The Timepiece of Humanity

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Stephen Lauf

The Timepiece of Humanity
The Calendar Incarnate

Duality 1
Duality 2
The Metaphor
The Timepiece of Humanity
The Gauge
Chronosomatically Contemplating the Naval

1 :
the quality or state of being dual or of being made up of two elements or aspects

Duality I

After first creating light, God's second act of creation in the Book of Genesis manifests an obvious duality-- the separation of light from darkness. Dual manifestations in Genesis do not end with day and night, however. The biblical creation account is essentially a list of one duality after another. The distinction of an upper and lower firmament creates heaven and earth, and the separation of land and seas further distinguishes the earth.

God distributes nature throughout the earth, and from the dust of the earth God's creativity culminates with the creation of the human species. God gives humanity dominion over nature, and places the first human in the Garden of Eden, where the sequence of dualities continues. Within the Garden, there are two distinct trees. The first tree, the tree of life, bears the fruit of eternal life. The second tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, bears the only fruit God forbids the first human to eat. Besides the dualism explicit in the second tree's name, the tree also represents death, since to eat of the fruit is to die. God then separates humanity into male and female, thus performing his final creative act. In all, the primordial phase of Genesis establishes seven dualities--light and darkness; heaven and earth; land and sea; nature and humanity; life and death; good and evil; male and female.

Humanity's first act, in the Book of Genesis, also manifests a duality. The first couple's earliest act was to eat the forbidden fruit, and this misdeed, which caused God to expel them from the Garden, initiated the penultimate duality of Genesis--the separation of God and humanity. Thereafter, duality appears one final time in the first couple's offspring, two brothers, one good and the other evil. The evil brother kills the good brother, and thus, by murder, a human manifests the first death.

That duality is the very basis of existence and reality is implicit throughout the beginning of Genesis. The primal acts, of both God and humanity, result in firm dualities that constitute everything from the cosmos to the human condition. Most of the dualities come to be through an act of separation, and, at times, one component of an already existing duality separates and manifests a new duality. It is difficult, at this point, to state with certainty whether this progression of dualities contains a message or speaks of a significant system, however, there is certainty that Genesis is not the only creation story rooted in dualities. Creation accounts featuring dual manifestations is a global phenomemon. Almost all accounts begin with the dualities of heaven and earth; male and female; good and evil, and some accounts give special emphasis to the duality of creation and destruction.

For the Dogon people of West Africa, water, the semen of god, impregnates the earth, god's wife, and produces a cosmic egg. The fertilized egg begins to generate perfect and androgynous twins. One of the twins prematurely breaks out of the egg, however, and thwarts the generation process. This disruption consequently forces humans to live imperfectly as two sexes, sexual union between male and female imitates the archetypal perfection of the original plan.

In the Great Lakes region of North America, Huron mythology begins with a divine husband in the sky pushing his divine, and pregnant, wife towards the waters below. Two loons cushion the woman's fall and save her from drowning. The loons cry for the aid of other animals. A mighty tortoise among the assembled group consents to relieve the loons' burden, and the loons place the women on his back. The animals decide that the woman's survival is dependent on her having earth to live on, and the tortoise directs then to dive for earth at the bottom of the water. After many animals try and fail, a toad finally brings up a small amount of earth in his mouth. The woman takes the earth and carefully distributes it around the tortoise's shell. The earth expands and eventually becomes land. Meanwhile, the woman is still pregnant and carrying twins--one is good and one is evil. The evil twin decides against natural birth, breaks through his mother's side, and kills her. The mother's buried body brings forth the vegetation of the earth. The twins mature, but retain their opposite dispositions. Their opposition climaxes in a duel. The good twin is all but totally victorious, however, since the spirit of the evil twin goes to a land far in the west, where all the dead will follow.

In the Babylonian creation epic, the Enuma Elish, the fresh water of the male Apsu and the salt water of the female Tiamet commingled, and this union produced three generations of divine offspring. Ea, of the second generation, slays Apsu. To avenge Apsu's murder, Taimet comes into combat with Marduk, Ea's son. Marduk slays Tiamet, cutting her in two, making one half heaven and the other half earth. Marduk then creates the rest of the universe and becomes the dominant god.

Although the Genesis, Dogon, Huron and Babylonian accounts are only a small sample of the many creation stories handed down over time, they nonetheless represent what scholarship accepts as the predominant creation motifs: creation from nothing (ex nihilo), a primordial egg, primordial parents, and earth raised up from the depths of the primordial waters. Yet, when considering creation accounts collectively, the most common motif is actually duality itself. The notion of duality occurs repeatedly in practically every creation account, hence leading to the conclusion that origins and duality bear a significant and relatively synonymous connection.

