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Roland
Milan/Tokyo, IT
Immortal since Jan 11, 2008
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3

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Untangling
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    From Wildcat
    Guess what?
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    hétérotopies -...
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    Stuck in the Neolithic
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    Mind Habitat, the quest...
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    The informational realm -...
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    The thing modelled
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    Form follows data
    Robokku’s projects
    Polytopia
    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...

    The great enhancement debate
    What will happen when for the first time in ages different human species will inhabit the earth at the same time? The day may be upon us when people...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    From Robokku's personal cargo

    The thing modelled
    Project: The Total Library
    I point at the small cardboard structure on the train's table. The guard stands blankly and wonders: have I heard him?

    Guard: Your ticket, sir.

    Robokku: Mmm. Yes.

    G: May I see it?

    R: That's it.

    G: It seems it has been bent, sir. I'm not sure the machine will read it.

    He is understating the situation, which disappoints me: I have not merely 'bent' my ticket.

    The train has been immobile for one hour, in grey meadows somewhere between grey cities. Total journey time so far: three hours. Sanities in the carriage are now fully dependent on portable entertainment. The passengers have brought books, iPods, laptops, DSes, and many styles of picnic. I brought a penknife. And my ticket.

    From my ticket, using my penknife, I have created a very detailed miniature replica of myself, seated at the train's table. It is something of a fantasy scenario, in which I have a laptop and a table to myself, rather than a penknife and a fat man too close. Whilst I have, admittedly, bent the ticket in the course of this intricate production, to say only that is to do down my efforts. Mere unobsessive bending of the ticket would not have elicited all those stares. Mothers would not have held their curious children away; the fat man would not have rubbed his mass along the seat towards the window, as far as his reserves would allow. I have not simply mishandled my ticket; I have achieved something. I am a doer - a creator.




    R: It is bent, yes. But there's more to it than that really.

    G: Yes, sir. It looks as if it has been cut up as well.

    R: Well, the ticket itself is actually still in one piece. You see I planned the cuts quite carefully before I made them. I think some of the shapes I've found are quite clever.

    G: Nonetheless, sir, I think the machine may now not read the ticket.

    R: Could we try it? Look: if I take the man off - this is me, by the way, sitting here at the table - the table is quite close to the real one, don't you think? Look at the leg; it's just the same! You see he comes away - the seats, table and window stand alone, and look... If I unfold it... It's actually just one piece - a complete ticket. Where does it go in the machine?

    G: I don't think it'll be read by the machine, sir.

    R: Yes; let's see. I'm sure you're right - you know the machine better than I do. But we should try it.

    G: I'm afraid that could damage the reader, sir. The pieces will get stuck in the slot.

    R: Well it's just one piece-

    G: -Yes but the cuts, sir. Parts of it might protrude from the intended flat form of the ticket and so not leave the slot with the rest, even if it goes in. Then there would be pieces, sir - it would damage your model.

    R: I see. Yes. I'll fold it back up then, in that case. You can see how the shapes come together now, when I fold it. It took me about an hour to make it.



    G: I'm afraid that if you don't have a ticket, sir, then you will have to buy a new one.

    R: Oh! Didn't I show you? Look: I can unfold it again. Sorry, I was distracted by the model itself: I probably didn't make it clear. Look - there - that's the ticket! That's what I used to make the model! It's neat isn't it, how it-

    G: -Sir - I'm afraid that that ticket is no good because you've damaged it. You will have to buy a replacement. The train is for passengers only.

    R: Well, of course. Anyone on the train is a passenger! By definition, right? So it is for-

    Fat man: -But we're not moving. We're not passengers if we don't go anywhere.

    Robokku: Oh. Hello. OK, yes, but, assuming we're moving, which, in a broad sense, we are-

    Guard: -I'm not a passenger.

    R: Well... Maybe not... But the rest of us, in virtue of being on the train, are passengers.

    G: I really mean paying passengers, sir.

    R: I've paid.

    G: And that's what you need the ticket to prove...

    R: Aha! Look then! If I just... well... actually, I needn't even unfold it for you: you can see the price there, on the outside of the window frame. Did you look at it from that side? It really works from all angles.



    G: Sir, that is not a valid ticket. It is unreadable.

    R: No, look - I'll flatten it for you again.

    G: Please, sir, there's no need. You showed me. The ticket's damaged.

    R: But it is readable. £31.40. Can you read that?

    Fat man: Yes.

    Robokku: He can read it.

    Guard: The machine can't read it, though, sir.

    R: But you don't need the machine. You can use your eyes. I'm sure the machine is rather helpful for reading tickets - and it's a shame that in this instance it can't read my ticket - but fortunately you can manage without it on this occasion because the ticket is easily legible. Because I planned the cuts quite carefully before I made them.

