Friday, March 23, 2018

From the Personal to the Platonic

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:01 AM

On the Oslo artist Josefine Lyche

"Josefine has taken me through beautiful stories,
ranging from the personal to the platonic
explaining the extensive use of geometry in her art.
I now know that she bursts into laughter when reading
Dostoyevsky, and that she has a weird connection
with a retired mathematician."

Ann Cathrin Andersen

Personal —

The Rushkoff Logo

— From a 2016 graphic novel by Douglas Rushkoff.

See also Rushkoff and Talisman in this journal.


The Diamond Cube.

Compare and contrast the shifting hexagon logo in the Rushkoff novel above 
with the hexagon-inside-a-cube in my "Diamonds and Whirls" note (1984).

Friday, January 5, 2018

Subway Art for Plato’s Ghost

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:00 PM

Suggested by the previous post

See also the post Plato's Ghost of March 3, 2010.

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 —

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Vocabulary for SXSW:

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

Foursquare, Inscape, Subway 

Foursquare —

Inscape —

Subway —

Art installation, "Crystal Cult" by Josefine Lyche, at an Oslo subway station —

See also today's previous post.


Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:08 PM

Related material —

Nietzsche, 'law in becoming' and 'play in necessity'

Nietzsche on Heraclitus— 'play in necessity' and 'law in becoming'— illustrated.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Permutations at Oslo

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 8:45 PM

Webpage at Oslo of Josefine Lyche, 'Plato's Diamond'

See also yesterday’s  Archimedes at Hiroshima  and the
above 24 graphic permutations on  All Souls’ Day 2010.

For some backstory, see Narrative Line (November 10, 2014).

Monday, June 11, 2018


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 8:32 PM

A Scientific American  headline today —

Glittering Diamond Dust in Space
Might Solve a 20-Year-Old Mystery

Related art —

"Never underestimate the power of glitter."

Glitter by Josefine Lyche, as of diamond dust

Background:  "Diamond Dust" + Glitter in this journal.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Blackboard Jungle…

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

Continues .

An older and wiser James Spader —

"Never underestimate the power of glitter."

Glitter by Josefine Lyche, as of diamond dust

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 8:31 PM

"… I would drop the keystone into my arch …."

— Charles Sanders Peirce, "On Phenomenology"

" 'But which is the stone that supports the bridge?' Kublai Khan asks."

— Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, as quoted by B. Elan Dresher.

(B. Elan Dresher. Nordlyd  41.2 (2014): 165-181,
special issue on Features edited by Martin Krämer,
Sandra Ronai and Peter Svenonius. University of Tromsø –
The Arctic University of Norway.

Peter Svenonius and Martin Krämer, introduction to the
Nordlyd  double issue on Features —

"Interacting with these questions about the 'geometric' 
relations among features is the algebraic structure
of the features."

For another such interaction, see the previous post.

This  post may be viewed as a commentary on a remark in Wikipedia

"All of these ideas speak to the crux of Plato's Problem…."

See also The Diamond Theorem at Tromsø and Mere Geometry.

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, October 1, 2013

Frame Tale

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:24 PM

From an academic's website:

IMAGE- Remarks by Paul Hertz, alias Ignotus the Mage

For Josefine Lyche and Ignotus the Mage,
as well as Rose the Hat and other Zingari shoolerim —

Sabbatha hanti, lodsam hanti, cahanna risone hanti :
words that had been old when the True Knot moved
across Europe in wagons, selling peat turves and trinkets.
They had probably been old when Babylon was young.
The girl was powerful, but the True was all-powerful,
and Rose anticipated no real problem.

— King, Stephen (2013-09-24).
     Doctor Sleep: A Novel
     (pp. 278-279). Scribner. Kindle Edition. 

From a post of November 10, 2008:

Twenty-four Variations on a Theme of Plato

Twenty-four Variations on a Theme of Plato,
a version by Barry Sharples based on the earlier
kaleidoscope puzzle  version of Steven H. Cullinane

The King and the Corpse  —

"The king asked, in compensation for his toils
during this strangest of all the nights he had
ever known, that the twenty-four riddle tales
told him by the specter, together with the story
of the night itself, should be made known
over the whole earth and remain eternally
famous among men."

