Saturday, February 17, 2018

God’s Dice

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:45 AM

On a Trinity classmate of Ian Macdonald (see previous post)—

Atiyah's eulogy of Shaw in Trinity Annual Record 2017 
is on pages 137 through 146.  The conclusion —


Thursday, December 26, 2013


Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:00 PM

For fans of Hunger Games  and Elysium —

Roberta Smith in this evening's* online New York Times

"Especially with the gap between the wealthiest
and everyone else so wide, it is dicey
for a major museum to celebrate the often frivolous
objects on which the rich spend their ever increasing
surplus income. Such a show must be beyond reproach
in every way: transparent in organization, impeccable
in exhibition design, illuminating in catalog and labeling
and, most of all, self-evidently excellent in the quality of
the objects on display."

Da capo:  "I've heard of affairs that are strictly Platonic."

* 5:08 PM ET

Saturday, August 22, 2020

An Object Lesson

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:15 AM

Posts tagged Plato’s Video continue.

IMAGE- A Jesuit on words and shadows

Related literary remarks from this  journal on Oct. 1, 2016

— A Heart for the Gods of Mexico , Conrad Aiken, 1939

Related imagery this morning from the Gulf of Mexico —

Meanwhile, also on Oct. 1, 2016, related imagery from Star Wars Rebels —

Click here to enlarge the holocrons.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Tetrads for McLuhan, or “Blame It on Video”

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:22 PM

"I like to put people on myself by skipping logical steps
in the conversation until they're dizzy." — Jemima Brown
in The Eiger Sanction

Related posts — See "McLuhan Tetrad" in this journal.

Related theology — See  "The Meaning of Perichoresis."
Background — The New Yorker , "On Religion:
Richard Rohr Reorders the Universe," by Eliza Griswold
on February 2, 2020, and a different reordering in posts
tagged Eightfold Metaphysics.

Game of Shadows

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:27 PM

A search in this journal for "Game of Shadows" yields

IMAGE- A Jesuit on words and shadows

“Krauss, Portman; Portman, Krauss.”

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 12:58 AM

Prominent in the oeuvre  of art theorist Rosalind Krauss, the Klein group
is a four-element group named for Felix Christian Klein.

The Klein Four-Group, illustration by Steven H. Cullinane

It is commonly known as the four-group.
Mathematicians sometimes call this group
"V," for its German name, Vierergruppe .

For those who prefer narrative to mathematics

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Demarcation of Nothing

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , — m759 @ 3:50 PM

" nothing could be demarcated as 'hors d'oeuvre'…"

Geoffrey Hartman in his Haskins Lecture for 2000
(quoted here on Columbus Day, 2004).

See also May Day 2016 and Gap Dance.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A White Stone for Bloom

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Excerpt from a long poem by Eliza Griswold 
in a recent New Yorker —

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


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

See some posts related to three names
associated with Trinity College, Cambridge —

Atiyah + Shaw + Eddington .

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Ron Shaw — D. 21 June 2016

The date of Ron Shaw's 2016 death appears to be June 21:


All other Internet sources I have seen omit the June 21 date.

This  journal on that date —


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Dirac and Geometry (continued)

"Just fancy a scale model of Being 
made out of string and cardboard."

Nanavira Thera, 1 October 1957,
on a model of Kummer's Quartic Surface
mentioned by Eddington

"… a treatise on Kummer's quartic surface."

The "super-mathematician" Eddington did not see fit to mention
the title or the author of the treatise he discussed.

See Hudson + Kummer in this  journal.

See also posts tagged Dirac and Geometry.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Binary Revolution

Michael Atiyah on the late Ron Shaw

Phrases by Atiyah related to the importance in mathematics
of the two-element Galois field GF(2) —

  • “The digital revolution based on the 2 symbols (0,1)”
  • “The algebra of George Boole”
  • “Binary codes”
  • “Dirac’s spinors, with their up/down dichotomy”

These phrases are from the year-end review of Trinity College,
Cambridge, Trinity Annual Record 2017 .

I prefer other, purely geometric, reasons for the importance of GF(2) —

  • The 2×2 square
  • The 2x2x2 cube
  • The 4×4 square
  • The 4x4x4 cube

See Finite Geometry of the Square and Cube.

