Log24

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Block Talk

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:48 AM

David Brooks in The New York Times  Sunday  Review   today

" 'In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology 
has warned us,' Annie Dillard writes in 'Teaching a Stone to Talk.' 
'But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them
farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate 
or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys
the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power
for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for
each other.' "

Annie Dillard on the legendary philosopher's stone

“… if Holy the Firm is matter at its dullest, Aristotle’s materia prima ,
absolute zero, and since Holy the Firm is in touch with the Absolute
at base, then the circle is unbroken.  And it is…. Holy the Firm is
in short the philosopher’s stone.”

See also "The Thing and I."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Annie’s Song

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:37 PM

News of the Cargill salt mine in Lansing, NY

"  an illusory, absurd, accidental, and overelaborate stage.

     But if Holy the Firm is 'underneath salts,' if Holy the Firm
is matter at its dullest, Aristotle’s materia prima , absolute zero,
and since Holy the Firm is in touch with the Absolute at base,
then the circle is unbroken.  And it is." 

Annie Dillard

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Thursday October 5, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 9:11 AM
In Touch with God

(Title of an interview with
the late Paul Halmos, mathematician)

Since Halmos died on Yom Kippur, his thoughts on God may be of interest to some.

From a 1990 interview:

“What’s the best part of being a mathematician? I’m not a religious man, but it’s almost like being in touch with God when you’re thinking about mathematics. God is keeping secrets from us, and it’s fun to try to learn some of the secrets.”

I personally prefer Annie Dillard on God:

“… if Holy the Firm is matter at its dullest, Aristotle’s materia prima, absolute zero, and since Holy the Firm is in touch with the Absolute at base, then the circle is unbroken.  And it is…. Holy the Firm is in short the philosopher’s stone.”

Some other versions of
the philosopher’s stone:

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And, more simply,
April 28, 2004:

This last has the virtue of
being connected with Halmos
via his remarks during the
“In Touch with God” interview:

“…at the root of all deep mathematics there is a combinatorial insight… the really original, really deep insights are always combinatorial….”
 
“Combinatorics, the finite case, is where the genuine, deep insight is.”

See also the remark of Halmos that serves as an epigraph to Theme and Variations.

Finally, it should be noted that
the 4×9 black rectangle

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has also served
at least one interpreter
as a philosopher’s stone,
and is also the original
“Halmos tombstone.”

(See previous entry.)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Saturday March 11, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Holy the Firm
by Annie Dillard

    Esoteric Christianity, I read, posits a substance.  It is a created substance, lower than metals and minerals on a “spiritual scale” and lower than salts and earths, occurring beneath salts and earths in the waxy deepness of planets, but never on the surface of planets where men could discern it; and it is in touch with the Absolute, at base.  In touch with the Absolute!  At base.  The name of this substance is Holy the Firm.
    Holy the Firm: and is Holy the Firm in touch with metals and minerals?  With salts and earths?  Of course, and straight on up, till “up” ends by curving back.  Does something that touched something that touched Holy the Firm in touch with the Absolute at base seep into ground water, into grain; are islands rooted in it, and trees?  Of course.
    Scholarship has long distinguished between two strains of thought which proceed in the West from human knowledge of God.  In one, the ascetic’s metaphysic, the world is far from God.  Emanating from God, and linked to him by Christ, the world is yet infinitely other than God, furled away from him like the end of a long banner falling.  This notion makes, to my mind, a vertical line of the world, a great chain of burning.  The more accessible and universal view, held by Eckhart and by many peoples in various forms, is scarcely different from pantheism: that the world is immanation, that God is in the thing, and eternally present here, if nowhere else.  By these lights the world is flattened on a horizontal plane, singular, all here, crammed with heaven, and alone.  But I know that it is not alone, nor singular, nor all.  The notion of immanence needs a handle, and the two ideas themselves need a link, so that life can mean aught to the one, and Christ to the other.
    For to immanence, to the heart, Christ is redundant and all things are one.  To emanance, to the mind, Christ touches only the top, skims off only the top, as it were, the souls of men, the wheat grains whole, and lets the chaff fall where?  To the world flat and patently unredeemed; to the entire rest of the universe, which is irrelevant and nonparticipant; to time and matter unreal, and so unknowable, an illusory, absurd, accidental, and overelaborate stage.
    But if Holy the Firm is “underneath salts,” if Holy the Firm is matter at its dullest, Aristotle’s materia prima, absolute zero, and since Holy the Firm is in touch with the Absolute at base, then the circle is unbroken.  And it is.  Thought advances, and the world creates itself, by the gradual positing of, and belief in, a series of bright ideas.  Time and space are in touch with the Absolute at base.  Eternity sockets twice into time and space curves, bound and bound by idea.  Matter and spirit are of a piece but distinguishable; God has a stake guaranteed in all the world.  And the universe is real and not a dream, not a manufacture of the senses; subject may know object, knowedge may proceed, and Holy the Firm is in short the philosopher’s stone.

    These are only ideas, by the single handful.  Lines, lines, and their infinite points!  Hold hands and crack the whip, and yank the Absolute out of there and into the light, God pale and astounded, spraying a spiral of salts and earths, God footloose and flung.  And cry down the line to his passing white ear, “Old Sir!  Do you hold space from buckling by a finger in its hole?  O Old!  Where is your other hand?”  His right hand is clenching, calm, round the exploding left hand of Holy the Firm.

— Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm, Harper & Row 1977, reissued by Harper Perennial Library in 1988 as a paperback, pp. 68-71.

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