Fri Jan 30, 2004 9:45 pm - The Ottawa Imbroglio
|An intriguing conference was held last year in the posh suburbs north of Ottawa City last month by some of the most formidable scientists and mathematicians of the world. They included Einstein, Kepler, von Neumann, Archimedes, Reimann, Hawking, and Planck.
For some reason he declined to explicate Ari included as well Moses Maimonides and Thomas Jefferson. He invited, as it were, innumerable scientists from other species that had developed intelligence on the Earth aeons ago which included seven varieties of saurian civilizations and two arthropod worlds of which I must confess I know nothing.
There were also several scientists of our own species from an age humanity has almost completely forgotten, the great Lemurian Renaissance of a million years ago some call legend; others trash accounts of its wonders as a simple and hard edged mendacity.
As one might have guessed giving this singular roster, known and unknown, this was a simulated or virtual colloquy run by a seven year old prodigy living in this snowy part of the world, Ari Cohen, a second grade student with nothing to do for a week after a blizzard that put his home in a twenty foot snowbank for two weeks.
Ari Cohen translated the character and remarks known of all of these remarkable savants into algorithms and ran this most elevated collegium meeting in his computer his parents had bought him to play Wolfenstein. They saw he was happy after a while with this toy and left him alone.
Ari assembled his data for this Symposium from all known information about his characters from their books to their table talk he took from a Japanese web site and ran the vast agglomeration of material into his machine using Elysium, the rather narrators and controversial Korean program offered as freeware from a site in downtown Tashkent for running such scenarios.
As one might imagine the results of putting these talkative fellows together in one virtual room over large mugs of imaginary hot coffee and cheese Danish were fairly contentious as well as tireless in their sheer capacity for argument.
I can only give here at best a very sketchy prťcis of these proceedings, a miracle in diverse ways, pacts of which are hardly intelligible to me, other sections of which might seem to even the liberal reader accustomed to entertain the viably and respectability of many diverse opinions, vertiginous, blasphemous and perverse to a degree few of us might find tolerable in our proper piety as an account of notions held by others. One must be protected from what amounts to algorithmic illusions as well as reality itself sometimes even if these savants donít in a strict way of thinking exist.
Iíve confined myself here to one most minor shard from the more conspicuously amiable discussions. I am not anxious to promote argent by an accounts of the unending disputes of these sundry geniuses.
The keynote lecture was of course given by Xi-Lu, a sort of scientific hierophant of sorts of Lemuria, a nation that seems to have existed in a half underwater swamp that is now the plains of Wyoming.
I shall spare the reader any wide or colorful account of human history; as we all know the past is in a deep way irrelevant to us. It is powerless to affect us as the future. Xi-Lu was interrupted and even heckled albeit mildly during his oddly accented discourse.
I shall one quote from the text which this remarkable seven year old, Ari Cohen, has offered to us all on his enormous and colorful site. I shall not taint the mind of the reader with any of these scurrilous commentary. I shall include only much of what was said in response or in passing by many pundits we are more family with than this scientist from the forgettable fens and moors of a country that has doubtless disappeared because it no longer amused the usually inexplicably patient architects of Creation.
Xi-Lu: I was on one of our sacred mammoth hunts with some colleagues who regarded these chases of that immense animals as more a metaphorical chase of the ineluctable than what it irrefutably was; most of them I am sorry to say were poets.
I stood by the traces of one of these animals perhaps left a day earlier, not much more than a few granitic patties of green dung and a bending and breaking of many blades of ferny grass, twigs and purplish weeds where the creature had wondered in his most capacious path through the brush. I was listening to the talk of the hunters around me in a nonchalant way when I was graced with a small epiphany.
I realized that we could never catch this mammoth. If we did find the beast, it would be older, different from savoring however murkily its experience, in certain ways not the very prey we all thought we had evidence had been this way. In fact every instant we hunted the mammoth changed both us and the mammoth to a subtle but not negligible degree to the point weíre at no point in the hunt were we able to say in a precise way that we could translated our experience into a precise science.
One might as well point out that the very scenery of what was aeons later to become Wyoming was motile in its slow way, the birds that watched us from the trees, the moles that heard overhead not to mention the plodding gait of the mammoth as it stomped over their lairs in the depths of the earth, any motes living or dead that had escaped our view in this ten dimensional universe we see so little of and guess even less of altogether. In fact were I to try to translate my experience into language or even more precise mathematical terms I would have to include in my words, paradigms, symbols and equations a very openended statement that would be infinitely cumbersome.