See also today’s earlier post God’s Dice and Atiyah on the theology of
(Boolean) algebra vs. (Galois) geometry:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Matrix for Quantum Mystics

Filed under: G-Notes,General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:29 PM

Scholia on the title — See Quantum + Mystic in this journal.

The Matrix of Lévi-Strauss

"In Vol. I of Structural Anthropology , p. 209, I have shown that
this analysis alone can account for the double aspect of time
representation in all mythical systems: the narrative is both
'in time' (it consists of a succession of events) and 'beyond'
(its value is permanent)." — Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1976

I prefer the earlier, better-known, remarks on time by T. S. Eliot
in Four Quartets , and the following four quartets (from
The Matrix Meets the Grid) —


From a Log24 post of June 26-27, 2017:

A work of Eddington cited in 1974 by von Franz

See also Dirac and Geometry and Kummer in this journal.

Ron Shaw on Eddington's triads "associated in conjugate pairs" —

For more about hyperbolic  and isotropic  lines in PG(3,2),
see posts tagged Diamond Theorem Correlation.

For Shaw, in memoriam — See Contrapuntal Interweaving and The Fugue.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Upgrading to Six

This post was suggested by the previous post — Four Dots —
and by the phrase "smallest perfect" in this journal.

Related material (click to enlarge) —

Detail —

From the work of Eddington cited in 1974 by von Franz —

See also Dirac and Geometry and Kummer in this journal.

Updates from the morning of June 27 —

Ron Shaw on Eddington's triads "associated in conjugate pairs" —

For more about hyperbolic  and isotropic  lines in PG(3,2),
see posts tagged Diamond Theorem Correlation.

For Shaw, in memoriam — See Contrapuntal Interweaving and The Fugue.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Cube Bricks 1984

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:06 PM

An Approach to Symmetric Generation of the Simple Group of Order 168

Related aesthetics —

"Poincaré said that science is no more a collection of facts
than a house is a collection of bricks. The facts have to be
ordered or structured, they have to fit a theory, a construct
(often mathematical) in the human mind. . . . 

Mathematics may be art, but to the general public it is
a black art, more akin to magic and mystery. This presents
a constant challenge to the mathematical community: to
explain how art fits into our subject and what we mean by beauty.

In attempting to bridge this divide I have always found that
architecture is the best of the arts to compare with mathematics.
The analogy between the two subjects is not hard to describe
and enables abstract ideas to be exemplified by bricks and mortar,
in the spirit of the Poincaré quotation I used earlier."

— Sir Michael Atiyah, "The Art of Mathematics"
     in the AMS Notices , January 2010

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dirac and Line Geometry

Some background for my post of Nov. 20,
"Anticommuting Dirac Matrices as Skew Lines" —

First page of 'Configurations in Quantum Mechanics,' by E.M. Bruins, 1959

His earlier paper that Bruins refers to, "Line Geometry
and Quantum Mechanics," is available in a free PDF.

For a biography of Bruins translated by Google, click here.

For some additional historical background going back to
Eddington, see Gary W. Gibbons, "The Kummer
Configuration and the Geometry of Majorana Spinors,"
pages 39-52 in Oziewicz et al., eds., Spinors, Twistors,
Clifford Algebras, and Quantum Deformations:
Proceedings of the Second Max Born Symposium held
near Wrocław, Poland, September 1992
 . (Springer, 2012,
originally published by Kluwer in 1993.)

For more-recent remarks on quantum geometry, see a
paper by Saniga cited in today's update to my Nov. 20 post

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 11:00 AM

The Ideas

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….
We interpret what we see, select the most workable
of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we
are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon
disparate images, by the ‘ideas’  with which we have
learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria
which is our actual experience.”
— Joan Didion

See Didion and the I Ching  and posts tagged Plato in China .

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Ornaments

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:25 AM

Continued from December 25

IMAGE- Count rotational symmetries by rotating facets. Illustrated with 'Plato's Dice.'

A link from Sunday afternoon to Nov. 26, 2012,
suggests a review of one of the above structures.

