Monday, December 31, 2012

Sync or Swarm

On Entrainment

Means of Reproduction no. 627

Means of Reproduction no. 701

Steven Strogatz on Sync, TED2004
Mathematician Steven Strogatz shows how flocks of creatures (like birds, fireflies and fish) manage to synchronize and act as a unit -- when no one's giving orders. The powerful tendency extends into the realm of objects, too.

“What do you need to produce spontaneous synchronization? Do you need to be alive? No. [There is a] Deep tendency towards order in nature that opposes what we've been taught about entropy. [The tendency towards spontaneous order is a counter force.]”
How swarms work, 3 (+1) rules:
1. all the individuals are only aware of their nearest neighbors
2. all the individuals have a tendency to line up
3. they're all attracted to each other, but they try and keep a small distance apart
(4.) when a predator is coming, get away

video still:
at ~14 minutes, he entrains de-synchronized metronomes via a common substrate

Entrainment (physics)
Entrainment has been used to refer to the process of mode locking of coupled driven oscillators, which is the process whereby two interacting oscillating systems, which have different periods when they function independently, assume a common period. The two oscillators may fall into synchrony, but other phase relationships are also possible. The system with the greater frequency slows down, and the other speeds up.

Entrainment (biomusicology)
Entrainment in the biomusicological sense refers to the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm, usually produced by other organisms with whom they interact socially. Examples include firefly flashing, mosquito wing clapping as well as human music and dance such as foot tapping.

Brainwave entrainment
Brainwave entrainment or "brainwave synchronization," is any practice that aims to cause brainwave frequencies to fall into step with a periodic stimulus having a frequency corresponding to the intended brain-state (for example, to induce sleep), usually attempted with the use of specialized software.

see also:

In his lab at Penn, Vijay Kumar and his team build flying quadrotors, small, agile robots that swarm, sense each other, and form ad hoc teams -- for construction, surveying disasters and far more.

How Music Works
David Byrne, in describing a process of whittling-down potential dancers in his group, recounts the following experience

Noemie began with an exercise I’ve never forgotten. It consisted of four simple rules:

  1. Improvise moving to the music and come up with an eight-count phrase. (In dance, a phrase is a short series of moves that can be repeated.)
  2. When you find a phrase you like, loop (repeat) it.
  3. When you see someone else with a stronger phrase, copy it.
  4. When everyone is doing the same phrase the exercise is over.
It was like watching evolution on fast-forward, or an emergent lifeform coming into being. At first the room was chaos, writhing bodies everywhere. Then one could see that folks had chosen their phrases, and almost immediately one could see a pocket of dancers who had all adopted the same phrase. The copying had begun already, albeit just in one area. This pocket of copying began to expand, to go viral, while yet another one now emerged on the other side of the room. One clump grew faster than the other, and within four minutes the whole room was filled with dancers moving in perfect unison. Unbelieavable! It only took four minutes for this evolutionary process to kick in, and for the “strongest” (unfortunate word, maybe) to dominate. It was one of the most amazing dance performances I’ve ever seen. Too bad it was over so quickly, and that one did have to know the rules that had been laid out to appreciate how such a simple algorithm could generate unity out of chaos.

After this rigorous athletic experiment, the dancers rested while we compared notes. I noticed a weird and quite loud wind like sound, rushing and pulsing. I didn’t know what it was; it seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere. It was like no sound I’d ever heard before. I realized it was the sound of fifty people catching their breath, breathing in and out, in an enclosed room. It then gradually faded away. For me that was part of the piece, too.

How Music Works, David Byrne, 2012, pp. 67-68

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Anagrammatic Palindromization of Fetishes

(^) visual parquet deformation
(v) textual parquet deformation

Black Fetishization of White Power
White Fetishization of Black Style

Bcalk Wtihe of Fetiazihstion Pewor
Wtihe Bcalk of Fetiazihstion Slyte

Rewop Etihw of Feitazihsiton Kcalb
Elyts Kcalb of Feitazihsiton Etihw

Elyts Kcalb of Feitazihsiton Etihw
Rewop Etihw of Feitazihsiton Kcalb

Wtihe Bcalk of Fetiazihstion Slyte
Bcalk Wtihe of Fetiazihstion Pewor

White Fetishization of Black Style
Black Fetishization of White Power

-Naomi Klein, No Logo, 1999

Board of Frozen Chi-Holders

Spiro Agnew - Grow a Penis

Anagram Maximus

Friday, December 28, 2012

Origins of Human Communication

Michael Tomasello, 2008

Pointing is the genesis of human communication,
But unless the people communicating share knowledge significant to that being pointed at, and unless they all know that they all know,
Then the pointing is useless and carries no meaning.

