Ktismatics

16 March 2007

Imagine You’re a Different Kind of Machine

Filed under: Fiction, First Lines — ktismatics @ 1:59 pm

It didn’t start out here.

– Peter Watts, Blindsight, 2006

You could say that this futuristic interplanetary scifi started back on earth with the origin of our species. Sure we’re smarter than the average bear (does anybody out there remember whose catchphrase this was?), but we also happen to know how smart we are. We’re sentient beings; we’re self-aware; we’re conscious of our own consciousness: it’s what makes us special. Peter Watts explores an alien possibility: what if our specialness is our Achilles’ heel?

Hegel says that his “master-bondsman” discourse isn’t just political or social; it’s also and primarily psychological. Does my conscious self serve my self-conscious self, or is it the other way around? Hegel means partly this: do I use my intelligence to feed my sense of self-worth, or do I use my ego to optimize my dominion over the world? A self undergoing the inner struggle tends to fail in both regards: I am not self-sufficient and I am not master of my world. To reconcile self with self-consciousness is to engage in the cosmic spiritual struggle one self at a time.

But what if I didn’t have to engage in the struggle, not because I had resolved my inner divide between self-as-subject and self-as-object, but because I couldn’t experience the split? I wouldn’t be able to observe myself in the inner mirror because no one’s there to watch. In short, what if I was conscious but not self-conscious? I wouldn’t even be able to imagine the profound soul-searching I’m doing in this post, but I couldn’t care less because I’d be incapable of searching. Would that be such a bad thing? I’d be more single-minded, less ambivalent — a more effective agent thrown into the universe. Perhaps I’d even be more adaptive.

Peter Watts’ spaceship is manned by crewmembers retrofitted with surgical, chemical and genetic modifications designed to overcome the innate limitations of self-awareness. Here,excerpted from an interview, is what Watts had to say about them while he was still writing the book:

One of the characters is a reconstructed vampire, a cannibalistic Human subspecies that died out with the rise of Euclidean architecture. We found enough of their genes in the bloodlines of sociopaths and high-functioning autistics to resurrect them. We brought them back because they’ve got these incredibly cool analytical pattern-matching abilities — but we also have them hooked on anti-Euclidean drugs to avoid spazzing out when they see intersecting right angles. [That’s why showing a vampire a crucifix freaks him out: it’s the right angles.]

Another one of the characters is a linguist whose brain has been surgically partitioned into autonomous chunks — surgically-induced multiple personality syndrome, so that she can have a series of onboard parallel-processing modules. There’s a biologist whose motor strip has been so massively interfaced with teleoperated equipment that much of the coordination of his physical body has been lost (he tremors a lot because there’s just not enough room on the motor strip to handle both his body and his teleoperators).

The protagonist is a character who had half his brain removed when he was a child. He had a particularly devastating form of epilepsy, and a radical hemispherectomy was the only way to keep the seizures from killing him. This form of epilepsy involves an electrical storm bouncing back and forth across the corpus callosum, producing a positive feedback loop in the brain. So they removed half. Such operations actually happen today, by the way. [Hear that, Ivan?] Anyway, our protagonist grows up convinced that he is not what his parents say he is. His parents killed their only child, because they cut out half his brain. There was personality in that half. The other half had to make up the slack, had to totally rewire itself — and what identity could possibly survive that kind of neurological violence? So this character grows up feeling that he is essentially a pod person that has grown up in the body of a dead boy, and he has this enormous survivor guilt syndrome. [As a result of the surgery, this character is physiologically incapable of empathy — perhaps because in a Hegelian sense he can no longer relate to himself. His job is to record exactly and objectively what happens on the voyage without the distractions of personal drama to muddy it up.]

Anyway, these characters go off and meet aliens, and explore the theme of consciousness along the way. And perhaps the most disturbing possibility I explore is that consciousness [or self-consciousness as I, ktismatics, am using the term] — as distinct from intelligence, which is a whole other phenomenon — actually isn’t necessary in an evolutionary sense, and may in fact be a bad thing… We say we’re intelligent, we’re conscious, and that’s why we rule the nest. But those primitive egg-laying mammals in Australia? They ruled the nest too, until the bunny rabbits washed up on shore. They didn’t rule the nest because they were superior; but because they were isolated. They had no real competition. So. We Humans are highly intelligent, and maybe that’s enough to overcome the drawback of being conscious at the same time. But there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t postulate an organism that’s every bit as intelligent as we are, but nonconscious. And when those guys wash up on the Australian shores, we are toast.

