Log24

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cube Koan

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 4:56 AM
 

From Don DeLillo's novel Point Omega —

I knew what he was, or what he was supposed to be, a defense intellectual, without the usual credentials, and when I used the term it made him tense his jaw with a proud longing for the early weeks and months, before he began to understand that he was occupying an empty seat. "There were times when no map existed to match the reality we were trying to create."

"What reality?"

"This is something we do with every eyeblink. Human perception is a saga of created reality. But we were devising entities beyond the agreed-upon limits of recognition or interpretation. Lying is necessary. The state has to lie. There is no lie in war or in preparation for war that can't be defended. We went beyond this. We tried to create new realities overnight, careful sets of words that resemble advertising slogans in memorability and repeatability. These were words that would yield pictures eventually and then become three-dimensional. The reality stands, it walks, it squats. Except when it doesn't."

He didn't smoke but his voice had a sandlike texture, maybe just raspy with age, sometimes slipping inward, becoming nearly inaudible. We sat for some time. He was slouched in the middle of the sofa, looking off toward some point in a high corner of the room. He had scotch and water in a coffee mug secured to his midsection. Finally he said, "Haiku."

I nodded thoughtfully, idiotically, a slow series of gestures meant to indicate that I understood completely.

"Haiku means nothing beyond what it is. A pond in summer, a leaf in the wind. It's human consciousness located in nature. It's the answer to everything in a set number of lines, a prescribed syllable count. I wanted a haiku war," he said. "I wanted a war in three lines. This was not a matter of force levels or logistics. What I wanted was a set of ideas linked to transient things. This is the soul of haiku. Bare everything to plain sight. See what's there. Things in war are transient. See what's there and then be prepared to watch it disappear."

What's there—

This view of a die's faces 3, 6, and 5, in counter-
clockwise order (see previous post) suggests a way
of labeling the eight corners  of a die (or cube):

123, 135, 142, 154, 246, 263, 365, 456.

Here opposite faces of the die sum to 7, and the
three faces meeting at each corner are listed
in counter-clockwise order. (This corresponds
to a labeling of one of MacMahon's* 30 colored cubes.)
A similar vertex-labeling may be used in describing 
the automorphisms of the order-8 quaternion group.

For a more literary approach to quaternions, see
Pynchon's novel Against the Day .

* From Peter J. Cameron's weblog:

  "The big name associated with this is Major MacMahon,
   an associate of Hardy, Littlewood and Ramanujan,
   of whom Robert Kanigel said,

His expertise lay in combinatorics, a sort of
glorified dice-throwing, and in it he had made
contributions original enough to be named
a Fellow of the Royal Society.

   Glorified dice-throwing, indeed…"

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress