Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blog 7: Anything on my mind

I think it is reasonable to think of "thinking people" in two camps: poets and explorers. To measure the value a poet places on a given discovery an explorer brings back from his voyage is to understand the implications said discovery has on the lives lived by those in the community. Explorers, on the other hand, value the the discovery itself. In other words: whereas the explorer values the thing in itself, the poet's value is a function of its relation to being

This distinction plays out in all facets of life, and sometimes in counter-intuitive ways. Freud's psychoanalysis was an attempt to discover the origin of neuroses. As I read him, he was interested discovering the depth of the human psyche itself--Freud was an explorer. Psychologists today are generally concerned with helping clients overcome their mental health, if not to purge them of their ills, to equip patients with tools capable of combatting their, as we say, issues.

Accordingly, if my distinction suffices, I am probably a poet--if unskilled. This helps explain my scientific and mathematical illiteracy. 

It helped me better understand entropy, but my learning caters not to "the discovery" per se, but to its rhetorical function. In other words, my interest in science (in this case, entropy) is contingent on the role understanding the concept will play in my ability to conceptualize, analyze, and articulate the condition of post-modern society and its relation to the natural world. Reading that article helped me improve my understanding of entropy as a metaphor

As it says at the top of the piece, this is an addendum to a piece called "Bad Science, Worse Philosophy" about David Foster Wallace (guy who wrote "Infinite Jest," -- 'the advertisement did what it was supposed to: create an anxiety relievable by purchase). This is significant because Wallace was unequivocally a poet--but (and I haven't read the whole piece) apparently many of his metaphors invoking physics are based on common scientific misunderstandings.

What I've said, I assume, will evoke some reaction on your part. Maybe. Are you an explorer?


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