[NetBehaviour] Resonances 1970-2020

Alan Sondheim sondheim at gmail.com
Fri Oct 30 20:51:10 CET 2020

Hi Max,

I have a hard time following you; I trace very little myself back to
Leonardo; I haven't corresponded with Hofstadter, I read Calvino years ago
but haven't drawn anything from him, and so forth. For example, it doesn't
matter to me whether Leonardo drew the spirals or not or what relevance
that has. I was drawing figures that could only reverse by pulling them out
of 3-dim and turning them in 4; this is the usual stuff about gloves - to
make a left-handed glove right-handed, you'd have to turn it in 4
dimensions, an impossibility of course. There's lots of writing on this
stuff. As far as the Quanta article goes, I can't comment either; Susskind
and Hawking have argued this as have thousands of other physicists. We're
very much on the outside of actual research, and without the mathematics,
for me, I'd just be playing around. I worked w/ David Finkelstein at one
point, proofreading his stuff as I mentioned somewhere I think, and he also
felt the divide - "time" in physics doesn't translate easily into daily
life for example.

One thing I'm sure you've looked at? Mandlebrot's fractals - but also
fractal theory itself; that's heavily related to all that self-similarity
stuff of moving in and out; I've even worked with plotting/mapping fractal
paths in QBasic years ago; check out Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of
Science, Mandebrot's book, etc. etc. Or for that matter, work on surreal
numbers or studies of the continuum. The problem is you can find anything
anywhere, I think, if you jump metaphorically from one place to another.
For me, I'd look at Euclid closely and then jump to 19th-century
geometricians, then maybe dimension studies, etc. I can understand using
Leonardo as a basis, but I think you might try doing that just as well with
say Caravaggio, or painters like Pontormo and Fiorentino who were breaking
with totality. I love your writing, by the way, just not sure where it's
going and its veering seems to loosely lose its subject at times, at least
for me; I'd rather have a better grasp of mathematics and mathesis than
Leonardo or any other literary figure.

For me, I know I don't know recursive function theory, and that's what I'd
need here. I used Rosza Peter's Recursive Functions book, which I couldn't
follow in its entirety; I also spoke to mathematicians at the time. I was
fascinated by Wittgenstein's TLP, in particular the use of primitive
functions not-both-a-and-b and neither-a-nor-be, not this not that. I did
understand that well enough to write on them and that was published in a
philosophy journal.

The picture of the knot is beautiful; you'll find similar things in Islamic
architecture. Erasing WCBS was a metaphor for a return to a ground state,
an empty carrier wave which is already a contradiction, since carrier waves
are at specific frequencies. I was also interested and wrote/talked about
the idea of a news "story" since "story" implies a whole bundle of
conventions - stories are "killed" for example (which parallels the killing
of a process in linux, and all those metaphors in operating systems from
daily/organic life).

For me, these are all different worlds; I majors in English lit. in college
(unfortunately), studied some physical anthropology, got Brown's first MA
in creative writing poetry after studying Middle English, and have found no
place to rest/roost since.

Keep going!

Alan, thanks!

On Fri, Oct 30, 2020 at 12:52 PM Max Herman via NetBehaviour <
netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

