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{Thursday, May 22, 2003}

interview with an empire

Coming Soon
Correspondent John Mirror confronts the Well-Dressed Man

Kung Fu Philosophers
The Matrix Reloaded: The Corporate Mofo Guide
If you're a white suburban Matrix resident, driving your Matrix SUV to your Matrix golf club, why doubt the nature of reality?

Telewood : telematic connections : tube telematics
Neo is the one because, despite the staggering complexity of the recursive loops that have been programmed to create the Matrix -- earth as we know it -- he alone is able to distinguish code from reality, and play it like an instrument -- or kung fu video game.

The blog clog myth
"If you want to be in Google," wrote Dave Winer, "you gotta be on the web ..."

Two views of the street - Bruce Sterling and Graham Caswell explore the February protests
Dumb Mobs: A million networked marchers on demand - preview of the P2P political future
Growing Another World: The Rise of Open Source, Network-Based Movements
or both?

Geert Lovink - The Archeology of Computer Assemblage
More important than his design for a computer are Leibniz's thoughts on monadology. As an indivisible component of matter or mind, the monad is technically a space drawn in upon itself, without windows, apparently completely closed off from the outside world. Although no images enter, a definite exchange of data nevertheless occurs. Künzel makes a comparison between the sealed monad and the darkness inside the chips of the central processing unit (cpu).
For Künzel, Leibniz's monad concept (after Deleuze's Le pli) exhibits an extraordinary timeliness: "Classical philosophy rejected Leibniz's monad because it was thought to be too rigid and static. In Hegel, Marx and Adorno the subject is a dynamic whole, which continuously flows and transforms itself. According to Hegel, there is no substance that is not in motion; nothing exists which does not dissolve in motion. That partly accords with our experience, but at the same time we feel restricted. Our skin and our bodies impose limitations. So we don't have to take just motion as an assumption; we could also begin with the poles or the vectors of motion. You could then reason that individual bodies exist which are indeed constantly communicating with each other as entities, without being completely absorbed by it. They do not dissolve, but are connected to each other.
We can then ask ourselves about the nature of contemporary technological interfaces, what kind of openings or splices they are. The good thing about the monad concept is that the entity of the individual as well as its connections with the outside world and means of communication unite in it. For a long time the Ego was only part of a dialectical, larger whole. In contrast, the monad emphasizes possible openings and communication possibilities, which are not established ahead of time by laws.
Leibniz's monad cannot exist without a network. Michel Serres shows this in Hermes I and demonstrates that Leibniz's network is very economically constructed. Leibniz does not think in terms of cross-connections. For him all communication moves via the Divine Central Monad, and functions optimally this way. This may be inconvenient if there are only two monads, but it's demonstrably more efficient when a thousand monads are communicating with each other. The Central Monad then acquires a technical function and becomes part of a communication model. In this light, this network doesn't have be dismissed as a rigid, authoritarian model representing a certain world order or religion. From our point of view a network needs no interfering central authority. For us the central switchboard is no more than a technical necessity, and as an agent of power it disappears in the background. But for Leibniz, communication had yet to get underway, and he wanted to organize it. It's still worth the trouble for the engineer-philosopher to take the efficiency of this monad model seriously and not write off everything that was thought of before Hegel."
Mediamatic Special: vol.7#1 (1992) The I/O issue

Parmenides and the Origins of Western Thought
Peter Kingsley: "Plato intrigued me for a while, but failed to satisfy me. I sensed that something was missing, intuitively knew that somehow he had lost far more than he had preserved. And gradually, over the years, I began to discover what this was. In a way, what I found was terrifying. By reading the philosophers before Plato in the original Greek, ever so carefully, word by word, I came to discover not only that what they said has been consistently mistranslated and misunderstood by modern scholars -- but also that there has been a long tradition of altering the ancient Greek texts themselves to make them say what people have wanted them to say. It was an astonishing example of how we distort the evidence to fit our own expectations. The trouble is that this is not some mediocre scandal. It concerns the origins of ourselves and of the whole culture that we live in."

The Idea of Progress in the Modern Era
The belief in progress, the idea that human history forms a movement, more or less continuous, towards a desirable future, began to take shape late in the seventeenth century ...

Class Rules

"Like Marxists and neo-liberals, radical Islamists see history as a prelude to a new world. All are convinced they can remake the human condition. If there is a uniquely modern myth, this is it."
John Gray - Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern (Faber, 2003, page 3)

The Infrared Frequencies of DNA Bases, as Science and Art

"See deep enough, and you see musically; the heart of Nature being everywhere music, if you can only reach it." Thomas Carlyle

Disappear Here

Philippe Legrain - Cultural Globalization Is Not Americanization
"Fears that globalization is imposing a deadening cultural uniformity are as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Mickey Mouse."

John Lukacs - It's the End of the Modern Age
"The very word "environmentalism" is inaccurate and even misleading, as if mankind were one thing and its "environment" another.
Still, after all, the existence of Greens and of environmentalists is a promising symptom -- despite their still present split-mindedness of being anticonservative and conservative at the same time."

The Other Side of History is Myth
"Something has already happened, something so vast that all our social-science descriptions of man cannot add up to it. The record of civilization is over, and like a record at its end, it keeps going on with the noise of a needle stuck in its ruts: the revolution of the workers, the protest of the young, the new creations of the avant-garde, the rise of new forms of sexual liberation, the appearance of new religions. This side of history is over, and on the other side is myth."
William Irwin Thompson - Passages About Earth (Harper Colophon Books, 1981, page 11)

Marshall McLuhan: Man is no longer monad but nomad.

Inside Blake and Hollywood
"... one of the principal intellectual developments of the past century or so has been the supplanting of linear perspective by a multi-locational mode of perception. Among critics of Picasso this new mode is sometimes referred to as a "circulating point of view" in which a view from above may suddenly become a view from everywhere at once. When this mode appears in a work of philosophy (as it does for the first time in E. Gilson's The Unity of Philosophical Experience) the possibilities for compression and for organic interrelation of facts, pressures, and ideas is altogether a new thing. It represents a real advance in the tools of intellectual analysis. And that this new way of making and also of deciphering ideographs should be inseparable from the achievement of Vico and Freud is only natural. For it has come about through the awareness of the unity of mythopoeic activity in history and art, and it has given modern man a sense once more of the simultaneity of all history seen at the psychological and intellectual level, as well as of the close bonds between all members of the human family past and present.
Blake's view was that "history as linear time is the great apocrypha of mystery which has to be rejected" since "the whole of human life is seen and understood as a single mental form". The linear view of history began with Petrarch and Leonardo da Vinci and ended with Gibbon and Hume. So obsessive a metaphor as that of the linear perspective is important enough to deserve some explanation, especially since we are now deep in the process of extricating ourselves from it. For it still holds firmly among such inheritors of eighteenth-century rationalism as the sociologists and the Marxists." Marshall McLuhan

In The Dark Places Of Wisdom
Peter Kingsley: "Parmenides wrote a poem. It would be easy to imagine the father of philosophy producing very different things. But he just wrote a poem.
He wrote it in the metre of the great epic poems of the past ...
And he wrote it in three parts. The first part describes his journey to the goddess who has no name. The second describes what she taught him about reality. Then the last part starts with the goddess saying, Now I'm going to deceive you; and she goes on to describe, in detail, the world we believe we live in."

The Internet of Things : Forbes.com
Chana R. Schoenberger, 03.18.02

"At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama declared that the US embodied the final form of human government. Twelve years later, from a leftist standpoint only seemingly opposed to Fukuyama's neo-conservatism, Michael Hardt proclaimed an American empire. In the event, the new millenium anticipated by these apocalyptic American ideologues lasted little more than a decade."
John Gray - Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern (Faber, 2003, page 44)

The difficulty with Hegel
Roger Kimball: "Hegel's dialectic is a universal cognitive solvent; it licenses epistemological anarchy. If the essence of X is not-X, what then? The philosopher Leszek Kolakowski underscored the sober truth of the matter: "We must finally conclude that in the Hegelian system humanity becomes what it is, or achieves unity with itself, only by ceasing to be humanity."
So why read Hegel? For one thing, he has startling flashes of insight -- about the nature of modernity, the relationship between the state and civil society, the self-enchantments of freedom."
The New Criterion, Vol. 19, No. 1, September 2000

Gulf of misunderstanding - Shanghai Star
Of course, the US cannot expect to be universally loved, but neither can it be expected to sympathize with the opinions of those who cheer (or merely sneer) at the mass slaughter of its citizens.

Bush is right: this is not a clash of civilisations - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Professor John Gray argues in his provocative new book, Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern, that new radical Islam is shaped as much by Western ideology as by Islamic traditions. Globalisation makes such promiscuity inevitable. While everybody argues about social cohesion in Britain, lo and behold we see it happening before our eyes in the anti-war movements.
We gather together because we value our values, the ties that bind us -- justice, democracy, true independence, global parity. Some of these are what Islamists would describe as "Western" and some come out of the long struggles of peoples against foreign rule. How proud I feel to have imbibed both these traditions and that today I fight for principles which are universal, and not only "Islamic".

