Phenomenal and the nouminal, potentiality and actuality, matter and spirit — the philosophers’ vocabulary of division and duality. A picture emerges of duality, on the one side a physical world of where and when, on the other side a dimension of nowhere, when and no-when. Here is causality and motion; there, well, a non-there. The two have nothing to do with each other. Let Hades be; we’ll busy ourselves with Terra.
Or at least so we Moderns have long wanted to believe. Our researches into quantum mechanics increasingly seem to bend the philosophers’ hard distinctions to the breaking point. To our horror, our concrete here is made of quarks and shadows. We realize that Hades bestrides, enshrouds, and permeates Terra. We wander the Elysian Fields now, in our offices, our classrooms, our bedrooms, our thoughts and dreams.
Does this mean that we are already dead and risen? Have we already decomposed into the trace elements of silence? And in the strings of quanta, intertwined in the great lattice of being, do we already exist forever? Are we right now those strings, vibrating and trembling and singing beyond the reach of the microscopes of religion and the rituals of science?
This thought leads to another: philosophical introspection gives way to imaginative rumination. Upon the frontier of duality, reason and faith dissolve into each other. There is a river here. It once marked the boundary between the two lands, and now pools into a marshy delta. An entity stands upon the shore. It waves at me. I approach, and it ushers me onto a tiny raft. We disembark, traversing deeper into the swamp.
At one moment my guide wears a tunic stitched of tree bark and leaves and the face of an immortal youth, friend, and teacher; at the next, a hooded cloak of sub-atomic fiber and gray, decaying flesh, and a skull of eternal hunter, inevitability, and end. Both faces smile, the one welcomingly, the other menacingly, but the mists of the bog merge all trust and fear into the single emotion of the gentle, inexorable movement of the ferryman’s oar.
The entity points toward to a singularity at the end of the Styx. It is darker than darkness, so dark it is light, the emptiness of black and the fullness of white. Within its ravenous vortexal maw everything is ground, even the greatest gravities of pathos and the most resolute reticences of relativity, but from its blessed lips emerges an everlasting hymn.
I am beyond terror and awe just as the singularity is beyond joy and despair. The dialectics sublate themselves, round and round and round. We are song. We are sung. We are singing. I ask the ferryman if we can go to the singularity, and it simply laughs in reply, as if my question were childishly wise and wisely childish.