The Dreaming Jewels  cover at left is taken from a review
by Jo Walton at Tor.com—

"This is a book that it’s clearly been difficult
for publishers to market. The covers have been
generally pretty awful, and also very different.
I own a 1975 Corgi SF Collectors Library
paperback that I bought new for 40p in the later
seventies. It’s purple, and it has a slightly grainy
cover, and it matches my editions of The Menace
From Earth
  and A Canticle for Leibowitz .
(Dear old Corgi SF Collectors Editions with their
very seventies fonts! How I imprinted on them at
an early age!) I mention this, however, because
the (uncredited) illustration actually represents and
illustrates the book much better than any of the other
cover pictures I’ve seen. It shows a hexagon with an
attempt at facets, a man, a woman, hands, a snake,
and stars, all in shades of green. It isn’t attractive,
but it wouldn’t put off people who’d enjoy what’s inside

The "hexagon with an attempt at facets" is actually
an icosahedron, as the above diagram shows.
(The geometric part of the diagram is from a Euclid webpage.)

For Plato's dream about these jewels, see his Timaeus.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Rotating the Facets

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Previous post

"… her mind rotated the facts…."

Related material— hypercube rotation,* in the context
of rotational symmetries of the Platonic solids:

IMAGE- Count rotational symmetries by rotating facets. Illustrated with 'Plato's Dice.'

"I've heard of affairs that are strictly Platonic"

Song lyric by Leo Robin

* Footnote added on Dec. 26, 2013 —

 See Arnold Emch, "Triple and Multiple Systems, Their Geometric 
 Configurations and Groups
," Trans. Amer. Math. Soc.  31 (1929),
 No. 1, 25–42. 

 On page 42, Emch describes the above method of rotating a
 hypercube's 8 facets (i.e., three-dimensional cubes) to count
 rotational symmetries —

See also Diamond Theory in 1937.

Also on p. 42, Emch mentions work of Carmichael on a
Steiner system with the Mathieu group M11 as automorphism
group, and poses the problem of finding such systems and
groups that are larger. This may have inspired the 1931
discovery by Carmichael of the Steiner system S(5, 8, 24),
which has as automorphisms the Mathieu group M24 .

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:07 AM

A comment yesterday on the New York Times  philosophy column “The Stone” quoted Karl Barth—

Man is the creature of the boundary between heaven and earth.”

See also Plato’s theory of ideas (or “forms”) and the I Ching

The eight trigrams are images not so much of objects as of states of change. This view is associated with the concept expressed in the teachings of Lao-tse, as also in those of Confucius, that every event in the visible world is the effect of an “image,” that is, of an idea in the unseen world. Accordingly, everything that happens on earth is only a reproduction, as it were, of an event in a world beyond our sense perception; as regards its occurrence in time, it is later than the suprasensible event. The holy men and sages, who are in contact with those higher spheres, have access to these ideas through direct intuition and are therefore able to intervene decisively in events in the world. Thus man is linked with heaven, the suprasensible world of ideas, and with earth, the material world of visible things, to form with these a trinity of the primal powers.

— Richard Wilhelm, Introduction to the I Ching

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wednesday March 5, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:09 PM
(Context: March 2-4)

Central Intelligence:

“God does not play dice.”
— Paraphrase of a remark
by Albert Einstein

Another Nobel Prize winner,
Isaac Bashevis Singer

“a God who speaks in deeds,
not in words, and whose
vocabulary is the Cosmos”

From “The Escapist:
The Reality of Fantasy Games

Platonic solids as Dungeons & Dragons dice
Dungeons & Dragons Dice

From today’s New York Times:

NY Times obituaries online, March 5, 2008: Gary Gygax, Wm. F. Buckley, Kaddish ad by Hadassah

A Kaddish for Gygax:

“I was reading Durant’s section on Plato, struggling to understand his theory of the ideal Forms that lay in inviolable perfection out beyond the phantasmagoria. (That was the first, and I think the last, time that I encountered that word.)”

Related material:

For more on the word
“phantasmagoria,” see
Log24 on Dec. 12, 2004
and on Sept. 23, 2006.

For phantasmagoria in action,
see Dungeons & Dragons
and Singer’s (and others’)
Jewish fiction.

For non-phantasmagoria,
see (for instance) the Elements
of Euclid, which culminates
in the construction of the
Platonic solids illustrated above.

See also Geometry for Jews.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday March 31, 2006

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Women's History Month continues…
Ontology Alignment

"He had with him a small red book of Mao's poems, and as he talked he squared it on the table, aligned it with the table edge first vertically and then horizontally.  To understand who Michael Laski is you must have a feeling for that kind of compulsion."

