Saturday, October 1, 2011

Like an Orb

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

It turns out that Fabrizio Palombi, author and editor of books on the late combinatorialist-philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota, is also an expert on the French charlatan Lacan. (For recent remarks related to Rota, see yesterday's Primordiality and the link "6.7 (June 7)" in today's The Crowe Sphere.)

"We all have our little mythologies."

— "Lacan’s Mathematics," by Amadou Guissé, Alexandre Leupin, and Steven D. Wallace (a preprint from the website of Steven D. Wallace, assistant professor of mathematics at Macon State College, Macon, GA.) A more extensive quote from "Lacan's Mathematics"—

Epistemological Cuts* or Births?

An epistemological cut can be described as the production of homonyms. For example, the word orb in Ptolemaic cosmology and the same word in the Kepler’s system, albeit similar, designate two entities that have nothing in common: the first one, in the Ancients’ cosmology, is a crystal sphere to which stars are attached; orb, for Kepler, is an ellipsis whose sole material existence is the algorithm describing its path. A cut becomes major when all word of different eras change meaning. A case in point is the cut between polytheism and monotheism (Judaism): the word god or god takes an entirely different meaning, and this change affects all areas of a vision of the world. From the non created world of the Ancients, inhabited by eternal Gods, we pass on to a world created by a unique God, who is outside of his creation. This cut affects all areas of thinking. However, mythology, albeit separated from the new vision by the cut, survives as an enduring residue. Our sexual thinking, for example, is essential mythological, as proven by the endurance of the Oedipus complex or our cult of this ancient deity called Eros. Love is inherently tied to what Freud called the omnipotence of thought or magical thinking.

Of course, the quintessential major epistemological cut for us is the break effectuated by modern science in the 17th century. All the names are affected by it: however, who can claim he or she has been entirely purged of pre-scientific reasoning? Despite us living in a scientific universe, we all have our little mythologies, residues of an era before the major epistemological cut.

Any modeling of major epistemological cuts, or paradigm changes as Thomas Kuhn would have it, has therefore to account at the same time for a complete break with past names (that is, new visions of the world) as well as the survival of old names and mythologies.

* For some background on this Marxist jargon, see Epistemological Break (La Coupure Épistémologique ) at the website Concept and Form: The Cahiers pour  l’Analyse  and Contemporary French Thought.

The Crowe Sphere

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

From Wallace Stevens's "A Primitive Like an Orb"—

But the virtuoso never leaves his shape,
Still on the horizon elongates his cuts,
And still angelic and still plenteous,
Imposes power by the power of his form.

See also the film Virtuosity  and The Crowe Sphere
(a Log24 search that includes, by accident, a post
with the phrase "he crowed exultantly.").

Such a crowing: Cagney's classic "Top of the world!"

Those who seek significance in the name of Crowe's
character in Virtuosity , "SID 6.7," may consult yesterday's
Primordiality and a related post of 6.7 (June 7), 2010.
(For the "SID" part, see Caesar in this journal and Gladiator.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Abacus Conundrum*

From Das Glasperlenspiel  (Hermann Hesse, 1943) —

“Bastian Perrot… constructed a frame, modeled on a child’s abacus, a frame with several dozen wires on which could be strung glass beads of various sizes, shapes, and colors. The wires corresponded to the lines of the musical staff, the beads to the time values of the notes, and so on. In this way he could represent with beads musical quotations or invented themes, could alter, transpose, and develop them, change them and set them in counterpoint to one another. In technical terms this was a mere plaything, but the pupils liked it.… …what later evolved out of that students’ sport and Perrot’s bead-strung wires bears to this day the name by which it became popularly known, the Glass Bead Game.”

From “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (Lewis Padgett, 1943)—

