Hi Alan,

I wholeheartedly agree that many or most species show aspects of informational culture.  One image that seems to capture this for me visually (though simply) is the "lateral line" in fish.  I have no expertise but appreciate their beauty!

My knowledge of physics and quantum theory is far below the expert level, gained mostly these days from reading Quanta magazine articles aimed at the average lay reader.

One recent article I found interesting was an interview with Lee Smolin, whose approach (which includes art and philosophy concepts) reminds me in some ways of Bohm:
Smolin seems to allude to the Einstein-Bohr debates, which Bohm has also commented on in On Creativity; these may relate to the classical models you note are problematic.

Another set of references I am using these days, as an experiment in method, is comprised of four books (referenced in my first recent poem):
Six Memos for the Next Millennium, by Italo Calvino
On Dialogue, by David Bohm
Networks of the Brain, by Olaf Sporns
Chase, Chance, and Creativity, by James Austin

This approach is generating far more noise than signal for me but I am giving the process some time and enjoying both the permutations and the settling-out process, trying to let both play out in some form of balance.  The Calvino book is especially interesting and unexpected in his discussion of particles, quanta if you will, from an artistic perspective blended with science and philosophy.  The other books help both as distinct fields in their own right and supply contextual ballast, offering at times fruitful counterpoint in a somewhat fugue-like pattern I have yet to understand well.

Many thanks again!


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces@lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 10:37 AM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Alan Sondheim <sondheim@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Goddess of Storms and Alphabets

This is really interesting and I agree with everything you say, just want to add a couple of things. Classical music used to be improvised; Bach, for example, was known more for his improvisations than his compositions. If we could only hear them now!

There are of course jazz compositions, improvisation within frameworks. Even free jazz, say Ayler, often begins with a tune which then becomes nothing more than a diving board.

What's lost for me in Bohm (and obviously I don't know any of the finer points of quantum mechanics), is his emphasis, if I remember correctly, on these order, explicate/implicate, as somewhat classical? I tend to think that re: QM, there's absolute loss, untraceability; the world is deeply random. (I don't know how this squares with Susskind and others emphasizing the retention of information in black holes, that information isn't lost. Perhaps someone else can help here?) For example, species disappear without trace (so far) in the fossil record. I tend to also believe in dinosaur culture, and hope someday a field is created, cultural paleontology, which will examine this; it's known that at least some species had serious flocking behaviour - and that alligators use tools - who knows what's missing completely from the fossil record, and how much on the other hand might be overlooked? In any case, this relates to my notion of the inadequate - that there are gaps which will always be gaps, gaps we don't even know exist - and that's hard for us to swallow...

Best!, Alan, thank you

On Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 10:02 AM Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

Hi Alan,

I wanted to apologize for taking a perhaps too-literal "call and response" approach to your latest posts.  I found them very intriguing, but was too presumptuous in jumping to instant replies.  This is something for me to reflect on, in order to avoid talking too much, or over or around people, which Bohm noted was deleterious to dialogue.

I indeed took a lot of poetic license with the words "grammar" and "create," arguably far too much, but would like to elaborate and make some level of excuse while also acknowledging my errors.

I agree with ideas like universal grammar and the structure of the universe, time-space, phenomena, and consciousness.  Species absolutely do learn and teach, within each individual sometimes (as Bohm says in On Dialogue), certainly within species (like parents and young), and between species (fungi "teach" tree roots how much of certain nutrients to release into the soil).  

What I think I meant by "creating grammar on the fly" is just the idea of improvisation, performance of various versions of "grammar", loosely defined as any kind of regular order, as in jazz.  By this I mean things as trivial as using ain't for isn't, the general theory of spontaneity balancing with rules.  Or even in the sense of embodying grammar, giving it living form, which is in a sense creation (just as playing an already-written song is a creation so to speak).  You expressed this much better as grammar being always already there in the fabric or structures of reality itself.  I agree with what you said, and can see how my phrasing sounds more like the opposite.

As for "creating," Bohm and Lee Smolin talk about how the universe is not so much a container of objects but a web of processes.  Even a quantum particle is a story or web of possible stories, enmeshed with other particles and perhaps an even more invisible substrate.  So, in this view, poetically speaking, mere existence is an ongoing creative process.  Bohm and Smolin both posit deficiencies in Bohr's flavor of quantum theory, and present these as a serious flaw and gap at the most basic level of physics.  They both argue that this state of affairs or crisis in physics today (illustrated by the troubling recent results at the Large Hadron Supercollider) has serious implications for art and consciousness, with myriad interconnections to it.  I'm doing a fair bit of thinking out loud on their ideas lately which is often or even usually just noisemaking on my part. 

Adding some more poetic license, by "creating grammar" I meant something like "existing grammar" (with "exist" distorted into a transitive verb).  In On Creativity, Bohm's interview talks about how the universe is folded or enmeshed, the implicate order being the "folded up" state, which can "unfold" into the explicate order.  This is how he addresses creativity, in one sense, perhaps only poetic, I think.  Perhaps he meant that some kinds of creativity are particular manifestations of a creation that is already there but just folded up and invisible?  I have only recently started reading Bohm, just last year, and could be reading him entirely out of context.  What you say about momentary structures sounds very relevant to Bohm if I am hearing correctly.

