2wallymail - June 15, 1996


Yesterday on the Davis lanai celebrated Father's/Bloom'sday, with the flowers of my daily companionship MJ & Tasha, accompanied by my DNA progenic blossoms: Nita & Sascha, with Ishi of the next generation, duck, pinot noir, baby yellow crooknecks, walnut-raisin ­dark sesame bread, frou-frou.

METAPROCESS: Already I can see a different style is wanting. Paul Roberts gives clues in "Virtual Grub Street: Sorrows of a multimedia hack," Criticism, Harper's June, 96. "The irony of the information revolution is that consumers [sic!] neither like nor expect long, densely written texts on their computer screens." I demur on consumption as the principal defining function, nevertheless noting a new electronicharisma. If we cared that much about what the so-called consumers liked and expected, we would teach'em Andy Wyeth instead of Warhol, or Lenny Dubinsky rather than Bruce.

Obviously a high-order encryption is possible in the new language of our evolving net discourse. Allow that the message might as well be written on a postcard for all or any to see. But would they quite understand it without all the implicit intentionalities of the intimate reference net? Warpthreads strung like a lyre, resonnating with the literary looming: Ahab at the Eistedfodd, Shakuhachi, Ignatz, Joyce.

Add. & Corr re 1Wallymail 15 June: Spellcheck intrudes, fuggit. Can't cope with Wally Stevens: "is" not "in" of course; it bounced the BB in "Let be be finale of seem" in the allusion to Emperors. Irony, schreibt Thomas Mann, was the style for the age...for that age, mebbe for ours still--another order of semiotic encryption. Strike 1, hotly ironic enough to melt icecream: "Ronald" is not in the basic dictionary of our Spellcheck, which at that entry does, however, refer us to "Donald." The Gipper be Trumped! (I screamed).

The organic human brain is far, far more complex than most people realized just a few years back, especially the hardwire boys. This we hold along with Heinz, McCulloch, JasKeys and other reasonable sorts. We may plot a safe path THROUGH the den of the Metaphysician by "framing hypotheses in order ultimately to disprove them," whatever one may or may not build later on, whatever consequences follow from applying the fruits of knowledge reaped from the scientific enterprise. McCulloch ["Of I and It" (1969), Cwks v. 4, p.1391 eloquently concludes "Thus the scientist suspects himself and is never completely happy until he walks into a door in the dark."

Listen to Urey: "I am never happy with a theory until it leads me into a flat contradiction with a fact. Then I know I had a theory. Let us therefore look at several kinds of experience in search of that contradiction." He considers aesthetic, mystical, cosmic & emotional experiences of oneness. "To know the beautiful, the holy, the universe, or even my lady, in the sense of being one with them, is to know even as a scientist knows his little domain of data. If you ask him what he means when he says that something is real, he will tell you that it is real if it goes by some law of its own! But his test remains like that of the self-distrustful sentimental lover, he is sure that it is love and not just his invention or his fancy, only when it goes against him. Hence Urey's liking for a theory only when it leads to experimental refutation, for then he knows he has a theory."

Consequences may be demonstrated, theories must be proven, and they must be invented, conceived, imagined, divined, or conjured up by the human mind. Just so, in JasKey's archival exemplum for the distinction drawn between demonstration and proof: Euclid's proof for the infinitude of primes, by framing a hypothesis (Big N) and by then disproving it (because then, Big M). For the purpose of a critique of so-called thinking machines, one appropriate test might be to see if the machine can formulate a theory/proof function, different in kind from all demonstrations of its consequential Boolean counting/computing functions. Heuristics pose no special problem beyond whether or not the machine (or the student for that matter) can devise subroutines with now unprogrammable functions: to invent (divine, etc.) an expression, representation, or performance in the world of art that offers us ways to proof through the experience of the object or event itself, or a hypothesis framed as a theorem, together with its disproof, for the world of science. If Time's scientists say machines already "think," we know the limits of that thought. The level of programmable Lenatian heuristics may yield computational efficiencies, but remains incapable of inventing a proof. Put that as the hypothesis; frame it as a theory if you like. The test is simple, in this ironic instance: if it can think, then let it do the hard work, by thinking of a way it can convince us that it thinks, that is, by inventing a proof. The proof invented by the machine, would per forza disprove the (negatively couched) hypothesis, rendering it scientific by Urey and McCulloch's criterion. Isn't that about it?

