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Take Me Out to the Ball Game, TerraPattern!

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — “similar-image search for satellite photos” for Sembl / Hipbone players ]

Tablet DQ 600 baseball at 75

I began my TerraPattern test-drive at CitiPark [above] and wound up Justin Seitz would know where!


As you can see [below], TerraPattern gave me plenty of choices:

Tablet DQ 600 baseball 02 at 75


The number of museum collections, apps and other sources for Sembl / HipBone use and potential partnership grows by the day!

A rosary of glass beads for Emily Steiner

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — semantic networks as game boards, old and new — see also the series presently linked at and ending with On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: six ]

Since I’m plaguing Emily Steiner with my thoughts on two of her recent tweets, I’d best explain first the reasons for my interest.

top left, a HipBione “WaterBird” board; right, Cath Styles‘ “Museum Game” board; lower left, an early HipBone “DoubleQuote” board; right, the “Said Symphony” board

As long time readers here will already be aware, I’m involved in the design, development and play of a family of games based on Hermann Hesse‘s conceptual Glass Bead Game, using boards that are what mathematicians would term graphs:


Technically, our game boards in the course of play are what Margaret Masterman termed semantic networks — and Masterman herself cited one such network from an earlier century imaging the Trinity — here on the right panel — which I have reproduced in the triptych below along with a diagram of the Kabbalah, left, and of the elements by Oronce Fine, center:



Which brings me to the first of two tweets Prof. Steiner posted today — the image of a head, with what is clearly a semantic network inside it — thoughts connecting with thoughts, or brain areas with brain areas, or perhaps both:

Akasha games in the mind

Viewed from the perspective of the HipBone Games, this semantic network within a brain (mind) is what the Buddha termed, somewhat reprovingly, a game played akasa, “by imagining a board in the air”.


But the Buddhist tradition wasn’t always as, what shall I say? — puritanical about games:

Tablet DQ Monastic games

As you’ll see, the upper panel here is a bit more relaxed on the subject of games in Buddhism — while the lower panel shows another game board, this one for a medieval Christian game on the Gospels, which Dr Steiner featured in the other tweet of hers that caught my eye today.

There are four canonical Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but they’re actually asymmetrical, Matthew, Mark, and Luke sharing properties and chunks of text which have conferred on them the group title of the “synoptic gospels” — while John is more symbolic, deeper, indeed mystical, and stands alone.

There’s a saying about them, Read, Mark, Learn, and Inwardly Digest. I don’t believe it’s intended to name the four pof them, but since Mark is second in order both in the saying and in the sequence of gospels found in the New Testament, I’m happy to consider John’s Gospel to be the equivalent of Inwardly Digest


But bringing the ancients into the modern day is a laudable activity, so I’ll close by taking that Gospel game board, as I like to think of it, and compariung it with one of the boards from the recent series of games in which AlphaGo — clearly a duende or djinn of some sort — beat out our best-living Go master in a series of 5 games:

Tablet DQ Go and Gospel games

Again, symmetry and asymmetry. Is the symmetry of the Gospels game a symmetry of the Divine Mind? And is the asymmetry of the game of Go an asymmetry of the two minds in play — or simply of a game in which one player gets to make the first move?

I look forward to learning from Dr Steiner how the Gospel game was played.

Semblance as translation

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — an MIT physica professor works in language games on biology ]

two solar machines
Both a tree and a solar panel absorb and transform solar energy, and dump heat into their environment. How would a physicist explain why only the tree is alive?


I’m posting this because of one sentence:

When you refuse to let go of two things that are divergent in the way they cause you to talk,” he says, “it forces you in the direction of translation.

I found it in an intriguing article, How Do You Say “Life” in Physics?

After a brief intro to MIT physicist Jeremy England, the article touches on interdisciplinary translation — which, when you think about it, is a very Koestlerian sort of bisociative process:

Different fields of science, too, are languages unto themselves, and scientific explanations are sometimes just translations. “Red,” for instance, is a translation of the phrase “620-750 nanometer wavelength.” “Temperature” is a translation of “the average speed of a group of particles.” The more complex a translation, the more meaning it imparts. “Gravity” means “the geometry of spacetime.”