Taking the origin/duality connection a step further, duality is also plainly evident in mythological personifications of time. The Hindu pantheon is lead by Vishnu and Rudra. Rudra is the powerful god of time, and capable of manifesting creation and destruction on a cosmic scale. Rudra is also Brahman, which has two forms: time and non-time. Nontime existed before the sun and time exists because of the sun. Janus, the gatekeeper of heaven in Roman mythology1, is also the god of beginnings and endings. Janus manifests initiation and closure within time. His two faces, looking in opposite directions, provide him with simultaneous knowledge of the past and the future.

Janus is the Roman god of all beginnings, and the first of all the gods, including Jupiter. Janus is also the spirit within doorways and archways. His sacred times were at the beginning of the day, the month, and the year. The month of January is named for him. The shrine to Janus, in the Roman Forum, was a simple rectangular bronze structure with double doors at either end. Roman commanders and their troops departed to war through these doors. The doors remained open while Rome was at war, and closed when Rome was at peace. A four-way Arch of Janus still stands in Rome's Forum Boarium.
The medallion, to the right, depicts the two faces of Janus looking in opposite directions. The ability to see both forward and behind gives Janus, by default, power over beginnings and endings.

"Dualism seems to be a generic feature of all religious life. To the extent that religion expresses a qualification of life, dualisms appear. On a simple level a dualism may develop if the right hand is regarded more powerful than the left. On a more profound level the dualism resulting from the discovery of sexuality has a profound effect upon religious life."
Charles H. Long, Alpha: The Myths of Creation (New York: George Braziller, 1963), p. 192.

Beyond origins and ancient conceptions of time, the current of duality continues to flow through the realms of religion and philosophy. In religion, duality is at the essence of good and evil, body and soul, and the sacred and the profane. In philosophy, duality is at the center of the mind/matter dilemma, and is referred to formally as dualism. The dualities in religion and philosophy bear an exceptionally close relationship to the dualities within creation accounts, and, in many ways, they are elaborations of the "original" dualities.

Zoroastrianism, a 2500 year old religion still practiced by the Parsees of Bombay, India, revolves around devotion to the good and the battle against the forces of evil. The antagonism between two supernatural beings, the creator Ormazd and the destroyer Ahriman, is the basis of this duality. Where Ormazd manifests truth, righteousness and order, Ahriman annihilates with lies, unrighteousness and disorder. Since Ormazd and Ahriman are both eternal, the absoluteness of their opposing relationship constitutes a dualism. Manichaeism, a 3rd century A.D. Babylonian religion, is an extension of Zoroastrianism's absolute dualism. A primal conflict between God (light and spirit) and Satan (darkness and the material world) effects human beings since they are divine in spirit but also carry the seeds of darkness in their natural bodies. Christianity treated Manichaeism as heresy, and instituted the 13th century Inquisition to abolish it.

The Yin-Yang doctrine of China and the central "body and the Self" theme of India's Upanishads create a bridge between the dualities of religion and philosophy. The opposing forces of yin and yang2 interact to produce all reality: yin is female, negative, passive and weak, and yang is male, positive, active and strong. The yin-yang principle prevails throughout the dynamic and cyclical universe it conceives: it is always changing, but also well ordered; there is harmony and contradiction, there is unity and multiplicity. The Upanishads inspire many Vedanta systems that distinguish the physical self, Atman, from ultimate reality, Brahman. The relationship between Atman and Brahman is the critical aspect of any path towards Hinduism's ultimate goal of liberation.

The Yin-Yang symbol, above, depicts the ever changing positive and negative forces that govern all things.
The influence of the Yin-Yang philosophy is evident in the I Ching or Book of Change. Symbols or hexagrams of the I Ching are composed of continuous, undivided lines and divided lines. The undivided line represents male and positive principles, and the divided line represents female and negative principles. The I Ching symbols, to the right, provide a sample of the systems dualistic yin-yang pairings.

1 :
a theory that divides the world or a given realm of phenomena or concepts into two mutually irreducible elements or classes of elements: as a : an ontological theory that divides reality into (1) subsistent forms and spatio-temporal objects or into (2) mind and matter 2 : the quality or state of being dual : twofold division 3a : the doctrine that the universe is under the dominion of two opposing priciples one of which is good and the other evil b : a view of man as constituted of two original and independent elements (as matter and spirit)

"Language here is tricky, and the philosophical distinction between dualism, on the one hand, and duality and dual, on the other hand, needs noting with care. Dualism refers to the Cartesian view of the world as split irreconcilably between body and mind. Dualities and duals refer to pairs of interconnected and interactive concepts, which may or may not be opposites, such as figure and ground, or the positive and negative poles of a magnet, or the alternation of the truth values in the and/or conjunctions in truth-table logic."
Elliot Jaques, The Form of Time (New York: Crane Russak, 1982), p. 199.

