We Live in a Pluriverse
Saying goodbye to the Multiverse
Back in 2016 when I first started telling stories in the Multiverse, not everyone knew what the Multiverse was. Explaining the concept to one collaborator (justifying how we could switch out one actor for another in the middle of the pilot episode of our web series), I was surprised by their response,
Having been intrigued by parallel universes most of my life, I assumed everyone shared the same curiosity. Apparently not!
Today, thanks to Marvel superheroes, Stephen Hawking’s final paper, and the release of the brilliant Everything Everywhere All At Once, the Multiverse is smack dab in the middle of the zeitgeist. It’s a mythos we’ve come to readily accept and it’s easy to see why—
The concept of the Multiverse is simple: there are (infinite) parallel realities and, once we tap into them (if we figure out how), the storytelling possibilities are endless.
This is a delicious prospect for cinematic worlds, to be sure, but to my mind, what really makes the Multiverse so enticing is that it speaks directly to our desire and longing to know, “What if?”
What if I had done things differently? Where would I be now? What would my life look like?
This is the real storytelling gold. All of us have suffered from a “what if” at some point in our lives, so we all can identify with a character who gets the opportunity to explore those outcomes. But while parallel, alternate realities are a wonderful metaphor to use for examining the human experience, the question remains—
Is the Multiverse real or is it fantasy?
After several years of storytelling in the Multiverse, researching the Multiverse, and basically building my identity around the Multiverse, it is time for me to admit a hard truth: I’ve been wrong this whole time. Or, not wrong exactly but not quite accurate either.
My hunch—that we are all hopelessly intertwined while also each living in our own unique world—has merit, but the proper word to describe this idea is not “Multiverse,” it’s Pluriverse.
To understand the difference between the Multiverse and the Pluriverse, we first need to understand that human perception is limited. Very limited. Humans perceive less than a billionth of what’s actually there. This less-than-a-billionth perception—our interface—is called “spacetime.” Spacetime refers to the specific way we’ve evolved to perceive and interact with reality, essentially, because it is the most effective way to stay alive.
The realization that spacetime is a human-specific interface comes to us from Evolutionary Game Theory and Fitness Beats Truth theorem. They show us that our perception is attuned to the fitness in our environment—i.e. food, shelter, and the directive to procreate—instead of the truth of our environment. The truth is too complicated and would be a distraction from meeting our fitness needs.
The potential of the Multiverse is what scientists discover when they put this human-specific, fitness-shaped interface—spacetime—under a microscope. It is fascinating what we discover—two outcomes for every one observation—but it is not truth. Not the whole truth, at least. Not even close. Just a glimmer.
Perhaps there are other worlds all around and we must only learn to see.
William James, the philosopher who coined the terms Multiverse and Pluriverse over a century ago, said that the Pluriverse consists of an all-pervading “pure experience.” While we find the Multiverse at the bottom of spacetime, we find the Pluriverse beyond (before, above, or outside of) space and time. It just is. Simply put, the Pluriverse is the totality of consciousness.
You may find the word “Pluriverse” new, but the concept of the Pluriverse familiar. Indeed, it is a word so unused that it doesn’t even its own Wikipedia page, but it is a concept so old that you will find it embedded in ancient cosmologies all over the world. You may also feel it in your gut, the notion that we are all interconnected, that your unique self is also the totality of something infinitely larger, that, “You,” as Rumi put it, “are not a drop in the ocean but the entire ocean in a drop.”
While proof of the Pluriverse has begun to emerge (and keep in mind there are no substantial theories to back up the Multiverse), Donald Hoffman, the scientist behind Conscious Agents Theory explains, “There’s no end to making theories. The notion of truth transcends the notion of proof.” Because it’s infinite, right? The truth of the Pluriverse is beyond the objective of science—to observe and understand (to separate that which cannot be separated).
So what does this mean?
I’ve said it for awhile now, A thousand truths. A million truths. A Multiverse. It’s clear that the time has come to change my tune, evolve my language, dig a layer deeper, and expand my perception. What is truth in a Multiverse? What is truth in a Pluriverse!
Is it ungraspable? Probably. But I’m going to keep trying a little bit longer to find out.
Some Pluriverse Primers
Quanta Magazine article on Conscious Agents Theory: The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality
Quanta Magazine video with Donald Hoffman explaining Evolutionary Game Theory (2 minutes): The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality
Science and Nonduality video with Don Hoffman and Deepak Chopra in conversation (40 minutes): Reality is Eye Candy
Conversation hosted by Jennifer K. Hill featuring Don Hoffman and Deepak Chopra (36 minutes): What is Real, Really
Scientific American article by Anil K. Seth: The Neuroscience of Reality
Quanta Magazine article on the geometry underlying particle physics: A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics
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Love how you’ve encompassed our inspired chat. 💗 So intriguing! ❤️