Sunday 22 May 2022

The Sunday Ishmael 22/05/2022 - the philosophical edition

 Your man is in a tight spot. Surrounded by man-eating aurochs, or something whose head and jaw take up over a half of its body, there seems no way out for our hero.
However, taking a firm hold of his dick and using it to thrust his way through, he steps boldly out of his reality, leaving the aurochs, who are not possessed of a weaponised penis wielded by a six fingered hand, to futilely crash their jaws together behind his retreating back.
Okay - you think of a better explanation for this ancient piece of dick art. He looks to be stepping out of the rock and into our history, flat head and all. He is 13,000 years old. Sean Thomas photographed him in the little Arab village of Sayburc, just down the road from Karahan Tepe, on the Harran plains of Eastern Turkey.  Karahan Tepe is a huge temple site of shrines, vaults, water channels and cultic chambers, one of which is the Penis Chamber.
The Penis Chamber holds representations of a dozen eight-foot high pink penises, carved from the rock and semi-enclosed in an open chamber. The people who made this place, at enormous effort, were hunter-gatherers, nomadic, coming together in this ritual place to celebrate their penises. Around 10,000 years ago, having done with it, they filled it in with tons of rubble. God knows why. Maybe they moved on from Penis worship. Because this whole, enormous, site was back-filled, it has made comparatively easy work for the archaeologists uncovering it. This ancient cathedral has challenged the orthodoxy that the hunter gatherers wandered around, not achieving much beyond finding food and procreating. The orthodoxy that only settled, farming humans produced surpluses that created spare time that could be converted into building work, inventing religions, rituals and art. The art took the form of relief carvings and sculptures, depicting animals and humans with six fingered hands enclosing or protecting their penises. 
Kirkwall, May 2022
Seems that the ancient tribes of Kirkwall worship the same religion.
The Ness of Brodgar is another such cathedral, but merely Neolithic - that is, fairly recent in comparison with Karahan Tepe. Building work at the Ness started 5,300 years ago. What the two structures have in common, though, is that both closed down their operations as a ritual site by backfilling with rubble when there was no further use for it.  At the Ness, around 4000 years ago, a feast was held to close down the site, involving the slaughter of several hundred cattle in one event. The broken bones of the cattle were piled up and topped off with the carcasses of several red deer. 
When we don't understand the significance of  a site, or an object, we call it a ritual object, as if that explained anything. It is more face-saving than saying, Hell, no, haven't a clue why they did it, what they were up to or why they stopped doing it. Or even why they killed all their cattle in a closing-down party.
Dr. Brian Cox of the Perpetual Smile is a scary fellow. A mere 13,000  years of human ritual is as nothing to him - he dismissed it as a mere snap of the fingers this morning on the Sunday Morning Show, no longer with Sophe Raworth, but today with a much tougher newstottie, Jo Coburn. 
Dr. Brian, keyboard player, rockgod and particle physicist, told his terrified audience that he is looking for the deep structure of everything. And then he is going to explain it to us. On TV. With lots of pictures of himself staring God in the face and finding him lacking as he unpicks the deep structure.. He terrified me with the Honeycomb Conjecture in one of his many TV series. As a textile patchworker and quilter, I'm quite familiar with the practical application of the concept, which states that a hexagonal grid or honeycomb is the best way to divide a surface into regions of equal area with the least total perimeter. There you go:
See the source image
The conjecture was proven in 1999 by mathematician Thomas C. Hales.
Here's the theorem, for those who understand such things: 
Let be a locally finite graph in , consisting of smooth curves, and such that has infinitely many bounded connected components, all of unit area. Let be a disk of radius centered at the origin. Let be the union of these bounded components. The theorem states:

Equality is attained for the regular hexagonal tile.

The first record of the conjecture is attributed to Marcus Terentius Varro, around 36 BC, and in the 17th century Jan Brozek used it to explain why bees create hexagonal honeycombs. Dr. Brian Smile told us that it is part of the deep structure of the universe, occurring absofuckinglutely everywhere. That being the case, there's something not pragmatic, mechanical and material going on and I do hope that they stop messing about with the Hadron Collider and just let us get on with our Penis Worship.

Here's mr ishmael on deep structure matters: 


 It is the tiniest, most infinitesimally small  particle, a truly amazingly small scrap of matter that not even the most amazingly powerful nuclear-powered laser microscope  would ever of been able  of seeing with the naked eye,  said Professor Brian Smile of the BBC and D'Ream, below, and of the Large Handheld Kettle. Or whatever.