Frame Tale: 

Finnegans Wake  —

"The quad gospellers may own the targum
but any of the Zingari shoolerim may pick a peck
of kindlings yet from the sack of auld hensyne."

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Line for Frank

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

(Continued from High White Noon
Finishing Up at Noon, and A New York Jew.)


Above: Frank Langella in "Starting Out in the Evening"

Below: Frank Langella and Johnny Depp in "The Ninth Gate"

"Not by the hair on your chinny-chin-chin."

IMAGE- Author's shirt with a Dharma Logo from 'Lost'

Above: Detail from a Wikipedia photo.

For the logo, see Lostpedia.

For some backstory, see Noether.

Those seeking an escape from the eightfold nightmare
represented by the Dharma logo above may consult
the remarks of Heisenberg (the real one, not the
Breaking Bad  version) to the Bavarian Academy
of Fine Arts.

Those who prefer Plato's cave to his geometry are
free to continue their Morphean adventures.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Viking Book

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

For the late Billy Wilder, director of Ace in the Hole  (1951)

IMAGE- Book by Halvor Bodin on the art of Josefine Lyche and others. See halvorbodin.com.

Click image for a larger version.

See, too, this morning's quarter-to-three post, and The Vikings  (1958)—

The art by Josefine Lyche in the Bodin book shown 
above is, as the artist notes, based on my own work.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vril Chick

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 4:30 AM

Profile picture of "Jo Lyxe" (Josefine Lyche) at Vimeo

Profile picture for "Jo Lyxe" (Josefine Lyche) at Vimeo

Compare to an image of Vril muse Maria Orsitsch.

From the catalog of a current art exhibition
(25 May – 31 August, 2013) in Norway,

Josefine Lyche
Born in 1973 in Bergen, Norway.
Lives and works in Oslo and Berlin.

Keywords (to help place my artwork in the
proper context): Aliens, affine geometry, affine
planes, affine spaces, automorphisms, binary
codes, block designs, classical groups, codes,
coding theory, collineations, combinatorial,
combinatorics, conjugacy classes, the Conwell
correspondence, correlations, Cullinane,
R. T. Curtis, design theory, the diamond theorem,
diamond theory, duads, duality, error correcting
codes, esoteric, exceptional groups,
extraterrestrials, finite fields, finite geometry, finite
groups, finite rings, Galois fields, generalized
quadrangles, generators, geometry, GF(2),
GF(4), the (24,12) Golay code, group actions,
group theory, Hadamard matrices, hypercube,
hyperplanes, hyperspace, incidence structures,
invariance, Karnaugh maps, Kirkman’s schoolgirls
problem, Latin squares, Leech lattice, linear
groups, linear spaces, linear transformations,
Magick, Mathieu groups, matrix theory, Meno,
Miracle Octad Generator, MOG, multiply transitive
groups, occultism, octahedron, the octahedral
group, Orsic, orthogonal arrays, outer automorphisms,
parallelisms, partial geometries,
permutation groups, PG(3,2), Plato, Platonic
solids, polarities, Polya-Burnside theorem, projective
geometry, projective planes, projective
spaces, projectivities, Pythagoras, reincarnation,
Reed-Muller codes, the relativity problem,
reverse engineering, sacred geometry, Singer
cycle, skew lines, Socrates, sporadic simple
groups, Steiner systems, Sylvester, symmetric,
symmetry, symplectic, synthemes, synthematic,
Theosophical Society tesseract, Tessla, transvections,
Venn diagrams, Vril society, Walsh
functions, Witt designs.

(See also the original catalog page.)

Clearly most of this (the non-highlighted parts) was taken
from my webpage Diamond Theory. I suppose I should be
flattered, but I am not thrilled to be associated with the
(apparently fictional) Vril Society.

For some background, see (for instance) 
Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies .

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bowling in Diagon Alley

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 8:28 AM

IMAGE- Josefine Lyche bowling, from her Facebook page

Josefine Lyche bowling (Facebook, June 12, 2012)

"Where Does Math Come From?"

A professor of philosophy in 1984 on Socrates's geometric proof in Plato's Meno  dialogue—

"These recondite issues matter because theories about mathematics have had a big place in Western philosophy. All kinds of outlandish doctrines have tried to explain the nature of mathematical knowledge. Socrates set the ball rolling…."