DISPLAY--such as wide hips, which attract mates
--both form and meaning are fixed
--you can’t hide wide hips and you can’t make them mean something other than ‘good for child-rearing’
SIGNAL--intentional and flexible

The roots of human communication are in the gestural, not the vocal, communication of non-human primates.

For primates, the flexibility and intentionality of vocal communication is more akin to display than signal, even though they [primates] have the same capabilities (vocal range) as humans.

Though their vocal-auditory channel matches humans, it is primate gestures that match the more functional aspect of human communication.

Human communication is fundamentally cooperative, and requires shared intentionality and [could have] evolved as part of a larger human adaptation for cooperation and cultural life in general.
--culture requires cooperation
--the culture is the soma, the phenotype – not the individual but the culture as a body to be modified/adapted

Cooperation, Communication, Culture

(anti-Chomskian) the fundamental aspects of human communication are seen as bio-adaptations for cooperation and social interaction in general, whereas the more purely linguistic, inclusive, grammatical dimensions of language are culturally constructed and passed along by the individual linguistic communities.

W.H.Durham’s Primary/genetic vs. Secondary/cultural Forces of Transmission

W.H.Durham, 1991

Origins of Human Communication
Michael Tomasello, 2008, MIT

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On Syntropy and the Illusion of Precogntion

The Law of Syntropy
 “…Syntropic phenomena, which are instead represented by those strange solutions of the “anticipated potentials”, should obey two opposite principles of finality (moved by a final cause placed in the future, and not by a cause which is placed in the past)…”
-Luigi Fantappiè, taken from a letter to a friend circa 1940’s(?)

“Advanced Waves, Retrocausality and Consciousness”
Antonella Vannini , Ph.D Student in Cognitive Psychology – University of Rome “La Sapienza”, 2005(?)

Population Explosion and Precognition
Dreams which appear to be precognitive may in fact be the result of the "Law of Large Numbers". Robert Todd Carroll, author of "The Skeptic's Dictionary" put it this way: "Say the odds are a million to one that when a person has a dream of an airplane crash, there is an airplane crash the next day. With 6 billion people having an average of 250 dream themes each per night, there should be about 1.5 million people a day who have dreams that seem clairvoyant."

“Law of Truly Large Numbers (Coincidence)”
May 26, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Leibnizian Deformation

a parquet deformation

Philosophy in Science
The Deep And Suggestive Principles of Leibnizian Philosophy
Julian Barbour, The Harvard Review of Philosophy, XI 2003, pp45-56

"The most obvious thing about the universe in which we find ourselves is its structure." (^p45)

One cannot help wondering if modern science does not lack a key idea. Could there be some direct structure-creating principle that has hitherto escaped us?

Darwinian evolution, dynamical self-organization of structure, or the structure of the inflationary scenario in modern cosmology [add the preferential attachment law, otherwise known as "cumulative advantage"].

Barbour agrees with the arguments in quantum cosmology which define time as an emergent phenomenon (noted in his book, The End of Time, 2000).

Barbour is making attempt to connect these ideas (concerning quantum gravity) to Leibnizian philosophy:

To counter Newton’s notion of a preexisting absolute space in which all points are exactly identical, Leibniz asserted that space must be relative. Space, argued Leibniz, is nothing more than the order of coexisting things, which are “placed” solely by their positions relative to each other. (predating Einstein, circa 1715)

In his youth, Leibniz was “infected” by Decartes' absolute-minimum explanation of the universe, and subsequently found himself at odds with the question of how we can ever know anything from anything else without variety. There must be at least one other concept added to Descartes' theory.

Leibniz denied the independent existence of space and time. They were nothing but relations between things. Position in space and time could not be used as attributes to distinguish otherwise indistinguishable objects. He argued that any contingently existing thing must be described by its attributes.* Once one starts on the true identification of an actual thing, one must always end by giving a description of the entire universe.*

In the Monadology is the claim that the perceptions of any one monad — its defining attributes — are nothing more and nothing less than the relations it bears to all the other monads. The entire world is resolved into pure shared experience.*

*The Leibniz—Clarke Correspondence, ed. H. G. Alexander (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1956)
See especially the Correspondence with Arnauld reproduced in Philosophical Papers and Letters, eds. L. L. Leroy, D.Reidel, Dordrecht  (1969) and Leibniz: Philosophical Writings, eds. G. H. R. Parkinson and J. M. Dent (1973)