On chess and machines: Kim Deitch "Famous Frauds: The Great Ajeeb, Chess Playing Automaton" (No. 2 in a series), Beyond the Pale: Krazed Komics and Stoires by Kim Deitch, Fantagraphics (1989) ISBN 0930193-83-0. For two decades, Ajeeb took New Yok City's famed wax museum and amusement center, the Eden Musee, by storm--and had Harry Nelson Pillsbury ensconced within. By the 1920's Ajeeb changed hands, moved to Coney Island, and played checkers, as clandestinely operated by a consumptive, part-time Western Union delivery boy, Sam Gonotsky. Then one Jesse B. Hanson, though tall, was a fine chessplayer; he restored Ajeeb's chessplaying renown on the circuit of carnivals and fairs. "So it came as quite a shock to him as one of his young opponents suddenly piped out 'Check Mate!' ...Poor Hanson. If only he could have known that he had just taken part in a historic occasion...for so it was that on October 2nd 1950, young Bobby Fischer won his very first chess prize."

As Hugh Kenner writes, "The computer simulates thought when thought has been defined in a computer's way; the automaton simulates man when man has been defined in an automaton's way." (p. 26) "...(M)an defined as a chessplayer (von Kempelen's automaton, which was not only a counterfeit man but a counterfeit counterfeit, since it concealed a man." (p. 22). The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy. Anchor 1973; and thanks to thee for that.

Allow me to join the critique at a more superficial level, as perhaps appropriate for aesthetics of the associational mind. Not that you can tell every publication by its cover, but some you can. A clinical, iconic version of the lips are of course Man Ray's Surrealist masterpiece of the disembodied rubyreds floating in the altocumulous. By the old astrological system (as illustrated in the Tres Riches Heures of the Duke de Berry) the lips and the mouth were associated with the constellation Cancer, corresponding to psychic needs. We can imagine which ones, as suggested by the emblem of pouting collagenated, wax candy Claudia Schifferesque labiae. Hmmm. Plug me, or Plug me in?

The hair-do is unisex, no-nonsense; it could be butched-out below the shadowline. We can see, though faintly, all of her left ear. Apart from the apparent dermatological dysfunction, probably attributable to rogue photon exposure, the shadow of the 25-cogged gearwheel on her Ajna chakra I find most curious. 25? Why that's the number of peripheral platelets on a tortoise carapace, Adamantinoid portholes. Shadows? Die Frau mit dem Schatten. Pieter Schlemiel who sold his in Chamisso's story. Shadows in several of Marcel Duchamp's works. The Shadows used to be a San Francisco standby for German food. And who knows what (whatever?) lurks in the hearts of men...You know who, the shadow do.

Loci classicorum: Alexander the so-called Great standing in the way of the philosopher's sun, the non-shadow on the walls of the temple well on the Elephantine Isle at Syene N lat 24 deg. 06 min., at high noon on the day of the Summer Solstice, when the tropic was at N lat 23 deg. 51 min. or some 15 minutes to the south, 15' being the apparent diameter of Aten, the solar disc. Moses defined the Golden Calf as an idol because it cast a shadow; so in the manufacture of such sculptural graven images, the casting of the shadow-casting object, was the act that constituted an affront to Yahweh by too closely imitating (Auerbach's mimesis ) the One Godly creation. The positive correlation of artistic "creation" as a metaphor for divine agency seems only to have been clearly put forth by Goethe in the late 1760's (Maybe in Vom deutscher Bauicunst where he also mentions primitive art approvingly). But for shadows that generations of formally-educated Merkins even have known, we must hie us to Plato's famous cave. The parable is the last soundbite from the Republic to have been taught in the schools, as the Republic was the last of the Dialogues, and Plato the last of the classic Greeks, and Greece the last serious attempt on Antiquity, pace our nation in its juvenalia reviving the bread & circuses routine.

How many geared cogs do you imagine are circling the lippy lady's uncrowned brow like a cybernetic lemniscate? Only 8 are showing Could you fancy 12? That would make 300 cog notches.

Critique by inspection, reading evidence. Time, page 3 (unnumbered) on its Table of Contents: "Just because computers process information doesn't mean they have feelings, a sense of humor or that intangible quality we call consciousness." Recalling that notion of a quality (hence qualification) implies that which is less-than-whole, we may read Time's use of the term "consciousness" with appropriate rigor. G Spencer-Brown draws a clear distinction between "consciousness" and "awareness" in the "Preface to the 1994 edition," Laws of Form, (limited edition, Cognizer Co., Portland, Oregon, ISBN 0-9639899-0-1) .p. ix, note 4 "The more a being cultivates consciousness at the expense of awareness, the stupider it becomes. For example the awareness memory, which can be retrieved by hypnosis, is practically perfect, whereas the consciousness memory is inaccurate and corrupt. Western civilization has promoted consciousness and neglected awareness almost to the point of complete idiocy."