— Joan Didion in the
Saturday Evening Post,
Nov. 18, 1967 (reprinted in
Slouching Towards Bethlehem)

"Or were you," I said.
He said nothing.
"Raised a Catholic," I said.
He aligned a square crystal paperweight with the edge of his desk blotter.

— Joan Didion in
The Last Thing He Wanted,
Knopf, 1996

"It was Plato who best expressed– who veritably embodied– the tension between the narrative arts and mathematics….

Plato clearly loved them both, both mathematics and poetry.  But he approved of mathematics, and heartily, if conflictedly, disapproved of poetry.  Engraved above the entrance to his Academy, the first European university, was the admonition: Oudeis ageometretos eiseto.  Let none ignorant of geometry enter.  This is an expression of high approval indeed, and the symbolism could not have been more perfect, since mathematics was, for Plato, the very gateway for all future knowledge.  Mathematics ushers one into the realm of abstraction and universality, grasped only through pure reason.  Mathematics is the threshold we cross to pass into the ideal, the truly real."

— Rebecca Goldstein,
Mathematics and
the Character of Tragedy

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sunday February 20, 2005

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 2:20 PM

Relativity Blues

Today, February 20, is the 19th anniversary of my note The Relativity Problem in Finite Geometry.  Here is some related material.

In 1931, the Christian writer Charles Williams grappled with the theology of time, space, free will, and the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (anticipating by many years the discussion of this topic by physicists beginning in the 1950's).

(Some pure mathematics — untainted by physics or theology — that is nevertheless related, if only by poetic analogy, to Williams's 1931 novel, Many Dimensions, is discussed in the above-mentioned note and in a generalization, Solomon's Cube.)

On the back cover of Williams's 1931 novel, the current publisher, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, makes the following statement:

"Replete with rich religious imagery, Many Dimensions explores the relation between predestination and free will as it depicts different human responses to redemptive transcendence."

One possible response to such statements was recently provided in some detail by a Princeton philosophy professor.  See On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt, Princeton University Press, 2005.

A more thoughtful response would take into account the following:

1. The arguments presented in favor of philosopher John Calvin, who discussed predestination, in The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought, by Marilynne Robinson

2. The physics underlying Einstein's remarks on free will, God, and dice
3. The physics underlying Rebecca Goldstein's novel Properties of Light and Paul Preuss's novels  Secret Passages and Broken Symmetries

4. The physics underlying the recent so-called "free will theorem" of John Conway and Simon Kochen of Princeton University

5. The recent novel Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, which deals not with philosophy, but with lives influenced by philosophy — indirectly, by the philosophy of the aforementioned John Calvin.

From a review of Gilead by Jane Vandenburgh:  

"In The Death of Adam, Robinson shows Jean Cauvin to be the foremost prophet of humanism whose Protestant teachings against the hierarchies of the Roman church set in motion the intellectual movements that promoted widespread literacy among the middle and lower classes, led to both the American and French revolutions, and not only freed African slaves in the United States but brought about suffrage for women. It's odd then that through our culture's reverse historicism, the term 'Calvinism' has come to mean 'moralistic repression.'"

For more on what the Calvinist publishing firm Eerdmans calls "redemptive transcendence," see various July 2003 Log24.net entries.  If these entries include a fair amount of what Princeton philosophers call bullshit, let the Princeton philosophers meditate on the summary of Harvard philosophy quoted here on November 5 of last year, as well as the remarks of November 5, 2003,  and those of November 5, 2002.

From Many Dimensions (Eerdmans paperback, 1963, page 53):

"Lord Arglay had a suspicion that the Stone would be purely logical.  Yes, he thought, but what, in that sense, were the rules of its pure logic?"

A recent answer:

Modal Theology

"We symbolize logical necessity
with the box (box.gif (75 bytes))
and logical possibility
with the diamond (diamond.gif (82 bytes))."

Keith Allen Korcz,
(Log24.net, 1/25/05)

And what do we           
   symbolize by  The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/Modal-diamondbox.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. ?

"The possibilia that exist,
and out of which
the Universe arose,
are located in
     a necessary being…."

Michael Sudduth,
Notes on
God, Chance, and Necessity
by Keith Ward,
Regius Professor of Divinity
at Christ Church College, Oxford
(the home of Lewis Carroll)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sunday December 12, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:59 PM

Ideas, Stories, Values:
Literati in Deep Confusion

Joan Didion, The White Album:

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live….

