Friday, February 21, 2014

Night’s Hymn of the Rock

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 3:33 AM

One way of interpreting the symbol  IMAGE- Modal Diamond in a square 
at the end of yesterday's post is via
the phrase "necessary possibility."

See that phrase in (for instance) a post
of July 24, 2013, The Broken Tablet .

The Tablet  post may be viewed in light
of a Tom Wolfe passage quoted here on
the preceding day, July 23, 2013—

IMAGE- Tom Wolfe in 'The Painted Word' on conceptual art

On that  day (July 23) another weblog had
a post titled

Wallace Stevens: Night's Hymn of the Rock.

Some related narrative —

IMAGE- The 2001 film 'The Discovery of Heaven'

I prefer the following narrative —

Part I:  Stevens's verse from "The Rock" (1954) —
"That in which space itself is contained"

Part II:  Mystery Box III: Inside, Outside (2014)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Big Rock

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM

From the LA Times  online obituaries today:

Michael Feran Baigent was born in Nelson, New Zealand,
in 1948. After graduating from New Zealand's University
of Canterbury with a degree in psychology, he worked as a
photographer and magazine editor in Australia, New
Zealand and Spain before taking up research for a
documentary called "The Shadow of the Templars."

From 1998 he lectured on and led tours of the temples and
tombs in Egypt, and from 2001 he was editor of the
magazine "Freemasonry Today."

Elliott Reid

Longtime film, TV actor with a comic touch

Elliott "Ted" Reid, 93, a longtime character actor in films
and on television, stage and radio who played opposite
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in the classic comedy
"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," died Friday [June 21, 2013]
in Studio City, said his nephew Roger R. Jackson.

From a post last Saturday, June 22, and the earlier
​post last Friday, June 21, that preceded it:

The Eliade passage was quoted in a 1971 Ph.D. thesis
on Wallace Stevens.

Some context— Stevens's Rock in this journal.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 1:00 PM

From the final pages of the new novel
Lexicon , by Max Barry: 

"… a fundamental language
of the human mind— 
the tongue in which the human animal 
speaks to itself at the basest level. 
The machine language, in essence…."

"… the questions raised by 
this underlying lexicon
What are its words? 
How many are there? ….
Can we learn to speak them?
What does it sound like 
when who we are is expressed
in its most fundamental form? 
Something to think about."

       R. Lowell

See also, in this journal, Big Rock.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stevens and the Rock

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Passage quoted in A Philosopher's Stone (April 4, 2013)—

This passage from Heidegger suggested the lexicon excerpt on
to hypokeimenon  (the underlying) in yesterday's post Lexicon.

A related passage:

The Eliade passage was quoted in a 1971 Ph.D. thesis
on Wallace Stevens.

Some context— Stevens's Rock in this journal.

Saturday, May 5, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 6:45 PM

Art enthusiast Phyllis Tuchman in The New York Times  yesterday —

"Ms. Rockburne's understated work plugged into
the prevailing Minimalist aesthetic of the day . . . ."

This was quoted here yesterday, followed by a visual flash drive
of sorts —

Another Parisian flash drive of sorts —

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Tuchman Radical*

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 3:33 PM

Two excerpts from today's Art & Design section of
The New York Times  —

For the deplorables of France —

For further remarks on l'ordre ,
see posts tagged Galois's Space
( tag=galoiss-space).

* The radical of the title is Évariste Galois (1811-1832).

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Multifaceted . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:56 PM

. . . Con Figuras de Espantar

"He Who Searches  is multifaceted in structure …"

Publisher's description of a Helen Lane translation
of "Como en la Guerra ," by Luisa Valenzuela
Also by Valenzuela —

Related material — An obituary from The Boston Globe  today
on the April 5 death of Borinsky's translator, and . . .

"He Who Searches" may consult also posts tagged Date.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Last Word

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 6:00 AM

Remarks suggested by the previous post

From Jeremy Biles, "Introduction: The Sacred Monster," in
Ecce Monstrum: Georges Bataille and the Sacrifice of Form

(Fordham University Press, 2007, page 3) —

Bataille’s insistent conjunction of the monstrous and the sacred is the subject of this book. Regarded by many as one of the most important thinkers of our time, and acknowledged as an important influence by such intellectuals as Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida, Bataille produced a corpus of wide-ranging writings bearing the monstrous marks of the affective and intellectual contradictions he also sought to produce in his readers. In the following chapters, I will specify some of the ways in which Bataille evokes monstrosity to elicit in himself and his audience an experience of simultaneous anguish and joy—an experience that he calls sacred. In particular, Bataille is fascinated with the ‘‘left-hand’’ sacred. In contradistinction to its lucent and form-conferring ‘‘right-hand’’ counterpart, the left-hand sacred is obscure and formless—not transcendent, pure, and beneficent, but dangerous, filthy, and morbid. This sinister, deadly aspect of the sacred is at once embodied in, and communicated by, the monster. As we will see, it is in beholding the monster that one might experience the combination of ecstasy and horror that characterizes Bataille ’s notion of the sacred.

The dual etymology of ‘‘monster’’ reveals that aspect of the sacred that enticed Bataille. According to one vein of etymological study, the Latin monstrum  derives from monstrare  (to show or display). The monster is that which appears before our eyes as a sign of sorts; it is a demonstration. But another tradition emphasizes a more ominous point. Deriving from monere  (to warn), the monster is a divine omen, a portent; it heralds something that yet remains unexpected, unforeseeable—as a sudden reversal of fortune. In the writings of Bataille, the monster functions as a monstrance, putting on display the sinister aspect of the sacred that Bataille sees as the key to a ‘‘sovereign’’ existence. But in doing so the monster presents us with a portent of something that we cannot precisely foresee, but something that, Bataille claims, can be paradoxically experienced in moments of simultaneous anguish and ecstasy: death.

See as well

(Order of news items transposed for aesthetic effect.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 6:11 AM

    See also a related Log24 post.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Zero Monstrance

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 6:00 AM

From "The Metaphysics of Entities," a post of Sept. 20, 2014 —

Anthony Lane in The New Yorker  on a 2013 film —

"The hero of 'The Zero Theorem' is a computer genius
called Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz)…. He is the sole
resident of a derelict church, where, on a crucifix in front
of the altar, the head of Christ has been replaced by a
security camera. No prayers are ever said, and none are

Related dialogue from a 2008 film

Another view of the Zero Theorem derelict church —

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Knight Moves

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 12:42 PM

Ursula K. Le Guin, in Amazing Stories , Sept. 1992, published
"The Rock That Changed Things" (pp. 9-13) and her story from
thirty years earlier, "April in Paris" (Fantastic Stories , Sept. 1962.)
The latter (pp. 14-19) was followed by some brief remarks (p. 19)
comparing the two stories.

For "The Rock," see Le Guin + Rock in this journal.

