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Monday, January 16, 2017

Music of the Mind

I recently finished the most provocative book I've read in years, Music of the Mind by Darryl Reanney. The scope is wide with the major points following in logical sequence, and any attempts by me to summarize them wouldn't do them justice. Instead, I'll describe some of the thoughts which particularly resonated with me. (The author would find my use of the word "resonated" as notable.)

Previously (12/6/13, and 10/22/14), I have written of my discomfort with the split I often note between the sciences and the humanities, and beginning with the introduction Music of the Mind holds that this divide is both unnecessary and damaging, that science and the humanities are not just consistent but are interrelated. Throughout the book quotations and foot-noted references appear from literary and religious as well as scientific writings.

Music and especially rhythm has always been of interest to me, and in recent years I have learned and written about the importance of rhythm in the universe in everything from the heart beats of humans and other animals to the orbits of planets. (11/9/13 and 8/26/14) Reanney writes on page 90, "Music is the most alchemic force of all, for the resonances it sets up can vibrate in tune with the inner logic of the universe. This is because the universe is rhythmic at root..."

The beginnings of this universe of ours are described in the early pages of Music of the Mind as the author explains the interconnection of all of us to everything else over the past 15 billion years since the Big Bang. He observes that the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen of our bodies owe their creation to this 15 billion year old event so that "we are the children of the stars." Astronaut Edgar Mitchell who died a year ago has spoken of this realization while in space:
In a story he retold through the years, Mitchell described a moment during the return trip to Earth, as he gazed out the window of the spacecraft and saw the sun, moon, Earth and stars.
“Suddenly I realized that the molecules of my body and the molecules of the spacecraft and the molecules in the body of my partners were prototyped and manufactured in some ancient generation of stars,” he said in an interview for “In the Shadow of the Moon,” a 2007 documentary.
“And that was an overwhelming sense of oneness, of connectedness. It wasn’t them and us, it was, ‘That’s me. That’s all of it. It’s one thing.’ And it was accompanied by an ecstasy, a sense of -- ‘Oh my god, wow, yes’ -- an insight, an epiphany.”
Mystics from different religions and people with near death experiences often speak of this "oneness" in similar words as astronaut Mitchell. Reanney doesn't use the word pantheism, that God resides in everything, but that concept could be an interpretation. The author doesn't enter the realm of religion directly, and his references to God are few and often are quotes by others. Instead, he states that all atoms in the universe contain a "memory" that they were all together in the brightness preceding the Big Bang and desire to be reunited; that this desire is what we call gravity.
Music of the Mind's explanation of human consciousness and thoughts are complex, and although the author develops these explanations patiently, as I mentioned earlier, I would not attempt to summarize them here. This section of the book did, however, provide me with some insight as to why human communication is so difficult, a subject that I often pondered during my working years. Once I was one of the principle managers of a business and reported to the owner. Two or more times a week he would call me into his office to discuss general concepts he wanted me to put into practice in my organization. These concepts often sounded simple and obvious which would cause me to wonder why we were going over the same ground on multiple meetings. Then suddenly through a change in phrasing, or more likely an experience, I would finally grasp the full meaning of what he had been attempting to make me understand.
Darryl Reanney would describe this breakthrough as "knowing", a collapse of " the wave function of the relevant quantum ripple yielding a 'sharp-edged thing'-a word or a particle." No, I'm not going to try to explain what I just wrote even though I could follow it as I read along through Music of the Mind. As I read I often argued with specific points or phrasing and, although I doubt the author is right about everything he says, I found it stimulating reading. It will stay with me for a long time.

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