Monday, October 23, 2006


What makes it possible to respond to the creative impulse? Truth be told, it feels like this is throbbing inside me more or less all the time -- except when it's not and i feel more hollow than the space around which the dryest of autumn leaves is curled. And, yet, how many times have i sat down on my stool picked up my guitar and worked at right hand exercises instead of playing what is singing in my body, in my blood?

Last night, during practice, i relaxed into the urge to play. i let go of whatever compulsions reign over my time with the guitar and just played whatever came. Eventually, some clear themes began to emerge and i found myself able to respond. It was time to go back up to familial responsibilities before i knew it.

Stani and i went for a walk in the darkened and cooling evening -- something we have been out of the habit of doing. Then, as i gave her a foot rub, i kept the core melody alive in my head. When it was her bedtime, i kissed her and went downstairs.

i could feel that a gallstone attack was coming on. Eventually, i took two advil and propped myself at the computer to transcribe the melody and arpeggio i had heard during practice. While i waited in fear to see if the race between the relaxation effect of the advil and the constriction caused by the stone blocking the passage would end up with me in the emergency room again, i heard the next part of the melody. The chords of the third section came right on its heels and then the chords underneath the second section were easy to spot.

The melody line of the third section was a little elusive. It took some time to get it as simple as it needed to be, to pare it down to what was necessary. Then, because of my limited skill with musical notation, i had to transcribe and retranscribe the line several times before what was in the score matched what i was playing.

As for the title... well, we were positively drenched in the most magical of autumn sunlights, yesterday... and during these gallstone attacks i have often been drenched in sweat... but, honestly, i was thinking of another drenching, entirely... ;-)

Click here for the score, and here for the m4a file.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A birthday present for Mukara

... and this line, furthest out from the stone's throw, is part of the first ripple; it contains the first indication of what it might mean for the stone to enter the water

... and this line is from a later ripple, a reminder of what meaning might come from a stone thrown in the pond

... and this line is where some ripples originating at the stone's throw intersect with a ripple already in the surface of the pond

... and this line is a leaf bobbing up and down on the ripples in the pond

... freshest, still full of the original impetus, this line is from the most recent ripple emanating from the stone's throw

this line is the stone thrown in the pond

... this line, also from the most recent ripple, closest to the source, less travel worn and worldly wise, innocent of the surface of the pond

... and this line is the reflection of the sky wrinkled by the passage of what meaning might come from throwing a stone in a pond

... being among the ripples in the interference between what was already present and what came from this stone's throw, this line's ability to express what this arc of stone and pond might mean is redirected and repurposed to another aim

... also from the later ripples this line has not traveled quite as far as the first or last from the stone's throw, saying a little more about the original moment and a little less about the traveling

... and this line, also furthest out from the stone's throw, is from the first ripple; and it is the longest record of emanation, of traveling through the surface of the pond from the center -- which was and always has been the beginning

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fungibility, gauge-invariance and natural selection

In the current account of particle physics, elementary particles are curiously fungible. One lepton is as good as another. Walking out of a curry shop on Friday, after considering Shinwell and Pitts' monadic account of fresh names via FM-theory the thought flashed by that the finite support plus permutation group account of fresh variables -- which to make the connection is an account of the curious fungibility of program variables -- might have more than a passing surface similarity to the fungibility of particles. More specifically, i am musing on the idea that gauge-invariance is related to something like alpha-equivalence + freshness.

While you, dear reader, if you really are out there, are verifying the resonance of this idea, let me throw in a counterpoint to the very idea of fungibility. What if fungibility is only apparent? What if Darwin's dangerous idea is really, really scale-invariant? What if there was enough fine-grained structure in particles to support a process of natural selection? What if the apparent stability and similarity of structure across a given class of particles is only because the populations are subject to such intense selection pressures that to investigators at our scale they seem to be coherent and stable? Certainly the string-theoretic account gives more than enough material to support a natural selection process, in principle.