Truth has gone down in history - Tony Stephens
The British academic John Gray writes in a new book, Al Qaeda and What It Means to be Modern: "Americans see their country as embodying universal values. Other countries see the American way of life as one among many; they do not believe it ever will - or should - be universal."

The truth about Jessica - War Spin - John Kampfner
Michael Burleigh - Jihad and America
Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura? - James Fallows
"If anything, modern technology has aggravated the problem of mutually exclusive realities."

A clash of patterning-rhythms?

After Jihad - Islam and democracy - Steven Martinovich on Noah Feldman
"Feldman's optimism that Islam and democracy are a natural fit is based on his belief that they are both mobile ideas, philosophies that are easily understood in different cultures and carry universal truths, with similar basic elements. Both Islam and democracy hold that all humans are equal and that we have certain responsibilities to society. At its core, each treats human beings with respect and asks that we treat others the same way.
But Feldman tempers his optimism. The road to Islamic democracy will be bumpy, he warns, and its short-term effects will cause Americans consternation."

Ziauddin Sardar - When we lived in modern times
"Bin Laden's modernity is his idea of "nation state". Theoretically, Islam is uncompromisingly universal; it rejects nationalism, including a religious nation-state. Bin Laden and all varieties of Muslim fundamentalists have replaced community, the cornerstone of traditional Islam, with the nation-state as the basic unit of Islamic polity. The modern nation-state is fundamental to the fundamentalist vision of Islam. What al-Qaeda and its like seek is an "Islamic state". Anyone who stands against this vision, including the vast majority of Muslims, is seen as an enemy.
The conflation of state and religion makes Islamic fundamentalism an authoritarian enterprise. It does not make al-Qaeda modern. Unlike modern totalitarianism of the Bolsheviks and Nazis, they totally reject Enlightenment values. They are deeply traditionalist, with a romanticised, fossilised notion of tradition. They pick and choose from tradition and modernity and are avid consumers of globalisation, as anyone who visits Saudi Arabia or Iran can see. Fundamentalist movements like al-Qaeda, therefore, are more postmodern than modern."

Fareed Zakaria in The Arrogant Empire, (Newsweek, March 24, 2003), writes
"In 1992, Paul Wolfowitz, then a senior official in the first Bush administration, authored a Pentagon document that argued that in an era of overwhelming American dominance, U.S. foreign policy should be geared toward maintaining our advantage and discouraging the rise of other great powers. The premise behind this strategy is perfectly sensible. The United States should attempt to lengthen its era of supremacy for as long as it can. Any country would try to do the same (though a wise one would not be foolish enough to announce it). For that reason, the elder Bush ordered the Pentagon to water down the document so that it was not quite so arrogant."

When we lived in modern times - Ziauddin Sardar
"Clearly, liberalism has ceased to be a meaningful label. Modernity, as a concept explaining anything, has also passed its sell-by date. It is time to find a new language of humane sanity. We are now too complicated, too hybridised, too globalised, to be described by a single philosophy. We are neither liberal nor conservative; neither traditional nor modern nor postmodern. So let us take hold of all that is life-enhancing from everywhere: let us become transmodern."

John Phillips - Through Windows: The White Dawn of Modernity
" ... the implication of rational historical progress that is always possible to read in Hegel can be grasped instead, just as easily, as a pattern of repetition, a repetition of the rhetoric of the dawn song -- with all its conceits, the new birth, the new day ... the moment of sunburst glory replacing anxious foreboding. The Phenomenology is Hegel's glorious dawn song. We could be easily tempted to an exploration of night and day, the flight of Minerva ... but we will leave off here with the observation that Hegel's dawn repeats Descartes' in a slightly different way but marks one aspect of modernity as something like the incessant repetition of phantom dawns.
Black Light(e)ning
Hegel's mixed metaphors identify the roving eye of spirit with the passing of night into day -- his eye might be like the sun as it rises and falls or like the waxing and waning moon. They suggest that the force needed to direct this eye first downwards and then back upwards again can be regarded as if it was a work of cunning construction, the building going on all the time unnoticed until the moment of its glorious unveiling like an aubade, a song at dawn, a great morning erection, as in Pablo Picasso's striking version. The building is the work of the night, the work of dreams and the work of anxious memory and mourning, while the dawn heralds a great awakening, an enlightenment and forgetting. This is the message of the last great modern dawn song before the 2nd world war -- Book IV of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. The call to all Finnegans -- a call to a wake and a wake up call -- becomes in book IV an explicit address not simply to dawn but to all dawns. The first version reads. "Calling all dawns. Calling all dawns to day," while the final published version melts dawn into down and day into dayne in the now classic: "Calling all downs. Calling all downs to dayne. Array! Surrection" (593). The whole paragraph is dotted with dawns -- an aube, an alba, an aubade and the sonne rising as an erection -- not so much a dawn song as a dawn chorus."

april gornik: What's astonishing about Trudy Blue is watching this person have a moment of profound personal redemption where the world suddenly opens up. The doors of her life are blown open and she's in the world. It's the most moving thing to see.
marsha norman: I so appreciate your understanding of the play. I was concerned that Trudy Blue would be seen as the alter ego or other odd things that she isn't. It took me a long time to get who she is clear in the play. She's the person you are speaking to when you talk to yourself.

Haunted Ink

"From Nairobi, we used a small Ford to visit the Athai Plains, a great game preserve. From a low hill in this broad savanna a magnificent prospect opened out to us. To the very brink of the horizon we saw gigantic herds of animals: gazelle, antelope, gnu, warthog, and so on. Grazing, heads nodding, the herds moved forward like slow rivers. There was scarcely any sound save the melancholy cry of a bird of prey. This was the stillness of the eternal beginning, the world as it had always been, in the state of non-being; for until then no one had been present to know that it was this world."
Carl Gustav Jung - Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Fount, June 1980, page 284)

"And the axle in the hubs let out the sound of a pipe"


"Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above the ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away -- an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilisations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.
In the end the only events in my life worth telling are those when the imperishable world irrupted into this transitory one."
Carl Gustav Jung - Prologue to Memories, Dreams, Reflections

"What nature leaves imperfect, the art perfects," say the alchemists ...

"If the Creator were conscious of Himself, He would not need conscious creatures; nor is it probable that the extremely indirect methods of creation, which squander millions of years upon the development of countless species and creatures, are the outcome of purposeful intention. Natural history tells us of a haphazard and casual transformation of species over hundreds of millions of years of devouring and being devoured. The biological and political history of man is an elaborate repetition of the same thing. But the history of the mind offers a different picture. Here the miracle of reflecting consciousness intervenes -- the second cosmogony. The importance of consciousness is so great that one cannot help suspecting the element of meaning to be concealed somewhere within all the monstrous, apparently senseless biological turmoil, and that the road to its manifestation was ultimately found on the level of warm-blooded vertebrates possessed of a differentiated brain -- found as if by chance, unintended and unforeseen, and yet somehow sensed, felt and groped for out of some dark urge."
Carl Gustav Jung - Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Fount, June 1980, page 371)

5.3 The Tree of Religion
"[...] In a question to Yawn concerning 'our sovereign beingstalk' (FW 504.18-19) Yawn describes 'Oakley Ashe's elm' (FW 503.32) in terms of both HCE and ALP, the sexes unified in the sin of creativity, and the fruit of the tree again their descendants ..."

Carl Jung - Answer to Job

"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."
Carl Gustav Jung

James Whitlark -- The Big Picture: A Post-Jungian Map of Global Cinema
"An offshoot of Dionysian ritual, Greek drama was therapeutic, tragedy offering purgation (catharsis) and comedy bringing mirth and hope of happy endings. Partly as a defense from clerical regulation, the dramatic arts, after the advent of Christianity, often purported to be mere entertainment, an assumption that still tinges attitudes toward cinema."

Who's There?
"For Spinoza, salvation occurs personally and privately, but with the help of others in society. And the state can facilitate the personal and social efforts. The state must be democratic, its laws must be fair, and it must allow its citizens to live free from fear. Having politics subsidiary to the problem of salvation distinguished Spinoza from Hobbes ... "
Antonio Damasio

Is there one truth or more than one? Nicholas of Cusa

Traffic Is Four Times as Lethal as War
Traffic kills four times as many people as wars and far more people commit suicide than are murdered, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

Revisiting Past Horrors - Europe Tilts Rightward
Federico Reyes Heroles: "Her mysteries are as ancient as the annals of thought. Maybe this is why the ancient Greeks preferred to turn Clio into a goddess. Inscrutable, she always surprises us in the end. From Heraclitus' unrepeatable instant, to Vico's ascending spiral, to Hegel's teleology, to Braudel's "long duration." Cyclical repetition or human constants?
But, perhaps through vain hope, we have never abandoned the idea of a linear progression of stages and, therefore, of moving beyond our past horrors. Could we be fooling ourselves?"
July 2002, World Press Review, (VOL. 49, No. 7)

Jon Mills: Hegel and Freud on Psychic Reality

"Tracing the semantic history of a word as rich and varied in its linguistic genealogy as the term mob obliges one to start somewhat in the middle, go backwards, and then again go forward in time."
Crowds: Stanford Humanities Laboratory
"With the appearance of mobile as an English word, we first approach the modern sense of mob. Mobile originally derives its sense from phrases like Primum Mobile, or the "First Moving Thing," in the 16th and 17th century. Primum Mobile refers to the outermost sphere added in the Middle Ages to the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, and was supposed to revolve round the earth from east to west in twenty-four hours, carrying with it the (eight or nine) contained spheres. Mobile grows to signify the capacity for movement or for being free and unattached."

