Mid term paper in Feminist Philosophy and Religious Thought with Mara Keller at California Institute of Intergral Studies FAll 2004
The emphasis of this paper is on the a-temporal landscape common to both the collective unconscious and the block universe of relativity. Part I situates two important contributors to the history of a-temporality: Mileva Maric for her unacknowledged work on relativity and Marie Louise von Franz for her understanding of the relativistic implications for the study of human consciousness through psychology and religion. A-temporality can be very difficult for our temporally bound minds to grasp. My discussion in Part II of this paper builds on the work of Maric and von Franz and offers new ways of thinking about time. I hope to help to reconcile the seemingly incompatible realms of temporality and a-temporality, and to draw attention to the discussion’s parallels with its dual cultural context of masculine and feminine.
The focus of part 1 of this paper falls on two particular women’s contributions to the intersection of philosophy and religion, specifically through the lenses of physics and psychology. I will look into the recent evidence for Mileva Maric’s contributions to Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Building on the notion of relativity as a characteristically feminine intuition, I will utilize the more explicitly holistic work of Marie-Louise von Franz (a student and collaborator of Carl G. Jung) to explore the connections between relativity and spiritual cosmologies. In tracing the work of these women I will also attend to their biographical realities with special attention to the issue of gender and its relevance to intellectual women today. One of the notable divergences between the two women lies in that Maric received no credit for her work while von Franz succeeded in securing her place as a notable intellectual contributor. Thus my closing section of part 1 will address the issue of intellectual credit and ownership as it interfaces with women’s issues and work of relativity.
Mileva Maric was born in 1875 to a wealthy family in Serbia. She was the third child, though her first two siblings died in infancy and her mother, Marija, dressed in black for the rest of her life. Mileva was, in effect, the oldest child, and the only child for eight years before the birth of her sister and brother. Mileva’s father, Milos, devoted a great deal of attention to her and facilitated the continuation of her studies at a boys’ prep school at a time when few women were afforded such opportunities.
Mileva entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich at age 21 as the only female student, though the fifth in its history. There she met 17 year old Albert Einstein. The two corresponded while Mileva studied in Heidelberg. The correspondence reveals Mileva’s excitement about her studies which directly relate to Einstein’s later paper on Brownian motion which started his annus mirabilis, or miracle year, which made him famous. When she returned they pursued a more intimate relationship. Her parents approved — his protested: her disability (a displaced hip from birth), intelligence, Serbian heritage, age, and Catholicism seemed unacceptable.
In the rapture of a new relationship they both failed their final exams. Though Einstein somehow received a diploma, she did not. It was Mileva who supported the couple through the next year while Einstein looked for work. He then returned to his family in Italy while she worked as a lab assistant and prepared to retake her exams. On a visit she became pregnant and Albert became distant. She failed her exams again and gave birth to Lieserl at home in January of 1902. It seems Albert never went to see his daughter. Albert’s father, Hermann, finally consented to the lovers’ marriage on his death bed the same year. In 1903 Mileva and Albert married. The fate of Lieserl is unknown. She contracted scarlet fever at 19 months. There is controversy as to whether she died or was put up for adoption.
This was the context of Mileva and Albert’s lives in the years immediately preceding the 1905 publication of the four papers that would propel Einstein into global acclaim. He was working six days a week at the patent office as Mileva recovered from the loss of her child and came to terms with her own stunted career. She gave birth to their second child, Hans Albert, in 1904. Mileva wrote to her good Serbian friend from the Polytechnic, Helene, “We finished some very important work that will make my husband world famous.” The annus mirabilis commenced. Einstein published four influential papers that continue to shape the world of physics and establish him as the genius of our times. But what of Mileva’s contributions?
In 1909 the Albert became a professor in Zurich and was continually unfaithful. Another child, Eduard, was born in 1910. One of Albert’s mistresses, his cousin Elsa, later became his second wife. On Albert’s 34th birthday Elsa sent him a card. Mileva’s absence at that evening’s party was conspicuous. Her friends visited the next day to find her face swollen and bruised.
Albert soon moved to Berlin and lived with Elsa. Mileva refused to go and stayed in Zurich at a boarding house with the boys. Albert demanded a divorce and Mileva fell ill and was in and out of the hospital thereafter. Her friend Helene and then her sister Zorka looked after the boys until she too became ill and entered a psychiatric hospital. Her breakdown was likely the result of being gang raped by Croatian soldiers. Finally Mileva agreed to a divorce on the condition that she receive any future Nobel Prize money. Einstein then married Elsa, after her daughter turned down Einstein’s first proposal. Elsa allowed Albert’s other mistresses.
Mileva scraped by on some money from the divorce settlement and from tutoring jobs. But she was soon needed at home in Serbia to help her aging parents deal with Zorka’s psychosis. Her beloved father died of a stroke and Mileva had to have her sister declared incompetent. The same year, 1922, Einstein won the Nobel Prize and fulfilled his agreement with Maric to give it all to her. With the money, Mileva invests in three properties.
Between 1929 and 1939 Mileva loses most of what she loves in life. Her mother, sister, and one grandchild died. Eduard was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Albert and her son, Hans Albert, moved to the US separately. Mileva struggled to survive and care for her schizophrenic son without Albert’s help, but her health failed her in 1940 and she died.
