Sunday, September 11, 2005

I wish I could post a transcript (I have requested one, and still await it, to share with you), of the fascinating documentary on Newton: the Dark Heretic (ABC TV, Compass, tonight).

It seems the whole Western tradition, including William Blake and, yes, even the What the Bleep Study Guide (p.17), has done him a grave disservice in presenting him as an arch-representative of the "world as machine" paradigm. He did have every respect for this, having learnt it early from the more truly Rationalist Rene Descartes, but recoiled, as a devout and even fundamentalist Protestant Puritan, from its implications that God had abandoned the world after the creation, leaving it to run on its own, like "clockwork". His whole life and work seems a quest for "God's secrets", i.e. how an omnipresent Creator in fact continues to sustain everything, and has made it possible for our best minds to search "Him" out in a highly elaborate game of "hide and seek".

Besides his more wellknown scientific findings, this led him into the then highly illegal and dangerous practice of alchemy (they hung alchemists from golden gallows, or covered them in tinsel as they hung, as "fake gold"). A contemporary scientist has replicated some of his alchemical experiments,with the astonishing result of coming up with "the net", a purple alloy, supposed precursor to the Philosopher's Stone, so-called because of the net-like striations on its surface.

Unfortunately, like all of us, Newton also seems "human, all too human" (with apologies to Nietzsche). "Sir Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727) was the great English mathematician and physicist. This program pieces together the true Isaac Newton – father of modern science, heretic, mystic, obsessive, and emotionally stunted megalomaniac – it is a fascinating journey into the dark borderline between genius and madness.

"Newton: The Dark Heretic

"Sunday 10.20pm
Delve into a frighteningly brilliant but deeply troubled mind...This documentary reveals a very different Isaac Newton from that of popular myth - a much more fascinating and complex man than the powder-wigged puritan of the history books."

He finally revealed his alchemical passion to friends on his deathbed, and refused to take the Christian sacrament. Here it seems we find the "world as lover" paradigm (with which the Study Guide associated Blake and the Kabbalah, among others) deeply disguised, for most of his years, as "world as machine". Actually he sought to DISPROVE the mechanistic world-view of Descartes, whom we can see as more truly representing the "world as machine" paradigm, along with Locke, whom Newton also despised, especially in the darkest hours of his breakdown from sheer overwork and obsessive reclusiveness.

With his unflagging fundamentalist/literalist mind, he also delved deeply into the supposed "Bible codes" he believed to underlie the Bible, and came up with his own date for the end of our "world of corruption", in our century, 2060. Makes you think, doesn't it? Or does it? ;-))

And just for fun, discover your inner scientist http://www.abc.net.au/science/explore/einstein/quiz2/ (Mine seems Einstein, yes, he of the odd socks, etc!) lol

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