Wednesday, 25 November 2015

I love this song

These mist-coloured mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be

Some day you'll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you'll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms

Through these fields of destruction
Baptism of fire
I've witnessed all your suffering
As the battles raged higher

And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

There's so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones

Now the sun's gone to hell
And the moon's riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die

But it's written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We're fools to make war
On our brothers in arms

Mark Knopfler

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Sagittarius A*

Here I found five ravens dancing in the sky

I call the picture, Sagittarius A*

I've also seen the sea breathe in, at one with Sila

I call this, matins.


In the voice of...

Whenever I read or write anything I do it in a voice that seems fitting the sentiment and "zeitgeist" of the moment. For instance, an expired Twinkie (in the voice of Cleveland Brown, Jr):

Is it just me, or, is it dry in here?

But most my writing and reading preference tends to the real—fiction has proved yet, time and again, an elusive prey. -One day I hope to master the art of understanding the social "conventions" but I have yet to achieve such blessedness so as to sustain credible dialogue. But I digress.

My favourite voice is Anthony Hopkins. It is not just the 'dramaticality' of his voice  but the substance and cadence of his delivery. These words are not so much articulation as are appeals for mercy in the judgement from on high. In reading up to where

 = "The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended."

real life is breathed upon the sacred words, for eg. those that begin Psalm 130 (in Hopkins' voice):

 "De profundis clamo ad te domine" (Psalm 130, The Sixth Sense)

or in the closing remarks of his aged Ptolemy in the movie, Alexander The Great:

His tragedy was one of increasing loneliness and impatience with those who could not understand. And if his desire to unite Greek and barbarian ended in failure... what failure! His failure towered over other men's successes. I've lived... I've lived a long life, Cadmos. But the glory and the memory of man will always belong to the ones who follow their great visions. And the greatest of these is the one they now... call "Megas Alexandros" - the greatest Alexander of them all.

as much as his portrayal of the psychopath, Lecter, whose interiority and impulse are casually betrayed during his lecture on Dante, or in the writing of the scented letter to Starling where his admiration for her is not so much her acumen (as he would say) as her tenacity (ever the one to dismiss that-which-is-not-him, not even in compliments). The drama belies the beauty of these words put together so thoughtfully and with careful deliberation.


Friday, 20 November 2015


In my long examination of the properties and structures of language, I have come to realize that a better analogy for the human brain might be that of a resonance chamber that registers electro-chemical activity along neural networks rather than molecular vibrations in the air.

Much like McLuhan's "medium is the message", this resonance chamber determines what it registers and conveys as meaningful. This McLuhanian feature, though, is of a higher dimension in that its adaptive qualities and general plasticity makes it dynamic and interactive more like an equation than a linguistic expression. In other words, this resonance chamber analogy allows such possibilities as music, poetry, political ideas, philosophy, etc. to be generated as meaningful patterns by the simple virtue that a self-same neuron (or, junction) has the capacity to serve a certain function for one dendrite and another, entirely different function for another dendrite that are attached to it.

There are notions of 'providence' and 'regulation' and 'intent' built into the system—ie, our sense of self goes hand-in-hand with the notion of self-preservation. These are necessary features because the resonance chamber is a two-way; external and internal stimuli interact to give us impressions that in turn emit a response of some kind. Purely internal stimulation would generate meaningful patterns by the very act of reflection: music, poetry, philosophy, or "self-narratives" (umwelts?)—these are emotional and/or psychological states that give further "evidence" of our agency and self.

My love of music (and I say "my love of") is that not only do I appreciate music created by others but I even attempt my own hand in music and derive great satisfaction from both. This process trains the "ear" to be able to mentally and intellectually cohere and/or deconstruct sounds rather like an ability to draw or appreciate visual art.

There is a mathematical idea or process called, "zero-knowledge proof" that allows all this creative process to take place seemingly without conscious effort. Ivars Peterson explains it like this:

The idea, a product of several excitedly interacting groups of computer scientists and mathematicians in the United States, Canada, and Israel, developed quickly. Initially, Shafi Goldwasser, Silvio Mical, and Charles Rackoff, motivated by theoretical questions concerning the efficiency and reliability of computer algorithms , worked out that it is possible to convey that a theorem is proved without having to provide details of the proof itself.
Manuel Blum extended the scheme to cover any mathematical theorem.
Blum's scheme is interactive. It features a dialog between the prover, who has found a proof for a theorem, and a skeptical verifier. The verifier can ask a special type of question that requires an equivalent of a yes-or-no answer.
An example from graph theory shows how the scheme works. Any network of points, or nodes, connected by lines, or edges, is called a graph...The prover has found a continuous path along the connecting links that passes only once through each of the 11 points on a graph and returns to where it started. This special type of path is called a Hamiltonian cycle.
Significantly, any mathematical theorem can be converted into a graph in such a way that if the theorem has a proof, then the graph has a Hamiltonian cycle. (Ivars Peterson, The Mathematical Tourist: snapshots of modern mathematics, 1988, p. 214-216)

