Bohm on enfoldment

I’m fascinated by the thinking of David Bohm. Here’s an interview with him from 1987. Serious brain food.

One of Bohm’s ideas was that of the implicate order; that everything in the world arises from an unseen world and will eventually revert there. An acorn is not so much the source of the oak tree as an aperture through which the tree unfolds into the world. In the interivew Bohm uses this metaphor:

Everybody has seen an image of enfoldment: You fold up a sheet of paper, turn it into a small packet, make cuts in it, and then unfold it into a pattern. The parts that were close in the cuts unfold to be far away. This is like what happens in a hologram.

And here’s his take on death:

Death must be connected with questions of time and identity. When you die, everything on which your identity depends is going. All things in your memory will go. Your whole definition of what you are will go. The whole sense of being separate from anything will go because that’s part of your identity. Your whole sense of time must go. Is there anything that will exist beyond death? That is the question everybody has always asked. It doesn’t make sense to say something goes on in time. Rather I would say everything sinks into the implicate order, where there is no time. But suppose we say that right now, when I’m alive, the same thing is happening. The implicate order is unfolding to be me again and again each moment. And the past me is gone.

Hat tip: Tweet from David Holzmer

2 thoughts on “Bohm on enfoldment

  1. Earl Mardle

    A little bit far even for me. My immediate response is to ask what we do with this metaphor? How do we use it to make our lives or those of our cohabitants on the planet better?

    I have my own. We are each a bead that runs on a series of strings that each pass through us. Those strings might be location or time of birth, they may be intellectual or physical abilities and disabilities, they may be other contextual things such as being born to a Jewish family in a Christian society, pick pretty much any date for how the bead slides on that string.

    The intersecting point for all those strings is us and our progress through life is constrained and propelled by their interlocking possibilities. For many of us that means very few such possibilities indeed, as the proximity between the points of birth and death tell for most of us.

    But having come up with it, I had to ask the same question, what now?

    BTW, his ideas on death remind me of my thoughts on grief. What we mostly grieve for is that the dead person has taken from us something that we can not now ever recover, their memories of who we are, of shared or reported moments that we can’t now ever see from their perspective, facts about us that even we don’t know and now never can.

    While the dead live on in those left behind, the living all die a little more each time someone who has shared their life takes some more of it away.

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Hi Earl, thanks for commenting.

    Bohm gets into deep stuff, I’m not sure there’s an easy “what now?” response. Sometimes it’s nice to reflect on the mysteries of life and perhaps get some perspective on things that appear very important in our lives but may not be!


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