Maric and von Franz and the Rise of the Feminine
Progress toward an equitable society arrives in a “two-steps-forward-one-step-back” sort of a dance. While Maric’s life appears to have been a true testament to the horrific nature of patriarchy, by taking a larger perspective one can actually see the pivotal role she played in bringing about the integration of the feminine and the scientific. It was her small battles of educating herself against cultural norms, engaging the ideas of the day, and even her alliance with Einstein, that facilitated her ideas permeating into society at large. The larger war may have seemed lost as her recognition and future career was destroyed. But the fact that her work lived on, through Einstein, has huge repercussions that even we cannot fully know. The larger scope of this “progress” seems to mark out a pendulum swing from one end of the spectrum to the other rather than a linear march. For the purposes of this paper we’ll implement a feminist lens which marks out the pendulum swing between masculine (the particulate, analytic, either/or) and feminine (the wave-like, holistic, both/and).
The interesting evidence of Maric’s influence that has risen to the surface in the past 20 years with the release of Einstein’s private letters, points to the feminine embodiment of what might be considered science’s return to a feminine reality. The holistic nature of relativity and wave/particle duality mark a shift from a divisive science to a science of unification, as I claim – a masculine dominated science to a science with a feminine face. The face of Mileva Maric offers the physical evidence for such a claim.
The correspondence between Einstein and Maric reveals not only a deep romantic bond that would bring them three children, but an intense intellectual exchange that no doubt played a role in the fruition of Einstein’s famous papers. The doubt arises, however, in accessing exactly what type of role Maric played and to what extent she contributed to Einstein’s famous work.
Unfortunately, we have mainly just Einstein’s letters to go from. Only a few of Maric’s survived, and of those that did most are brief and of matters inconsequential to this study. The intentionality of this particular loss of evidence is certainly suspect. It is obvious from Einstein’s letters alone however, that the exchange on the matter of physics between the pair was quite rich. He continually refers to the joys of studying together, and to theories that he has come across that he knows she will enjoy. We can see from at least one of Maric’s letters (the earliest one we have) that she holds equal part in this exchange as she shares with Einstein information she has recently learned and is excited about. Maric had the occasion to write Einstein because she studied in Bern for a semester after meeting Einstein during their first year in Zurich at the Swiss Polytechnic. In early letter she enthusiastically relates information from a lecture on the motions of particles, new research that Einstein may not have come across otherwise. As a matter of fact, the information she shares with him had direct connections to his first famous paper on Brownian motion. From this instance alone, it is obvious that the pair influenced each other’s thinking greatly.
In 1905 Maric/Einstein published four papers that changed the course of physics and which we are still trying to understand and integrate today. While the original manuscripts have been lost, a man who worked at the journal where they were published claims the original manuscript of the 3rd paper, the one on relativity, was signed Einstein-Marity (a culturally appropriate form of Maric), though published under Einstein solely. While some claim that the addition of a wife’s maiden name was a cultural convention of the time and place referring solely to Albert, others assert it attests to the co-authorship of Maric and Einstein. While the physics community was unable to come to a definite conclusion on whether or not Maric out to be credited in Einstein’s work, I find the evidence of Maric’s contribution substantial enough that I will refer to the work of Einstein/Maric rather than attributing the work to Einstein only. The nature of the Einstein/ Maric revolution in physics is fascinating it its role in the entirety of human history for one simple reason. It marks a very subtle, but very significant turning point in the return to the feminine.
The turning away from the feminine began with the death of the matrilineal era executed by people of warfare. It grew through the centralization of power under patriarchal religion and culminated in three centuries of witch burnings and the subsequent scientific revolution characterized by dissociation and objectification. While we are still suffering the effects of this dissociation from nature, our bodies, sexuality, and femaleness, the revolution of 20th century physics found the natural reversal which occurs when ever any process is taken to its extreme. Physicists were on the verge of having it all figured out when it blew up in their faces. I refer to this reversal as a return to the feminine because the previous culture honored isolation and definition – – a methodology which eventually, paradoxically, yielded interconnectedness and mystery through relativity and quantum mechanics. The feminine, holistic, and chaotic, and so long degraded, began gaining ground in the reassertion of its reality and importance.
The particular contribution of Maric/Einstein to this return to the feminine comes through wave/particle duality and relativity. Wave/particle duality establishes the validity of both/and complementarity validating the possibility of multiple, seemingly conflicting, views as equally true. Through the use of metaphor — the “masculine” as particulate, and the “feminine” as wave form — the two are placed on equal footing, both influencing the other without either maintaining ultimate control. Obviously the metaphoric connotation has yet to fully take hold, perhaps because humans aren’t as logical as we like to think. The slow progress of the power of logic and ethics over “might-makes-right” and religious fervency offers hope for a possible avenue of eventual development even in the face of seemingly impossible slowness.
Relativity has a similar metaphorical connotation – that there is no absolute frame of reference. Here again, we see a de-centering of authority and power, a move not likely made by one empowered by the dominant structure, but more likely by those in whose interest it is to subvert that dominant structure with the validity of their own truth. Wave/particle duality was radical because it was not choosing sides like all the other scientists of the day; it honored the validity of both. My reading of wave/particle duality and relativity as theories created by someone in a position of subjugation seems to strengthen the case for the contributions of Maric, as a woman who experienced oppression daily.
One could argue that Einstein, being Jewish, might have been thinking from a de-centralized position as well. But the evidence that Einstein experienced this discontinuity with power as pungently as Maric did seems unlikely, as his status in society seems unmarred by anti-Semitism, even before his success as a scientist. In Einstein’s letters to Maric he never mentions being the victim of possible anti-Semitism even when he feels unjustly brushed off by professors. He does however refer bluntly to how he will receive a newly available apprenticeship over Maric, because he is a man.
One could also argue that Einstein was an ally to Maric and his empathy so developed as to take on the struggles of womanhood. But as we shall see, his mistreatment of her later in life denies this empathy and belies an entrenchment in the structure of power which serves him and repeatedly neglects the subjectivity of others.
