Sunday, January 6, 2019

At the Still Point . . .

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:08 PM

For Richard Marks, a film editor who reportedly died unexpectedly
at 75 in New York City on New Year's Eve —

Click to enlarge the inset.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

At the Still Point

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:30 AM

It Goes to Show…*


* Context— ChuckBerry.com

Friday, February 10, 2012


Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:01 PM
Wednesday, February 1, 2012


 m759 @ 9:16 PM

"Should we arbitrate life and death
at a round table or a square one?"

 Wislawa Szymborska

See also the two previous posts,
Disturbing Archimedes and Tesseract.

Related material—

See also At the Still Point (a post in memory of film editor Sally Menke).

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday June 6, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:45 AM
The Dance of Chance

"Harvard seniors have
every right to demand a
    Harvard-calibre speaker."

— Adam Goldenberg in
The Harvard Crimson

"Look down now, Cotton Mather"

— Wallace Stevens,
Harvard College
Class of 1901

For Thursday, June 5, 2008,
commencement day for Harvard's
Class of 2008, here are the
Pennsylvania Lottery numbers:

Mid-day 025
Evening 761

Thanks to the late
Harvard professor
Willard Van Orman Quine,
the mid-day number 025
suggests the name
"Isaac Newton."

(For the logic of this suggestion,
see On Linguistic Creation
and Raiders of the Lost Matrix.)

Thanks to Google search, the
  name of Newton, combined with
  Thursday's evening number 761,
suggests the following essay:

Science 10 August 2007:
Vol. 317. no. 5839, pp. 761-762

The Cha-Cha-Cha Theory
of Scientific Discovery

Daniel E. Koshland Jr.*

* D. E. Koshland Jr. passed away on 23 July 2007. He was a professor of biochemistry and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, since 1965. He served as Science's editor-in-chief from 1985 to 1995.

What can a non-scientist add?

Perhaps the Log24 entries for
the date of Koshland's death:

The Philosopher's Stone
and The Rock.

Or perhaps the following

On the figure of 25 parts
discussed in
"On Linguistic Creation"–

5x5 ultra super magic square

"The Moslems thought of the
central 1 as being symbolic
of the unity of Allah.

— Clifford Pickover  

"At the still point,
there the dance is.

— T. S. Eliot,
Harvard College
Class of 1910

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Tuesday August 19, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 10:23 PM

O'Hara's Fingerpost

In The New York Times Book Review of next Sunday (August 24, 2003), Book Review editor Charles McGrath writes that author John O'Hara

"… discovered a kind of story… in which a line of dialogue or even a single observed detail indicates that something crucial has changed."

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

crucial – 1706, from Fr. crucial… from L. crux (gen. crucis) "cross." The meaning "decisive, critical" is extended from a logical term, Instantias Crucis, adopted by Francis Bacon (1620); the notion is of cross fingerboard signposts at forking roads, thus a requirement to choose.

The remainder of this note deals with the "single observed detail" 162.



Instantias Crucis

Francis Bacon says

"Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the fourteenth place Instances of the Fingerpost, borrowing the term from the fingerposts which are set up where roads part, to indicate the several directions. These I also call Decisive and Judicial, and in some cases, Oracular and Commanding Instances. I explain them thus. When in the investigation of any nature the understanding is so balanced as to be uncertain to which of two or more natures the cause of the nature in question should be assigned on account of the frequent and ordinary concurrence of many natures, instances of the fingerpost show the union of one of the natures with the nature in question to be sure and indissoluble, of the other to be varied and separable; and thus the question is decided, and the former nature is admitted as the cause, while the latter is dismissed and rejected. Such instances afford very great light and are of high authority, the course of interpretation sometimes ending in them and being completed. Sometimes these instances of the fingerpost meet us accidentally among those already noticed, but for the most part they are new, and are expressly and designedly sought for and applied, and discovered only by earnest and active diligence."