We interpret what we see, select the most workable of multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas‘ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.

Or at least we do for a while. I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common condition but one I found troubling.”

Interview with Joseph Epstein:

“You can do in stories things that are above those in essays,” says Epstein.  “In essays and piecework, you are trying to make a point, whereas in stories you are not quite sure what the point is. T.S. Eliot once said of Henry James, ‘He had a mind so fine no idea could violate it,’ which, I think, is the ultimate compliment for an author. Stories are above ideas.”

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers, Sept. 12, 2004:

“You are entering a remarkable community, the Harvard community. It is a community built on the idea of searching for truth… on the idea of respect for others….

… we practice the values we venerate. The values of seeking truth, the values of respecting others….”

Paul Redding on Hegel:

“… Hegel discusses ‘culture’ as the ‘world of self-alienated spirit.’ The idea seems to be that humans in society not only interact, but that they collectively create relatively enduring cultural products (stories, dramas, and so forth) within which they can recognise their own patterns of life reflected.”

The “phantasmagoria” of Didion seems related to the “phenomenology” of Hegel…

From Michael N. Forster,  Hegel’s Idea of a Phenomenology of Spirit:

“This whole system is conceived, on one level at least, as a defense or rational reworking of the Christian conception of God.  In particular, its three parts are an attempt to make sense of the Christian idea of a God who is three in one — the Logic depicting God as he is in himself, the Philosophy of Nature God the Son, and the Philosophy of Spirit God the Holy Spirit.”

and, indeed, to the phenomenology of narrative itself….

From Patrick Vert,
The Narrative of Acceleration:

“There are plenty of anecdotes to highlight the personal, phenomenological experience of railway passage…

… a unique study on phantasmagoria and the history of imagination. The word originates [in] light-projection, the so-called ghost-shows of the early 19th century….

… thought becomes a phantasmagorical process, a spectral, representative location for the personal imagination that had been marginalized by scientific rationalism….

Truly, ‘immediate experience is [or becomes] the phantasmagoria of the idler’ [Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.  Page 801.]….

Thought as phantasm is a consequence of the Cartesian split, and… a further consequence to this is the broad take-over of perceptual faculty…. What better example than that of the American railway?  As a case-study it offers explanation to the ‘phantasmagoria of the idler’….

This phantasmagoria became more mediated over time…. Perception became increasingly visually oriented…. As this occurred, a narrative formed to encapsulate the phenomenology of it all….”

For such a narrative, see
the Log24.net entries of

November 5, 2002, 2:56 AM,
November 5, 2002, 6:29 AM,
January 3, 2003, 11:59 PM,
August 17, 2004, 7:29 PM,
August 18, 2004, 2:18 AM,
August 18, 2004, 3:00 AM, and
November 24, 2004, 10:00 AM.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Tuesday April 6, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:00 PM

Ideas and Art, Part III

The first idea was not our own.  Adam
In Eden was the father of Descartes…

— Wallace Stevens, from
Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

“Quaedam ex his tanquam rerum imagines sunt, quibus solis proprie convenit ideae nomen: ut cùm hominem, vel Chimaeram, vel Coelum, vel Angelum, vel Deum cogito.”

Descartes, Meditationes III, 5

“Of my thoughts some are, as it were, images of things, and to these alone properly belongs the name idea; as when I think [represent to my mind] a man, a chimera, the sky, an angel or God.”

Descartes, Meditations III, 5

Begin, ephebe, by perceiving the idea
Of this invention, this invented world,
The inconceivable idea of the sun.

You must become an ignorant man again
And see the sun again with an ignorant eye
And see it clearly in the idea of it.

— Wallace Stevens, from
Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction

“… Quinimo in multis saepe magnum discrimen videor deprehendisse: ut, exempli causâ, duas diversas solis ideas apud me invenio, unam tanquam a sensibus haustam, & quae maxime inter illas quas adventitias existimo est recensenda, per quam mihi valde parvus apparet, aliam verò ex rationibus Astronomiae desumptam, hoc est ex notionibus quibusdam mihi innatis elicitam, vel quocumque alio modo a me factam, per quam aliquoties major quàm terra exhibetur; utraque profecto similis eidem soli extra me existenti esse non potest, & ratio persuadet illam ei maxime esse dissimilem, quae quàm proxime ab ipso videtur emanasse.”

