"Though realism is excellent rhetoric, maybe the best,
in a purely technical or instrumental sense,
that cannot be an adequate reason to accept it
as a serious intellectual position. In its tropes of
Death and Furniture we see a rhetoric that refuses
to acknowledge its own existence; a politics that
can claim a critical-radical credibility only by
the selective use of its opponents' analytic tools;
and a theology which is deeply conservative and
seeks nothing less than the death of disruptive,
disturbing inquiry. While tedium, good taste, political
and moral sensibility will properly determine what
sorts of given realities are thought worthy of inquiry,
those considerations are no grounds for promoting
a realist ontology for social science, nor any other
science, nor for rejecting relativism. On the contrary,
relativism is social science par excellence . . . ."
— Edwards, D., Ashmore, M., and Potter, J. (1995),
"Death and furniture: The rhetoric, politics and theology
of bottom line arguments against relativism,"
History of the Human Sciences , 8, 25-49.
Platonic realism in this journal, yesterday's post Ripples, and …
Gravity's Shadow , 2004 —
Gravity's Ghost , 2010 —
See also an "Inception"-related object —
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"La morte è avvenuta alle 22.30 di ieri sera nella sua abitazione."
See also the previous post, "Radical."
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Click on the die for some backstory.
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This journal a year ago yesterday—
“Some designs work subtly.
Others are successful through sheer force.”
— Penelope Green
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"… the human will cannot be simultaneously
triumphant and imaginary."
— Ross Douthat, Defender of the Faith,
in this afternoon's New York Times at 3:25* PM ET
Some— even some Catholics— might say the will
cannot be triumphant unless imaginary.
Related material: The Galois Quaternion: A Story.
See also C. S. Lewis on enchantment.
* Cf., in this journal, the most recent 3/25 ,
and a bareword —
Click image for some context.
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Suggested by a poem in the current New Yorker.
Today's text —
"We have no more beginnings.
Incipit : that proud Latin word
which signals the start
survives in our dusty 'inception'."
— George Steiner, beginning of
Grammars of Creation
Reply in the Latin tradition—
(From the Log24 posts
of August 23-24, 2013)
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The death yesterday of British cinematographer
Gilbert Taylor suggests an image from last evening's
Log24 search Point Omega —
The die in the above image (shown here Dec. 28, 2012)
displays the numbers 3-6-5 in counterclockwise order.
A similar die in an earlier post served as a metaphor for
a time-jump to 365 days in the past.
For some religious remarks by Umberto Eco that may
serve as a small memorial to Taylor, see this journal
a year before the day he died— August 23, 2012.
"Everybody comes to Rick's."
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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."
"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."
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…"
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