R. Descartes, The Principles of Philosophy (1644)

G. Leibniz, Monadology (1714)

Julian Barbour on Nows

Yayoi Kusama 

If we had a universe with a million particles in it there would be some relative configuration of those million particles and nothing else. That would form one Now, and all the different ways you could arrange all the million particles would make all the different possible Nows. I think the actual Nows of this universe are more sophisticated constructs involving fields, but Nows formed by arrangements of particles can get the idea across.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Culture as Learned Probability System

Music, the Arts and Ideas
Leonard B. Meyer, U. of Chicago, 1967

“It is impossible to stand outside of culture, for the models and categories we use on conceptualizing and ordering the world are necessarily limited to, if not determined by, those which are provided by our particular culture.” (viii)

“A culture, like a musical style, is a learned probability system.” (p17, footnote 21)

“Meaning is when stimulus does not fit expectation.”

“Meaning is the difference between expectation and actual.”

Meaning, being also a measure of the uncertainty between antecedent and consequent is also related to probability.

“Once a musical style has become part of the habit responses of composers, performers, and practical listeners it may be regarded as a complex system of probabilities. That musical styles are internalized probability systems is demonstrated by the rules of musical grammar and syntax found in textbooks on harmony, counterpoint, and theory in general.”
In the Tonal Harmony of Western Music, the tonic chord is
-most often followed by the dominant
-frequently by the subdominant
-sometimes by the subdominant
In Counterpoint, after a large melodic skip, the melody
-usually moves in the opposite direction, filling in the tones passed over.

occurs by:
Delay – of expectation/norm
Antecedent Ambiguity/Uncertainty – equally probably constituents may be envisaged
Unexpected/Improbable – within the specific context
-deviation requires meaning, or more specifically: active creation of new meaning, which occurs within the temporal/tonal expectations

Information is measured by the randomness of the choices possible in a given situation. If a situation is highly organized and the possible consequents in the pattern process have a high degree of probability, the information (or entropy) is low.

If, however, the situation is characterized by a high degree of shuffledness so that the consequents are more or less equi-probable, then information (or entropy) is said to be high.

“What we perceive as the present is the vivid fringe of memory tinged with anticipation.”
-A.N. Whitehead, The Concept of Nature, in G.J. Whitrow, The Natural Philosophy of Time, p83, in Meyers, p89.

“The practically cognized present is no knife-edge, but a saddle-back, with a certain breadth of its own in which we sit perched, and from which we look in two directions in time.”
-William James, Principles of Psychology, 1950, p609

Predictions create the future:
“Prediction itself – that is, belief about the probable future – may make an incalculable difference in it.”
-Herbert J. Muller, “Misuses of the Past”, p12, Horizon 1 (March 1959), on Meyer, p90

The Determinism vs. Free Will Problem
Might it not be that the problem stems from a failure to distinguish between the relatively undetermined, non-statistical processes characteristic of the level of individual choice and those forces which, more determined and quasi-statistical, are operative on the higher levels of sociocultural history. It may be that the problem of determinism vs. free will stems from a confusion of hierarchic levels of analysis. (p97)

TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Retro-Contaminating Memetic Transfer

Crazytown, "Butterfly"

You can try it yourself. Go ahead, ask someone,
“Remember that song – You my buttafly, shuga, baby…?”

They will say one of two things:
  1. Yeah, who was that, Linkin Park?
  2. Yeah, that band that sounds like Linkin Park?
Actually, it’s Crazytown, “Butterfly” (2001).
Linkin Park wasn’t that bad. But then there was Crazytown. They came after, but they influenced what came before. (Not the thing-in-itself, but our idea of the thing, enough such that the thing might as well have changed.)

This is also known as the DnB/Dubstep effect. Dubstep came almost directly from Drum n Bass. Those who had found in Drum n Bass a surging, forcibly punctuated rhythm, would have certainly seen contrast in Dubstep’s disjointed, seemingly arhythmical quality (or meta-rhythmic, as it could be called). It is this particularly unusual rhythm that draws its strongest criticism. Its other dominant element – wobble-squashing bass modulation – ties, and for some people camouflages Dubstep as Drum n Bass.

As overheard recently by some teenagers as Digital’s Dubzilla played in the background:
-What is this?
-Idk, some crappy Dubstep song.

A case of retro-contaminating memetic transfer, indeed.

