Saturday, May 19, 2007

Works Cited

Why then is there so much confidence in these numbers for the accurate description of physics, when our initial experience of the relevance of such numbers lies in a comparatively limited rage? This confidence--perhaps misplaced--must rest (although this fact is not often recognized) on the logical elegance, consistency, and mathematical power of the real number system, together with a belief in the profound mathematical harmony of Nature.

_____________

How 'real' are the objects of the mathematician's world? From one point of view it seems that there can be nothing real about them at all. Mathematical objects are just concepts; they are the mental idealizations that mathematicians make, often stimulated by the appearance and seeming order of aspects of the world about us, but mental idealizations nevertheless. Can they be other than mere arbitrary constructions of the human mind? At the same time there often does appear to be some profound reality about these mathematical concepts, going quite beyond the mental deliberations of any particular mathematician. It is as though human thought is, instead, being guided towards some external truth--a truth which has a reality of its own, and which is revealed only partially to any one of us.

Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind

Bionic Scott

[10:48:43 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says: Is this what happened to you?
http://jwz.livejournal.com/763760.html

[12:38:47 AM] Scott says: That's exactly what it was like. I was hit by a truck, and then I starred in a bad movie.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Goals

I wrote down a list of life goals in my pocket notebook a few days ago. This took no more than five minutes; I just listened to my gut. It's not a long list, but it looks like enough to keep me busy for the next 60 years or however long I'll be around. Lately, I analyze all of my activities as to whether they push me closer to one of those goals. It's akin to a constitutional analysis: is there a close nexus between this activity one of my legitimate interests? If I can't justify the action, I don't do it and do something that is justified.

This has brought a remarkable clarity to the day.

Classical Music Discussion

DRASKO:



It seems Sony 22 CD Stravinsky Edition is finally due for reappearance. So far only jpc is listing it for pre-order and the price looks right.


SCOTTSCHEULE:


What a funny little walrus of a man.


KARLHENNING:


Some called him Bilbo . . . .



SCOTTSCHEULE:


That certainly has a nice ring to it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Works Cited

10. A Prayer in Spring


OH, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Robert Frost, A Boy's Will

Schoenberg

More Schoenberg today. A lot of fun to read. People say he was nasty, but I don't see it--he's just brutally honest. The most vituperative I've read yet was his notes on Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, comments he apparently wrote down as he listened to it, or shortly thereafter. But afterwards he writes in an apology: "I sometimes lose myself--one should not rely on such superficial reactions, and I'm sorry... but seriously, Oedipus sucks." That's the gist of it.

A lot of what turns people off of Schoenberg isn't the atonality or serialism (though they sometimes mistakenly believe it is), but rather his rapid development of ideas. Schoenberg completely recognizes this, and doesn't apologize. "It's just my style," he essentially says. Another composer could stamp out a theme, even a completely dodecaphonic one, and repeat it a few times essentially unaltered, to let it sink in and people would probably find it much more palatable.

Schoenberg ain't about this. He gives it to you once as is. If he repeats, he'll vary it. You're never going to get it verbatim again. This taxes your memory more. You've got to remember it immediately, because you don't get a second chance.

At the same time, he doesn't criticize composers who are more repetitive (Russians, for instance, are fond of repeating melodies without development): he simply believes people have to be true to their inspirations, and his tend to be less forgiving of the listener.

24 blogging:


[9:46:04 PM] Scott says:
Dude, do not take shit from Russia.

[9:46:12 PM] Scott says: What is this? 1960?

[9:46:34 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says: Seriously. No one threatens us militarily. Who's he kidding?

[9:46:57 PM] Scott says: Maybe Presidents have to pretend to be scared, just to stroke their egos.

[9:47:36 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says: http://www.globalissues.org/i/military/country-distribution-2005.png

[9:47:51 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says: BRING IT ON, BITCH

[9:48:06 PM] Scott says: U S A! U S A!

[9:48:15 PM] Scott says: You Ess Eh!

[9:48:49 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States#Military_spending_relative_to_other_countries

[9:49:12 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says: Look how long we are!

[9:49:17 PM] Scott says: I have never been so proud of my country.

[9:49:24 PM] Scott says: And that's not a substitute for anything!

[9:49:42 PM] Jay Goodman Tamboli says: Not at all.

Schoenberg

More Schoenberg today. A lot of fun to read. People say he was nasty, but I don't see it--he's just brutally honest. The most vituperative I've read yet was his notes on Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, comments he apparently wrote down as he listened to it, or shortly thereafter. But afterwards, he writes in an apology: "I sometimes lose myself--one should not rely on such superficial reactions, and I'm sorry... but seriously, Oedipus sucks."

I think a lot of what turns people off of Schoenberg isn't the atonality or serialism (though they sometimes mistakenly believe it is), but rather his rapid development of ideas. Schoenberg completely recognizes this, and is not in the least apologetic about it. "It's just my style," he essentially says. Another composer could stamp out a theme, even a completely dodecaphonic one, and repeat it a few times, essentially unaltered, to let it sink in and people would probably find it much more palatable.

Schoenberg ain't about this. He gives it to you once as is. If he repeats, he'll vary it. You're never going to get it verbatim again. This taxes your memory more. You've got to remember it immediately, because you don't get a second chance.

At the same time, he doesn't criticize composers who are more repetitive (Russians, for instance, are fond of repeating melodies without development): he simply believes people have to be true to their inspirations, and his tends to be less forgiving of the listener.

Wonderful Day

Truly. Now in proper post-graduate fashion, I awoke at 10 AM, took a shower. I was all ready to start my day... yet I noticed some lingering feelings of drowsiness. So I took a nap. Cellphone went off at noon, waking me up, Jay wanted to have lunch at Chili's with H-dawg (Hanah).

I grabbed a cup of coffee at Borders, then headed down to Crystal City to meet the crew. We got a table for four (Sasha would be joining us). I tried to explain the Chinese Room hypothetical to Jay, but he didn't understand it (he didn't even give a behavioral response that we'd expect from someone who'd understood it. Indeed, were one of the questions of the Turing test "What do you think of the Chinese Room thought experiment?" Jay would have failed miserably.) In an effort to make things clearer, I began to yell.

JAY: Why Chinese?

SCOTT: It doesn't matter! It could be any language.

JAY: Then why not English?

SCOTT: Because you understand English.

JAY: You're thinking of the Turing test.

SCOTT: No. You're thinking of the Turing test.

JAY: I know the Chinese Room.

SCOTT:
You obviously don't.

JAY: Yes, I do.

SCOTT: Who came up with it then?

JAY:
That's not important.

SCOTT: Searle. Now shut up, because I obviously know more than you.

Soon Sasha joined us. We ate, Sasha made some bad puns, I tried to tell a joke and failed miserably.

SCOTT:
So Nixon goes to the Soviet Union. And um... there's a phone. Anyway, the phone calls Hell. No wait! Let me start again. Nixon in Russia, right? So the phone calls Satan.

JAY: You're not telling this right.

SCOTT: I'm definitely not.

SASHA: Is the punchline that Hell's a local call?

So between all of us we completed the joke. Much like a dwarf inside a computer reading a Chinese to English dictionary. This led to a few rounds of jokes, some colorful, some only funny in the original Russian, and some not even funny then.

I sped back to Borders, which I use as my own personal library. I could keep a personal library at home; but that would involve me buying books, and using Borders as my library (it being across the street) is far cheaper. And my Borders-library is superior to most. Most libraries do not have a coffee shop--mine does. People will reshelve my books if I leave them around the place wherever. Cute girls wander into my library from time to time. Plus what a selection. Now granted, I can't take my books out of my library, but who cares? There are comfy chairs.

Meanwhile, of course I called home and wished a Mom a happy holiday, plus talked to both of my graduating brothers. Seriously, I was born, 'tis true, with slight deficiencies in a neurotransmitter or two, but I also got a pretty amazing family out of the deal, and so I consider the cosmic accounts settled.

So I spent the day listening to my current current album, a Boulez rendition of Pierrot Lunaire, which has surprisingly bad reviews (the Sprechstimme is apparently too much singing, not enough Stimme. The Erwartung is, however, amazing), reading various books in the comfy Borders chair. I got lost in a collection of Schoenberg's writings. A fantastic writer and music theorist--everything a guy could want out of an artist: unabashed elitism, unflinching logic, a touch of emotion, really everything but the melody (joke--Schoenberg's melodies are carefully crafted and plentiful--just not pretty).

(Incidentally, I have no problem with people hating modern music. I have no problem with people hating things generally. Hatred is a way of taking quality seriously--nothing more abhorrent than omni-tolerant acceptance or an "Everything's a matter of taste" attitude. But I do demand that, if you are going to hate something, you do it in an intelligent, or at least interesting, way.)

Got a hundred pages into that or so, and then Jay and I went to the old Cinema 'N' Drafthouse to drink Yeungling and watch Grindhouse. What a movie to watch in a drafthouse, incidentally. We, the crowd, laughed, cheered, and clapped in unison.

JAY: So Jacob didn't like that movie?

SCOTT: Bizarre. I mean, beautiful women, scantily clad, plus zombies, blood, and fast cars.

JAY: How could he not like that?

SCOTT:
He's a prepubescent girl. Not a man like you and I.

So, obviously, after watching a movie about fast cars, the ride home I kept egging Jay into driving faster or at least ramming the guy ahead of us. But he hadn't as much to drink as I had, and kept responsible.