[NetBehaviour] Links

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 4 05:27:44 CEST 2020

Hi Rob,

I've been interested in category theory for a year or so, on a friend's recommendation.  Where do you see it applying?  For me it relates to mapping networks and to translating concepts and principles between disciplines, and by a combination of these possibly art and literature.  (It's even been applied to neuroscience I think.)

However, what really caught my attention recently was that I realized after learning about category theory that a book I'd been studying for a while, Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Italo Calvino, includes elements of it (I think).  Calvino describes (Six Memos, pp. 121-22) in a discussion of Georges Perec's Life, a User's Manual how Perec based his novel on 42 categories and some secret "rules" which I assume are functors or transforms.  Perec's novel has some mathematical equations on page 7 which my friend, a mathematician, confirmed are from category theory.

The equations on page 7 mention isomorphism, a new word for me recently.  Then to my surprise I saw the same word in Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach, chapter 4.  I had been reading GEB because Calvino references it in the Six Memos, and specifically chapter 4 because the title is "Consistency, Completeness, and Geometry."  I was drawn to chapter 4 because I have been looking up a lot of references to consistency because that is the title of the unwritten sixth memo.  I was veritably shocked to find in GEB ch. 4 discussion of not only isomorphism, but this quotation:  "In my opinion, in fact, the key element in answering the question 'What is consciousness?' will be the unraveling of the nature of the 'isomorphism' which underlies meaning."

The same chapter 4 also discusses Bach's Art of Fugue, and what it may mean that it was unfinished at the time of Bach's passing, in the context of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem.  In Calvino's discussion of Perec on pp. 121-22 he discusses the leaving of something unfinished (i.e. Perec's 99 chapters about an apartment building with 100 rooms).

I've asked tons of people about this but very few people understand or care about both Calvino and category theory.  (There was a recent piece in the LA Review of Books about some writers trying to speculate what "Consistency" might have been about, but none made any reference to GEB or category theory.  I even emailed Hofstadter himself!  He replied kindly that he had never heard of my speculation that Six Memos is referencing his GEB, and that he had heard of Six Memos but never read it.

This unlucky chain of inquiries has also got me asking about Leonardo's approach, because he said "art work is never finished, only abandoned," and used a method of "analogy" between disciplines that I think may be part of the ML. Then I wonder if the Mona Lisa is a work about his understanding of the 'isomorphism' of consciousness?

I have a few recent blogs at Leonardo.info about the ML grouped under "The Mindful Mona Lisa" and a unique "bridge" theory I am trying to sort out.  I've asked a lot of Leonardo experts and they say it's unique, but wrong, though I'm not entirely convinced by their reasoning.  🙂

Be safe and well,


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Rob Myers <rob at robmyers.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 3, 2020 1:34 PM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Subject: [NetBehaviour] Links

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