James B. Hart
The personal aim says, in effect, "I will strive to actualize those possibilities which are most in keeping with my personal past and which will be most likely to engender future possibilities for growth and enrichment of my personal self."
The relational aim, on the other hand, says "I will strive to be open to the other in the universe, not only for its implications in my personal future, but also for what it has to say to me in its integrity at this instant."

Essays in the History of Religions by Joachim Wach
"Not relativism, but relationism, should be the motto of all sound hermeneutics."

Breves - Short Phrases

primum mobile \ med.L., lit. 'first moving thing', L. primus first, mobilis movable: see prime a. and mobile n.1 and a. Primum mobile (also primus motus, primus motor) was an 11-12th c. rendering of the Arabic al-muharrik al-awwal, the first mover or moving (thing), cited from Avicenna (a 1037) by Shahrastani (a 1153). The L. occurs in Thomas Aquinas Comment. in Aristot. De Cælo ii. ix. §1, xv. §7... [OED]

A New Way of Seeing the World
"A significant change took place in the European approach to truth and authority in the early years of the thirteenth century. This, in turn, led to a radical transformation in the then-prevalent world-view.
The Avignon Crisis, and conflicts between the Church and various monarchs, encouraged members of the clergy to study the history of the Church in order to establish the authority of the Pope on a firm foundation. This led to a recovery of Roman Law and a renewed interest in the ancient Greek and Roman authors.
While this was going on, the Muslims in Spain had transformed the city of Cordova into the intellectual capital of the Islamic world. Contact with these scholars revived the influence of Aristotle, and generated a great deal of controversy within the Church over the nature of truth itself. On the one hand, Aristotle had taught that truth could only be discovered by applying human reasoning to human observation. The Church, on the other hand, had long asserted that truth came about through revelation. Since it was something that was revealed by God, it could only be apprehended through faith.
A reasonable compromise was worked out in the mid-thirteenth century. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican monk who had been significantly influenced by the thought of the great Islamic philosopher, Ibn Rushd, and through him the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, argued that both faith and reason were necessary elements if one is to have a complete understanding of the truth. This synthesis became known as Scholasticism. Aquinas expounded his views in a massive work, the Summa Theologica, and from the middle of the thirteenth century until the early years of the sixteenth, Aristotle provided the accepted interpretive model of the universe."

"For Dante, following the philosophical conception of Aristotle, God is the great Architect of the universe, the Prime Mover, Himself unmoved. Below His spiritual Empyrean revolves the ninth and outermost of the material heavens, the crystalline heaven, which is called the primum mobile, the first moving thing."
Hieromonk German Ciuba - Orthodox America - Beyond Science

Hildegard of Bingen: "Everything that is in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, is penetrated with relatedness."

Robert M Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Part IV: Chapter 29
"Early Greek philosophy represented the first conscious search for what was imperishable in the affairs of men. Up to then what was imperishable was within the domain of the Gods, the myths. But now, as a result of the growing impartiality of the Greeks to the world around them, there was an increasing power of abstraction which permitted them to regard the old Greek mythos not as revealed truth but as imaginative creations of art. This consciousness, which had never existed anywhere before in the world, spelled a whole new level of transcendence for the Greek civilization.
But the mythos goes on, and that which destroys the old mythos becomes the new mythos, and the new mythos under the first Ionian philosophers became transmuted into philosophy, which enshrined permanence in a new way. Permanence was no longer the exclusive domain of the Immortal Gods. It was also to be found within Immortal Principles, of which our current law of gravity has become one.
The Immortal Principle was first called water by Thales. Anaximenes called it air. The Pythagoreans called it number and were thus the first to see the Immortal Principle as something nonmaterial. Heraclitus called the Immortal Principle fire and introduced change as part of the Principle. He said the world exists as a conflict and tension of opposites. He said there is a One and there is a Many and the One is the universal law which is immanent in all things. Anaxagoras was the first to identify the One as nous, meaning "mind."
Parmenides made it clear for the first time that the Immortal Principle, the One, Truth, God, is separate from appearance and from opinion, and the importance of this separation and its effect upon subsequent history cannot be overstated. It's here that the classic mind, for the first time, took leave of its romantic origins and said, "The Good and the True are not necessarily the same," and goes its separate way. Anaxagoras and Parmenides had a listener named Socrates who carried their ideas into full fruition.
What is essential to understand at this point is that until now there was no such thing as mind and matter, subject and object, form and substance. Those divisions are just dialectical inventions that came later. The modern mind sometimes tends to balk at the thought of these dichotomies being inventions and says, "Well, the divisions were there for the Greeks to discover," and you have to say, "Where were they? Point to them!" And the modern mind gets a little confused and wonders what this is all about anyway, and still believes the divisions were there.
But they weren't, as Phaedrus said. They are just ghosts, immortal gods of the modern mythos which appear to us to be real because we are in that mythos. But in reality they are just as much an artistic creation as the anthropomorphic Gods they replaced.
The pre-Socratic philosophers mentioned so far all sought to establish a universal Immortal Principle in the external world they found around them. Their common effort united them into a group that may be called Cosmologists. They all agreed that such a principle existed but their disagreements as to what it was seemed irresolvable. The followers of Heraclitus insisted the Immortal Principle was change and motion. But Parmenides' disciple, Zeno, proved through a series of paradoxes that any perception of motion and change is illusory. Reality had to be motionless.
The resolution of the arguments of the Cosmologists came from a new direction entirely, from a group Phaedrus seemed to feel were early humanists. They were teachers, but what they sought to teach was not principles, but beliefs of men. Their object was not any single absolute truth, but the improvement of men. All principles, all truths, are relative, they said. "Man is the measure of all things." These were the famous teachers of "wisdom," the Sophists of ancient Greece.
To Phaedrus, this backlight from the conflict between the Sophists and the Cosmologists adds an entirely new dimension to the Dialogues of Plato."

Marshall McLuhan and R. K. Logan
Et Cetera, December 1977, pp. 373-383
"Paradoxically, the alphabet enabled the Greeks to reduce the massive polyphonies of their oral culture by selecting and logically (visually) connecting what had been simultaneous and musical. If the Greek means of abstracting and conceptualizing was by logical connection, the abstract art and science of the twentieth century proceeds by the contrary means of pulling out the logical (visual) connections in space and time. This returns the art and philosophy of today to musical form. If the Greek drive to abstraction had been to eliminate the acoustic and musical in favour of visual and logical connectedness, our nonrepresentational and abstract art and science assumes a complementary pattern.
The Greek alphabet also provided both the model and the bias for classification, an essential development in Greek analytic thought during the period from 700 to 400 B.C. - especially for logic, science, and history. In addition to serving as a paradigm of abstraction and classification, the alphabet also served as a model for division and separability. With the alphabet every word is separated into its constituent sounds and constituent letters. [Eric Alfred] Havelock shows that the Greek idea of atomicity -- that all matter can be divided up into individual tiny atoms -- is related to the use of the alphabet: "... they saw the analogy with what the alphabet had done to language and likened their atoms to letters ..."
The Greek capacity for divisiveness and separation extends way beyond their atomicity of matter. With writing, what is recorded or remembered becomes separate from the writer, existing in a book or a scroll. Knowledge takes on objective identity separate from the knower. The Greek, in this way, developed the notion of objectivity and detachment, the separation of the knower from the object of his awareness. This is the beginning of the scientific method and the source of the dichotomy the Greeks created between subjective thinking as found in art and poetry, and objective thinking as exemplified by philosophy and science. In art, percept precedes concept while in science, method dominates both.
The Greeks invented "nature" (physis) which is their classification of the objective external world. "Nature" does not include man or any of his artifacts such as the alphabet, which may explain why the Greeks never studied the effects, even of their own technology, a radical flaw in their objectivity. It was the separation of man from nature, perhaps, that allowed Western thinkers to consider nature as an object to be studied, or a resource to be exploited.
The Greeks did not study the entelechies or formal effects of human artifacts, but only those of natural forms, whether of mineral, flora, or fauna. When Achilles encounters the ghost Patroclus, he feels frustrated and says: "I see that we do live on after death, but without entelechies." The entelechy of anything is, as it were, the functional vortex of energy and power which it manifests by its action. The merely visual or logical connectedness which the phonetic alphabet fosters in the thought and perception of literate men is quite unable to relate the environmental and structural forms to their users."

Graham Hancock - The untested premise of Western Science
"The advocates of Western science like to claim that it is a pure and objective method for the investigation of reality. It has one great potential weakness, however, and this is that it rests on an unexamined and undeclared premise about the nature of the "reality" that it investigates. If the premise is perchance correct then all is well within the vast sphere of influence that Western science now encompasses. If the premise is incorrect then much that we habitually accept as true may in fact be false - or at best only part of the truth.
Consider, for example, the vexed questions of the "meaning" and "purpose" of life. Some scientists sidestep such difficult problems, defining them as matters for religion or philosophy on which they are not qualified to comment. Others, most charismatically and influentially Richard Dawkins, do feel qualified to comment and teach us with confidence that there is no transcendent meaning or purpose to life: it is a blind by-product of the primeval soup and it exists simply to reproduce itself as efficiently and successfully as possible."