Again, as McC discovers in the Den, "We have learned that the answer depends on how we ask the question. And we have learned to ask the question so as to get an answer of a kind that we can use."


HYPOTHESIS: (for which a proof must be divined, annotated, read, contemplated, then believed): The nature of "time" in the phrase "real-time"-- as used, say, in the context of "global real-time communications" has little enough to do with the imaginary collective temporal constructs of some e/m pulsating Gaiaistic cyberspace.

"Little enough" is a qualifier that cleaves to the calculus of differentiations -- infinitely diminishing distinctions from zero, which is to say, the "reality" aspect of the "time" may have more to do with the (Prom-) Indo European root reg- than it does with re-. Via "sarana" made your e-mail {Wed, 15 May 1996 18:03:39, from puerto, "hey Buddy"} uniquely timely: my hard copy from s.a.miller printout May 28 96 12:54:54, delivered I must say delightfully in person This is the reality of the sovereign marking of time, that same order descending from the sovereignty coining reales.

All of the above has to be qualified if only because, sub verbum real, the two images appearing as marginalia on page 1504 of the AHD, 3rd ed., show the grimacing faces in separate photographs of Nancy and Ronald Reagan. Are we really talking real or what? "Let be the appearance of seem, the only emperor is the emperor of ice cream." The stainless steel spout for Nancy's Jamocha-almond hairdo appears at the top edge of Lord Snowden's portrait. Say NO!

What after all was it, as late great Brother Tim wrote (& G. Chaucer in re Bathwife of yore) that was wanting? With delivery of your Wallymail (los papeles, documentos, the res substantiva) some other imaginary order(s) of time seemed to offer contexts for alternative realities. Although really wishing to respond in a timely manner, the subject deserved contemplation in a suitably commodious and worthy micro environment, that Yea Verily manifested as a Morris chair in oak and caramel-colored leather, delivered the other day from Macy's (it was on sale--but then what does anyone but a fool ever buy from Macy's that doesn't smell of white flowers?) So, once again the thingness of the new throne dissolved into conceptuality, a gestalt of sovereignty as embodied as a seat of authority, authorship, not only for the Rex of regulus but as well for the celestial aspect of the vita contemplativa inspired by the Ophanim, though third in the order of Divine Names, confounded with Wheels thus curiously "anticipating" the cyclicity of time such as that of rhythmic lunations. So I will date this one month from the original heybuddy, and dedicate my applied keyboard activity--with continuous risk of carpal-tunnel wristwarp and retinal vulnerability to rogue photon impingement-- to completion of this text on or before 15 June 1996, and electronic, global, nigh-instant transmission chez Ventana.

It's now Thursday 13 June, three weeks into vacation. And what, indeed, is a number that Time may run? Wouldn't you know it: just yesterday, moved to sweep the Bukhara fur the new throne and its Ottoman attendant, I was moved to pick up all the old magazines, sort & stack them for removal to the Dominion of the 1/2 vast archive metal shed. The SciNews, Harper's, Spys, and all the Times, amongst which was a copy of the issue presenting pursed lips, China red. The virtue of a delayed response means I can now read the principal reference, just as it should be: Virtues as an order angelic beneath the Thrones, something like the original Stone of Scone, now captured by the Powers of Britwits, that some say broken off the eminently kissable one in Blarney's Principality.

GRID Rectification

Jene LaRue used to say that while spelling rules--the rightness of orthography—were conventional, it was most important (deepest, oldest, most prior) to spell correctly the names of the gods and presumably, in hierarchical order, those of the demi-gods, heroes, daimons, distinguished colleagues, scientists, artists, authors... ..., because they are the notational forms that enjoin (or sustain) being invoked, so one had best get it right, or at least as right as possible.

Just picked up a copy of Steven Lubar's InfoCulture, The Smithsonian Book of Information Age Inventions (1993), with a section "Cybernetics: Real Thinking Machines," with the citation p. 388
"Neuropsychiatrist Warren McCulloch wrote, '...I look upon [Man's] ethical conduct as...a Turing machine with only two feedbacks determined, a desire to play and a desire to win." More on desire and play innaminit, but first on the name and its calling. Luber contradicts with "McCullogh" (p. 389) as toi-meme, although he spells it with a "c" instead of a "g" in the index. On the cover & title page of Embodiments of Mind (First MIT paper ed. 1970), in the Preface, and frequently elsewhere, Warren S. McCulloch spells his own name thus, with a "c." Curiously have not found him spelling-out the middle initial, some published references even omit it. In Volume One of Collected Works of Warren S. McCulloch, edited by Rook McCulloch, With a Preface by Heinz von Foerster [and Contributions by many, published in four volumes by Intersystems Publications, 401 Victor Way - No. 3, Salinas, California 93907, USA., 1989, I found "Sturgis," spelled out.