Moreover, the reflective account i am developing, also gives enough structure to support a natural selection process. Whatever the theoretical apparatus, i find the story more satisfying and beautiful. A natural ecosystem of ideas vibrate together once we ascribe internal structure to 'fundamental' particles.
  • Recursive structure -- just like recursive computer programs are made out of recursive computer programs or circular data structures are made out of circular data structures, fundamental particles are made out of ... fundamental particles
    • And, i might add just like the non-Frankensteinian recipe for making living structures involves living structures of the same type -- like making humans involves humans
  • To get to a certain level of complexity -- like what matches observed complexity of the natural world -- the internal structure of the particles supports enough structure to implement natural selection, in principle*
  • Effects we see up and down the spatio-temporal scales begin to cohere and simplify -- we see a smaller set of laws
  • But, these laws admit a larger set of behaviors, like
    • spacetime itself as potentially alive
    • many more forms capable of rich and complex organization
    • many more forms capable of hosting intelligence
      • Nothing, in principle, keeps a cell from having as much intelligence as a human!
This is not surprising: when we relax our axioms we admit more models; but, by the same token, following Chaitin, we reduce risk. So, it actually, turns out to be more conservative to consider accounts with fewer points we must consider self-evident.

i fear this rambling may seem too abstract. So, let me try to be much more specific. What i am suggesting is that
  • String theory has an essentially correct idea -- give up atomism
    • Ascribe internal structure to elementary particles
    • Use this internal structure to simplify the account of observed complexity
  • But, they should also take two essentially correct ideas from computing
    • You don't have to give up digitalism when you give up atomism
      • The internal structure can be digital, discrete, more to the point algebraic
      • This design choice simplifies accounts -- and calculations -- dramatically
    • Use reflection -- this way we can avoid the inevitable question -- but what are the branes made of? In a reflective account atoms at one level can be made of atoms (with the very same theory) at another level
  • Einstein's programme does not need to be abandoned -- giving up atomism does not necessarily result in a background-dependent story -- you can still have a co-inductive account of spacetime and matter-energy where each is mutually defining the other.
    • A computational account of behavior suffices to give rise to an account of geometry via bisimulation. That is, the equivalences classes of the appropriate bisimulation will give rise to a dynamically metrizable topology that provides the digital analog of Einstein's continous account.
So, even more specifically and more technically, i am suggesting that the entire stack of physical theories from an account of quantum gravity all the way up through biology can be realized and considerably simplified by a reflective process-calculus-based theory. At the root of this account we accept that processes -- in the mathematical account of a reflective process calculus -- have an ontological status that is also physical. In contemporary slang, 'it' is 'bit', but our account of bit is based in process calculi.

To demonstrate this to the satisfaction of the community we have to
  • make contact with existing theories in such a way that analogous calculations can be performed
    • this involves producing an interpretation of stable, successful theories in the new framework
  • demonstrate a value proposition
    • simplify calculations
    • make new calculations possible
  • demonstrate testability/falsafiability
This is the account i am working toward; but more to the point, this is the kind of account i believe is 'in the air' in the way profound scientific ideas have always been in the air. It's like the community begins to vibrate at a series of frequencies that lets ideas that need to be expressed be expressed. There's a kind of fungibility of idea-carriers; one thinker is as good as another; it's the overall population that has to be rich enough and coherent enough to allow an idea to be crystallized in a workable account of a useful theory.

