The idea that "nothing exists" is hardly a revolutionary idea. Philosophers from thousands of years past up to today have formulated this theory in a myriad of different ways. Nihilists are likely more populous now than ever, and it's hard to blame them. You can never be certain that anything you see is real, or just your brain feeding you lies. Maybe the "real world" is all in your head, and you're just living in a universe alone! Well, if that's true, it wouldn't change much. All of the "material world" is made up of atoms, and physicists approximate that an atom is >99.999% empty. Thus, by extension, the world itself and everything in it is mostly nothing. And when they dig deeper into that 0.000001% of "realness" they find subatomic particles, which are even more nothing.
Okay, so the real world is a hoax; but at least your mind is real, right? Your brain is currently full of ideas and thoughts and concepts... but what is an idea? What exactly is a thought? How do you define "concept"? These extremely abstract questions lead to even more abstract (and ultimately useless) questions. They are unanswerable problems that we are not equipped to understand (and trust me, many have tried). If unanswerable questions are the fundaments of your own mind, how can you trust any of it to be real?
This is where many people throw up their hands and become nihilists. Nothing matters, life is a lie, it's time to give up: everything is nothing.
But why? Why is that where so many give up? Certainly they're right at a huge revelation—something so hard to grasp, but so obvious in hindsight when discovered! We have so many preconceived notions and tangled up ideas of "nothing" that it becomes this huge, scary, cold darkness. But just for a moment, let's rename nothing, that way we can look at it with a fresh perspective. Any word would do, but for various reasons I'll touch on later, I'll use the Hebrew word for nothing: Ayin. Now, let's replace "nothing" with "Ayin" and repeat some of the things we've been saying. Remember, no matter how strange these sentences sound, they're things we've already established!
Ayin is real.
Everything is Ayin.
And possibly, the most impactful of them all:
YOU are Ayin!
Suddenly, this "everything is nothing" stuff doesn't sound so bad, right? It's almost as if Ayin is some sort of magical life-force, holding our existance together. And it is! Within fiction, humans are always reinventing this concept over and over: the idea that there is one "thing" that lives within everything (like The Force from Star Wars). This really is the case. It just happens it's not a thing, it's a no-thing! (And can't be used to get superpowers. Probably.)
Another concept repeatedly invented by creative humans is purgatory, or the void. A place made of eternal and endless nothing, total limbo, complete absence of anything and everything. The void is almost ubiquitously protrayed as a scary, negative place to be. And truly, it is, but the void is also full of beauty, love, fun, laughter, and hope. We know this, because we live in it. Welcome to the void, you've been living here for years!
But can this really be a void? There's so much stuff in here. In fact, everywhere you look, there's a million different things! But of course, like we went over in the preface, none of those things are actually real—they're quite demonstrably nothing. But still, it sure seems like there's something. Enough that we can reliably predict and interact with the world with a near 100% accuracy rate. Clearly, we need to reframe our understanding of what nothing is.I call this idea Zerotics. We think we have a fairly clear grasp on the idea of nothing, but that isn't true. But by engaging in Zerotic thinking, we can start to understand the elemental basis of our lovely void a little better.
For one, whatever you imagine when you think of "nothing" is wildly incorrect. It is impossible to think about nothing: whatever you're thinking about is definitely something! The word "nothing", "Ayin", purgatory, the void, the number zero, outer space, a literary space—it's necessary to take a step back and realize all these things aren't really nothing, they're just related to nothing. Once you realize that, something important becomes a little more clear.
Topology is a branch of math, closely associated with geometry. Whereas geometries studies shapes, topology's focus is a little different. It isn't necessarily concerned with shapes, but with connections. To topology, a coffe mug and a donut may as well be the same—they can both be squashed into rings.
They're two different objects, but they are connected in the same way. And though "vanilla" topology is usually regarding shapes, the idea of studying connections can be applied to anything. Network topology, for instance, is a field that researches the different ways computers can connect to one another.
While studying topology is not at all necessary to follow along with this page, knowing that you can study the way things can connect and relate to each other is extremely important. This is because everything you see, think, and experience are connections. Nothing has any inherent meaning, things can only be understood by their relation to other things. For instance, try and explain to yourself what a square is. "Four equal lines connected at right angles" is establishing a connection with lines and angles. And of course, lines and angles can only be understood when talking about shapes—like a square! Even the tool you use to understand these connections, your brain, is just a bunch of neurons connecting to each other in different ways. The neurons that fire off in your brain when you think of, for example, a cow—they don't have anything to do with cows! All they have are a web of connections to related concepts, like animals, farms, things that are white & black, and even the word "cow". (And for topologists, cows are also closely related to spheres.)
So wait, everything is nothing, but everything is somehow also connections? Surely these ideas conflict, right? Well, if everything can be logically considered to be nothing, and everything can also logically be considered to be connections... doesn't that mean they're the same thing?