It is also possible that Einstein was integrated in his abstract theoretical life despite a failure of that integration in his everyday world. But again this points to Maric’s influence. Einstein had practical experience with science from his father’s business before arriving at school, but it is unlikely his theoretical speculations developed until the Swiss Polytechnic. He and Maric entered at the same time. Her understanding of power structures, as a woman and a Serbian, is likely to have been well honed after a lifetime of struggles. Thus her theoretical framework for both/and thinking was well in place by the time she entered the Swiss Polytechnic. It seems likely that it was her influence that developed Einstein’s theoretical intuition as it did.
Furthermore, Einstein is notorious for not crediting the predecessors on which his work is based, as evinced in his paper on relativity which shockingly boasts no citations. Anyone familiar with the mental development of average young men finds no shock in the arrogance and lack of sensitivity evident in such a move by a man of 26. One is likely even to look on it with a smile and playful understanding often awarded in a “boys will be boys” attitude. While patriarchy may excuse such behavior, since it makes the rules of credit anyhow, the current era of transition toward the holism of the feminine requires greater respect and complexity of interplay between ego and community, respect and oppression.
Luckily, we see evidence of a shift in the crediting of women in von Franz’s contributions to the interdisciplinary pursuit of holism. Though she also worked with a very powerful and intelligent man, she managed to emerge from his shadow as a significant intellectual figure in her own right. Her work is so apt for the task because its very core is rooted in symbol and metaphor. This is the language to cultivate in order to navigate between the vast divisions of the modern mind. By looking at stories, dreams and nature and carefully drawing out the messages for one’s everyday life via the symbols and their meanings, von Franz honed the skills necessary to look at the realm of physics and recognize symbols and patterns contained therein that can also apply to our daily lives. It was this very perspective which led her to the conclusion that the rich symbolism of alchemy could offer a hope of escape from the painful shortcomings of patriarchal religion – the exclusion of the feminine and the problem of evil.
This bridging of the intellectual and the practical spheres of life perhaps comes more naturally to women whose existence is embedded in the practical. Some men remain removed from this practical sphere for their whole lives, moving from the care of mother to wife, never having to cook or clean for themselves. This separation from the realm of daily life creates a bubble which makes intellectual work possible while at the same time preventing it from reaching back into the socially embedded realm. This same divide prevents the dialogue between the intelligentsia and the working class.
Von Franz herself makes the gender distinction between what men and women work for. She claimed men work for an objective, whereas women work for what they love. In the same way she noted that men would only produce, “dry, rational stuff” without the inspiration of women. She claims that rarely will a woman do creative work without being in love. For women this is primary, for men it is secondary. 
Von Franz and Jung
While the publication of Einstein’s private letters to Maric illuminated her life and significance, the matter with Marie-Louise von Franz is somewhat different. While von Franz achieved copious publications, little is publicly known about her private life. She just passed away in 1998, so researchers do not yet have access to her personal correspondences or diaries. Thus, it is harder to access what hidden struggles she might have endured as an intellectual woman. While her biographic information is sketchy, there is enough to provoke speculation.
We know that she came from a wealthy Austrian family and received a superior education. At age 18 she met Jung and he profoundly affected her. She studied classics and then established a relationship with Jung by translating Latin and Greek alchemical texts in exchange for psychoanalysis.
She continued to work closely with Jung throughout his life. Her main work has been in the symbolic interpretation of fairy tales, but I would like to focus on her work with numbers and time. Jung handed down some work he had started but would be unable to finish in his lifetime. She hoped to find a suitable person to pass the work along to, but without success. She eventually pursued the work herself culminating in two books, Number and Time, and Time: Rhythm and Repose.
Von Franz’s close involvement with Jung also led to her dialogue with relativity through the attempts of Jung and physicist Wolfgang Pauli to establish a common ground for relativity and depth psychology. Von Franz encouraged Pauli to engage his own unconscious in dialogue via active imagination in order to break through the barrier between “meaning” (the fluid unknown of depth psychology) and “words” (the concrete manipulability of the quantitative modern physics). Pauli’s vision, “The Piano Lesson,” offered a cryptic unification facilitated by complex (imaginary, i) numbers. The important role attributed to the “i”, requires a person of many hats to unfurl. Pauli didn’t/couldn’t decipher it, and neither did Von Franz to whom he dedicated the vision. She comments on the way the vision ended,
At the end he returns to worldliness, the anima sadly plays a melody on the piano, left alone instead of in relationship. The ring he is offering me there, so to speak, is suspended in the air, and the master — whom we would call the self – disappears. So for me ‘The Piano Lesson’ ends very disappointingly. It makes me sad, like the whole thing makes me sad. If you want me to sum up the relationship: I tried to pull him out and didn’t succeed.” 
Thus the work of integrating physics and psyche still lies ahead of us. Von Franz contributed a number of exceptional insights into the crossover between these two fields. One of the arenas which bridges relativity and psychology is the mutual mystery of time. Perhaps in understanding this we may establish greater clarity in the relation of the two fields which contain it. Von Franz, well established as a primary carrier of Jung’s intellectual lineage, was thus well situated to persist in the project of bringing the feminine vision of holism to bear in this fascinating realm of intersection. And she did.
The Feminine Perspective of Marie-Louise von Franz
Von Franz comments, “It is a remarkable coincidence that, at approximately the same time as physicists discovered the relativity of time in their field, C. G. Jung came across the same fact in his exploration of the human unconscious.” Her profound insight into and expression of relativity’s implications for our understanding of time are rare and significant for working toward a truly inclusive worldview. Not only does she recognize relativity’s important perspective on time but she draws crucial parallels to various spiritual understandings of time via psychological parallels, thus forming a basis for dialogue between the disciplines.
