Monday, January 09, 2006

String Theory, schming theory. I've got your 4th dimension RIGHT here!

Theoretical physicist Lisa Randall, in a recent issue of science mag SEED:

"Why do we only experience 3 dimensions of space-- the familiar up-down, left-right, and forward-backward?"

Dr. Alan Lightman, author of over a dozen books and novels, 9 pgs later, in a different story: (no inner-magazine link available)

"Whether it's listening to a concert, or watching a dance performance or a play, the arts take me out of my normal time-driven routine. I'm in another dimension. For the period that I'm watching, I'm having an experience where time is basically stopped... In a way, it's exactly the same experience when I'm writing. I lose all sense of where I am or who I am."

Same story as above, choreographer Richard Colton:

"A dancer like Baryshnikov, through his sheer virtuousity, can stop time. When you see him go around for the sixth revolution of pirouette, the sense of suspending time becomes a visceral experience for the spectator...All great dance pieces-- Twyla Tharp's Fugue, Tricia Brown's Glacial Decoy, Merce Cunningham's work-- do this sort of weird thing with time. There's this natural forward momentum, speed, but at Scientist alone is true poet he gives us the moon. He promises the stars he'll make us a new universe if it comes to that. O Einstein I should have sent you my flaming mss. O Einstein I should have pilgrimaged to your white hair.-Allen Ginsberg the same time it suddenly arrests and turns away from itself. And it's that tension-maybe as a metaphor you can think of blending future, past and present- that kind of playing with different dimensions of time, that dance is wonderful with. Dance can visualize beautifully how time moves the same for all human beings, but each human being moves through time differently."

Hello, theory of relativity, anyone...???

For you Scientific Method huggers out there, the Dalai Lama weighed in on clinical objectivity early in the self-same issue of SEED:

"...valid subjective experiences must be verifiable both through repitition by the same practicioner and through other individuals being able to attain the same state by the same practice. If they are thus verfiied, such states may be taken to be universal, at any rate for human beings."

There's your 4th dimension, and it's quantifiable to boot. Problem solved.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The perils of unfinished thought: there once was a story 'bout a man named "Dave"

A salesguy of 35 lived one of those existences obit writers are so fond of calling "unassuming," whatever that means- from the moment we're born, we're at least assuming something...

What I mean to say is that Dave was a quiet man. We met at a party one year and remained in casual contact. I'd often imagined his demeanor was a detriment to his job, but it didn't seem to matter very much. I wonder why.

He talked to himself more than to anyone else. Not in that crazy way some people have. Dave just murmured quietly all the time, constantly going on as if his mind couldn't stop.

Now you know that after a certain age, people like to ask why a reasonably successful, decent looking man isn't married. I'd heard Dave field this one a few times. "I psyched myself out. There aren't a lot of happy marriages. Do you know any- do you really? I got scared or something. But at the same time, I don't feel like I'm missing anything. I love my life."

Honey, it sounds good when you talk. Very macho, very tough, in an over-analyzed Ethan Hawke sort of way. But you're the same guy you always were- someone who's talked himself out of everything. No marriage. No kids. No travel. The same string of girls you and the boys keep swapping like playing cards. There's detachment and there's deprived. There's emotional un-involvement and there's plain old depressed.

Is over-analysis in vogue now that therapists are opening offices in Beverly Hills, moving out of their back alley chop shops? Are we better for it? Or is the mistake-filled path of unfinished logic the stuff of real adventure? There are parallels everywhere, if you look carefully (or, I guess, even if you don't...)

A for instance: here's a technological nightmare- get ready.

The incongruous nature of capitalism is that it lends itself to destruction. (whaa...?)

Imagine- a society not unlike the United States chooses to value the almighty dollar over just about everything else. Sadly, the inherent and not untrue assumption is most people who live in that society, even the poorest of the poor, are better because of the decision to deify money. Anyway, I say 'sadly' because the culmination of such thought processes leads to a brain and labor drain as the corporate bosses look for cheaper workers and better ideas in other markets. Also, it mustn't go unnoticed that prevailing societal morality is displaced by money's rise to the throne of Christendom. That's not a shout out to religion, but it is a vote for some kind of structure. Whatever that thing is that keeps two guys face-to-face in a room feeling compelled to warn the other when an attacker's approaching from behind.

I feel like I'm clouding the point... we all sense that generalized oppression breeds innovation; whereas, nowadays in the U.S., highly specific oppression completely sucks innovation from the air- the many potential implications of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Grokster file sharing case come to mind. Hey, I've said it before and I'll sing it again: moneyed ideals = the future. And our man leading the charge is saintBillGates.txt.

Technology industry analysts all predict a magnificent future as Moore's Law continues to unfold. Computing power will be cheaper and easier to build, not to mention more accessible. Some even say we'll have robots doing our housework within the next decade. At what cost? In this brave new world, will my man Dave ever get out from under the covers...?

Anyway, industry on the whole is facing a downturn. Technology, of course, is painted as the bright hope for the future. If we're to believe that our lives will be changed totally by Internet hook-ups every which way but loose, then where will labor come from?

Our jobs are outsourced at an ever-increasing rate. You know the 1-800 song and dance. His name is "Bob," but there's that persistent accent... Again, the disturbing notion is that this is exactly in line with the tenets of our society. Good CEOs living in this country would be wrong to do anything differently. This is how they were raised. This is what they know. This is all they know.

If these generalized assumptions are true (and labor/test scores based here and abroad support the overriding thesis of this column) then the future will present an imbalance in the technological sector even as the standard of living continues to rise. If affordable and accessible education does not keep pace with posited technological innovation, then the U.S. will inevitably lose its superpower status to a burgeoning world market. We could be looking at a vastly increased standard of living for all if educators match wits with Gates' crowd. That's a biig IF. A King Kong sized, tantrum throwing, earth shattering IF.

Otherwise, I guarantee the EU will continue provoking stabs at regulation on the world stage. The recent attempts at outsourcing Internet domain names to the UN are but an early case to the point. Hungry societies belching and squirming through their early attempts at moneyed idealism may prove more passionate, may prove to be more worthy adversaries in the battle for technological supremacy.

The sad denouement of all this is that, even if a more technologically educated populace emerges, the inherent cost-benefit will not prove appealing enough to keep jobs stateside. Some may say then that the problem is labor/union. But why should the man without a corporation give up his moneyed ideals? He too was taught, just like baby CEOs around him in the playpen, that the wallet is the Holy Grail. Therefore, if CEOs are to be excused for following the moneyed impulse to other markets- IF it is not at the behest of American politicians offering tax breaks to those who would open other markets to a product generally and capitalism specifically- why should we expect less from labor union bosses who couldn't afford pricey corporate powered educations?

No, at the end of the day the problem may be that capitalism itself has destructive tendencies in spite of all the value it affords potentiality in personal growth. Just how do we resolve that, before the markets go bust?


Now you've seen my crime. I tend more toward over-analysis than the tantalizing possibilities of unfinished thought. Both are somewhat thrilling, if equally frightening ways to live. As for Dave, he and I are kindred spirits...

Honey, two neuroses are better than one.