Projections of The Void

From an interview with Hari Kunzru in The Observer

“I’m interested in the unknown and the unknowable and the role they have in our understanding,” says Kunzru. And perhaps how irrationalism and faith thrive in such conditions. Throughout he seems to be arguing that the quest for meaning is a human projection on to the void. In a novelistic echo of the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, Kunzru suggests that religion – especially Christianity – is best understood as a projection of human longing.

Cue intriguing gnostic confabulation. From the entry on The Holographic Principle on wikipedia

In a larger and more speculative sense, the theory suggests that the entire universe can be seen as a two-dimensional information structure “painted” on the cosmological horizon, such that the three dimensions we observe are only an effective description at macroscopic scales and at low energies.

Which might make one think of The Barbelith. One of the central characters in Hari’s novel is a ‘contactee’ called ‘Schmidt’

“Kunzru’s almost self-defeatingly ambitious fourth novel is about the human quest for transcendence – not just encountering big-brained Venusians, but the hope of finding a thing that sometimes goes by the name of God.”

Deserts and the ‘immense’ feature in “Gods Without Men” – In the interview, Hari talks about the role of the desert and vision-quests. That we’ve tended to find ourselves there looking for things painted on the cosmological horizon.

Which physics seems to think might just be us.

But, before we get carried away Dr. Jonathan Miller reminds

“The cosmos is a deeply dangerous thing to think about – into it, vacant minds expand…”

And I’m reminded again, of a Giles Foden article from 2002 about the links between Al-Qaida and Asimov’s Foundation. In it, Foden quotes Kunzru’s fellow Wired UK 1.0 alumnus Oliver Morton, in turn quoting Gaston Bachelard:

…the space opera sub-genre of science fiction offers the possibility of a massive expansion of self-mythologising will-to-power. In a 1999 New Yorker article on galactic empires, Oliver Morton beamed up French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, author of The Poetics of Space, to explain all this: “Immensity is a philosophical category of daydream. Daydream undoubtedly feeds on all kinds of sights, but through a sort of natural inclination, it contemplates grandeur. And this contemplation produces an attitude that is so special, an inner state that is so unlike any other, that the daydream transports the dreamer outside the immediate world to a world that bears the mark of infinity.”

Back to the interview, and following on themes from Curtis’ “Machines of Loving Grace”:

“In the middle of all these storylines, Kunzru finds a way of working in the financial meltdown as Jaz’s Wall Street wheeler dealing goes hideously awry. Kunzru is torn about speculative finance, finding it intellectually thrilling and socially disgusting. “I think how the high priests of abstraction work is fascinating. I’m really interested, for instance, in a postwar Wall Street speculator called WD Gann who used astrological techniques. The idea of predicting and controlling is quixotic. It’s all about the will to believe.”

Especially when confronted with the immense…

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