Nature abhors a vacuum. And what it has to do with Jewish mysticism
Last updated: Sep 3, 2021
All empty spaces must be filled. This is a basic pattern found in nature. But it is worth asking: what is vacuum?
One type of vacuum is that created by abundance.
- An abundance of sunlight leads to an abundance of plants.
- An abundance of money leads to an abundance of investment.
- An abundance of computational power leads to an abundance of tech startups.
Put another way, a vacuum is an abundance of untapped potential. And where there is untapped potential, life will find a way to tap that potential.
This seems to imply that all opportunities are limited. There’s only so much opportunity to go around. This is true in a local sense… there’s only so much sunlight that falls on a patch of ground, and so the tree canopy grows ever taller in an effort to reach the most sunlight.
But then something interesting happens. The taller the tree gets, the more space is opened up in the lower sections of the forest for life to expand. The lack of sunlight turns into an ecological niche, barred to the tallest of trees, but still open to all sorts of shrubs, bushes, insects and wildlife. The very absence of a resource becomes a gatekeeper that opens up new grounds that are only available to organisms which specialize for those conditions.
The innovators have a number of strategies:
- Become more efficient harvesters of scanty sunlight.
- Enter into symbiotic relationships with the big trees.
- Consume the big trees, either slowly or quickly.
The number of strategies is practically infinite. And so, there is practically infinite room for ecological niches to be filled by life.
The Jewish concept of Kelipah/Qliphoth comes to mind.
When you’re pursuing something worthwhile, you encounter obstacles. You encounter the Kelipah. The Kelipah is an evil or impure force that acts as an obstacle. It gets in the way.
The word Kelipah literally means “peels,” “shells” or “husks.” You have to first remove the orange peel if you are to eat the flesh inside. But once you have removed the peel, you throw it away. It is only an obstacle on the way finding what is good.
But the Kelipah is also the very thing that preserves the good. Without the orange peel, there would be no orange. The orange would have been consumed by insects and animals of every kind, even the feeblest ones.
And so, the Kelipah is the preserving force which acts as an obstacle on your way to the good.
When you’re establishing a career, there is a barrier to entry at every level. If you want a job, you must first pierce the kelipah of the interview process. If there was no interview process, and anyone could get a job at the company, it would have negative consequences. Any random person off the street could get the job, even if they were unskilled and unqualified. This unqualified talent would destroy the company! There wouldn’t be any jobs left for even qualified people to get. If every company operated like this, then the whole economy would collapse.
Thankfully, it seems impossible for such a situation to continue forever. Specialization would eventually arise. Innovative players always arise who can create a good situation out of a bad one.
People who, even without any prior advantages, would build advantage for themselves and for those they ally with. This is just darwinistic law.
But it does mean that we have a problem. We can infer that:
- There will always be scarcity, because trees will compete for sunlight.
- There will always be suffering, because predatory and parasitic players will arise.
- There will always be many games to play. And luckily, as humans, we can intelligently choose the game we want to play.
- There will always be barriers between niches. And so, choosing a niche has a switching cost.
These are the thoughts I have had this evening.
There is an F-35 flying around Toronto this weekend, for the air show. I might go take a look.
Have a good long weekend!
Disqus comments are disabled.