Incestual Ideation:
AUGUST 17, 2012

OCTOBER 6, 2012

On the Illusion of Retro-Active Causality

AKA Advanced Waves and Retarded Waves

taking ukemi

In aikido training, “taking ukemi” is the practice of falling and getting thrown, and translates as “receiving body”. Good form requires slapping the mat upon impact; it reduces the force of the initial impact. But how is it that something you do after you hit the mat can affect how hard you initially hit the mat? It seems a case of retroactive causality. Upon further examination, it would become apparent that it is simply an act of spreading the force over a longer duration of time, making it seem as if the overall impact has lessened, when in fact it has just lessened per unit time.

slapping the mat upon impact

The correct form passes the impact from the main body through the shoulder, elbow, hand, in one fluid, continuous motion. In one instance, the impact begins and ends with the body hitting the ground, whereas in another, the impact begins with the body and ends with the handslap.

In shooting a basketball, the same phenomenon occurs – having good follow-through affects the accuracy of the throw. Something done after the ball leaves your hand can change the way the ball leaves you hand. In reality, we can know that the well-prepared body can use a projected feedback loop where the anticipation of the future follow-through is readjusting the shot itself to become more aligned to the anticipated follow-through. You have to do it in order to pretend like you’re going to do it.

follow through

The final and most readily observed example is that of the dropped-and-popped phone. All the parts shoot away from the point of contact, taking with them some of the energy, thus lessening the impact on the more sensitive parts of the device. Retroactive causality it is not. The misperception of time, however, is in our blood.

when you drop your phone

More Musicological Synchronicity
OCTOBER 6, 2012


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Notes on Cognitive Fiction

via Joseph Tabbi, Cognitive Fictions, 2002

Agency Panic
-the panic of attributing consciousness to all kinds of systems, and about the difficulty of locating control at any one level of existence – the difficulty, in other words, in deciding what a person is. (p34, Tabbi referencing Timothy Melley’s agency panic of humanist backlash in contemporary U.S. culture)

We are at a loss to grasp how discursive social structures might impinge on individuals without depriving them of all capacity for autonomous action.

Knowledge, Fact and Contingency
Knowledge is the holding, or accumulation of facts, which in themselves exist, or are constructed anthropically, as an extension/precipitating of agreed-upon units. A fact is a product of prior facts, irreducible, infinite, like fractals. And they require a structure, held up by the beliefs of a society. And so facts are contingent upon the facts that make them up (in infinite recursion) and upon the subjects, the participants, the observers that agree upon their validity, and cement their sturdiness for further knowledge.

Programming vs Selection
Evolution is a process of selection rather than programming and thus the brain, and consciousness as well.

Reading Cognitive Fiction
-Can be thought of as interpreting/criticizing texts either analytically or psychologically
-Can stimulate a latent recognition
-Can force the question of how to represent thought and construct subjectivity

One cannot map consciousness onto cognition, or derive communication from hardware. One can only fluctuate between incompatible theories, and accommodate linear writing to multi linear thought, the conscious mind to the unreflective medial ecology. (p120)

The Imminent Mind
The imminent mind is not only in the body. It is imminent also in pathways and messages outside the body; and there is a larger Mind of which the individual mind is only a subsystem.
-Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, p460
-cited in Wolfe, “In Search of Posthumanist Theory”, p50
-found in Tabbi, Cognitive Fictions, p34-35


Microsoft’s Windows are opaque.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


something to do with logarithmic patterns, by a person who finds odd the anagrammatical relationship described below

On the Etymology of the words Algorithm and Logorithm:
via Aficionada

Since the two words are actually anagrams of one another, it is easy to assume they have similar derivations or etymologies. Not so – or, not entirely so.

Logarithm came into English from Greek by way of the Neo-Latin word logarithm(us). Greek log(os) meant word or speech and arithm(os) meant "number," as you can see in the word arithmetic. So, somewhere in the very distant past, a logorithm was a word that was used to express a number – or something like that.

Algorithm, on the other hand, was or is also known in English as algorism. It too had a pathway that led through Latin (Medieval Latin, in this case), but its starting point was Arabic, not Greek. It was actually the Latinized surname of the 9th-century Persian astronomer- mathematician Al-Kh(u)wahrizmi ; his name meant "the one from Khiva" (an area that is now in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; also the name of a city there). In 825 C.E. he wrote a treatise in Arabic "On Calculation with Hindu Numerals." When it was translated into Latin about 300 years later, his name was Latinized and included as part of the title (Algoritmi de numero Indorum) which presumably meant "by Al-Kh(u)wahrizmi, concerning the numbering system of the Indians." But, because of a quirk of the Latin language, it could also mean "Algorisms [whatever they may be] from the numbering system of the Indians." And so the word algorism was born, and became modified into algorithm by association with the Greek word arithm(os).