This is a “first contact” story, where these variously “optimized” humans go out to meet with an alien species that has just made its presence known in our solar system. It turns out the aliens are intellectually and technologically superior to humans, as might be expected of a species that can manage intergalactic travel, but they seem to have no self-conscious capabilities whatsoever. They’re like organic, self-replicating robots. You can try to understand what they’re thinking, what motivates them, whether their intentions are benign or malign; you can even talk to them about it. But it’s all a simulation, because none of the words about consciousness connects with the aliens on the inside. Self-referentiality means nothing when there is no self to refer to. No megomaniacal urge to conquer or to be first in anything, no fear, no longing to relieve existential loneliness in a seemingly empty cosmos — none of the “self” stuff matters, so it never gets in the way of doing what has to be done. As Watts says, when these guys show up, we are toast.

How different this fictional universe is from It’s a Wonderful Life or The Departed or A Scanner Darkly. Watts shows us a future totally embedded in the scientific hegemony dreaded by postmodernists. Even those sensitive but reduntant souls who opt out do so by shutting their bodies down and plugging themselves into an idyllic virtual reality called “Heaven.” The metaphysical and spiritual bifurcation buried deep in our souls, the generator of personal motivation and dramatic tension, turns out to be an evolutionary byproduct of dubious survival value. Victory goes to the post-humans — even if they are incapable of savoring it. It’s the end of history, but not the way Hegel envisioned it.

[Incredibly, this recently-published book is available in its entirety online, for free. Why? Because the publishers didn’t think it was going to be a big seller so they couldn’t meet the demand. Watts wanted to make sure people who wanted to read his book were able to. Here’s another cool thing from Watts’ website: a pseudo-scientific audio lecture, complete with PowerPoint slideshow, describing the “vampire genome project” — the backstory behind one of Watts’ characters and pretty darned entertaining.]

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22 Comments »

  1. Yogi wasn’t it? (I use to know the Jellystone Park ranger once)

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 16 March 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  2. Give that man a cigar!

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    Comment by ktismatics — 16 March 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  3. Thanks for that John, I’m going to have a bit of a read. I a bit nervous about that whole Australian shore thing.

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 16 March 2007 @ 7:51 pm

  4. Watts is Canadian — I’m not sure what he’s got against Australia.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 16 March 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  5. 1. Interestingly…has anyone else considered that this self-consciousness isn’t what makes man man but is a product of the fall? I actually firmly believed that for a while, but now its more up in the air for me (based on the idea that the tree of knowledge of good and evil was in the center of the garden). BTW that was very interesting about cannabilistic autistics and right angles. This is why its so important that architecture relate properly now to what is hidden below and to the spherical above.

    2. “Even those sensitive but reduntant souls who opt out do so by shutting their bodies down and plugging themselves into an idyllic virtual reality called ‘Heaven.’ The metaphysical and spiritual bifurcation buried deep in our souls, the generator of personal motivation and dramatic tension, turns out to be an evolutionary byproduct of dubious survival value.” This only makes sense if there isn’t – ACTUALLY, NOW – a good and loving God (read, Master) HERE in present risenness. I don’t think you were claiming as much, but shutting the body down is by no means an essentially Christian phenomenon.

    In fact Christians do that because they’ve given themselves over to modernity. David Fitch talks a lot about that too. And I think this is why emergents talk a lot about bringing heaven to earth rather than escaping up to heaven.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 16 March 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  6. Also – McLuhan talks about how Faith is like an extra sense. That its not a conceptual issue but a perceptual one. He also, interestingly, says that he is in this sense a Thomist…in that for him matters of faith are intimately and inherently interwove with our sense experience. Not two pages away from that he talks about how one does not enter a church for normal psychological health. He doesn’t say it…but he was referring to Gethsemene.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 16 March 2007 @ 10:09 pm

  7. Jason –

    It’s an interesting idea, that self-consciousness resulted from the Fall. At the end of it God says that man is “like one of us, knowing good and evil.” If God really is trinitarian, I wonder what sort of self-consciousness is involved in that arrangement? Kind of like the character in the novel with 4 personalities? Or more like self, self-consiousness, and… some third reflection?

    Right angles are unnatural. You could imagine the human psyche, having evolved in an organic world without right angles, would find engineered linearity disorienting. Although there are things like straight trees bisecting the horizon in nature, so it’s not a completely alienating geometry.

    As for Heaven, I hope I was clear that this virtual paradise was in the novel and not my sarcastic remarks about Christian beliefs. But you’re right: the book’s fictional future occupies a godless universe. Virtual reality at its limits does make possible a new technologically-enabled version of mind-body dualism and, yes, gnosticism. Science fiction is a kind of extended thought experiment: what if the world were to go like this? Other thought experiments are possible. Do the emerging people have any ideas about what the new creation would be like and what the construction process will entail? Seems like good Christian speculative fiction potential — something other than inspirational kitsch or Left Behind or Da Vinci Code. Something that involves (post)modern monasteries and entering churches in abnormal states of consciousness, perhaps something about geometric mysticism. Let the emerging church run down various hypothetical trajectories for a couple hundred years and see what comes to mind.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 16 March 2007 @ 10:11 pm

  8. I’ll have to get back to you on the next couple hundred years of history of the emergening church, lol!

    And I gotcha about the novel and your own lack of sarcasm. Acutally I wasn’t so clear before…I mean, I was partially, but not entirely. I didn’t take it as sarcasm, though, as much as a simple observation.

    Right angles, nature and mystical geometries. Good gosh. Do you want 1 page or 100 pages!? Lol. I think there’s a big difference between trees and humans though (of course, ha ha). Humans are often much shorter, lol. No, really. They are! Actually the thing is that trees maintain a balanced equilibrium of nature in order to stand in one place up toward the heavens. There’s still an essential circularity or sperical nature to what’s happening.

    Humans, however, have the power of speech – and concept formation (and self-consciousness). And they walk axially (2 pts. make a line) on two legs. Things from the get-go are a game that occurs post-doubling. My professor once remarked that right-angle geometry is a human construct instrumental in keeping his buildings standing (straight up). Interesting my New Age friens talk about how trees speak to them (sometimes I hear tress sort of speaking softly as well).

    Also interestinly…after watching Rain Man my best friend said he thinks I’m partially autistic.

    Jason

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 16 March 2007 @ 11:23 pm

  9. So I think these are out of order:

    Whereas this is not:

    Plan of building:
    http://archnet.org/library/images/one-image.tcl?location_id=1525&image_id=13725&start=1&limit=9
    Site Plan:
    http://archnet.org/library/images/one-image.tcl?location_id=1525&image_id=13726&start=1&limit=9

    A human can make sense of the relationships; and yet when one moves through the place once can’t fix on the objects. This has a lot to do with the role of the diagonal – the joint between the right angle and the spherical. But things there that are on diagonals can still be made sense of in relation to things at right and whole relationship to themselves.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 17 March 2007 @ 3:18 am

  10. Oops…”whereas this is not” (see if this works):

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 17 March 2007 @ 3:21 am

  11. Jason –

    Yes, I think I see what you mean. The first building avoids the right angles but there’s no coherence to the design. The Bangladesh building is majestic but retains a scale that’s not intimidating. The water coming right up to the building makes it impossible to circumscribe, kind of remote, but also sort of transcendent and light — grounded but not on the ground. I don’t know words for this sort of thing.

    I don’t know anything about the theories, mystical or otherwise, about right angles, circles, diagonals, etc. This sort of aesthetic geometry must be an explicit part of the architectural aesthetic, but it works subliminally as an environmental influence. I’m glad you’ve got an eye and a heart for it — sounds like architectural design is a great place to “territorialize your flows.”

    Autistic? I don’t think so: you’re too abstract and personable for that. But you do approach the world obliquely, which can be disconcerting for those accustomed to orthogonality. Also, you’re divergent rather than convergent, prone to opening up the degrees of freedom rather than trying to reduce the variability. (Statistical thinking on my part, rather than architectural.)

    I came across a paper about Deleuze and architecture. I haven’t read it yet, but I will. Click the link, then choose the williams_pli document from the menu.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 17 March 2007 @ 5:55 pm

  12. Its not really explicit. I’m one of about 5 students who came out of VTech in the 5 years I was there, that I can think of, who came away knowing the geometric rules to giving measure, relation and proportion to buildings in the Western tradition. Its because of buildings like the ones I showed you that don’t have relationships that people are forgetting entirely.