These volumes may be out of print. When Heinz gave me my set, he pulled them off a shelf in his garage containing, I thought he said, the copies that were left from the publishing venture. Monumental. Que preciosos! And quite wonderful. I went first to the end, following the advice of Berzerkeley poet Ed Dorn, about the end always coming first, to read "RAGNA ROCKR: THE EFFECTS OF CONSCIOUS PURPOSE ON HUMAN ADAPTATION," a paper apparently delivered by McCulloch at Conference No. 40, July 16-25, 1968, Wenner Grend Foundation, Burg Wartenstein. (Amusingly, in the List of Publications, on p. 1445, one "Ragna Roekr" [sic!] is awarded CO-authorship credits. Shades of Joyce James. But more to the point and immediate purpose, in Volume 1, on page v appears this notice: "The papers of Warren Sturgis McCulloch are available for scholarly use at the American Philosophical Society, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania." Short of such scrutiny, I suggest following Heinz- that if spelling out "Sturgis" at all, it be with an "i" instead of your "e," and keeping with the "c" instead of the gimmel in the surname.

The Ninth Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture delivered by McC before the Institute of General Semantics in 1961 was titled: "What Is a Number, that a Man May Know It, and a Man, that He May Know a Number?" [19 words, 12 capitalized, 71.c., 3 commas, 1 question mark]. Such a pain in the ass to get it right...it's just like writing about the marks on Marcel Duchamp's "With Hidden Noise." But then, we are dealing with marks of clear intent in the aesthetics of precision, made by witting men.

McC sez Brussel was the first to thank David Hume properly for his great gift to mathematics ("For when a number hath a unit answering to an unit of the other, we pronounce them equal.") The junior wrangler of the derivative and inferior Principia so gave us "the usable definition, not merely of equal numbers, but of number: 'A number is the class of all those classes that can be put into one-to-one correspondence to it.'" McC acknowledges mathematician-quibble, but the definition "suffices for my purpose... [since] man understands the definition, for he knows the rule of procedure by which to determine it on any occasion. Duns Scotus has proved this to be sufficient for a realistic logic." But 1-6 are perceptible, 7+ only countable, i.e. conventionally set into 1 to 1 correspondence.

Konrad Lorenz showed that the European jackdaws can "count" up to 6; then they lose it and can be fooled by 7 hunters going into a blind and only 6 coming back out. McC showed--way back in 1945--that a system of 6 neurons is sufficiently complex to produce a "value anomaly," undermining Plato's assumption of a summum bonum in "A Heterarchy of Values Determined by the Topology of Nervous Nets." So 6 is the first perfect, the last directly perceptible number.

Citing the full, and eloquent title may be worth the space: "Toward Some Circuitry of Ethical Robots or an Observational Science of the Genesis of Social Evaluation in the Mind-Like Behavior of Artifacts." McC argued (1952) that "physical sciences are not constructed to state or solve those problems...that involve adaptive, perceptive, thoughtful or communicative behavior," but that the problems may be stated in the new sciences of Information theory and Cybernetics.

We and Minsky may have wandered innocently into the den of the metaphysician, but McC distinctly used the preposition THROUGH: "Through the Den of the Metaphysician" (1952). Since the paper was read to philosophers of science in London, a desire to get through the evening and out of there may have influenced his choice of words. The substantive argument concerns the function of the human brain‑ "...it can frame hypotheses in order ultimately to disprove them. It can build bigger and better brains, but what it had are sufficient to guide it through the very den of the metaphysician." This sounds a lot like the enterprise of science about which Murray Gell-Mann writes in Jaguar. Nota bene: the principal activity is PROOF, not building or such consequential demon-daimon-stration. ["What?" queries Bateson, "You mean...?"] As Barth sez Chimerically, the Key to the treasure is the treasure.

Desire to play and to win (McC only considers two players...a third greatly complicates the circumstances, as von Neumann also saw). Ah, desire...recognized by Gautama, the Prince of Kapila as the key (along with attachment) to the 2nd Noble Truth, the cause of dhuka, suffering.

Mas siguiente manana, cuando manana llega.

Kurt von Meier
June 15, 1996

Below are notes Kurt made after getting the packet of email: