Posts Tagged ‘mathematics’

palimpsest

I’ve always liked that word, Gentle Reader, and since it means a surface containing layered images from various different periods of time which have been covered up by succeeding users of the surface with their own images which, in turn, get covered up by future users…..it just kind of makes sense in general to me.  It’s kind of what we are, really.

I guess it’s a good thing I like weathered surfaces, in short, given that I’m kind of turning into one.  And in that process, various things surface and submerge, day after day.

In the ongoing “What Would Pooh Do?” effort, we’ve had a couple of successes.  I found myself doing math in my head.  Multiplication and long division even.  Algebra!  And arriving at a correct answer, which was needed to figure out proportions in a tincture presently being made, and also one coming up as soon as I get more vodka.  This is quite something given that I always thought I “couldn’t do math”.  So.  Lesson learned was: don’t let other people tell you what you can and cannot do- try it out for yourself.  Gently, humming a bit.  It actually works.

In that vein as well I decided to play with the Dog when he wants to, even if I don’t since I often feel like I’m “too busy”.  A question of what’s important in a way, and the lesson here? is Joy is Always Important.  It helps with all the other spots of eye watering horror that pop up around here with Monotonous Frequency.  It’s harder to see that happy, bouncy, smiling yippee-ness of the Dog (with his various toys being tossed hither and yon requiring important sorties for retrieval along with extravagant praise for same) in humans but just knowing it is there makes it easier to just Do It all the time.  It really takes no effort to just smile or give a compliment or kind word- far less than coping with a slobbery, squishy dog toy actually.  And speaking of slobbery dog toys, we had another Step Forward today.  The Dog dashed out the door giving chase to a miscreant cat.  He’s done this a few times and it has always been dicey because he tends to run, and then just keep going…you know, for the Joy of it.  But today he actually came back when called.  We were both speechless.  Extravagant praise ensued, plus toast crumbs which he especially fancies.

jack 2:17

The third thing is realizing that we really do for the most part have just what we need.  The challenges and privations of our life now are real, and  it is way too easy to get sunk in anxiety and gloom about everything, and get on the What If Train to The Future (which as we do know is almost always a trainwreck).  The mood swoops all over the place at such times.  But! As usual cooking revealed the lovely picture underneath the more current spray painted scrawls.

It revolved around peanut sauce.  Kind of a necessity for certain noodle and vegetable dishes, as well as making a terrific glaze for broils and braises of whatever you might have.  It calls for fresh ginger which  I’d used up the day before so there I was at a pivotal last minute, chewing my lip.  We HAD to have peanut sauce of course, no question, and the clock was ticking.  And as I stood there the lightbulb went off.  I’d received, in a bit of a fiasco’d situation (since improved) a box of Fortnum and Mason stem ginger in chocolate.  The box is exquisite and ginger candy is a favorite.  FORTNUM AND MASON, after all. But? This stuff was ghastly.  A real British dessert, deafeningly sweet and a travesty of chocolate, if I may say so.  The ginger, however, was good and actually tasted like fresh.  So, I thought: hah! cut off the chocolate and use this ginger for the peanut sauce.  It worked like a charm.

Aside from enjoying the improvisational success, it really made me think about the fact that we do, in fact, have what we need.  If we’re calm enough to settle down and let it manifest- let, in short, the muddy water settle and clear.  As usual, the Dalai Lama is right: No reason for too much worry.  Just continue to saunter through the multi-acre wood, remembering that no matter how it looks, there’s something underneath and something to come and it will all work out.

Blessings and thanks!!

 

Mandelbrot Sets

We’ve been thinking about fractals and Mandelbrot Sets lately.  The ideas float around in my head, probably making all sorts of fantastic sets, pulsing with color and repeating form, and  make me think about how magnificent everything really is.  All the color and movement, from the bottom of the sea to the top of the mountains, rocks and jellyfish and gems and flowers and stars and prairies and lakes and…leaves and all sorts of things.  I realize now there has never been a moment in my life when I wasn’t sure that everything was connected, and somehow intelligible in that connection.

