The Emotional Monopole

  • Posted on: 7 December 2014
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe

In Larry Niven's Known Space series, asteroid miners would scour the black rocks of space for monopoles. A magnetic monopole is a hypothetical elementary particle in particle physics that is an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole (a north pole without a south pole or vice-versa). Magnetic fields have a north pole and a south pole. Such a thing is theoretically possible but likely doesn't exist. That is the great thing about physics. There is an order to it. A predictability. Yin and Yang. Positive and negative. It all makes sense. Even theoretical particles make sense.

Emotional, social and psychological domains are not ruled by physical laws. A friend said they “took the good with the bad.” Another said, their “good times could end.” I ask: why? Why do non-physical things have to have a positive and negative; a lifespan; or a life cycle? Our real world has demonstrated no monopoles. Our intangible world doesn't have to be bound by the same set of rules of economy and scarcity. Our north pole of “good times” doesn’t have to have a south pole of sadness. There’s no physical necessity in play to force sadness to exist to counter balance happiness. We can have an emotional monopole.

The real world does impact our lives. Poverty, prosperity, pain, pleasure: these all shape our physical well being and that will impact on our state of mind. They are circumstances that set the stage for mindset and mood, but they don’t need to be only ingredients. Some people live in squalor and happiness. Some people live in affluence and misery. If good circumstances cannot guarantee happiness, then bad circumstances do not need to point to a life going south. The decoupling of external factors and internal peace means we can find happiness in any set of circumstances.

Cause and effect are physical concepts. How does one free themselves from the expectation that physical laws will apply to the inner world? One way to free the mind of physical constraints is to look for mental exceptions of physical laws. Those exceptions can help to solidify that the inner world of your thoughts and the reactions don’t need to follow physical constraints.

  • Memory behaves like time travel. I march forward in this world, stepping through experiences in real time. Inside of my head, I can jump back 20 years and relive moments as vividly as if I was there again. In the physical world, it’s impossible to move backwards in time, yet it’s so easy to accomplish with memory.
  • Elaborate models can be built in your head. I write out long pieces in my head and then type them in. They spring from nothing. Building materials don’t appear in your driveway magically.
  • The destruction of physical structures take a lot of demolition. Mental models can be erased, buried, warped or destroyed in a moment. If destruction is so easy in our inner world, we can undo toxic models and structures. We don’t need to plan to dismantle them, we can commit to destroy anything we don’t want.
I put this up for debate: name a state of mind that has to follow physical rules.

Last updated date

Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 23:56