LETTERS ARE ARBITRARY SYMBOLS, NO MATTER THEIR PAST HISTORY
There is much written lately about the mystical meanings found in the Hebrew or especially Paleo-Hebrew shapes of letters. Though perhaps it makes for homiletic material, it has not actually deepened the meaning of the written Torah, and Tanaach. (To me; meaning is in the mind of he beholder; of course.)
I take this as a pathway into a discussion of “meaning”. Where is meaning found? What is noise, and what is not? Is there a kind of signal, or input that has a likelihood of having meaning? Is there anything specific about the signal that will indicate meaning or non-meaning? How deeply does the system penetrate the components of the system? I ask at times, “Is sand sandy?” Or “is a hair hairy?” Or, “is a single molecule of water wet?” Is the carbon atom in a living creature, also alive? If not, at what level of scale or connectivity does it become part of a physical living being?
There are several Torah Teachers expounding on secret wisdom found in the shapes of the Hebrew letters. It is apparently an attractive and fascinating idea. If the Hebrew Letters are God-given, they must in every way drip with meanings; if only we could read them!
On the other hand, (like Cigars being cigars), letters are sometimes just letters. Imagine a big flat screen TV with lifelike images of animals that will grab our dogs’ attention. Where is the meaning found? The image is absent at the level of the pixels. The image is constructed by rapidly changing patterns of color upon each pixel. One single pixel, an image does not make!
Or as physical beings, we know are alive. But are the components of our body alive? Maybe the organs can be said to be alive. Thus, the rush to bring organs from the brain-dead organ-donor to the recipient; it is a rush to keep the organs alive. But at still deeper levels of organization, organs are composed of types of tissues. A tissue in the biologic sense is a type of population of cells recognizable by a typical structure composed of specific cell types all working together towards the purpose of the organ. To watch living tissues is to watch a living colony. The next order of magnification is the cellular one.
Cells are said to die, therefore they too must be alive. To look into a cell, and to tease apart its myriad functions crosses some threshold.
The biochemistry in cells, though fantastically complex, is still based upon the same laws of chemistry found in non-living substances. At some level, life is made up of non-living materials, organized according to a separate non-living molecule, DNA.
It is perfectly correct to say that our bodies are made of atoms. Yet, to do so would be to make a true but inane statement. An individual atom of carbon, whether found in an amino acid, or a protein, in an enzyme, in a nucleotide, or in the graphite of a pencil or in a diamond crystal on a ring, is a Carbon atom, period.
To delve too deeply into some systems is to lose the essence of them. The essence of life is the choreographed interactions of non-living atoms and molecules. The life is in the system, not in its components. Returning to our original point about the Proto-Hebrew letters, and/or even the Hebrew block letters we all can recognize, is there a level of meaning there, or not?
Letters, are the components of the Torah, the Word. Yes, Elohim created all of Creation through His utterances of WORDS. And though words are spelled with letters, letters are only an agreed-to arbitrary system. Not until the 19th was the spelling of English fixed. When we read old documents and see “misspelled” words, we must remember that the words existed thousands of years before the system of writing developed, and even with writing, standard spelling was not regularized.
THERE IS A ‘NEW DIMENSION’ BEING RECOGNIZED. The Big 3: length, width, and height and the Time in which they exist make up our 4 dimensional spacetime. But a 5th Dimension is the Fractal Dimension! Fractals are patterns that appear similarly at a multitude of scales, or magnifications. From an observer existing at a given scale, the universe appears to exist at that scale. Humans alone, of all Creations have invented telescopes and microscopes and the tools of Chemistry and Physics to understand levels of scale vastly larger and vastly smaller than the one in which we live.
What seems to be a unity from looking from “above” resolves into a complex system when studied.
The key is to understand that the same exact object, shape, event, have extremely different meanings depending upon the scale of observation.
