Archive for April 2013


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April 28th, 2013 — 12:08pm

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spam flarf attack

April 26th, 2013 — 4:01pm

poky

a flarf poet aims to say nothing at all
yet be understood

this poet always fails

the celebration of successful old poets is famous
evening dinner gown svilver pantaloon
goblet of glistening crescendo stiletto
dagger in the open mic air

flarf poet avoids the pollution of other poets
[of] other poetry

to be {known} is dea~!~!~!~~~~~!~!~th.

the secret flarf art cannot be found out by any “anthology”

point at flarf it disappears
frame it the frame contains nothing

if you think this is flarf
it is not flarf

regular poets laugh at flarf
if they do not laugh
it is not flarf

*

[pdf version with xtra whizbang & jizz: a flarf poet aims to say nothing at all ]

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a ‘belief sphere’, induction, and stained glass flarf

April 11th, 2013 — 12:46pm

There is plenty of promise held in the future’s tightly clenched fist, and I look forward to prising those surprises from its grasp as the years unfold glorious and slow.

I want to explain a concept i have had lately. I would like to introduce a thing I call a “belief sphere”, which occupies the space beyond the horizon of our understanding. This unexplored vast space is by definition unknown, and so is able to contain any idea or thought that you can posit. It contains all the crazy Flying-Spaghetti-Monster type theories, the amusing thoughts and mental daydreams which do not seem to belong to reality. It is of course infinite in size, as there is nothing that cannot be fitted into it. In fact what i am describing simply resembles the imagination. I have been thinking about how to define it for a long time, because i think it has its own ‘reality’ and is also composed of a few different elements.

Anyway the first point is that even though this space is continually encroached upon by progress in knowledge, the accrual of ‘new knowledge’ it always remains whole and intact. It cannot ever be lessened or dissolved, for even if every possible phenomena was known, that knowledge cannot ‘know’ itself, so there remains a bit of ‘left over’ knowledge still to discover (a bit like several paradoxes such as godel’s theorem make clear). Also, if theories obey the law of Occams razor and so must take the most efficient route in explaining phenomena, it implies that something is left out. So perhaps the only complete theory is also the most complex, and in fact occupies the entire fabric of the reality it explains – and so is in fact that reality (I wrote a poem about Occam years ago).

brain_star
Image courtesy of t.abroudj on flickr

I tend to think that reality is fractal, so that it is possible to grab a small part of it and generalise upwards, but it gradually becomes imperfect the further up you generalise. So you have to grab a larger chunk of it to make a better generalisation, a better theory. Ultimately though, the only perfect way to describe reality is to grab the whole thing. This explains why theories are getting more and more complex generally – there is nothing wrong with that – it is just the same as how our tools and technology are getting more complex and operate at finer and finer tolerances in order to do their work for us. Theories are like tools – in fact they are inseparable from the tools of experimentation. Fractals have simple equations underlying their complexity, but chaos theories explain that if you want to find the reality of a precise location you need to do a lot of computation – you basically need to a computer as big as the universe to do the whole thing, and it will take all of time to run the program. We need to somehow step out of the system and just observe it as it is.

The problem of induction seems to be a problem with time, and the fact that our brains don’t experience it completely, but rather are drip-fed the reality of it day by day. So we can never know what is just around the corner – even if we recognize a pattern and can make guesses about the future, it is never certain, because patterns can change suddenly and chaotically. This is not a problem in the natural world because we can see a shape in its entirety and say “that is a circle” – end, i suppose, of story. But when we want to say ‘the sun will rise tomorrow’ even though we have a fairly established pattern, there is no knowing because we have not experienced tomorrow. If on the other hand we were eternal beings that could step out of time as freely as stepping out of a river, then there would be no problem with making such a statement – the knowledge would be there simply by looking at the reflection in the water.

I read an interesting article in the Guardian yesterday about the work of Sam Parnia in resuscitation, and his thoughts about the nature of mind as distinct from brain/neronal activity. He states that “Even prominent neuroscientists, such as Sir John Eccles, a Nobel prizewinner, believe that we are never going to understand mind through neuronal activity”.

This clicks with me. To clarify, I believe that mind is something that is eternal and can experience the past and future, as well as different life trails (see this earlier post for a bit of a mashed up description of this idea). There are lots of people who believe this in some way or other (read some of the comments on the Guardian article to get a few). The problem is that these days, unless we are ok with being crazy, we need to justify our beliefs in terms of scientific truths. But does this take us back to the first paras of this article, where the justification of such justification is itself a belief, and one built through flawed inductive reasoning at that? So there is a problem here, if we want to put an eternal mind inside the same ‘system’ as ordinary reality. I don’t think it can be resolved through simple scientific proofs.

