autocorrect

When she was ready to write, the first word that presented itself was: nocolor. Autocorrect corrected it three times over. Autocorrect wrote: “No color”. The word as it needed to be was: nocolor. She knew what it meant. It was … Continue reading

Alternative pathways to the primary visual cortex

He turned around and looked in my direction, his dark glasses reflecting the library lights like distant stars. Then he smiled. Automatically I smiled back at him, but then I remembered that he was blind, and my smile froze. I … Continue reading

One second of eternity at Lake Willoughby

IMGP1041Lake Willoughby, grated into plutonic rock by a deep glacier, is a 300 feet deep, water filled scar between two mountains with biblical names, Mount Hor to the West and the Eastern Mount Pisgah. If you stand on the North Shore of the lake, it actually has the appearance of a deep fjord, though there is no outlet to the sea. Instead there is said to be an underground aquifer connecting the basin of Lake Willoughby to that of another eerie body of water beyond Mount Hor, Crystal Lake. In my mind that acquifer had the form of a water filled cathedral, in my mind I saw swimmers gliding swiftly through a space abandoned by a people even older than they were. There was an incredible, inexplicable light the way I imaged this. You have to keep in mind that I imagined this within a dream without actually seeing it, two steps down and under. Even though my sober mind took offense with the inexplicability of the light.

While I was thinking and conjuring up images within the dream I stood at the waters edge of the lake as I had done many summers and the water exactly like the water of lake Willoughby as I remembered it acted like a mirror. The surface seemed to be like a sheet of glass of finest quality, separating the clearly visible underneath from the still world above, and the mirror image of this world like an incomprehensible fourth dimension in between both worlds. Again I saw the forms in the distance, gathering around precariously piled up, submerged boulders. Each winter these boulders avalanche down Mount Pisgah and roll into the lake to form the outline of an inaccessible stone city, creating an intricate mountainous terrain. I wondered how long it would take to fill the deep ravine of the lake with boulders and fleetingly thought of the old story about the small bird wearing away a mountain with his beak to mark the passing of the first second of eternity. In my dream I had this thought.

Po Tolo

“My grandfather, your great-grandfather, believed that there is life in the Sirius system. The Dogon, an African tribe with very acute astrological knowledge, have believed for centuries that there is life out there as have the ancient Egypts and the … Continue reading

The Twelve Nights of Christmas, night ten: Raw data or further reflections on the nature of Borges Library

ImageI’d like to think of drawing as of transforming raw data with my pen to “mean” a specific thing and not another though it is not in the nature of data to actually be one specific thing to the exclusion of all other possible “things” (meaning, manifested form, reality) in all their variations (written and unwritten) any more than a child’s building block used in a fleeting structure soon to be knocked over is identical with that intended structure’s purpose or “meaning”. A building block stays a building block, a zero stays a zero and a one stays a one no matter what it is used to communicate. It assumes  a participating function in the meaning of one thing ( and not another ) but it also creates that one thing without adopting its separate ( separate from other possible thing’s) nature simply by describing it.  The “thing” actually has no separate ( from other possible thing’s) nature – it is but a description of the configuration of the raw data (building blocks) at a specific moment from a specific perspective. So that, at any given moment, any thing, rearranged, could be (and is) any other thing, idea, let’s call it “book”, existing or non-existing, written and unwritten, in all possible variations. I assume that would upon further reflection have to be one of the conclusions drawn of the cosmology principle but I am getting a bit out of my depth here.

All we ever do in life is  to assume a specific perspective to describe what is really a homogeneous distribution of raw data – each one of us is, with other words, but a specific, erratic close up view of that homogeneous distribution. We have no separate nature. The “separateness” of our nature not only of one thing to the exclusion of all other possible things but also of the experiencing “conscience”, the “I” to the exclusion of all other possible perspective’s (you, the other) is clearly illusional, possibly delusional.

the day the shadows disappeared

Mahabaratha, detailthe shadows were moving slowly, swaying like branches in a light breeze or high buildings on a windy day. to detect purpose in these gentle movements required a slight degree of paranoia, and yet there was no apparent natural cause to explain the shift of the shadows away from their corresponding objects and towards the center of the village like water draining from upset glasses.
finally, there were just a bits of shadow left, like drops in a sink adhering to the enamel by their surface tension. these droplets of shadow were sparkling like rainbows, no grayness reflected. the air was still and non-expectant, noon in a depressed small town, and the realization that the world was without shadows had not yet sunk in. in a dirty jeep, parked close to the village center, a woman lit a marlboro
even those who had dismissed the shadows as inessential, felt disconcerted when the birds ceased to sing. on the morning of the third day, after a dawn without luminosity had given way to dull day light, small insects began their crawling procession towards the centers that had swallowed the shadows.
and someone laughed at the gray man in his wrinkle free woolen suit who solicited signatures on retro-active insurance policies. “one day only”, he implored, “an amazing offer”, but they shooed him away while watching the myriad of tiny, scarlet colored spiders tie a living ribbon between the outskirts of the village and the shadow drain.
and yet, the spiders said, too easily do you accept that we form a living ribbon, and wander into oblivion. one by one. what to your eyes a living ribbon is, to ours is a band of pain, and joy, and hope against all odds.

do you feel like you are being watched?

fearful knowledgeit’s because you are. the recent discussions about the privacy of data – or the absence of such privacy when it comes to any form of telecommunication or electronic communication – has revealed that for now that even the basic implications that could lead to a meaningful discussion of the issues at stake are at best only vaguely understood.

the increasingly public lives we seem to live obscure the nature of information even further. the general public as judged by news coverage and political discussion seems somewhat nonchalant about their own data privacy, maintaining that private data could not be of any use to those who fish for it (what do you care about what I had for breakfast?), and that those who had anything to hide should better be found out early, with other words that to the law-aiding citizen the privacy of data is not of great urgency. The sheer mass of private, non-relevant information creates the further illusion that what one reveals in electronic form was as elusive as a thought shared with a friend in a crowd of people.

to reintroduce the idea  that information may not be – as more commonly understood – an abstract observation extracted from a state of reality to communicate the specific nature of that given state, but instead the first cause to make reality, with other words, that information is to the “thing” it describes what the letter is to the word and the line that draws the letter is to the letter, to reintroduce this thought at the moment when countless legal aspects of data privacy are already causing the discussion to meander without true force, may be pushing the discussion to the brink of madness, but it could also turn out to be immensely useful.

“In the beginning was the word”, this grand opening refers to the provenance of the idea – translating thus the term “logos”, which refers to the inherent logic and order of things. The order of things as encoded in a word very much like a program that at the same time provides a building plan for a specific “thing”, is the cause for its realization and provides the necessary algorithms to build it. Furthermore, if the chosen word, data, information, has “wisdom” (Hebrew for “word”), which means: knowledge of the world as a whole, to speak the right word is to give the initial and irrevocable impulse for the creative act out of which reality follows.

Maintaining authority over that kind of knowledge as far as it refers to your individual data, even if it included plainly what you had for breakfast, whom you’ll meet for lunch and what your favorite color is, might be a cautious and recommended approach until you could positively rule out that this kind of data is indeed what makes you. That could be the making or the unmaking of you.

 

the art of evolution

IMG_0875the line that weaves a monster creates a world of possibilities. hopeful monsters, evolution by systemic mutations, as developed by goldschmidt in his theory on “hopeful monsters”, provides, as a metaphorical recourse, the right to hope against all odds that what is uneven – think Kant and the crooked timber of humanity – might be not only necessary but at times preferable to what is normatively expected. (citation after: dartouth.edu/~dietrich/NRG2003.pdf
“a single mutational step affecting the right process at the right moment can accomplish everything, providing that it is able to set in motion the ever-present potentialities of embryonic regulation” Goldschmidt, R. The Material Basis of Evolution (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 1940).

Infinite Jest …

IMG_5726It only occurred to me some years after first meeting him that his brain had been on fire probably day and night, during waking moments and during sleep. He was, I could see that right away, back then, high wired, hyper intelligent, super sensitive, coy, cornered, cynical. In was apparent in the first conversation one would have with him that he was constantly computing any kind of informational offering of his environment for bits and pieces of useful knowledge, useful in his own sense, not ruling out the value of overheard conversations of strangers, visual clues of bill board advertisement, the color scheme of the dioxin polluted NJ marsh lands, conspiracy theories and their opposites, math, astronomy, information technology, Shakespeare, even the CNN news ticker. He was reading, forever reading, and then reading some more, his brain was speed feeding itself knowledge, and he could recover this knowledge with the casual speed of a trained illusionist. When I knew him better he showed me the encyclopedic if highly individual work he was dedicated to, a work in many volumes bound in blue linen as soon as a new one was considered completed. A friend who worked at a university library did this for him volume by volume, one for the shelf in his den, and a twin one that he archived openly secretely in said library, for everyone to see and no one to find in maybe another century. It was a work so biased and yet so beautiful that it was unquestionable that I had been admitted to a unique work of art though he preferred to call it a scientific study of random code.

And still, it was only years later when in the course of an increase of my English language skills I could not only read but  also hear all the different voices merging in “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace that I realized I had actually met a man who is – if that is at all possible considered who Wallace was – the dark twin of David Foster Wallace, sharing his semantics, his obsession, his socioeconomic circumstances, his despair, his addiction, his near autistic ingenuity to gain access to ever deeper layers of information and information encoded within this information,and that he was the man who had to be expected to exist in the margins of literary history, never to be found, as we know that there is never just one genius at any given time, but often just one to emerge to public consciousness , maybe to his own destruction. so that, with other words, i know there to be one other living madman, or genius, or whatever you’d like to call a man with a brain on fire, to weave the net still, to still find the words, to write the chronic of what is and was and will be in all its Borgean implications, thereby freely accepting the responsibility of calling the world into existence.