Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday June 1, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:14 PM
Yet Another
Cartoon Graveyard

The conclusion of yesterday’s commentary on the May 30-31 Pennsylvania Lottery numbers:

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow:

“The fear balloons again inside his brain. It will not be kept down with a simple Fuck You…. A smell, a forbidden room, at the bottom edge of his memory. He can’t see it, can’t make it out. Doesn’t want to. It is allied with the Worst Thing.

He knows what the smell has to be: though according to these papers it would have been too early for it, though he has never come across any of the stuff among the daytime coordinates of his life, still, down here, back here in the warm dark, among early shapes where the clocks and calendars don’t mean too much, he knows that’s what haunting him now will prove to be the smell of Imipolex G.

Then there’s this recent dream he is afraid of having again. He was in his old room, back home. A summer afternoon of lilacs and bees and


What are we to make of this enigmatic 286? (No fair peeking at page 287.)

One possible meaning, given The Archivists claim that “existence is infinitely cross-referenced”–

Page 286 of Ernest G. Schachtel, Metamorphosis: On the Conflict of Human Development and the Psychology of Creativity (first published in 1959), Hillsdale NJ and London, The Analytic Press, 2001 (chapter– “On Memory and Childhood Amnesia”):

“Both Freud and Proust speak of the autobiographical [my italics] memory, and it is only with regard to this memory that the striking phenomenon of childhood amnesia and the less obvious difficulty of recovering any past experience may be observed.”

The concluding “summer afternoon of lilacs and bees” suggests that 286 may also be a chance allusion to the golden afternoon of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. (Cf. St. Sarah’s Day, 2008)

Some may find the Disney afternoon charming; others may see it as yet another of Paul Simon’s dreaded cartoon graveyards.

More tastefully, there is poem 286 in the 1919 Oxford Book of English Verse– “Love.”

For a midrash on this poem, see Simone Weil, who became acquainted with the poem by chance:

“I always prefer saying chance rather than Providence.”

— Simone Weil, letter of about May 15, 1942

Weil’s brother André might prefer Providence (source of the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society.)

Andre Weil and his sister Simone, summer of 1922(Photo from Providence)


Related material:

Log24, December 20, 2003–
White, Geometric, and Eternal

A description in Gravity’s Rainbow of prewar Berlin as “white and geometric”  suggested, in combination with a reference elsewhere to “the eternal,” a citation of the following illustration of the concept “white, geometric, and eternal”–

For more on the mathematical significance of this figure, see (for instance) Happy Birthday, Hassler Whitney, and Combinatorics of Coxeter Groups, by Anders Björner and Francesco Brenti, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, vol. 231, Springer, New York, 2005.

This book is reviewed in the current issue (July 2008) of the above-mentioned Providence Bulletin.

The review in the Bulletin discusses reflection groups in continuous spaces.

For a more elementary approach, see Reflection Groups in Finite Geometry and Knight Moves: The Relativity Theory of Kindergarten Blocks.

See also a commentary on
the phrase “as a little child.”

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress