Preface— Platonic Lambda: Soul of the Universe

Plato's Timaeus 35b

    I read Plato's book on cosmology Timaeus around 1980. God took two ribbons of even numbers 2, 4, 8 (doubling) and odd numbers 3, 9, 27 (tripling), emerging from the One,
to create the "Soul of the Universe" (Timaeus 35b). It's interesting that these two sequences (1+2+4+8) + (1+3+9+27) = 55, out of which emerged the four elements constituting our universe. In the Chinese Book of Changes, I Ching II.9.1-2, the sum of heavenly numbers 1+3+5+7+9 = 25 and sum of earthly numbers 2+4+6+8+10 = 30, so 25 + 30 = 55. "It is this
which completes changes & transformations and sets demons and gods in movement."
Since both Greek & Chinese cosmology attribute 55 as origin of creation, I've compiled other interesting connections to the number 55.

The geometric shape of Platonic Lambda Λ remained abstract to me for
30 years. On February 3, 2010, at London Sotheby's auction, Giacometti's Walking Man I sold for $104.3 million, new record for an artwork. It inspired two poems— Giacometti's Walking Man and "Every Step You Make". When I noticed the man's legs walking by Giacometti's Walking Man at Sotheby's Auction, it suddenly struck me that the soul's shape (upside down "V" or Greek letter Λ) is right before our eyes manifesting itself whenever we are walking or alive!

Irish sage Wei Wu Wei says "an awakened sage lives & thinks vertically"—
no wonder the Platonic Lambda Λ "Soul of the Universe" is shaped like
a mountain. Since mountain top is the highest point of the earth, it is the
link to heaven. That's why Mt. Olympus is the home of the Greek gods.
Mountain symbolizes constancy; eternity; firmness; stillness. On the spiritual level mountain tops represent the state of full consciousness.
Pilgrimages up sacred mountains symbolize aspiration, renunciation of worldly desires, attaining to highest states. While mountains symbolize above & beyond, the soul is within us right here on earth (Poem: "Above & Beyond").

The photo at left is the backside of Old Tree, 1200 years old, at Portola Redwoods, La Honda, CA, Shaped like the Platonic Lambda Λ, Sequoia sempervirens, evergreen, ever-living, Coast Redwood is magnificient to
behold. From a tiny seed it grows to over 300 feet high, and lives over
2000 years, Coast Redwood is the world's tallest living miracle! Tallest
tree in the world is the Hyperion, 379.7 feet tall. Discovered 8-25-2006
by Chris Atkins & Michael Taylor. in Redwood National and State Park.
From my hike portfolios (2006-2018), found 402 photos of Redwoods,
and described my encounters with them in "Platonic Lambda Λ Redwoods".

The photo at left is a Goosepen shaped like the Platonic Lambda Λ, at the base of a Redwood at Portola Redwoods, La Honda, CA, "Goosepen" is not cited in American Heritage Dictionary or Random House Unabridged Webster Dictionary. Consulted the 20 volumes Oxford English Dictionary, and in Volume VI, page 685, found "goose-pen" under "goose". Definition: (a) a pen or enclosure for geese; (b) a quill pen. Usage: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (1601), III.ii.48: "Let there be gall enough in thy ink, though thou write with a goose-pen." Found 79 photos of Goosepens in my 2008-2012 hikes, & shared 69 of them in "Goosepens in Redwoods Shaped Like Platonic Lambda Λ".

Stephen Dobyns' first Stanford poetry class (1-18-2011) was to write a sonnet. I wrote "Platonic Lambda Sonnet" with Notes and Cornford's diagram of Plato's "Soul of the Universe". While writing this sonnet,
realized that Plato's "World Soul" is not something abstract & invisible,
but quite tangible when we're walking and breathing, since its shape
is our nose in the center of our face! Image at left is Leonardo da Vinci's
Proportions of the Face (1498). Including a chapter on Leonardo's Divine Proportions showing his studies with Luca Pacioli, & writing De divina proportione, where he drew the 5 Platonic Solids described in the Timaeus.

"Newton's Prism: From the One Flows the Many" shows a 23-year old student at Cambridge University in 1666, Isaac Newton experimenting in optics to understand light & colors. In a dark room, he placed a glass prism in the sunbeam, projecting light onto a white sheet of paper. The result was a multicolored band of light like a rainbow. He divided the spectrum into 7 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Newton's Prism is in the shape of Greek letter Lambda Λ, that Plato called the "Soul of the Universe" (Timaeus 35b). Plato quotes Socrates to Parmenides "The All is one" and Plato has an epiphany in Philebus 16d— "From the gods a gift to the human race: thus I reckon
the gift of seeing the One in the many and the many in the One." May the unity of
one white light (Heaven) pass through our soul's prism to exhibit the multiplicity
of colors (Earth) which we experience in life.

