Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Atoms of Nirvana

Damn the nerdslinger! Damn him!

Oh, sure, it happened oh so innocently, oh so spur-of-the-moment. We passed in the hall, and he spotted the paperback tucked under my arm as I juggled my overheated microwaved lunch. “Say,” he said, adjusting those Coke-bottles on the bridge of his nose, his acne and body odor double-teaming me against the wall in the narrow hallway. “Say, is that A Case of Conscience, by James Blish?”

I was caught in his web of wimpitude. I agreed that it was indeed Blish’s novel while he took a drag off his inhaler. I told him … well, I guess I told him what I told you all, two days ago.

Then, he seized my arm, inadvertently causing me to drop my bottle of Diet Coke. Then we both gonked heads as we simultaneously bent down to pick it up. “Jeez, sorry, man,” he said, redder than the vulture in that Bugs Bunny cartoon. “But hey – what did you think about the atoms in chapter 8?”


“Check it out, man!” He went on his way, turning to smile and wave, walking into the swinging door the wrong way. And while I was contemplating my radioactive General Tso steamed chicken, I thumbed through chapter 8 and there it was:

An atom is just a-hole-inside-a-hole-through-a-hole

I’ve figured out the vehicle for me to attain nirvana!

Preferably, I’d need to have a net worth of about $150 million, but that’s beside the point. All I’d have to do is pack my bags and hop in the car, yelling to the wife, “Honey, I left thirty grand on the dining room table for take out and day trips. See ya in a month!”

Then, I’d drive up to a secluded mountain getaway next to a lake I own. And for the next thirty days, for several hours a day, all I would do would be meditate on what this means:

An atom is just a-hole-inside-a-hole-through-a-hole

What can this possibly mean? I mean, we’ve all heard of different metaphors to explain the unexplainable, in this case, the atom. Way back in grade school, it was a miniature solar system. In high school it was shells. Later, in college, they told me they was strings, loops of energy, edges of higher-dimensional thingies, or a collection of quarks and gluons, which somehow would attain infinite mass if one could manage to pull those charmed building blocks apart.

(Breathe …)

What would a “hole” mean? First impression leads me to a wormhole. A tunnel – maybe out of this universe, maybe not. What needs to be settled is whether it’s a finite hole (a hole with a bottom), or an infinite hole (which we’d call a tunnel).

Now, a hole inside a hole. Hmmm. Two things to consider. Imagine a generic, run-of-the-mill hole, such as one you might dig in your backyard to bury your nerd-friend’s Star Trek: The Next Generation DVD set. A hole-inside-a-hole could either be something in the hole (i.e. the negative of a negative is a positive), or it could ratchet the whole thing up a notch and go somewhere else entirely, something beyond our experience. Picture a door at the bottom of that backyard hole. When you open it, you see the surface of Altair IV. Or something.

But what the heck is it about this “through-a-hole” business? “Jeez,” to quote the nerdslinger. Now the first thing that’s popping into my mind are my sneakers. Specifically, the laces. I’m thinking knot, here, and that’s leading my to think back to string theory. I’ve tried to visualize an infinite hole within a finite hole, and somehow tie that back around itself and voilĂ  – I have an atom in mind.

Damn that nerd! I can’t stop thinking of atoms, now, and before you know it, I’m gonna either be one hysterically crazy dude or I’ll be enlightened.

Which you guys, the uninitiated, would call by the term insane.

Damn him!

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