Did you ever say to yourself, “If only I had known then what I know now?”

Say it’s Tuesday night and you have an English test coming up Wednesday morning. You know you should study for it, but you’re a good English student, so you figure, “I’ll do ok whether I study or not. And besides, there’s other stuff I’d rather be doing than studying.”

Next day, you get the test and, OMG, the questions are a lot harder than you expected. Then on Thursday, when you get your test back, there’s a great big red D in the upper right hand corner. “If only I had studied!”

But what if you still could? Knowing what you know now (Thursday), what if you could send a message back in time, a message you’d get on Tuesday? “Better study!” According to the X-Men movie, Days of Future Past, you can do just exactly that.

In fact, in this X-Men movie, Wolverine goes back more than 40 years to try to stop a 1973 murder that led to a terrible war between “mutants and the humans who dared to help them” and a race of killer machines known as Sentinels.

Wolverine’s body does not go back 40 years, just his mind. Wolverine’s 2014 mind communicates with his 1973 mind. It tells him all about the terrible fate that awaits Planet Earth and what he must do to stop it from happening. For a short period of time, Wolverine’s 2014 mind and his 1973 mind exist together in his 1973 body.

Is such a thing even possible? According to a number of famous 20th and 21st century thinkers, it is!

Meet the famous American physicist, Henry Stapp. In a recent article, Stapp proposed that the mind may be able to function independently of the body. Normally, one mind is tied to one body. But if the bond between the two is broken (for example, by death…or by time travel), the mind may be able to function without a body, or it may even be able to latch on to another body.

I doubt Henry Stapp learned his physics in a movie theater, and I doubt he’s ever even seen Days of Future Past. But what he is saying is just exactly what the movie says.

But how could such things possibly be? The answer lies in Quantum Mechanics (QM). According to Stapp’s understanding of QM, every event naturally has a physical part and a mental part. The physical part is made up of the past (all of history leading up to the event) and the future (all the different shapes the event might take). The mental part is the choice of a specific history and a specific shape for this event.

The physical part is governed by the law of cause and effect and by statistics. The mental part is not governed by any known law; it is purely a matter of ‘free choice’. More on this later!

But what about times when there aren’t any minds around? What about the early universe…and other the times and places where no one and no thing is looking? How do events happen then? Stapp figures that there must be situations when purely physical events can take place.

But if purely physical events are possible, then purely mental events should be possible too. What if the mind becomes its own history (memory) and its own future (imagination)? In that case, who needs a body…or anything physical? According to Stapp, Mental events, like physical events, can just happen, all by themselves. There is no unbreakable bond between your brain (physical) and your mind (mental). Your brain can stay in one place at one time but your mind can travel.

So what about Stapp’s ‘free choice’? It all seems a little vague and abstract. To understand it in more human terms, we need to introduce 20th century French philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, the high priest of Existentialism. Sartre observed that there is nothing that makes us do the things we do: not the way we were born, not the way we were raised, not society’s rules, not orders from authority figures, not even the man in the shadows with a loaded gun pointed at my head. We may be influenced by these things but in the end we are totally and completely free to make whatever decision we choose, to act in any way we want.

We take our so-called ‘free will’ for granted but if you think about it, this is every bit as fantastic as time travel itself. If nothing makes us do the things we do, how is it that we do one thing and not another. I could have studied for the test…or not. Nobody ‘made me study’ but nobody stood in my way either. I made a choice…but how? How did I make that choice? Sure, I can give all sorts of reasons but reasons are just excuses made up after the fact; they don’t really explain how I came to do what I did.

The British mathematician and philosopher, Roger Penrose, a close friend and colleague of Stephen Hawking, bridges the gap between Sartre’s human observations and Stapp’s scientific theories. Penrose believes that human consciousness itself is actually Quantum Mechanical by nature. According to Penrose, QM is not just an aspect of consciousness, it is consciousness.

Roger Penrose explains Sartre’s absolute freedom using Quantum Mechanics. According to QM, nothing is caused by anything else. Every event begins as a range of choices. The choices include everything that can possibly happen. Some things may be more likely to happen than others and some things may happen more often than other things, but for any one event, any one choice, there is no way to predict (or control) the outcome.

