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XXV - Eve Conceived (Take 2)

Can one imagine one's demise?

Can you look back on your life and picture the loss of all those memories? Or of this moment? Or of a moment of particular bitterness or suffering? You may have gotten over the feeling of suffering, but the details of the events will still stick in your head. Is it possible to imagine them disappeared, gone forever?

Perhaps the answer is that they persist only in the moments in which they originally existed. To us that constitutes "the past", but to the universe perhaps they never disappear. And how could they, and why would they? Only if they were "unimportant", and the only reason to claim them as such is to apply one's own priorities to the universe, hardly a humble thing to do. It is more reasonable to assume that every event that actually occurs is equally important, from the smallest detail in the life of a gnat to the culmination of the explosion of a galaxy. It is a conceit of imagination to deny, or to claim that importance is judged purely on the basis of scale. As if, if an event affects only tens of trillions of nearby molecules, it is that much less "important" than if it affects ten trillions to the tenth degree.

Now, persistence of memory is more than a painting of melting clocks by Dali. It is the known side of the coin of our consciousness. As on a coin, to persist in the analogy, it is firmly imprinted on that consciousness. Now, there are those, con artists to be sure, who will claim that there are no objective truths or facts, and they are motivated by some crime or other, but, excepting in cases of dementia, any person must be forced to acknowledge some level of truth and fact to his or her own memories. Most of us can agree that our memories correspond largely to actual events. And those events took place, really, outside of ourselves, although we remember only our internal reactions to them.

We should move away from this idea that memory exists as some disembodied ghost in the neurons of the brain. We know this is not true, because of muscle memory. After a certain amount of physical repetition, an action becomes "second nature" to our behavior. Rote memory operates in this way, and it behooves us to break down this brain/body barrier and recognize that we are, in fact, an organism of memory. And what are we, reproduced by DNA, but the products of communication of past events. "The universe", however we want to define it, uses us to communicate and to remember.

And so, can we suppose that the universe is a great consciousness? From all the above, it follows that the only reason to answer this question in the negative is if one assumes no continuity between events that either coincide or that follow upon each other, and the discoveries of quantum physics belie that notion. And as a surgeon would look in vain at a brain for evidence of thought, yet we know that the neurons and synapses do contain the bricks and mortar of thought, just as surely as a great fastball is contained in the arm of a pitcher even as he rests his elbow in the ice. And so, is it really such a stretch of the imagination to say, or is it really just evidence of lack of imagination to deny, that we could see the universe as the underlying bricks and mortar of the mind of God even as His thoughts are genuinely spiritual and not in any way material, and since we must be lucid enough to recognize that this is by way of analogy and certainly there is not a huge hippocampus in the sky, so this does not purport to be a direct one-to-one correlation between our brains and that of God, and so we must further allow that God the Creator Who created the physical universe may be making use of the stuff of it for a "brain", but His essence is still above and beyond it and not contained within it at all. But it does bring us to the idea that the "knowledge" that Adam had of his wife and her subsequent "conception" of a man contains within it a much richer, deeper, greater truth than our feeble public debates over "creationism" do even the slightest iota of justice to, and shame on all those who reduce it to such.

So what does this have to do with Catholicism? Well, everything. After the Fall is followed by the giving of the Law (by which we gain our knowledge of good and evil, if you go back to the early chapters of this blog), the culmination of the Faith, being the faith prefigured by the lamb and the unleavened bread of the Exodus, is the Holy Eucharist, the giving to the faithful of His Actual Body and Blood by Christ for our consumption. The Passover was mandated by God to the Israelites to be remembered every year, and so it was, until the Passover when Jesus was crucified, and even to the present day. And Jesus told His disciples, at the words of consecration, to "do this in memory of Me". And without these memories, without the liturgical year, would we alter our behavior to conform to the life of Christ? Would the Jews have remembered Jerusalem through 1900 years of diaspora if it weren't for the words of the psalm, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem"? What is a book, what is Scripture, if not an aid to memory? And what is DNA if not an aid to the memory of the universe to remake a life in its own image? The more we separate science and religion, the more we fracture the collective unconscious, the further we get from the memories and lessons God mandated for us, the more our culture exhibits the symptoms of mental derangement.