I had a revelation a few minutes ago. I saw the goddamn sailboat.
If you don’t get that reference, you’re not old enough to be reading this blog.
I was flipping through hologram theory, on the grounds that I will learn to make an interactive hologram out of simple household items and thus make enough money to cease being productive. Eventually, I came across a guy who detailed how to make a hologram with a drafting compass and a plastic board. This caught my eye, because a hologram is not an easy thing to make; most home kits go for around 150 because they require a laser with an undifracted light wave. But what this mindfucking tool accomplishes is creating a baseline for mapping out the peaks and troughs of criss-crossing lightwaves on a holographic.1
The idea is that he could carve a series of arcs into black plastic, and each arc would correspond to a dot projected in all its psychedelic glory a few inches above the plastic. The idea is that the sum of the reflections off each arced groove would converge, if held at the right angle to a good light, at the the same point.
This all runs on the same theory as those stereogram images that have been been fucking with my head for the last twenty years. The guy provided a stereogram image of a cube. Despite having never been able to see one of these things, I gave it a shot. And what do you know.
The problem with viewing a stereogram image is that eyes are designed to produce semi-3D imagery through a combination of trig 101 and depth of focus. As your eyes come closer together for nearby objects, you eyes squeeze there lenses for close focus. Focus faraway, they relax for distance focus. These responses are linked one to one. In order to view a stereogram, and force your brain to create a 3D image from a repeating dot pattern, you have to either cross your eyes and then force your focus to relax, or gaze into infinity and force your focus to tighten up. I finally got it by crossing and relaxing, hence the title of this essay. Once you do one of these, your brain, instead of dismissing out of focus junk, is told that these two in-focus images are actually one and the same, at a distance somewhat in front of or behind the actual stereogram. Because there are two angled images, it appears to be one of the the semi-3D brain scans we’re used to treating as three-dimensional things in space.
So viewing a stereogram is actually taking the most absurdly complex sensory tool we have and short-circuiting it by an act of will. I blame my glasses for this taking me so long to do. My eyes were already being told that things normally out of focus are more important than they would otherwise be, and my brain has to compensate for a very slight distance distortion. Don’t question me, it’s my excuse.
Finally being able to uncouple my sensory reflex was a personal revelation in how unlikely and arbitrary vision really is. The world we see is a parallax assumption based on triangulation and depth of field. I had a similar experience once involving a spinning disc with black and white spirals reversing directions. Find one and spin it. It’ll fuck with you. Simpler eye twists are all over the internet, and the usual effect is to see movement when nothing’s moving, and to see things grow and contract while staying the same size.
The stereogram necessitates this kind of trick observation. The hologram does it for you. The idea of the hologram is that it focuses these arc of light into absolute positions your eye cannot help but interpret as three-dimensional. The hologram is pleasant and surprising mockery of our standard basis for reality. Having dated a nearly blind woman, I can say that this is not an absolute standard, but having dated a nearly blind woman, I can tell you it really pisses them off when you throw your voice. Any sense can be tricked; a trick of vision is just the most unexpected, and it lends credence to the illusory theories of reality.
And, coincidentally, my new favorite is the holographic theory of reality. This one’s a zinger too; if you can trick our most2 blindly3 trusted sense into absolutely seeing something that absolutely is not there, a holographic theory of the universe carries the satisfying thought that our entire universe is also not, in fact, there, in the strictest sense.
There are a couple of observations to support this idea. The theory originally came up as a means to explain how particles on opposite ends of the universe seem to communicate instantly. Just trust me; it happens. So if the fastest messenger particle in the universe is traveling a measly one light year per year, how did particles a billion light years apart get their greasy little paws on the cosmic IM relay? The holographic theory suggests that both particles are projections from the Great Stereogram in the Sky, and that we interpret these projections, via our three and a half dimensional viewpoint, as being separate entities.
The other supporting idea that brought the holographic theory back into vogue is that entropy is area. Turns out—and if you know the math behind this you’re significantly smarter than I want to be—entropy is a measurable thing. It’s measured as a lessening of ordered information, and the very least information in the universe is on the shitty side of a black hole.
The crazy bit is that the amount of entropy in a black hole is a function of its surface area. Not it’s volume. Kinetic and potential energy are measured in terms of orders of information slowly disorganizing themselves, so the increase of absolute entropy being a function of the surface area of a black hole suggests that the flux of energy in our universe is being measured across a n-dimensional film projecting the n+1-dimensional reality we call home.
This is cool4 because of the other feature of holograms. If you get you wavefucksuperthingylaser and create a hologram on holographic film, you get a holographic projection of, oh, say, a dildo.5 Now cut that film in half. Each half now projects its own dildo, as complete as the first. Cut each in half again, and you get four. It’s a successful evening on craigslist so far. The point is, a good hologram was carved by light frequencies, and the precision is limited only to the grain, or the molecular structure of the film. Until you hit that mark, you can cut the film into next week and continue to get multiple holograms, each containing all the information of the original. An infinite grain would produce infinite regress.
Meaning that each division contains the same information as the whole.
The reason people like me love the holographic theory of the universe is that it suggests not just oneness and connectedness with the universe, but total, universal symmetry. Each part of the universe contains, in itself, a total reflection of the gestalt, and the functions of my brain, as little as I might understand them, are precisely the same functions as those played out over the whole of the cosmos, not because they are similar to one another, but because they are the same thing. The holographic theory suggests that all of of space and time and every little hidden dimension in the universe is the projection on a single pattern being projected into the world. Projected from where and to where, I don’t know, but I’m pretty goddamn interested if it’s true.
I live on the theory that the universe’s inception was the all-fucking mistake; everything else has a perfectly logical and symmetrical guiding beauty. I can’t think of a theory that hasn’t in some way hinged on the similarity of patterns on multiple scales, and the symmetry of consequence throughout physical phenomenon.
So If I can see the sailboat, why not let the the universe be a hologram? And all my concerns and experience be a microcosmic map of the foundation of reality. Then my birth and death become the story of the universe, played out through one more shard of a broken hologram. And if this universe starts over, as a good many theories will have you believe, maybe a fluke of quantum flux will start a brighter story, and my counterpart, a trillion years from now, will have an even better tale to tell.