Descartes, Meditationes III, 11

“… I have observed, in a number of instances, that there was a great difference between the object and its idea. Thus, for example, I find in my mind two wholly diverse ideas of the sun; the one, by which it appears to me extremely small draws its origin from the senses, and should be placed in the class of adventitious ideas; the other, by which it seems to be many times larger than the whole earth, is taken up on astronomical grounds, that is, elicited from certain notions born with me, or is framed by myself in some other manner. These two ideas cannot certainly both resemble the same sun; and reason teaches me that the one which seems to have immediately emanated from it is the most unlike.”

Descartes, Meditations III, 11

“Et quamvis forte una idea ex aliâ nasci possit, non tamen hîc datur progressus in infinitum, sed tandem ad aliquam primam debet deveniri, cujus causa sit in star archetypi, in quo omnis realitas formaliter contineatur, quae est in ideâ tantùm objective.”

Descartes, Meditationes III, 15

“And although an idea may give rise to another idea, this regress cannot, nevertheless, be infinite; we must in the end reach a first idea, the cause of which is, as it were, the archetype in which all the reality [or perfection] that is found objectively [or by representation] in these ideas is contained formally [and in act].”

Descartes, Meditations III, 15

Michael Bryson in an essay on Stevens’s “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction,”

The Quest for the Fiction of the Absolute:

“Canto nine considers the movement of the poem between the particular and the general, the immanent and the transcendent: “The poem goes from the poet’s gibberish to / The gibberish of the vulgate and back again. / Does it move to and fro or is it of both / At once?” The poet, the creator-figure, the shadowy god-figure, is elided, evading us, “as in a senseless element.”  The poet seeks to find the transcendent in the immanent, the general in the particular, trying “by a peculiar speech to speak / The peculiar potency of the general.” In playing on the senses of “peculiar” as particular and strange or uncanny, these lines play on the mystical relation of one and many, of concrete and abstract.”

Brian Cronin in Foundations of Philosophy:

“The insight is constituted precisely by ‘seeing’ the idea in the image, the intelligible in the sensible, the universal in the particular, the abstract in the concrete. We pivot back and forth between images and ideas as we search for the correct insight.”

— From Ch. 2, Identifying Direct Insights

Michael Bryson in an essay on Stevens’s “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction“:

“The fourth canto returns to the theme of opposites. ‘Two things of opposite natures seem to depend / On one another . . . . / This is the origin of change.’  Change resulting from a meeting of opposities is at the root of Taoism: ‘Tao produced the One. / The One produced the two. / The two produced the three. / And the three produced the ten thousand things’ (Tao Te Ching 42) ….”

From an entry of March 7, 2004

From the web page

Introduction to the I Ching–
By Richard Wilhelm

“He who has perceived the meaning of change fixes his attention no longer on transitory individual things but on the immutable, eternal law at work in all change. This law is the tao of Lao-tse, the course of things, the principle of the one in the many. That it may become manifest, a decision, a postulate, is necessary. This fundamental postulate is the ‘great primal beginning’ of all that exists, t’ai chi — in its original meaning, the ‘ridgepole.’ Later Chinese philosophers devoted much thought to this idea of a primal beginning. A still earlier beginning, wu chi, was represented by the symbol of a circle. Under this conception, t’ai chi was represented by the circle divided into the light and the dark, yang and yin,


This symbol has also played a significant part in India and Europe. However, speculations of a gnostic-dualistic character are foreign to the original thought of the I Ching; what it posits is simply the ridgepole, the line. With this line, which in itself represents oneness, duality comes into the world, for the line at the same time posits an above and a below, a right and left, front and back-in a word, the world of the opposites.”

The t’ai chi symbol is also illustrated on the web page Cognitive Iconology, which says that

“W.J.T. Mitchell calls ‘iconology’
a study of the ‘logos’
(the words, ideas, discourse, or ‘science’)
of ‘icons’ (images, pictures, or likenesses).
It is thus a ‘rhetoric of images’
(Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology, p. 1).”