This is the way the world works on the scale of ultra-tiny elementary particles called quanta. It is also how the world works on the scale of human consciousness. Roger Penrose connects the two: the human mind is Quantum Mechanics in action!

Now, in QM, there is something called Quantum Non-Locality (QNL). According to this strange idea, two elementary particles, two quanta, can be entangled at birth; and if they are, they can maintain a connection over apparently limitless expanses of space and time. For example, particles created around the time of the Big Bang may still be entangled with brother-sister particles in our region of space-time today. These particle pairs are ‘a thing’ even though the particles themselves are separated by billions of light years.

Particles have something called ‘spin’. When someone measures the spin of one entangled particle, it instantly tells us something about the spin of its twin, even though neither particle even had a definite spin before the first one was measured. That’s Quantum Mechanics for you!

It is tempting to compare entangled quanta with identical human twins. If one twin has red hair, we can be reasonably certain that the other twin has red hair too, even if one grew up in Asia and the other in North America. But in that case, both twins were born with red hair. In QNL, the two particles were not born with any definite spin. In fact, neither one adopts a definite spin until one of them is measured; but once the spin of one particle is measured, we immediately know what the spin of the other particle will be when it is measured.

QNL challenges the idea that to be ‘a thing’, you have to be in one place at one time. When someone tells you that she can be in two places at once, you call that ‘magic’ and you don’t believe her. But physics tells us that such things are possible.

So what does all this have to do with Days of Future Past? Since consciousness is Quantum Mechanical and since QM objects (quanta) can be entangled, is it possible that my mind at this present moment is entangled with my mind at some earlier, or later, moments? If so, then my mind could be ‘a thing’ apart from its current location in space-time. Maybe my mind has been and will be ‘a thing’ all the way from my birth to my death.

But wait, that’s not so far-fetched, is it? We think of ourselves as one person even though the person we are today is very different from the person we were when we were born. We know our body’s cells replace themselves on average every 7 years; but we don’t think of ourselves as new people every 7 years. We know there is something that connects the older us with the infant us but we can’t quite say what that is. Perhaps it’s QNL, quantum entanglement.

Back to X-Men! If Wolverine’s 2014 mind is entangled with his 1973 mind, then what he knows in 2014 could definitely impact the decisions he makes in 1973. If your Thursday mind is entangled with your Tuesday mind, then what you know on Thursday (“I should have studied”) could impact the decision you make on Tuesday (“I will study for my English test after all”).

But if this sort of ‘time travel’ is really possible, how come we don’t experience it every day? How come we still make bad choices and suffer the consequences. There are a number of possible answers to this:

(1)   Maybe we haven’t learned the trick yet. Maybe we could be sending messages back to ourselves from the future but we just haven’t learned how. (You might want to give it a go the next time you get a D on an English test!)

(2)   Or maybe some people can’t do it (yet)…but others can. Maybe this is what we mean when say that someone is wise, or spiritual, or even holy.

(3)   Or maybe the attraction of the here and now is so strong for us that we mostly remain stuck in the present. Maybe it’s only in extreme situations that we can summon the motivation and the energy we need to ‘reach back’ to an earlier self. That’s pretty much the situation in Days of Future Past.

(4)   Or maybe we are sending messages back to ourselves…all the time. Maybe the choices we’re making right now are the result of information sent back from our future selves. How would we know? We have no idea how we make decisions anyway so we might not have any way of knowing if we’re getting messages or not.

But there’s a problem with this; if we are getting these messages, why don’t we make better decisions? Two possibilities:

First, perhaps the decisions we make are the best possible decisions after all. Maybe we’d see that if we knew everything about everything…but of course we don’t. A German philosopher named Gottfried Leibniz thought this; he said that we live in “the best of all possible worlds”.

Second, perhaps we just don’t listen to our future selves. Wolverine 1973 could have ignored Wolverine 2014. And what about you? You knew on Tuesday that you should study for your English exam; perhaps you knew it because you had already received a message from your future self. But you didn’t study, did you? Perhaps you simply ignored the message. Fortunately for the future of mankind, Wolverine did not ignore his message!