…”Paradine looked up. He frowned, staring. What in—
…”Is that an abacus?” he asked. “Let’s see it, please.”
…Somewhat unwillingly Scott brought the gadget across to his father’s chair. Paradine blinked. The “abacus,” unfolded, was more than a foot square, composed of thin,  rigid wires that interlocked here and there. On the wires the colored beads were strung. They could be slid back and forth, and from one support to another, even at the points of jointure. But— a pierced bead couldn’t cross interlocking  wires—
…So, apparently, they weren’t pierced. Paradine looked closer. Each small sphere had a deep groove running around it, so that it could be revolved and slid along the wire at the same time. Paradine tried to pull one free. It clung as though magnetically. Iron? It looked more like plastic.
…The framework itself— Paradine wasn’t a mathematician. But the angles formed by the wires were vaguely shocking, in their ridiculous lack of Euclidean logic. They were a maze. Perhaps that’s what the gadget was— a puzzle.
…”Where’d you get this?”
…”Uncle Harry gave it to me,” Scott said on the spur of the moment. “Last Sunday, when he came over.” Uncle Harry was out of town, a circumstance Scott well knew. At the age of seven, a boy soon learns that the vagaries of adults follow a certain definite pattern, and that they are fussy about the donors of gifts. Moreover, Uncle Harry would not return for several weeks; the expiration of that period was unimaginable to Scott, or, at least, the fact that his lie would ultimately be discovered meant less to him than the advantages of being allowed to keep the toy.
…Paradine found himself growing slightly confused as he attempted to manipulate the beads. The angles were vaguely illogical. It was like a puzzle. This red bead, if slid along this  wire to that  junction, should reach there— but it didn’t. A maze, odd, but no doubt instructive. Paradine had a well-founded feeling that he’d have no patience with the thing himself.
…Scott did, however, retiring to a corner and sliding beads around with much fumbling and grunting. The beads did  sting, when Scott chose the wrong ones or tried to slide them in the wrong direction. At last he crowed exultantly.
…”I did it, dad!”
…””Eh? What? Let’s see.” The device looked exactly the same to Paradine, but Scott pointed and beamed.
…”I made it disappear.”
…”It’s still there.”
…”That blue bead. It’s gone now.”
…Paradine didn’t believe that, so he merely snorted. Scott puzzled over the framework again. He experimented. This time there were no shocks, even slight. The abacus had showed him the correct method. Now it was up to him to do it on his own. The bizarre angles of the wires seemed a little less confusing now, somehow.
…It was a most instructive toy—
…It worked, Scott thought, rather like the crystal cube.

* Title thanks to Saturday Night Live  (Dec. 4-5, 2010).

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Wednesday December 10, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:44 PM

Tru Story

From the Internet Broadway Database entry on the play Tru, starring Robert Morse:

"Setting: Truman Capote's
New York apartment at
870 United Nations Plaza.
One week before Christmas, 1975."

For Lewis Allen, producer of Tru, who died on Monday, the Buddhist holy day Rohatsu…

Robert Morse again performs "In My Room" (see previous entry), but this time the space he describes is the complex plane.


Capote collected paperweights; the complex plane is an apt setting for what might be called "paperweights of eternity" — i.e., Riemann spheres.  Click on the spheres for a larger version, the work of Anders Sandberg.

See, too, Russell Crowe as Santa's Helper.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Sunday November 16, 2003

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

Russell Crowe as Santa's Helper

From The Age, Nov. 17, 2003:

"Russell Crowe's period naval epic has been relegated to second place at the US box office by an elf raised by Santa's helpers at the North Pole."

From A Midsummer Night's Dream:

"The lunatic,¹ the lover,² and the poet³
  Are of imagination all compact."




In acceping a British Film Award for his work in A Beautiful Mind, Crowe said that

"Richard Harris, one of the finest of this profession, recently brought to my attention the verse of Patrick Kavanagh:

'To be a poet and not know the trade,
To be a lover and repel all women,
Twin ironies by which
    great saints are made,
The agonising
    pincer jaws of heaven.' "

A theological image both more pleasant and more in keeping with the mathematical background of A Beautiful Mind is the following:

This picture, from a site titled Strange and Complex, illustrates a one-to-one correspondence between the points of the complex plane and all the points of the sphere except for the North Pole.

To complete the correspondence (to, in Shakespeare's words, make the sphere's image "all compact"), we may adjoin a "point at infinity" to the plane — the image, under the revised correspondence, of the North Pole.

For related poetry, see Stevens's "A Primitive Like an Orb."

For more on the point at infinity, see the conclusion of Midsummer Eve's Dream.

For Crowe's role as Santa's helper, consider how he has helped make known the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh, and see Kavanagh's "Advent":

O after Christmas we'll have
    no need to go searching….

… Christ comes with a January flower.

i.e. Christ Mass… as, for instance, performed by the six Jesuits who were murdered in El Salvador on this date in 1989.

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