The origin of artificial species ...
"How did something so complicated as the human eye, and with so many interacting parts, come into being? And how did it come into being not once but many times: eyes have evolved independently at least 40 times in different species in the four billion years that life has existed on the planet.
Scientists long ago realised that something so complex as the eye cannot suddenly arise by a mutation in a single gene. They concluded that such features must have arisen through lots of intermediates and, moreover, that these intermediates may originally have served quite different purposes."

See - 'Why Life is so Complex' by Robert Wright - in Nonzero (Abacus, 2001, pages 273 - 276)

I Feel, Therefore I Am

Emily Eakin - New York Times, 19 April, 2003
In the middle of the 17th century, Spinoza took on Descartes and lost.
According to Descartes' famous dualist theory, human beings were composed of physical bodies and immaterial minds. Spinoza disagreed. In "The Ethics," his masterwork, published after his death in 1677, he argued that body and mind are not two separate entities but one continuous substance.

Mind & Body: Antonio Damasio on Descartes and Spinoza - Metafilter

"Edgar Allan Poe's perhaps overused yet apparently inexhaustible "The Man of the Crowd" has his narrator - a fairly obvious parody of Descartes - gazing at the crowd from the bow window of a coffee house, and setting its elements - people - into categories of subordination, entering the genera and species of the social being into categorical trees, and imposing this sedimentation on the passing crowd as if they just were automatons covered by hats and cloaks."
John Phillips : Through Windows and Through Curtains

"Only a genuinely irreducible human being would passionately insist that he was a machine or devote his career to an attempt to prove himself one. If a fully successful robot were achieved, it can confidently be predicted that it would resent any allegation that it were a machine and, indeed, invent a consoling rationale to the effect that it was utterly and irreducibly human."
Sigmund Koch - Koch's Fallacy

From the Gnostic gospels to the visions of Descartes to the shamanic quests of Eastern mystics, the Wachowski brothers' pop opus weaves a dense web of philosophical and metaphysical allusions.

The Matrix way of knowledge : Erik Davis
"As mythographers, the Wachowski brothers realize that the cybernetic problem of control reboots the hoary old struggle between freedom and fate. Morpheus, for example, is convinced that everything is proceeding according to cosmic plan, but his increasingly tedious speechifying about destiny and prophecy weirdly mirrors Agent Smith's grim talk of mechanical purpose. What, then, is the proper rejoinder to determinism? The Oracle tells Neo that "You are here to understand why you made the choice, not to make the choice." I take this to mean that, to an awakened one, events and decisions have always already occurred, but that understanding and compassion can still dissolve their karmic hold."

"Pilgermann here. I call myself Pilgermann, it's a convenience. What my name was when I was walking around in the shape of a man I don't know, I simply can't remember. What I am now is waves and particles, I don't need to walk around, I just go."

The Head of Orpheus

Correspondent John Pilgrim confronts the Well-Dressed Man

Documentary Fictions: Bibliography, Truth and Moral Lies by Dennis O'Rourke

"Man desires a world where good and evil can be clearly distinguished, for he has an innate and irrepressible desire to judge before he understands. Religions and ideologies are founded on this desire ... "
Milan Kundera : The Depreciated Legacy of Cervantes (1988)

The Book of Sand

You're like me
"The fact is that David Lynch treats the subject of evil better than just about anybody else making movies today - better and also differently. His movies aren't anti-moral, but they are definitely anti-formulaic. Evil-ridden though his filmic world is, please notice that responsibility for evil never in his films devolves easily onto greedy corporations or corrupt politicians or faceless serial kooks. Lynch is not interested in the devolution of responsibility, and he's not interested in moral judgements of characters. Rather, he's interested in the psychic spaces in which people are capable of evil. He is interested in Darkness. And Darkness, in David Lynch's movies, always wears more than one face...

Characters are not themselves evil in Lynch movies - evil wears them.
This point is worth emphasizing. Lynch's movies are not about monsters (i.e. people whose intrinsic natures are evil) but about hauntings, about evil as environment, possibility, force. This helps explain Lynch's constant deployment of noirish lighting and eerie sound-carpets and grotesque figurants: in his movies' world, a kind of ambient spiritual antimatter hangs just overhead ...

... In fact, in a Lynchian moral scheme it doesn't make much sense to talk about either Darkness or about Light in isolation from its opposite. It's not just that evil is "implied by" good or Darkness by Light or whatever, but that the evil stuff is contained within the good stuff, encoded in it.
You could call this idea of evil Gnostic, or Taoist, or neo-Hegelian, but it's also Lynchian ...

... I submit that the real reason we criticized and disliked Lynch's Laura's muddy bothness is that it required of us an empathetic confrontation with the exact same muddy bothness in ourselves and our intimates that make the real world of moral selves so tense and uncomfortable, a bothness we go to the movies to get a couple hours' fucking relief from."
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again - David Foster Wallace
(Abacus, 2001, pages 203 - 211)

Face Painting: Self-Representation in France from Montaigne and Poussin to Duchamp and Lacan - Steven Z. Levine
"In the early seventeenth century a searching self-portrait drawing by Poussin already resonates with the mundane and embodied temporality explored by the autobiographical essayist Montaigne in his relentless query, "Que sais-je?" or "What do I know?" To Montaigne's skeptical inquiry into the irreducible worldliness of the self, Descartes later opposes his resolutely transcendental axiom, "Cogito, ergo sum," "I think therefore I am." Descartes thus affirms the self's autonomous existence, but at the high cost of separating body, mind, and world, a cost that we have continued to pay to our great peril today."

Cosmic laws "crop out" from Monet's paintings
Michael Leja - Monet's Modernity in New York in 1886
"What were these natural laws, and how did Monet's paintings reveal them? Abbott's vision of nature and the cosmos seems a grim one for a young scientist, but it was grounded in her particular field of expertise. It hinged on a distinction in molecular structure between symmetry and dissymmetry. Abbott credited Louis Pasteur with recognizing the importance of dissymmetry, or asymmetry, in the molecular structure of all chemical products produced in plant cells."

Intermission: Koch's Postulates - Meditation 101 - The New World

"The mirror, like the mind, by taking in and feeding back the same image becomes a wheel, a cycle, able to retrieve all experience."
Marshall McLuhan - From Cliché to Archetype (Viking, 1970, page 163)

The Phonograph in Stoker's Dracula
"For anyone who has not read Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula, but has seen one of the numerous cinematic renditions, it may come as a surprise to learn that Stoker's tale is less concerned with vampires than it is with technology."

sprays of fleetest being - tim adams
Eric Packer is a billionaire currency trader who, at 28, has a 48-room Upper West Side apartment and a decommissioned nuclear bomber for a private plane. His genius is to intuit patterns in the churning data of financial indexes and to bet heavily on them. He lives for the eloquence of numerical systems and has an absolute faith that the great chaos that underpins the global economy brings into play, for those who look hard enough, the symmetries of natural order, of 'birdwing and chambered shell'.

platonic replica - lee henderson
"I suspect Cosmopolis references the infamous short film Windowlicker (1999), starring Richard D. James, that super-rich, super-narcissistic avant-garde electronic artist also known as Aphex Twin. Featuring James romping in the back of a kilometre-stretched limo, communing with a warped bouquet of big-bootied pleather-clad babes peeled straight off a verminous hip-hop video. Things get weird when you notice that all these siliconed bikini vamps possess James's creepy, crookedly grinning unshaven Welshman's face. This startling film, directed by Chris Cunningham ..."

The Passionate Outsider: Professor George Cushing
ehetnékem van/volt = I have/had a desire to eat

America, Inc

"A famous study in the US, published by Roger Ulrich in Science in 1984, reported that hospital patients who could see a tree from their sickbed recovered more rapidly after surgery than did those who looked out on a treeless urban scene."
the common ground book of orchards (Common Ground, 2000, page 171)

A Tree of Life

"When I was a kid, I used to announce ballgames to myself. I sat in a room and made up the games and described the play-by-play out loud. I was the players, the announcer, the crowd, the listening audience and the radio [...] And I've been trying to write toward that kind of innocence ever since. The pure game of making up. You sit there suspended in a perfect clarity of invention. There's no separation between you and the players and the room and the field. Everything is seamless and transparent. And it's completely spontaneous. It's the lost game of self, without doubt or fear."
Bill Gray

I, Multiple
Identity Zone Lectures
"In William Gibson's Neuromancer, the idea of projecting consciousness beyond the body is explored. Is the Case that inhabits the matrix the same distinct personality that is contained within his flesh?"

Neuromancer - William Gibson (1984)
The Matrix: a world within a world, a graphic representation of the databanks of every computer in the human system; a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate users in the Sprawl alone.