Professor Cox sings his hit, Things Can Only Get Smaller, or Bigger.
Depending on your point of universal view.
But isn't it all just really, like, amazing.
On television, the image - or the form - always triumphs over the substance,  the presenter is King.
....and I just think it's all, well, wonderful, really,
 I mean, I've had a number one record,
 they gimme a medal, the Queen did,
and I'm never off the telly...

The ghastly and over-exposed Brian Cox, 
silhouetted atop all the world's mountain peaks,
the pseudo-scholar presenter is slave not to science but to showbusiness, like unto which business there is no other.
And so, disappointingly, was last night's BBC4 exposition of quantum physics, or mechanics, or whatever it's called. Or not called. 

mr bungalow bill and I, at the very least, had been keenly anticipating BBC4's Secrets of Quantum Physics, presented by this fellow. 
A presenter so far up his own paradox as to be risible.
I love the camera, me, and it loves me, too, donchathink?

Dr/Professor/Guru Jim al Khalili is, it turns out,  a vain gabshite. Whether or not he was making sense of quantum physics cannot be known, can it?  That is the point of it. Or the pointlessness of it, as you will.  It almost seems heretical to even attempt to explain the inexplicable, to know the unknowable, as the scriptures have it.

  Jim, though, in his universe,  is infinitely capable and strove last night not to provoke or encourage but simply to entertain, to seduce.  I have the books he mentioned - The Dancing Wu-Li Masters and the Tao of Physics and three minutes sat on the loo, glancing at them, would be more educational than a month of Jim and his showbiz bollocks.

Knowledge, now, of course,  is digitised into little cubes of shit, Tweets and re-Tweets, people's minds too full of vanity-dribblings to tackle proper thinking, no attention span, no mental shelf-space, as I heard it termed recently, their imaginations handed-over, freely,  to slab-faced, creepy, brain-dead American mutants.  
Mr Mark Faceberg. Trust Me, I want to own all your lives.
Jim is right up their cyber street, his mind, like theirs, a linguistic desert, uninspired and repetitive - Einstein was at the height of his powers, Nils Bohr was at the height of his powers -  and Jim and his producers' televisual devices were corny and unimaginative, a small, candy-striped marquee on the shore, in which Jim played Aunt Sally with some vague, tin-can permutation of relativity;  a pair of spinning coins  which he claimed demonstrated quantum physics, although they only demonstrated spinning heads-or-tails coins, Oh,  and there was a leering,  metaphysical cardsharp, determined to cheat reality.

Jim rode around, fitly, on his bike, to demonstrate power fluctuations in his dynamo-driven cycle lamp and thus the discovery of the quantum photon;  Jim dived, fitly, into a wave-generating pool to demonstrate the differing powers of small and large waves. And Jim sauntered, fitly,  through what was meant to be a nineteen-twenties jazz club but which actually resembled the studio of BBC Radio Four's Loose Ends show, the one in which Clive Anderson smirks and smarms and hisses and introduces terribly intelligent musicians playing terribly unlistenable-to music.  I think it was at this jazzpoint that Jim mentioned Charlie Chaplin being at the height of his powers.  Throughout, Jim seemed to want to climb through the screen at us, so close were his close-ups, so intense his cloudy summaries. It was all dreadfully Telly.

The thread running through last night's episode was the argument between Bohr and Einstein about the nature of physical reality, about its former certainties being compromised by the discovery and understanding of particles or quantums - quanta; by the belief that the mere observation of sub-atomic particles changed them or indeed, might have called them into being.  This is a delightful conundrum, one which has enchanted me for some years, now, since I read those books, maybe before Jim did.  I do not, however, need it proving or disproving.

Unsurprisingly, Jim's analagous demonstrations and his experiments  with the tin-cans and the cardsharp - and eventually with laser beams - brought him down on the side of Bohr, a position,  among scientists, common since the nineteen-forties, when everyone, of course, was at the height of their powers and one most laboriously and archly arrived at in last night's show.

Once,  there was God, who said it was not for us to know, simply to obey.  In my lifetime it is the BigBang we have sought to know,

 to photograph, back through time. I never understand that shit, photographing stuff that isn't there, now. Clever people have told us that Stuff just came, in an instant, from nowhere, and nodding, as though we had understood, we have believed. 

We have believed that once there was no time, no space, no matter, it all just invented itself. Yes, Stuff from non-stuff, everything from nothing, as hard to believe, as God, Himself, but Hey, that's what we're good at, believing shit. 

