I have been struggling with an idea for some time, what is this war at the heart of nature between order and chaos, is it something inherent in the process of the Universe, a necessary cause for creation, a catalyst or side effect?
I don’t want to enter into a dissection of the laws of thermodynamics, not the least because the subject largely alludes my own understanding, but I do want to point out to a certain feature, specifically, the second law, which states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium —the state of maximum entropy (yes straight of Wikipedia, that one), but what exactly, or at least what roughly does that mean (let’s not get too daring in our demands)?
In essence, what it means is that systems decay, they naturally tend to a state of disorder and if left to do so, the Universe itself would simply, gradually fall apart at the seams, being reduced to nothing more than stardust, given a sufficient period of time. In fact, this second law is thought to be what gives time an arrow or direction, but we won’t get into that right now.
This incidental passage from order into chaos, as it is often prescribed by hardened materialists, seems to seal the fate of our world and yet, contrary to what one might have anticipated, recent findings at the periphery of our expanding Universe, found the rate of expansion to be accelerating and not, as was expected, slowing down…!?
This really has got scientists in quite a stir as it simply doesn’t fit their model, and what does one do when their model comes unstuck? We surely change it..? Now there, however, is a concept that fundamentalists are slow to embrace and make no bones about it, the scientific avenue of inquiry is riddled with rigor.
I recently had a discussion with a colleague of mine, we are both medically qualified, my area being the oral cavity, his being the brain. As a psychiatrist, I gave him the benefit of the doubt as to having an informed view of the mind but I was quite shocked when I brought to his attention the work of another neuro-biologist, Dr J Allen Hobson, a Harvard professor, a researcher of altered states of consciousness, a pioneer of consciousness studies and the one half of the pair of minds that offered us the activation synthesis theory of dreaming. Whatever your opinion of the implications of this theory, the chemistry and physiology is flawless, how we interpret that, I will leave to debate, but the brain activity and function, during dreaming is brilliantly illustrated by the system.
Hobson is not one for controversy parse, in fact he is quite a conservative soul, I know as I have spoken to him at length. The topic we discussed, among others, was his diagnosis of dreaming as a form of acute psychosis. He uses a medical device, known as a mental status exam (MSE) to illustrate our nightly descent into disorientation and disorder of the self, a meeting with other persons in places, neither of which have any bearing in the so called physical world, we have effectively entered the the time and space of the schizophrenic.
Hobson goes on to illuminate us on how a model of the dreaming brain may be the road to understanding the schizophrenic essay, he outlines how it might be the dreaming brain leaking into the waking state that causes the alleged dysfunction to occur. Although I agree on the physiology, I might dispute the word dysfunction but that is another conversation.
I am an advocate of Hobson’s view and as an amateur dream researcher (it will become momentarily apparent why I do not chain myself to the constraints of academia), although the prescription of psychosis as a pathology, I would have to ask to be revised. Yes, the process can erupt into problematic situations, but as I said to my psychiatric colleague, surely this is as much of a product of how society treats the condition as much as the underlying biology. In the Bible, we had people visited by angels and demons alike, to say you are the son of God might land you a sentence in the loony bin in an increasingly cynical society.
Who decides who is mad? It is simply a matter of cultural perspective. In aboriginal societies, the shaman, the healer of souls is usually selected out of the community at a young age if he exhibits a certain kind of behavior…you guessed it, the hall marks of schizophrenia. I went on to explain this to my colleague and although, he could not argue to the contrary, he was certain that dreams had nothing to do with schizophrenia, that somehow chaos was an offspring of order and that we should continue to numb people up with drugs, if they did not meet the criteria of of our culture.
I was disappointed to see how attached a scientist of the mind could be to his view, especially in the evidence of something to the contrary. I say evidence but I did nit sit him down with a plethora of academic research, I felt a little anecdotal insight form the world’s leading researcher and a dose of investigative intuition would be sufficient but I was left wanting…
Change is precisely what underlies chaos, we need to let go of what we think we know in order to encounter what we don’t, let go of your assumptions, feel the chaos erupt, to feel it is to know it, the truth is that there is no fine line between madness and genius, they are on in the same…