* This notion is naturally connected to a more specific critique of the current scientific community's ability to appropriately utilize the theory of computation in formulating and debating scientific theories. Why not take stock of all the properties that go into the standard model and ask the following question -- what is the computational complexity of any theoretical account that can give rise to all these properties? That is, independent of any specific model of the properties, what is the computational complexity of any/all such accounts? i have my own suspicions regarding what the answer will be, but that's somewhat beside the point; the point is to use the methodology of computational complexity to winnow, weed or otherwise evaluate scientific theories.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

On the effects of oestrogen

i was talking with a friend about my experience of the effects of oestrogen on my behavior and perception. There were a number of practical points
  • a completely different understanding and perception of the meaning of appearance and gesture in the social context -- everything from maintenance of social relations to sexual communication to base level survival is all bound up in the way you hold your body or tilt your head or walk;
  • a shift from "push as hard as possible" to the possibility of yielding -- in exercise, in profession, in life;
  • verbal modes of thought being pushed to the fore more often -- in my life i have an experience of four or five basic modes of thought
    • geometric
    • algebraic
    • musical
    • verbal
    • ...
    different ones come to the fore at different times of the day, different times of the week, different seasons, and are influenced by things like whether i have had caffeine or chocolate, fruit or grains or protein. On oestrogen the verbal ideation is noticeably more active. i'm internally and externally more talkative; and the talking is linked to other functions; it's used for other purposes.

  • The wiring between sexual arousal and ideation is different. Before i ever took oestrogen and after i have cleaned out from it i can say without reservation that there was no arousal without ideation. i couldn't say that arousal originated in ideation, but that all signals that could result in arousal had to be looped through ideation; it was a kind of governer. On oestrogen, physical stimulation of my nipples can cause my body to be wriggling in a completely aroused state many, many seconds before there is any ideation-based recognition of the aroused state. In other words, i'm aroused long before i 'know' it.

But, apart from these definite and specific experiences, other qualitative understandings have arisen. These understandings have shown up in my whole being, rooted in my body but connected equally to heart and head. They show up at specific times. i can remember where i was when the understanding happened. i'm there when they happen and can articulate aspects of them afterward. But, they are often taking place in a kind of expanded present moment
to which i do not always have access. Here is an account of one such.

Oestrogen is one of the ways Venus, an Aspect of Love, presents herself to life in this world. It is like the chalice from which we may taste this Taste. Because in this world we become numb to things that are ever present, it is necessary for the cup to be taken from our lips, regularly, so that when we drink again we have, however fleeting, a Glimpse of Love. The Presence available to us* during our emmersion in oestrogen is so holy -- such an essential part of what it is to be Whole -- that progesterone must be there to keep us from falling asleep and losing this contact with Love. This is one of the primary Reasons for the oestrogen/progesterone cycle. Yes, there is natural selection and all the mechanisms of evolution that gave rise to sexual reproduction and all of the biological science. But, all that mechanism can be seen as rising up out of the chaos to provide a means through which Venus can show herself to us and we can be available to see her. This is one of the Qualities that the mechanism of the oestrogen/progesterone cycle is meant to manifest.

As i write this i see that there is the coming of Saturn, another Aspect of the Creative Impulse, when this chalice is taken away for the remainder of our lives -- i.e. when the menses cease. And, on the other end, i see echoes in the regular feedings of the child at the breast, another source from which we drink Love, until she grows enough that the creative engine inside her allows her to feed from a deeper source. Perhaps, then, just as we grow to the point where feeding at the breast is replaced by a deeper, more self-sufficient feeding, when we grow to the point where the menses pause, there is yet a deeper Self-connected feeding to discover.

* i say 'us' and 'we' because men are bathed in the oestrogen/progesterone cycle, too. i know from personal experience that men who are regularly partnering with a woman also get a Taste.

P.S. What about a posting within a period of nine day intervals?

P.P.S. About two years ago, in a 4th way meeting, i tried to talk about my experience. The leader of the group told me of a story about Bennett asking a woman what she really wanted. The woman replied, in a moment of candor, 'i want to be great!' Bennett then asked her whether she wanted to be great or to look great. i was so frightened and worried, my heart was pounding, my hands shaking, at discussing this experience in a semi-public situation, that i couldn't think clearly about my own internal response to this question. And so, i have held the question.

Last week, 2 years after the event, sitting in the comfort of my car, a response that felt like me, like who i wish to be came to me: are those my only options? My feminine nature sees no conflict between being great and looking great.