I would have to include the corresponding volatility in all of Creation, a theatre of eternity and infinity along with a depiction of my inner nature, a subject about which I am sorrily often wrong about and even often misinformed.
I realized as well after a moment that had not been operating according to other principles besides consistency and causality, even for a moment or perhaps some, most or all of the time, I would not have noticed it because mentally life all life forms that learn or mislearn anything from experience I am neurally built to be reductive, to generalize from particulars that in the end if not in my mind always remain particulars. They also may not have anything lie the design or integrity I attribute to them.
They have as well what seems to be an infinite breakdown when examined intimately into more particulars of their own in an endless progression, Creation into its diverse crannies, communities into animals, animals into molecules, molecules into atoms, atom into sub-atomic particles and so on.
lf nature choose to have a mammoth identical to the one we were pursuing appear at the next second and dispatch the first moment to who knows where, I would not be bale to read that replacement or transformation beyond my ken of what was in front of me.
Moreover were I to change myself in the same way I would experience my life having that consistency and simplicity as it moved through time though there were an infinite skein of set of myself which in some absolute sense, if the notion of the absolute or substantial wasnít one more set of reductive ideas in themselves, I would not know the difference.
If everything else in all directions, or only some of it were changing with such rapidity to identical or near identical guises I would dismiss these variations and lesions as irrelevant as well. I was in the most ordinary circumstances falsifying reality in the services of whatever might give me either as much truth as I needed, hardly all that much, wouldnít you say?
Besides I was in some primal emotional sense repulsed by much of what I knew to be true. We were aware in our time that we werenít the center of the universe, that all things did not revolve around us, the curious and perhaps absolutely beautiful geometric shapes we used as language and mathematics had no analogue in nature, and all manner of other nooks of wisdom about the truth of Creation that have as yet not been revealed to you. Everyone of them implied that we were ene more trivial that I thought we all were and for that matter, I was. Certainly they all made a hash of the notion of a center to anything. I will spare you these examples since you haunt come upon them yet and savored their elixir of woe.
One of your excellent philosophers to south of us in the United States, the estimable William James, said in dealing with problems like these it doesnít matter what the truth is; our concern is only with the pragmatic. Yet were I to find James here among these illustrious savants I would say to him that as our knowledge of anything expands our acceptance of the mere utility of a notion, whether Ptolemyís conception of the universe or the lack of other balances in compounds than equations, such as we find in carbon ring formations, becomes increasingly lacking in usefulness even to us.
It was plain that not sloth nor stupidity but a basic biological hunger to make the complex simple, to cut down on the terror that we live at our peril in a world of pure chance, to reduce the involute and laterally florid reality of our condition and environment to some childish integer that has no existence anywhere but in the lunacy of our craven and terror ridden biology, I was incapable of uttering a single trust about anything at all.
As a result I said nothing about this quite amusing mammoth hunt to anyone when I returned to the collegiums and bibulous stews of Zemaqua, our capital. I didnít ramble on about much else either. I was known as the Silent One ever afterwards I have no intention describing to much to you of my time or any time in any language of since you or I know; it would be a coarse and provincial mendacity, low as we might be, unworthy of all of us.
Kepler: You remind me in your moment of true vision of my own difficulties with discovering the truth, a labor at least as difficult as offering it to others in any form at all. I spent ten years not fathoming the elliptical nature of planetary revolutions or the polyglot nature of our sun systems because I was entrenched in a presumptive notion that these bodies and their motions must be circular. Plato says as much in his Timeaus. I certainly wasted my time wrestling with ideas that were wrong in the first place.
I really have no idea what my time would have said had I said anything like my colleague Einstein here, that the distance from each other as well as the mass and energy of all bodies were a function of some elaborate balance of factors themselves on the ultimately fluid and motile side rather than substantial, measurable and predictable, perhaps even controllable. It would have given enough people in my age vertigo so that at least one of them would have gone out with a sword and armed with some pique as well to dispatch me.
I suppose the accreted acceptance of ever more bizarre and even inexplicable visions of reality among our species antithyroid by some low cult is some sort of progress.
