“Emily Dickinson grabbed every conceivable scrap of paper for her stationary. She wrote poems on the backs of party invitations, bills, recipes, shopping lists, food wrappers(think the chocolate bar wrapper made famous by Joseph Cornell) — the kinds of paper that seem to “grow” on any kitchen counter. She’d use these scraps to capture a poetic idea that had skidded into the imagination. When my hands are busy grating nutmeg or scrubbing the stove my mind roams broadly and I receive what feel like “gifts” of ideas (Buddhists would call that “naturally occurring wisdom”). In Emily’s case, what rose up might be a great poem. So she gathered up even those fragments of ideas for poems and jotted them on the backs of those fragments of paper collecting by her pantry board.”—Gathering up the Fragments: Recipe Poems by Emily Dickinson « Four Pounds Flour
“Thinking about the relation of comedy to prose fiction, he says that the best jokes and the best short stories both leave out important information but evoke it “in such a way as to cause a kind of explosion of associative connections.”—David Foster Wallace and the Comedy Nerd | Splitsider
“He proposes “that art is a form of communication that co-evolves with its evaluation.” Take Mozart: he transformed the formulas of classical music so skillfully that he changed the musical tastes of his audience. In turn, as Mozart’s patrons flocked to his concertos and operas, they influenced his compositions. The result was “an ongoing aesthetic process which is the co-evolution or the historical entrainment of production and evaluation.” Art is, Prum says, “a kind of dance.”—Yale Alumni Magazine: ornithologist Richard Prum (Nov/Dec 2011)
“There is simply no allegorical, edifying or fully-formed way to show completely senseless acts of violence. The narrative always skids right up to the point where the young man, who was so much like other young men, begins assembling a small armory. After the jump, a story that had been told in the fraudulent math that tries to balance a recognizable, human childhood with an incomprehensible, inhuman act, switches over to the fractured language of the newscast: helicopter images, computer re-enactments, grainy home videos, 911 calls, yearbook photos, the shots of children who could be our children crying in small huddles outside the crime scene. After two years of reading, watching and listening to pretty much everything about Cho Seung-Hui, I realized, with a thin flare of defeat, that the distance between us could never be measured, at least not in any instructive way.”—Violence and Making Sense | The Awl
The way mass casualty stories unfold in America has taken on a chilling familiarity.
As New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg again calls for gun control efforts from our national leaders and critic Anthony Lane examines whether the shooter in Aurora, Colo. could have been inspired by the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, it’s clear that we as a nation have developed an awful template for reacting to our growing catalog of domestic mass casualty events.
The age of new media being now well-established, it goes a little something like this:
First we get the shaky camera phone videos and the tweets. Then the distraught eyewitness interviews and 911 call recording. Quickly, the shooter is identified. Politicians issue statements of shock and sorrow. The shooter’s parents, if interviewed, are confused and abashed or else hide. The social media forensics begin. People with the same or a similar name as the shooter are harassed. There is speculation he is part of a right-wing group, or an Islamic terrorist, or a former Army veteran. The FBI and the armed forces check their records and issue denials or confirmations. Calls for better gun control efforts are issued once again. Defenders of the Second Amendment fight back immediately, or even pre-emptively. The victims of the shooting are blamed in social media for being where they were attacked. More eye-witness interviews. The shooter’s parents are castigated. Survivors speak. Warning signs are identified as the alleged shooter’s past is plumbed. We ask if violent movies are to blame for his actions. Or cuts to mental health services. And talk about what kind of country we are, if we have culture of violence. The death toll fluctuates. International voices from countries where guns are heavily regulated shake their heads at us. People leave piles of flowers and teddy bears at the shooting site. There are candlelight vigils, and teary memorials. Everyone calls for national unity and a moment of togetherness. Eventually, the traumatized community holds a big healing ceremony. It is moving, and terribly sad, and watched by millions on TV or online. A few activists continue to make speeches. The shooter, if still alive, rapidly is brought to trail. There is another wave of public discussion about our failures, and the nature of evil. Politicians make feints at gun law changes, which fail. And then everyone forgets and moves on. Everyone, that is, except the survivors.
“5. I am composing on the typewriter late at night, thinking of today. How well we all spoke. A language is a map of our failures. Frederick Douglass wrote an English purer than Milton’s. People suffer highly in poverty. There are methods but we do not use them. Joan, who could not read, spoke some peasant form of French. Some of the suffering are: it is hard to tell the truth; this is America; I cannot touch you now. In America we have only the present tense. I am in danger. You are in danger. The burning of a book arouses no sensation in me. I know it hurts to burn. There are flames of napalm in Catonsville, Maryland. I know it hurts to burn. The typewriter is overheated, my mouth is burning. I cannot touch you and this is the oppressor’s language.”—“The Burning of Paper Instead of Children,” Adrienne Rich (via whatiwanttosaytoyou)
Is it possible to describe Human Beings with Mathematics?
isomorphisms:I hope that one day people will figure out the "perfect formula" for a constitution (balanced incentives / structure).
gsx002:I doubt it. Formulas belong to the math and logic realm.
isomorphisms:There is some logic to human interactions.
gsx002:That's using the word loosely. :)
isomorphisms:The promise of using maths to describe people is what got me interested in economics. I also do mathpsych.
isomorphisms:This is why I have high hopes for Acemoglu stuff. Also spatial voting theory, game theory, applications to constitutional design.
gsx002:I so have to follow these things more...I used to once upon a time.
gsx002:It's always fascinated me, but I still haven't met a really good Bayesian...and Newcomb's paradox is still tricky for me.
isomorphisms:I'm not saying a currently existing model [like Bayesian rationality]. Just that in theory a correct mathematical model of human behaviour seems (to me) possible.
isomorphisms:Not saying it would be super specific either. The difficulty in convincing people to my point of view is that few people know how loose abstract mathematics is. Cobordisms, homology, homotopy, topology are all very loose. Results in category theory are also quite loose.
isomorphisms:You can construct huge equivalence classes of things. Then you don't distinguish between very different things (famously, a coffee mug and a donut have the same topological equivalence class).
isomorphisms:Some abstract maths (like coalgebras) is actually criticised because "There are no calculations!"
gsx002:Hmm. . . i'd take the opposite bet . . . that there's a proof that there isn't or that there can't be such a model #Gödel
isomorphisms:Gödel is off-topic. His result was about pure maths.
isomorphisms:Even Arrow's Theorem has things fairly nailed down.
isomorphisms:Tarski also unrelated. Says ℝ is fuktup. I agree: especially for economics.
isomorphisms:I actually got Stan Wagon (a Tarski ball scholar) into a discussion on how ℝ is inappropriate for econ.
gsx002:ok, you forced me to bring out the big guns: sartre and camus! "we refuse to be modeled," or something like that :)
isomorphisms:They didn't know how loose abstract mathematics is either. =)
isomorphisms:Lacan thought there were applications of topology to psychoanalysis. Also there's a postmodernist at Ball State who says topology may be an appropriate tool for cultural analysis.
gsx002:I was talking about Tarski's Truth paradox.
isomorphisms:Oh. That's a linguistic problem. We don't have natural language logically figured out yet. However that's not a problem for behavioural modelling.
“This is a problem. Because pink happens when the red and violet sides get together, but they don’t get together — which makes pink an act of wishful thinking, or, to put it bluntly — pink is a made up color.”—