— Ian Hacking in The New York Review of Books , Feb. 16, 1984

The same professor introducing a new edition of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions

"Paradigms Regained" (Los Angeles Review of Books , April 18, 2012)—

"That is the structure of scientific revolutions: normal science with a paradigm and a dedication to solving puzzles; followed by serious anomalies, which lead to a crisis; and finally resolution of the crisis by a new paradigm. Another famous word does not occur in the section titles: incommensurability. This is the idea that, in the course of a revolution and paradigm shift, the new ideas and assertions cannot be strictly compared to the old ones."

The Meno  proof involves inscribing diagonals  in squares. It is therefore related, albeit indirectly, to the classic Greek discovery that the diagonals of a square are incommensurable  with its sides. Hence the following discussion of incommensurability seems relevant.

IMAGE- Von Fritz in 1945 on incommensurability and the tetractys (10 as a triangular number)

See also von Fritz and incommensurability in The New York Times  (March 8, 2011).

For mathematical remarks related to the 10-dot triangular array of von Fritz, diagonals, and bowling, see this  journal on Nov. 8, 2011— "Stoned."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Child’s Play (continued*)

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

You and I …

we are just like a couple of tots…



Born 1973 in Bergen. Lives and works in Oslo.


2000 – 2004 National Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo
1998 – 2000 Strykejernet Art School, Oslo, NO
1995 – 1998 Philosophy, University of Bergen

University of Bergen—

 It might therefore seem that the idea of digital and analogical systems as rival fundaments to human experience is a new suggestion and, like digital technology, very modern. In fact, however, the idea is as old as philosophy itself (and may be much older). In his Sophist, Plato sets out the following ‘battle’ over the question of ‘true reality’:

What we shall see is something like a battle of gods and giants going on between them over their quarrel about reality [γιγαντομαχία περì της ουσίας] ….One party is trying to drag everything down to earth out of heaven and the unseen, literally grasping rocks and trees in their hands, for they lay hold upon every stock and stone and strenuously affirm that real existence belongs only to that which can be handled and offers resistance to the touch. They define reality as the same thing as body, and as soon as one of the opposite party asserts that anything without a body is real, they are utterly contemptuous and will not listen to another word. (…) Their adversaries are very wary in defending their position somewhere in the heights of the unseen, maintaining with all their force that true reality [την αληθινήν ουσίαν] consists in certain intelligible and bodiless forms. In the clash of argument they shatter and pulverize those bodies which their opponents wield, and what those others allege to be true reality they call, not real being, but a sort of moving process of becoming. On this issue an interminable battle is always going on between the two camps [εν μέσω δε περι ταυτα απλετος αμφοτέρων μάχη τις (…) αει συνέστηκεν]. (…) It seems that only one course is open to the philosopher who values knowledge and truth above all else. He must refuse to accept from the champions of the forms the doctrine that all reality is changeless [and exclusively immaterial], and he must turn a deaf ear to the other party who represent reality as everywhere changing [and as only material]. Like a child begging for 'both', he must declare that reality or the sum of things is both at once [το όν τε και το παν συναμφότερα] (Sophist 246a-249d).

The gods and the giants in Plato’s battle present two varieties of the analog position. Each believes that ‘true reality’ is singular, that "real existence belongs only to" one side or other of competing possibilities. For them, difference and complexity are secondary and, as secondary, deficient in respect to truth, reality and being (την αληθινήν ουσίαν, το όν τε και το παν). Difference and complexity are therefore matters of "interminable battle" whose intended end for each is, and must be (given their shared analogical logic), only to eradicate the other. The philosophical child, by contrast, holds to ‘both’ and therefore represents the digital position where the differentiated two yet belong originally together. Here difference, complexity and systematicity are primary and exemplary.

It is an unfailing mark of the greatest thinkers of the tradition, like Plato, that they recognize the digital possibility and therefore recognize the principal difference of it from analog possibilities.

— Cameron McEwen, "The Digital Wittgenstein,"
    The Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen

* See that phrase in this journal.

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

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Midnight in Oslo

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 6:00 PM

For Norway's Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829)
on his birthday, August Fifth

(6 PM Aug. 4, Eastern Time, is 12 AM Aug. 5 in Oslo.)