"April in Paris" is about time travel by means of an alchemist's
pentagram. The following figure from 1962 is in lieu of a pentagram —

'Loop De Loop,' Johnny Thunder, Diamond Records, 1962

See as well a search for 1962 in this journal.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Patterns for the Abbess

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:15 PM

On Ursula K. Le Guin's short story
"The Rock That Changed Things"
(in A Fisherman of the Inland Sea ) —

From https://www.academia.edu/9496639/

By Richard D. Erlich, December 2005

…  And at this point a wise, old nur, so excellent at maintaining patterns that the obls let him live even after he was maimed, enters the discussion to do some pattern criticism.  For a first-order approximation reading, he suggests "It might say, 'The nur places stones,'" and others fill in that the nur would be Bu.  Ko corrects them with "patterns aren't ever about nurs!" and Bu counters with "Maybe patterns made of colors are."  Looking with all three of his eyes, Ko reads, "—'the nur places stones beautifully in uncontrollable loopingness …. foreshadowing the seen.'"  Un suggests "The vision" but cannot figure out the last word.  Bu is very excited, inferring that "the patterns of the colors …. aren't accidental.  Not meaningless.  All the time, we have been putting them here in patterns—not just ones the obls design and we execute, but other patterns—nur patterns—with new meanings."  Amid the straight lines of the obls' designs they now see, "other designs, less complete, often merely sketched or hinted—circles, spirals, ovals, and complex curvilinear mazes and labyrinths of great and unpredictable beauty and significance. ***  Both patterns were there; did one cancel the other, or was each part of the other?  It was difficult to see them both at once, but not impossible."  Had the nurs done this all totally unconsciously "without even knowing we were doing it?"   Un admits to having looked at colors, and so did Ko, plus "grain and texture."  Un warns them to keep word of their works from the Professors: "They don't like patterns to change….  It makes them nervous"— and nervous Professors are dangerous to nurs (62-63). 

Bu, however "was so excited and persuasive" about colors of stones "that other nurs of Obling began studying the color patterns, learning how to read their meanings."  And the practice spreads.  Soon, all sorts of nurs were finding "wild designs in colored stones, and surprising messages concerning obls, nurs, and blits" (64)  Conservative nurs— "Many nurs," we're told—resist the trend.  "If we start inventing new meanings, changing things, disturbing the patterns, where will it end?"   It is unclear just how many of the nurs believe «Mr. Charlie treats us real good»—or, as we soon see, Ms. Charlie—but certainly not Bu; she "would hear none of that; she was full of her discovery. She no longer listened in silence.  She spoke."  Bu goes up to the Rectory Mosaic, wearing around her neck a turquoise that she calls her "selfstone."  Up at the Mosaic, Bu crouches before the Rectoress and asks "Would the Lady Rectoress in her kindness answer a question I have?"  

["The Rock That Changed Things" was first published in Amazing Stories , Vol. 67 # 6, No. 574, September 1992, pp. 9-13.]

For an alternative to the Rectoress, see the Abbess of the previous post.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lost in Translation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 1:45 PM

IMAGE- Original French of text from 'The Shining of May 29'

Translation by Barbara Johnson:

"The minimum number of rows— lines or columns—
that contain all the zeros in a matrix is equal to
the maximum number of zeros
located in any individual line or column ."

In the original:

"situés sur des lignes ou des colonnes distinctes "

Update of 11:30 PM ET May 29, 2014:

Derrida in 1972 was quoting Philippe Sollers, Nombres
(Paris: Éditions du Seuil , 1968).  Sollers in turn was
perhaps quoting A. Kaufmann, Méthodes et Modèles
de la Recherche Opérationnelle , Paris, Dunod , 1964,
L'Économie d'Entreprise 10 , vol. 2, page 305:

"Le nombre minimal de rangées
(lignes et/ou colonnes) contenant
tous les zéros d'une matrice, est égal
au nombre maximal de zéros
sur des lignes et des colonnes distinctes."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mystery Box III: Inside, Outside

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — m759 @ 2:28 PM

(Continued from Mystery Box, Feb. 4, and Mystery Box II, Feb. 5.)

The Box

Inside the Box

Outside the Box

For the connection of the inside  notation to the outside  geometry,
see Desargues via Galois.

(For a related connection to curves  and surfaces  in the outside
geometry, see Hudson's classic Kummer's Quartic Surface  and
Rosenhain and Göpel Tetrads in PG(3,2).)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Space Itself

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 9:25 AM

From The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens ,
John N. Serio, ed., "Stevens's Late Poetry," by B.J. Leggett,
pp. 62-75, an excerpt from page 70:

Click the above image for further details.

See also Nothingness and "The Rock" in this journal.

Further readings along these lines:

IMAGE- Parallel book covers- 'The Mystery of the Quantum World' and (adapted) 'The Stars My Destination'

For pure mathematics, rather than theories of the physical world, 
see the properties of the cube illustrated on the second (altered
book cover above.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Poetry and Truth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — m759 @ 7:59 PM

From today's noon post

"In all his poems with all their enchantments
for the poet himself, there is the final enchantment
that they are true. The significance of the poetic act
then is that it is evidence. It is instance and illustration.
It is an illumination of a surface,
the movement of a self in the rock.
Above all it is a new engagement with life.
It is that miracle to which the true faith of the poet
attaches itself."

— Wallace Stevens at Bard College, March 30, 1951

Stevens also said at Bard that

"When Joan of Arc said: 

Have no fear: what I do, I do by command.
My brothers of Paradise tell me what I have to do.

these words were the words of an hallucination.
No matter what her brothers of Paradise drove her to do,
what she did was never a poetic act of faith in reality
because it could not be."

There are those who would dispute this.

Some related material:

"Ageometretos me eisito."—
"Let no one ignorant of geometry enter."—
Said to be a saying of Plato, part of the
seal of the American Mathematical Society—

A poetic approach to geometry—

"A surface" and "the rock," from All Saints' Day, 2012

Spaces as Hypercubes

— and from 1981—


Some mathematical background for poets in Purgatory—

"… the Klein correspondence underlies Conwell's discussion 
of eight heptads. These play an important role in another
correspondence, illustrated in the Miracle Octad Generator
of R. T. Curtis, that may be used to picture actions
of the large Mathieu group M24."


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Speech by Wallace Stevens upon accepting
an honorary degree from Bard College in 1951

(Click to enlarge.)

Transcription of conclusion:

"In all his poems with all their enchantments
for the poet himself, there is the final enchantment
that they are true. The significance of the poetic act
then is that it is evidence. It is instance and illustration.
It is an illumination of a surface,
the movement of a self in the rock.
Above all it is a new engagement with life.
It is that miracle to which the true faith of the poet
attaches itself."

— Wallace Stevens at Bard College, March 30, 1951

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Shattered Mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:26 AM

For St. Peter's Day

"For Stevens, the poem 'makes meanings of the rock.'
In the mind, 'its barrenness becomes a thousand things/
And so exists no more.' In fact, in a peculiar irony
that only a poet with Stevens's particular notion
of the imagination's function could develop,
the rock becomes the mind itself, shattered
into such diamond-faceted brilliance
that it encompasses all possibilities for human thought…."

—A discussion of Stevens's late poem "The Rock" (1954)
    in Wallace Stevens: A World of Transforming Shapes,
    by Alan D. Perlis, Bucknell University Press, 1976, p. 120

Related material on transforming shapes:

The Diamond 16 Puzzle  and…

IMAGE- The URL for permutationpuzzles.org, with favicon

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beyond Forgetfulness

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:10 AM

From this journal on July 23, 2007

It is not enough to cover the rock with leaves.
We must be cured of it by a cure of the ground
Or a cure of ourselves, that is equal to a cure

Of the ground, a cure beyond forgetfulness.
And yet the leaves, if they broke into bud,
If they broke into bloom, if they bore fruit

And if we ate the incipient colorings
Of their fresh culls might be a cure of the ground.

– Wallace Stevens, "The Rock"

This quotation from Stevens (Harvard class of 1901) was posted here on when Daniel Radcliffe (i.e., Harry Potter) turned 18 in July 2007.

Other material from that post suggests it is time for a review of magic at Harvard.

On September 9, 2007, President Faust of Harvard

"encouraged the incoming class to explore Harvard’s many opportunities.

'Think of it as a treasure room of hidden objects Harry discovers at Hogwarts,' Faust said."

That class is now about to graduate.

It is not clear what "hidden objects" it will take from four years in the Harvard treasure room.

Perhaps the following from a book published in 1985 will help…


The March 8, 2011, Harvard Crimson  illustrates a central topic of Metamagical Themas , the Rubik's Cube—


Hofstadter in 1985 offered a similar picture—


Hofstadter asks in his Metamagical  introduction, "How can both Rubik's Cube and nuclear Armageddon be discussed at equal length in one book by one author?"

For a different approach to such a discussion, see Paradigms Lost, a post made here a few hours before the March 11, 2011, Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster—


Whether Paradigms Lost is beyond forgetfulness is open to question.

Perhaps a later post, in the lighthearted spirit of Faust, will help. See April 20th's "Ready When You Are, C.B."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Romancing the Metaphor

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 2:24 PM

Background —

From a 1990 novel —

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Imago Creationis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — m759 @ 6:00 PM

Image-- The Four-Diamond Tesseract

In the above view, four of the tesseract's 16
vertices are overlaid by other vertices.
For views that are more complete and
moveable, see Smith's tesseract page.

Four-Part Tesseract Divisions


The above figure shows how four-part partitions
of the 16 vertices  of a tesseract in an infinite
Euclidean  space are related to four-part partitions
of the 16 points  in a finite Galois  space

Euclidean spaces versus Galois spaces
in a larger context—



Infinite versus Finite

The central aim of Western religion —

"Each of us has something to offer the Creator...
the bridging of
                 masculine and feminine,
                      life and death.
It's redemption.... nothing else matters."
-- Martha Cooley in The Archivist  (1998)

The central aim of Western philosophy —

              Dualities of Pythagoras
              as reconstructed by Aristotle:
                 Limited     Unlimited
                     Odd     Even
                    Male     Female
                   Light      Dark
                Straight    Curved
                  ... and so on ....

"Of these dualities, the first is the most important; all the others may be seen as different aspects of this fundamental dichotomy. To establish a rational and consistent relationship between the limited [man, etc.] and the unlimited [the cosmos, etc.] is… the central aim of all Western philosophy."
— Jamie James in The Music of the Spheres  (1993)

Another picture related to philosophy and religion—

Jung's Four-Diamond Figure from Aion


This figure was devised by Jung
to represent the Self. Compare the
remarks of Paul Valéry on the Self—

Flight from Eden: The Origins of Modern Literary Criticism and Theory, by Steven Cassedy, U. of California Press, 1990, pages 156-157—



Valéry saw the mind as essentially a relational system whose operation he attempted to describe in the language of group mathematics. "Every act of understanding is based on a group," he says (C, 1:331). "My specialty— reducing everything to the study of a system closed on itself and finite" (C, 19: 645). The transformation model came into play, too. At each moment of mental life the mind is like a group, or relational system, but since mental life is continuous over time, one "group" undergoes a "transformation" and becomes a different group in the next moment. If the mind is constantly being transformed, how do we account for the continuity of the self? Simple; by invoking the notion of the invariant. And so we find passages like this one: "The S[elf] is invariant, origin, locus or field, it's a functional property of consciousness" (C, 15:170 [2:315]). Just as in transformational geometry, something remains fixed in all the projective transformations of the mind's momentary systems, and that something is the Self (le Moi, or just M, as Valéry notates it so that it will look like an algebraic variable). Transformation theory is all over the place. "Mathematical science…  reduced to algebra, that is, to the analysis of the transformations of a purely differential being made up of homogeneous elements, is the most faithful document of the properties of grouping, disjunction, and variation in the mind" (O, 1:36). "Psychology is a theory of transformations, we just need to isolate the invariants and the groups" (C, 1:915). "Man is a system that transforms itself" (C, 2:896).


  Paul Valéry, Oeuvres  (Paris: Pléiade, 1957-60)

C   Valéry, Cahiers, 29 vols. (Paris: Centre National de le Recherche Scientifique, 1957-61)

Note also the remarks of George David Birkhoff at Rice University
in 1940 (pdf) on Galois's theory of groups and the related
"theory of ambiguity" in Galois's testamentary letter—

… metaphysical reasoning always relies on the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and… the true meaning of this Principle is to be found in the “Theory of Ambiguity” and in the associated mathematical “Theory of Groups.”

If I were a Leibnizian mystic, believing in his “preestablished harmony,” and the “best possible world” so satirized by Voltaire in “Candide,” I would say that the metaphysical importance of the Principle of Sufficient Reason and the cognate Theory of Groups arises from the fact that God thinks multi-dimensionally* whereas men can only think in linear syllogistic series, and the Theory of Groups is the appropriate instrument of thought to remedy our deficiency in this respect.

* That is, uses multi-dimensional symbols beyond our grasp.

Related material:

Imago Creationis

A medal designed by Leibniz to show how
binary arithmetic mirrors the creation by God
of something (1) from nothing (0).


Another array of 16 strings of 0's and 1's, this time
regarded as coordinates rather than binary numbers—

Frame of Reference


The Diamond Theorem


Some context by a British mathematician —



by Wallace Stevens

Who can pick up the weight of Britain, 
Who can move the German load 
Or say to the French here is France again? 
Imago. Imago. Imago. 

It is nothing, no great thing, nor man 
Of ten brilliancies of battered gold 
And fortunate stone. It moves its parade 
Of motions in the mind and heart, 

A gorgeous fortitude. Medium man 
In February hears the imagination's hymns 
And sees its images, its motions 
And multitudes of motions 

And feels the imagination's mercies, 
In a season more than sun and south wind, 
Something returning from a deeper quarter, 
A glacier running through delirium, 

Making this heavy rock a place, 
Which is not of our lives composed . . . 
Lightly and lightly, O my land, 
Move lightly through the air again.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mathematics and Narrative, continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 8:28 PM

Romancing the
Non-Euclidean Hyperspace

Mere Geometry, Types of Ambiguity,
Dream Time, and Diamond Theory, 1937

The cast of 1937's 'King Solomon's Mines' goes back to the future

For the 1937 grid, see Diamond Theory, 1937.

The grid is, as Mere Geometry points out, a non-Euclidean hyperspace.

For the diamonds of 2010, see Galois Geometry and Solomon’s Cube.

Monday, May 3, 2010

An Ordinary Evening

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 PM

“…geometrically organized, with the parts labeled”

— Ursula K. Le Guin on what she calls “the Euclidean utopia

“There is such a thing as a tesseract.”

Madeleine L’Engle

Related material– Diamond Theory, 1937

Dream Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:00 AM

“Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”

William Butler Yeats

From a document linked to here on April 30, Walpurgisnacht–

“…the Golden Age, or Dream Time, is remote only from the rational mind. It is not accessible to euclidean reason….”

“The utopia of the Grand Inquisitor ‘is the product of “the euclidean mind” (a phrase Dostoyevsky often used)….'”

“The purer, the more euclidean the reason that builds a utopia, the greater is its self-destructive capacity. I submit that our lack of faith in the benevolence of reason as the controlling power is well founded. We must test and trust our reason, but to have faith  in it is to elevate it to godhead.”

“Utopia has been euclidean, it has been European, and it has been masculine. I am trying to suggest, in an evasive, distrustful, untrustworthy fashion, and as obscurely as I can, that our final loss of faith in that radiant sandcastle may enable our eyes to adjust to a dimmer light and in it perceive another kind of utopia.”

“You will recall that the quality of static perfection is an essential element of the non-inhabitability of the euclidean utopia….”

“The euclidean utopia is mapped; it is geometrically organized, with the parts labeled….”

— Ursula K. Le Guin, “A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be”

San Francisco Chronicle  today

“A May Day rally in Santa Cruz erupted into chaos Saturday night….”

“Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest,
and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?”

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Monday, April 26, 2010

Types of Ambiguity

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 10:31 AM

From Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel
The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia

Chapter One

“There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall.

Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.”


“We note that the phrase ‘instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry’ is mere fatuousness. If there is an idea here, degenerate, mere, and geometry  in concert do not fix it. They bat at it like a kitten at a piece of loose thread.”

— Samuel R. Delany, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction  (Dragon Press, 1977), page 110 of revised edition, Wesleyan University Press, 2009

(For the phrase mere geometry  elsewhere, see a note of April 22. The apparently flat figures in that note’s illustration “Galois Affine Geometry” may be regarded as degenerate  views of cubes.)

Later in the Le Guin novel—

“… The Terrans had been intellectual imperialists, jealous wall builders. Even Ainsetain, the originator of the theory, had felt compelled to give warning that his physics embraced no mode but the physical and should not be taken as implying the metaphysical, the philosophical, or the ethical. Which, of course, was superficially true; and yet he had used number, the bridge between the rational and the perceived, between psyche and matter, ‘Number the Indisputable,’ as the ancient founders of the Noble Science had called it. To employ mathematics in this sense was to employ the mode that preceded and led to all other modes. Ainsetain had known that; with endearing caution he had admitted that he believed his physics did, indeed, describe reality.

Strangeness and familiarity: in every movement of the Terran’s thought Shevek caught this combination, was constantly intrigued. And sympathetic: for Ainsetain, too, had been after a unifying field theory. Having explained the force of gravity as a function of the geometry of spacetime, he had sought to extend the synthesis to include electromagnetic forces. He had not succeeded. Even during his lifetime, and for many decades after his death, the physicists of his own world had turned away from his effort and its failure, pursuing the magnificent incoherences of quantum theory with its high technological yields, at last concentrating on the technological mode so exclusively as to arrive at a dead end, a catastrophic failure of imagination. Yet their original intuition had been sound: at the point where they had been, progress had lain in the indeterminacy which old Ainsetain had refused to accept. And his refusal had been equally correct– in the long run. Only he had lacked the tools to prove it– the Saeba variables and the theories of infinite velocity and complex cause. His unified field existed, in Cetian physics, but it existed on terms which he might not have been willing to accept; for the velocity of light as a limiting factor had been essential to his great theories. Both his Theories of Relativity were as beautiful, as valid, and as useful as ever after these centuries, and yet both depended upon a hypothesis that could not be proved true and that could be and had been proved, in certain circumstances, false.

But was not a theory of which all the elements were provably true a simple tautology? In the region of the unprovable, or even the disprovable, lay the only chance for breaking out of the circle and going ahead.

In which case, did the unprovability of the hypothesis of real coexistence– the problem which Shevek had been pounding his head against desperately for these last three days. and indeed these last ten years– really matter?

He had been groping and grabbing after certainty, as if it were something he could possess. He had been demanding a security, a guarantee, which is not granted, and which, if granted, would become a prison. By simply assuming the validity of real coexistence he was left free to use the lovely geometries of relativity; and then it would be possible to go ahead. The next step was perfectly clear. The coexistence of succession could be handled by a Saeban transformation series; thus approached, successivity and presence offered no antithesis at all. The fundamental unity of the Sequency and Simultaneity points of view became plain; the concept of interval served to connect the static and the dynamic aspect of the universe. How could he have stared at reality for ten years and not seen it? There would be no trouble at all in going on. Indeed he had already gone on. He was there. He saw all that was to come in this first, seemingly casual glimpse of the method, given him by his understanding of a failure in the distant past. The wall was down. The vision was both clear and whole. What he saw was simple, simpler than anything else. It was simplicity: and contained in it all complexity, all promise. It was revelation. It was the way clear, the way home, the light.”

Related material—

Time Fold, Halloween 2005, and May and Zan.

See also The Devil and Wallace Stevens

“In a letter to Harriet Monroe, written December 23, 1926, Stevens refers to the Sapphic fragment that invokes the genius of evening: ‘Evening star that bringest back all that lightsome Dawn hath scattered afar, thou bringest the sheep, thou bringest the goat, thou bringest the child home to the mother.’ Christmas, writes Stevens, ‘is like Sappho’s evening: it brings us all home to the fold’ (Letters of Wallace Stevens, 248).”

— “The Archangel of Evening,” Chapter 5 of Wallace Stevens: The Intensest Rendezvous, by Barbara M. Fisher, The University Press of Virginia, 1990

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mere Geometry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Image-- semeion estin ou meros outhen

Image-- Euclid's definition of 'point'

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Mereology (from the Greek μερος, ‘part’) is the theory of parthood relations: of the relations of part to whole and the relations of part to part within a whole. Its roots can be traced back to the early days of philosophy, beginning with the Presocratics….”

A non-Euclidean* approach to parts–

Image-- examples from Galois affine geometry

Corresponding non-Euclidean*
projective points —

Image-- The smallest Galois geometries

Richard J. Trudeau in The Non-Euclidean Revolution, chapter on “Geometry and the Diamond Theory of Truth”–

“… Plato and Kant, and most of the philosophers and scientists in the 2200-year interval between them, did share the following general presumptions:

(1) Diamonds– informative, certain truths about the world– exist.
(2) The theorems of Euclidean geometry are diamonds.

Presumption (1) is what I referred to earlier as the ‘Diamond Theory’ of truth. It is far, far older than deductive geometry.”

Trudeau’s book was published in 1987. The non-Euclidean* figures above illustrate concepts from a 1976 monograph, also called “Diamond Theory.”

Although non-Euclidean,* the theorems of the 1976 “Diamond Theory” are also, in Trudeau’s terminology, diamonds.

* “Non-Euclidean” here means merely “other than  Euclidean.” No violation of Euclid’s parallel postulate is implied.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday February 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM
Hollywood Nihilism
Pantheistic Solipsism

Tina Fey to Steve Martin
at the Oscars:
"Oh, Steve, no one wants
 to hear about our religion
… that we made up."

Tina Fey and Steve Martin at the 2009 Oscars

From Wallace Stevens: A World of Transforming Shapes, by Alan D. Perlis, Bucknell University Press, 1976, p. 117:

… in 'The Pediment of Appearance,' a slight narrative poem in Transport to Summer

 A group of young men enter some woods 'Hunting for the great ornament, The pediment of appearance.' Though moving through the natural world, the young men seek the artificial, or pure form, believing that in discovering this pediment, this distillation of the real, they will also discover the 'savage transparence,' the rude source of human life. In Stevens's world, such a search is futile, since it is only through observing nature that one reaches beyond it to pure form. As if to demonstrate the degree to which the young men's search is misaligned, Stevens says of them that 'they go crying/The world is myself, life is myself,' believing that what surrounds them is immaterial. Such a proclamation is a cardinal violation of Stevens's principles of the imagination.

Superficially the young men's philosophy seems to resemble what Wikipedia calls "pantheistic solipsism"– noting, however, that "This article has multiple issues."

As, indeed, does pantheistic solipsism– a philosophy (properly called "eschatological pantheistic multiple-ego solipsism") devised, with tongue in cheek, by science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein.

Despite their preoccupation with solipsism, Heinlein and Stevens point, each in his own poetic way, to a highly non-solipsistic topic from pure mathematics that is, unlike the religion of Martin and Fey, not made up– namely, the properties of space.


"Sharpie, we have condensed six dimensions into four, then we either work by analogy into six, or we have to use math that apparently nobody but Jake and my cousin Ed understands. Unless you can think of some way to project six dimensions into three– you seem to be smart at such projections."
    I closed my eyes and thought hard. "Zebbie, I don't think it can be done. Maybe Escher could have done it."


A discussion of Stevens's late poem "The Rock" (1954) in Wallace Stevens: A World of Transforming Shapes, by Alan D. Perlis, Bucknell University Press, 1976, p. 120:

For Stevens, the poem "makes meanings of the rock." In the mind, "its barrenness becomes a thousand things/And so exists no more." In fact, in a peculiar irony that only a poet with Stevens's particular notion of the imagination's function could develop, the rock becomes the mind itself, shattered into such diamond-faceted brilliance that it encompasses all possibilities for human thought:

The rock is the gray particular of man's life,
The stone from which he rises, up—and—ho,
The step to the bleaker depths of his descents ...

The rock is the stern particular of the air,
The mirror of the planets, one by one,
But through man's eye, their silent rhapsodist,

Turquoise the rock, at odious evening bright
With redness that sticks fast to evil dreams;
The difficult rightness of half-risen day.

The rock is the habitation of the whole,
Its strength and measure, that which is near,
     point A
In a perspective that begins again

At B: the origin of the mango's rind.

                    (Collected Poems, 528)

Stevens's rock is associated with empty space, a concept that suggests "nothingness" to one literary critic:

B. J. Leggett, "Stevens's Late Poetry" in The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens— On the poem "The Rock":

"… the barren rock of the title is Stevens's symbol for the nothingness that underlies all existence, 'That in which space itself is contained'….  Its subject is its speaker's sense of nothingness and his need to be cured of it."

This interpretation might appeal to Joan Didion, who, as author of the classic novel Play It As It Lays, is perhaps the world's leading expert on Hollywood nihilism.

More positively…

Space is, of course, also a topic
in pure mathematics…
For instance, the 6-dimensional
affine space
(or the corresponding
5-dimensional projective space)

The 4x4x4 cube

over the two-element Galois field
can be viewed as an illustration of
Stevens's metaphor in "The Rock."

Heinlein should perhaps have had in mind the Klein correspondence when he discussed "some way to project six dimensions into three." While such a projection is of course trivial for anyone who has taken an undergraduate course in linear algebra, the following remarks by Philippe Cara present a much more meaningful mapping, using the Klein correspondence, of structures in six (affine) dimensions to structures in three.


Philippe Cara on the Klein correspondence
Here the 6-dimensional affine
space contains the 63 points
of PG(5, 2), plus the origin, and
the 3-dimensional affine
space contains as its 8 points
Conwell's eight "heptads," as in
Generating the Octad Generator.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday February 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 1:06 PM

of the Rock

A discussion of Stevens's late poem "The Rock" (1954) in Wallace Stevens: A World of Transforming Shapes, by Alan D. Perlis, Bucknell University Press, 1976, p. 120:

For Stevens, the poem "makes meanings of the rock." In the mind, "its barrenness becomes a thousand things/And so exists no more." In fact, in a peculiar irony that only a poet with Stevens's particular notion of the imagination's function could develop, the rock becomes the mind itself, shattered into such diamond-faceted brilliance that it encompasses all possibilities for human thought:

The rock is the gray particular of man's life,
The stone from which he rises, up—and—ho,
The step to the bleaker depths of his descents ...

The rock is the stern particular of the air,
The mirror of the planets, one by one,
But through man's eye, their silent rhapsodist,

Turquoise the rock, at odious evening bright
With redness that sticks fast to evil dreams;
The difficult rightness of half-risen day.

The rock is the habitation of the whole,
Its strength and measure, that which is near,
     point A
In a perspective that begins again

At B: the origin of the mango's rind.

                    (Collected Poems, 528)

A mathematical version of
this poetic concept appears
in a rather cryptic note
from 1981 written with
Stevens's poem in mind:


For some explanation of the
groups of 8 and 24
motions referred to in the note,
see an earlier note from 1981.

For the Perlis "diamond facets,"
see the Diamond 16 Puzzle.

For a much larger group
of motions, see
Solomon's Cube.

As for "the mind itself"
and "possibilities for
human thought," see
Geometry of the I Ching.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday June 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 AM

Big Rock

"I'm going to hit this problem
with a big rock."

– Mathematical saying,
quoted here
in July of 2006

June 28, 2007:

A professor discusses a poem by Wallace Stevens:

"Professor Eucalyptus in 'Ordinary Evening' XIV, for example, 'seeks/ God in the object itself,' but this quest culminates in his own choosing of 'the commodious adjective/ For what he sees… the description that makes it divinity, still speech… not grim/ Reality but reality grimly seen/ And spoken in paradisal parlance new'…."

– Douglas Mao, Solid Objects:Modernism and the Test of Production, Princeton University Press, 1998, p. 242
"God in the object" seems
unlikely to be found in the
artifact pictured on the
cover of Mao's book:
Cover of 'Solid Objects,' by Douglas Mao

I have more confidence
that God is to be found
in the Ping Pong balls of
  the New York Lottery….

These objects may be
regarded as supplying
a parlance that is, if not
paradisal, at least
intelligible– if only in
the context of my own
personal experience.

June 28, 2008:

NY Lottery June 28, 2008: Mid-day 629, Evening 530

These numbers can, of course,
be interpreted as symbols of
the dates 6/29 and 5/30.

The last Log24 entry of
 6/29 (St. Peter's Day):

"The rock cannot be broken.
It is the truth."
– Wallace Stevens,
"Credences of Summer"

The last Log24 entry of
5/30 (St. Joan's Day):

The Nature of Evil

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday June 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 4:00 PM

The Motive for Metaphor

You like it under the trees in autumn,
Because everything is half dead.
The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.

In the same way, you were happy in spring
With the half colors of quarter-things,
The slightly brighter sky, the melting clouds,
The single bird, the obscure moon–

The obscure moon lighting an obscure world
Of things that would never be quite expressed,
Where you yourself were never quite yourself
And did not want nor have to be,

Desiring the exhilarations of changes:
The motive for metaphor, shrinking from
The weight of primary noon,
The A B C of being,

The ruddy temper, the hammer
Of red and blue, the hard sound–
Steel against intimation– the sharp flash,
The vital, arrogant, fatal, dominant X.

— Wallace Stevens,
   Transport to Summer (1947)

Related material:

Today's noon entry (the A B C of being)
and entries of 3/22 in 2006 and 2007.

Saturday June 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM
The God Factor

NY Lottery June 23, 2008: Mid-day 322, Evening 000

The following poem of Emily Dickinson is quoted here in memory of John Watson Foster Dulles, a scholar of Brazilian history who died at 95 on June 23.  He was the eldest son of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, a nephew of Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, brother of Roman Catholic Cardinal Avery Dulles, and a grandson of Presbyterian minister Allen Macy Dulles, author of The True Church.