Mona Lisa Overdrive - William Gibson (1988)
In the depths of the rustbelt, the ring of steel garbage and toxic waste surrounding the Sprawl, Gentry obsessively seeks the darkest secrets of the Matrix. Seeking rapture.
When an impossibly tall and powerful skyscraper of data appears suddenly in the landscape of the Matrix, Gentry is ready for it, Angie is part of it, and Mona is set for overdrive.

Wittgenstein on Seeing - Travis J. Denneson
"This is the trap into which traditional philosophy has fallen: to maintain that the eyes 'see' and the ears 'hear', and that we, as brains, consciously as well as unconsciously interpret the information that we receive from the sensory apparati that are positioned throughout the bodies in which we reside. In other words, we each exist as a brain in a vat -- and in our case our bodies are the vats. How can a brain by itself exhibit consciousness?"

A key feature of "The Matrix" is that all those brains are wired together - that they really can interact with one another. And it was, improbably, the Harvard philosopher and mathematician Hilary Putnam who, a couple of decades back, proposed the essential Matrixian setup: a bunch of brains in a vat hooked up to a machine that was "programmed to give [them] all a collective hallucination, rather than a number of separate unrelated hallucinations." Adam Gopnik

Collage was the exemplary avant-garde technique: it breached the aesthetic frame by directly incorporating the real, it disrupted distinctions of figure and ground, and posed questions about authorial originality.

"Every man chylde that fyrst openeth the matrix shalbe called holy to the lorde."
Tindale Luke 2:23 [OED]

What's wrong with the Matrix?
"The thing that made the [Original] Matrix so creepy - the idea of a sleeping human population with a secondary life in a simulated world - is barely referred to in the new movie ..." Adam Gopnik

The Primeval Ghost-World
"Countless accumulated experiences have taught the modern that there are many associations of ideas which do not correspond to any actual connection of cause and effect in the world of phenomena; and he has learned accordingly to apply to his newly framed notions the rigid test of verification. Besides which the same accumulation of experiences has built up an organized structure of ideal associations into which only the less extravagant newly framed notions have any chance of fitting."
John Fiske (1872)

Blood - BBC - Radio 4 - In Our Time
For more than 1500 years popular imagination, western science and the Christian Church colluded in a belief that blood was the link between the human and the divine. The Greek physician, Galen, declared that it was blood that contained the force of life and linked the body to the soul, the Christian Church established The Eucharist - the taking of the body and blood of Christ.

Jon Mills - Hegel on the Unconscious Abyss: Implications for Psychoanalysis
Published in The Owl of Minerva, 1996, 28 (1), 59-75.

Jon Mills - Hegel on the Unconscious Soul

"What Phaedrus has been talking about as Quality, Socrates appears to have described as the soul, self-moving, the source of all things. There is no contradiction. There never really can be between the core terms of monistic philosophies. The One in India has got to be the same as the One in Greece. If it's not, you've got two. The only disagreements among the monists concern the attributes of the One, not the One itself. Since the One is the source of all things and includes all things in it, it cannot be defined in terms of those things, since no matter what thing you use to define it, the thing will always describe something less than the One itself. The One can only be described allegorically, through the use of analogy, of figures of imagination and speech. Socrates chooses a heaven-and-earth analogy, showing how individuals are drawn toward the One by a chariot drawn by two horses...."
Robert M Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Corgi reprint, 1980, page 381)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Part IV: Chapter 30

"Sol is the Heart, viz, the Center to which all forms tend and press. Thus the outward sun presses into the Sun in the Herb; and the inward sun presses into the outward."
Jacob Boehme

Robyn Hitchcock Finds Niche In Neo-Unplugged
"Hitchcock, who has careened between solo-acoustic performances and full-bore electric trio on his past few tours, has found a trendy compromise this time out -- the neo-unplugged approach."

Neo Unplugged

Alice & Joyce Matter met a Man Ajar
standing open-mouthed, hands on both sides of a door.
Fidelity foregrounds laughter beams, love dances, slippery blisses.
Early Ray's exploring the lore of a particle accelerator

Breaking upon the shore, fingers of foam
melt the standing wave of man alone. Eos
& Eros entangle and part, according to shafts
and figures of Joyful Science, overlapping flows
of sunlight chorus through a matrix of awakening
music for many more than one coming home


"The whole of Finnegans Wake, including the title, is paradox; based on what Joyce considered man's greatest invention - the mirror of language, the "magazine wall" of memory and all human residue."
Marshall McLuhan - From Cliché to Archetype (Viking, 1970, page 163)

20th-century strand - by Peter Schjeldahl
"Modern art at its best ... can seem like one long demonstration project, reveling in sheer possibility. It shows that one may do this thing, and this and this, while continually postponing a sense of the reason for doing anything at all. It soars on utopian optimism, anticipating an explanatory, redemptive future."

Lawrence Osborne - Misadventures in Marxism
"If the American campus is the ultimate refuge of lost causes, as it is so often accused of being, then it is the perfect sarcophagus for an ideology more or less abandoned by the vast swathes of humanity that actually lived under it. But then again, dreaming of the young Marx in a Manhattan loft and lining up for sub-standard soap for four hours a day in a Warsaw suburb were never exactly the same thing."

The Binary Proletariat
Peter Kennedy: Poetics, politics and silent music
Rubén Pulido Philosophy Area
Et in Arcadia Ego

Marshall Berman: Modernity - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Unlock yourself and retrieve your immortal Keats

Virtual Journal of Orthodontics : Issue 3.3
Gabriele Florìa: Evaluation of computer software in an orthodontic office
The term "kernel" comes from the German word "Kern" which means core (even soul in technical sense).

Strange Attractions: The Techno-Poetics of Hypertext

"To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world - and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are. Modern environments and experiences cut across all boundaries of geography and ethnicity, of class and nationality, of religion and ideology: in this sense, modernity can be said to unite all mankind. But it is a paradoxical unity, a unity of disunity: it pours us all into a maelstrom of perpetual disintegration and renewal, of struggle and contradiction, of ambiguity and anguish."
Marshall Berman - All That Is Solid Melts Into Air (Verso, 1985, page 15)

Confronting America's Inanimate Presence: Aké: the Years of Childhood
"In the market scene Soyinka sweepingly disparages the changes that foreign influence brings. He assigns America a large portion of the blame. In other instances he welcomes the benefit of technology, but does not connect it with America."

Heidegger and Dewey: To be Poetic or Pragmatic
"In this process where all that is solid melts into air - all boundaries, traditions, customs, beliefs are eroded like a sandcastle to the rising tide. Yet, Heidegger wanted to block this tide, he wanted to reject this "constant revolutionizing" of modernist becoming ..."

All About the Benjamins - by Howard Hampton

"The City of the Captive Globe ... is the capital of Ego, where science, art, poetry and forms of madness compete under ideal conditions to invent, destroy and restore the world of phenomenal reality.
... Manhattan is the product of an unformulated theory, Manhattanism, whose program [is] to exist in a world totally fabricated by man, to live inside fantasy.... The entire city became a factory of manmade experience, where the real and natural ceased to exist.
... The Grid's two-dimensional discipline creates undreamt-of freedom for three-dimensional anarchy ... the city can be at the same time ordered and fluid, a metropolis of rigid chaos.
... a mythical island where the invention and testing of a metropolitan life-style, and its attendant architecture, could be pursued as a collective experiment ... a Galapagos Island of new technologies, a new chapter in the survival of the fittest, this time a battle among species of machines..."
Rem Koolhaas - Delirious New York

Play Ball

delirious for rem
"I think my greatest quality is staging the creative process. I'm able to link, compose, and question certain subjects, and to generate an inventory of possibilities which can then be tested against the research until they break."
Rem Koolhaus

Fractal expressionism

Gamasutra - Features - GDC 2002:
Manhattan as Muse - New York City as a Conceptual Tool
"Sampling means drawing out particular characteristics or a fragment of a subject and reintroducing it in another context. While the Surrealists articulated this formally a long time ago with their collages and visual puns, in the creative process, we unconsciously take pieces from here and there, reassembling them into new systems."
Duncan Brown

Eyes of the Street: a culture of congestion
New York City: Look but Don't Touch - Colin Harrison
New Yorker Richard Sennett has argued that modernist principles of circulation and flow have produced specific problems for an increasingly diverse, multiethnic society. A frictionless city makes for a community of atomised individuals, protected from their environment and each other, and lulled into a false sense of personal sufficiency. ...What might revitalise urban life in Sennett's eyes is a culture of greater friction - not less - in which the inhabitants of the metropolis are forced into physical contact with others, in order to acknowledge a common ground in their bodily needs, ... "the body accepting pain is ready to become a civic body, sensible to the pain of another person, pains present ..."
Sennett's "pains present together on the street" recalls Jane Jacobs's famous account of 1960s Greenwich Village, which she pictured as a diverse yet mutually supportive local community, caring for its members through a network of "eyes on the street".

