Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Stately Monostich

Prince Albert,


of the Queen

[Prosodic note:
  Step  from line to line  using the gait traditional at royal ceremonies:
  Right foot forward; bring left foot up next to the right foot and no further.

  That will automatically assure a measured reading of this noble line.
  It should take about a minute.]

Monday, May 28, 2018


My good friend and former workmate Dr Keith A. Massey, though happily still alive and well, is in some sense no longer quite with us, or not in the same way:  you might say that he has been (rather literally) “spirited away”.
For -- Laus Deo -- he has just been ordained a priest, in the Orthodox Church.  And as such, he now enjoys a new name:

~  Father Andrew ~

Properly understood,  such a step up  does not abolish the former self, which rather is preserved (though in no easily stateable sense) within a higher and more general complexus:  as we say in the trade, such a one has been sublated (or, as Hegel has it, aufgehoben).


There are many partial analogues to such an assumption-cum-subsumption, falling under the general rubric (in analytic philosophy) of Continuity of Identity.  Thus, to take a biodevelopmental example:  By moment-wise imperceptible  though ultimately (indeed, repeatedly) qualitative stages, the initial conceptus becomes successively an embryo, a fetus, a neonate or nurseling, an alalic but multimodally aware infant (etymological notelet:  a-lalia = in-fancy), a voluable toddler, a child, a teen, a Young Adult (a tweenie stage  for which Dr Massey has extensively catered, both pedagogically and novelistically), an undergraduate, a grown-up (that is, an active agent in societal self-regeneration), and ultimately, if matters so shake out (allow me a smile here) a Ph.D.   All these stages, most of us have traversed, disparate in appearance  yet inwardly united and aligned by an indwelling thread of ontological continuity.  The whole traversal is not less dramatic (though less sudden) than the development of caterpillar into butterfly.

Another example:  the Transubstantiation of the Elements.

Another (taken on faith, not seen)  the continuing presence of some version or analogue of our sublunary self, in nuce, in the soul post-mortem:  ultimately to be clad in the Resurrected Body.   What all that might be, we cannot imagine, any more than the dim embryo foresees the adventures ahead of it.

A practical, so to speak sociolinguistic perplexity, is how his old friends  who have not followed him on that path, are now to address him  I tried out “Father Andrew” subvocally, but that somehow does not work.  I soon realized why:  I would need myself to be converted, and welcomed into his congregation, thus meetly and meaningfully to address him.   So I shall continue to call him “Keith”.  But best blessings to those of his fortunate flock, who, as naturally as sipping water from a spring, may call him:  Father Andrew.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Frontiers of Pachydermy

Quantum theory takes this subjectivity  to a strange extreme:
 There is no elephant,
 only blind men.
-- George Johnson, Fire in the Mind (1995), p. 140

For more about our bulky friends the elephants, click here!

       Here come the Elephants


That epigram, pried from its context,  has a pleasingly Minimalist ring, rather like “Garfield minus Garfield”, though in our case  what is missing  is any elephant.

As for the sense in context:  The elephant represents a sought-for deterministic objective value for some quantized parameter (such as position, velocity, polarization).  The blind-men are the scientists or their measuring-instruments.  To their dismay, they discover that no such value exists:  the elephant is absent.


String theory, too, has (as in the parable of the blind-men) suffered from an overplus of versions, none canonical.  But now:

For the five string theories,
M-theory serves as  the unifying pachyderm.

The Beasts: a post-Benthamite assessment

[The Sage of Houndsditch, updated]

The question about animals is not, “Can they reason?”,
but  Can they handle noncommutative geometry?”

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Hilbertian take on the riddle of Agency

“Who put the bomp in the bomp ba-bomp ba-bomp?
Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?”

Wir müssen wissen!  Wir werden wissen!!

[Brouwer dagegen:   Immo  ignorabimus.]

The Bright Side of the Trump Administration

“Ein Festspiel für die Götter”

(Extracts from the ringside comments of the gods:  )

Then Ares, ‘neath his brow of wrath,
strikes in:  “Such heap of savory meat
as on the field of fight  shall fall
shall glut my hunger  utterly.”

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Wit’s Soul: Brevity

Die Kürze des Witzes wäre also  wie die des Traumes,  eine notwendige Begleiterscheinung  der  in beiden vorkommenden  Verdichtungen.
-- Dr. S. Freud, Der Witz und seine Beziehung zm Unbewussten (1905 ff)

Friday, May 4, 2018

A Puzzler

As you ponder your personal relation to Appearance and Reality,
ask yourself  this simple yet probing question:

Am I in a German  book ??”

Cf. an online comment by a reader, during the 2015 Merkelmanic Flüchtlingsfiasko:

Ich habe das Gefühl  im falschen Film zu sein