A variation on the t’ai chi symbol appears in a log24.net entry for March 5:

The Line,
by S. H. Cullinane

See too my web page Logos and Logic, which has the following:

“The beautiful in mathematics resides in contradiction. Incommensurability, logoi alogoi, was the first splendor in mathematics.”

— Simone Weil, Oeuvres Choisies, ed. Quarto, Gallimard, 1999, p. 100

 Logos Alogos,
by S. H. Cullinane 

In the conclusion of Section 3, Canto X, of “Notes,” Stevens says

“They will get it straight one day
at the Sorbonne.
We shall return at twilight
from the lecture
Pleased that
the irrational is rational….”

This is the logoi alogoi of Simone Weil.

In “Notes toward a Supreme Fiction,”
Wallace Stevens lists three criteria
for a work of the imagination:

It Must Be Abstract

The Line,
by S.H. Cullinane 

It Must Change

 The 24,
by S. H. Cullinane

It Must Give Pleasure

by S. H. Cullinane

Related material:

Logos and Logic.


Sunday, September 22, 2002

Sunday September 22, 2002

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 8:02 PM

Force Field of Dreams

Metaphysics and chess in today’s New York Times Magazine:

  • From “Must-See Metaphysics,” by Emily Nussbaum:

    Joss Whedon, creator of a new TV series —

    “I’m a very hard-line, angry atheist” and
    “I want to invade people’s dreams.”

  • From “Check This,” by Wm. Ferguson:

    Garry Kasparov on chess —

    “When the computer sees forced lines,
    it plays like God.”

Putting these quotations together, one is tempted to imagine God having a little game of chess with Whedon, along the lines suggested by C. S. Lewis:

As Lewis tells it the time had come for his “Adversary [as he was wont to speak of the God he had so earnestly sought to avoid] to make His final moves.” (C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, Harcourt, Brace, and World, Inc., 1955, p. 216) Lewis called them “moves” because his life seemed like a chess match in which his pieces were spread all over the board in the most disadvantageous positions. The board was set for a checkmate….

For those who would like to imagine such a game (God vs. Whedon), the following may be helpful.

George Steiner has observed that

The common bond between chess, music, and mathematics may, finally, be the absence of language.

This quotation is apparently from

Fields of Force:
Fischer and Spassky at Reykjavik
. by George Steiner, Viking hardcover, June 1974.

George Steiner as quoted in a review of his book Grammars of Creation:

“I put forward the intuition, provisional and qualified, that the ‘language-animal’ we have been since ancient Greece so designated us, is undergoing mutation.”

The phrase “language-animal” is telling.  A Google search reveals that it is by no means a common phrase, and that Steiner may have taken it from Heidegger.  From another review, by Roger Kimball:

In ”Grammars of Creation,” for example, he tells us that ”the classical and Judaic ideal of man as ‘language animal,’ as uniquely defined by the dignity of speech . . . came to an end in the antilanguage of the death camps.”

This use of the Holocaust not only gives the appearance of establishing one’s credentials as a person of great moral gravity; it also stymies criticism. Who wants to risk the charge of insensitivity by objecting that the Holocaust had nothing to do with the ”ideal of man as ‘language animal’ ”?

Steiner has about as clear an idea of the difference between “classical” and “Judaic” ideals of man as did Michael Dukakis. (See my notes of September 9, 2002.)

Clearly what music, mathematics, and chess have in common is that they are activities based on pure form, not on language. Steiner is correct to that extent. The Greeks had, of course, an extremely strong sense of form, and, indeed, the foremost philosopher of the West, Plato, based his teachings on the notion of Forms. Jews, on the other hand, have based their culture mainly on stories… that is, on language rather than on form. The phrase “language-animal” sounds much more Jewish than Greek. Steiner is himself rather adept at the manipulation of language (and of people by means of language), but, while admiring form-based disciplines, is not particularly adept at them.

I would argue that developing a strong sense of form — of the sort required to, as Lewis would have it, play chess with God — does not require any “mutation,” but merely learning two very powerful non-Jewish approaches to thought and life: the Forms of Plato and the “archetypes” of Jung as exemplified by the 64 hexagrams of the 3,000-year-old Chinese classic, the I Ching.

For a picture of how these 64 Forms, or Hexagrams, might function as a chessboard,

click here.

Other relevant links:

“As you read, watch for patterns. Pay special attention to imagery that is geometric…”


from Shakhmatnaia goriachka

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