Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Astonishmentality: A Review of “Spectrums”

Originally posted on November 7, 2012

A recent book, Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe From Infinitesimal to Infinity, written by David Blatner, my son, is really a great book, even though I may be biased. The author has opened his mind beyond what I’ve known, and his reaction, I’m proud to say, is, basically, "Wow!" But, not satisfied with wow-ing, David has gone on to explain why “wow.” He notes how various dynamics are strong or weak in relation to other parts of the spectrum, and the breadth of these spectrums themselves deserve their own “wow.”  David communi-cates through is writing a mixture of factuality and also what I call “astonishmentality,” a sublimation of what is for children a sense f innocent wonder. But adults should cultivate this, it’s a form of high innocence, manifested by those who know enough to be properly amazed, which is a sublime form of pleasure.

I relate this book to my own intuition about “mind-spectrums,” and that it is useful to imagine how many of our experiences of in-here (subjectivity) as well as out-there (objectivity) might be viewed as a spectrum ranging from hardly noticeable to overwhelmingly intense.

It’s useful also to notice the subtle differences in the mid-range, as such noticed gradations allow for all manner of gradations of response. As Gregory Bateson put it, information is a difference that makes a difference. That is, there are situations, roles, in which being discerning leads to relevant responses. There’s a line in a song that goes, “When you know the notes to sing, you can sing ‘most anything.” (This is from the song "Do, Re, Mi" in the Broadway musical (and movie) The Sound of Music.) Another example of meaningful difference: As illustrated by the stories about the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, when you know the different kinds of ash from different cigars, it can help you
solve murder mysteries. (This literary figure was inspired by an actual person, a physician, Dr. John Bell, whom the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, (Dr.) Arthur Conan Doyle—who used these writings to supplement his meager earnings as a physician—knew when Conan Doyle was in medical school in the mid-19th century.) So, being able to discriminate among subtle differences in the sounds of a heartbeat enables physicians to diagnose different kinds of underlying heart disease. The discrimination of subtle differences even in colors is meaningful if one is an interior decorator.

But there are so many subtle differences in so many things, and as our
culture advances, noticing how A is not the same as A’ is important in
certain situations. So, reading this book, savoring it, will (perhaps)
result in the following:
(1) You notice more in many directions, and take less of it all for
granted. This expands your experience of being vividly alive. You may not have to do extreme sports to experience aliveness, just increase your level of discrimination.
(2) It’s a good conversation source.
(3) It’s fun to communicate astonishmentality to your kids, it makes you
seem more vital to them, not so stuck-in-your-ways. It opens their minds a bit.
(4) You bring a bit more attention not only to differences within
various dimensions, but to the dimensions themselves—again, aspects of life that perhaps had become a bit over-familiar.
… well, I’ll think of more anon.

Anyway, google David Blatner Spectrums and go on a mind trip. It’s a spiritual-scientific-mind-world-changer!

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