more of a spirit with divine attributes. And of course one has to add the personalities and the personal history of the two translators to the picture. Wilhelm was a renowned sinologist who lived 25 years in China and had the honour of actually revieving one of the first published copies of the book – which were handed over only to people who the editor showed fit to understand the questions posed in the text. On the other hand, Cleary was a scholar and a translator. A good one per se, but without any credentials to actually prove that he had any specific knowledge related to the mental paths shadowy described in “The secret of the Golden Flower”. (studying Buddhism while at your office in Oakland does not provide such a credential)

So why is Cleary so agitated about the translation of Wilhelm? I would only speculate at the reasons – from purely shallow ones to others which may be related to deeper dogmas pertaining his thought. But I will not. Since I too have not the knowledge to read the prototype, it would be unwise to suggest that one translation is better than the other. And what is more, I simply do not want to go into that path. The meaning I am trying to convey is not to conclude which translation is better but to make a statement for texts and their translations in general. And this statement is that the text and the translation play a significant role – but at the end it is something else which “decides” whether the text is worth reading. Because in any case a text is worth something only to the extent it generates thrill and esoteric turbulence to it’s reader. And this depends not only on the text (and it’s translation) but also on the reader himself and his beliefs and philosophical viewpoint.

Read both texts.

See your soul filling in with lust.

Is it lust for more?
Perhaps you need to change translator.

Or is it lust for less?
Perhaps then you have found what you searched for.

Finding the Golden Flower is hard.
But when you do, you will know.
And then the translation will not matter at all…

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