A Coney Island of the Mind - Lawrence Ferlinghetti
In Goya's greatest scenes we seem to see
the people of the world
exactly at the moment when
they first attained the title of
"suffering humanity"

Rumi and Leonard Cohen

Anthem - Leonard Cohen
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

A future worth fighting for

Charité Liberté Egalité Fidèlité - the key to the whole quest is love

The Matrix way of knowledge
"Today, the accelerating perceptual technologies of media are on a collision course with cognitive science and its understanding of how the human nervous system produces the real-time matrix we take for ordinary space-time. So we should not be surprised at the massive popularity of a Hollywood slug-fest where dream and reality and virtual technology enfold one another. Not only does the film mythologize the game-world aspirations of so much popular media, it stimulates the corresponding desire to crack through -- and remake -- the construct."
Erik Davis

DaveNet - If you want to be in Google, you gotta be on the Web
"There's no time like now."

Dynamics of a Blogosphere Story
"Blog stories are understood and appreciated in aggregate and not in isolation."

Crowds and Passages - Amardeep Singh
"In Canetti, the first thing we learn about crowds is that they are environments where our ordinary aversion to being touched by strangers is inverted. Being touched in a crowd is reassuring, part of the "natural" experience of density of life in this alternate reality. This in itself should ring a bell, as A Passage to India is a novel where people touch one another very rarely."

About Symmetry and Pattern

"Although the surface of Monet's pictures presents us so often with the calm of a garden scene, the paintwork itself is the product of a terrifying visceral contradiction, the twisting of the body in two contrary directions almost at once."
Darian Leader - Stealing the Mona Lisa: What Art stops us from Seeing
(Faber and Faber, 2002, page 117)

Asymmetry and Symmetry-Breaking
What do viruses, electromagnetism, oriental carpets, and music all have in common?

Dancing with Electrons
What is a magnetic field? Where does magnetism come from? Think of an attractive dancer circling the outskirts of a crowded dance floor, spinning alone to the music. At a fundamental level, says Arthur Freeman, that's magnetism.
Relying on powerful computational methods at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to simulate the bewildering complexity of this atomic dance floor, Freeman has revolutionized ideas about magnetism. During the last decade he has shown, contrary to what physicists believed prior to his work, that a surface atomic layer of a metal can have more magnetic moment than the bulk form of the same metal. Research stimulated by this finding has led to increasing magnetic data storage on compact discs by more than 40 times.
Freeman's pioneering work with magnetism along with important computational studies in superconductivity and other solid-state properties has helped to herald a new branch of science, computational materials science. "We are now making materials," says Freeman, "with exotic properties that nature doesn't give us, new materials from old elements. What happens is once you have a new tool -- like Galileo had the telescope -- you make discoveries. We have a new tool -- the computational capability of the computer. So we make new discoveries."

Do light beams laugh?
Have you ever heard a ray of sun laugh? In 1880, a few years after inventing the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell in a letter to his father claimed that he had, with an invention years ahead of its time.
"It's the greatest invention I have ever made; greater than the telephone!" Bell remarked later, referring to what he called the photophone. The photophone converted sound waves into a modulated beam of light, transmitted the light through the air, and reconverted the light into sound waves at the receiving end of the telephone headset.
"Sending laughter, or any message on a beam of light, is now commonplace and is called lightwave communication," said Gordon A. Thomas ...
Thomas will show how laughter can travel on a "laser" light beam, and describe the innerworkings of the basic elements needed to make a telephone work -- namely optical amplifiers, photodetectors, microphones, loudspeakers and lasers.

"Over the years there have been many devices created to convert light energy into pulses of electricity. Some of these devices have been specifically aimed towards sensory substitution - in particular, reading and navigation aids for the blind.
Back in 1817 an element called selenium was discovered by Berzelius. In the years that followed, it became apparent that selenium was photosensitive, reacting to light in such a way as to vary its conductivity. Then in 1880, Graham Bell invented the Photophone which conveyed speech along a beam of light to a selenium receiver, and later in the same year, the idea of 'electric vision' was proposed by Perry and Ayrton.
It is important to realise that at that time there was no television and no sound in the movies. A number of scientists and technologists were working on the conversion of light into electricity because there was so much to be gained. One such person was Dr E. E. Fournier d'Albe who in 1910 was appointed Assistant-Lecturer in Physics at the University of Birmingham in England. It was here that he set up a laboratory to look into the properties of selenium and where the word optophone was first coined in 1912.
Fournier d'Albe's optophone converted light into sound with the use of a detector made from selenium, with the sound being in some way proportional to the intensity of the light falling on the detector."


"Ever since Edison invented the light bulb in the 19th century, countless types of artificial lights flood the city. Although uneventful looking, these lights constantly blink on and off or change their intensity in a certain frequency; however, this is invisible to our eyes. SOUND-LENS, a portable device resembling a walkman, converts these high frequency transitions of light directly into sound, creating an amazing fusion of light and sound, in other words the integration of sight and hearing."
Toshio Iwai

In "The Harp and the Camera" Owen Barfield has suggested that we need to rethink the controlling metaphors of our age, which he takes to be first, that of the camera, and, consequently, that of projection.

Tis optophone which ontophanes

[As] Joyce playfully suggested in Finnegans Wake: man is nature's "optophone" -- literally "vision-voice" or "vision-sound instrument" -- the means of poetic conversion of light into sound; as the universe's photographer, he "ontophanes" -- literally "lights being" or "makes reality appear" -- even with, especially with, his poems.
Dr. David Lavery

"A long way from the enigmatic smile of Kasyapa I am still at work taking bearings and keeping my humble Ship's Log up to date. Poetry creates these clear imperatives - not thinking so loud, letting the heartbeats break the codes embedded in the vowels."
Lawrence Durrell - A Smile in the Mind's Eye (Granada, 1982, page 92)

posted by Andrew 5/22/2003 02:58:00 PM

{Monday, May 19, 2003}

consensual cave diving

Number Theory and Time
"I have sometimes thought that if we were able to perceive time in some multi-dimensional way, more like a surface than like a line, then perhaps the distributions of prime numbers would be entirely self-evident, and not seem at all mysterious to us."

Recycling Topology
"A Möbius surface has only one side and one edge. You can make a Möbius band by gluing together the two ends of a long strip of paper after giving one end a half twist."

Moebius strip + Möbius Strip -- from MathWorld

"Even atoms have structural roots. Take carbon, my personal favorite. Life is based on carbon because carbon has four outer electrons that stick like little strips of Velcro to atoms next door, allowing the atoms to form long and elaborate chains. Think of these attachment points as outstretched hands. What gives carbon this marvelous property? The electrons are anchored by the positive attraction of protons deep in the nucleus. Unlike the root of a mountain or iceberg, the root of an atom takes up but a tiny amount of space. But in mass, it accounts for nearly all of the atom's heft. The root is also the core. That's why roots have such great explanatory power. They tell us why things are the way they are."
K.C. Cole - Mind Over Matter: Conversations with the Cosmos (Harcourt, 2003, page 75)

Pattern in the chaos
Prime numbers are the atoms of arithmetic
"A chance meeting in the common room at Princeton between Freeman Dyson, a quantum physicist, and Hugh Montgomery, a mathematician interested in the primes began one of the strangest connections in science. Montgomery showed Dyson some of the patterns that he had observed in the primes. Dyson however had seen these patterns before in the physics of quantum chaos."

Values and Strange Attractors
"[...] The social and cultural dimension of language, like the neurosensory dimension, has the form of a nonlinear dynamical system with strange attractors pulling it toward certain "archetypal" forms. Those forms could be seen in the odd "targetedness" of the great sound-shifts that periodically convulse a language; they can also be observed in the way that metaphorization will take parallel paths in different languages, so that when a colorful idiom from another language is presented to us, we can almost always find an equivalent in our own. Thus the words "spirit" in English and "Atman" in Sanskrit have identical metaphoric histories, as do the words "kind," "nature," and "genus," all of which came together again in English, having led separate lives in Germanic, Latin, Greek, and other tongues for thousands of years since their original common root in Indo-European. Metaphorization and sound-changes are every new human generation's way of committing a sacrificial impiety against the tongue of its ancestors, an impiety that commutatively atones for the crime of the ancestors themselves in similarly appropriating the language for themselves from their own mothers and fathers. And since meaning dies the moment it ceases to cut slightly against all previous usage -- a valuable if over-emphasized and not entirely original contribution of Deconstruction -- it is constituted by this continual low-level feedback between the language and the world it contains.
Such might be the rudiments of a new, evolutionary poetics and a new nonlinear theory of meaning and representation.
[...] Suffice it to say here that poetic meter turns out to be a sure road to the ur-language, or to change the metaphor, meter is the lyre or golden bough or magic flute that enables us to enter the underworld of that language and to return with intelligible gifts for the community. Meter, like music and visual imagery, is an ancient psychic technology by which human nature and human culture are bridged; appropriately, and as we might imagine from our discussion of the fractal harmonics of Hebb-cell circuitry, meter is a rhythmic and harmonic system in itself, a way of inducing the wave functions of the brain. The lyre through which Rilke traces Orpheus in the Sonnets to Orpheus is the poetic form of the sonnet itself.
If the words of a poet can induce in one brain the same strange attractor that they proceeded from in the poet's brain, an extraordinary possibility presents itself. This possibility is that when those harmonics are in our heads we are actually sharing the thoughts, and indeed the subjectivity, of the poet, even if he or she is dead. The poet lives again when his or her attractors arise in another brain. Poetry, then, is a kind of artificial intelligence program, that springs into being when booted ..." Frederick Turner

Neither Christopher Columbus, nor his contemporaries, believed the earth was flat.

