Friday, December 10, 2010

the Web of Tao

This we know - 
the Earth does not belong to man - man belongs to the Earth. 
This we know. 
All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons of the earth. 
Man does not weave the web of life; 
he is merely a strand of it.
Whatever he does to the web,
he does to himself.

Ted Perry, 1972


Musica Antiqua Köln
J.S. Bach, Musicalisches Opfer: il Tema Regio

Thomaskirche,Leipzig, Saxony (Sachsen), Germany

Tao Division and Totality


I have tried many times to reach this generality to classes of students and for this purpose have used Figure 1.

The figure is presented to the class as a reasonably accurate chalk drawing on the blackboard, but without the letters marking the various angles. The class is asked to describe "it" in a page of written English. When each student has finished his or her description, we compare the results. They fall into several categories:
a. About 10 percent or less of students say, for example, that the object is a boot or more picturesquely, the boot of a man with a gouty toe or even a toilet.
Evidently, from this and similar analogic or iconic descriptions, it would be difficult for the hearer of the description to reproduce the object.
b. A much larger number of students see the object contains most of a rectangle and most of a hexagon, and having divided it into parts in this way, then devote themselves to trying to describe the relations between the incomplete rectangle and hexagon. A small number of these (but, surprisingly, usually one or two in every class) discover that a line, BH, can be drawn and extended to cut the base line, DC, at a point I in such a way that HI will complete a regular hexagon (Figure 2).

This imaginary line will define the proportions of the rectangle but not, of course, the absolute lengths. I usually congratulate these students on their ability to create what resembles many scientific hypotheses, which "explain" a perceptible regularity in terms of some entity created by the imagination.
c. Many well-trained students resort to an operational method of description. They will start from some point on the outline of the object (interestingly enough, always an angle) and proceed from there, usually clockwise, with instructions for drawing the object.
d. There are also two other well-known ways of description that no students has yet followed.
No student has started from the statement "It’s made of chalk and blackboard." No student has ever used the method of the halftone block, dividing the surface of the blackboard into grid (arbitrarily rectangular) and reporting "yes" and "no" on whether each box of the grid contains or does not contain some part of the object. Of course, if the grid is coarse and the object small, a very large amount of information will be lost. (Imagine the case in which the entire object is smaller than the grid unit. The description will then consist of not more than four or less than one affirmation, according to how the divisions of the grid fall upon the object.) However, this is, in principle, how the halftone blocks of newspaper illustration are transmitted by electric impulse and, indeed, how television works.
Note that all these methods of description contribute nothing to an explanation of the object-the hexago-rectangle. Explanation must always grow out of description, but the description from which it grows will always necessarily contain arbitrary characteristics such as those exemplified here.


Daughter. Daddy, why do things have outlines?
Father. Really? I do not know. What things do you speak?
D. Yes, when I draw things, because they have
F. Well, and other things ... a flock of sheep? Or a conversation? These things have outlines?
D. Do not be silly. You can not draw a conversation. I say things.
F. Yes ... I was just trying to understand what you meant.
You mean: "Because when we give them things we draw the boundaries?" Or do you mean that things have contours, which draw us or not?
D. I do not know, Dad, you must tell me. What I want to ask?

Friday, December 3, 2010

die kunst der Tao

Ramin Bahrami - Contrapunctus 7, a 4, per Augmentationem et diminutionem

Trans-Formation (Death) - XIII Major

The central figure in this card sits atop the vast flower of the void, and holds the symbols of transformation - the sword that cuts through illusion, the snake that rejuvenates itself by shedding its skin, the broken chain of limitations, and the yin/yang symbol of transcending duality. One of its hands rests on its lap, open and receptive. The other reaches down to touch the mouth of a sleeping face, symbolizing the silence that comes when we are at rest.
This is a time for a deep let-go. Allow any pain, sorrow, or difficulty just to be there, accepting its "facticity." It is very much like the experience of Gautam Buddha when, after years of seeking, he finally gave up, knowing there was nothing more that he could do. That very night, he became enlightened. Transformation comes, like death, in its own time. And, like death, it takes you from one dimension into another.

A master in Zen is not simply a teacher. In all the religions there are only teachers. They teach you about subjects which you don't know, and they ask you to believe because there is no way to bring those experiences into objective reality. Neither has the teacher known them - he has believed them; he transfers his belief to somebody else. Zen is not a believer's world. It is not for the faithful ones; it is for those daring souls who can drop all belief, unbelief, doubt, reason, mind, and simply enter into their pure existence without boundaries. But it brings a tremendous transformation. Hence, let me say that while others are involved in philosophies, Zen is involved in metamorphosis, in a transformation. It is authentic alchemy: it changes you from base metal into gold. But its language has to be understood, not with your reasoning and intellectual mind but with your loving heart. Or even just listening, not bothering whether it is true or not. And a moment comes suddenly that you see it, which has been eluding you your whole life. Suddenly, what Gautam Buddha called "eighty-four thousand doors" open.