Then we get theological, with a twist:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth …” Here, the Hebrew word for “create” is bara, the word for “heavens” is shamayim, and the word for “earth” is aretz; but their true meanings, England says, only come into view through their context in the following verses. For instance, it becomes clear that bara, creation, entails a process of giving names to things; the creation of the world is the creation of a language game. “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” God created light by speaking its name. “We have heard this phrase so many times that by the time we are old enough to ponder it, we easily miss its simplest point,” England says. “The light by which we see the world comes from the way we talk about it.” That might be important, thought England, if you’re trying to use the language of physics to describe biology.

Finally, we get the basic bisociation laid out in plain words:

As a young faculty member at MIT, he neither wanted to stop doing biology, nor thinking about theoretical physics. “When you refuse to let go of two things that are divergent in the way they cause you to talk,” he says, “it forces you in the direction of translation.”


I hadn’t thought much about translation as a form of semblance until now, but it opens vistas..

An interesting article.

The tree and the solar panel — there’s much food there for analogical thought.

Carambolages, huzzah!

Monday, March 14th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a brilliant new exhibition breaks the usual museum rules to provoke prodigious & repeated leaps of imagination ]

Carambolages Dominos


Cath Styles, whose Sembl games are closely related to my own HipBone variants on Hermann Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game, recently pointed me to an exhibition called Carambolages that opened recently at the Grand Palais, Galleries Nationales, 3, avenue du General Eisenhower, Paris.

Strolling their website, I was struck by this double image, which in HipBone terms would be called a DoubleQuote, or a Sembl in Cath’s Sembl game:

(left) Sword, Kiribati, Micronesia Islands, Oceania, sd, Paris, Musée du Quai Branly
(right) Bertrand Lavier, Black & Decker, 1998 collection Giuliana and Tommaso Setari

It appears, indeed, that the exhibit in question features a Domino game of Sembls or DoubleQuotes —

Fascinating — and definitely a notable step in the expanding history of bead game variants — which I view, among other things, as an art movement that has yet to be written up as such.

Congratulations, Jean-Hubert Martin! The catalogue will no doubt be as close as I can get physically, but I’m all the way with you in spirit…

Bonne idée, bon chance!

Graph-types 1: sample graphs and boards

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — background reading for the post which follows ]

This is a quick look at node and edge graphs and some of the boards used in HipBone, DoubleQuote, and Sembl Games — a refresher for those who already know, and a quick intro for those who may not…


Above, you’ll see two graphs — one very simple and one far more complex. What they have in common is points (known as nodes) and lines connecting them (known as edges). Graphs of this kind are instances of the basic pattern on which much of contemporary understanding of the world rests, as it mostly rested on linear thinking in previous centuries. They are everywhere.


In the next image, however, we see some medieval and renaissance instances of graphs in which concepts and their relations have been assigned to the nodes and their edges — these are also commonly found today, but the early versions here have a beauty all their own..


Left to right: the Sephirotic Tree of classical Jewish Kabbalah; Oronce Fine‘s diagram of the four elements; and a medieval respresentation of the Christian Trinity. It was the Reformation & Counter-Reformation that really put a stop to this kind of graphical thinking, as Ioan Couliano teaches us.


Finally, my HipBone Games and the Museum Game that Cath Styles designed for the National Museum of Australia use graphs as their boards, and the players assign concepts to the various nodes, establishing conceptual links between them:

Game boards

Upper left, th4 standard WaterBird board for HipBone play; upper right, one of Cath’s boards for the Museum Game; lower left, the DoubleQuotes board, and lower right, a beautiful graph on which I hoped gto play a symphonic Bead Game.


That’s the essential background you need to proceed to the next post, Graph-types 2: towards a universal graphical mapping language, where I lay out my hopeful, hopeless scheme for a Grand Unified Map. Onwards.

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