about a triad
Physics of the 18th century dealt with the movement and transformation of matter. That of the 19th introduced the notion that various forms of energy - work, heat, electrical, chemical, biological, etc - are mutually interconvertable, transforming one into the other according to the laws of thermodynamics. Then, at the start of our century, Einstein's E=MC2 showed the mutual transformation of matter and energy. Now at the end of the 20th we should perhaps entertain the notion of a triad (matter, energy, information) in place of the duality matter-energy.
It is certainly true that, with the rise of the computer, digital representations of all kinds, and electronic communications, the 20th century has become the age of information. Yet information is generally treated as something passive, ie. in Information Theory, information is a cargo being shipped from sender to receiver.
arguments to suggest
that information also plays an active role. Vision is a
in point. As signals move from the retina along the optic nerve they
a flood of information coming down from the visual cortex. This
flow arises out of the various strategies employed in seeing and has
effect of actively screening, coding and comparing incoming signals. In
this sense our vision is not a passive gathering of information but
a purposeful activity of information throughout the entire visual
from the muscles around the eyes to the cortex itself.
The analogy can also be made with language, since the word, as information, also acts within the body. This corporialization of words was recognized by Wilhelm Reich and later Jacques Lacan. In this sense the word is made flesh and dwells within us. Language is not a passive carrier of information but an activity in its own right. Language exerts an influence on how we think, act and perceive. In turn, social changes are reflected in transformations of language. It is the job of the poet to transform society by purifying language and transforming the activity of words. Indeed, it becomes the responsibility of each of us to hold onto words and help them retain their power and their purity.
activity of information
extends right into the quantum domain. David
Bohm's ontological, or causal, interpretation invokes active information
in a particularly interesting way. By
way of a caution, in his later years at least, Bohm stressed that his
interpretation was not so much supposed to be a realistic account of
occurs in the quantum domain but simply a demonstration that
to conventional quantum theory and Bohr's Interpretation are logically
is not something passive that is carried by a book, telephone line
or radio wave, but an actual activity in nature,
a physical form, albeit subtle, that has its interaction with matter
energy. And just as matter and energy are mutually convertible, the
may be true of matter-energy and information.
This page last
July 11, 1999