Tao theater

Tao images


This generalization seems to be true of everything that happens between my sometimes conscious action of directing a sense organ at some source of information and my conscious action of deriving information from an image that "I" seem to see, hear, feel, taste, or smell. Even a pain is surely a created image.
No doubt men and donkeys and dogs are conscious of listening and even of cocking their ears in the direction of sound. As for sight, something moving the periphery of my visual field will call "attention" (whatever that means) so that I shift my eyes and even my head to look at it. This is often a conscious act, but it is sometimes so nearly automatic that it goes unnoticed. Often I am conscious of turning my head but unaware of the peripheral sighting that caused me to turn. The peripheral retina receives a lot of information that remains outside consciousness – possibly but not certainly in image form.
The processes of perception are inaccessible; only the products are conscious and, of course, it is the products that are necessary. The two general facts – first, that I am unconscious of the process of making the images which I consciously see and, second, that in these unconscious processes, I use a whole range of presuppositions which become built into the finished image – are, for me, the beginning of empirical epistemology.
Of course, we all know that the images which we "see" are indeed manufactured by the brain or mind. But to know this in an intellectual sense is very different from realizing that it is truly so.
It is all very well to say that it makes a sort of adaptive sense to present only the images to consciousness without wasting psychological process on consciousness of their making. But there is no clear primary reason for using images at all or, indeed, for being aware of any part of our mental processes.
Speculation suggests that image formation is perhaps a convenient or economical method of passing information across some sort of interface. Notably, where a person must act in a context between two machines, it is convenient to have the machines feed their information to him or her in image form.
A case that has been studied systematically is that of a gunner controlling antiaircraft fire on a naval ship. *2 The information from a series of sighting devices aimed at a flying target is summarized for the gunner in the form of a moving dot on a screen (i.e., an image). On the same screen is a second dot, whose position summarizes the direction in which an antiaircraft gun is aimed. The man can moved this second dot by turning knobs
on the device. These knobs also change the gun’s aim. The man must operate the knobs until the dots coincide on the screen. He then fires the gun.
The system contains tow interfaces: sensory system-man and man-effector system. Of course, it is conceivable that in such a case, both the input information and the output information could be processed in digital form, without transformation into an iconic mode. But it seems to me that the iconic device is surely more convenient not only because, being human, I an a maker of mental images but also because at these interfaces images are economical or efficient. If that speculation is correct, then it would be reasonable to guess that mammals form images because the mental processes of mammals must deal with many interfaces.
There are some interesting side effects of our unawareness of the processes of perception. For example, when these processes work unchecked by input material from a sense organ, as in dream or hallucination or eidetic imagery, it is sometimes difficult to doubt the external reality of what the images seem to represent. Conversely, it is perhaps a very good thing that we do not know too much about the work of creating perceptual images. In our ignorance of that work, we are free to believe what our senses tell us. To doubt continually the evidence of sensory report might be awkward.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

potable and unpotable Tao

which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

Tao Strange Loops

In the discussion of complex systems with several logical levels of description may appear self-recursive circularities which, evolving over several levels, close in to the starting point.

Douglas Hofstadter was the first to study them in "Gödel, Escher, Bach: an eternal golden braid", 1980 Pulitzer prize winner, calling them "Strange Loops", and defined them in the cases of the development of formal logical Gödel theorems, of J.S. Bach musical scores, in particular "The Art of Fugue" and "The Musical Offering", and in M.C. Escher works.

«I realized that for me Gödel, Escher and Bach were only shadows cast in different directions by some central solid essence. I tried to reconstruct the central object and  came out this book. »

"... Godel, Escher, Bach: a great logician, a great painter, a great musician. What binds these names, except the glory? A Strange Loop. And what a Strange Loop? Hofstadter suggests: "The phenomenon of "Strange Loop" is that of finding unexpected, going up or going down the steps of some hierarchical system, at the starting point." is a phenomenon that Escher has drawn , Bach has set to music, which Godel has placed at the heart of his theorems. ..." (D.H.)

Penrose triangles

Hofstadter has further developed the theme of self-reference in "I am a Strange Loop":

"In the end, we are self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages that
are little miracles of self-reference"

M.C. Escher: Moebius strip II

M.C. Escher, Relativity, 1953
Art of Fugue: Contrapunctus IV

unfinished last fugue from "Kunst der Fuge", last page; source: Deutsche Staatsbibliothek Berlin

Musical Offering: main theme RICERCAR

Places of Tao

Taj Mahal framed by Agra Fort window