Perhaps we’re all getting messages from the future all the time…and mostly ignoring them. If we assume that messages from the future are well intentioned, then we might think of these messages as something like the thing we call ‘conscience’.

Most of us think of conscience as a little voice inside us that tells us what’s right and what’s wrong, But Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, gave ‘conscience’ a bad name when he claimed it was nothing but the accumulated commands and taboos of parents and other authority figures.

But what if Freud was wrong? What if ‘conscience’ is really the accumulated wisdom of the future trying to influence our decisions today…but not always succeeding?


Ask most any American high school student to describe the political system in the United States and she’ll almost certainly mention our “two party system”. On the one hand, that seems a bit odd since the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of political parties whatsoever. But on the other hand, two broad-based political parties (the Democratic-Republican Party and the Federalist Party) were founded in 1791 – 1792 and we have had political parties in the United States ever since.

The first major ideological division in the new republic was between federalists, who wanted to increase the power of the central government, and anti-federalists, who preferred to keep power in the hands of the states, local communities and the people. A compromise between these two factions gave us our Constitution, balanced by our Bill of Rights.

The first two formal political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, grew out of these two factions. In fact, it could be argued that the battle between federalists and anti-federalists never ended. It certainly took center stage at the time of the Civil War and, as we shall see, it is still the dominant theme in U.S. politics today.

While the identity of the political parties has changed over time, it is fair to say that in every era American politics has been dominated by a pair of political alliances that hark back to federalist/anti-federalist roots. It is not for lack of trying that third and fourth parties have not taken hold but rarely has one of these parties had a major, lasting impact on the course of electoral politics in the U.S…unless it became the ‘second party’ itself.

In 1829, for example, the Whigs split from the Democratic-Republican Party and instantly became the second party. Likewise, in the 1850’s the modern Republican Party appeared and quickly became the second party absorbing many Whigs in the process.

No matter how great the upheaval, the two-party system seems to be the state of equilibrium that the American political system seeks. What makes this state of affairs doubly curious is that it is not the global norm.

Many countries have multiple political parties. They have traditions of coalition building and/or systems of proportional representation that make such diversity work. Still other countries have single party systems and handle the permitted spectrum of ideological diversity under a single tent. In the larger cultural and historical context, the two party system seems to be odd man out.

Whenever we stumble on such an oddity, a ‘black swan’ if you will, it is wise to go back and check our assumptions. Earlier, we took it for granted that our high school student knew what she was talking about when she described our politics as a “two party system”. She did not!

Today at least, the two party system in the United States is nothing but an illusion, however popular and cherished it may be. Today at least, the United States is a classic one party state. Here we are not going to address the question of whether the U.S. ever had a two party system of government; we’re going to focus on the state of politics today and let our readers draw their own conclusions concerning prior eras.

On the surface, the notion that our highly competitive political process is actually a one party system seems patently absurd. To understand it, it is necessary to understand the true nature of a political party.

Whether a society has one party, two parties or many parties, the character of those parties remains the same. Structurally, they consist of men and women with broadly common interests. Organically, they work to translate those interests into a set of policy imperatives, an agenda. Socially, they seek to influence the course of government, the state, according to that agenda. This all parties in all political systems have in common.

When that definition of a political party is applied to the American political system today, it is clear that we have only one such political party, the modern Democratic Party.

On the surface, today’s Democratic Party constituents seem quite varied: civil servants, union members, entitlement beneficiaries, university professors, celebrities, trust fund babies and other folks with large amounts of surplus income. But on further scrutiny, it is clear that all of these groups have one major interest in common: the preservation and protection of the status quo.

Look close: these groups have little to gain by rocking the boat…and much to lose. They have arrived at their niche in society, however modest or lofty it may be; they have more fear of back sliding than hope of advancing.

So how does that translate into an agenda? Simple: nothing guarantees the status quo more effectively that a large and powerful government. As Karl Marx understood, the political state inevitably reflects the actual state of affairs in a society and, like all organisms, the state always seeks its own preservation above all else. The state exists first and foremost to protect and conserve what is because what is the basis of that state’s power and identity.

