Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ephemeral Fame is Mine, and Other Thoughts

  • Going through my regular internet stops this morning whilst eating my bowl of cereal, I came across this article on The Hardball Times, which is the blog bible for statistical analysts of baseball, and the people who love them, everywhere. The article this morning is about Win Probability, and has linked back to my post on the subject. It's not the first time that somebody I don't know has acknowledged my existence, but on the other hand, dude: The Hardball Times! They're, like, real bloggers and stuff.

  • Sam and TenaciousMcD started up a thread (here, and then here) from the end of my last post, which addresses the question "if all is randomness, whither order? Whither morals? Whither justice?" (I'm paraphrasing. A lot). TenaciousMcD's question:
    How, for example, could any structure--even one we, creatures of nature that we are, superimpose--come from shere [sic] abject randomness, or how sense out of nonsense?
    Sam's response:
    When I read [TenaciousMcD's question], when I hear it, I don't think the question has the 'hook', for lack of a better word, that [Mr. Tenacious] expects it to. Perhaps I should be, but I'm not really all that bothered about how sense emerges from nonsense. Indeed, I think that's just how sense emerges –from nonsense. We produce meaning in the world, we read it into a world without meaning, and as Paul tells us continually, we construct narratives that give that meaning a place to rest, and a place from which to emerge. Structure emerges out of randomness (see Paul's many iPod posts); order comes from chaos. I'm OK with that.
    I take Sam's position in this, though I want to radicalize it a little. Or hone it. Or something. I once likened the way order seems to emerge from chaos, at least in the evolution of life on earth, as the action of an editor--he or she had no control whatsoever over what was produced, The Editor could only look at the results and, essentially, say yea or nay (pretty much everybody else is calling this, "Natural Selection" these days). In a truly random model of evolution, it seems like this mechanism is always glossed over. I think this is the "hook" to TMcD's question that Sam is looking for. It just seems so obvious that organisms or systems that are more "fit" would naturally survive, even if they emerge totally by chance, because...well, because they're more "fit." It's a hidden tautology. This is something I've long been meaning to blog about--maybe next post.

  • I'd also like to observe, as TMcD brings up apparently non-random constructions like morals and justice, that these things are also (literally) evolving, and that there's no particular reason to think that they too aren't borne out of an endless frenzy of random attempts to optimize the interactions of communities or societies or entire species.

  • Tarn asks:
    [S]uddenly I am hearing many voices -- both the familiar and alien -- and though their stories and their histories are, in detail, not alike, something tugs from deep within the seat of my capacity and nudges at me to learn a specific lesson common to All The Variety of Living....Does anyone understand this language I'm speaking? If so, please help me identify it. Seriously. I'm not joking. Anyone? Anyone?
    L. and I frequently ask this question, in a different form, usually when we keep running into the same obstacles in life over and over again. "Clearly," says one of us to the other, "There is something we are meant to be learning from this that we are not learning." In one instance, where we eventually got an answer, we had an ongoing (about three year) bout with trying to figure out where we were going to live, Seattle versus Baltimore (versus Florida. Don't ask). The first time, after an incredibly agonizing process, we decided Baltimore. Then, a year later, the decision came up again and we decided Seattle, but only temporarily, because we were going to move to Florida. Then it came time to move to Florida, and lo! The same incredibly agonizing decision came up again. Eventually, we figured out that we wanted, or the universe wanted us, to live in Seattle. This goes back to my earlier recurring point: life is hard when it's happening to you. To Tarn I have this to say: yes, I understand your language. Give me specifics, I can probably come up with an answer for you.

Next: More Bullet Points!

1 comment:

Tarn said...

Wow. I'm thoroughly impressed with the clarity of your understanding... particulary as it references a post that I feel comes from such cloudiness, rooted in confusion. Perhaps that is why you're so well-suited for Seattle? The ability to see through the clouds?

Right now, I'm picking away at this nascent theory about relationality between and amongst individuals. Different forms and styles and breadths of communication and how they are expressed across social interactions. (partly entrenched in a physics vocabulary that I don't fully comprehend) It's all very fuzzy right now.

But during those sweeping moments when "clearly, there is something we are meant to be learning" appear, and those situations reside outside of my life-story, distributed across other relationships around me, I am forced to feel a certain unease. Perhaps owing to the idea that it is my own coming-of-light about such and such obstacle that I never knew existed, and then suddenly yes, life is hard, and damn it, it is happening to me.

I guess that wasn't really specific.