    In fact, its definitely hidden anyway. In most architecture, its purposefully hidden because of the analogical relationship between hidden/revealed to sacred/”secular”. In some or much modern archtecture it gets a little easier to find, because of the political/social rules of the modern state (“transparency” to use a law term).

    Additionally, you have to draw it to know it. Then, once you draw it, you must have some exposure to the whole Western metaphysical (or otherwise) tradition in order to make sense of what you’re drawing, in order for certain things to have significance. A circle and square can be just that, or they can start to speak to something beyond themselves when, funnily, you notice that you just drew seven circles in order to draw a square inside a circle. This is why I like McLuhan’s book title: The Medium and Light; Reflections on Religion.

    Anyway, it may clear up my point the primary significance of those points toward the Divine and its relationship to human experience of the world and nature. Formation. Order. A circle is One (but even when I draw it as a human it still has a cntr. point and radius). When I draw a square (traditional symbol for Mother Earth – Gaia as an example) I must START with circles…order.

    The way the process goes…two circles, you get a horizon through the two center points, East and West. Then a vertical gnomon where the two circles intersect. At the intersection between the gnomon and the horizon (where the shadows fall), you can draw a third circle. This is the heavens. Then you realize that, if – as a man standing on the ground – you are searching for the earth, you need its four corners. Well, on your page you have a vert. and a horiz. line, and a central circle. So you draw four more circles where the vert. and horiz. meet the edge of your world (the third circle). Now you have seven circles. And where the last four intersect with each other they make perfect 45 degree diagonals to cut through your third heavenly circle. At which point you have the four points you need for a perfect square inside a circle.

    Do note there where I used the term “world” and “earth”. Deleuze and Heidegger would like that. Knowable relationships to nature must be constructed through a previously unknown (circular) world. “So you draw four more circles where the vert. and horiz. meet the edge of your world (the third circle).” Most people think that nature is nature and our world reflects it. I think Deleuze would say that we filter our view of “nature” through our “world”.

    And I’m going to read that link…

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 17 March 2007 @ 7:01 pm

  13. BTW to draw a square inside a circle is dealing with the perceptual horizon, which implies a certain relation betwee known and unknown. Some “gaps”. To draw a circle inside a square is to be dealing with the cinematic production (read, projection) of concepts from inside the closed system of one’s little head. Of course then there aren’t any gaps. The only problem is your little square universe is closed off from the rest of the uni-verse beyond.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 17 March 2007 @ 7:10 pm

  14. Jason –

    Knowable relationships to nature must be constructed through a previously unknown (circular) world… Most people think that nature is nature and our world reflects it. I think Deleuze would say that we filter our view of “nature” through our “world”. There are things you can see that I cannot. The construction of the square through seven circles implies that circularity is foundational to the square. Is it more that there are hidden interrelationships between circularity and linearity? Can you, for example, reverse the procedure and generate the seven circles from the square? Then does the square become the hidden world underlying the visual circular world? I don’t know; I guess I’m playing with reversible processes rather than static shapes here, such that circularity can generate linearity and vice versa. The unifier is the transformative procedure, such that process underlies structure.

    I read that paper about Deleuze and architecture and I have to acknowledge that a lot of it was lost on me. On some level I think it’s talking about process rather than structure also; e.g., that the “entry” of a building isn’t the structural element of the building but the ongoing in-and-out transitions that occur over time. Also that it’s not the embedding of a new building in others built in the past, such that there’s a violence or radical separation between past and present. Rather the past buildings have temporal trajectory through present and into future, that it’s a matter of more elemental flows/rhizomes passing through time, generating new emergent creations that aren’t static but rather something like slow-moving events continually changing into other new creations. Something like that. Does that make any sense?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 17 March 2007 @ 9:33 pm

  15. I read the link. Sounds to me like you got it. Although I got a bit lost on the last page or two with the talk of the “pure event”. I think I had a sense of what was being said, but I couldn’t really get the picture. He spoke of dancing and other arts, and I couldn’t really imaging what dances or other art pieces he might have been referring to. I think maybe, say, the collaboration between John Cage and his gay lover dancer whose name I forgot, but I’m not sure.

    One frustrating thing about the modern-postmodern debate for me, at least in architecture, is that it was Corbusier who started that whole discussion with, “The inside is also an outside.” Then there is the issue of the abstract and concrete that is embedded in these issues of contextualization, epistemology and ontology. Corbusier’s work is “abstract”, but in its being figurative it is recognizable (whether its “attributes” or “identity” that’s being “recognized” is another question).