Whatever its origins or early aspirations, today’s Democratic Party is focused on swelling the size and power of government. Of course, no one would admit to such an agenda. The agenda is always expressed in terms of solving some worthy social problem. But here’s the tip-off to what’s really going on: no matter what the problem, the solution is always the same…more government.

Whatever the ideological justification, proposed policies always entail an expansion of government power. Increased spending makes government a more and more important economic player. Increased taxation gives government a larger and larger share of personal incomes and national wealth. Increasing social benefits makes individuals more and more dependent on government for their livelihood and well-being. Increased regulation gives government more and more control over commerce and enterprise.

Potential solutions that might not require additional governmental intervention or, God forbid, that might actually reduce government’s role in society are never seriously considered. They reside outside the universe of acceptable political discourse; they live in the rarefied air of Washington think tanks…and neighborhood bar rooms.

According to the theory of one party rule, it is the role of the party to pressure the state on behalf of those individuals and groups disadvantaged by the status quo. The party is a watchdog, keen to ferret out injustice in every crag and cranny of society, and a pressure group, aggressively advocating reforms that will improve peoples’ lives. No doubt, most modern Democrats see their party just this way.

But as we all know, in politics practice is often at odds with theory. In fact, political parties in one-party states inevitably become advocates for the state itself. Instead of maintaining a healthy tension with the powers that be, the party and the state come to live symbiotically, reinforcing one another at every turn. Consider the People’s Republic of China, for example.

I anticipate two major challenges to this thesis. First, over the past 50 years, Democrats have been in forefront of a number of civil rights struggles. They have challenged the status quo time and again and often they have successfully overturned it. How then can anyone say that their party’s agenda is the preservation and protection of the status quo?

Like all institutions, political parties are made up of human beings, not abstract ideologies. Human beings bring with them more than just economic and social self-interest. They also bring values. Political parties have ideologies that define them…but they also have cultures. The two have little or nothing to do with one another.

Consider a sports team for example. It has a culture but that culture doesn’t tell you anything about how the team performs on the field. Or a church: the culture is often unrelated to the doctrines that define its religion. So it is with political parties.

Take the Democratic Party. This was not the party of civil rights in 1860 or in 1912. In fact, it was not until Hubert Humphrey’s speech to the Democratic Convention in 1948 that civil rights began to be an important Democratic value. That speech, of course, caused a schism in the party that was not truly resolved until the late 70’s.

Today’s Democratic Party effectively champions the rights of various minorities but the economic policies the party advocates often do not benefit those constituencies. There is a disconnect between the values the party sincerely preaches and the policies it necessarily promotes. Those policies, at the end of the day, preserve and protect the status quo.

Second, what about the Republican Party? Is that not a worthy second party? Worthy, yes – Republicans have controlled government about 50% of the time since 1980. Party, no – the so-called Republican Party is not a political party at all but simply a coalition of groups whose interests are opposed to the increasing power of the state.

Small business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, social conservatives, libertarians, all find shelter in the Republican tent, even though they agree on almost nothing…except their opposition to expanding the role of government in society. There is no hope of merging these interests into a consensus agenda.

Take Obamacare for example. Virtually every so-called Republican in against it. Yet in the 6 years since it’s passage the party had not even once proposed a comprehensive alternative. “Repeal and replace!” Good enough…but with what?

It is commonplace to decry the Republican Party as “negative”, “obstructionist”, “the party of No!” And so it is. That is, in fact, its proper role in American politics. In or out of power, the Republican Party is in permanent opposition. As such, it is not a political party at all.

Conversely, even when the Democrats are out of power, it is still their agenda that dominates the political discourse. Even when it is in power, the Republican Party is still the opposition party and so it typically governs badly.

We often hear that the Democratic Party is a big tent…and so it is. But unlike Republicans, Democrats, no matter how apparently diverse, agree on most everything. Dissent, if any should arise, is quickly resolved. In truth, it is not hard to enforce such ideological purity because all Democratic constituencies share a common interest: the preservation and protection of the status quo through growth in government.

Republican constituencies, on the other hand, only share a broad discomfort with things as they are: taxes are too high, regulations too tight, opportunities too scarce, security too lax, morals too loose. No polling question is more favorable to Republicans than the famous, “Do you feel that America is heading in the right direction?”