The original:

Inter praerogativas instantiarum, ponemus loco decimo quarto Instantias Crucis; translato vocabulo a Crucibus, quae erectae in biviis indicant et signant viarum separationes. Has etiam Instantias Decisorias et Judiciales, et in casibus nonnullis Instantias Oraculi et Mandati, appellare consuevimus. Earum ratio talis est. Cum in inquisitione naturae alicujus intellectus ponitur tanquam in aequilibrio, ut incertus sit utri naturarum e duabus, vel quandoque pluribus, causa naturae inquisitae attribui aut assignari debeat, propter complurium naturarum concursum frequentem et ordinarium, instantiae crucis ostendunt consortium unius ex naturis (quoad naturam inquisitam) fidum et indissolubile, alterius autem varium et separabile ; unde terminatur quaestio, et recipitur natura illa prior pro causa, missa altera et repudiata. Itaque hujusmodi instantiae sunt maximae lucis, et quasi magnae authoritatis; ita ut curriculum interpretationis quandoque in illas desinat, et per illas perficiatur. Interdum autem Instantiae Crucis illae occurrunt et inveniuntur inter jampridem notatas; at ut plurimum novae sunt, et de industria atque ex composito quaesitae et applicatae, et diligentia sedula et acri tandem erutae.

— Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, Book Two, "Aphorisms," Section XXXVI

A Cubist Crucifixion

An alternate translation:

"When in a Search of any Nature the Understanding stands suspended, the Instances of the Fingerpost shew the true and inviolable Way in which the Question is to be decided. These Instances afford great Light…"

From a review by Adam White Scoville of Iain Pears's novel titled An Instance of the Fingerpost:

"The picture, viewed as a whole, is a cubist description, where each portrait looks strikingly different; the failings of each character's vision are obvious. However, in a cubist painting the viewer often can envision the subject in reality. Here, even after turning the last page, we still have a fuzzy view of what actually transpired. Perhaps we are meant to see the story as a cubist retelling of the crucifixion, as Pilate, Barabbas, Caiaphas, and Mary Magdalene might have told it. If so, it is sublimely done so that the realization gradually and unexpectedly dawns upon the reader. The title, taken from Sir Francis Bacon, suggests that at certain times, 'understanding stands suspended' and in that moment of clarity (somewhat like Wordsworth's 'spots of time,' I think), the answer will become apparent as if a fingerpost were pointing at the way. The final narrative is also titled An Instance of the Fingerpost, perhaps implying that we are to see truth and clarity in this version. But the biggest mystery of this book is that we have actually have no reason to credit the final narrative more than the previous three and so the story remains an enigma, its truth still uncertain."

For the "162" enigma, see


The Matthias Defense, and

The Still Point and the Wheel.

See also the December 2001 Esquire and

the conclusion of my previous entry.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday April 25, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 7:59 PM


Today is the feast of Saint Mark.  It seems an appropriate day to thank Dr. Gerald McDaniel for his online cultural calendar, which is invaluable for suggesting blog topics.

Yesterday's entry "Cross-Referenced" referred to a bizarre meditation of mine titled "The Matthias Defense," which combines some thoughts of Nabokov on lunacy with some of my own thoughts on the Judeo-Christian tradition (i.e., also on lunacy).  In this connection, the following is of interest:

From a site titled Meaning of the Twentieth Century —

"Freeman Dyson has expressed some thoughts on craziness. In a Scientific American article called 'Innovation in Physics,' he began by quoting Niels Bohr. Bohr had been in attendance at a lecture in which Wolfgang Pauli proposed a new theory of elementary particles. Pauli came under heavy criticism, which Bohr summed up for him: 'We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that is not crazy enough.' To that Freeman added: 'When a great innovation appears, it will almost certainly be in a muddled, incomplete and confusing form. To the discoverer, himself, it will be only half understood; to everyone else, it will be a mystery. For any speculation which does not at first glance look crazy, there is no hope!' "

Kenneth Brower, The Starship and the Canoe, 1979, pp. 146, 147

It is my hope that the speculation, implied in The Matthias Defense, that the number 162 has astonishing mystical properties (as a page number, article number, etc.) is sufficiently crazy to satisfy Pauli and his friend Jung as well as the more conventional thinkers Bohr and Dyson.  It is no less crazy than Christianity, and has a certain mad simplicity that perhaps improves on some of that religion's lunatic doctrines. 

