Wednesday, July 20, 2011

If this wasn't my annual good deed, then it'll have to do until I do it...

My usual selfish daily routine was rudely disrupted when I had to perform a good deed today. Oh, I hate doing that. Not that I mind doing things for people. It's just that now people get the idea I'm a nice guy, despite my careful cultivation of appearances to the contrary.

Long story short, I installed a window air conditioner in the house of a little 90-year-old lady.

Here in the Midwest, we are having a high-90s-flirting-with-100 heat wave. Nothing major when compared to parts south, but when Chicago has a heat wave, old people die in droves.

The little old lady in question is one of the Day Ladies, the women who take the ceramics class at the college and spend all day here. Normally, her 70-year-old handyman would have installed the air conditioner for her. He is on vacation in Door County, Wisconsin. She came in this morning complaining about having trouble sleeping in the heat. I asked her...What the fuck are you talking about?? Why? Why are you sleeping in the heat?

That's when I found out she has an air conditioner, but it wasn't installed. So, I took time out from work, drove her over to her house, got the thing in the window, and got it going. The house was an oven. It was bad. It was a dangerous situation. She wanted to pay me, but I told her, nah,  the college paid for it, seeing as I was on the clock (and she's on a fixed income).

So, not much of a big deal on my part, but it distracted me from continuing the discussion on epigenesis.

As I work on my half-congealed thoughts on time, parallelism, causality, and development, I can't help thinking that much of physical theory is trapped in preformational thought patterns. Part of the big problem of thinking about reality is we assume that it unfolds in an orderly fashion, like Newtonian physics. Instead, I suspect that so much of what we view as orderly programmatic drama is in fact much more like quantum mechanics. The "pure" states of the whole drama, are in fact broken up into entangled parts affected by the whole. Sorry if that's not very informative.

I'm thinking of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The epigenetic version is not something you would read to your children. There is no reassuring routine in it. The story never plays out the same way twice. Sometimes the Three Bears are the divorced Papa bear and his unmanageable teenage Baby bear. Sometimes Goldilocks is a homicidal maniac. Sometimes, Comet Chicxulub never impacted Earth, and it is the story of Goldidown and the Three Velociraptors. Sometimes its all about robots. Sometimes, nothing is ever "just right".

The story like a nonlinear equation found in chaos theories: self-organizing, sensitive to initial conditions, with lots of feedback loops. More like those newfangled video games that are open-ended. But there are boundaries. There is a, as the maths people like to call it, a "basin of attraction".

I prefer another term, borrowed paritally from optics. You know when a satellite is orbiting the Earth, and you always think of it as being in one orbit. When in fact it is not. The Earth is lumpy, with some parts denser than the others, and the sun heats up the atmosphere and it expands, so that sometimes the satelllite speeds ups, or slows down, or is dragged by the minutest little extra air pressure, even though it's pretty much a vacuum out there. But, despite never quite orbiting the planet the same way twice, it is kind of bounded into a donut shaped locus of paths. And the cross-section of this locus, the extent of all-possible-orbits, I call the etendue. It sounds like "Ed Tondue" as in rhymes with "fondue". But also with an accent acute over the first e, so that it's really ├ętendue. And in French, my take of its meaning is: encompassing area, duration, reach, and figuratively: importance, impact. 

And at this point, I'd like to use this word from now on in the same meaning as sum-over-all-possible-histories of any event you can imagine, whether it's my own tawdry little life, or yours, or an atom's, or the formation of the planets, or the life of the universe(s).

That's what I'm chewing on right now.

Sorry if that's not very informative.

1 comment:

  1. one train of thought has it as everything that could possibly happen is happening and simultaneously at that. no past, no present, no future, just the eternal 'now'.

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