The coastline of Britain: can be measured off a map by running a string around the outer perimeter, and comparing that length to the scale of the map. At low scales, the perimeter would be low. To drive around the island of Britain keeping always to the most coastal roads, would be one length. To walk around the perimeter of Britain’s shoreline, would give a far greater length. To an ant trudging around the British Isle, the coastline becomes the line that passes from pebble to pebble with an immense number of inlets and peninsulas. To a mite hiking the circumference, each bump and dimple of each grain of sand or rock on the edge of the water makes it into a near eternal journey.
It is in our scale that Area and Perimeter appear to be related. And perhaps that is the way to define Fractal Scales. The magnification, in which Area and Perimeter are maximally correlated, is at a fractal quantum. Yes, even Fractals are in QUANTUMS. (QUANTAE?) The amount of magnification required to delve from one level of organization to the next, might be calculable. Perhaps a Constant function can be so described. As in physics, I would not be surprised to see the requirement of magnification between fractal quanta to increase by its square or cube. To see a tree with its branched pattern requires no magnification, for we share the same Fractal Level. The branches of the tree, in miniature after, say, an Ice Storm has ravished one’s massive hardwood trees heavy with autumn foliage; and tree-size limbs are on the ground, is to notice the same fractal design of the branches to the smaller branches, as the formerly huge trunk is to the larger branches. And still higher magnification may show a similar stem and branching pattern within the leaf structure. Still higher magnification may show the minitubule system branching and ramifying throughout the lobes of the leaf. Another level of magnification may reveal a microtubule system within the leaf cells, allowing photons of solar energy to energize chlorophyll to break the bonds of water, Hydrogen from Oxygen, and to hydrogenise Carbon dioxide to form sugar and release Oxygen. All components must be brought together, just so in order to work. Water, light, CO2 and Chlorophyll, must be assembled. Chlorophyll is an amazingly complex and specific protein. I would not be surprised that it exists in branching ramifying structures within he cells.
But, now to the main point! The WORD uses letters as arbitrary symbols. The evolution of writing indeed began with pictographs. These became stylized and began to serve as phonetic representations of other words that sounded like the word for the original pictograph. Though the letters may conserve some minimal relationship to the original pictograph, their meaning has been completely overwritten by making them stand for the phonetic sounds, of the original picture.
The old saw, the Hebrew Dalet (ד) is from “door”. Other words that that started with the same sound as that of “door” began to use that pictograph as the symbol for that sound. THE SYMBOL came to SYMBOLIZE THE SOUND! Letters do not code the meaning of the original pictograph with its host of meanings, only its sound. This would be as if some distant archaeologist studied ancient North American writing. The “W” in “Water” perhaps conserves the “waviness” of water. Yes, he would claim, see it in “wet”, too. So does “Warm” imply a North American philosophy in which heat is understood as a fluid filling all things with water? Winter: W, water, in, ter. Ter, means Earth. So Winter literally means “water in earth” and thus the warmth has gone underground until spring. WOW that sounds so “right” maybe I should publish my Paleo-English Philosophy?
By delving beyond the organization of the words, into the phonetic-based letters and their supposed conservation of meaning, is to err. The letters only once upon a time were derived from the sound of words with meanings. The key difference between alphabetical and pictographic writing is that the former treats letters purely as phonetic cues in order to preserve the sound of the formerly typic word.
Today’s new wisdom seeking to discover a pictorial meaning of Torah that transcends the Fractal Dimension in which the Torah is The Word, is to be like someone engrossed with the static “snow” on the TV screen between channels. As a YUTE with others under the influence of certain mycological samples we watched the screen between channels for hours. It was we all KNEW, (you had to be there!) like being in a space ship hurtling forward at multiples of light speed through time and space. Each burst of light emerging from the background had a beginning and an end. We were as starship voyagers witnessing the birth, evolution, civilization, and death of entire solar systems, in a single crackle and pop and light burst. But all we were really seeing was NOISE. Our brains are hardwired to seek patterns and meaning even where there are none. And when there are none, our minds will perceive them anyway.
SO BEWARE OF FALLING FOR THE HUMAN NATURE OF SEEING MEANING WHEN THERE IS NONE, AND EVEN MORE, ATTRIBUTING THAT MEANING TO ELOHIM!