Some fruits of the "162 theory" —

Searching on Google for muses 162, we find the following Orphic Hymn to Apollo and a footnote of interest:

27 Tis thine all Nature's music to inspire,
28 With various-sounding, harmonising lyre;
29 Now the last string thou tun'ft to sweet accord,
30 Divinely warbling now the highest chord….

"Page 162 Verse 29…. Now the last string…. Gesner well observes, in his notes to this Hymn, that the comparison and conjunction of the musical and astronomical elements are most ancient; being derived from Orpheus and Pythagoras, to Plato. Now, according to the Orphic and Pythagoric doctrine, the lyre of Apollo is an image of the celestial harmony…."

For the "highest chord" in a metaphorical sense, see selection 162 of the 1919 edition of The Oxford Book of English Verse (whose editor apparently had a strong religious belief in the Muses (led by Apollo)).  This selection contains the phrase "an ever-fixèd mark" — appropriately enough for this saint's day.  The word "mark," in turn, suggests a Google search for the phrase "runes to grave" Hardy, after a poem quoted in G. H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology.

Such a search yields a website that quotes Housman as the source of the "runes" phrase, and a further search yields what is apparently the entire poem:

Smooth Between Sea and Land

by A. E. Housman

Smooth between sea and land
Is laid the yellow sand,
And here through summer days
The seed of Adam plays.

Here the child comes to found
His unremaining mound,
And the grown lad to score
Two names upon the shore.

Here, on the level sand,
Between the sea and land,
What shall I build or write
Against the fall of night?

Tell me of runes to grave
That hold the bursting wave,
Or bastions to design
For longer date than mine.

Shall it be Troy or Rome
I fence against the foam
Or my own name, to stay
When I depart for aye?

Nothing: too near at hand
Planing the figured sand,
Effacing clean and fast
Cities not built to last
And charms devised in vain,
Pours the confounding main.

(Said to be from More Poems (Knopf, 1936), p. 64)

Housman asks the reader to tell him of runes to grave or bastions to design.  Here, as examples, are one rune and one bastion.


The rune known as

the balance point or "still point."

The Nike Bastion

 Dagaz: (Pronounced thaw-gauze, but with the "th" voiced as in "the," not unvoiced as in "thick") (Day or dawn.)

From Rune Meanings:

 Dagaz means "breakthrough, awakening, awareness. Daylight clarity as opposed to nighttime uncertainty. A time to plan or embark upon an enterprise. The power of change directed by your own will, transformation. Hope/happiness, the ideal. Security and certainty. Growth and release. Balance point, the place where opposites meet."

Also known as "the rune of transformation."

For the Dagaz rune in another context, see Geometry of the I Ching.  The geometry discussed there does, in a sense, "hold the bursting wave," through its connection with Walsh functions, hence with harmonic analysis.

 Temple of Athena Nike on the Nike Bastion, the Acropolis, Athens.  Here is a relevant passage from Paul Valéry's Eupalinos ou L'Architecte about another temple of four columns:

Et puis… Écoute, Phèdre (me disait-il encore), ce petit temple que j'ai bâti pour Hermès, à quelques pas d'ici, si tu savais ce qu'il est pour moi ! — Où le passant ne voit qu'une élégante chapelle, — c'est peu de chose: quatre colonnes, un style très simple, — j'ai mis le souvenir d'un clair jour de ma vie. Ô douce métamorphose ! Ce temple délicat, nul ne le sait, est l'image mathématique d'une fille de Corinthe que j'ai heureusement aimée. Il en reproduit fidèlement les proportions particulières. Il vit pour moi !

Four columns, in a sense more suited to Hardy's interests, are also a recurrent theme in The Diamond 16 Puzzle and Diamond Theory.

Apart from the word "mark" in The Oxford Book of English Verse, as noted above, neither the rune nor the bastion discussed has any apparent connection with the number 162… but seek and ye shall find.

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