But maybe that change is not a bad thing, because algorism can also refer to the Arabic numerals themselves which we use in modern mathematics, and it can also refer to the method of computing with those numerals, plus zero (i.e. arithmetic). So it's really kind of nice to have a separate word that means what we now mean by algorithm. It's just that that word is not logarithm.

taken in full: "Etymology Sidebar"
Algorithms and Logarithms: a User's Guide
Aficionada, August 8, 2012

Programmed By Who
The Big Heap, Time and Network Configuration

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

DNA nanomanufacturing

This 3-D print shows a DNA-based structure designed to test a critical assumption -- that such objects could be realized, as designed, with subnanometer precision.
Credit: Dietz Lab, TU Muenchen

Reality check for DNA nanotechnology: Lowering barriers to DNA-based nanomanufacturing
December 13, 2012
modified article:

Two major barriers to the advancement of DNA nanotechnology beyond the research lab have been knocked down. This emerging technology employs DNA as a programmable building material for self-assembled, nanometer-scale structures. Researchers led by Prof. Hendrik Dietz of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have removed these obstacles to structural feedback.

Researchers were able to design a wide variety of discrete objects and specify exactly how DNA strands should zip together and fold into the desired shapes. They could show that the resulting nanostructures closely matched the designs. Still lacking, though, was the validation of the assumed subnanometer-scale precise positional control. This has been confirmed for the first time through analysis of a test object designed specifically for the purpose. A technical breakthrough based on advances in fundamental understanding, this demonstration has provided a crucial reality check for DNA nanotechnology.

Atomically precise control

Strands of DNA that will serve as the template, instructions, and building material for a designed object are placed together at a relatively high temperature where they will remain separate; the temperature is gradually lowered, and somewhere along the line the DNA strands zip together to form the desired structures.

Observing this process in unprecedented detail, the Technical University Munich (TUM) researchers discovered that all of the action takes place within a specific and relatively narrow temperature range, which differs depending on the design of the object.

"Besides telling us that complex DNA objects are manufacturable," Dietz says, "these results suggest something we hardly dared to imagine before – that it might be possible to assemble DNA nanodevices in a cell culture or even within a living cell."

Xiao-chen Bai, Thomas G. Martin, Sjors H. W. Scheres, Hendrik Dietz. Cryo-EM structure of a 3D DNA-origami object. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Dec. 4, 2012, 109 (49) 20012-20017; on-line in PNAS Early Edition, Nov. 19, 2012.

Jean-Philippe J. Sobczak, Thomas G. Martin, Thomas Gerling, Hendrik Dietz. Rapid folding of DNA into nanoscale shapes at constant temperature. Science, vol. 338, issue 6113, pp. 1458-1461.

Martin Langecker, Vera Arnaut, Thomas G. Martin, Jonathan List, Stephan Renner, Michael Mayer, Hendrik Dietz, and Friedrich C. Simmel. Synthetic lipid membrane channels formed by designed DNA nanostructures. Science, vol. 338, issue 6109, pp. 932-936.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Body Problems

Three Body, Liu Cixin, 2006-2010
Modern Chinese Science Fiction about an Earth in a triple star system

A reasonable starting point for the many-body problem may be the question of how many bodies are required before we have a problem. Prof. G. E. Brown has pointed out that, for those interested in exact solutions, this can be answered by a look at history. In 18th century Newtonian mechanics, the 3-body problem was insoluble. With the birth of general relativity around 1910 and quantum electrodynamics around 1930, the 2- and 1-body problems become insoluble. And with quantum field theory, the problem of zero bodies (vacuum) is insoluble.

So if we are after exact solutions, no bodies at all is already too many.

-Richard Mattux on Interacting Particles

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Aunt Colony

"I am beginning to see things from two different vantage points. From an ant's-eye point of view, a signal has no purpose. The typical ant in a signal is just meandering around the colony, in search of nothing in particular, until it finds that it feels like stopping. Its teammates usually agree and that moment the team unloads itself, by crumbling apart, leaving just its numbers but none of its coherency. No planning is required, no looking ahead, nor is any search required to determine the proper direction. But from the colony's point of view, the team has just responded to a message which was written in the language of the caste distribution. Now from this perspective, it looks very much like purposeful activity."