Almost without exception, Republicans have a vision of something better for themselves, for their families, for their communities, for their country. They put hope of advancement ahead of any fears. Resisting the growth of government power, and even rolling it back where possible, is usually not an end in itself for these constituencies but a common means to very disparate ends.

Politics is befuddling for most Americans, so much so that it turns them off. We hunger for substance but get nothing but slogans, clichés and personal attacks. The illusion of a two party political system prevents us from understanding the true nature of our politics and the true significance of our electoral choices. But when we reframe our understanding and acknowledge that we live in a one party state with a loyal opposition, things become a great deal clearer and the political process becomes interesting again.


Ask anyone passingly acquainted with American poetry to tell you the title of his favorite Robert Frost poem and you might expect to hear, “Two roads diverged in a wood”. There’s only one problem with that answer: there’s no such poem! “Two roads diverged in a wood” is actually part of a line in Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken.

For decades, this poem has been a favorite, especially among young readers, because it has been understood as an anthem of non-conformity and adventure. Think Jack Kerouac in verse. But is this really what the poem is about? A more careful reading leads to a very different, and much more interesting, interpretation. Let’s look at the poem in its entirety:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I –

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.


Recently, a new friend invited me to tell him my “life’s story” and, of course, I was more than eager to oblige. As I told my tale, I felt as if I were a character in My Dinner with Andre, but when I later left the restaurant, I realized that the man I had described to my friend was actually a cross between Augustine of Hippo and D’Artagnan.

Not that anything I told my friend was untrue. It was just that every story had been edited to emphasize the creative and the courageous at the expense of the bumbling and the befuddled. Apparently, the lives we live actually consist of many lives. These many lives happily coexist and even cross pollinate until we are forced to reduce them to narrative. To narrate is to select.

There is a parallel here to Quantum Mechanics (QM). According to most interpretations of QM, the state of a physical system is uncertain until it is observed or measured. In some way, Schrödinger’s cat is both alive and dead until we open the box to see. Prior to measurement, there is a defined probability that a system will be found in any one of a number of specified states. Surprisingly, when we add these probabilities together, their sum can be as much as 140%; but when we measure the system, we find that the system is always in one and only one state and the probability of it being in that state is now exactly 100%. In QM, the whole can be a lot less than the sum of its parts.

Until I am asked to tell my life story, I am many different people and, taken together, I am actually more than one person. But when I narrate, I select the events I wish to include and I select the colors I want those events to display. The ‘narrated me’ can only be one person and, because narrative is always selective, the narrated me is always actually less than one person. I must always overflow my own narrative.

While we narrate effortlessly and almost unconsciously almost every minute of every day, the task is actually multifaceted and incredibly difficult. One must break the undifferentiated stream of consciousness into discrete events, clothe each event with an appropriate ‘subjective form’ and then link these events and their subjective forms together so that what emerges has the degree of unity we recognize as a ‘person’.

Let me take a moment here to define my terms. I am indebted to Alfred North Whitehead for the notions of ‘subjective form’ and ‘person’. Subjective form is what would today be called ‘spin’ (without the pejorative connotation, of course); and person is what would today be called, well, ‘person’. But Whitehead’s concept of person is specifically related to the thread of continuity that runs through a series of distinct events.

The task of narration is highly non-linear. One does not first select events, then spin them by endowing them with certain qualities and then string these spun events together to form a person. Try this at home and you’ll end up with a hot mess!

No, the narrator must perform all these tasks simultaneously and continuously throughout the process. In a sense, the narrative is not a succession of events with a variety of forms but one single event with one single subjective form. The climax is already present at “once upon a time”.

The person is the whole, period; not the sum of her parts. And from that whole we distill contributory events, each with its own particular spin, in such a way that those events and spins are compatible for integration into a single overarching person. In a sense, we begin at the end and work backwards. Narrative is teleological.

We might wish to think of the person as a 3-D hologram with the narrative functioning as the 2-D film that contains the information to create that hologram. All of the information in the 3-D projection is present at every point on the 2-D film.

