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Showing posts from August, 2017

epimetheus and procrustes

'I think in a line — but there is the potential of the plane.' This perhaps was what great art was: a momentary apprehension of the plane at a point in the line. — Charles Williams

A theory is a machine for answering a class of questions. — Judea Pearl What philosophers and socialthinkers and literary critics call their "theories" do not often merit the word. Rather, these people lay out models - with all the artificiality, partiality and temporariness that implies, and seldom the precision. A model is a tool for making sense of things, for filtering out things in self-defence, and is not necessarily a general claim about reality, a truth-machine.

(Some of them agree with this low estimate, like the post-modernists. People don't realise that post-modernists are often self-deprecating - some of them even call their works little: Minima Moralia, Minima Memoria, les petits récits.)

These theories are actually language games. O.K. Except that (the best) scien…


I can handle bullshit. However copious, however arbitrary: I am confident in the extent of my stoicism, I could be a Kolmogorov, it would flow over me without touching the heart. I'm capable of not caring about what I do.

Logically, I would be worse off if I couldn't stand it, if I was forced to be Solzhenitsyn. But I can't help admiring people who can't put up with it. I have an extra ability, and many extra opportunities, but they've the crown.

notable heinleinations

winchell (n.) and lippman (n.): Two words for 'journalist' coined by Heinlein. A "winchell" is a hateful, gossipy pundit. Named for this nasty little man. A "lippman" is a brave, muckracking investigator. Named for this good guy. We really really need two words for these two wildly different ideal types. (More recently Nick Davies tried out "churnalism", but it didn't stick.) It is stupid to attack 'journalism' when you are only dissing winchells, but that is the blunt instrument of language for you.
niladic (computer adj.): Of a function, having zero arguments. The zeroth member of the n-adics.
d'Alembertian (maths n.): the Laplace operator in Minkowski space; the divergence of the gradient of a function in a 4D manifold. What a beautiful word.
bim (1950s US n.): woman. I think the register is the same as "chick" or "broad".
offboarding process (HR adj.): The minutiae surrounding leaving a job: deleting accounts, g…

you do you

Out at London Pride, uncharacteristically. Around 1am, as you do, find myself in an intimate discussion with a stranger. Who leaps to what he imagines is my defence:
"What are you into?""Women, mostly.""Oh right." "It's a really limited view, though. I wish I were more open.""What? There's no such thing as limited! You got to accept yourself!""Sure, but - I'm only attracted to like a tenth of the population; it would be objectively better to have a larger pool, and to see all of beauty.""Hey, hey: stop it, you don't need to justify myself. You are you, so you do you. Don't do anyone else.""That's a beautiful thing to say, and there's a lot of people in the world who really need to hear it. Not me though.""It's true for everyone! You'll only hurt yourself by not being yourself.""No, though. Consider: monkeys like bananas and sex; humans like bananas, sex …

odour of sanctity

"36056e1bc7447cc3d66832a10f9e420beeab3226" (2017) by dorianna Besides being free and endless and potentially superhuman, algorithmic art has a hidden benefit:
The artefacts are not the real problem with conceptual art: rather, it's the pretense. The artist, feigning profundity; the critic, helping them wank. Artbots won't claim profundity, nor will they be attributed it; so they might make museums smell less of shite.

"Accidentally generated pattern........" (2015) by Kieran G. Larkin 'Exploration of Related Points Along a Space Filling Curve #2' (2007) by Don Relyea "inception_4c-output-3-9-3" (2007) by Pete Ashton