In the West, there are a few traces of duality in ancient Greek philosophy. For example, Empedocles considered love and hate to be principles of attraction and repulsion that alternately dominated the universe in a recurring cycle. Duality's main role in western philosophy, however, begins with the thinking of Descartes, continues with Spinoza and Leibnitz, and culminates with Kant3. Descartes' dualism of body and mind is absolute. Body and mind are two irreducibly heterogeneous natures; they do not interact and their existence is completely independent. They do, however, depend on something else for their existence, and that is God. Spinoza retains Descartes' body and mind dualism, but replaces God with Nature, and Nature itself diversifies into innumerable interdependent parts which are doubly manifested in parallel physical and mental orders. Leibnitz, for his part, intertwines the dualism of mind and matter, first with appearance and reality, and ultimately with God and the world. Finally, the critical philosophy of Kant is based on the dualism of appearance and nonapparent reality, and his moral philosophy introduces the dualisms of practical reason and desire, and reason and faith. Moreover, Kant ultimately turned the priorities of the mind/matter dualism around by making matter subjective to the mind. Subsequently, the theories of monism and pluralism absorbed dualism, and there is little philosophical interest in dualism beyond the early-nineteenth century.

: one of the constituant elementary particles of an atom being a charge of negative electricity equal to about 1.602x10 to the minus 19th coulomb having a mass when at rest of about 9.109x10 to the minus 28th gram or 1/1837 that of a proton, being the least massive known particle, and having a magnetic moment of about 1 Bohr magnaton associated with its one half quantum unit of spin.

Duality reemerges, however, as a fundamental property within 20th century physics. Light, it has been discovered, has a dual character. Depending on specific experimental circumstances, photons will demonstrate either the properties of a wave or, conversely, the properties of a particle. Furthermore, electrons also embody a wave and particle duality, and this dual characteristic, which is at the most fundamental level of physical existence, manifests the basic tenet of quantum mechanics.

The presence of duality thus extends from the largest to the smallest of realities. It spans from the separation of heaven and earth to the dual properties within photons and electrons. Dualities also appear within dualities. There is darkness and light, and within light there are particles and waves. There is life and death, and within the path of death there is good and evil. Within humanity there are male and female, and within each human there is the dual nature of body and mind. Religions and philosophies espouse similar messages: creation and destruction; sacred and profane; yin and yang; mind and matter. Some dualistic pairs are in conflict with each other, while other pairs are irreducible and separate parts that, nonetheless, act together. Duality explains the way things came about, and it explains the way things are. In the Book of Genesis, creation began when God said, "Let there be light." Yet, with the latest developments in physics, it is now possible to paraphrase God's primal command as "Let there be a wave-particle duality."

Rene Descartes was a French philosopher and mathematician, and has been referred to as the father of modern philosophy. He was born March 31, 1596, and died February 11, 1650. He lived within a time and society that questioned traditional ideas. In his efforts to reach the truth, he conceived of developing a unified science of nature. The Cartesian coordinate system is his unification of algebra and geometry.
In philosophy, Descartes claimed that human beings are composed of body and mind, thus instituting the body and mind dilemma.

Baruch Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher, and an important component of European Rationalism. He was born November 24, 1632, and died February 21, 1677. His family were Portuguese Jews who, in the late 1500's, took refuge in Holland. His education reflects both his background and the times in which he lived. He studied Jewish religion and thinking, Neoplatonism, Protestant scholasticism, Latin, mathematics and Cartesian philosophy. At the age of 24, he was expelled from the synagogue because his thinking had deviated from Jewish orthodoxy.
Spinoza's philosophy exhibits the considerable influence of Descartes. Adding to Descartes theory of body and mind, he introduced the idea of parallelism within the order of ideas and the order of things.
Spinoza was controversial in his time, but gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz was a German philosopher and mathematician, and is considered a founder of modern science. He was born July 1, 1646, and died November 14, 1716. Independent of Isaac Newton, he invented the calculus with a superior notation system.
In some respects, Leibnitz was slightly ahead of his time. In 1672, he proposed to Louis XIV of France the building of a canal through the Isthmus of Suez. And in his last debate against Newtonian science, Leibnitz argued that space, time and motion are relative.

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher and his thinking manifested a fundamental shift in the course of philosophy. He was born April 22, 1724, and died February 12, 1804.
Kant's influence on philosophy is similar to the radical shift in reality that Copernicus affected on science. By stating that the world is shaped by the mind, rather than the mind being shaped by the world, Kant reversed the way subsequent philosophers approached reality and truth.




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