> One other thought Alan, have you ever corresponded with Hofstadter?  He is
> still working at the University of Indiana and would understand much more
> than I can about the series and set theory you discuss.  I contacted him
> about the many references by Calvino in *Six Memos* to his book *GEB*,
> and he replied that he had never heard of such references and knows of but
> has not read *Six Memos*.
> I think it could lead to a great conversation if Hofstadter was to read *Six
> Memos*, and its contemplation of poetry and math, but I have no idea how
> to motivate him to do so!  I floated the idea of an article about *Six
> Memos* and *GEB *to a well-known author who had interest for a time but
> got too busy.  🙁
> Must keep trying, I suppose, just like our redoubtable hero of the
> *Odyssey!*  🙂
> ------------------------------
> *From:* NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on
> behalf of Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org
> >
> *Sent:* Friday, October 30, 2020 11:21 AM
> *To:* NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <
> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
> *Cc:* Max Herman <maxnmherman at hotmail.com>
> *Subject:* Re: [NetBehaviour] Resonances 1970-2020
> Hi Alan,
> Just read this now, it is extremely relevant I think!
> First off, the spirals in the JPG Leonardo pretty much drew those
> constantly from what I can tell in the notebooks.
> The "removal" you write of might correspond, I wonder, to the idea of
> "less" in the novel.  Because, in a way, when you do a recursion and return
> back to and resume from where you were the recursion "disappears"; but of
> course not really.  Or, in what what does it and in what way does it not?
> I saw this article from Quanta yesterday after writing about all this
> chiastic structure stuff and *Less *to my three mathematician friends
> (who correct me constantly):
> https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-black-hole-information-paradox-comes-to-an-end-20201029/
> I'm not qualified to judge the validity of the physics being discussed, but
> the visuals are evocative and seem to echo the removal/trace idea you
> describe.
> The concept of the 4-hour tape being made and erased reminds me a bit of
> Bjorn's concept of works that do not exist.  But in a way, they do?
> I asked my mathematician friends what if anything in math might compare to
> chiasmus, and one replied that anti-isomorphism would.  This makes sense to
> me, because "antimetabole" (or reverse change) is a sub-type of chiasmus
> where the words are exact matches (all for one and one for all).
> Here is a potential text chiasmus from Leonardo; the first sentence
> resembles ABCD-BADC:
> Painting is poetry which is seen and not heard, and poetry is a painting
> which is heard but not seen. These two arts, you may call them both either
> poetry or painting, have here interchanged the senses by which they
> penetrate to the intellect.A Treatise on Painting (1651); "The Paragone";
> compiled by Francesco Melzi prior to 1542, first published as Trattato
> della pittura by Raffaelo du Fresne (1651)
> Actually now I'm kind of "tripping out" because the Leonardo sentence is a
> "linked" chiasmus pair exactly like the links in the neckline of the *Mona
> Lisa*.
> Here is an image Leonardo made for his "academy" which was, I think, an
> imagination:
> https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1877-0113-365
> In reading the Resonances pamphlet, the reference to symmetry and
> encoding/decoding on page 7 makes sense.  With Leonardo, I'm trying to
> understand if there is kind of a text/image method going on that he wants
> us to first "figure out," then "listen to," (or in his term, "experience"
> or "esperienza").  One idea I have is that we are meant to look at the Mona
> Lisa as a mirror equal of ourselves i.e. a peer (not servant or master).
> Then we are meant to notice the difference between the living awareness,
> which is present (the person), inanimate nature (the rock/water landscape),
> and the art/technology flows (which are the garment and the bridge).  The
> whole composition is then chiastic, in a way, kind of based on a symmetry,
> but "dislodged" if you will by the passage of time (which I see as
> represented by the shallow, inverted V of the horizon line, splitting
> "before" if you will on the left from "after" on the right, with the apex
> somewhere around the sitter's eye).  This dislodgement would yield for
> example a spiral or helix rather than a point rotating around a circle.
> So, your reference to extrapolating to higher dimensions (mainly 2 to 3 I
> think for Leonardo) and rotating are very much part of the Mona Lisa,
> especially if on views (as I do) the notebooks as a fundamental part of the
> Mona Lisa, the latter being in a sense merely an anchor or fulcrum with
> which to leverage the preservation of the notebooks or more accurately what
