A Tale of Matter

Published on by Catherine Toulsaly

The night retreats on my way to Cleveland. The fog spreads its coat over the valleys. Trees twisting on themselves line up along the road telling stories to each other. I thought owls come out at night but I heard an owl one afternoon on the edge of the woods where spirits are carved in the tree bark as a bald eagle rested a short while on the grass.  When I returned home, from yellow in spring, the native garden had turned purple in the fall. Along the Potomac, clouds spread faster than the sun rises this morning. The house has fallen prey to the elements, overwhelmed by the surrounding nature. From the feather of a fledgling to a woolly worm, each object slowly disappears under the sea of time. 

A Tale of Matter

Battles of theories are waged on the field of our brains. An epistemic account is said to be true to the extent that it is directly or indirectly validated under our watchful eye. Its usefulness, however, is limited if it cannot provide the basis for accurate and timely predictions. As far as events and objects are concerned such as the intrusion in our reality frame of something as rare as a bald eagle —  at least in my neck of the woods — or a small asteroid, they remain in the shadows until our path collides with them. And when the observable matter shows signs of transformation or decay, it, too, will return to the timeless shadows.


A complete picture of the Universe requires not only identifying observable objects but their configuration. At this moment in time, we base a set of ruling proposals on current observational evidence and devise within the limits of a rational interpretation — if not abstractly — a binding theory for the evolving geometry of the Universe that sets the stage for plates-like walls and filaments, diced into land-like shapes, to slide on their own timeline through the invisible celestial Sphere. The Universe may be likened to a space-filled Earth in which we found ourselves lightyears away from reaching the shores of a New Continent. Hoping to set foot on Mars by the 2040s, could we expect to reach Andromeda within a few thousand years? 


But again, our invisible sphere may be flat. If indeed, weird dreams train my brain to be a better learner, an image popped up in my head, that of atoms of spacetime flowing like rainwater in the pitch-dark night on the flat surface of a quantum gravitational field, swirling around black holes as if they were drains and falling down. Is the arrow of time reaching its target once it passes the event horizon? While macroscopic amounts of mixed matter-antimatter are reported to exist at highest energy density astrophysical objects such as black holes, I caught a glimpse through the thick screen of multilayered relational events of a synchronic dance of matter and antimatter taking place,  annihilating each other during transitioning states from the physiological aging process to the slow melting of glaciers. 

by Cassandre Arkema

by Cassandre Arkema

Blended forms means that there are multiple ways to be and not to be in timelessness. Matter is a plural state of being. The Universe began with zero baryon number. Point particles preceded matter. With the emergence of baryons and their energy and momentum acting as generators of temporal and spatial displacement, the plurality of matter began as well. Although spacetime ‘exists’ apart from matter, matter cannot dissociate itself from spacetime. Time and space act as topological markers for every bit of matter. “If, when we speak of being,” Etienne Souriau wrote, “the hope is to see such a state numerically alone, the multitude of beings, that our common sense leads us to differentiate, become all of a sudden ghosts. Those pretended beings assembled by tribes unite with being and merge within, each of which follows the banner of a particular line of existence.”*


A binding theory aims at gathering an undetermined number of correspondence principles to describe such a linking pattern. Those correspondence principles ought to be thought of not just conceptually but in the most concrete way. They are meant to enact a process of actualization over the invisible fence between nothingness and the observable Universe. When an object with a relevant mass breaks free, it is actualized. It is in its evolved temporality, its motion-produced shape that it extracts itself from the indistinctness of blended forms. Entangled in large numbers, it acquires mass and volume and becomes localized. Relational forces dictate states of matter. There opens up the passage of information of which scientists, philosophers, and poets are decipherers.


What could add to the conversation poetry? I began this ongoing quest in July 2018 with, in mind, the Elizabethan poet Philip Sidney’s Defense of Poetry. In keeping with the concept of universal consideration, I imagine the inexplicable and see in nothingness the absence itself. Poetry senses that being is plural. It expresses universality with a bundle of analogies as a means to capture the ontological structure of the Universe. We are, I feel, unified by analogy.

If the Universe is a symphony of lights and sounds played on the keyboard of time, it is structured like a composer’s music around the rotation of strings. If it is a brain, matter flow supplies it with the necessary fuel. Aside from the question of attaching a form to an object, relational aspects stand out but still conceal a hidden, essential purpose. I thought I would have visited by now the question of teleology raised two years ago. But it does not mix well with the precept of a Universe that reveals itself by expressing itself.  Clueless of what it wishes to express, even of the source of its own wish, it only finds out what it wants to express by expressing it.  


Intuitively, I’d say, there exists an implied purpose in a concept that describes the ontological status of an object under investigation. Such a purpose suggests not a static point but a motion of the said linkage across spacetime. Some may want to write it down in a mathematical code; others prefer to spell it out in philosophical terms. In a universal landscape where the largest nesting doll is the Universe, the infinite series of increasingly smaller dolls, though entitled to their own feelings, are boxed in a box that, ultimately, holds the key to their fundamental reason to exist. The infinite game that we all play inside the box looks more like a game of double causality.


by Cassandre Arkema

by Cassandre Arkema

The long open monologue of a catbird outside my window echoes my own. The geometric cradle in which we exist may well be a two-fold cover of a manifold with black holes standing as space bridges between them. It is a superposition state of universes, both invisible to one another. On both sides, though, poets feel each other’s subtle absence. To them, the only question that matters is what happens to their souls after their passing. Does the star stuff that surely they are made of vanish or travel across spacetime? Do they return to the seedbed of dark energy or step out to join a twin Universe? 


If not an array of entangled pairs of universes within the setting of a multiverse, a twin Universe may have been formed at the same ‘time’ as ours. Since there is a small excess of matter over antimatter in our Universe, responsible for the existence of Earth, planets, stars and ourselves, would a similar imbalance occur in the twin Universe, resulting in the dominance of antileptons? Dark energy may be intrinsic to space itself. It is an entrapping net indivisible by nature. In the end, whether there is a diminishing quintessence or an increasing dark energy,  that something that feels appears to be a reflection of something else. If the Universe is a brain, the diminishing quintessence speaks for the decrease of its own ignorance.


*Etienne Souriau (1892-1979), Les différents modes d’existence


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