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Re: <nettime> subjective math.
Newmedia on Tue, 11 Sep 2012 12:40:44 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> subjective math.


Brian:
 
Your ruminations about the problems with the "book" are very important.  Most of human history has been conducted through discussions and conflicts that cannot be put into books.
 
A culture that is locked into "books" is a very ODD one indeed.  This is the topic of McLuhan's !962 Gutenberg Galaxy, which you skipped but might now enjoy. 
 
The West, under the environmental dominance of books, has been a very strange place indeed.
 
McLuhan's interest in ELECTRIC technology -- telegraph, telephone, radio, motion pictures, etc. -- was precisely because this new technological environment *undermined* the effects of the BOOK.
 
The *book* that has, of course, had the greatest effect (as a book) on our culture is the last book of the Bible, the Revelations of St. John (otherwise known as the "Apocalypse.")
 
Speculations about the END OF THE WORLD (and the underlying conviction that the world we have *must* come to an end because it is so terrible and so evil) are the basis of much of the modern Western world for the past 400 years. 
 
And, it is the basis of most political "radicalism," as expressed on nettime and elsewhere.  None of this end-of-the-world thinking would be possible with the book.
 
"Communism" is, afterall, just another version of the Millennium (after the Armageddon of "class warfare") as promised by John.  And, it's the same BOOK-based utopian thinking that gave us modern Capitalism.
 
Two sides of the same coin.  Like the TWO PARTY political system.  LEFT and RIGHT.
 
Often things that appear to be "opposites" are really the same because they are built on the same premises.   Even though they may be vehemently "opposed" and prepared to fight with great passion, they are really just the YIN and the YANG of the same underlying and agreed upon beliefs.

You can think of this as the universe "balancing" things out.  In Gestalt psychological terms, these are two major "figures" that share a common "ground." Two sides of the same coin -- hard to "see" them both at once and yet you know that "heads" and "tails" couldn't exist one without the other.
 
If you haven't read it, then Western civilization over the past 400 years won't make much sense without "Revelations."  And, maybe even if you have, it still doesn't.

When the NYTimes ran its lead story on the Royal Society of London in last week's Science Times, "A Redoubt of Learning Holds Firm: The Royal Society, crucible of the scientific revolution that formed the modern world, strives to stay relevant," they went out of their way to note that:

"Newton, Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle and many more came together in a spirit of revolutionary if at times eccentric inquiry.  Magic and alchemy greatly fascinated the society's founders . . . During that intoxicating century, nearly everything holy, from royal rank to economics to science to the immortality of the soul, was challenged . . . Though rationalists, these scientists viewed God as central to their universe and their work.  As Edward Dolnick, author of 'The Clockwork Universe' [the image picked by the Times to fill the page above the story is of clockwork-like telescope gearing] , an entertaining history of the early society [if you'd like to read an even more entertaining history, go to Neal Stephenson's 'The System of the World,' the final piece of his three-part Baroque Cycle], noted, the founders viewed the laws of nature and of God as inseparable.  They were mapping this universe . . . And there was that question of magic.  Society members lived in a time shadowed by apocalyptic dread, from plague to fire to war.  They were fascinated by alchemy, unicorns' horns and magic salves, and they often experimented on themselves."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/science/royal-society-holds-firm-amid-political-challenges-to-science.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
 
Our own times (driven as it is by today's Tea Party "libertarians" who are the flipside of the same "individualist" coin as the Occupy Wall Streeters), are likewise "shadowed" by the "revolutionary" upheavals of the 1960s. How different is this from the 1660s?

We are still "experimenting on ourselves."  LSD is (personal) alchemy and a "magic salve."  Global warming is the plague and the fire.  Vietnam was the war.

But, now we have CYBERTERRORISM (driven the new "yellow peril" who can't be creative so they must steal our intellectual property)!!
History is funny that way.  Even if you *do* understand it, you are likely doomed to repeat it. <g>
 
Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY
 
In a message dated 9/9/2012 5:58:15 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, nulltangent {AT} gmail.com writes:

  Hello Mark,

  Thanks for your suggestions. I read the last chapter of
  Boole's Laws of Thought, Constitution of the Intellect
  and it was very worthwhile in ways that are beyond
  words. It also provides a next step for interpretation
  in connecting logic with ordering, which is essential,
  if not how ungrounded reasoning may relate to chaos.

  My particular problem is with reading itself, for it is easy
  to consider ideas, yet to get to the ideas can take lots of
  effort which is the inherent inefficiency. For this reason
  I much prefer communicating with people about the ideas
  (living ideas) versus in books, in their archived versions.

  Reading books or long texts on a computer screen
  must be a form of monastic punishment, I figure. It is
  likely strange that an adequate e-reader for such media
  is non-existent for 'ideas' beyond Penguin classics format.
  Meaning large format front-lit e-ink display for PDF texts . . .
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