> the notebooks represent.  Hence the knot, VICI, etc.  Maybe relates to the
> IPL ideas of stack etc. too, but I know virtually nothing about computers.
> I had never heard of Greer before reading *Less *last week so my take on
> him is brand new; but since he lives in SF among SV people and half-time in
> Tuscany among Calvino readers I can see how he would go into these kinds of
> inquiries.
> One article I found argues that Nabokov in *Pale Fire* was actually
> referring more to *Hamlet*, which he did not state openly, than to *Timon
> of Athens*, which he did.  The phrase "pale fire" is from Hamlet, but
> appears interrupted by other words.
> Here is a quote from Wikipedia:
> Explanation of the title
> As Nabokov pointed out himself,[14] the title of John Shade's poem is from
> Shakespeare's Timon of Athens: "The moon's an arrant thief, / And her pale
> fire she snatches from the sun" (Act IV, scene 3), a line often taken as a
> metaphor about creativity and inspiration. Kinbote quotes the passage but
> does not recognize it, as he says he has access only to an inaccurate
> Zemblan translation of the play "in his Timonian cave", and in a separate
> note he even rails against the common practice of using quotations as
> titles.
> Some critics have noted a secondary reference in the book's title to
> Hamlet, where the Ghost remarks how the glow-worm "'gins to pale his
> uneffectual fire" (Act I, scene 5).[15]
> The title is first mentioned in the foreword: "I recall seeing him from my
> porch, on a brilliant morning, burning a whole stack of [index cards of
> drafts of the poem] in the pale fire of the incinerator...".
> Now, one possibility we must consider is that Nabokov was lying or
> concealing when he said that the title was from Timon.  Why would he do
> that?  Well, I think for a range of reasons but one is simply to assert
> that art is not passive.  The artist does not deliver it to us like a
> package in the mail.  There is much assembly required!  🙂  Or as Hamlet
> said, why would the artist want to let the viewers play him like a flute?
> Also, Greer mentions glow-worms several times, which to me blares "yes it's
> a reference to Hamlet everybody" but that is my bias.  (I see Hamlet and
> Oedipus in many works -- Oedipus is the chiastic hero detecting and
> punishing his own crime -- such as in *Less *when the protagonist steps
> on a sewing needle.)
> If this is true, then Greer's reference to Lolita in *Less *might be more
> a reference to Pale Fire, and his reference to the Last Supper might be
> more a reference to the Mona Lisa, and his reference to aging backwards
> might also be a reference to Dorian Gray.  But they might not!  I could be
> projecting, but in a sense projection is also "on purpose," in the sense of
> all probabilities playing themselves out.
> For example: it struck me while reading *Less *that he mentions
> everything in the fictional world tour being closed, or already passed, or
> not happening yet, so the protagonist misses almost everything.  This hit
> me rather sharply, because one of the main reason I got to thinking about
> the Mona Lisa in summer 2019 was because the Louvre was closed on the day I
> had planned to visit.  My companion and I just had to read the sheet of
> paper on the door of the glass pyramid "closed due to one-day staff strike
> to protest the excess number of visitors" and walk around the square.  It
> was still a very vivid memory however.
> Or in another reference from the book, it mentions "the spiral nature of
> being" and Nietzsche's eternal return.  I had always thought of this as
> "modernity always having to return to antiquity, as in daily" or the
> present/future always having to digest the past, or not being able to jump
> over your own shadow.  But maybe it is not that -- maybe it is about the
> universe being born, expanding to total entropy, collapsing again in a big
> crunch, and starting over.  I don't know which it is, both, neither;
> uncertainty persists.
> One note on Greer is that if Calvino's *Six Memos* was a reading list and
> syllabus for America in 1985, which Calvino died before being able to
> deliver to us in person (though he concretely imagined doing so), Greer has
> probably completed the course.  *Less *is a mixed book however, it seems
> to me, something too overdone about it, but that is very well just me
> projecting.  In fact, one image in the book is about the kaiseki meal --
> overdone, done, underdone, so to speak, one cannot seek perfect
> homeostasis.  There's no such thing.  Or as Blake said, "Enough! or too
> much."
> Your page 7 item 6 reminds me of one of the first videos I made, in about
> 1996.  I taped a newspaper of stock prices to the wall and sat in front of
> it kind of ranting about what a novel is, and I think ended up on "the
> novel is the novel," more or less totally incoherent and certainly
> terrible, a memory tinged with nausea.  Another interesting Quanta item
