Hallucinations in the Multiverse

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The term “hallucination” comes from the Latin word “hallucinari,” which means “to wander in the mind” or “to dream.” This term was later adopted into English and has retained much of its original meaning. The concept of hallucination refers to perceiving something that is not actually present in reality, which can be likened to dreaming while awake. In other words, it’s a perception in the absence of external stimulus that has qualities of real perception.

There are various theories regarding the connection between multiverses. One prominent possibility is that consciousness serves as the primary driving force behind this connection. Consequently, consciousness appears to be an elusive concept for individuals like us who contemplate it.

The simulation argument implies a hierarchy of simulations that create the multiverse. According to this order, there must exist a fundamental reality at the deepest level that contains all the answers. This primary reality is considered the one that contains the switch to power down all the simulated pseudo-realities within. It is the ultimate frame that unifies the entire game.

The concept of the multiverse implies a horizontal rather than vertical approach. Universes that branch off are not distinguished by their level of reality but are akin to siblings diverging in different directions. Rather than being contained within each other, these universes are entangled.

Neurological disorders such as seizures or hallucinations associated with schizophrenia may result from a deeper connection with diverse stimuli than what is typical of the average brain. Famous examples are Dostoevsky, Munch, Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and Philip K. Dick.

Drugs, especially mind-altering ones, could break the membrane between alternate realities even further apart. Psychedelics would then, by rewiring our brains, give its internal network a new set of possibilities to play with. If done properly under medical supervision, this could have large health benefits for a population on the brink of switching realities on demand.

Large Language Models producing coherent fabrications, which may include references to plausible non-existent sources, hints at their ability to break down that membrane between coexisting realities beyond our current comprehension. As a result, it is feasible that quantum computers could explore this riddle at an even deeper level.

Many daily conventions fail on the periphery, allowing us to infer from the findings of our brightest minds such as Gödel and Turing that absolute objective, that is knowledge without any observer selection effects, cannot exist as naively expected by 20th Century science.

On the outskirts of mathematics, there are some really strange phenomena like the Banach-Tarski paradox or impossible surfaces like the Möbius strip.

The Möbius strip does contradict many of our spatial intuitions. These contradictions often arise from the non-orientable nature of the Möbius strip and the fact that it has only one side and one edge, which are counterintuitive concepts given our everyday experiences.

  • One-sidedness: In our everyday experiences, objects have an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’, or a ‘top’ and a ‘bottom’. However, the Möbius strip only has one side. If you start at any point on the strip and keep moving in one direction, you will eventually return to your starting point having traversed the entire surface, both what might intuitively seem like the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’.
  • Cutting the strip: If you cut a regular loop (like a rubber band) down the middle, you would expect to have two separate loops. However, if you cut a Möbius strip down the middle, you end up with one long loop that has two full twists. This is counterintuitive based on our experiences with cutting objects.
  • Non-orientability: In mathematics, an object is orientable if it has two distinct sides that can be distinguished from each other. The Möbius strip is non-orientable, meaning there’s no way to differentiate between what we might think of as the ‘top’ and the ‘bottom’ of the strip. If you were a two-dimensional being living on the Möbius strip, you could move from what you perceive as the ‘top’ of your world to the ‘bottom’ without ever crossing an edge.

The Möbius strip is a very good analogy for a mind or consciousness that reflects on itself. In meditation, it’s a technique called “observing your stream of consciousness.”

It’s like the Zen koan: the clapping of the single hand.

If our realities and the minds that are observing them are linked in a chain, we should prepare for the case that there might be no higher or lower, no deeper or shallower, no absolute reality.

Our mind and our language always bounce their head against these limits, like: What was before time? What is beyond the edge of the universe?

The mysterious function of sleep and dreams in many advanced mammals can be interpreted as a means of purging accumulated alternative energies resulting from observing and shaping daily reality. Higher intelligence is likely to generate a greater variety of universes on a regular basis. The primary purpose of sleep is then to reduce this rate of production and eliminate any lingering remnants of alternate realities that may cloud the mind. This slipping of reality is what could cause the mind to break down over enhanced periods of Insomnia and has lethal consequences.

The illusion than would be to believe there is a final reality consciousness can bubble up to.

Arts and literature seem to have sensed the multiverse a lot sooner than the sciences. Let me explain with a rather personal story from my life.

One of the earliest short stories that made a deep impression on my then-teenage mind is “Das Glück am Weg“. Only many years later was I able to decipher that it can be understood as – what I call – a Psychic Fiction story, where all the mind-bending happens in the inner world of the protagonist.

“Das Glück am Weg” is a short story by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, narrated by an unnamed protagonist who observes a woman on another ship through a telescope while aboard a ship himself. He is immediately drawn to her and attempts to recall where he knows her from. As he contemplates this, he experiences a range of feelings and memories, from music that reminds him of her, to specific scenes where he envisions her. He feels as though he has always known her and shares a special connection with her, even though he can’t precisely identify her.

He imagines a shared future with her, picturing in his mind how they would be sitting together on the terrace of a villa in Antibes, engaging in conversation. He is certain that they would speak a special language, and that her movements and expressions carry a deeper meaning. He feels his happiness lies in her, and that she embodies his desires and dreams.

However, he suddenly notices that the ships are moving apart, and he feels as though his life with her is slipping away. He watches as she slowly descends a staircase and disappears from his view, which to him symbolizes death and loss. He feels a profound emptiness and loss as though all being, and all memory are disappearing with her. He continues to stare at the receding ship and finally notices the name of the ship, “La Fortune,” which translates to “The Luck” in English.

For many years, when I came back to the story, I did not quite catch the deeper meaning of it. It was like a beautiful sphinx. It is very tempting to come up with the interpretation that all these emotions and pictures are not real, only imaginary things in the head of a slightly neurotic mind.

I am rather sure everybody has similar events in their life where they not only get a glimpse into one of those other simulations but where they could swear these things have happened. I remember one morning about 10 years ago when I awoke after a dream, being sure the dream was reality. And when I realized my surroundings, I completely broke down in tears. The loss of this other reality was unbearable, and I was convinced that this actual reality here was the fake reality. Somehow, one of my alternate egos and I were exchanged overnight by accident, like two babies in a hospital, diverging their realities by simply getting the wrong name tags. The experience was so disturbing that it led to a mental breakdown, from which I only slowly recovered.

Last year, I met a woman who I was sure was my wife in another branch. When I smelled her and thought of her, I was sure that I had known her for a long time. I even woke up one morning and sensed her lying in bed beside me. I was overwhelmed by gratitude to experience that moment. Due to circumstances, I never pursued that relationship in this reality. Our realities only touched each other fleetingly, but in the few moments we connected, I had an intimacy with her that I had missed for a long time. She managed to make me happy simply by enjoying the unrealized potential of our relationship. The other strange thing is that I knew for sure that this was the wrong reality to realize this relationship’s potential. I loved her deeply, but I was not ready to be loved by her. Whereas 10 years ago the unrealized potential had given me existential angst, I had now a better understanding how to integrate this kind of fleeting bliss.

The fortunate encounter is written down in one of my own short stories that is a variation on the theme from Hofmannsthal. It will be published on this blog at a later date.