Einstein: When I said it most people thought I was crazy. I was lucky I was living in Switzerland where they donít usually burn people for their opinions. I think you were wiser to be lightfooted, live near the sea with a nearby boat, and make your living at astrology. I deduced everything, of course, but a few decades later the evidence prove it; other people measures the Doppler rays to show I had some tiny handle on the truth.
Of course since the truth in general had always been in the best of our civilizations not very attractive or even much comprehensible, nobody much noticed my discoveries but a few mathematicians until I showed some politicians in the vicinity how one might be able to turn a few of my intuitions I had foaled in my days working in a Patent Office into weapons that might produce harvests of death with naked forces in situations in which they had been unable to effect their puissant will with either honest seduction or even more honest persuasion.
Very few of my colleges could live by a science that was true yet contracted their programmed talent for generalizing from the particular, as Goethe used to say. In its most ordinary form we constantly assume in a reductive way that all experience has a substantial and repetitive character much as Newton thought on paltry evidence he had in his age of limited sensory perceptions and some crude instruments that seemed before him a source of facts irrefutable enough.
If I may say so, Xi-Lu, it didnít matter I would suspect to any of your fellow mammoth hunters nor even yourself beyond your excellent scientific integrity whether or not anything was real, materially substantial, describable at all or otherwise translatable into any language whatsoever, even whether the moment they either caught or didnít catch the mammoth they had quarried the same mammoth at all, even whether they had found traces of any mammoth in that ecstatic moment you had a million years ago.
Even in your day you had come upon the essential abyss between how human beings think to survive, not at all connected with the truth or valuing it beyond a bare utility, and what is really going on in front of them, or for that matter completely and irrevocably out of their view.
Your crew merely wanted to catch a mammoth, some mammoth, perhaps older, deferent, even younger if time had moved palpably or impalpably backwards during that chase; they valued only the feasts and the meat, even the ceremonial nature of their actions if they were poets, that would produce a result, real or illusion with which they could in a coarse and brainless way be commonly satisfied. If you could have figured out how to turn your inquiries into a way to kill other people they would have been interested much more in your theorizing.
Xi-Lu: I think you implying, my dear Einstein that at some point real science and human perception inherently have to go in separate if not necessarily oppose directions. Though it makes my momentarily melancholy, on the evidence of the continual falsehood and folly of a million years after me as well as some equally notable period before me I have to agree with you.
Einstein: I am saying that, am I not? However I was focusing more on the reductive and utilitarian nature of human thought as its principle fulcrum rather than a sincere interest in truth, to be candid.
Humans are always looking for short cuts in understand Creation and building a science that can identify and predict phenomena, perhaps out of sloth, more likely out of out of a finite capacity for a machinery that could makes an effective and honest science or language which could render all or some of Creation in some analogue in our own minds.
We donít need to know the openendedness and florid lateral character of Creation much less that it has a kind of ghostly etheric connection from all things in it to all other things as Plato said. Now we call it super-string theory.
Of course, my friend Kepler I must say is just to complain about how Plato threw him off for a decade and wasted his time with one of his ideas; I must say, my dear Kepler, that this and many other notions of Plato came from Pythagoras and his notions of perfection, whatever that may be; it wasnít something Plato himself invented out of nothing.
Pythagoras I think probably picked up this conceit in Egypt where they were mad at the time for geometry and notions of mathematical impeccability. We can't even if we are Plato spend a mortal lifetime divesting ourselves of every falsehood we are taught. The escape from illusion might perforce have to be a communal enterprise because few of us live long enough to do the job by ourselves.
Kepler: I gave it quite a shot, didnít I? I have nothing against Plato. Iíve been deterred from knowing the truth by many people in my time including lovers, friends and whole European communities.
Itís exhausting ridding oneself of such trash when one is constrained by oneís shortness of life to focus on whatever small knowledge of the truth one might accomplish; as you say Plato intuited enough truth so that I can forgive him his more slothful days when he accepted all too many received ideas.
My major pique with the world subsequent to my mortality which I think all of you where find equally lamentable is that they never picked up on the implications of my discoveries beyond my plotting of the elliptical, not circular movement of the planetary bodies.
I had in my researches stumbled accidentally on a general principle, itself reductive of course, but a central tool to those who wanted to know about anything from politics to the growth of radishes.