> from a couple of weeks ago has some good visuals of quantum mapping, with
> one 3-d movable diagram if you scroll way down at this link:
> https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-new-map-of-the-standard-model-of-particle-physics-20201022/
> Page 9 in your book/let starts to get pretty complex so I will have to
> revisit.  But great reference, many thanks, and nicely done!
> All best wishes and regards,
> Max
> PS -- just skimming through the pages after 9: black hole/shell on p. 15
> with mention of "lessening" echoes *Less *and the Quanta article about
> black holes as shells; p. 16 reminds of many Leonardo notations and his
> drawing of the uterus; story and expiration on p. 17 reminds me of an old
> joke to self of "reading the oldspaper" and Thoreau's critique of news;
> p.26 the "inconsistency" of the circle twisting into an infinity sign which
> I think of as chiastic perhaps, from the Greek "chiazein" "to shape into
> the form of an 'x,'"; p. 27 is interesting about the poetic, reminding me
> of the "contemplative aesthetic" implicit in "predictive regulation," which
> Peter Sterling terms "allostasis" and places as a more important ring of
> complexity around homeostasis as a building framework of all biological
> life -- allowing greater processing of energy into work -- and what is
> prediction but imagination, or recursive chiasmus selected in time?  I
> forgot to mention, the earlier drawings in the book/let remind of meiosis,
> which is I think is the main genetic application of the term chiasmata.
> PPS -- I have a piece going into a museum on Sunday, based on the number
> 27, will post announcement to list.  🙂
> PPPS -- one question, have you ever heard of Nietzsche's "transvaluation
> of all values"?  I view him as more or less the Enemy, but that idea is
> somewhat relevant I sometimes think or at least suspect, or I least I
> sometimes have wondered what he meant by it, quite likely something totally
> evil or almost so.
> ------------------------------
> *From:* NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on
> behalf of Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
> *Sent:* Thursday, October 29, 2020 4:14 PM
> *To:* NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <
> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
> *Subject:* [NetBehaviour] Resonances 1970-2020
> Resonances
> http://www.alansondheim.org/resonances/resonances001.jpg
> http://www.alansondheim.org/resonances/
> In 1971 I showed at the Bykert Gallery in Manhattan; it was
> accompanied by a 32 page book/let describing the theory behind
> the work. I was interested in mathematical symmetries, both in
> terms of reflections and ground states. I forgot about the show
> and book/let for a long time, thinking that the math in it was
> faulty and next to useless; I also had difficulties following my
> own terse approach. Recently I went back and carefully reread
> what I had written, and it suddenly made sense, and for me had
> implications in relation to digital constructs and phenomenology.
> (The book/let was RESONANCES, Alan Sondheim, ppress, 1971, in an
> edition of 200. The work is almost entirely from 1970. Klaus
> Kertess ran the gallery; Mary Boone was the gallery assistant at
> the time.)
> I was working with the idea of blank ground states in relation to
> otherwise content. So a ground state might be designated [] or in
> other words, not designated. Place a non-symmetrical symbol on [].
> There are possible operations of rotation and translation within
> []. I considered a 2-dimensional sheet of assertion. I wasn't
> concerned with raster; I assumed none. Rotation and translation
> might be made in relation to a second symbol. I assumed that if T
> was such an operation, T' might be its reversal. In identity of
> course, TT = T'T' since nothing changes. What was of much greater
> interest was the actual _placing_ of a symbol or symbols on a blank
> ground state. Consider the placing an operation T. Then T' might be
> the removal of the symbol or symbols. The ground state might be
> anything, that sheet of assertion, a rock, a soccer game, a
> gesture. On a macroscopic level, removal is never pure, never
> perfect; traces are left. On a theoretical level, removal is
> possible and that's where I was. So the world seethes with the
> potential for the symbolic, for marking, for demarcation; the world
> is (and yes, this is a fiction, non-sense) ground; entropy ensures
> that nothing reverses on a macroscopic level. Yes, but I was and
> find myself still interested in the ground as potentially seething.
> So for example I can consider a book or a national constitution as
> the result of a heavily fuzzily indefinite set S of operations or
> {T}, and then a reversal S' as {T'} and even the elements of T and
> T', however defined, need not be equivalent. It's as if there's a
> process of _lifting_. The example I used was a radio news broadcast
> (thinking WCBS or WINS, NYC) and there is this accompanying