Admittedly I have no real education or training, much less expertise, on what grammar is, and could be totally full of BS as the scrabble image indicates.  A jive turkey as it were.  🙂

Perhaps also with jazz, there is improvisation and collaboration more so than with the execution of a classical score.  There may be a valid difference here musically, at least in the poetic sense.  It may have something to do with the fabric of execution.  What is the fabric?  Classical may be more instructional, as it were, and jazz more participatory.  Bohm wrote a lot about participatory thought in both On Dialogue and On Creativity.  And, the proprioception of thought, or internally feeling thought subjectively and not just rationally.  In participatory models, my sense is that Bohm felt it was less about instruction, execution, and replication, and more about free-form permutation within a communicative system, "through-meaning" rather than "two-meaning," "dia" meaning through and not two.  This is poetically sort of what I meant by learning, teaching, and being taught.  There are "flavors" of each, which I'm not at all sure how to define, one perhaps being more improvisational, the other more instructional.  Or, one flavor being more "instrumentalized" in its spin or logic and another being less so, call it "de-instrumentalized," in the Kantian sense of "ends in themselves, never as means only."

The scrabble words I saw were kin, Eli, Canute, reincarnation, jive, God, BS, USA, and turb, I think.

Bohm in On Dialogue also emphasizes the need for non-occupation in liberal doses.  Without this, he seems not to believe creativity can occur, only repetition, yet it is something I often do far too little of!

Very best regards, and thanks for your generous replies,


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces@lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 6:42 PM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Alan Sondheim <sondheim@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Goddess of Storms and Alphabets
grammar wasn't invented (except of course for computer and other artificial languages like Esperanto); it might have been codified after the fact (Panini's Sanskrit being my favorite example, since his grammar is actually a form of computer programming at least two thousand years old). And learning, teaching, or being taught - in various ways every organism does this. The world is momentary structures that have always already been with us in a sense -

Best!, Alan

On Tue, Aug 27, 2019 at 7:39 PM Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

Good point!

Maybe, "being, unfolding, making explicate
Grammar on the fly, with no thought yet
Of learning, teaching, or being taught
All kin, earliest folk, all groups greater than one
Since the first cell and first particle"?

It's a hardscrabble gleaning sometimes;
More when my leaves are falling like its own! 

From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim@panix.com>
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 6:07 PM
To: Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Max Herman <maxnmherman@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Goddess of Storms and Alphabets

love this, only wanted to say that there was always already grammar,
always already structure to being in the world, not " Early folk creating
grammar on the fly, far from learning it or being taught it. "
we were never, none of us in the world, nor animals, nor any, creating
grammar that way; I remember Heinz von Foerster describing culture
beginning with negation, even amoeba have culture, have that -

Best!, Alan

On Tue, 27 Aug 2019, Max Herman via NetBehaviour wrote:

> Take a pebble for instance, an item,
> One of the few and many that can be picked up by hand.
> Some are like this.
> Some can also be instruments, sticks or stones, alongside the immovable
> base-grounds.
> Hence thou hast compositions, counting, forms, names, phrases, and such.
> Early folk creating grammar on the fly, far from learning it or being taught
> it.
> What counts the quiet though, the quietus?
> There can be no count without that, no seeing, not even any hearing.
> Well the breathing counts it, says the brain.
> Imagine all paint and no canvas!
> You lose track of your sons.
> Were they ever even yours, oh fleet of foot?
> Wild turkeys cross the streets coolly around here,
> Up from the Mississippi,
> And I thank them daily for it.
> More than one story-set or circle of the world
> Calls life breath, the one and the all
> An old-time bellows or mill that moves particles
> Like Da Vinci drew
> Each pebble a point and a pointer, if marked,
> And of course a black square.
> ____________________________________________________________________________
> From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces@lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf
> of Alan Sondheim <sondheim@panix.com>
> Sent: Monday, August 26, 2019 6:11 PM
> To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity
> <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org>
> Subject: [NetBehaviour] Goddess of Storms and Alphabets
> Goddess of Storms and Alphabets
> http://www.alansondheim.org/P1030727.jpg
> http://www.alansondheim.org/P1030738.JPG
> I'm not sure how language would begin, not sure how language would
> be recorded as a gesture accompanied by a sound. Sure to be sounds
> accompanying gestures that hardened, somewhen into a signal or
> call, somehow a meaning. The sounds were ghostings, heard over the
> hill around the hill in the forest across the stream behind the
> rocks above the cliffs within the caves, the gestures were bodies,
> the bodies were breathing, there were two directions, into the
> lungs, out from the lungs. There were swirls and whirlwinds and the
> world breathed and was given body and bodies. It was cool to hear a
> knowledge from one who was knowing, invisible, elsewhere. There
> were cries too from the woundings, there were disappearances of
> familiar voices from leaving and dying which returned in memories
> and dreams made real with them, the waking in the night, the
> weeping and ululations. The world was enormous and narrow and all
> around and the same for many comings and goings for weeks and
> months at a time, or just a vision around the boulder surface or
> from the sky when things moved there, as they always did. The world
> was always different than the world, and always new and old, and
> always the world. The murmuring of the world was everywhere and
> everywhen and when that became language and accountancy, everything
> moved away, quietly, until distance itself became unfathomable,
> unknown even in its familiarity. Sure to be sounds, sure to be.
> _______________________________________________
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> NetBehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org
> https://lists.netbehaviour.org/mailman/listinfo/netbehaviour

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