"Prelude...Ant Fugue", Douglas Hofstadter
in The Mind's I, Hofstadter and Dennett, eds., 1981

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Art as Human Experience

Alex Grey 

Art is innate to the human experience. It is a form of communication older than language. Through its practice/performance we can learn of the underlying schemata of the human mind. It reveals our inner nature, both as a reminder and as fulfillment of the soul. The soul is the ‘life’ that is in us, and life longs for itself. Art is human expression of ‘life’. It is a giving back of life to itself. Dance is the only form of art that satiates the body’s need to express life, and it is the force from which all art springs. It must always start from the body.

“I feel this”; that is the human experience.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Creativity, Intent and Memetics

At present, a kind of circularity haunts us: our cultures are not given, but are profoundly transformed by our own activities and policies. That which inspires us with our aims is also visibly modified by us; what then is the authority of our aims? (267-268)
Plough, Sword and Book
Ernest Gellner
U. of Chicago Press

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cash or Credit

"The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run." -Thoreau

On Being Considerate

Wash Me - Wayne White
"Handle your art buzz...Don't go around being crazy all the time. Bring it out when you have to, and have some good manners the other times. Nobody wants to see that crazy shit all the time!"
-Wayne White, Juxtapoz, Jun 2012 n137 p57
Im Stuck on My Own Thing -  Wayne White

All That Fake Laughin For Nothin - Wayne White

Information as Life

What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly, 2010

Information doesn’t exist in spacetime. We do.

Data are just different patterns of life, layered on top of each other countless times. The more layers the data become, the more sophisticated the patterns, until you have life, then life that creates its own body-less information. Then we have something like data squared.

Technology is a form of information. DNA is a technology of life. It processes information from chemical to biological to electrical and back, to be replicated by progenetic entities.

Humans are the first form of life capable of storing information outside of itself, information that can then be processed and replicated by another form of its own (technological) species in an extra-biological way.

Is it crazy to think that life is using us to procreate itself? No.

Is it crazy to think that technology – a form of body-less information – is using us to procreate itself? Maybe.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Primitive Mentality


Invisible Forces
“…to the primitive, the surrounding world is the language of spirits speaking to a spirit. It is a language which his mind does not remember ever having learnt, but which the preconnection of its collective representations make quite a natural one.” (p60)

[And in comparison] Our experience is in the sum-total of a comparatively small number of data and infinitude of inferences. (p60)

The invisible force is what gives meaning and cause to the empirical reality before them. We, on the other hand, trace it in reverse. We try to find the cause based on the empirical evidence, whereas they already know why it happens. And, it’s not that one causes the other; it is just a manifestation of the influence, an expression of the invisible forces at work. There is no separation either temporally or causally between the invisible force and its ‘effects’ or expressions.

Mystic Causality
Invisible Forces, instead of existing on a line connecting two things/events, “float around” and “radiate”, present in several places at the same time, and invoke a “supplementary dimension” unknown to us, not exactly a spatial dimension, but rather a dimension of the sum-total of experience. [Can I call this ‘meaning’?] (p91)

Mystic causality does not provide ‘evidence’, but is beyond that. No evidence is required when one already ‘knows’ why a thing has happened. (p93)

[There is a rigid structure to the mindspace. It is not empty space, as in the conscious, modern mind. There is, then, no ‘free-thinking’]

[Levy-Bruhl states] Primitives make use of cause and effect, as evidenced in their construction of implements, such as traps. [He then asks] Does this not imply careful observation of cause and effect relationship? [But then counter-queries] Is possession of a means of activity the same as being able to analyze it?

I would further that the primitive does not ‘construct’ his implements. He is only following instructions, a composite genetic-memetic program, the effectiveness of which is never questioned but mindlessly accepted as absolute.


 “What is seen in dreams is, theoretically, true. To minds which have but slight perception of the law of contradiction, and which the presence of the same thing in various places at one and the same time does not perturb in the least, what reason is there for doubting these data more than any others. …Since nothing seems more natural to him than the communication between the seen and the unseen worlds, why should he mistrust what he sees in dreams any more than what he sees with his eyes wide open?” And they are even more valuable because of their mystic origin. (p101)

“It may happen that the primitive sees in dreams circumstances which are to occur later; these circumstances are both prospective, because he foresees their happening, and they are also retrospective, because he has seen them in a dream, and having seen them thus, to his mind they have already taken place. Such a thing is an impossibility to minds governed, as ours are, by the law of contradiction, for they have a clear representation of time unfolding in a unilinear series of successive moments. How can the same event occupy two different places in this series, at a distance from each other, and thus belong to the past and the future? Such an impossibility, however, puts no strain upon prelogical mentality. …Simultaneity of data cannot be coexistent in time or space with us…” (p105)

