Sunday, 9 March 2008

Arthur Schnitzler's "Leinbach Proof"

In his novel "Flight Into Darkness" (1931) the Austrian novelist and playwright Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) has a fascinating short section which is a pure precurser of CTF (without the supporting science). In this incredible section (pages 29-31) Schnitzler discusses the theory one of his characters, Leinbach. He wrote that Leinbach had:

"discovered a proof that there really is no death. It is beyond question, he had declared, that not only the drowning, but all the dying, live over again their whole past lives in the last moment, with a rapidity inconceviable to us others. This remembered life must also have a last moment, and this last moment its own last moment and so on; hence dying has itself eternity; in accordance with the theory of limits one may approach death but never reach it."

Clearly Schnitzler does not explain the mechanism by which this takes place but it is nevertheless a very similar, if not identical, proposition to CTF.

I found this particular quotation by chance in a book on interesting mathematical anomolies called Fantasia Mathematica by Clifton Fadiman.

As an interesting synchronicity the most famous work of Schnitzler is 1926 novella called "Traumnovelle". The story was used as the basis for the 1999 movie Eyes Wide Shut. This was Stanley Kubrick's last film and starred Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Yet again we seem to have a weird link between Tom Cruise and his choice of movies!


Hurlyburly said...

Does this make your theory as reliable as Scientology? ;0)

That quote is pretty damn similar to your theory isn't it, in fact it might as well have been written especialy fo your argument.

ken said...

The "theory of limits" mentioned in the quote requires some time dilation to work.

If, for example, your remembered life occurs in the last 2 minutes of your life and that remembered life also replays your life in the last 2 minutes, then this series rapidly converges to a definite number.

Let's say that the length of your life minus the last "moment" = L. In that last moment, your life is replayed up until your last moment. Let's say the time for this replay is R1. In the last moment of this replay, your life is replayed up until your last moment. The time for this replay is, say, R2. And so on. What you have is the sum

L + R1 + R2 + R3 + R4 + R5 + ...

Now, if each replay is the same fraction, F, of the previous replay (or life, in the case of R1) then R1 = F * L, R2 = F * R1, etc. and the sum is

L + F*L + F^2*L + F^3*L + ...

This series converges to a sum as long as F<1 and the sum is L/(1-F). So, as long as the first replay of your life takes less time than your life up to the point of when the replay starts, even though the replays keep happening, it takes a finite amount of time.

BUT, if to you, your replay occurs at the same rate as the life lived (as for the 26-year old student on page 139 of ITLAD) then F=1 and the sum does NOT converge. and death is never reached.

So, is this why other people seem to die? Because I do not experience the time dilation and so their last moment has an end? But when I approach death, my replay is at the same rate and the sum diverges and I never reach the end of the replays?

ken said...

This also brings to mind the phrase, "My life past before my eyes." This is said when death is imminent but averted. This would imply that I do not experience the time dilation because I experience my life in a moment. If I did experience the time dilation I'd only see a moment of my initially remembered life.

So, it would appear that my consciousness does not experience the time dilation and the averted death is seen by "me" no different than someone else's death -- i.e. as a converging sum. So, what is it that experiences the life replay at the same rate as it was lived?

(I'm sure the answer is in ITLAD but I'm only on page 252 and have not really put it all together yet. So, feel free to quote chapter and verse if this is an already-been-answered question.)

Anthony Peake said...

All I can really say at this stage is "spot on!"

I think you are going to really enjoy the rest of the book!