Okay, everything is nothing, and everything is also connections, because connections are also nothing. Not confusing, no, not at all. It is honestly very simple: the simplest anything could possibly be. It just so happens that our minds have EXTREME difficulty comprehending overly-simple things, just like our eyes can't see anything overly-small. In order to better understand confusing things, sometimes we have to add to them instead of trying to simply them further. So, for exactly this purpose, it may help to introduce a new kind of nothing: time.
All of this nothingness-lifeforce-connection-web-stuff isn't static: it changes over time. Relations between things are malleable; and they can be born, strengthened, or broken at any moment. This is because connections themselves can also relate to one another. Like the electrical pulses ping-ponging carefully inside of a CPU or the DNA untangling in a cell, webs of connections often have intricate patterns that sustain, grow, and evolve. There are examples of connections organized through processes everywhere. A car engine, a factory, a tree, or even more abstract ideas, like stories or the rules of a game. All these things have dynamic parts that move and grow as if they were (or are) living organisms!
It's also very important to understand that this developmental process is very natural, and built into the fabric of our reality. (Which is nothingness!) Biological evolution is possibly the most archetypical example of this idea. At some point, a long time ago, the earth was mainly just some rocks, water, and heat. It was, by all accounts, totally without life or significant organization. But eventually, left long enough, all those inorganic materials singlehandedly rearranged themselves into... all this stuff. No matter how bizzare the world may seem, there's some sort of "blueprint" embedded within our reality that caused it to manifest this way.
The study of how inorganic material first rearranged itself into organic material is called Abiogenesis. But, as was the case with topology, the concept can be abstracted and applied to many more ideas than that. From the perspective of Zerotics, abiogenesis can be thought of as a rapid burgeoning of many new connections where there weren't many before. A nerdy example of this could be looking through your collection of old trading cards and building a cohesive deck out of them. Cards that you were previously considering only by themselves are now being considered as a functional group.
Now, you may have a concern at this point. Namely, that the cards were arranged by a "higher power"—they didn't just get up and organize themselves. To that, I can only say: get over yourself! You might feel like you're much higher and mightier than some silly playing cards, but really, you're more like cousins than anything else! "We" all came from a vast soup of nothingness, and even beyond that, you both were born from the same chunk of space-rock as each other. Whay has control over what matters much less than the fact everything is part of a well-oiled cosmic machine. (That's not to be taken as a statement of complacency however—radical actions are as vital to the machine as everything else!)
And, of course, "time" is just more of the same nothing we've been talking about this whole time. I called it a "new kind" of nothing, but that's not true at all: time, connections, and "the void" are all completely and totally identical. It's just that our minds, by necessity, break things simple things up into differing chunks to understand them. (That's an abiogenesis as well!) We need to understand space, relationships, and changes as differing things—that's just the way we work!
III. Heaven Topology
Not everything creates this "explosion" of meaning, however. Sometimes, things just don't link together in a very strong way. (Anyone who's tried to study for an exam can attest to this). We can observe the world around us and readily understand that there are all sorts of replicating shapes and structures. Plants, architechture, social functions, memetic concepts, and countless other things. But not everything. You can put two rocks side-by-side, but you're probably not getting a third rock. Abiogenesis and self-replicating patterns are abundant in the universe, but not omni-present. It all comes down to the patterns they contain and perpetuate that decides their quotient for "life".
However, just as some patterns will never replicate or build up meaning, some do! These are very special, because no matter how simple, they have the ability to build up understanding and reconfiguring of other entities. These patterns can be thought of as "organizers", which take disorderly information and breathe meaning and life into them. A tree takes in very chaotic and disorderly dirt, sunlight, and moisture—then organizes them into very structures leaves and roots. These patterns are often (but not always) associated with life.
A somewhat less intuitive example is a sentence. Random letters strewn into a string require a lot of effort and mental gymnastics to squeeze any meaning out of. However, when they become placed in an orderly pattern that we can recognize, we are able to derive meaning. That meaning enters our minds, which sets of a chain reaction (abiogenesis) in reaction to the meaning we derived from the sentence. Did it make us laugh? Did it make us offended? Do we now have additional thoughts or questions? An organized sentence creates that explosion of connections within us, but a random and arbitrary one does not.
That's what the Topology of Heaven means. It's the fuzzy set of all topologies that create abiogenesis. The rules that spawn life, the organizers that build meaning, the intelligble signs that give us information—all abstracted into one title.
I apologize that this article is most certainly lengthy, difficult to understand, and not very actionable. There is much more I'd like to say, and much I did say that I wish I could have said better. However, as I alluded to earlier, most of these ideas are not my own. If any of it has piqued your interest, I highly recommend you to read some of the works that inspired my worldview. Thank you for reading!
- Lon Milo DuQuette—The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford (My current favorite book of all time)
- Douglas Hofstadter—Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid
- (More to be added later)
Appendix A. Qabalah
(To be written soon)