Wednesday, February 20, 2008

V. A Likely Story III – From Strings to Language

The universe appears to have fractal geometry, to have self-similarity on several levels, regardless of scale. The complexity of each level appears to be connected to the recursive linearity of certain levels in the universe.

In quantum string theory – which presently seems the best candidate for unifying gravitation with the strong nuclear, weak nuclear, and electromagnetic forces – everything in the universe is ultimately made up of tiny vibrating strings that “play the familiar medley of particles as if they were musical notes” (Amanda Gefter, Scientific American, Dec. 2002, 40). These strings may be either linear or circular – or both. How both? There are two possibilities. Circular strings could give rise to one form of particle-wave (photons, perhaps? – this would work well with my proposition in chapter 2 that time for photons is circular, resulting in t=0 at the speed of light), while linear strings could give rise to electrons, neutrons, and protons, which can interact in more complex ways. The other possibility (and it may contain the first one in it, and vice versa) is that there is a recursive element to strings – that they are simultaneously linear and circular (we saw this idea in chapter 2, with Nietzsche’s eternal return). Recursive linear strings vibrate and interact (provide information to each other) to give rise to more complex atomic systems, which includes chemical systems.

Another form of recursive linearity giving rise to complexity is in the genetic material of organisms. Prokaryotic cells have circular strands of DNA, while the more complex eukaryotic cells have linear strands of DNA. And DNA itself looks linear (but wavy) from the side, but circular from the top, due to its helical structure. This suggests, if there is scalar similarity, my first theory of strings. But both forms of DNA are recursive in their cellular interactions, suggesting the second. This scalar similarity at the organismal level suggests how understanding organisms can help us to understand strings. Allow me to suggest the following metaphor: relative to a “3-D”cell, DNA is a “1-D” string. This string interacts with itself through other kinds of strings (RNA, proteins) to give rise to a higher-dimension reality – life. Naturally, these “strings” are in one sense 3-D; but in another sense, they have far more dimensions – in the number of genes, regulatory sites, etc., in the DNA. A strand of DNA can have hundreds to tens of thousands of dimensions – which interact to give rise to cells more complex than is the DNA itself. In the same way, strings are 1-D relative to the “4-D” universe, but also 10- or 11-D systems giving rise to the poly-dimensional universe. Recursive linearity gives rise to higher-order complex systems.

Language is simultaneously linear and recursive. Grammatical and syntactical structure and vocabulary are the many dimensions found in a given language. These linear structures become transformed into complex culture and literature – which have many more dimensions than does language. The ambiguities and ironies found in novels is a prime example of how greater complexity can rise from linear narrative. This also suggests that it is through certain forms of linear narrative – the recursive linear narrative – that we get the greatest amounts of complexity. This shows us why attempts to eliminate such things as plot and linear narrative by some postmodern writers were failures, insofar as they were overly simple, lacking in complexity (which is not to say they were not often complicated – which only works to emphasize the difference between the complex and the complicated). It may have been fashionable among some intellectual elites to read the poems by the so-called “language poets,” but history will show these poets to have been miserable failures, since analysis of their poems will show their complicated poems to have had little, if any, meaning. The work put into the poems are not worth what we get out of the poems – they are like engines that put out far less work than is put into them, as opposed to narrative works that produce more work than is put into them by the readers. If we say “I got a lot out of that,” it is a compliment to the work. If we say, “I didn’t get a lot out of that,” it is an insult. One doesn’t get a lot out of the language poets – especially for the work put into them. In the end, such works fade away and end up having little effect on long-term culture. The great recursive linear narratives have had significant effects on culture, including the arts and literature. And if we consider the short story to be a circular narrative (the end must come back to the beginning in some fashion), while longer, and necessarily more complex, narratives, such as novels, novellas, and epic poems, to be linear narratives, we can see, again, the correlation between less complex circularity giving rise to more complex linearity (or, to be more accurate, circularity giving rise to less complexity than can linearity). However, both are recursive in nature, and, as we have seen, are thus narrative fractals. Further, human culture is carried on language – and on ritual, which also sequentializes actions into recursive linear forms. There is a sense in which language does indeed create our reality – but only in the same sense that DNA creates biological reality, without negating the quantum physical-chemical world created by strings.

It seems there is an element to the universe that makes recursive linear systems give rise to more complex systems. This element may be the string-foundation of the universe, which was scalarly projected into higher levels of complexity. Information-containing strings interact with themselves in complex ways to give rise to complex systems. Linear strings gave rise to complex quantum physics, including chemistry; certain forms of chemistry gave rise to linear strings of genetic material which gave rise to complex organisms; certain organisms with complex brains gave rise to linear strings of words, which gave rise to the full flowering of human culture, including art and literature and technology. This is a universe which is fractally self-similar to at least three scales of recursive linear systems giving rise to complex nonlinear systems.

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