“Syntax” and “The Other Syntax”

January 17, 2008

Syntax

A man staring at his equations

said that the universe had a beginning.

There had been an explosion, he said.

A bang of bangs, and the universe was born.

And it is expanding, he said.

He had even calculated the length of its life:

ten billion revolutions of the earth around the sun.

The entire globe cheered;

They found his calculations to be science.

None thought that by proposing that the universe began,

the man had merely mirrored the syntax of his mother tongue;

a syntax which demands beginnings, like birth,

and developments, like maturation,

and ends, like death, as statements of facts.

The universe began,

and it is getting old, the man assured us,

and it will die, like all things die,

like he himself died after confirming mathematically

the syntax of his mother tongue.

From “The Active Side of Infinity” by Carlos Castaneda

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The Other Syntax

Did the universe really begin?

Is the theory of the big bang true?

These are not questions, though they sound like they are.

Is the syntax that requires beginnings, developments

and ends as statements of fact the only syntax that exists?

That’s the real question.

There are other syntaxes.

There is one, for example, which demands that varieties

of intensity be taken as facts.

In that syntax nothing begins and nothing ends;

thus birth is not a clean, clear-cut event,

but a specific type of intensity,

and so is maturation, and so is death.

A man of that syntax, looking over his equations, finds that

he has calculated enough varieties of intensity

to say with authority

that the universe never began

and will never end,

but that it has gone, and is going now, and will go

through endless fluctuations of intensity.

That man could very well conclude that the universe itself

is the chariot of intensity

and that one can board it

to journey through changes without end.

He will conclude all that, and much more,

perhaps without ever realizing

that he is merely confirming

the syntax of his mother tongue.

Also from “The Active Side of Infinity” by Carlos Castaneda