Our Friend, The Ether (Part 7)

“The world rests upon an elephant,” said the master to his disciples. None of the disciples spoke. But then one of them, a traveler who had journeyed to the West, where a habit of mind unlike that of the contemplative East was prevalent, asked a restless question: “And on what does the elephant rest?”

“Upon a tortoise,” the master replied.

That was then. But now the restless disciple would have asked “On what does the tortoise rest?” and so on ad infinitum.

The question of the restless disciple “was a misfortune if the possession of fact knowledge is a boon. For what could have been a more apt description of this all-supporting elastic solid ether than the broad arching back of the largest animal known on earth – the created being that could bear the most, and of all not-human creatures, the most intelligent and responsive?” [1]

“The master knew how all the worlds were held together – and how much more!” [1]

In the so-called “higher space” (beyond 3 dimensions), suppose you are not in (as in three dimensions) but are “on” the æther. You would be “on” the æther not in any known direction, but in the new direction which comes in with the “higher space.” Then just as a cube can stand on the surface of a table, so on the æther can stand a “higher solid.” [2]

The world rests upon an elephant. The Ether is the fundament! “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17: 28)

Suppose a “plane being”, living in a world of two dimensions. What would he think about the surface on which he was? “He would not recognize it as a surface with which he was in contact; he would have no idea of a motion [in the third dimension] away from it or towards it.” [2]

The “plane being” might discover the existence of the surface by movements transmitted along it. “By its vibrating and quivering, it would impart movement to the particles of matter lying on it.” [2]

The “plane being” might decide this “surface” was “a medium lying between bodies, and penetrating them.” This “surface” would be, to the “plane being”, unlike any other substance. [2]

“Now, is there anything in our experience which corresponds to this medium which the plane-being gets to observe?” [2]

In our own three-dimensional experience, do we suppose the existence of any medium through which matter freely moves? [2]

“The substance which possesses all these qualities is called the æther.” [2]

In the case of the two-dimensional “plane being”, all it sees or touches of a cube is the square on which it rests. For us in the three-dimensional world, all we could see or touch of a “higher solid” from the “higher space” would be that part of it which stood on the æther. [2]

In Scientific Romances, C.H. Hinton compared liquid spreading out on paper to gases “spilled” from the fourth dimension. Liquid spilled on paper becomes thinner until it merges with the flatness of the page. So too dense gases in the fourth dimension become “fully dispersible” in three-dimensional space. Some “force” in the fourth dimension drives material out into the third dimension. [3]

The Ether resides in the fourth dimension and is attached to every point in space, reportedly speculated Hinton. Paradoxically, the æther “is more solid than the vastest mountain chains, yet thinner than a leaf…” [3]

In a letter, D.H. Lawrence is reported to have rhapsodized, “Surely it is even a greater mystery and preoccupation even than willing, to let the invisible life steal into you and slowly possess you . . . the slow invasion of you by the vast invisible god that lives in the ether. . . . Instead of projecting your will into the ether of the invisible God, let the invisible God interpenetrate into you.” [4]

Certain remarks of D.H. Lawrence can be connected to media technologies of telephone and gramophone. These inventions are thought to constitute “a new ripple in the ether.” This alludes to the propagation of waves within a communication medium. C.H. Hinton borrowed the glamor of the aether’s electromagnetic effectivity and its apparent abolition of material delimitations. “Hinton questioned the nature of free will in a physical universe of aethereal materialism by hanging this ethical issue on the imagery of an exciting new technology of audio wave functions—the phonograph—and then contributed his own notion of human volition as an inscribing of furrows on the hypersurface of the aether.” [4]

The rotation of the audio cylinder is akin to the revolution of the earth in its orbit. The earth “becomes both the needle plying the aether grooves and the informatic datum manifested by the vibratory registration of those indentations on the membrane of matter.” [4]

“Hinton’s groovy phonographic aether encodes a body of data that the material universe instantiates by ‘playing back’ as it moves over the aether-grooves.” [4]

Is it fate, or free will? It is both. The Gramophone cylinder can only deliver the same song over and over. Yet Hinton adds, “we may suppose that the æther itself is capable of movement and alteration; that it moulds itself into new furrows and marks. . . . It may be supposed that in an action of our wills we . . . may be altering these corrugations of the æther.” [4]

Or does “free will” truly consist of a submission to the Almighty? “Instead of projecting your will into the ether of the invisible God, let the invisible God interpenetrate into you.”

——- Sources ——-

[1] Scientific Romances (Vol. 2), by C.H. Hinton. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1896

[2] A New Era of Thought, by Charles Howard Hinton. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1888

[3] Shadows of Reality, by Tony Robbin. Yale University Press, 2006

[4] “Aether and Phonograph: D. H. Lawrence’s Fourth Dimension”, by Bruce Clarke. http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/writingscience/Clarkepaper.html


About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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2 Responses to Our Friend, The Ether (Part 7)

  1. Pingback: Our Friend, The Ether (Part 9) | Ersjdamoo's Blog

  2. Pingback: Our Friend, The Ether (Part 21) | Ersjdamoo's Blog

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