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Showing posts from November 25, 2012

freud x ray eyes and peekaboo

Among the learned in   ancient India and Greece, the emission theory of vision was standard. That theory proposed that subtle rays were emitted by the eyes, which met objects and illuminated them. Alcmaeon, the Greek poet, used the example of being struck in the eye as a proof that there is a ‘fire’ in the eye: “the eye obviously has fire within, for when one is struck (this fire) flashes out. Vision is due to the gleaming – that is to say, the transparent character of that which (in the eye) reflects to the object. And sight is more perfect, the greater the purity of the substance. Empedocles believed the visual, the eidolons of the things about us, are the product of the merger of the rays of the eyes and the rays of the things. Indian scholars had doubts about the rays of things – if this was so, we could see in the dark – but they, too, believed that the eye emits rays. Interestingly, the Mohists in China, working about the same time, accepted the reception theory – that the e

Entropy and Adam

“Microscopic disorder (entropy) of a system and its surroundings (all of the relevant universe) does not spontaneously decrease.|” This is one of the definitions of Entropy. It is also the hope and salvation of the parent, facing the crying baby. Patience must ride entropy over a few rough spots, and if you hum or make shushing sounds while this is happening, all the better. Entropy, of course, implies order. And order implies a certain form of vision. In Rudolf Arnheim’s Art and Entropy, he takes shuffling cards as a double-sided act – on the one hand, increasing the disorder in a pack of cards, and on the other hand, equalizing the chances of the players – which of course is an imperative that only makes sense in terms of the order of the game. “This will become clearer if I refer to another common model for the increase of entropy, namely shuffling . The usual interpretation of this operation is thatby shuffling, say, a deck of cards one converts an initial order into a re

Epidemiology of a cliche

Hendrick Herzberg at the New Yorker had the cleverest idea. Why not apply the   Kubler Ross stages of grief to the Romney defeat? I don’t know why nobody else has ever thought of this.  “… the House. The Republicans will have seven or eight fewer seats in that body, but hold it they did, and this fact is what those among them who are stuck at Stage 1 of Mme. Kübler-Ross’s five-stage topography of grief (“Denial”), and even a few who are tentatively assaying Stage 3 (“Bargaining”), are clinging to. (Talk radio is permanently tuned to Stage 2, “Anger,” and Stage 4, “Depression,” hangs heavy.) In the view of these Republicans, the election was a tie; and on the legitimacy of their most cherished goal—keeping rich folks’ taxes at their current historic lows …” Meanwhile, Will Oremus at Slate had the cleverest idea ever to brighten that mag: why not apply the Kubler Ross stages of grief to the Fox News perception of the Romney defeat? I can’t believe nobody ever thought of thi