Except, of course, people.  Except the huge expanse of unknowing contained in my own hard cranium.  It all made sense, all the connectedness and energy, and then, as  (I think) Descartes said, I went outside.  What everyone else saw as making sense, to me was chaos.   On the public television documentary we saw on Mandelbrot, THAT all kind of finally made sense too.  Apparently, “real” mathematics deals with geometry in terms of circles, squares, curves, straight lines.  Theoretical examples of what things may be.   So nature, with all its “rough” surfaces and areas, was outside the realm of mathematics.  Fractals are a way of understanding those rough spots, which are in everything and are actually REAL.  Original mathematicians, like Plotinus who said that “numbers are mysterious beings” saw the magic, all the fluctuation and movement of creation in things not as something unreal but as an essential component of reality.  Mystery and magic were forces of nature, and numbers were their language- and numbers spoke to rough spots, not just smooth ones.  So, somehow, this crush of history and the past two thousand years we find ourselves at the end of  hurtled toward, to a large extent, the negation of nature and the imposition of a concept of reality that could be managed on paper, in the abstract, vanquished and set aside by calculations that took place partly in a vacuum.

Which, of course, is where we find ourselves now.  It helps in a way to understand things now from that perspective- the one where you see that an artificial construct was put in place for just about everything, and the original impulses that interacted with each other and produced observable phenomena were relegated to the junk heap.  More or less.  And, it isn’t that these sorts of mathematics and paradigms are really mutually exclusive.  They work with each other, talk to each other, and could talk to all of us too.  If we had just a bit larger horizon for our thinking.  Meanwhile, if one turns out to dwell in the rough places and not in the imposed circles and squares, it can be hard to fit in.

This is why we turn to nature- for some confirmation that what we instinctively feel is in fact real, for corroboration so to speak of essential truth and being.  People may be difficult to deal with, but an afternoon with plants and rocks and sky restores perspective.  The issue of course is MAINTAINING that attitude when one ventures back into the Classic Paradigm, let’s call it.  Because in that classic paradigm, nature itself is to be ruled over, is chaotic and must be controlled and dominated.  Crazy, if you ask me.

And, of course, crazy.  Here we are.  But I started thinking about it, especially after an extraordinarily tough day at the races, aka going up to “town”.  People were mind bogglingly rude, pushing and shoving, and in general behaving in uncooperative and mean, boorish ways.  That’s fairly unusual here; it’s small and rural enough that people are mostly nice to each other- knowing that there may be need to rely on that person you see every day at the mail box some time.  I found myself responding, at least mentally, by picturing myself with, say, a hand held rocket launcher? Or at least a very stout mallet.  After a fair amount of mistreatment, I wanted to hit someone, in short.  Another Opportunity For Growth! Oh, BOY!!!  Once again we see how easy it is to love your brother as long as you don’t have to encounter him too often.  And, this negative behavior probably forms its own ever expanding fractals influencing huge areas and numbers of people.  This is, to my mind,  where plant and energy based therapies can be very helpful because they help you encounter and deal successfully with the things you don’t necessarily see, like just exactly what that bad mood that guy is huffing out looks like in color.

And, Gentle Reader, so we find ourselves where we are today, at the confluence of waving and flourescing fractals.  On the “pathological curve”.  Pondering the essential difficulty of going “outside”.  For example, I’m toying with the idea of entering a writing competition.  This has had predictable results, as in Mental Paralysis.  So, fine, that’s an old rough spot and, things being equal, probably we could map it out.  But of course things are not equal and countervaling pressures create yet another, if familiar, rough spot.  As in, for once in my life I think I really need to stay put, hunker down with the rocks and trees here, dismantle the paralysis and allow its colors to flow into something more productive.  But outside things have their own, ineluctible reality; maintaining balance on this rough spot, where it seems as though I “must” once again go out into the classic paradigm to deal with what others want, and abandon these wild and rough spots that call so strongly- at present it is elusive.  It’s all a matter of perspective, of course.  But time, with its ribbon candy aspect, doesn’t always cooperate- as all abstract representations of reality tend to not do, periodically.  And the old formulae, the cubes and cones of our emotional past, don’t willingly submit to the wild beauty of the rough spots in our hearts.  So? As usual, I’m going to cook.  Today it is a preparation of beets with walnuts and garlic.  We’re hoping for inspiration.