For centuries after me including that age of unparalleled genocides and stifling of the human spirit, the 20th century, an endless set of politicians and military leaders were looking to science for infallible or at least tolerably reliable instruments to monitor, control, persuade and even muscle human beings in a problem-solving way that as Xi-Lu implies is built into the human brain like its network of organizing occipital perceptions into some reductive design simpler and with much harder edges than its actual information.
Of course since has given them nothing. It doesnít exist for science to give it to these leaders even if we were immoral enough to offer them such powerful and dependable tools for tyranny.
As clever as Newton was, as much of a genius in various arenas as he clearly showed himself to be, he really with utter sincerity led the entire world down the wrong trail if they were looking for truth, utility or even a mammoth.
One canít entirely blame Newton for producing a system that was false; it worked after all, much like the ways people hunted mammoths in Lemuria, if whether or not they ever catch the mammoth they had set out to hunt was both a moot point and unknowable.
From Newton, Francis Bacon and some other saints of science after me you have heard how one can while sitting in a chamber at least describe some part or all of Creation with a few laws that amount to assertions of severely repetitive phenomena that ar knowable and implicitly can be drafted as slaves or day laborers to work for the politicians, the magicians or the leader of warriors.
As a result weíve had a season in the West of theoreticians of genius but wrongheaded institutions doing such guessing much like Newton, many of which have led humanity into pious wars to purge themselves of what amounts to a florid complexity Creation offers them they reject in the name of a what one might call a post-Platonic purity.
Our harvest in the last bloody century has been The Third Reich, the Soviet Union, the factory town, the various other anthill utopias false scientists have dreamt of in their folly that really offer in their illusions the old satisfactions for the hunger humans have always had to find general simple explanations of complex and ineluctable phenomena as well as apply known and controlled infantile remedies to their dilemmas that arm them with a magical if unreal freedom and power.
One can see in any tyranny like Hitlerís or Stalinís the solar image of perfection that goes back to Plato and Pythagoras, probably n turn an old Egyptian idea of the pharaoh Pythagoras picked up while in that country. We are locked into this radioactive way of thinking which offers us comfort at the expense of our sanity. In the end itís a kind of unfortunate tradeoff, isnít it?
Einstein: I presume you are referring to our age dominated by the ideas of Marx, Freud and Darwin. Itís true they were all wrong about all their major ideas; itís also fair to say that at least Freud and Darwin were excellent scientists as diagnosticians in a small way.
Marx really did have to intriguing ideas about what he knew if he was a prime example of the ignorance one can achieve by thinking one has knowledge one really doesn't have. Freud wrote twenty or thirty books about mental mechanisms like Ford engines he never found much less identified or predicted as phenomena in the physical world; that is quite an achievement for a man claiming to be a scientist, isnít it?
Darwin was wrong about evolution, simian ancestors and all of his other major theories as well as his presumption that life is about struggle; obviously Darwin never spent much time around peacocks. He was a good man who probably inspired more evil than any man of virtue since Jesus. Itís the common tragedy of such well meaning people.
Nothing was more destructive to science that Darwin, Marx and Freud in deep ways that go further in falsehood than the mere justifications Darwin and Marx gave to subsequent palaces of others claiming to be their followers of pious genocide. Of course they didnít invent such notions of helping history along with a catalyzing policy of massacre; both Christianity and Islam took that high politics up long before any of them.
What sinks us all who were brought up in the pits dug by these savants isnít merely the need to escape those who aim to kill us for the best of reasons but the terminally false reductive WA of thinking they had that has a kind of satanic contagion.
Darwin thought he knew the history of all species, all men, all everything. Making generalizations form a few facts that themselves might be suspect never bothered him nor his followers; they were all adept at faking statistics and burying evidence. Variation was a kind of irritation like a knee condition to Darwin.
Marx was equally sure he knew the design of the past and present as well as the inevitable direction of the future. He did this not be observation, talking with people who were present at some event but by reading books and newspapers. One can't be sure who was the greater dunce, Marx himself or the people who believed he had that uncanny capacity.
At least Freud never inspired slaughter, only money juggernauts of imaginary madness claiming to be a science like carnival barkers selling snake oil from the back of a truck; he did found a debased faith of popular therapy that seduced the weak and the rubes into thinking they were some other kind of animal than they are. They also thought if they talked and concentrated on their navels long enough they will find a magic remedy for their woes.