I asked no other thing,   
No other was denied.   
I offered Being for it;   
The mighty merchant smiled.   
Brazil? He twirled a button,           
Without a glance my way:   
"But, madam, is there nothing else   
That we can show to-day?"

"He twirled a button…."

Plato's diamond figure from the 'Meno'

The above figure
of Plato
(see 3/22)
was suggested by
Lacan's diamond
Lacan's lozenge - said by some to symbolize Derrida's 'differance'
(losange or poinçon)
as a symbol —
according to Frida Saal
of Derrida's
which is, in turn,
"that which enables and
results from Being itself"
—  according to
Professor John Lye

I prefer Plato and Dulles
to Lacan and Lye.

Saturday June 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 8:07 AM
The Cocktail

Bogart and Lorre in 'Casablanca' with chessboard and cocktail

G. H. Hardy on chess problems–

"… the key-move should be followed by a good many variations, each requiring its own individual answer."

(A Mathematician's Apology, Cambridge at the University Press, first edition, 1940)

Brian Harley on chess problems–

"It is quite true that variation play is, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the soul of a problem, or (to put it more materially) the main course of the solver's banquet, but the Key is the cocktail that begins the proceedings, and if it fails in piquancy the following dinner is not so satisfactory as it should be."

(Mate in Two Moves, London, Bell & Sons, first edition, 1931)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday July 23, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 8:00 AM
Daniel Radcliffe
is 18 today.
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter


“The greatest sorcerer (writes Novalis memorably)
would be the one who bewitched himself to the point of
taking his own phantasmagorias for autonomous apparitions.
Would not this be true of us?”

Jorge Luis Borges, “Avatars of the Tortoise”

El mayor hechicero (escribe memorablemente Novalis)
sería el que se hechizara hasta el punto de
tomar sus propias fantasmagorías por apariciones autónomas.
¿No sería este nuestro caso?”

Jorge Luis Borges, “Los Avatares de la Tortuga

Autonomous Apparition

At Midsummer Noon:

“In Many Dimensions (1931)
Williams sets before his reader the
mysterious Stone of King Solomon,
an image he probably drew from
a brief description in Waite’s
The Holy Kabbalah (1929) of
a supernatural cubic stone
on which was inscribed
‘the Divine Name.’”
The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070624-Waite.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Related material:
It is not enough to cover the rock with leaves.
We must be cured of it by a cure of the ground
Or a cure of ourselves, that is equal to a cure


Of the ground, a cure beyond forgetfulness.
And yet the leaves, if they broke into bud,
If they broke into bloom, if they bore fruit

And if we ate the incipient colorings
Of their fresh culls might be a cure of the ground.

– Wallace Stevens, “The Rock

See also
as well as
Hofstadter on
his magnum opus:
“… I realized that to me,
Gödel and Escher and Bach
were only shadows
cast in different directions by
some central solid essence.
I tried to reconstruct
the central object, and
came up with this book.”
Goedel Escher Bach cover

Hofstadter’s cover.

Here are three patterns,
“shadows” of a sort,
derived from a different
“central object”:
Faces of Solomon's Cube, related to Escher's 'Verbum'

Click on image for details.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Friday May 4, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 5:01 PM

May '68 Revisited

"At his final Paris campaign rally… Mr. Sarkozy declared himself the candidate of the 'silent majority,' tired of a 'moral crisis in France not seen since the time of Joan of Arc.'

'I want to turn the page on May 1968,' he said of the student protests cum social revolution that rocked France almost four decades ago.

'The heirs of May '68 have imposed the idea that everything has the same worth, that there is no difference between good and evil, no difference between the true and the false, between the beautiful and the ugly and that the victim counts for less than the delinquent.'

Denouncing the eradication of 'values and hierarchy,' Mr. Sarkozy accused the Left of being the true heirs and perpetuators of the ideology of 1968."

— Emma-Kate Symons, Paris, May 1, 2007, in The Australian

Related material:

From the translator's introduction to Dissemination, by Jacques Derrida, translated by Barbara Johnson, University of Chicago Press, 1981, page xxxi —

"Both Numbers and 'Dissemination' are attempts to enact rather than simply state the theoretical upheavals produced in the course of a radical reevaluation of the nature and function of writing undertaken by Derrida, Sollers, Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva and other contributors to the journal Tel Quel in the late 1960s. Ideological and political as well as literary and critical, the Tel Quel program attempted to push to their utmost limits the theoretical revolutions wrought by Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Mallarme, Levi-Strauss, Saussure, and Heidegger."

This is the same Barbara Johnson who has served as the Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society at Harvard.

Johnson has attacked "the very essence of Logic"–

"… the logic of binary opposition, the principle of non-contradiction, often thought of as the very essence of Logic as such….

Now, my understanding of what is most radical in deconstruction is precisely that it questions this basic logic of binary opposition….

Instead of a simple 'either/or' structure, deconstruction attempts to elaborate a discourse that says neither 'either/or', nor 'both/and' nor even 'neither/nor', while at the same time not totally abandoning these logics either."

— "Nothing Fails Like Success," SCE Reports 8, 1980

Such contempt for logic has resulted, for instance, in the following passage, quoted approvingly on page 342 of Johnson's  translation of Dissemination, from Philippe Sollers's Nombres (1966):

"The minimum number of rows– lines or columns– that contain all the zeros in a matrix is equal to the maximum number of zeros located in any individual line or column."

For a correction of Sollers's  Johnson's damned nonsense, click here.

Update of May 29, 2014:

The error, as noted above, was not Sollers's, but Johnson's.
See also the post of May 29, 2014 titled 'Lost in Translation.'

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Tuesday February 6, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 AM
The Poetics of Space

The title is from Bachelard.
I prefer Stevens:

The rock is the habitation of the whole,
Its strength and measure, that which is near, point A
In a perspective that begins again

At B:  the origin of the mango's rind.
It is the rock where tranquil must adduce
Its tranquil self, the main of things, the mind,

The starting point of the human and the end,
That in which space itself is contained, the gate
To the enclosure, day, the things illumined

By day, night and that which night illumines,
Night and its midnight-minting fragrances,
Night's hymn of the rock, as in a vivid sleep.

— Wallace Stevens,
   "The Rock," 1954

Joan Ockman in Harvard Design Magazine (Fall 1998):

"'We are far removed from any reference to simple geometrical forms,' Bachelard wrote…."

No, we are not. See Log24, Christmas 2005: 

Compare and contrast:

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/EightfoldCubeCover.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/EightfoldWayCover.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


(Click on pictures for details.)

More on Bachelard from Harvard Design Magazine:

"The project of discerning a loi des quatre éléments would preoccupy him until his death…."

For such a loi, see Theme and Variations and…

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix07/070206-Elements.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

(Click on design for details.)

Thought for Today:
"If you can talk brilliantly
about a problem, it can create
the consoling illusion that
it has been mastered."
— Stanley Kubrick, American
movie director (1928-1999).

(AP, "Today in History,"
February 6, 2007)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday August 26, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 PM
Philosopher's Rock
(continued from  

previous entry)

"Alcatraz, Spanish for pelican, was named Isla de los Alcatraces after the birds that were the island's only inhabitants." —Bay City Guide

Related material

Thomas Kuhn's "Pelican Brief":

"… the Philosopher’s Stone was a psychic rather than a physical product.  It symbolized one’s Self…."

