Superposition of Feelings

The act of writing is like the collapse of a quantum waveform. So many things are in your mind, interacting with each other, unsaid. Many truths — some at odds with others — could be spun into a thread. But whatever you write crystallizes as the story. The other ephemera die.

Since speech is serial, it’s hard to portray the composite quality of real-time motivations, perceptions, emotions, impulses, sentiments, choices, …. I’ve heard that Chinese poetry can multi-track — and perhaps many great writers can — but not me. 

Quantum Quacks

Even Roger Penrose was roundly mocked for suggesting that quantum interactions in the brain relate to free will. Going the other direction, What the bleep do we know? draws several intellectually limp conclusions from quantum mechanics, e.g. that QM implies the possibility of telekinesis. (I would say that the authors must have leapt to conclusions from blurbs & pamphlets, except that Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli also took spiritualistic and parapsychological views on QM.)

So it would seem that connections between QM and psychology are limited to quackery.


However, QM is just an abstract mathematical theory. You don’t have to plug physical parameters into the formalism. In that sense you can abscond the superposition-and-collapse metaphor out of the subatomic realm where it was invented and apply it to other things — like thought.

In other words, you don’t have to talk about quantum superposition. You can talk about emotional superposition, opinion superposition, mood superposition, colour superposition (like, are these images green? red? blue? 1 2 3 4 5), personality superposition, guilt superposition, … and more.

If I say: “I had a superposition of thoughts during the bear attack which collapsed into a 1-D sequence when I told the story,” that is valid.

It’s neither what-the-bleep nor relying on quantum effects on my brain. I just appropriated the mathematical metaphor of superposition and the mathematical metaphor of collapse, to express how I can’t really tell you the whole story of the bear attack, and how the telling perverts the story itself.


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