Now, many of  those - let's call them Jims -  who once worshiped the BigBang are saying, Hang About, these Black Holes, 

and there are gazillions of the fucking things, what they tell us, the BlackHoles,  is that there's actually shitloads of universes, popping in and out of each other, in, well, in BigBang moments; so, all that stuff, which,  just like QE money, popped into existence, well, it actually just slipped-in ready-made, from next door, sort of thing, kinda. No, you don't have to believe that NoTime, NoMatter shit any more.  We gotta new one for you.

The Jims, you see, they'll fuck you up;  NASA, the Hadron Collider, Hubble, it's all they wanna do, is fuck with your head, like priests, shamans, witch doctors, fucking Druids, they are all the same.  The Jims want you to believe, for instance,  there must be what they call intelligent Life, somewhere, and that we can find it.  The reason they say that there must be is because they want there to be, not very scientific.  A proper scientist would say, Well, fuck me, even if there were to be folks like us, maybe green, maybe with eight arms, whatever, but communicable-with, maybe there is a planet somewhere with exactly the same multiplicity  of accidental circumstances as led to Life on Earth  - y'know, a planet circling a sun  burning at just exactly the right temperature at exactly the right distance, a moon of exactly the right size and gravitational pull and all the trillions of accidental chemical and physical combinations necessary to create amoeba and then all the accidental geological, climatological and horticultural conditions necessary for the growth, survival and ascent of species, only one of which has an opposable thumb and can do technology, thinking, speech, fire, the wheel, transport and the storage and retrieval of information, and eats and tortures all the other species, even if there are all those trillions of improbabilities, even if they all do happen elsewhere, there is no reason for them to be there just now, right now,  in this infinitesimally tiny split second of time which we inhabit, is there? Pushing it a bit, don't you think? Makes more sense to just believe in God, than in all that horseshit.

Some people can do TeeVee, recently, AN Wilson has been one such;  Waldemar Jabberwocky and Matthew Collings, in the arts; engage, inform and entertain without becoming the show, without getting in the way. 
 Jabberwocky, stomping around Rome in his sandals, burbling about sculpture and painting and building is of course a confection but  one full of flavours, nuance, surprise  and juicy tit-bits, easily digested and memorable.
Jim,  for his part, was glutinous showbiz porridge.

Jabberwocky, I believe, wants people to appreciate whoever or whatever it is he's burbling about, Rembrandt or Bach or Michaelangelo, wants people to know it for themselves;  sure, he's on telly and has been for, what, twenty years to my knowledge but I trust his enthusiasm, his Godliness.
Let Me entertain you
.Jim, on the other hand,  doesn't want to share anything, wants but to impress, to show-off, to star;  wants to be the priest who,  claiming to lead us to the light, keeps us in the dark. 

Quantum physics, as far as our individual consciousnesses may perceive, is the sound of one hand clapping.

If you meet the Buddha on the Road, 
kill him!

The third anthology of essays by ishmael smith, thinker, writer,  satirist, contrarian and originator of this blog, is approaching completion.
We are still proof-reading, I fear, but cracking on with it.
If you haven't bought your copies of Honest Not Invent or Vent Stack, Lulu or Amazon will help you out.


Mike said...

I don't want to overestimate the ancient tribes of Kirkwall, but could this be an anonymous statement against gender re-assignment? As in: "only men have cocks". Then again, it could be a counter argument? I'm confused. But at least the spelling was OK.

Just like to add that I quite like Jaberwokky - by chance I came across one of this vids on youtube yesterday - entertaining and enlightening. I've now been away from the UK nearly 30 years, so some of the more recent celebs are lost on me.

Bungalow Bill said...

I recall that particular disappointment with Jim, Mrs I. I see that our cosmic markers have just shown the universe to be misbehaving again. We may need New Physics, or something, to tell us what's going on or off, if indeed it is and/or isn't. A theory of everything? Not really, I don't think.

mrs ishmael said...

Your theory about the Kirkwallian graffiti has charm, but little credibility, mr mike. It bespeaks a sophistication way beyond the grunting, kebab and chip crazed teenagers who visited their ritual symbology on the walls of the School Hostel, linked in a brotherhood of shamanistic art with that hunter-gatherer tribe of ancient Turkey.
Jabberwocky is a delight, I agree. He seems real, sweaty, not a bit groomed and very learned in a breathless, enthusiastic kinda way. Have you come across Professor Mary Beard? She is another such presenter - I doubt she understands the use of the comb, but, god, she knows her stuff. I heard the Americans liked the concept, but thought Professor Beard too unfeminine to present the show to Americans, so remade it with a more photogenic presenter.

mrs ishmael said...