Yet what can see say, Kepler, of our more scientific spirits during the same time? Stimulus-response theory for example is nothing more than common human problem solving in an imaginary laboratory that cannot and does exist in nature. There are no controlled or closed environments in all of Creation.
If somebody could make one it would tell us nothing about a Creation in which all things take place outside such a citadel of utter artifice. Do you call these people scientists? They are bishops of cults maundering in one more form of lunacy.
Kepler- All true, my dear Einstein; yet if we have failed at producing a science probably since humanity first existed, it shouldnít stop us from trying to achieve it. Our species has a genius for making the most of its mistakes and false starts; I am an example of that as few are.
If people tried to fly for millennia, went up in balloons in the 19th century, finally took off into the empyrean in the 20th century it was only the very top of a coral accretion of error, probably necessary given our talent for mistakes we survive, to pay for our dogged triumphs after a seeming impatient eternity.
We need it to discover the truth about anything as much as it irritates or hurts us, even at the cost of the common biological madness we in our vanity call our sanity.
Of course there will always be in all times as there were in my age popes who find our science odious, kings who will look to our deceivers theories for means of enslaving or killing others, presets who will turn out our honest findings into some wizardrous machine for culling the perpetual louts immortally cozened it seems by such unctuous spirits.
Einstein- I wonder who we can do that. In the end my special and general Theory of Relativity as well as my Unified Field Theory was reductive and problem solving at bottom. Itís virtues were acknowledging a complexity which was there anybody; itís not as if I invented the world. I was merely content to try to describe it better, not well.
I wonder whether humanity is cable of science at all any more than a three toed sloth is. A problem solving reductive mentality isnít tolerably good at doing much but resolving dilemmas to perpetuate itself and pretending out of laziness or contempt that the world is simpler than it is.
Weíd have to have a new since that at least could establish a language to describe Creation before we even thought seriously about identifying or predicting anything.
Kepler- Weíve invented spectroscopes and all sorts of machines to read sonic vibrations to make up for our lack of sensory abilities. Weíre capable of inventing a non-linear thinking engine as well. The issue is probably whether or not anybody would be interested in real science and truth rather than our ability to produce it.
Einstein- One could always talk in myths but then one would be terminally imprecise for our purposes, Iím afraid. I think when we examine the nosology of anything, our biological insanity to the properties of iron, that we are addicted to paradigms as some New World tribes have been to alcohol. We wait in eternity for the proper poison to destroy us: the enemy that is fit for us.
Xi-Lu- You might as well either be silent or speak about having personal access on some midnight to revelations. Of course given our limitations and defects if one has a true revelation it is almost certainly unintelligible. Itís no wander most of them are mere babble.
Anything we can understand is almost certainly false. Our capacity to embrace even as an idea a florid and prodigally involute infinite Creation with large lateral directions that move inevitably out of our view is particularly paltry to nil.
Einstein- If we donít do it we will destroy ourselves. The generally implosive character of reflective thinking pulls mass and energy into Haves rather than Have Nots, leaders instead of their designated followers. Then the more sensible and adult Haven Nots and the less infantile followers revolt; nobody wants to be without their proper mass and energy even if it is an illusion or rather a mercurial and motile facedown of the Whole.
Kepler- You are still thinking radioactively as I confess I did in my time, Albert; we can't help it. I must say: I never considered once whether or not Tycho Braceís excellently kept data might not be the record as much of some chance or inconsistent element in nature as well as a testimony to certain brainless repetitions about which I might generalize.
Iím lucky I never had thought of it or I might have done exactly what you did when you saw the traces of that mammoth Xi-Lu. I never would have written a single sentence much less a gaggle of books.
Xi-Lu- it doesnít matter; we are a species lucky in our mistakes. Sadly our very way of thinking is at war with nature. In a way we arenít responsible for being liars, not scientists. We are made to lie as bears are fashioned either by design or accident to build dams even if they are maundering in the desert.
Einstein- If one is lying one should at least offer one attractive trivialities. The truth has no other augment but its reality; a lie has to be at least mildly credible and tolerably interesting. The revelations one hears these days like the ones of the past are without exception not merely untrue but clumsily grandiose.
Xi-Lu- I recommend you give honest science a try it never had if you can. I spent the rest of my life in silence after my epiphany. Most people thought I was merely impolite. One might argue that telling lies and fables have the small virtue of civility if not truth.
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