Striving for Equilibrium; Pt. 1


Sir Arthur Eddington says thermodynamic equilibrium can theoretically be projected in an ideal, isolated state:

Under these isolated conditions the energy will be shuffled as it is bandied from matter to aether and back again, and very soon the shuffling will be complete… With infinite divisibility there can be no end to shuffling. The experimental fact that a definite state of equilibrium is rapidly reached indicates that energy is not infinitely divisible…in the natural process of shuffling.

Preston Harold goes on to interpret Eddington in psychological terms:

Psychologically translated, this would say that passion is not infinitely divisible into good and evil force – rather, the two forces are shuffled up to the point that “psychic equilibrium” is a fact accomplished. And then – will passionate striving, the fine tensions of life, the vice turned spice, be gone, leaving man no sense of being or becoming?

Eddington describes thermodynamic equilibrium:

It would not be true to say that such a region is timeless; the atoms vibrate as usual like little clocks; by them we can measure speeds and durations. Time is still there and retains its ordinary properties, but it has lost its arrow; like space it extends, but it does not “go on.”

Preston Harold then elaborates on our experience of time and timelessness…

When man senses that time “goes on,” he must measure himself against it: as lagging behind, or rushing to get ahead, his life measured by its passage. But when time extends like space into the blue or starry skies, he experiences a moment of perfect freedom, realizes the here-now of infinity. He cannot experience this without experiencing also a deep-seated satisfaction simply in being.

Harold’s words remind me of the end of Act 1 of Wagner’s “Parsifal” in which Gurnemanz tells a young boy as they approach the Grail castle that “in this realm, time becomes space.”


Preston Harold finishes today’s post up by continuing to combine the scientific with the psychic:

Man’s lump sum of lust may be likened to the source of heat in a system; just as heat turns up as an almost unavoidable side-product and as a very probable end-product of any job he does, so, too, with lust in the psychic realm…In man the lessening of lust may be too small to meet the eye, but one may project its decrease until there is a lust-death in consciousness when all has been experienced in mind or in deed; but as this is accomplished, one must project the increase of empathy until in the perfect shuffling of lust it becomes a divinely human desire for the beloved, love of life itself; or one might say that as lust decreases, compassion increases so that in time empathy is fulfilled and man’s passion is maintained at a desirable level. This is to say, there is no psychic stillness, stagnation, or death of desire under the condition of perfect empathy any more than thermodynamical equilibrium stills the exquisite life of the atom.

We will continue looking at the parallels between psychic and thermodynamic equilibrium in our next post. Until then, peace…

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