[NetBehaviour] thoughts on solstice, water, earth, and crises of modernity

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Sun Jun 12 15:18:47 CET 2022


Hi all,

There's an interesting astronomical event this month, that occurs every 18 years, where several planets line up in order.  It happens pre-dawn so I haven't seen it yet but plan to soon and especially on the 24th when the moon will line up too.

Planets have always been an interesting network-mapping problem, often mirroring those of society and the human brain, and arguably continue so to this day.  Planets were considered by the Postclassical Maya circa 1500, the Mona Lisa circa 1500, Stonehenge, Aristotle, and the I Ching.  Much of literature, art, music, and philosophy is entangled in their paths if only by linkage to a timekeeping method.

For a few years I have done a kind of solstice activity each summer either in a desert or by a river.  Part of the first one from 2018 is online (search Solstizio Calvino Calzona Museum), and was prompted by reading Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millennium which discusses the planets and solstice as well as the history of Italian literature in a network context.  The "earth" (astronomic particulate) and "water" (astronomic flow) aspects of solstice and planetary system are interesting to me as themes that cross historical periods.  They remind me, for example, of Johannes' recent themes of rivers and hydrocommons and Suzon's rendering of information machines as dust, flow, habitation, adornment, and loci of age.

Since the culture of periods called ancient emerged out of the indigenous, and those called medieval produced the seeds of all modern form and crisis, I don't find ancient or medieval content alien to what we call modern or postmodern.  It often seems more and more that they are closely related rather than alien.  For example, I see nothing unmodern (or un-postmodern) in the network map which is the Mona Lisa.  It shows the movement of earth and water, physics and metaphysics, both encyclopedic and empty, visual and textual.  Art, Nature, and the Human are interwoven by an algebraic set of changes, set in a frame of sustainability, as an experiential planetary portrait.

Only if we consider the present and future to be set in stone is such an image outside the contemporary.

All best wishes and regards for the summer season,

Max


PS -- Two other quite modern writers from medieval Italy are Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), whose Decameron tells 100 tales, ten each by ten people over ten days spent taking refuge from a plague, and Leon Battista Alberti (1406-1472), who both wrote a famous treatise Della Pittura (On Painting) and established the foundations of western cryptography.  One can easily compare Alberti's "all steps of learning should be sought from nature" to Leonardo's "[painting is] a subtle invention which brings philosophy and subtle speculation to the consideration of the nature of all forms... which are surrounded by shade and light.... this is true knowledge and the legitimate issue of nature; for painting is born of nature." Also parallel are the former's "To make clear my exposition in writing this brief commentary on painting I will take first from the mathematicians those things with which my subject is concerned" and the latter's "Let no one who is not a Mathematician read the elements of my work."

PPS -- An interesting new development in network math is described in a new article at Quanta Magazine online, regarding algorithms for maximum flow at minimum cost in complex networks.  The related concept of "low stretch spanning tree" is intriguing from an art viewpoint, though I'm not sure if there are any implications.


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