    Eiserman’s work is “abstract” (since postmodernity’s contextualization – read, Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction – is attacked for its “lack of profundity”), but it is alienating because we can’t “figure” it out in relation to ourselves. Well, realy what I’m saying here presupposes the abstraction. But I’m just trying to flush out the difference between Eiserman and Corbusier, in terms of certain qeustions of abstraction and identity.

    As for geometry…no, you cannot reverse the process and generate the circles from the square. It simply and practically cannot be done. I’m talking about using a straight edge and compass. This fact that it is not reversable for me points to both an originary metaphysical truth that apparently Deleuze denies and to an “inherent” (word used hesitantly) connection tied-relatonship (proper order) beteen what is physical and metaphysical, or at least what is sensible and not, which apparently Deleuze also abandons. Talk about flattening, jeez.

    Now I’m much more convinced that Deleuze is vainly taking extremely radical steps to recover something lost in the circumstantial sands of time. I am primarily referring to the unity of the cosmos as assumed in ancient times. For Aristotle I don’t think the Genus and Specied distinction was a negative one. I think Aristotle meant something much closer to what Deleuze means by them anyway. But Deleuze has to go around his modern elbow to get to his pre/post-modern ass.

    And I am also referring to Neitche’s “God is dead.” From what I hear, Neitche took the position that it was then up to men to bring God back to life. Of course then he was referring to God’s presence in this world of appearances. Good Lord (really). Deleuze takes that project WAY far. I can’t even I don’t think say “too” far…seems like his own project to me.

    But this does tie back to our questions of sacred geometry. I must assume that the representations of the circle and square participate in a primal order of living as characterized by the Incaration. Partially, again, because you simply can’t reverse the process and generate the seven circles from the square (as Deleuze seems to be trying to do, to a degree). Under this particular metaphysical assumption I must ask whether Deleuze is running from God or wants to be one. I cannot know.

    If he’s running from God, or from any or all metaphysical “origins”, it might be represented in that link by the statement “becoming is not justified on the basis of some originary chaos.” Not that God and chaos are the same, but you get the point (I hope). If it is said that Deleuze wants to be a god, then it must be said that this “becoming” of his is the new myth, the new religion.

    I don’t think Deleuze denies the presence of the spiritual really, only as an originating source. So then the relationships between what appears and what does not are radically altered to the point where what does appear must either be declared as everything or appear as completely empty. “Deleuze has alwasy identified death as the paradigm case of this opposition.”

    :)

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 18 March 2007 @ 12:05 am

  16. Oh…I should say that when I think of circles and squares as representations, I’m not thinking in terms of static shapes, but in terms of representations of things in nature or the world…whether static or not is a bit of another question delved into by Deleuze. That was another frustration for me reading that paper. The statis of modernity isn’t necessarily and only because of an assumed finality to the world-building project. I am thinking, for example, of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. Or of the simple fact that the “stasis” (apparent) of the axis on a moving chariot was a fact of life for a Roman soldier…and spoken about by Vitruvius (Roman writer of the first ever treatise on architecture) in his discussion on machines and their various components and types…machines of which Alberti (Rennaissance) later speaks of in terms of how things are “elevated” (returned upward)…rather than simply “operated”, leaving architectural form to play the role of meaningless decoration. Deleuze forgets what’s underneath on the palimpsest and uses what are for me some of the worst elements of what’s on it now (can’t see God, so there must not be one) to continue writing with hoped-for meaning.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 18 March 2007 @ 12:15 am

  17. John,

    I figured I’d give a couple links that might help.
    http://www.rebstockpark-ffm.de/rebstockpark_eisenman_e.htm
    I found this one on Peter Eisenman’s project that was talked about in the link on Deleuze. You may have already found a better link on that, I don’t know.

    And here’s a link to Robert Venturi, who I think Eisenman was criticizing in speaking of “a lack of profundity”.
    http://www.pritzkerprize.com/venturi.htm
    Venturi, like Eisenman, talks about context, but focuses more on the language of the vernacular. I doubt Venturi would do some “small grid and large grid” thing based on chaos theory, lol.
    And example of an early work of his, apparently soon after leaving the office of Lou Kahn, who designed the Bangladesh National Assembly that I showed you (the concrete building with the rectangles, triangles and circles in the walls):

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 18 March 2007 @ 1:59 am

  18. It’s cool that you can see these ideas played out spatially. All too often I’m oblivious to my physical surroundings. I have to pay conscious attention. When I do it’s fascinating, but it slips away from me when I don’t. Have you ever been to Columbus, Indiana, or ever heard of it? A small midwestern town packed with great modern archictecture.