Philosopher's Pelican:

"The formula presents a symbol of the self…."

Jung and the Imago Dei:

"… Jung presents a diagram to illustrate the dynamic movements of the self…."

…the movement of
a self in the rock

Stevens, The Rock, and Piranesi's Prisons

Wallace Stevens:
The Poems of Our Climate
by Harold Bloom,
Cornell U. Press, 1977

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wednesday January 11, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:30 PM

Time in the Rock

"a world of selves trying to remember the self
before the idea of self is lost–

Walk with me world, upon my right hand walk,
speak to me Babel, that I may strive to assemble
of all these syllables a single word
before the purpose of speech is gone."

— Conrad Aiken, "Prelude" (1932),
    later part of "Time in the Rock,
    or Preludes to Definition, XIX" (1936),
    in Selected Poems, Oxford U. Press
    paperback, 2003, page 156

"The rock is the habitation of the whole,
Its strength and measure, that which is near, point A
In a perspective that begins again

At B: the origin of the mango's rind.
It is the rock where tranquil must adduce
Its tranquil self, the main of things, the mind,

The starting point of the human and the end,
That in which space itself is contained, the gate
To the enclosure, day, the things illumined

By day, night and that which night illumines,
Night and its midnight-minting fragrances,
Night's hymn of the rock, as in a vivid sleep."

— Wallace Stevens in The Rock (1954)

"Poetry is an illumination of a surface,
  the movement of a self in the rock."
— Wallace Stevens, introduction to
    The Necessary Angel, 1951

Related material:
Jung's Imago and Solomon's Cube.


The following may help illuminate the previous entry:

"I want, as a man of the imagination, to write poetry with all the power of a monster equal in strength to that of the monster about whom I write.  I want man's imagination to be completely adequate in the face of reality."

— Wallace Stevens, 1953 (Letters 790)

The "monster" of the previous entry is of course not Reese Witherspoon, but rather Vox Populi itself.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tuesday March 22, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — m759 @ 7:59 PM

The God Factor

Reba McEntire on
Make a Difference Day:

"Kids who may never get out of their town will be able to see the world through books. But I'm talking about my passion. What's yours?"

"There is the God factor…."

— NickyJett, Xanga comment

"'What is this Stone?' Chloe asked….
'…It is told that, when the Merciful One
made the worlds, first of all He created
that Stone and gave it to the Divine One
whom the Jews call Shekinah,
and as she gazed upon it
the universes arose and had being.'"

Many Dimensions,
by Charles Williams, 1931

For more on this theme
appropriate to Passion Week
Jews playing God — see

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050322-Trio.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Rebecca Goldstein
in conversation with
Bob Osserman
of the
Mathematical Sciences Research Institute
at the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco,
Tuesday, March 22.  Wine and cheese
reception at 5:15 PM (San Francisco time).
For the meaning of the diamond,
see the previous entry.

Tuesday March 22, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 4:01 PM

Make a Différance

From Frida Saal's
Lacan The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050322-Diamond.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Derrida:

"Our proposal includes the lozenge (diamond) in between the names, because in the relationship / non-relationship that is established among them, a tension is created that implies simultaneously a union and a disjunction, in the perspective of a theoretical encounter that is at the same time necessary and impossible. That is the meaning of the lozenge that joins and separates the two proper names. For that reason their respective works become totally non-superposable and at the same time they were built with an awareness, or at least a partial awareness, of each other. What prevails between both of them is the différance, the Derridean signifier that will become one of the main issues in this presentation."


From a Contemporary Literary Theory website:

"Différance is that which all signs have, what constitutes them as signs, as signs are not that to which they refer: i) they differ, and hence open a space from that which they represent, and ii) they defer, and hence open up a temporal chain, or, participate in temporality. As well, following de Sassure's famous argument, signs 'mean' by differing from other signs. The coined word 'différance' refers to at once the differing and the deferring of signs. Taken to the ontological level†, the differing and deferring of signs from what they mean, means that every sign repeats the creation of space and time; and ultimately, that différance is the ultimate phenomenon in the universe, an operation that is not an operation, both active and passive, that which enables and results from Being itself."

From a text purchased on
Make a Difference Day, Oct. 23, 1999:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050322-Fig39.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.22. Without using the Pythagorean Theorem prove that the hypotenuse of  an isosceles right triangle will have the length The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050322-Sqtr2.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.  if the equal legs have the length 1.  Suggestion: Consider the similar triangles in Fig. 39.
23.  The ancient Greeks regarded the Pythagorean Theorem as involving areas, and they proved it by means of areas.  We cannot do so now because we have not yet considered the idea of area.  Assuming for the moment, however, the idea of the area of a square, use this idea instead of similar triangles and proportion in Ex. 22 above to show that x = The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050322-Sqtr2.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. .


— Page 98 of Basic Geometry, by George David Birkhoff, Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University, and Ralph Beatley, Associate Professor of Education at Harvard University (Scott, Foresman 1941)

Though it may be true, as the president of Harvard recently surmised, that women are inherently inferior to men at abstract thought — in particular, pure mathematics*  — they may in other respects be quite superior to men:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05/050322-Reba2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The above is from October 1999.
See also Naturalized Epistemology,
from Women's History Month, 2001.

* See the remarks of Frida Saal above and of Barbara Johnson on mathematics (The Shining of May 29, cited in Readings for St. Patrick's Day).

† For the diamond symbol at "the ontological level," see Modal Theology, Feb. 21, 2005.  See also Socrates on the immortality of the soul in Plato's Meno, source of the above Basic Geometry diamond.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Friday December 10, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 3:00 AM

Gray Particular
in Hartford

From Wallace Stevens,

"The Rock, Part III:
Forms of the Rock in a Night-Hymn" —

The rock is
   the gray particular of man's life,
The stone from which
   he rises, up–and–ho,
The step to
   the bleaker depths of his descents…

From this morning's
New York Times obituaries

The image “http://log24.com/log/pix03/nytC.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.leve Gray, a painter admired for his large-scale, vividly colorful and lyrically gestural abstract compositions, died on Wednesday in Hartford. He was 86.

The cause was a massive subdural hematoma suffered after he fell on ice and hit his head on Tuesday outside his home in Warren, Conn., said his wife, the writer Francine du Plessix Gray.


Jackson Mac Low, a poet, composer and performance artist whose work reveled in what happens when the process of composition is left to carefully calibrated chance, died on Wednesday….

… in 1999 [he] received the Wallace Stevens Award, which carries a $100,000 prize, from the Academy of American Poets.

A Wallace Stevens Award,
in Seven Parts:

  I.  From a page linked to in
      Tuesday's entry White Christmas:

"A bemused Plato reasoned that nonbeing must in some sense be, otherwise what is it that there is not? In our own day Martin Heidegger ventured that das Nichts nichtet — 'the nothing nothings' — evidently still sensing a problem."
— W. V. Quine in Quiddities

 II.  "As if nothingness
             contained a métier…"
      — Wallace Stevens, "The Rock"

III.  "Massive subdural hematoma"
       — Three-word poem
           performed on Tuesday
           in Connecticut

IV.  mé·tier n.


  • An occupation, a trade, or a profession.
  • Work or activity for which a person is particularly suited; one's specialty.

