Re: virus: Hope

Eric Boyd (
Sat, 08 Jun 1996 20:57:55 -0500

Tim Rhodes wrote:
> It seems like you're saying, "If you generate random numbers using a
> formula, it won't be random and it'll have a pattern that reflects, at
> some level, that formula." Is this your idea?

Yes, that's the gist of the meme.

> In music, if a chaotic, random, unstructured section is called for in the
> piece the players always fall into a "pattern of chaos". There are
> certain qualities and "anti-rhythms" that are common to all sets of
> trained players playing "chaoticly". But this is the result of the
> patterns they have been taught (and are consciously trying to break), not
> the echoes of some universal pattern of music.

Neat. Not having much experience in music, I didn't know that. Makes
sense though.

> If you can find order in /any/ random set of digits it says more about the
> pervasiveness of your "order finding" faculties than about the digits
> themselves.

I was thinking along these lines myself, although with a slight twist.

Most specifically, I was thinking about the "Bible Code" where they
found "sex" scattered throught the Bible. The way I see it, no peice of
writting can help but do that:
Take your source material, and find the letter "x". Then search
backwards, forwards, in whatever direction you please until you find an
"e". Count the squares and then jump that many more in the same
direction. The letter at the new point (2 jumps from the x) has a
greater than 1 in 27 (26+space) chance of being an "s" since s is a
relativly common letter. Thus it is only necessary to search out far
enough from every "x" ("e" is common and so it shouldn't be hard to find
20 or more of them close to the x) and the word "sex" will be found
everywhere! Really, it's not surprising that they can find it in any
document they search!

> The beauty and wonder of our ability to find order in chaos, now that, that
> is truly a remarkable and astounding thing.

Yes. I have a great riddle here:

The Great Riddle!
Is he not a body, that from toil doth he bring forth sustenance?
Is he not a heart, that from anguish doth he glean understanding?
Is he not a mind, that from choas doth he wrest order?
And is he not yet more than this, that from emptiness doth he
harvest creation?
Think well upon this, for this be thine only key to the great riddle.
Crusaders of the Dark Savant, Game by Wizardry

The answer to the riddle is (maybe I shouldn't say?) "What is a Man"

I love this riddle.

"Is he not a mind, that from choas doth he wrest order?" This is what
you said. I see it in the same light as you. It is one of the enabling
aspects of what it means to be human.

<RANT ON> (wooo boy what fun!)

I've never really liked the Christian "orginal sin" whereby all of
mankind is tainted, /evil/, even before we are born. Doesn't make any
sense to me. It's like intentionally carrying a forty pound block on
your shoulders all of the time. Then Jesus comes down and takes the
block off everyones shoulders and they celebrate! (what??? Create a
problem just to solve it? Hmmmm. Looks sort of pointless to me. Why
bother?) The answer to "why bother" of course is that it's useful to
realize that we are /human/, that we have failings and will be tempted
by the flesh (... the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak ...) The
orginal sin keeps our pride in check. And humility is indeed a virtue.
But there are better ways of keeping pride in check, methinks. [1]

The way I've adopted is a recgonition of /our imperfections/. I am
flawed. My body has limitations and failings. My mind gets clouded.
My eyes need glasses to see correctly [2]. My heart hardens sometimes,
and I like to argue. I can contemplate violence. Heck, sometimes I am
violent. But none of this makes me evil. It just means I'm not
perfect. Far from it. But I see this not as a bad thing, for what
would I do if I was perfect? Where would I point myself to? I think
I'd kill myself if I ever attained perfection. So I see my very
imperfections as what keeps me alive; /what_makes_life_worth_living/.
Life is the struggle to make the world, /and yourself/, a better place.
And that's why I love the riddle. "And is he not yet more than this,
that from Emptiness doth he harvest Creation?" In the language of Zero:
from out of the void comes all life, and the glory of man is that he
/brings meaning to his own life/.

Related quotations (they say it so much better than I can):

As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will
become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.
Ernst Fischer (1899-1972), Austrian
editor, poet, critic. The Necessity of Art,
ch. 5 (1959; tr. 1963)

The Ultimate Wisdom
Philosophers must ultimately find their true perfection
in knowing all the follies of mankind by introspection.
Piet Hein

Man has yet another advantage over algorithms in that he possesses
which he can perfect and exercise by means of contemplation; he has the
power to understand, decide upon the proper direction of his progress,
and move towards perfection.

"... thyself upon thyself! The common curse of mankind,
folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue!"
William Shakespeare; Thersites, Troilus and Cressida, Act II, scene ii