    G: It's not up to me to read the tickets, sir. The machine's not here to assist me in that. In fact, if anything, I’m here to assist the machine, by carrying it from one passenger to the next and feeding it tickets, so that it can read them. But despite my help, it still cannot read yours. So you will have to buy a ticket, sir, because you don't have one and so you are not a passenger. The trains are for passengers only, sir. If you are not a passenger, then you are not permitted to use the train.

    R: But I must be a passenger because I'm on the train. And what's more, I do have a ticket. And my ticket shows that I'm a passenger: look - that's me at the table. I don't think it could show it more clearly! So even in your terms...

    G: That's not the way the machine has it, I'm afraid.

    R: Why don't you sit down for a minute and we'll discuss it.

    G: Sir, I must insist that you buy a ticket.

    R: Just sit there for a moment on that seat.

    G: ... That seat is occupied, sir. By a passenger - she has a ticket.

    R: No, that seat's empty. You can sit there. Sit down.

    G: ... ... ?



    I continue to gesture to the seat opposite me, and the woman in it. She is now quite anxious. Every iPod is secretly paused, every book is stared straight through, pages unturned. Everyone on the carriage is waiting, curious: it is likely that I really am mad, as the mothers suspected.

    R: It's empty. Sit down.

    G: You must buy a ticket, sir.

    R: Look: this is me - the man - as I said, at the table, here. That's the window, the seats, and... Ha! This seat, here - that one, across from me - is empty. My model is quite plain about it. Take a seat. That one. It's empty.

    G: You seem to have a computer in your model, sir. Or a pizza box.

    R: It's a computer.

    G: You don't have a computer, sir.

    R: But I have a ticket.

    G: No you don’t.

    R: Not in my model, no. But then I do have a computer. Will you excuse me? I’m working.

    G: I must-

    R: Now, look! I have found a peaceful seat with a table of my own and lots of space, and no distractions. I am at work on my computer and I have a lot to do - and I'm not getting it done while you distract me.



    G: But you haven’t modelled me, sir, have you? So I’m not distracting you - in so far as you have a computer on which to do work, from which I might distract you.

    R: You’re right! You're really getting the hang of this now! Either I have a computer and no ticket but you're not there, or I have a ticket but no computer and you are there. Either way, you needn't bother me any more.

    G: Actually, sir, it's like this: the machine is here, and you have no ticket. You must buy a ticket.

    R: How does the machine know I'm here if I don't have a ticket?

    A bird tweets outside.

    The guard opens his mouth, then stops to think, then closes his mouth, and stops thinking.


    G: Sir, you will have to buy a ticket, but I'll come back to you. Please be ready to buy a ticket when I come back. You've got ten minutes. Tickets please!



    The guard moves on. My laptop screen snaps into focus. The spreadsheet sits there, static. No changes to save. I hit command-S. I feel the blankness of an inner digression ended, or starting, as the trees shoot by.

    Commutestats.xls. Numbers tied together: I planned them quite carefully. They make a fine model. They reach up to some reality, which was my starting point when I plotted them. Now, though, as I start to manipulate what's noted down, I build pictures of them. The numbers came from the world, but I must conjure what I want them to show. Am I seeing or imagining? How long have I been on this train?

    Just ten more minutes...



    Tue, Jan 13, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: information, egocentrism, existence, model
    Sent to project: The Total Library
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    Comments:


    Spaceweaver     Tue, Jan 13, 2009  Permanent link
    Brilliant !
    marianne     Tue, Jan 13, 2009  Permanent link
    : )
    Wildcat     Wed, Jan 14, 2009  Permanent link
    This demands a poetic/noetic response the like of which Rabindranath Tagore gives:

    "“There is a point where in the mystery of existence contradictions meet; where movement is not all movement and stillness is not all stillness; where the idea and the form, the within and the without, are united; where infinite becomes finite, yet not”
    Robokku     Wed, Jan 14, 2009  Permanent link
    What a superb reference! A new one to me. Others, too, please find it in its own context here. Thanks, Wildcat!

    Even if that quote on its own makes you suspect it, there is nothing muddy or vague about this piece of writing, The World of Personality by Tagore. Here is another gem that I liked (but I'm sure you'll find plenty of your own if you have a read):

    The phenomenon which a dog perceives as a smell does not keep its time with that of our nerves, therefore it falls outside our world.


    Great. It's humbling to see ideas you can reach at full stretch handed out with relaxed elegance and on a grand scale. And such magic can be found even without looking at broad cosmic arrangements or science fiction scenarios.

    We don't need to reach a future dystopia or an holistic spiritual awakening to open up our ideas - we don't even need to abandon or challenge entrenched rational principles. If we just realise that our consciousnesses are not operating to a scientifically rigorous specification every second we're awake, then we can choose to point the deviations at conceptions that are fun and fulfilling. Perhaps they wouldn't withstand analysis, but if we're never going to analyse them...


    Wildcat     Wed, Jan 28, 2009  Permanent link
    R: "..Perhaps they wouldn't withstand analysis, but if we're never going to analyse them..."

    which is why there are no deviations to conceptions but that which we do not accept as our own multitude during over analysis.
    In response I have written this: guess what?
    Fast T     Thu, Jan 29, 2009  Permanent link
    They make a fine model. They reach up to some reality, which was my starting point when I plotted them.


    they certainly reached an unfoldment of reality in which I had a great pleasure, I had no preconceived idea of. If that is short of magic, I don't know what isn't.


    brilliant, thank you.
    Rourke     Thu, Jan 29, 2009  Permanent link
    Superb Robokku. I thoroughly was taken away...

    Having read this - in regard of your 1-2-3+ 'Realm' posts - I was reminded of Socrates and Plato and specifically:

    In Book II of The Republic, Plato describes Socrates' dialogue with his pupils. Socrates warns we should not seriously regard poetry as being capable of attaining the truth and that we who listen to poetry should be on our guard against its seductions, since the poet has no place in our idea of God.

    In developing this in Book X, Plato tells of Socrates' metaphor of the three beds: one bed exists as an idea made by God (the Platonic ideal); one is made by the carpenter, in imitation of God's idea; one is made by the artist in imitation of the carpenter's.

    So the artist's bed is thrice removed from the truth. - wiki-link

    Are you thus positing a fourth removal to the informational realm? Something like:

    ; one bed is reduced to its algorithmic relationships, to a series of coordinates plotted in a virtual space - a space which itself is thrice removed from 'the truth'.

    In some sense this plotted bed is as much an ideal as God's original. No bed created from the coordinates will ever assume the 'being' of the original algorithm. Does the informational realm take us back around to the beginning of the circle of being/representation?

    I was also reminded of a quote on the innate 'removal' of mimetic art:

    To treat a work of plastic art as a discourse intended to be interpreted, decoded, by reference to a transcendent code ... is to forget that artistic production is always also - to different degrees depending on the art and on the historically variable styles of practicing it - the product of an "art", "pure practice without theory", as Durkheim says, or to put it another way, a mimesis, a sort of symbolic gymnastics, like the rite or the dance; and is also to forget that the work of art always contains something ineffable, not by excess, as hagiography would have it, but by default, something which communicates, so to speak, from body to body, i.e. on the hither side of words or concepts, and which pleases (or displeases) without concepts. - Pierre Bourdieu in Outline of a Theory of Practice, 1972

    One is an ideal of you sitting on the train; one is you sitting on the train; one is a paper-craft representation of you sitting on a train; one is a mimetic blog-post about you sitting on a train crafting a paper-craft ideal of you sitting on a train.

    I was also reminded of one of Michael Frayn's meditations on the real:

    “All narration and description, even leaving its declarative aspect aside, is indissolubly subjective because it involves selection. The information transmitted about any situation can never be more than a fraction of what is available. There is no way of representing the totality of a situation except by the situation itself. And the point of representing it, after all, of turning it into transmittable information, is to make it amenable to examination and manipulation, to bring out what we wish to bring out for the purposes we have in mind.” - The Human Touch: Our part in the creation of the universe

    So much to ponder. Thanks again!
    Robokku     Wed, Feb 4, 2009  Permanent link
    First of all, thanks, Wildcat, for your great follow-up to this. I enjoyed it very much and will definitely get a comment up on there ASAP. Thanks to Obvious, too, for finding connections spread so broadly.



    Obvious described Socrates' thought that the artist imitates the carpenter's imitation of God's ideal. He asked if I might be positing "a fourth removal to the informational realm".

    Although I hadn't considered it in such terms, I suppose I would be keener to dispute the hierarchy of those different renditions than just to add one more realm to the bottom.

    If God knows a truth that is not described by the artists' creations then we have a choice between at least two worlds. One is the world of God's truth, the other is the world artists describe. I want to suggest that we may well be closer to the artists than we are to God, and so their version of things is more relevant to our lives. In turn, it might be completely rational in some cases to consider the artists' creations to be real. Sometimes God's realm might be better held as the truth, sometimes the carpenter's.

    By rejecting the objective priority of God's truth (even if we accept its fundamentality) we open the door to as many realms as we can fit in our heads, without their addition being a further descent into irrelevance, or an extended departure from "the truth" we think is relevant. The multitudes are really there. This isn't a departure from reality; it's a departure from the notion that a consistent, shared reality is so important.

    Feel free to switch "God" for "science", or "physical laws" if it helps...
    Robokku     Sat, Feb 13, 2010  Permanent link
    Note to self (excuse me):

    http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_dawkins_on_our_queer_universe.html

    13:19 "The nature of the model is governed by how it is to be used, rather than by the sensory modality involved."

    He then immediately goes on to specify scientifically Tagore's point about dogs in my comment 14 Jan 2009.
    ColdBloodedKyle     Sun, Feb 21, 2010  Permanent link
    One word: EPIC
    dream.weaver.tron     Mon, Feb 22, 2010  Permanent link
    tight craftsmanship...
     
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