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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Conversation with Jeff Rosnik

January 27, 1989      Conversation with Jeff Rosnick       Veselka Coffee Shop, New York City

Are there perceptions of perceptions?

'Of  course. We do not know the natural world directly, but rather through the vehicle of our language of signs. This informs our search, our very act of looking at some thing. There is no such creature as 'pure' perception, in the visual or optical sense. Our vision, our imaging process, is too tied up with what we know. For instance this container of sugar - you know that if you were to pick it up, the table would not come with it. That knowledge informs how you see the container, and the table as well; in spite of everything that is on it you imagine the top of the table as a plane. You imagine the 'unseen' parts, and have as committed a knowledge of what is denied to your eye, as what actually is seen via an image formed on your retina. This knowledge conditions the process of image formation, and the exploratory movements of your eye over the scene before you.'

Music - the idea that it can be reduced to a Fourier equation, and that it may achieve representation as a plot in two dimensions, some quantity versus time. A thousand violins, somehow expressible as one instrument, one plot of tonal intensity, 'the thousand-violin-instrument'. That, by a wire leading to a prisoner's cell, connected to a speaker, and thence to the cement of the prison floor, he could be educated.

This invokes the image of one media, one 'ether', which at any instant holds at any point, the sum of all electromagnetic activity within it, a jumble of different signals, visible light, heat, x-rays, as well as short wave messages from the heart of the Soviet Union. The idea looms that all this can be sorted out, with the proper filtering instrument, just as our eyes function as another selective tool for filtering.

Our minds are another such instrument, that can pull from the Fourier reduced signal of sound waves, the note made by a single tuning fork, midst an orchestra.

Rosnick has a number of excellent ideas - one of them the conjecture that thought is an activity in some mathematical dimension greater than three. Our minds may easily perceive three dimensions, but our perception of the fourth, time, is more difficult to rationalize. It is is on the hazy periphery of our natural experience. But we know it is there; life is inconceivable without it, and so we have invented instruments to measure it, and make it expressible in terms of the other three, a visual representation i.e. the face of a clock. But without memory, any measurements at all are meaningless. Memory and thought are inseparable. I ask, can thought be expressed as a Fourier compression along some n-th dimensional axis?

Now the limitations which we assign to the speed of light are known because of experiments conducted employing relations of the first four dimensional quantities. Our minds may conceive of a speed greater than the speed of light, as easily as we may conceive of an airplane faster than the one we just took a ride in. But light itself, holds the uppermost limit, at least in our current science-based mythology. So, does all matter seem to hold that knowledge. Measurements of distance obey the same relativistic behaviors. But thought, existing on some dimension beyond time, the n-th dimension, could conceivably supersede the velocity of light, or appear to move instantaneously, until some dimension beyond thought, beyond 'n', enables us to design a clock which would measure the top limit of thought-speed.

This topic came up because I had inquired about Fermat's last theorem., and wondered had any general theory of primes been developed yet? Why not I wondered. Jeff said because "God created the integers." and 'Man made the mathematics that relates them all!'. The limits of math may itself  then be the general theory that states that primes cannot be understood, by virtue of its failure to produce a conclusive theory. This hints at fields of inquiry which are forever unyielding, until the bedrock of mathematics gives way. Further work here will reveal valuable reflections on the terrain of thought processes, a map of the metaphysics of knowing.

If so, what dimension will intelligent beings next assume, and in what order greater than the present one, so that what today appears as thought and intelligence, in that future world will appear as simple as a nervous impulse, or as a measurement of some smaller unit of organization.

I relate this to Fredkin's concept of the universe as a computer. If the universe is a computer, and each quantum that occurs, and thus calculates then deforms or modifies its own space-time, then thought, or the biological representation of thought, is the only way for us to know of it. Thinking is not distinct from the natural world, rather it is part of it. One might even say that thought made the natural world. The distinction between man and his universe, is man-made.

A frame of reference creates a special set of conditions for 'thought to exist'. But our thoughts, as they occur, burn calories, and cause us to move our bodies, blink, etc. We significantly alter the thermodynamics of our environment and produce a measurable result on the immediate physical world surrounding us.

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle was always true. Two children dissecting an insect will certainly destroy the object of their experiment. As the dimensions become smaller, the stage of an electron microscope for instance, the limit at which an experimental method may proceed uninterrupted by mankind becomes smaller. At present that limit has produced quantum theory. But I dare-say science will go further than this.

Chaos theory brings on another dimension. The Mandelbrot set is certainly not chaotic. I doubt if it could produce a plot out of which the probability of plotting any given point is the same for any other point. The degree to which it will avoid certain points is a measure of its order, or inversely, its entropy.

A ruler is used in the first dimension to measure length, distance.  But to have a ruler it must at very least operate in a two dimensional space in order to measure the first. In the case of a chaotic system, one might argue is the final supreme order, a universal white-noise out of which any order could be Fourier filtered, an end-point, as opposed to the place which viewed as the origin of Fredkin's universal computer explosion, the seed of the beginning, or big-bang. It would  be difficult to 'measure' the chaotic-'ness' or entropy, because there is an infinite difference between an expression which systematically and forever avoids certain points, and one that does not discriminate at all, or at least conceptually become infinite. This is the problem with modern mathematics when used to make predictions based on past data sets, which is why math has failed so miserably at predicting financial markets. What is needed is a sort of 'chaotic ruler', i.e. a deformed measuring tool for taking a fix of chaotic phenomena and noumena.

A model for this in the interim, might be thought of as a Mandelbrot ruler. This is do-able now.

The theme of all these ideas, is the notion of 'thought-ness beyond thought'. A kind of infinite quantity that escapes our bodies and propagates according to a different set of rules than the ones that science has already formulated.

All this might be ventured bearing in mind the duality, and incompatibility of relativity, and quantum mechanics.

The derivative of one order leads to the next. From distance, a plot of velocity emerges, from velocity, acceleration and so forth. Time enters here as the quantum against which all else is plotted. The Newtonian principles deform as time intervals approach zero and velocities approach 186,000 miles per second The key to all this however, is derivative, at least the mathematical key is, which in some way a is a historical perspective of the old order, reduced in a Fourier-like manner, to its 'one-wire' component. This historicity itself is the thought process. Standing outside of thought, forming an idea of thought as a discrete dimension unto itself, requires that the historical idea be extended beyond thought, so that it can refer back. We are now talking about the philosophy of philosophy.

I told Jeff it would be fun to test our pattern perceiving abilities to create a multi-noted instrument, where all the visible stars, a huge number, were cast as metal pegs in a giant Swiss music box, and each star on a particular meridian, plucked by its assigned string. The thoughts highest in the sky or furthest, deserving the notes at the highest end of the audible scale, and the those closest or lowest, the lowest, and so forth. so that a giant symphony might be arranged simply by entering the positions and brightnesses of into a computer.

Hardly were the words out of my mouth when I realized I was sentimentally pining for a Kepler-like orrery, to make music with, when the electromagnetic spectrum contains a much richer variety of wavelengths than does physical vibration. Trade those sound waves in for photons!

Light does it. The Music of the Spheres, has always been sung, and still sings.

We have instruments to perceive it, our eyes and mind.

Which moves our hearts when we look up, on a clear, moonless night.

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