[French, from Old French mestier, from Vulgar Latin misterium, from Latin ministerium. See ministry.]
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition


  V.  "ho"
        — Wallace Stevens, "The Rock"

 VI.  Francine du Plessix Gray…
       From the
       Archives of the
       New York Review of Books:

July 16, 1992: Splendor and Miseries, review of

Women for Hire: Prostitution and Sexuality in France after 1850 by Alain Corbin, translated by Alan Sheridan

La Vie quotidienne dans les maisons closes, 1830–1930 by Laure Adler

Figures of Ill Repute: Representing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century France by Charles Bernheimer

Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era by Hollis Clayson

VII.   From an entry of April 29, 2004:


"… a 'dead shepherd who brought
tremendous chords from hell
And bade the sheep carouse' "


— Wallace Stevens
as quoted by Michael Bryson


(p. 227, The Palm
at the End of the Mind:

Selected Poems and a Play.
Ed. Holly Stevens.

New York: Vintage Books, 1990)


Sunday, December 5, 2004

Sunday December 5, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — m759 @ 3:00 PM

Chorus from
The Rock

Author Joan Didion is 70 today.

On Didion’s late husband, John Gregory Dunne:

“His 1989 memoir Harp includes Dunne’s early years in Hartford and his Irish-Catholic family’s resentment of WASP social superiority: ‘Don’t stand out so that the Yanks can see you,’ he wrote, ‘don’t let your pretensions become a focus of Yank merriment and mockery.'”

The Hartford Courant, August 4, 2002

From a Hartford Protestant:

The American Sublime

How does one stand
To behold the sublime,
To confront the mockers,
The mickey mockers
And plated pairs?

When General Jackson
Posed for his statue
He knew how one feels.
Shall a man go barefoot
Blinking and blank?

But how does one feel?
One grows used to the weather,
The landscape and that;
And the sublime comes down
To the spirit itself,

The spirit and space,
The empty spirit
In vacant space.
What wine does one drink?
What bread does one eat?

— Wallace Stevens

A search of the Internet for “Wallace Stevens”  + “The Rock” + “Seventy Years Later” yields only one quotation…

Log24 entries of Aug. 2, 2002:

From “Seventy Years Later,” Section I of “The Rock,” a poem by Wallace Stevens:

A theorem proposed
between the two —
Two figures in a nature
of the sun….

From page 63 of The New Yorker issue dated August 5, 2002:

“Birthday, death-day —
what day is not both?”
— John Updike

From Didion’s Play It As It Lays:

Everything goes.  I am working very hard at not thinking about how everything goes.  I watch a hummingbird, throw the I Ching but never read the coins, keep my mind in the now.
— Page 8

From Play It As It Lays:

I lie here in the sunlight, watch the hummingbird.  This morning I threw the coins in the swimming pool, and they gleamed and turned in the water in such a way that I was almost moved to read them.  I refrained.
— Page 214

And the sublime comes down
To the spirit itself,
The spirit and space,
The empty spirit
In vacant space.

One heart will wear a Valentine.
— Sinatra, 1954

Monday, January 20, 2003

Monday January 20, 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — m759 @ 5:00 PM

Shine On, Robinson Jeffers

"…be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, 
      a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits,
     that caught — they say — God, when he walked on earth."
Shine, Perishing Republic, by Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers died at Big Sur, California, on January 20, 1962 — a year to the day after Robert Frost spoke at the Kennedy inauguration.

"The poetry of Robinson Jeffers shines with a diamond's brilliance when he depicts Nature's beauty and magnificence.   His verse also flashes with a diamond's hardness when he portrays human pain and folly."
Gary Suttle  

"Praise Him, He hath conferred aesthetic distance
Upon our appetites, and on the bloody
Mess of our birthright, our unseemly need,
Imposed significant form. Through Him the brutes
Enter the pure Euclidean kingdom of number…."
— Howard Nemerov, 
   Grace To Be Said at the Supermarket 

"Across my foundering deck shone 
A beacon, an eternal beam. | Flesh fade, and mortal trash 
Fáll to the resíduary worm; | world's wildfire, leave but ash: 
In a flash, at a trumpet crash, 
I am all at once what Christ is |, since he was what I am, and 
Thís Jack, jóke, poor pótsherd, | patch, matchwood,
    immortal diamond, 
Is immortal diamond."
— Gerard Manley Hopkins,
    That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection

"In the last two weeks, I've been returning to Hopkins.  Even in the 'world's wildfire,' he asserts that 'this Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,/Is immortal diamond.' A comfort."
— Michael Gerson, head White House speechwriter,
    in Vanity Fair, May 2002, page 162

"There's none but truth can stead you.  Christ is truth."
— Gerard Manley Hopkins

"The rock cannot be broken.  It is the truth."
— Wallace Stevens 

"My ghost you needn't look for; it is probably
Here, but a dark one, deep in the granite…."
— Robinson Jeffers, Tor House

On this date in 1993, the inauguration day of William Jefferson Clinton, Audrey Hepburn died.

"…today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully…."
Maya Angelou, January 20, 1993

"So, purposing each moment to retire,
She linger'd still. Meantime, across the moors,
Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire"
— John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes (January 20), IX

Top view of

Top view of
Hearts On Fire

Advertising Copy:

What you see with a Hearts On Fire diamond is an unequalled marriage of math and physics, resulting in the world's most perfectly cut diamond.


"Eightpointed symmetrical signs are ancient symbols for the Venus goddess or the planet Venus as either the Morning star or the Evening star."

"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave.  Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame."
Song of Solomon

"The last words from the people in the towers and on the planes, over and over again, were 'I love you.'  Over and over again, the message was the same, 'I love you.' …. Perhaps this is the loudest chorus from The Rock:  we are learning just how powerful love really is, even in the face of death."
The Rev. Kenneth E. Kovacs

"Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again."
The Who 

See also my note, "Bright Star," of October 23, 2002.


Sunday, September 15, 2002

Sunday September 15, 2002

Filed under: Uncategorized — m759 @ 11:07 PM

Evariste Galois and 
The Rock That Changed Things

An article in the current New York Review of Books (dated Sept. 26) on Ursula K. Le Guin prompted me to search the Web this evening for information on a short story of hers I remembered liking.  I found the following in the journal of mathematician Peter Berman:

  • A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, Ursula K. Le Guin, 1994:
    A book of short stories. Good, entertaining. I especially liked “The Rock That Changed Things.” This story is set in a highly stratified society, one split between elite and enslaved populations. In this community, the most important art form is a type of mosaic made from rocks, whose patterns are read and interpreted by scholars from the elite group. The main character is a slave woman who discovers new patterns in the mosaics. The story is slightly over-the-top but elegant all the same.

I agree that the story is elegant (from a mathematician, a high compliment), so searched Berman’s pages further, finding this:

A table of parallels

between The French Mathematician (a novel about Galois) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

My own version of the Philosopher’s Stone (the phrase used instead of “Sorcerer’s Stone” in the British editions of Harry Potter) appears in my profile picture at top left; see also the picture of Plato’s diamond figure in my main math website.  The mathematics of finite (or “Galois”) fields plays a role in the underlying theory of this figure’s hidden symmetries.  Since the perception of color plays a large role in the Le Guin story and since my version of Plato’s diamond is obtained by coloring Plato’s version, this particular “rock that changes things” might, I hope, inspire Berman to extend his table to include Le Guin’s tale as well.

Even the mosaic theme is appropriate, this being the holiest of the Mosaic holy days.

Dr. Berman, G’mar Chatimah Tova.

Powered by WordPress