    As best I can figure, Deleuze imagines a whole array of force vectors shooting out of people, converging and diverging, emerging into new creations. Perhaps faith is one of those vectors — or at least maybe that’s what that Carl dude on Church and Pomo is going to contend. It gets me back to wondering whether God can be envisioned as an emergent structure, a territorialization of faith vectors that tries to ensnare whatever is this creative force in some sort of reified structure or image. That perhaps some sort of Deleuzian Christianity would have the name and shape of God continually retransforming itself in some dynamic array that links past to present to future. I think Deleuze overemphasizes the instinctual, pre- and trans-individual, impersonal forces. I think conscious creation isn’t just some sort of sublimated drive; the self is critical in transforming the flows into structures, and structures aren’t there only to be knocked down so the flows can flow again.

    By the way, our daughter’s French school does a lot with geometric shapes, symmetries, interrelationships, etc. at the abstract level. A throwback to old-school pure form. Your distinction of static form versus representations of nature is I guess Platonic versus Aristotelian. But you have some sense of ideal shapes as being behind nature somehow, don’t you? The circle of the earth, the line of the horizon, the square of the earth, etc. Nature points to these shapes as their perfect manifestation?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 18 March 2007 @ 8:42 pm

  19. “…cool that you see Ideas played out spacially”…thanks…but jeez, I am an architect! Ha ha. I think it is a service to humans who have bodies and live in a spacial environment, though. This too is part of why I really like McLuhan. And yes, I’ve been to Columbus. Its an ineresting and unique place.

    And: “I think conscious creation isn’t just some sort of sublimated drive; the self is critical in transforming the flows into structures, and structures aren’t there only to be knocked down so the flows can flow again.” This is what makes me think of Deleuze as Gnostic.

    In a similar vein, you also said: “It gets me back to wondering whether God can be envisioned as an emergent structure, a territorialization of faith vectors that tries to ensnare whatever is this creative force in some sort of reified structure or image.” Would you say you were there more referencing Deleuze, or taking Deleuze as your starting point for a journey of your own?

    As for your daugher’s “throwback” geometric education (lol), I think that most of the world, at least conceptually and intellectually, is still in the 1920’s or 1930’s or something. Either that or in some vague no-where and no-time time-place dealing with ideas and concepts dealt with in a time before the one that Academia and some others are already far into. I bet her “throwback” education is probably the norm for geometry students across the Western world these days. Unless I’m mistunderstanding what you are describing as her experience in her geometry classroom?

    And yes I suppose that my distinction between static/abstract and representational is – at least to a degree – Platonic vs. Aristotelian. I really didn’t have them in mind, though, to be honest. I was just thinking of human living and existing. I very much tin of ideal Forms (and shapes, I guess) as being behind nature somehow. Such a relationship was embedded in my description of drawing a square inside a circle. The first two circles, with a horizontal line that can then be drawn between the two center points…is also sunrise and sunset, and horizon.

    But I also think of those geometric shapes on paper as representational of a metaphysical structural relationship between Human and divine, or also between varous essences – male and female, rightness and crookedness, rightness/twoness and “essential circularity” (trees/nature), above and below, heaven and earth, even and odd.

    And I don’t think of nature as the perfect manifestation of Ideal Forms, but as either an imperfect approximation or just a manifestation (but not perfect). “Perfect manifestation” sounds to me like too much of a romanticization of nature, too American. But, as indicated above, I do definitely think of nature, or things in it at least, as pointing to them.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 18 March 2007 @ 10:33 pm

  20. OK, thanks. I do keep coming back to Deleuze and Guattari. Maybe I need to write a post or something.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 19 March 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  21. Wow, how do you keep on coming up with interesting posts? Great comments, Jason. My husband spends time making mathematical calculations for design, e.g. for in the garden (he’s not an architect). As a child I was preoccupied in finding meaning in every building detail.
    The book you mentionned sounds like one my husband would like reading.

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    Comment by Odile — 19 March 2007 @ 9:29 pm

  22. Thanks Odile.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 20 March 2007 @ 3:49 pm


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