Welcome to Chaos, Poetry, Religion, and Science

September 23, 2014


I was a child. My first encounter with the idea of chaos sent me spinning headlong into a panicky contemplation of emptiness. I retreated from this awful, mistaken vision of chaos to the human nature of natural laws. I committed the error of logical positivism by retreating from a subjective understanding of science to the objectification of my self as the rational observer. This is what I was taught by a string of honest, well-meaning teachers as the foundation of knowledge. I was taught to have Faith in the natural order of things in the same manner that one accepts the idea that God is Good. These glib words spill readily from wagging tongues, so that it may seem that reason must rest upon the foundation of social restraint and the comfortable pulpit of faith.

But then, Faith (in capital letters) turned out to embrace Chaos. Treacherous! I discovered that Faith, against all teaching, is properly provisional knowledge awaiting modification by experience. A scientific theory is a provisional, subjective fact and super ordinate to faith. To all who pursue science as absolute knowledge or religion as objective revelation, be aware that this is a journey straight into chaos. So don’t look for comfort there.

In real science, you ultimately travel full circle to address the observer’s affect on the observed. In this sense, science is the experience of the transcendent self. Some would say that science, in the end, is the most demanding, perhaps even ultimate, means to apprehend subjective experience. But I would not put aside art, the goal of which is the same. I would say that art is the most dangerous, most elusive means of apprehending the subjective experience of life. Art requires the greater discipline, for there are no immediate rules to call upon in order to understand the provisional nature of artistic expression. Art tends to project itself beyond consciousness without the support of faith (or theory if you prefer). Of religion, in so far as faith tenuously rests upon experience, it seems to me that this is another sort of artistic approach to organizing subjective experience. All of the above are capable of creating new and unexpected experience, or chaotic elements. That, of course, is why I got bored with religion and attracted to art and science.

I suppose that the provisional or self modifying experience to which I allude could be described as intuitive leap, a term which holds no more and no fewer obscurities than apprehension. It is the threshold across which the self leaps on the way to creating concrete experience that can be shared (in other words, acquire meaning). After which process, the event is an immediately incorporated fact in the psyche, no more capable of being explained than the One who must remain unnamed. One assumes that there is a mirroring mechanism by which we see ourselves alive, but what we can experience, the evanescent afterimage of this leap process, merely points to the transcendent factor, the silver layer which lies just beyond the reflection, absolutely and forever (and by definition) beyond our reach.

So, what, if anything, does any of this have to do with poetry? Poetry is an art of language, and the art of poetry is characterized by antinomies or mutually exclusive elements necessary to construct a whole. Poetry has this element of dimensionality which makes it possible to express subjective experience in unique ways. I have written on this aspect of subjective experience and call this process a similistic(1) process, which in simple terms describes how unexpected patterns can be expected to grow out of similar provisionalities or similarities. Here is the overlap between art and science. It is this affiliation of poetic nature with similarity which seems almost like quantum physics.

Unexpected rules that play more by the rule of association than by logical sequence are the key essences of poetic expression. As Daniel, the long-suffering, essential man, wanders through the fanciful universe of New Orleans, he is followed by terrible shadows and bright mirrors that are beyond his comprehension. That he doesn’t know that he is suffering is the essential aspect of his existence. He is like a human quanta, unnoticed and undetected when stationary and all momentum when moving. He is life following the uncertainty principle, bouncing and colliding, following a path which only seems to have pattern. In this we are all similar to Daniel. The patterns of our lives are all similar and arise out of the same set of elements. That the outcome of our lives may be vastly different is only due to the chaotic nature of the universe. The same simple set of elements produced our entire universe of seemingly infinite variety beginning with a big bang and ending in infinite expansion or ultimate collision. Our short lives are no different.

Welcome to Chaos.

(1) The Teachings of Similarity promote:

  • Establishing spiritual reconnection through nature: special methods of observation
  • Managing Stress by Knowing yourself: effective introspection
  • Reestablishing love: the Nine paths to reconnect with life
  • Telling your unique story: your self as a renewable resource
  • Physical awareness: Your body as an architectural space



About charles frenzel

I've been writing all my life. I've also painted, composed, sculpted, contributed to molecular research, advanced some mathematical concepts, lived on a sailboat, and worked for a Nobel Prize winner. Nothing in my life has pleased me more than to share my life with my wife and friend of over forty years.

View all posts by charles frenzel

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