When my friend asked for the story of my life, there were many different versions I might have shared. There’s the terrified and socially awkward little boy version. There’s the calculating and manipulative sociopath version. But without thinking, I chose the creative intellectual and courageous revolutionary version. After all, it was the one most likely to entertain him. So what if it happened to paint me in my most preferred colors!

The image I have of myself (my subjective form) is not the result of my actual experiences. My experiences can and do support many, many different images. Rather, the image I choose to share is the one most consistent with the values I’ve adopted over the years. When I tell my story, I naturally invest that story with those values. Had I different values, I would tell a different tale.

Returning now to Mr. Frost, it is clear from the text of his poem that he had adopted the values of non-conformity and adventure. What makes The Road not Taken such a triumph, however, is that in this poem Frost admits that these values are adopted and that it is just such adopted values that provide the subjective form of his life, that constitute the person that he is.

Frost images himself a taker of roads less travelled; but the text itself tells a very different story. There is in reality no road less travelled. “…The passing there had worn them both about the same, and both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black.” Frost recognizes that, objectively speaking, there was no difference between these roads; and perhaps he is also suggesting that all of his life’s potential pathways “equally lay” before him. Then by inference, all potential pathways lie equally ahead of all of us.

And why not? Each of us can only take one sequence of ways and none of us will ever have travelled any of those ways before. “Yet knowing how way leads on to way/I doubted I should ever come back.” Therefore, in a certain sense the paths before us must always lie equally; they are all just pure potentia until we actuate one of them.

The psychology movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries presented us with a very different and perhaps more comforting model. According to this view, our decisions are conditioned by our prior experiences. In some sense then, we are not really responsible for those decisions; they are in a way determined for us.

This same notion resurfaced in the latter half of the 20th century as Postmodernism: we do not act, history/society/universe acts through us.

The philosophical movement known as Existentialism constitutes a radical challenge to this view. No decisions are determined or even conditioned. If they were they wouldn’t be decisions at all, would they? Decision, by definition, must be a totally free act and must belong entirely to one who decides.

If we choose and then tell ourselves that there were reasons, or even causes, for our choices, we avoid responsibility for those choices; that’s what an existentialist would call ‘bad faith’.

But if decisions are never determined or conditioned, are they then random? If so, if each choice is randomly made, unrelated to any other choices, have we not drifted into nihilism?

Robert Frost avoids bad faith by admitting that the paths “equally lay”. But he also avoids nihilism by linking his decisions, retrospectively, into a narrative that is framed by the values he has freely chosen to adopt over the course of his lifetime. What ultimately give meaning to Frost’s life are not the choices he makes (which are value neutral) but the narrative that connects those choices (which is value dependent).

Returning again to the language of Whitehead, Frost’s ‘superject’, the footprint he leaves upon the world, is the ‘subjective form’ of his life’s narrative, turned inside out. And that ‘subjective form’, of course, comes entirely from the values Frost adopted. Perhaps Frost is an icon of non-conformity and adventure after all, not because of anything he did per se, but because of the values he projected onto his actions via his narrative.

The actual events of Frost’s life are akin to a painter’s canvass; the values Frost assigns to that life are akin to the paint itself.

Does this have relevance beyond the world of literary criticism? According to the ontology of Alfred North Whitehead, God’s primordial contribution to the world is a set of proposed values. All subsequent (logically subsequent, not temporally subsequent) ‘actual entities’ arise in response to those values. Therefore, all actual entity embody these values but in different ways and with different subjective forms.

As we have said above, these adopted values become the subjective form of the actual entity’s narrative and that narrative in turn becomes its superject, its footprint on the world. Therefore, God’s primordial values are incessantly broadcast throughout universe by each and every actual entity that arises. Indeed, it is the function of the actual entity to instantiate God’s values but to do so freely and creatively.

God’s ultimate (or ‘consequent’) contribution to the world is the harmonization of each and every unique narrative into a single narrative for Universe. That narrative has God’s primordial values as its subjective form. This is where the theological notion of judgment comes into play. Just as I must pare down my many selves to one self, so God must pare down many universes to one Universe. Certain parts of certain narratives will not make it into the ‘final edition’. This is the solution to the problem of evil: they will be left on the cutting room floor.