How has the discovery of the mind been advanced or impeded by Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Buber?
Human Rights and Ethics (pdf)
Nietzsche's thesis that "consciousness is a surface" is a major insight which highlighted the role of the un-conscious in our psychic life ...

How does the existence of an epidermis define our sense of space and time?
The boundary is the place where inside and outside meet, where subject and object conjoin.
"Today, as physics attempts to incorporate instability, the world we see outside us and the world we see within are converging. This convergence of two worlds is perhaps one of the most important cultural events of our age." Ilya Prigogine

A future that works [doc]
"In a universe essentially based on instability and creativity, humankind is in a way once again at the very centre of the fundamental laws of the universe as we understand it today." Ilya Prigogine

May you live in interesting times
While widely reported as being an ancient Chinese curse, this phrase is likely to be of recent and western origin.

Geometry of the I Ching
The Cullinane sequence of the 64 hexagrams

On the brink of the hydrogen age
As late as the 1850's, wood, charcoal, and straw were the world's dominant fuels.

Fuel's Paradise - Wired 8.07 - July 2000
World-class contrarian Thomas Gold has a theory about life on the planet: It's pumping out of the Earth's crust - and it's swimming in oil.

Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani - "So, you want to talk about oil."
At this point he makes an extraordinary claim: 'I am 100 per cent sure that the Americans were behind the increase in the price of oil. The oil companies were in real trouble at that time, they had borrowed a lot of money and they needed a high oil price to save them.'
He says he was convinced of this by the attitude of the Shah of Iran, who in one crucial day in 1974 moved from the Saudi view, that a hike would be dangerous to Opec because it would alienate the US, to advocating higher prices.
'King Faisal sent me to the Shah of Iran, who said: "Why are you against the increase in the price of oil? That is what they want? Ask Henry Kissinger - he is the one who wants a higher price".'
Yamani contends that proof of his long-held belief has recently emerged in the minutes of a secret meeting on a Swedish island, where UK and US officials determined to orchestrate a 400 per cent increase in the oil price.

Sheikh Yamani predicts price crash as age of oil ends
"Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil - and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil."

The Next Material World
"Fundamental shifts in civilization traditionally are initiated and designated by materials - and how an organized society masters their use."

The Real Scientific Hero of 1953 by Steven Strogatz - The New York Times, 4 March 2003
"In 1953, Enrico Fermi and two of his colleagues at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, John Pasta and Stanislaw Ulam, invented the concept of a "computer experiment." Suddenly the computer became a telescope for the mind, a way of exploring inaccessible processes like the collision of black holes or the frenzied dance of subatomic particles -- phenomena that are too large or too fast to be visualized by traditional experiments, and too complex to be handled by pencil-and-paper mathematics. The computer experiment offered a third way of doing science. Over the past 50 years, it has helped scientists to see the invisible and imagine the inconceivable.

Fermi and his colleagues introduced this revolutionary approach to better understand entropy, the tendency of all systems to decay to states of ever greater disorder. To observe the predicted descent into chaos in unprecedented detail, Fermi and his team created a virtual world, a simulation taking place inside the circuits of an electronic behemoth known as Maniac, the most powerful supercomputer of its era. Their test problem involved a deliberately simplified model of a vibrating atomic lattice, consisting of 64 identical particles (representing atoms) linked end to end by springs (representing the chemical bonds between them).

This structure was akin to a guitar string, but with an unfamiliar feature: normally, a guitar string behaves "linearly" -- pull it to the side and it pulls back, pull it twice as far and it pulls back twice as hard. Force and response are proportional. In the 300 years since Isaac Newton invented calculus, mathematicians and physicists had mastered the analysis of systems like that, where causes are strictly proportional to effects, and the whole is exactly equal to the sum of the parts.

But that's not how the bonds between real atoms behave. Twice the stretch does not produce exactly twice the force. Fermi suspected that this nonlinear character of chemical bonds might be the key to the inevitable increase of entropy. Unfortunately, it also made the mathematics impenetrable. A nonlinear system like this couldn't be analyzed by breaking it into pieces. Indeed, that's the hallmark of a nonlinear system: the parts don't add up to the whole. Understanding a system like this defied all known methods. It was a mathematical monster.

Undaunted, Fermi and his collaborators plucked their virtual string and let Maniac grind away, calculating hundreds of simultaneous interactions, updating all the forces and positions, marching the virtual string forward in time in a series of slow-motion snapshots. They expected to see its shape degenerate into a random vibration, the musical counterpart of which would be a meaningless hiss, like static on the radio.

What the computer revealed was astonishing. Instead of a hiss, the string played an eerie tune, almost like music from an alien civilization. Starting from a pure tone, it progressively added a series of overtones, replacing one with another, gradually changing the timbre. Then it suddenly reversed direction, deleting overtones in the opposite sequence, before finally returning almost precisely to the original tone. Even creepier, it repeated this strange melody again and again, indefinitely, but always with subtle variations on the theme."

Mark Evans - The Music of The Spheres
"In the mid-Sixties, DuPont had been working on the cutting edge of research and development in Laser technology. They had enormous stationary lasers, some almost as big as a dynamo, in a huge 300-foot white room, in their lab in Wilmington. They did everything with those lasers that could possibly be conceived of being done. They were working the other end of the equation at the same time, developing equipment that could electronically transform light into sound.
They made the apparatus that could transform light into sound as small as possible, given the state of technology at the time - so small that it could be put into a small suitcase. Then they took that equipment up to Canada, and set it up on the tundra, west of Hudson Bay, and directed it at the Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights. With state-of-the-art recording equipment, they monitored dozens of Auroral displays, and recorded scores of hours of Auroras on audiotape. They were amazed at what they found: the Northern Lights, electronically transformed into sound, were music, the most exquisite music one could ever possibly imagine.
At the highest echelons of DuPont, even down to the corps of engineers, this was known. Leonard Richardson himself had heard ten to twelve hours of those tapes in the lab at Wilmington. "The moment you first heard it," he said, "it sounded like a beehive. After a few moments, however, you began to realize that it was choral in nature, a highly complex, harmonious tapestry of sound." It was, in fact, a labyrinth of melodies, totally harmonious, and contrapuntal. In it could be discerned as many as sixty-four distinct, harmonious lines of counterpoint. The closest earthly music it could be compared to was Bach, perhaps the Third Brandenburg Concerto, except that it was way beyond Bach, far more liberated, and not at all lugubrious or liturgical. It was infinite. Although each manifestation of the Aurora Borealis moved in a series of movements and variations along the lines of a concerto, no two Auroral displays ever produced the same symphony; each one was entirely unique.
It became a DuPont Company secret."

Prime numbers not so random?
A kind of order may be buried in the occurrence of indivisible numbers
Report by Philip Ball

The music of the spheres
Johannes Kepler and the Music of the Spheres
The music of the spheres

"It was Heinrich Heine who gave me the highest conception of a lyrical poet. I search vainly through the kingdoms of all the ages for anything to equal his sweet and passionate music." Friedrich Nietzsche

Refreshing the search for the 'first moving thing'
A thought-experiment from medieval physics?
AI Magazine Volume 12 Number 4
This is not a medieval woodcut
Shape of the Earth

DNA computers take shape
"In the experiments, DNA molecules were applied to a small glass plate overlaid with gold. The DNA was modified so that all the possible answers to a computationally difficult problem were included. By exposing the molecules to certain enzymes, the molecules with the wrong answers were weeded out, leaving only the DNA molecules with the right answers.
The appeal of DNA computing lies in the fact that DNA molecules can store far more information than any existing computer memory chip. It has been estimated that a gram of dried DNA can hold as much information as a trillion CDs.
What is more, in a biochemical reaction taking place in a tiny surface area, hundreds of trillions of DNA molecules can operate in concert, creating a parallel processing system that resembles the processing architecture of the most powerful supercomputer.
The logic behind conventional digital computers represents information as a series of electrical impulses using ones and zeros. DNA computing depends on information represented as a pattern of molecules arranged on a strand of DNA."
David Whitehouse

DNA computers: general-purpose systems with the potential to excel where electronic computers fail
Karaki: In media interviews, I am sometimes asked if the system is really a DNA computer or just a biochemical reaction system.
Suyama: The system carries out calculations using reactions in DNA molecules, so it is indeed a reaction system. The real questions are what kind of reactions are involved, how they are implemented, and what they are all about. Basically, we choose specific reactions and use a program to control the order in which to trigger them. By modifying the program, we can carry out not just a single computation process, but many different kinds. This general-purpose quality is the key criterion for determining whether or not a system can be described as a computer.