Von Franz recognizes the parallel between the so-called “arrow of time” and the conscious ordering of events on one hand, and the coextension of the timeless realms of the Minkowski-Einsteinian block universe and the unconscious on the other. She catalogues the instances of experiences of timelessness including, mystical states, flashes of intuitive insight, Aboriginal dreamtime, primordial time, dreams, intoxication, coma, collective unconscious, etc. Von Franz draws her parallels by weaving the work of many others into her grand synthesis:
It is as if in a dream one would rather experience a pictorially represented cluster of events perceived simultaneously, while the conscious mind when recording these dream events later would automatically put them in an order which we perceive as a logical sequence of time. This seems to lend some support to the idea of a block universe with which the unconscious would be coextensive…. Following William James, Jung and Pauli compared this concept (the unconscious) with the concept of field in physics and Niels Bohr pointed out that the relationship between conscious and unconscious is a complementary one…Costa de Beauregard’s suggestion to consider the unconscious as timeless and coextensive with the Minkowski-Einsteinian ‘block universe’ appears to the psychologist to be a new and more precise formulation of the age-old archetypal idea of an ‘other time.’” 
One might read excerpts like the above and see only a compilation of others’ ideas. But I recognize this type of scholarship as the most necessary and lacking in the scholarly world today. This is where true synthesis of ideas takes place in the in-between spaces crossing and linking disciplines. This is the work of feminine holism, the synthesizing rather than the analyzing. We have become a world dissociated by analysis and we must now cultivate our spaces of merging those parts we have deciphered and disentangled to re-establish a whole which makes sense and gives guidance for how to proceed. This is a truly holistic perspective of time, which, should we choose to accept it, could truly reframe our understandings of ourselves and our relationship to the world, the cosmos, and the divine.
Integration is a natural function of the feminine. As the ones who hold the space of the family providing the grounding necessary for individual pursuits, women cannot afford to neglect any aspect of life. Even today as times and roles change, women are still trying to do it all, because often, if they don’t, it won’t get done. As integration and inclusion finds greater expression in the intellectual world it also begins to bridge the realms of the mind, heart, body, and spirit.
The subtle difference between universalism and integrative inclusion is important to call attention to. Both are based in parallels between seemingly disparate realms of reality. What is done with those parallels is where the difference comes in. The difference is significant because it is a matter of ethics. Often, attempts to universalize neglect substantial elements of reality which may object to being characterized in the terms of the dominant culture. This illustrates the lack of respect implicit in the one way dialogue of dissociative and consumptive intellectual engagement that has been the status quo since the Scientific Revolution.
The return to the feminine ethic of participatory inclusion is apparent in many realms already and offers hopeful promise for our future. In service of this ethic, parallels drawn across difference serve, as they do in empathetic “kitchen table talk,” to create understanding and community, not to reduce one person’s experience to another’s. Thus I feel I can more strongly attest to the importance of von Franz’s work in drawing parallels across disciplines because I respect the integrity of each system of thought on its own and hope to facilitate a dialogue rather than to universalize. I firmly believe that the answers to the questions that are left exist in this realm of interdisciplinary discourse and that von Franz’s works is an integral step in the right direction. Only by engaging the clues provided by all the sources will we ever approach a complete account for our experience of time.
Life Comparison: Accomplishment and Acknowledgement
The most noticeable difference between Maric and von Franz is regarding their professional success and recognition. Maric has just recently been recognized as a possible contributor to Einstein’s work, whereas von Franz has numerous publications and maintains enormous stature in psychological circles. What made the difference for these women, born a mere generation apart?
There seem to be several key factors that affect the success of a woman’s intellectual endeavors. First, obviously, both women were from the upper classes which afforded them the education foundation from which to launch their careers in the first place. Both were also born in the midst of warfare – Maric in the perpetual conflict of Yugoslavia and von Franz fleeing her native Austria at the age of 4. Maric’s terrorization due to Serbia’s instability continued throughout her life, especially horrifically in the solider gang rape of her sister and her subsequent psychosis in their adult years. Von Franz’s early encounter with war also had a profound effect on her even at the tender age of 4. Later she came to recognize a dream she had at that age as a turning point. She lost faith in the idea of a loving God, because of the terrors of WWI, and came to confront an unknown God.
Perhaps Maric was never able to confront the unknown Gods of her tragedies and thus unable to challenge those tragedies in which she may have been able to shift the outcome. Perhaps her resignation to oppression was a result, not of personal choice but, of sheer impossibility due to the weight of her multiple oppressions. Perhaps the psyche develops its greatest resiliency in dealing with challenges in the abstract realm of ideas as von Franz seems to have encountered them, rather than in the flesh as Maric continually faced them. Emotions tend to register an entire field of experience, carrying the weight of that entirety. The dissociated nature of intellectual objects, however, allows a certain detachment from the wholeness of their context, and thus an ease of manipulability impossible with emotional reality.
A key difference between the two women, which jumped out at me almost immediately, is the differences in their domestic responsibilities. Maric married her collaborator and had three children, gaining the emotional and temporal responsibility that come with basic child rearing, not to mention losing one child early, and continued care of another experiencing the ravages of psychosis. Von Franz on the other hand, never married nor had any children. Jung’s wife who also had aspirations for an intellectual career, sacrificed it as family roles fell into place, and she ended up tending to Jung’s needs more than cultivating her own work. Emma Jung never finished the one book she was working on, and von Franz finished it and brought it to publication for her. Because of Emma Jung and perhaps the generational gap between herself and the Jungs, von Franz avoided falling into the role of caring for Jung and was able to focus her energies on her own work. Unraveling the mystery of why von Franz never married must wait for the release of her personal papers. But without a doubt, her independence facilitated her prolific work. One can only imagine what she could have done had she a husband attending to her meals and cleaning!