Plato's Diamond

The above version by Peter Pesic is from Chapter I of his book Abel's Proof , titled "The Scandal of the Irrational." Plato's diamond also occurs in a much later mathematical story that might be called "The Scandal of the Noncontinuous." The story—


"These passages suggest that the Form is a character or set of characters common to a number of things, i.e. the feature in reality which corresponds to a general word. But Plato also uses language which suggests not only that the forms exist separately (χωριστά ) from all the particulars, but also that each form is a peculiarly accurate or good particular of its own kind, i.e. the standard particular of the kind in question or the model (παράδειγμα ) [i.e. paradigm ] to which other particulars approximate….

… Both in the Republic  and in the Sophist  there is a strong suggestion that correct thinking is following out the connexions between Forms. The model is mathematical thinking, e.g. the proof given in the Meno  that the square on the diagonal is double the original square in area."

– William and Martha Kneale, The Development of Logic , Oxford University Press paperback, 1985

Plato's paradigm in the Meno


Changed paradigm in the diamond theorem (2×2 case) —


Aspects of the paradigm change—

Monochrome figures to
   colored figures

Areas to

Continuous transformations to
   non-continuous transformations

Euclidean geometry to
   finite geometry

Euclidean quantities to
   finite fields

The 24 patterns resulting from the paradigm change—


Each pattern has some ordinary or color-interchange symmetry.

This is the 2×2 case of a more general result. The patterns become more interesting in the 4×4 case. For their relationship to finite geometry and finite fields, see the diamond theorem.

Related material: Plato's Diamond by Oslo artist Josefine Lyche.

Plato’s Ghost  evokes Yeats’s lament that any claim to worldly perfection inevitably is proven wrong by the philosopher’s ghost….”

— Princeton University Press on Plato’s Ghost: The Modernist Transformation of Mathematics  (by Jeremy Gray, September 2008)

"Remember me to her."

— Closing words of the Algis Budrys novel Rogue Moon .

Background— Some posts in this journal related to Abel or to random thoughts from his birthday.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Now Lens

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:00 AM

A Story in Pictures

Errol Morris in The New York Times  on March 9

"If everything is incommensurable, then everything is seen through the lens of the present, the lens of now ."

"Borges concluded by quoting Chesterton, 'there is nothing more frightening than a labyrinth that has no center.' [72]"

Now Lens


Uncertified Copy


Del Toro


Plato's Diamond


Portrait of an Artist


Meanwhile, back at the Times


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Brightness at Noon, continued

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

"What exactly was Point Omega?"

This is Robert Wright in Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny.

Wright is discussing not the novel Point Omega  by Don DeLillo,
but rather a (related) concept of  the Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

My own idiosyncratic version of a personal "point omega"—

Image- Josefine Lyche work (with 1986 figures by Cullinane) in a 2009 exhibition in Oslo

Click for further details.

The circular sculpture in the foreground
is called by the artist "The Omega Point."
This has been described as
"a portal that leads in or out of time and space."

For some other sorts of points, see the drawings
on the wall and Geometry Simplified

Image-- The trivial two-point affine space and the trivial one-point projective space, visualized

The two points of the trivial affine space are represented by squares,
and the one point of the trivial projective space is represented by
a line segment separating the affine-space squares.

For related darkness  at noon, see Derrida on différance
as a version of Plato's khôra

(Click to enlarge.)

Image-- Fordham University Press on Derrida, differance, and khora

The above excerpts are from a work on and by Derrida
published in 1997 by Fordham University,
a Jesuit institutionDeconstruction in a Nutshell

Image-- A Catholic view of Derrida

For an alternative to the Villanova view of Derrida,
see Angels in the Architecture.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Art Space

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:02 AM

From an interview with artist Josefine Lyche (see previous post) dated March 11, 2009—

Can you name a writer or book, fiction or theory that has inspired your works?
– Right now I am reading David Foster Wallace, which is great and inspiring. Others would be Aleister Crowley, Terence McKenna, James Joyce, J.L Borges, J.D Ballard, Stanislaw Lem, C. S. Lewis and Plato to mention some. Books, both fiction and theory are a great part of my life and work.

This journal on the date of the interview had a post about a NY Times  story, Paris | A Show About Nothing."

Related images—


Box symbol

Pictorial version
of Hexagram 20,
Contemplation (View)


Space: what you damn well have to see.
– James Joyce, Ulysses

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, 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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