What is a computer?
"Since we are concerned with logical behaviour and not physical behaviour, we assume that inputs, outputs, time, and other parameters of the system are quantised. That means that time proceeds in definite 'ticks'; at each tick, our black box can inspect its inputs and will find each of them in one of a number of definite 'states', will itself be in one of a number of definite states, and will set each of its outputs to one of a number of definite states.
This idea is much more familiar to us today than it was to mathematicians in the 1930s when these ideas were first being discussed. Many apparently continuous devices [photographs, telephone conversations, gramophone records, handwriting] are routinely handled by digital means today [television raster scans or CCD arrays, computerised telephone exchanges, CDs, keyboards]. Early papers spend much time explaining how a continuous function can be approximated by a sufficiently fine set of discrete values." Dr A. N. Walker

David Deutsch: The Discrete and the Continuous
"A journey of a thousand miles begins, obviously, with a single step. But isn't it equally obvious that a step of a single metre must begin with a single millimetre? And before you can begin the last micron of that millimetre, don't you have to get through 999 other microns first? And so ad infinitum? That "ad infinitum" bit is what worried the philosopher Zeno of Elea. Can our every action really consist of sub-actions each consisting of sub-sub-actions ... so that before we can move at all, we have to perform a literally infinite number of distinct, consecutive actions?
Zeno's paradox is the earliest known critique of the common-sense idea that we live in a "continuum" -- an infinitely divisible, smoothly structured space. It highlights one of several awkward problems with that concept, which would be considered fatal flaws if there were a reasonable alternative. But the only alternative is that space is not infinitely divisible but discrete, and the flaw in that is a killer too: if there are only finitely many points -- actions, changes, or whatever -- between one place and another, how can you ever get from one to the next? There is, by definition, nothing in between, nowhere to be while you cross the gap. You start having not yet crossed; then you have crossed. Period.
This dilemma kept coming up in various guises: does matter consist of atoms? how many angels can stand on the head of a pin? In the nineteenth century the continuum seemed to have won, with the triumph of the wave theory of light -- though Darwin knew that there was a problem with evolution if, as he thought, inherited traits are continuously variable. He needn't have worried. When Max Planck solved the black body problem by postulating that atoms could absorb or emit energy only in discrete amounts, the quantum age began. The idea of quantization -- the discreteness of physical quantities -- turned out to be immensely fruitful. Niels Bohr used it to construct the first successful model of the internal structure of atoms. Albert Einstein used it to analyse the photoelectric effect. However, escaping from the infinities of continuous motion again raised the question "how do you get from A to B?" Modern quantum theory gives an answer of sorts. Remarkably, it describes a reality in which observable quantities do indeed take discrete values, yet motion and change are nevertheless continuous.
How can that be?"

American Scientist Online - The Square Root of NOT
"Digital computers are built out of circuits that have definite, discrete states: on or off, zero or one, high voltage or low voltage. Engineers go to great lengths to make sure these circuits never settle into some intermediate condition. Quantum-mechanical systems, as it happens, offer a guarantee of discreteness without any engineering effort at all. When you measure the spin orientation of an electron, for example, it is always either "up" or "down," never in between. Likewise an atom gains or loses energy by making a "quantum jump" between specific energy states, without passing through intermediate energy levels. So why not build a digital computer out of quantum-mechanical devices, letting particle spins or the energy levels of atoms stand for binary units of information?
One answer to this "Why not?" question is that you can't avoid building a quantum-mechanical computer even if you try. Since quantum mechanics appears to be a true theory of nature, it governs all physical systems, including the transistors and other components of the computer on your desk. All the same, quantum effects are seldom evident in electronic devices; components and circuits are designed so that the quantum states of many millions of electrons are averaged together, blurring their discreteness.
In a quantum computer, the basic working parts would probably have to be individual electrons or atoms, and so another answer to the "Why not?" question is that building such a machine is simply beyond our skills. And even apart from the challenges of atomic-scale fabrication, there are some ticklish conceptual issues. Quantum systems have some famously weird behavior, such as the phenomenon called quantum interference. Two nearby transistors can switch on and off independently, but two adjacent quantum objects (such as two electrons) are inextricably coupled, so that the future state of one electron cannot be predicted without taking into account the surrounding electrons. Indeed, an isolated electron can interfere with itself!
A third answer to the "Why not?" question is "Why bother?" Until recently there was no reason to believe that a quantum computer could do anything a classical computer couldn't. This situation has now changed dramatically. The exact place of quantum technology in the overall hierarchy of computing machines is still not settled, but a few recently discovered algorithms offer intriguing hints. It turns out that a program written for a quantum computer can factor large numbers faster than any known algorithm for a classical machine. The quantum factoring algorithm makes essential use of interference effects, which become a source of parallelism, allowing the computer to explore all possible solutions to a problem simultaneously. Factoring is a task of much theoretical interest, and it also has practical applications in cryptography, so these discoveries have attracted considerable notice."
Brian Hayes

Quest for the Quantum Computer by Julian Brown
"In "The Garden of Forking Paths," written back in the 1950s, an illustrious Chinese governor is said to have written a strange kind of novel constructed as a kind of labyrinth. "In all fictional works, each time a man is confronted with several alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the fiction of Ts'ui Pen, he chooses -- simultaneously -- all of them," Borges wrote. By writing a novel that pursued all possible story lines simultaneously, Borges's fictitious author, Ts'ui Pen, could have been writing a script for the multiverse.
[...] Imagine living in a small house for many years and then discovering in the basement a trapdoor that opened onto a colossal subterranean world of rooms that appeared to stretch on into infinity. For physicists and computer scientists that, in some sense, is what the arrival of the first quantum computer would be like. [...]
Exploring Hilbert Space
Interpretations aside, it's long been known that at the atomic level waves can behave like particles, and particles have waves associated with them. A single entity such as an electron, for example, can travel along many different routes simultaneously as if it were really a spread-out phenomenon like a wave. The essential idea of quantum parallelism advanced by Deutsch was this: If an electron can explore many different routes simultaneously, then a computer should be able to calculate along many different pathways simultaneously too. (H&C note: Consider this paper by Andrew Steane.)
[...] On hearing Deutsch's grand vision for the future of quantum computation, I'm reminded of the scene in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey when those strange-looking apes discover for the first time the power of wielding a bone as a weapon. What a powerfully symbolic moment that was, with the future of humanity hanging in the balance between aggression and creativity. These hominids had taken their first step toward understanding and exploiting nature. Suddenly the picture cuts from a bone spinning in the air to a futuristic spinning space station orbiting the Earth ..."

Jill Matus - Proxy and Proximity: Metonymic Signing
"Metaphor is recognizable, captivating. Despite its assertion of illogical identity for the purposes of illuminating, it is a comparison between things different yet similar which enables us to see, in Kenneth Burke's phrase, the 'thisness of a that or the thatness of a this.'
[...] There are countless ways to condense the relationships and associations between one thing and another. Metonymic relationships ought to raise the question, 'Why this connection rather than that?' By exposing what we take as absolute to be relative, a scrutiny of metonymic relationships leads to a decentring perspective without which the danger is that what is habitual and conventional comes to be seen as inevitable. It is a blindness of insight, in de Man's terms, to see metonymy as dependent on contingent relationships but then to deny significance to the fact that the perception of relationships is not automatic. We have to be taught to see the connections among things, which is why games -- jigsaw puzzles, sequences, patterns, sorting and grouping on the basis of context and extrinsic connection -- inculcate in children such perceptual skills."

Games as Jazz + Standing Waves

"Great paintings shouldn't be in museums. Museums are cemeteries. Paintings should be on the walls of restaurants, in dime stores, in gas stations, in men's rooms ... It's not the bomb that has to go, man, it's the museums."
Bob Dylan - 1965

The World is Sound + The Circle is Unbroken

"Now, we daily see what science is doing for us. This could not be unless it taught us something about reality; the aim of science is not things themselves, as the dogmatists in their simplicity imagine, but the relations between things; outside those relations there is no reality knowable."
Henri Poincaré : Preface to Science and Hypothesis (1905)

Not Just Genes
"In the view of some biologists, nothing would better suit the DNA industry than a genuine midlife crisis, a realization that this most mythologized of bio-abbreviations may not, after all, be the fulcrum around which the Milky Way wheels. As these biologists see it, DNA may be elegant, but it often has been accorded far greater powers than it possesses.
With all the breathless talk of human DNA as a grand epic written in three billion runes, the scientists complain that an essential point is forgotten: DNA, on its own, does nothing. It can't make eyes blue, livers bilious or brains bulging. It holds bare-bones information - suggestions, really - for the construction of the proteins of which all life forms are built, but that's it. DNA can't read those instructions, it can't divide, it can't keep itself clean or sit up properly - proteins that surround it do all those tasks. Stripped of context within the body's cells, those haggling florid ecosystems of tens of thousands of proteinaceous fauna, DNA is helpless, speechless - DOA. By the same token, cells need their looping lanyards of genes and would grow as dull as hairballs without them." Natalie Angier

From Artificial Life to Semiotic Agent Models - Luis Mateus Rocha
"The integration or aggregation of agents in multi-agent systems is most often non-linear, in the sense that the resulting behavior cannot be linearly decomposed into the behavior of individual agents. This also implies that multi-agent systems lead to network causality, as effect and cause of agent behavior follow circular loops that cannot be linearly decomposed into traditional cause and effect chains."

Primordial soup or primordial pizza?

posted by Andrew 5/19/2003 02:08:00 PM