I'm just back from the pictures, having been taken to see Dr Strange by my chums. It is all about multiverses, mr bungalow bill, and if the Marvel Studios have got it right, we really don't want anything to do with them.
Cumberbitch starred in the eponymous role, prancing about in a red cloak and a very precise little snuffler's beard. These actors will do anything and call it art. There was so much CGI that the actors probl’y had no idea what sort of film they were in until they went to the pictures themselves. It was very noisy and the 3D effects absolutely delightful, if exhausting. I feel that I have been dragged through the multiverses, too. As it is now shortly after 11:00pm and just beginning to get dark, I'll get off to my bed. Get in a couple hours' sleep before it is light again.

mongoose said...

All the superhero films, mrs i? I never started or I'd never watch anything again. I did though just watch Scorcese's Rolling Thunder Revue film. One more time. You know it makes sense. A couple of hours of proper poets and proper music. eg Dylan met Sharon Stone when she came as a teenager to a gig with her mum and they talked about kabuki theatre. Rob Da Bank? Do fuck off, lad.

Here in bandit country, we are safe, for some reason, from the defacement of the town by da yoof. Probably this is because they cannot afford to live here beyond the fetal stage but maybe it is all so delapidated that it is not worth the cost of the spray paint to despoil it further.

As to the universe(s). Given that we don't know what the one we can see is comprised of, I think we should shush. Mr i's point about seeing the past - the photons, if you believe in them - having travelled from what was once emitting or reflecting them to our eyes in real time, well this means that we are never seeing anything we can be sure is real anyway. So why worry? Feynman was right about quantum silliness - don't try to understand it. Nobody understands it. Just accept that this is the best explanation that anyone can give you. BTW if you want to understand what science is about, you could do worse than watch his Cornell Messenger lectures. They're not that frightening and at least you'll be able to repel borders down the pub among the authoritarian witless horde.

Mike said...

Mrs I: I have seen Prof Beard (on youtube - too erudite for Aussie MSM viewers) talking about Romans. We don't have this kind of telly down here - although I have to admit I haven't watched any MSM TeeVee for over 2 years now. She certainly knows her stuff. I know its harder work, but I'm turning to reading rather than watching (forgive me being sexist, but bimbos put me off). I do watch older films on the interweb. Nothing modern attracts my interest - old fart syndrome.

inmate said...

mr I certainly got Profs Brian n Jim right, look at me, no look at mee. BTW Prof Jim is back on our screens with his latest hit show, Size Matters, or summat. All things great and small, all things wise n wonderful, Prof Jim don’t know who or what made ‘em. Newton was wrong/right, Einstein was wrong/right, we just don’t know why they were wrong,right? but they definitely were wrong, trust me.
Robert Hook had the measure of it; see it, draw it, cut it up and draw some more, that’s real science, non of of this theoretical shit that no one can observe.
Go on headbutt that wall , the atoms in your head cannot possibly touch the atoms in the wall, the laws of physics will not allow them to, must be something between the wall and your head that causes the bruising.
Prof Jim and his all woman shortlist of professors, human computers they are I tells ya, men just theorised, it was the woman that did the work.
Gravity the weakest of the forces yet it binds the known universe together, but it can’t be strong enough to be doing what it’s doing now, dragging all the galaxies towards, what we professors call, the great attraction, no, the laws of physics won’t allow it.
All totally unbelievable, believable stuff. But a Creator, nah, that’s Bollocks.

mrs ishmael said...

Ah, mr inmate - to be or not to be? Nope, the quantum question is to be and not to be. Simultaneously.

mrs ishmael said...

And in Dumbing Down News: BBC Three is back on the telly and BBC Four is to be booted off the telly and onto on-lineness. So, mr mike, it is quite possible that we won't be having that kind of telly here, either.

Cascadian said...

I will begin to listen to the celebrity scientists when they are able to describe with clarity climate science on the orb which we reside on. Until then, speculative nonsense related to the heavens will remain unlistened to, especially if presented on teevee.

Well done Mrs Ishmael for searching out a winking Buddha potentially caressing his phallus, to bookend the mysterious Turkish effigy. I must however disagree with aurochs entering the conversation, as the cute little whiskers on the left hand animal seem to imply a feline animal. Given the different stylistic carvings I am highly doubtful that man and beast were carved at the same time by the same person.

mrs ishmael said...

Hi, mr cascadian - glad you approve of the priapic Buddha. You may well be right about the Turkish aurochs - but if they are cats they must be jolly big ones with enormous heads. And of course it is entirely plausible that different artists were at work. The sculpting artist demonstrates a much more sophisticated technique - perhaps the background menacing beasts (or playful pets) artist was a studio assistant, employed to fill in the background.