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Monday, January 14, 2013

One More Regret

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 8:43 AM

I now regret writing this opening to my short piece on ghosts in literature...

What is a ghost? It is a memory without a body, a memory made of nothing. In our universe, living matter forms a memory. Dead matter doesn't do anything. A rock, for example, only moves when the wind moves it, rolls when water pressures it.
There is no such thing as living matter and dead matter. There is only matter.

Jacques Monod:

There are living systems; there is no living 'matter.' No substance, no single molecule, extracted and isolated from a living being possess, of its own, the aforementioned paradoxical properties. They are present in living systems only; that is to say, nowhere below the level of the cell.
Because the expression "living matter" borders on vitalism, on mysticism, it can lead only to bad thinking. If the history of science has taught us anything, it is this: Nothing is too wonderful to be true.


Comments (3) RSS

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Dougsf 3
Very well stated, Charles.
Posted by Dougsf on January 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Jaymz 2
Semantics, Charles. Matter and energy (in the soup of gravity) can be considered like 1 and 0 in binary math, as core concepts that then are combined in wonderful ways and really are outside the concept of life.

Instead, think "bio" and "non-bio" for those core, more humanistic issues that seem to intrigue you so (does a skipping rock sense joy?) and layer in "life" and "death" as the transient states of "bio-matter".
Posted by Jaymz on January 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Since matter is always dancing (vibrating is the scientific term) it is a bit simplistic to say it is "dead." When chemists get into the depths of matter they have discovered that it is in constant motion. When physicists go even deeper they discover that "matter" apparently appears and disappears from the background of "space" that turns out to not be the big nothing it was imagined to be. It even occasionally moves backwards in time; and distance as we measure it, via what we assume to be the big nothing between it, often is a meaningless construct.

Both matter and space may indeed be vibrantly alive and unified in ways we may someday be able to measure. The assumption of "dead" is premature.
Posted by heartfelt on January 14, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this

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