The differences in time periods and fields are also worth attending to. Maric blazed a path in a field at a time that few other women even considered. One can’t help but wonder if her two failures of the exit exams at the Swiss Polytechnic were based less on her skill as a physicist than on the school’s refusal to credential a woman to teach upper level male students. Even today it is still suspiciously difficult for talented women to achieve and advance in teaching positions in the sciences. Physics and psychology differ in sexual exclusiveness as well, with psychology boasting a more equal gender distribution among its practitioners than male-dominated physics. Von Franz’s university education was in philology, a field perhaps less influenced by power politics than physics.
The generation between the two women came at a pivotal time in the growth of women’s opportunities. Von Franz’s career stretched well into the second half of the 20th century, while Maric’s was stunted barely a few years into it. Thus while von Franz was able to trail blaze and capitalize the successive achievements of intellectual women as their lot improved over the course of the century, Maric had already been quietly shuffled out of the academic arena.
Certainly, many variables conspired to create the very different fates of these two women. But it seems painfully obvious that their hindrances have little to do with their lack of ability and everything to do with societal expectations and limitations of women. While the intellectual shift may be swinging towards the integrative, and women seem to be gaining ground on a number of fronts, it remains to be seen how the framework in which we operate at the most basic levels can organically restructure itself in the process of a shift towards the feminine. Most telling will be society’s ability to integrate the role and value of domestic duties into the notion of success, and thus the notion of what constitutes a well spent work day. I, for one, still await the time when neither family nor work restricts the other, but both mutually enhance the flourishing of the other, for both parents.
I resist the hierarchies of intellect which likes to profess so-and-so as one of the “most influential thinkers of his time…” This perspective weighs heavy on the primacy of the individual and neglects their context, the contributions of all their conversation partners, and others thinking the same thoughts though unrecorded or unpublished. The higher someone’s pedestal rises, the greater my desire to draw attention to and credit the context from which we extract them. Albert Einstein rides one of our highest pedestals entitled “genius.” Try on this shift of perspective: from the notion of Einstein as the author of a scientific revolution to Einstein as an indicator of a changing humanity. To see Einstein as an indicator, both produced by and shaping of his context, honors the context as well as the individual.
This perspective parallels Maric/Einstein’s own conception of the wave-particle duality of light. The particle gets singled out and closely defined, while the wave provides the background and tends to evade concrete definition, preferring to lurk in the realm of probability. Both are necessary for the other, and neither is more primary. By recognizing this non-dual reality in the abstract, Einstein paved the way for the recognition of his own non-duality, in that his genius is not only his own. He is the indicator of what the universe was ready for humanity to birth. His contributions are encompassed in and dependent on the contributions of his collaborators, his educators, his family, his country, this planet, the universe and even ourselves in our participation in the propagation of these ideas.
This is one struggle I face as an intellectual woman. On one hand I lean toward the notion that credit for an idea is kind of like ownership of the land – a convention which may bolster individual industriousness but is, more often than not, a detriment to healthy community relations. Historically men have owned women, as they have owned land and ideas. In understanding this abuse I resist the patriarchal culture of ownership. But if I do not conform to this convention of ownership and fight for my credit, then the dominant culture will gladly award the credit and success of my work to a man.
Thus I would like to acknowledge that women of intellect are still stuck between a rock and a hard place, in that the decision between ego credit and community health is also a decision between respect and continued oppression. While this may sound hopeless, it is no less than the paradoxes of spirit and physicality, male and female, and life and death, whose constant interplay bring us alive in their complex togetherness.
Ownership provides a definition and a structure to the physical and intellectual landscape similar to the way a particle offers a way to talk about the energetic landscape. But there is a key difference between the human manifestation of this analogy and its manifestation in the microcosmic world. The particle and the wave are ultimately equally balanced in power with neither dominating the other. Perhaps through greater observation of this dynamic we may come to an understanding of how men and women can live together in mutually respectful way. But our understanding of how to transfer this knowledge from the realm of physics to the lived realm of social reality has not yet achieved fruition.
The key is interdisciplinary, holistic, characteristically feminine dialogue. We have seen how Maric and von Franz brought this important impulse of synthesis to their respective fields. Maric formulated the physical version and von Franz brought it into dialogue with depth psychology. The answer is in the both/and as well as the either/or. Their divergent ways of navigating its changing waters offer community and foundation for those of us traveling in their wake. May we continue the conversation with careful intuition, attention, and clarity to strive toward a holistic vision through whatever radical difference it may manifest.
I seek to continue the conversation with my own interpretation of time at the intersection of perspectives of physics and psychology. My interpretation makes explicit a philosophical interpretation of Maric’s relativity that provides the scientific landscape for von Franz’s connections between the timeless realm of the Minkowski-Einsteinian (Maric) block universe and the timelessness of the unconscious. I explicate the role of timelessness in relativity and more closely examine the relationship between consciousness and time.
I use the speed of time as my starting point. I find this to be a significant commonality between the psychological experience of time and the relativistic description of time. In the psychological experience of time we often refer to time as flying, dragging, or doing anything but conforming to the standards of the clock. It seems that our experience of time can change its relationship to linear, quantized clock time.
We know this is also true for other-than-human aspects of reality through our understanding of relativity. According to the theory of relativity the faster something goes the slower time goes. Thus, the speed of time is changeable, rather than the steady linear progression we’re taught to accept as reality. When taken to its extreme, relativity offers not only a map of time’s changeability, but something entirely new as well.