-on the multi-presence of a person-

A man dreams about another man stealing pumpkins from his garden. The man confronts the dream-thief, and responds to his declaration of innocence:
“If you had been there, you would have taken them.”
And so the ‘character’ was actually the will of the character… It doesn’t matter what you do…

“The dream is the expression of the spirit’s will.” (p119)

The prelogical mind exists in a pre-deceptional world…an individual cannot make-up a story about some missing pumpkins in order to score a few bucks from a gullible person; none of them is capable of doing that, and therefore they are incapable of not believing that someone did not do something they saw in a dream, for example.

[Levy-Bruhl states] If a man is pretending to be your friend, a dream may explain to you the deception being undertaken. [I take this to mean that the individual is incapable of concluding a deceptive act; only the dream can do that for him. In fact, for many of the Primitive Mind, the dream is authoritative.]


Primitive Mentality has a lack of foresight; they live in a timeless world. Hence, an omen doesn’t just reveal what will happen, it is evidence that it is already happening.

And so the Indians of New France say of the whites – how could you predict it (a lunar eclipse) if it was not you who caused it?

and the Overlap of Meme-Gene

The first Bicameral-Minded Man, Julian Jaynes

When the chiefs who have died became gods of their people, is this not the overlap of meme and gene? In the same way that fit genes select more fit genes by way of sexual reproduction and heredity, fit memes do the same, but by way of ancestor worship. It is not only the genes of the chief that are seen as valuable and worth reproducing, but his memes as well, his actions, behaviors, ‘thoughts’ etc…

Emphasis on ancestor worship in decision making is indicative of the transfer from genetic transmission to memetic transmission.

-from non-physical, unseeable things to objects and communicable ideas.

-from servitudinal participation with spirits to self-controlled, conscious participation with ideas.

The first Meme-Maker himself, Richard Dawkins

The primitive man has yet to separate from the transpersonal, that is all. No object-subject, no cause-effect between two distinct things (i.e. the ‘single-strand’). It is all one for them. They are a part, but not separate. Separation through objectification and analysis. Does the modern/pre-transhuman do the opposite through a lack of reverence for the origin of ideas (in the reblogging memeverse, for example) and by the preference of anonymity, is it not a desire to be in contact with everyone, everywhere, in real-time that takes this human back through a familiar transgression beyond the limits of relative human-ness, a familiar transition between a possibly ever-vacillating collective-individual cycle? The life of a star, in fact, is so similar to this change – condense, expand, condense, etc. And surely, as the star, this too dies out. Yet, and in the same way, the iron, wrought in the nuclear furnace goes on to do its thing in the formation of a planet. At what point is the iron no longer living the tail end of a star’s life? When is a human no longer so?

What is the irreducible constituent that is human? And if we don’t know what it is, how can we preserve it during the transition? For our knowledge is the gravity that holds us together, and our knowledge of ourselves will be the only thing left to collect us again on the other side. How will we recognize ourselves? Where does our knowledge go when we die? Surely it doesn’t have to die with us. Then, is it ever ours? I am beginning to think otherwise. If anything, it is ours as a race. Even that, however, is becoming increasingly difficult to believe.

“In the Bantu conception of the cosmos, the individual does not exist.” Organized collectivity, on the other hand, is, properly speaking, the only being which has a real existence.”
-R.P.H. Trilles, Le Totemisme des Fan, p369 (in Primitive, p402)


Primitive Mentality
Lucien Levy-Bruhl, 1923, trans 1966

On Free Will and Risk

“We act and interpret the acts of others, on the basic assumption that there is personal freedom; and all our moral judgments depend upon our conviction that free choice is possible. (But it should at the same time be noted that we are able to choose effectively only because, like the artist, we act within a tradition which limits the range and probability of the choices available to us in a particular situation. Were all models of behavior equally possible and probably we should be paralyzed in trembling indecision.) Every achievement, every true discovery, risks failure. For a great work or art or a great scientific discovery is great precisely because the creator has dared to choose beyond the limits and bounds of the normal, the accepted, and the obvious.”

[And in so doing, they free the rest of us.]