> statement:
> a four hour tape of [WCBS] was produced and erased
>                                             11/70
> So there are several things at work here: sheets or basins or
> worlds of assertion; possible operations within or upon the sheets
> (or basins); "inverse" operations that reverse those possible
> operations; other operations that (re: Weyl) manipulate symbols
> within the sheets or basins, by affine or other translations; other
> operations that require "leaving" the sheet or basin and returning
> - for example b and d transform only by a move from 2 dim to 3 or
> high dim, etc.; and finally, operations that _undo,_ annihilate,
> and/or eliminate those operations which created the symbols in the
> first place. In this sense, and only in this sense of course (this
> is fiction), mathematics and logic are _doing_ mathematics and
> logic, and symbols may be both or either epistemological (i.e.
> tan(x)) or ontological within a given framework (i.e. x, or better
> perhaps [x] , []).
> This does nothing in reality; it might even be considered and
> rightfully so, a mathematically naive mess. I believe mathematics
> represents ideal forms, (as did Godel btw), that it's ontologically
> coherent and existent, but _applied_ mathematics, if it takes into
> account the idea of a sheet of assertion, (Mathematica notebook for
> example), it might also take into account those operations that
> send the symbols on the sheet, as we as the sheet itself, into -
> not only a null state, but a non-existent one.
> I'm not sure any of this is clear; my knowledge of mathematics is
> close to non-existent. And the math itself is just _wrong._ But you
> know, you might think of the process of _lifting_ from a ground
> (however defined) as a form of cultural annihilation, just as radio
> news (and by implication, perhaps, any other news form or medium)
> disappears, is always already in the formation of disappearance, as
> it is absorbed - not only by the passage of time rendering news
> useless qua news, but also by the continuous decay of physical
> artifacts that ostensibly carried, embodied, reproduced, the
> signals themselves as records/recordings. The digital acts as a
> retardant of course; its ideality is the perfection of reproduction
> and perhaps even the lack of any original - but this also depends
> on a whole matrix/network of physical storage. The past not only
> recedes from us; it disappears as signal or object, as ontology or
> imminence. And that's what the operation of _lifting,_ of [x] -> []
> is about.
> Later: I'm putting up almost the entire publication with the texts
> and diagrams. Thinking about the sheet of assertion - this of
> course can be anything at all, a cloud, speaking (into the air),
> and so forth. The substrate is anonymous, anomalous; it needn't
> have any sort of symmetrical substructure which a pixel raster does
> of course. A raster can also be removed; there might be layers
> spiraling downward. Covid dissipates in the air, remains longer in
> the 4-dimensional interiority of a room (x,y,z,t), especially if a
> fan is absent. Virus particles sign in, are signed in, passive and
> active tenses are moot. No DNA, fossil or otherwise, remains
> forever. [x] -> [] might be a process of debris; accompanied by the
> broken character armors of anxiety and depression. When things fall
> apart, there might be no things. What are things are what we call
> things, what we call them to us.
> There's more, part of what the short book/let pamphlet is about,
> something written poorly (bad math again) about recursive functions
> and a play off Ackermann's function which I never truly understood.
> I think of coagulations: repeated additions of a unit results in
> multiplication, for example 2+2+2 = 2x3; 2x2x2 = 2^3 and so forth.
> I became interested in the reverse, and use the symbol 'o' for the
> operation, a kind of gateway and noticing. For example, 3o3o3 = 6.
> The repetition just increments; 2o2 = 4 (as usual), and 1o1o1 = 4
> as well. The operator itself carries the increment. Just as
> addition might metaphorically refer to a gathering of objects, 'o'
> might refer to a set of notices. Okay, this is pushing things too
> far and I'm not a mathematician. But it seems interesting to mess
> around with recursion in this way. And naturally one can also
> produce the natural number series; start with 0, then 0o0 = 2. What
> happened to 1? Think of 'o' as fundamental; then 0o = 1. My god
> what have we here? Demarcation of course; before a unit length is
> agreed upon, we have to think about the act of noticing. The act of
> noticing also establishes a domain or sheet or region of assertion.
> So far off track, there might be a kernel here or a kernel of
> something of interest. In any case the relevant sections are up
> online. The show was a success.
> http://www.alansondheim.org/resonances/resonances001.jpg
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