It is part of human nature to resolve patterns and to try to make sense of things. This is indisputably a critical factor in the evolution of our societies and our technology, but while continually assisting us, it also continually trips us up - we can't easily stop doing it. There's a face on the moon; there's another face on Mars, with pyramids; our history and geography are littered with signs, portents and clues to conspiracies hatched millennia ago; we are being visited from other planets and from other dimensions; the ancient ones had powerful secrets which are now hidden from us. It is too easy to find what might be proof, and it can be equally easy to fail to disregard it.
Our minds work overtime trying to make sense of the world around us. Some people are very successful at doing this and can make their fortunes in the process. Interestingly, they don’t necessarily have to get it right and sometimes an original interpretation might be of more value than a more mundane, more realistic, view – writers and artists do this kind of thing all the time. Some people start religious cults, which others cannot resist joining.
Language is the key, not necessarily the spoken or written language, although this article is mainly concerned with those. Visual language, too, provides us with many examples; always looking for faces, patterns and pictures in almost random dots; think of the constellations of stars with their imaginative names and associated mythological significance and history. Once we find patterns, we can look for movement and develop a language system which can make interpretations of what we see happen. Astrology is an example of this, but so is Astronomy. It would be a mistake to think that the universe speaks only one language – it will speak as many as we choose to devise for it. We listen to those most in keeping with our mindset.
The point is, with language, that once we create it, it can take on a life of its own, because it is a both a tool and a lens for our imagination. We create language so that we can express and communicate. We do not, however, create language so that it can be truthful. Truth is not really what language is about. Language is about embellishment; language is about creation; language is about making paths that just don’t exist, at least not yet.
But once the path has been made, people can use it; they can use it to go places; this is the true magic of language. The fact that it can take us to places that don’t exist, does not stop us from visiting them anyway, or from discussing those places with others, who have either been themselves or have some other interest in them.
The point is that our continual drive to understand and to formulate and use patterns to further our understanding of the world around us, leads us to consider the patterns themselves as having some kind of reality. This has happened before in the creation of systems of gods and supernatural beings to explain the natural world, and it will happen again and again. There is no easy way of separating different types of patterns because none of them truly arise from reality itself, but only from the workings of our imagination.
It is the way that we think and the way that we strive to understand things.
There is a natural order to the World and to the Universe; there is also a natural disorder to it and no real conflict between the two. The Universe is not at war with itself, but neither does it exist in balanced harmony; these concepts are ours and ours alone. To a certain extent they help us to understand, but that understanding is our need and it is there to satisfy our goals, even though we are not always that certain what those goals may be.
It is not true that our goal is simple understanding. Understanding is simply a means to an end. Understanding can give us some control and it can also give us the capability to plan. Both control and planning are, again, only means to an end.
Part of the problem is that the end is never clear; there is not a single end and, even if there was, it could never be meaningful in any real way. There is no end, there is only the journey.
There is a fundamental reality to the universe, but this is elusive to us and our understanding. The universe is not there to be understood; it is not a puzzle for us to solve, but our needs make it so. The fundamental reality of the universe is essentially alien to us; we cannot handle it, either in its immensity or in its complete impartiality to its inhabitants (us).
So we create another fundamental reality; a reality fashioned more to our liking which makes sense to us. This reality recognises us and gives us a framework in which we live our lives. This reality has the capacity to be understood and the capacity to be explored and explained. It is both subjective and objective and contains an emotional component. In a sense, it is God, and the realm that our gods inhabit. It may be a scientific framework; it may be a religious framework; it may even be an aesthetic framework, but it is just a framework and one which we have constructed for ourselves - not one which we have stumbled upon ready-made for us.
It is, of necessity, detached from reality. Disturbingly, for some, the detachment can be quite severe – our patterns are friendly to us and the way that we think; reality is not; we work with what we can understand and not with what we cannot.
For those of you wondering about the title, it is taken from The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll. It both makes sense, because it is intelligible, and yet doesn't, because it is not sensible as a question, but this does not preclude us from formulating an answer to it and the answer, despite the fact that the question is not strictly sensible, might still make sense. The reason that the sea is boiling hot is because we made it that way.