Universal Rumination

Another night of brief sleep, from midnight until 3:41. No dreams this time, though, that I recall. Instead, I spent many of the sleepless moments thinking about what the universe might be like if I had the wherewithal to recreate it.

The thoughts lacked detail. I did not, for example, ponder the composition of stars nor the processes whereby life forms might evolve from the combination of elements. My contemplations dealt more with concepts, like the relationships between time and thought. In the universe as we know it today, thought relies of what we already know; things we learned in the past. The concept of the universe that kept me awake is very different. Thought, in this very different universe, would absorb information from the future to create a past. Although it may sound like science fiction, this concept is rooted in neither science nor fiction. It is rooted in an entirely different framework of existence. The closest I can come to describing it is to portray it like this: information from a future that (obviously) has not yet occurred is processed to create a past that, also, has not yet occurred. Because neither has yet happened, they are independent of one another, but inextricably linked because, without each other, neither could exist.

And that is a possibility in this imaginary universe. Neither the future nor the past are necessarily givens. It is entirely possible, in this inside-out, upside-down universe, that time can both stand still and unwind, causing events to “unhappen.” That is not to say that events are erased; they simply are transformed into non-events. To understand that admittedly difficult to grasp concept, imagine a gust of wind on today’s planet Earth turning into a piece of pumice on a distant asteroid. Suddenly, there is no disturbance of molecules of air; the wind “unhappens,” replaced by evidence of a volcanic eruption. In this universe, the volcanic eruption may not have yet occurred; and it may not even occur in the same galaxy. Assuming, of course, there are galaxies. Distance, as you can tell, are just as irrelevant as time. Yet time must have relevance, in that a future is required if there is to be a past.

Emotions do not exist in this alternate universe. They cannot exist, because emotions depend on elements of time that are reversed in this new existence. Depending on one’s perspective in today’s universe, the absence of emotions could be either a terrible or a wonderful thing. Yet in this new universe, terrible and wonderful are meaningless concepts. Obviously, then, we lack the ability to comprehend existence as it might be in this new universe. Yet, here I am attempting to describe it. That is an exercise in futility. Futility, by the way, has no place in the new universe as I envision it.

Actually, the more I ponder this new universe of mine, the more I come to realize it is simply a structure within which reality plays out. It is not reality itself. Reality is what it is; it is not the framework within which it exists. But reality relies on that framework, doesn’t it? If reality had a different framework, it would be a different reality. Take, for example, kicking a football. In the framework that is today’s universe, kicking the football would send the football into the air in the same direction as the force of the foot that kicked it. But in the framework of my new universe, kicking the football would rely on events in the future (because, having kicked the football, the past would have been created); those events may be completely different from today’s universe. Kicking the football, then, could transform in this new universe into someone biting into a sandwich or a meteor striking a distant planet.

Would life exist in this new universe? I am not sure. Life introduces pain, so I am inclined to say it would not. But without life, what is the meaning (or, the purpose) of the universe? The same question may be asked today: with life, what is the meaning (or, the purpose) of the universe? I think the answer is the same. There is no purpose, per se. Purpose and meaning are artificial constructs humans use to justify their existence. But that may be too cynical. Perhaps all matter, both living and inanimate, has purpose. Even if that purpose is to take up space that otherwise would be vacant; or to interact with other matter to cause decay and regeneration; or to illustrate, by virtue of the appearance of the past, how the future will behave.

Meaning. Purpose. Even without humans, do those concepts exist? I’ve decided they will in my new universe. I just haven’t decided how they will be measured and how they will be justified in the absence of some overarching power that drives the universe to operate.

I wrote, in an as-yet-unpublished stream-of-consciousness screed, about celestial euthanasia.

Celestial euthanasia is a process that results in the death of all the stars in the universe—along with all matter associated with stars and their progeny—suddenly collapsing the universe into eternal cold emptiness.

My new universe would begin with that process. “Eternal,” though, may be taking things too far, although my new universe would be a replacement, so “eternal cold emptiness” should be fine. The concept of celestial euthanasia is useful only as a way to stage the introduction of a replacement universe. The concept is far broader than it need be; my original thought was not to euthanize the entire universe, but only the beings in it that are chiefly responsible for pain. That is, of course, human beings. I think I decided, ultimately, to just scrap the whole thing because getting rid of humans alone would leave plenty of pets and herds of cattle and horses and so forth in dire straits; wholly undeserved.

I could probably rattle on for hours about this. I’ll spare myself the indignity; I’ll stop here.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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