The extreme I’m referring to is the speed of light. Like I said, the faster something goes the slower time goes. Since the speed of light is the upper limit for how fast anything can move, what does time look like from its perspective? Well, it stops. “It stops?!” you say. Yes, it does, but perhaps not in the sense that you might suspect. The slowing of time, in the relativistic sense, is tricky, because the photon does not make absolute time go any slower. Time does not go any slower for us slow movers not moving at the speed of light. The photon does not feel like it’s moving in slow motion either.
The slowness emerges in crossing the boundary between us. It is the relative speed of time that is different. So, as something approaches the speed of light, its internal speed of time doesn’t change, but the speed of time compared to its external relationships does. The difference is the photon’s speed of time relative to our speed of time. Neither of us changes, but somehow our relationship does. The pivot point of our connection is what provides the magic. It is the placement of the fulcrum that gives power to the leverage.
So for us, outside the photon, we see its interior as frozen and indivisible. The interesting thing is — the photon sees us in the same way, frozen. Neither of us are, in fact, frozen, but our speed relative to one another makes it appear so. Here is another important nuance — the photon doesn’t see us frozen at one point in time, it sees all of time simultaneously. It is outside of time. Another way to think about this relativistic principle is as the moment is expanding, instead of time going slower, as speed increases. So, through the lens of relativity, a moment for a photon is all of eternity.
If a moment for a photon covers all of eternity, what, actually, is a moment? What does it mean for it to expand? I tend to think of this like a hot-air balloon ride, the higher you get, the more you can see. When standing on the ground, your horizon is much smaller than when you’re 1,000 ft in the air. Now imagine a timeline under your feet in place of the landscape, and imagine the vertical dimension as velocity, so greater height corresponds to greater speed. When standing on the ground / not moving, you can only see the landscape / timescape of your immediate surroundings. Your moment is normal sized, containing only the present. When you hop in your hot air balloon and travel up, your horizon expands. The higher you go, the more you can see. Your horizon expands as you move higher, in the same way a moment expands as you move faster. Our view from within time, when stationary / on the ground, is a limited perspective of a greater whole existing simultaneously and visible from greater speeds / heights.
Extend the analogy a bit further, the higher you go the more you can see, but the less you can interact with those surroundings. When you’re in the present moment / on the ground, you can interact with all the things that are immediately present to you. The further you get away from something the less you can interact with it (present technology excluded for the sake of the analogy). Touch only works within a very immediate sphere of influence, about as far as you arms can reach. Smell extends our sphere of influence a bit further. Sound certainly travels much further than touch and smell, but also reaches a distance beyond which you can’t hear someone calling your name.
In a hot air balloon, you’re out of range of all of these levels of interaction, sight is the only resource left to you. And the further away you are the bigger the message had better be if you want to actually communicate something. Thus not only does moving faster expand our perspective on the external world, but it also prevents our interaction with it and erases small details. The perspectives available by an increase in dimensionality are very difficult to communicate to lower dimensions.
Time and Consciousness
Perhaps you have noticed it already, but if not, there is another realm to which this analogy potently applies. Just replace height and speed with consciousness, and see if you notice any similarities. The more conscious we become, the more we can see — our intellectual horizons expand. Consciousness can also be debilitating for interaction if one becomes overly self-conscious, introspective, or observation oriented. But instead of removing one from the playing field, the healthier role consciousness can play is to attempt to facilitate communication between ground level interaction and the heights of perception.
There is something quite significant about the relationship between time and consciousness. Both are quite elusive and mysterious. Perhaps, each holds the key to understanding the other, and only together can they be comprehended. Consciousness is largely based in the ability to project itself outside of the present moment and into the past and future through memory and planning. As much as consciousness is dependent on time, time also seems to be dependent on consciousness. Physics has no preference for the arrow of time. The mathematical equations that describe our reality work just as well forward as they do backwards. Thus, it seems that time as we know it is a psychological construct, a special case developed contextually through our unique evolution from the broader context of a more general backdrop. There is special relationship between linear time and consciousness, and the exploration of this may facilitate a better understanding of both.
Furthering the analogy, we continue to find more parallels between space, speed, and consciousness. Increasing the distance between objects decreases the intricacy of detail available for observation between one and the other. Up close you can tell the difference between the wings and the legs of a bug. Distance facilitates unification, recognizing the bug as a whole, in the same way getting closer to an object offers greater differentiation and distinction between an object’s parts. Looking back from the great distance of the moon it is hard to deny the unity of the planet earth. Speed also blurs things together, whereas slowness reveals details. Consider the difference in scenery when walking or when driving. Consciousness facilitates the navigation of this spectrum of unity and division as well. One’s internal abstract thoughts offer unification of many thought objects, while careful external observation reveals the diversity of things. Space, speed, and consciousness all provide a measure of separation and dissociation from immediacy, for better or for worse.
When you think about a photon existing outside of time, seeing all of time, all at once, one can’t help but wonder what that might look like. And it seems to me, that since we too are seeing this photon in its timelessness, perhaps we look an awful lot like photons ourselves, from a perspective of timelessness. After all, the faster you go, the less detail you see, the expanse of space and time becomes unified, undifferentiated, and point-like. Thus, we reinforce the idea that the changes in the speed of time arise not in individual isolated things, but only in relationship. The hinging point of this particularly special relationship is the speed limit of the universe, the velocity of light.
This speculation about photons ties into a concept I refer to as deepening time. The concept is best understood as based in the experience of subjective time as it differs from objective time. For instance, the older you get the faster time seems to flow. This can be explained by thinking about time in proportion to the rest of your life. As a five-year-old, one year is twenty percent of your life. Whereas when you’re one hundred, it’s a mere one percent of you total life, so by virtue of comparison, naturally ‘shorter.’
