Friday, November 4, 2016

Jack Scott writes

Part V

At some time, somewhere the doll will sink
into its half life:
and come to rest
in a specific place.
If my existence
would depend on it
it would be impossible
for me to locate and verify
the existence and location
of that once bobbing, banging,
upside down and all around
grotesquery, its cuteness
oozened out of it by sinking
out of context into darkness,
then sunken out of reach
into a primal mud,
therefore lost from validation,
yet nonetheless existing
evermore, or nearly so.

Now, where does that leave me?
Pretty Boy’s Baby’s in my mind
stuck to me, reality,
with stubbornness’s glue
and lifespan.
Will I outlast the dollbaby
(I almost said outlive.)
en route to burial at sea
and then within and under it,
double anonymity,
there to plastically
resist decomposition
in a way that I can not?
Unknowns abound
and she’s out of sight
so it must be time
for final litany:
ashes to ashes,
dust to dust,
mud to mud,
hydrocarbon to hydrocarbon,
half-lives hence?
I am a half life old.

Fuck it, says philosophy:
even though you cannot find it
you will still exist,
the same as if
it does not exist -
anywhere -
and has never been.
You are found; it is lost.
Therefore, existentially,
it is only lost to you.
It is and will be somewhere,
just no longer here
where you still are.

And that’s the nail
my sanity hangs itself upon
as I take the cat food out
to feed Schrödinger's pet,
which I’m caring for
while he’s gone,
even though he’s dead.


  1. According to the “Copenhagen interpretation” of quantum mechanics, a quantum system, such as an atom or photon, can exist as a combination of multiple states corresponding to different possible outcomes; a quantum system remained in this superposition until it interacted with, or was observed by, the external world, at which time the superposition collapses into one or another of the possible definite states; under some conditions, a pair of quantum systems may be described by a single wave function which encodes the probabilities of the outcomes of experiments that may be performed on those systems, whether jointly or individually. In 1935 Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen presented a paradoxical thought experiment which attempted to demonstrate that the wave function did not provide a complete description of physical reality. They claimed that it was possible to measure a particle’s complementary variables, such as position and momentum, more accurately than allowed by Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle (which asserted that complementary variables could not both be precisely measured simultaneously), unless measuring one particle instantaneously affects the other to prevent this accuracy, which would involve information being transmitted faster than light, a violation of Einstein’s own theory of relativity. The “EPR paper” considered two entangled particles (A and B) and pointed out that measuring a quantity of a particle A would cause the conjugated quantity of particle B to become undetermined; but either some interaction between the particles existed or the information about the outcome of all possible measurements was already present in both particles and encoded in some hidden parameters. In correspondence with Erwin Schrödinger, Einstein pointed out that the state of an unstable keg of gunpowder will, after a while, contain a superposition of both exploded and unexploded states, prompting Schrödinger to propose his own paradox: “A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat … mixed or smeared out in equal parts.” The cat may be simultaneously both alive and dead until the actual state is observed, as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur.

  2. In 1950 Einstein wrote Schrödinger, “You are the only contemporary physicist … who sees that one cannot get around the assumption of reality….as something independent of what is experimentally established…. Nobody really doubts that the presence or absence of the cat is something independent of the act of observation.” However, though Schrödinger intended to ridicule the Copenhagen interpretation, some physicists continue regard the "alive and dead" cat superposition as quite real and call the simultaneous existence of two diametrically opposed conditions “cat states.” For instance, according to objective collapse theories, superpositions are destroyed spontaneously when some objective physical threshold (of time, mass, temperature, irreversibility, etc.) is reached. Thus, the cat would be expected to have settled into a definite state long before the box was opened. This could loosely be phrased as "the cat observes itself" or "the environment observes the cat." Recently, Yale’s Chen Wang used a sapphire chip to produce a standing wave of light in two aluminum cavities and then superimposed a standing wave of two separate wavelengths of light in each cavity, causing the photons inside the cavities to oscillate at two different wavelengths. So, not only can the quantum cat be alive and dead at the same time, but it can also be alive and dead in two places at once, and can only be observed in its entirety by opening both boxes.


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?