Could consciousness (ie, us!) be a series/sequences of Hamiltonian cycles in a resonance chamber? The "prover-verifier" could be a particular, idiosyncratic constellation unique to each individual, each emotional/psychological state/impression, each individual instance of a completed cycle.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

What if G*d was..

I have no idea why we exist. I certainly have sought answers, and all I've found is beauty.

The mathematics of physics is all-encompassing. There is no way out. The shell is immaculate. Ie, "without blemish or breach (in the continuum)".

Our emotions are real. But these "emotions" are not what we think they are: the Juggernaut is above reproach but it can also point out where we are.

We exist on a planet in the outer edges of a spiral galaxy. We are no wispy dust: we are but an inkling of a value in an equation, a possibility along the Real Line.


We exist.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is used to express desires, doubts, the unknown, the abstract, and emotions, the opposite of the indicative mood which is used to express actions, events, and states that are believed to be true and concrete. (

I love the subjunctive mood (in all languages). Rather than being a state of "unreality" (as some 'experts' suggest), it is properly known as irrealis in linguistics. It is the basis of the language of the great classics.

In the introduction to Common Sense, Thomas Paine begins:

Perhaps ['were it so', so to speak] the sentiments contained in the following pages are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour;... [emphasis and note mine]

This is an example of the subjunctive introducing (or, more precisely, framing) something important that follows by posing a 'possibility' adverb, perhaps. -In the case of Paine's introduction:

...a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason. (ibid)

The subjunctive mood is a proven rhetorical device because, basically, the Paine pattern above is general rather than particular to this historical document. It may, for instance, serve as a conclusion:

Your Honors, I derive much consolation from the fact that my colleague, Mr. Baldwin, here, has argued the case in so able and so complete a manner as to leave me scarcely anything to say. However, why are we here? How is it that a simple, plain property issue should now find itself so enobled as to be argued before the Supreme Court of the United States of America? I mean, do we fear the lower courts, which found for us easily, somehow missed the truth? Is that it? Or is it, rather, our great and consuming fear of civil war that has allowed us to heap symbolism upon a simple case that never asked for it and now would have us disregard truth, even as it stands before us, tall and proud as a mountain? The truth, in truth, has been driven from this case like a slave, flogged from court to court, wretched and destitute. And not by any great legal acumen on the part of the opposition, I might add, but through the long, powerful arm of the Executive Office. Yea, this is no mere property case, gentlemen*. I put it to you thus: This is the most important case ever to come before this court. Because what it, in fact, concerns is the very nature of man…(

-ie, 'were it so' this case wouldn't be before the esteemed audience

The subjunctive mood (in English, at least) is subtle and is handled with subtlety in the most effective oration and argumentation. It is not overtly marked (as it is in other languages) but entwines itself into the syntax and grammar of the language, wispy like smoke.


Friday, 9 October 2015

The Prime Minister of Fragile Things

Keeping track of reprobates with money and power, or (affectionately) neoconservatives like Stephen Harper, in the media is utterly fascinating all the time. But I must admit that I've always thought that Canada needed Harper as one needs a hole in the head. Call it morbid fascination, I just cannot help it though lately even as a political junkie I find him especially jarring.

To wit: that his PMO would have the gall to appropriate the SYRIAN refugee files (ie, and no other) from Immigration Canada and stop every single file while they do an "audit" totally, completely goes beyond the pale. It should certainly make one wonder if Harper's PMO has done other "audits" on Canadians, which is totally and completely reasonable to assume given that the Harper Government has seen it fit to label certain sectors of the Canadian society as "enemies", and especially given that the CRA has been used not once now to delay certain things (exacting justice upon tax havens and tax cheats, for example) but worse to label and harass charities problematic to the cause as political in nature (I mean, we're talking about 'civil society' function of these charities here).

What is Harper really saying when he harps on about "the fragile this" and "the fragile that"?

He has abused and misused and generally squandered his "hard-won" majority the ten years he has been in power; these "fragile things" have not seem to change one iota under his watch, and, in fact, he seems more interested in the "problem" of the Constitution and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Beware the demagogue on the pulpit: Only existential chaos that way comes.