May. 4th, 2013

 

May. 4th, 2013 11:45 pm
holdthesky: (Default)
It's very easy to go through life thinking of the vastness of the world as a series of options, rather than a lot of things happening all of the time, -- a semiotician might say that it's easy to mistake the syntax for a paradigm.

There's a stream at work, actually it's the River Cam but is about as big as your typical village stream at this stage. There's a place along it where I go at lunchtime, for a few moments, where a bush hangs over the water and drags some twigs along with it. About a metre downstream, the water rises in three humps, maybe five or ten centimetres high, maybe as a consequence of the bush or maybe to do with a midstream weedy patch about five metres further towards Cambridge. The humps seem to persist in all conditions, and so are oddly both ephemeral and architectural.

And I often think how it's hard to believe in the clattering of the stream, and the dynamics of the river as happening all of the time: right now; when I'm asleep; when I'm just getting on with other things.

It's a little like we're in the audience at a theatre, and we see cloths flown in for the desert, or the races, or Paris, and don't ever really think about how the flies are full of all of these things all of the time. There's no need to enumerate them (which would be impossible) but the concept of the flies themselves is something we even forget. Why do we never think of it? Fly towers are the most prominent things in many theatres, but we oddly ignore them (and the cyclorama paint shop, or whatever). Never mind the components, we're not even really aware of the aggregate existing (which is all we can really hope to be, I think).

At this moment something, -- loads of things, -- are happening in Bhutan, and Wiltshire, and Droylesden, and in the world of magnetic fastenings. There are motorway hundreds-of-yards markers, throughout the country, cooling down (principally by convection) after the drop in temperature following sunset and the decreased flow of traffic. Some will probably creak on their rivits as the metal contracts. There are things way more random than that happening all of the time; now. All those trees in Russia, the birches in the Taiga, they're just standing there as you read this.

But we seem to go through life as if it were something on a screen, conjoured up according to our inputs from abstraction. It's not like there are pixels in our TV rolled up onto spools and showing (to no one) shows that will never air.

But the world is like that. We've kind of known that intellectually since we were kids, and we can even manage to grok it for people we love, but that's not really much of an achievement given the scale of the problem, is it?

Why can we work with Aleph Naught, series in the limit, black holes, and the like, and yet not have some similar notion of circumference for the goings on in the world which we can maintain for mental use?

Very strange.

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