If the photon’s moment is infinitely large then, when it “drops out” of that moment, the moment doesn’t change completely. It deepens, dividing into the past, present and future, like a higher octave in music. Perhaps instead of flowing continually from the past to the present and on into the future, time is actually just dividing the eternal moment more and more. So, like the perception of age: the more time passes, the smaller your moment gets, the more of your moments fit into the total lifetime, and the longer the total lifetime seems to be. Thus the illusion of temporal flow is created by successive division. Division begets an appearance of linearity, two typically masculine principles. It is the consideration of how these situate themselves within the whole that incorporates the feminine as well.
One physical manifestation of the eternal moment is background radiation from the Big Bang, in which we are continually bathed. Even though the event itself occurred 13.7 billion years ago, it is continually occurring, and we are literally deepening into it. As current cosmological theories put it, the universe began as pure energy. Only as the universe expanded and cooled was matter able to “freeze out” into particles. And with matter came gravity. Time is, literally, built out of matter and gravity. These give us our days and years from which we came to know time. But when we look at the sky we can still see the matter-less energy from which we came. It doesn’t exist on one side of us so that we’re moving away from it as linear time would suggest. It surrounds us, at the distance of the age of the universe, 13.7 billion light-years away. For, to look across space is to look back in time, even to the time of our birth as a universe.
The ultimate symmetry would be apparent in a perspective of the universe as oscillating between matter and energy, and between time and a-temporality, as it continually manifests the meeting between forward and backward time, between the past and future flowing into one another. We’re simply the multiplicitous variations on the themes of its oscillations. Every moment that passes divides this one grand moment again and again – creating an exponential deepening, making the initial moment seem ever larger and larger as the universe’s accelerating expansion.
What is the meaning of the graph of the temporal landscape I described in the beginning? Can we imagine an actual dimension measured out by the speed of time? I asked you to imagine the structure of the temporal landscape by labeling the vertical axis with the speed of time and the horizontal plane of space-time. In reality this is adding a fifth dimension to a four dimensional structure of space-time. But since graphic representation of five dimensions is impossible, we’ll resort to the convention of collapsing the three spatial dimensions to one axis in order to visualize the variables of space, time, and the speed of time in three dimensions.
The very act of drawing a graph condenses our three spatial dimensions into the two dimensions of a piece of paper. Similarly, creating a symbol to refer to something collapses the dimensionality and complexity of the original object. For a three dimensional graph on paper the third dimension is an internal dimension, brought to life not in our representation of it, but in our comprehension of it. Our own internal representation of dimensionality allows for us to see three where there are only two. Internal dimensions are dimensions of scale rather than of angle. Typically dimensions are differentiated by their mutually orthogonal orientation – they are at right angles to one another. But with the possibilities unleashed by string theory, we now consider curled dimensions, which could manifest in different geometrical relationships to the other dimensions.
Any variable can be represented by an axis and thus have its own “dimension.” But what is the nature of the temporal dimension? The Einstein-Minkowski block Universe treats time as another spatial dimension. But as we know, time and space are quite different in our experience of them. How can we express this nuance of difference in the mathematical landscape? Certainly we must consider consciousness in our cosmological, mathematical, and philosophical models.
When I think of time as deepening rather than flowing, and try to imagine how that might be represented mathematically, I think of fractals. Fractals have four qualities which are especially applicable here. First, of all they provide a mathematical mechanism for an infinitely increasing surface area within a finite space. This is similar to the finite space of the universe and the moment into which we continually deepen through the phenomena of time.
Secondly, fractals have their own version of dimensionality which exists between our regular spatial dimensions. This, again, reinforces the notion of deepening into the spatial dimension and provides a difference which might accurately reflect the difference in our experience of spatial and temporal dimensions. This dimension of interiority also has possible links to the curled dimensions of string theory as well as the interior dimension of consciousness. Third, fractals are self-similar, which means the pattern of the whole is repeated within each of its parts, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm. When we compare this to time, we recognize the repetitions of histories, of years, of seasons, of days and see the patterned template of our temporal unfolding.
Fourth, fractals utilize the complex plane. Complex or imaginary numbers involve a factor of i = √-1. Fractal equations contain imaginary components which render their stunning graphic representation via the mediation of an axis of imaginary numbers. Fascinatingly, the time dependent Schroedinger equation also depends on a complex portion, thus providing a mysterious link between fractals, quantum mechanics, and time. Self-similarity also maps nicely onto quantum mechanics’ version of non-locality.
The other realms that we access through our minds – our dreams and dreamtime, our unconscious, the psychedelic, all the realms of our experience and all our experiences of time must find a place in our theories of everything. As our respect for this sort of synthesis emerges, our respect for the feminine will return, and with it the healing of our race and planet.
As you have seen, I have many speculations on the nature of time and how it fits into our overall picture of reality. I consider these speculations specifically feminine in their methodology in that they arise primarily through intuition of universal wholeness and intuitions of how diverse theories and experiences might map onto each other in order for the purpose of their integration and our more complete picture of reality. My intuitive picture continually sharpens each time I try to express it. The ultimate goal of a more complete picture of reality is a closer approximation and understanding of “right” and ethical action in the world. I feel that this is the kind of holistic vision that is and has been missing from the dominant discourse of current scholarship and scientific research. Through rediscovering the holistic visions and the wisdom of synthesis articulated by women like Maric and von Franz, and through developing our own, we might hope to reestablish wholeness that over analysis has wounded and attempt to reunite a disjointed, dissociated world.
Einstein, Albert. Einstein’s Miraculous Year: Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics. Ed. John Stachel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1998.
