Preface— Platonic Lambda: Soul of the Universe

Plato's Timaeus 35b

    I read Plato's book on cosmology Timaeus around 1978. 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"Speculations on the Soul" poem (1993), "Dante's 55 & The Platonic Lambda" essay (2001), and "Dante & Marilyn" (2001). Below
are 14 chapters written arranged chronologically with dates when they were finished.

Chapter 6: "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 "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. (1-29-2013)

Chapter 1: Mountains was written (1-10-2018) five years after Chapter 6. There are 12 sections in this chapter— Symbolism, Bible, Quotes, Writings, Mythology, Books, Art, Music, Poetry, Photography, Postage Stamps, and Resources. Took six months writing this chapter, and even made a cover
(1-10-2018) and composed a Preface (6-26-2018), to turn these 34 pages
into a separate book. 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").

Chapter 2: Platonic Lambda Λ Redwoods— 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 this chapter. Added news of August 2020 wildfires ravaging Big Basin Redwoods. (8-30-2018 & 9-2-2020)

Chapter 3: Goosepens in Redwoods Shaped Like Platonic Lambda Λ— 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 this chapter. (9-10-2018)

Chapter 4: Giacometti's Walking Man — 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 & "Every Step You Make". When I noticed 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! (10-23-2018)

Chapter 5: Leonardo's Divine ProportionsStephen Dobyns' first Stanford poetry class (1-18-2011) was to write a sonnet. I wrote "Platonic Lambda Sonnet" with Notes & Cornford's diagram of Plato's "Soul of the Universe". In writing this sonnet, realized Plato's "World Soul" is not something abstract & invisible, but quite tangible when we're walking and breathing, since its shape is our nose at center of our face! Image at left is Leonardo da Vinci's Proportions of the Face (1498). Leonardo's Divine Proportions showed his studies with Luca Pacioli, & writing De divina proportione, drawing 5 Platonic Solids described in Timaeus. (10-24-2018)

Chapter 7: Pyramids of Giza 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 the Washington Monument at 555 ft (1884-1889). Other record holders include 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. (11-14-2018)

Chapter 8: Vanishing Point— 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. (7-15-2020)

Chapter 9: Wizard Hat— 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, and depicted in a wizard hat (1493 Nuremberg Chronicle).
Amazing natural rock formation "Wizard's Hat" on beach in Bandon, Oregon. (7-17-2020)

Chapter 10: Church SteeplThe 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 & Chartres in France, Salisbury Cathedral in England, and Germany's Cologne Cathedral. (7-28-2020)

Chapter 11: Ancient of Days & CompasAncient 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. (8-1-2020)

Chapter 12: Flying Geese in Λ-Formation — An epiphany came on August 20, 2010 when a flock of Canadian Geese flew in V-formation to Stanford's Lake Lagunita. 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. (12-1-2020)

Chapter 13: Arrowheads in Λ-Formation— Arrowhead was not shown
on the cover of Platonic Lambda book. Didn't have a poem or notes on arrowheads. Thought this would be a short easy chapter. Invoked Michelangelo's art and the archery god & goddess Apollo & Diana for blessings in writing this arrowheads chapter. Surprised it took me two weeks writing the 21 sections— Native Americans with Arrowheads Hunting Buffaloes, Zen in the Art of Archery, Arrow in Traffic Signs, Traffic Cones, Arrow in Bike Lanes, Platonic Λ-Shape in the Four Elements, Pierce-Arrow Automobile, Cities with Arrowhead Names, Business Cards Showing the Platonic Λ-Shape, Jewelry in the Platonic Λ-Shape, Ferns in the Platonic Λ-Shape, Leaves in the Platonic Λ-Shape, Trees in the Platonic Λ-Shape, Plants with Conical Shape, Platonic Λ-Shape, Trees at Royal Palaces, Platonic Λ-Shape, in Chiefs, Kings, and Popes, Stones & Sculptures in the Platonic Λ-Shape, Clouds in the Platonic Λ-Shape, Christmas Trees in the Platonic Λ-Shape, Comets as Arrowheads of Destruction, Sperms as Arrowheads of Creation. Planned ending chapter on a happy note with Christmas Trees. However Giotto's depiction of "Star of Bethelehem" as Halley's Comet, turned it negative to destruction. Luckily, the image of "arrowhead sperm" saved the day with a positive creative ending. (12-13-2020)

Chapter 14: Colliding Galaxies— 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 a bright core. (Poem: "Geese Playing Chicken: V-formation collision") (12-20-2020)

                                                              Peter Y. Chou
                                                              Mountain View, December 20, 2020

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