Leonard B. Meyer, “Forgery and the Anthropology of Art”, pp 77-92
in The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art
Denis Dutton, ed.
Berkeley, 1983

On Free Will and the Power Law
We all have free will...yet no matter what we did, we unconsciously followed the same law - a power law. (p105)

-A.L. Barabasi, 2010

Friday, December 7, 2012

Caution - Hot

Until the Europeans came, the natives never saw boiling water, for their lack of iron pots.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Value and the Palimpsest

palimpsest - origin

What we see is actually another overlay on the palimpsest of a personal history of art-viewing. When the work, coming through the eyes, presently, combined with the palimpsest coming from the memory, produces a new sensation, glowingly harmonious, or alarmingly disjointing, then, a work ascertains value.

Then, it is an achievement. 

palimpsest - iteration

And when enough individuals experience this and communicate it through a network until it fixes itself in the cultural matrix, it becomes another layer itself of the palimpsest, adding more standards and complexities to the criteria of any future work.

inspired while reading
The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art
Denis Dutton, ed.
Berkeley, 1983

partially unrelated internet imageDetails of Perception

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On Limits and Achievement

Madonna and Child, Benozzo Gozzoli, 1460

“In order to grasp what it is that is before us, we must have some notion of what the maker of the object in question has done, including some idea of the limitations, technical and conventional, within which the artist has worked. It may be perfectly true (and not necessarily obviously so) to remark that in a painting of the Madonna the pale pink of the Virgin’s robe contrast pleasantly with the light blue-gray of her cloak. But it is far from irrelevant to know that the artist may be working within a canon (as, for example, fifteenth-century Italian artists did) according to which the robe must be some shade of red, and the cloak must be blue. The demand (to juxtapose fundamentally warm and cool colors) poses difficulties for creating harmony between robe and cloak, in the face of which [different artists do different things]. To say that [their] resulting assemblage of colors is pleasant may, again, be true enough; a fuller appreciation and understanding, however, would involve recognizing how that pleasant harmony is a response to a problematic demand put upon the artist.” (1)

“The value of art is in the achievement, the discovery. In imitation, there is no discovery; nothing is achieved and so there is nothing of value.” (2)

1. Denis Dutton, “Artistic Crimes”, pp172-187
2. Leonard B. Meyer, “Forgery and the Anthropology of Art”, pp 77-92
 in The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art
Denis Dutton, ed. Berkeley, 1983

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On Hindsight and Blindness

aka Greta Garbo Lips:

Hans Meegeren, Forger Extraordinaire, ~1930's

note: Hans VanMeegeren is perhaps the world's most well-known forger of fine art. In the ~1930's, he tricked everyone into thinking his paintings were those of 1600's Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer. By the ~1980-s, critics looked at his work with confusion:

Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery
Hans Van Meegeren forging Johannes Vermeer, 1942
"How could people believe these things were painted in the 1600's, all the faces have Greta Garbo's lips; it's so obvious!"
Greta Garbo, ~1930's

Regarding the subjective ‘reading’ of the work/artist to be forged:
“It has often been pointed out forgeries which looked entirely convincing when they were made reveal an obvious deficiency to the eyes of a later generation. This is so because a forger unintentionally supplies the work of the past with the qualities he and his peer s [unconsciously] see in them”. (1)

Maybe it was "Greta Garbo Eyes"...?

“There is one time-related art historical principle that VanMeegeren could not account for or combat – namely, the fact that works of art often bear the stamp, the characteristics of their own era. [Because of these tendencies for contemporary features to creep into forgeries] the style of VanMeegeren’s paintings is like that of Vermeer only superficially. The important resemblances to such Symbolist artists as Toorop are much more important. Characteristics that mark an era may be those that are most universally appreciated at that time. They seem also to be the qualities that become “dated” most quickly. The generation for which these qualities are in fashion tends to be blind to them, but to the next generation they may become painfully evident. This is certainly true of the VanMeegerens. What was lauded in the 1930’s looks superficial and thin in the 1980’s. No doubt we are as blind to the telltale appearance of our own taste and fashions in contemporary forgeries.” (2)

-1. Rudolph Arnheim, “On Duplication”, pp232-245
-2. Hope B. Werness, “Han VanMeegeren fecit” pp1-57
in The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art
Denis Dutton, ed.
Berkeley, 1983 

Partially-related internet article:

Greta Garbo Lips

“A mouth drawn outwards with square edges emphasizes the stern, perfectionist appearance of the sober 30’s. Women, having witnessed the financial battery of the Great Depression, are thrifty and austere. Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich – powerful, yet glamorous women who are not afraid to determine their own fate – are idols of the time. Their steely and androgynous appearance personifies the adult woman. Lip color is a silky/glossy reddish brown.”

Lipstick Trends Through The Decades
August 4, 2009 
Sarah Howard, Beauty Banter