Einstein, Albert. “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.” 30 June 1905. 30 October 2004 <www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/www/>.
Einstein, Albert and Mileva Maric. The Love Letters. Ed. Jurgen Renn and Robert Schulmann. Trans. Shawn Smith. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1992.
Von Franz, Marie-Louise. “Time and Synchronicity in Analytic Psychology.” The Voices of Time. Ed. J.T Fraser. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981. 218-235.
– – -. Number and Time. Trans. Andrea Dykes. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974.
– – -. “Time and Synchronicity in Analytic Psychology.” The Voices of Time: A Cooperative Survey of Man’s Views of Time as Expressed by the Sciences and by the Humanities. 2nd Edition. Ed. J.T. Fraser. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 1981.
– – -. Time: Rhythm and Repose. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1978.
– – -. An interview with Suzanne Wagner. “A Conversation with Marie-Louise von Franz.” Psychological Perspectives. 38. (Winter 98-99): 15-37.
“Education Reports and Statistics.” The Hypatia Institute: A Feminist Physicist’s Gateway to the Internet. 5Apr 1999. 31 Oct 2004 <www.hypatiamaze.org/edrpts.html>
Einstein’s Wife: The Life of Mileva Maric Einstein 1 Oct 2003. PBS. 30 Oct 2004 <www.pbs.org/opb/einsteinswife/milevastory/index.htm>.
Griffin, Lynne and Kelly McCann. “Mileva Maric.” The Book of Women: 300 Notable Women History Passed By. Holbrook, MA: Bob Adams Inc. 1992. 50.
Isler, Gotthilf. “And Her Spirit Lives On… A Journey Exclusive. Eulogy for Marie-Louise von Franz.” 1998 Journeys Fall/Winter 2004. Vol. 12, No. 3. Trans. Don McNair. 31 Oct 2004 <www.journeyintowholeness.org/news/nl/v12n3/eulogy.shtm>.
“Mileva Maric” Wikipedia. 30 Sept 2004. 31 Oct 2004 <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mileva_Maric>.
Rosenthal, Gary T., Richard R. McKnight, and A.W. Price. “Who, what, how, and where the typical psychologist is … the profession of psychology scale – Statistical Data Included.” Journal of Instructional Psychology. Dec 2001. 31 Oct 2004 <www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCG/is_4_28/ai_81565439>.
Roth, Remo F. “My Personal Memories of Marie-Louise von Franz.” Jung-Zeit, Journal der C.G. Jung-Gesellschaft Köln e.V., vol. 2, Jan. 1999. 31 Oct 2004 <www.psychovision.ch/rfr/mlvf_nachruf_e.htm>.
Van Erkelens, Herbert and Frederik W. Wiegel. “An Active Fantasy by Wolfgang Pauli: The Piano Lesson.” Psychological Perspectives 38. (Winter 98-99).
 One aspect of religion is its role in helping us to determine our relationship to the rest of the world ontologically and ethically. Psychology as the study of the self, is certainly seeking to understand these relationships as well.
 I consider physics as a subset of philosophy in their common love of knowledge and search for truth. Thus Maric is my philosopher.
 I consider von Franz my spiritual thinker specifically because so much of her interdisciplinary work is about developing a cosmology which holds the bulk of the human experience – including the numinous and the scientific.
 I use “feminine” as synonymous with holistic in the sense of all inclusive and non-exclusive, as derived from female ways of knowing and being.
 I use cosmology as any framework – mythological, scientific, or both – which seeks to describe entirety.
 Einstein’s Wife: The Life of Mileva Maric Einstein 1 Oct 2003. PBS. 30 Oct 2004
 Einstein, Albert and Mileva Maric. The Love Letters. Ed. Jurgen Renn and Robert Schulmann. Trans. Shawn Smith. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1992.
 Einstein, Albert and Mileva Maric. The Love Letters. Ed. Jurgen Renn and Robert Schulmann. Trans. Shawn Smith. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1992.
 Subjectivity refers to interior experience.
 Einstein, Albert. Einstein’s Miraculous Year: Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics. Ed. John Stachel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1998.
 Von Franz, Marie-Louise. An interview with Suzanne Wagner. “A Conversation with Marie-Louise von Franz.” Psychological Perspectives. 38. (Winter 98-99): 15-37.
 Von Franz, Marie-Louise. An interview with Suzanne Wagner. “A Conversation with Marie-Louise von Franz.” Psychological Perspectives. 38. (Winter 98-99): 15-37.
 Van Erkelens, Herbert and Frederik W. Wiegel. “An Active Fantasy by Wolfgang Pauli: The Piano Lesson.” Psychological Perspectives 38. (Winter 98-99).
 Von Franz, Marie-Louise. Time: Rhythm and Repose. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1978.
 Timelesness is not meant to be outside of cultural history but inclusive of it.
 Von Franz, Marie-Louise. “Time and Synchronicity in Analytic Psychology.” The Voices of Time: A Cooperative Survey of Man’s Views of Time as Expressed by the Sciences and by the Humanities. 2nd Edition. Ed. J.T. Fraser. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 1981.
 Rosenthal, Gary T., Richard R. McKnight, and A.W. Price. “Who, what, how, and where the typical psychologist is … the profession of psychology scale – Statistical Data Included.” Journal of Instructional Psychology. Dec 2001. 31 Oct 2004 <www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCG/is_4_28/ai_81565439>.
The exception is the second law of thermodynamics, which people often use to defend the unidirectional flow of time. But this is based on the simplified, abstract concept of an isolated system, not the system’s interaction with the rest of the world, thus it lacks applicability to the system of the universe as a whole.