However there might be a test – if we become able to read images out of the mind (and there are already successful attempts out there at doing this) then it might be possible to pick up something from this ‘belief sphere’ – of course there will be loads of stuff from the past, i.e. memory. loads of stuff that is just ‘imagination’ but there should also be stuff which turns out to be from the future. Sifting it all out is the problem. I personally have had impressions of future events which strike me as being sound and true – but proof seems hard to attain through metrics. Instead, it might come through capturing images, if these can be resolved out of the mind somehow. It might not be ‘proof’ in an ordinary sense, but if it could be shown to resonate sufficiently deeply, then we might have something tangible for people to accept as true.

flarf

Flarf has got a bit of press lately with the inclusion of some flarf poems in Norton’s 2nd ed of Postmodern American Poetry. There is a really gratuitous and amusing discussion going on about it on htmlgiant. I was reading this at the same time as i was reading a paper about the Devonian Hodgkinson Formation in Norther Queensland, and imagining Conodont faunas swimming in ancient red sandy bottomed lakes (my Ettrema trip was primarily to visit a contemporaneous Devonian reef on Jones ck). Anyway the whole lot got smashed up in my mind and all evening i had this sensation like I was observing things through a blue stained glass window, like a petrographic thin section, a matrix of intergrown materials which do not exactly coalesce or form a solid solution but have to live alongside each other somehow in my brain. Like a flarf poem cut and pasted together, or winnowed down through selective deletion.

And this sensation, of chaotic interlinking but distinct objects forming a translucent window, this to me is what a slice of time looks like when you hold it up to the light of eternity. That is when events and ideas have distinct shapes which can be mapped and known for what they really are. It’s just an image but it captures a truth for me.

Comments Off on a ‘belief sphere’, induction, and stained glass flarf | essay, green, rant, space, whimsy

too many dead genii

April 6th, 2013 — 9:45am

sorry for the last post, which was a bit drunken. I have left it up to help counter the more nuanced garbage that i usually write.

What else have I been busy with? Wasting time in Minecraft again, on the AU server (mcau.org) and also attempting to make mods. Here is a screenshot of a small biome mod i managed to get working recently (very simple to do with MCD actually).

minecraft small biomes

This image shows a small patch of rainforest next to tundra next to beach .. etc. The next steps for minecraft should be to get finer and finer definition – i.e. smaller block size. Then the alternate reality genre will really take off. I can’t wait till the increase in computing power will allow these worlds to be simulated down to atomic size.. then we can have chemical reactions and rotation and all sorts of cool stuff.

I have a bit of a man-crush on Philip Zelikow, whose coursera lectures on modern history 1760-1989 are fascinating. Everyone on the forums has been won over by his goofy grin.

philip zelikow

This week North Korea are sabre rattling again, and I wonder where the tensions in the current world order will first be released. Then we would enter a world like all my weird nighttime dreams where cities are ruined and a strange rebel underclass is being hunted down by the corporations which control everything.

Also reading a biography of Richard Feynman, which i have got kind of torn up about somehow. Biography’s always make me sad. He was there at the first nuclear test – was the only person who didn’t wear shades (but sat inside a car where the windscreen blocked the UV). He was amazed at the clouds that formed. The first name he spontaneously gave to the bomb as he saw it explode was “the thing”. A Frankenstein moment.

Here is a Chlorodyne bottle i found on ebay recently: chlorodyne_bottle

Chlorodyne was an over the counter cholera treatment, containing usually opium and cannabis, which was widely used for all sorts of ailments from the 1850s up until the first anti drug treaties of the 1930s. I am amassing a bit of a collection of Chlorodyne paraphenalia. The lid of the bottle above is still sealed on, i wonder if it has anything in it? I have ordered another empty bottle today and will ‘put it next to the other one’ – channeling Eric Olthwaite. As the drug war seems to be winding up, gradually, i wonder if we will again soon have access to herbal tinctures of the nature and power of Chlorodyne?

chlorodyne_lozenges

I have been feeling confused lately by the plight of men. So many of us are lost – depressed – why is that? Why do we spend so much time in artificial worlds inside computers? Or following our obscure interests or perversions? I wonder if we are the enemies of society – look at where all the violence comes from – i feel like our days of usefulness are numbered. At home, all our boy ducks are facing the chop this weekend. I already chopped the head off one last Friday morning – clean bright blood spattered out. Nobody wants boys, we are totally totally useless, even if we might be geniuses sometimes.

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