Great Pyramid of Giza (aka Pyramid of Khufu) is oldest & largest of the
three pyramids in Giza Necropolis, Egypt. It was the tallest man-made structure (480.6 ft) in the world for over 3,800 years (since 2560 BC). Its height was superceded by Washington Monument at 555 ft (1884-1889).
Other record holders include the 894 feet Eiffel Tower (1889-1930), 1046 feet Chrysler Building (1930-1931), and 1454 feet Empire State Building (1931-1970). It's interesting that the tallest world's man-made structures are all shaped like Platonic Lambda Λ at the top (Soul Soaring to Heaven?). Found 17 postage stamps depicting the Giza Pyramids, books and news stories on the Pyramid for this chapter.

Geoff Martin's "Burgundian Vineyard" (2009) inspired my Notes to poem "Vanishing Point" showing roads narrowing to an apex at the horizon. I noticed the typography on page 196 of Finnegans Wake is in the Platonic Lambda shape (symbol of the World Soul). Since Joyce is well read in mystical literature, he's surely familiar with this sacred Platonic symbol (page 293). While walking down Palm Drive from Stanford to Palo Alto's Cal-Train Station, it dawned upon me that the road's vanishing point is another image of the Platonic Lambda, inspiring this poem. Mountaineers have conquered all the peaks on earth. These are metaphors for worldly achievements. However, in the spiritual realm, there is one vast peak that will elude all attempts at conquest. The vanishing point is a metaphor for such spiritual goals that will keep questers busy for a lifetime and beyond.

The Wizard's Hat is conical in shape resembling the Platonic Lambda Λ. The Pointed Hat dates back to the Bronze Age. The Golden Hat of Schifferstadt (1400-1300 BC) and the Avanton Gold Cone (1000-900 BC) were Golden Hats worn by the priesthood. We'll recall Mickey Mouse wearing a Wizard's Hat in the film Fantasia (1940) playing the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" written by Paul Dukas (1897) based on Goethe's 1797 poem.
Merlin, a wizard in Arthurian legend mentored King Arthur, & depicted
in a wizard hat (1493 Nuremberg Chronicle). There is an amazing natural
rock formation "Wizaard's Hat" on the beach in Bandon, Oregon.

The Church Steeple is triangular in shape like the Platonic Lambda Λ.
Towers were not a part of Christian churches until around 600 AD,
when they were adapted from military watchtowers. Over time, they
were incorporated into the church building and capped with ever-more-elaborate roofs until the steeple resulted. Towers are a common element
of religious architecture worldwide and are generally viewed as attempts to reach skyward toward heavens and the divine. A spire is a tapering conical or pyramidal structure on the top of a church tower. Some famous cathedral spires include Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral and Chartres in France, Salisbury Cathedral in England, and Cologne Cathedral in Germany.

The Ancient of Days is a painting by William Blake published as frontispiece
to the 1794 work Europe a Prophecy. It draws its name from one of God's titles in the Book of Daniel 7:9 and shows Urizen crouching in a circular design with a cloud-like background. His outstretched hand holds a compass over the darker void below. Here's an image of God in the act
of creation. Similar illustrations of God holding a compass creating the
world are found in many medieval manuscripts (Bible moralisée, 1220).
The compass & square has been adopted as the logo of the Freemasons.

An epiphany came on August 20, 2010 when a flock of Canadian Geese flew in V-formation to Stanford's Lake Lagunita (photo at left). Suddenly
I realized that the geese were flying not in the V but the Λ-formation, inspiring the poem "The Spring Geese Are Flying North" (9-27-2010).
Found eight more photos of geese flying in the Λ-formation. Scientists found that geese flying in this formation reduces the drag force that each bird experiences compared to if it were flying alone. They can glide longer and increase their range by 70%— Nature's way to boosts efficiency.

Our Milky Way Galaxy will collide with its neighboring Andromeda Galaxy 3.75 billion years from now. It is likely the sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed. The solution came through painstaking NASA Hubble Space Telescope measurements of the motion of Andromeda, which also is known as M31. The galaxy is now 2.5 million light-years away, but it is inexorably falling toward the Milky Way under the mutual pull of gravity between the two galaxies and the invisible dark matter that surrounds them both. Although the galaxies will plow into each other, stars inside each galaxy are so far apart that they will not collide with other stars during the encounter. However, the stars will be thrown into different orbits around the new galactic center. Simulations show that our solar system will probably be tossed much farther from the galactic core than it is today. It is amazing that when the two galaxies come in collision, they form the Platonic Lambda Λ— shape of Plato's "World Soul". Since each soul is assigned to a star (Plato's Timaeus 41c), we may compare the galactical collision of Andromeda and the Milky Way as collision between World Souls. Computer simulations from Hubble Space Telescope data show that stars within these two galaxies will not destroy each other but merge as one huge elliptical Galaxy with bright core dominates the nighttime sky.
(Poem: "Geese Playing Chicken: V-formation collision")

                                                              Peter Y. Chou
                                                              Mountain View, November 5, 2019

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