The great German engraver Albrecht Dürer’s illustrations of the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) differ from contemporary televised images of warfare not only in terms of the armor and weaponry used, but also and more importantly by recording two worlds, the visible and the invisible, where the television camera records only the visible. The sky in television reports of war contains missiles and warplanes, and if anything “invisible” is depicted, it is invisible only by virtue of being viewed in the infra-red portion of the spectrum via night scope. Dürer’s sky is not merely “sky” but also “heaven”, and thus depicts that “war in heaven” alluded to in Revelations 12: 7, with its angels and demons and dragon, its Lady clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and crowned with the stars…
A crucial shift in the way in which we envision “reality” has occurred between Albrecht Dürer’s time and our own, and that shift has indeed largely deprived us of a real sense of the existence of an “invisible world” — whether it be the invisible world of faerie or sacrament, of poetic vision or apocalypse. That great modern prophet William Blake both predicted and lamented this loss, and his entire corpus of poetry and paintings can be viewed as a singular attempt to replace in our culture that visionary quality that our increasing scientism so easily deprives us of.
This shift in our understanding becomes exceedingly important when we come to consider the awesome potential of weapons now in the human arsenal: and nuclear weapons in particular. For while the “rational” conscious mind is considering Hermann Kahn’s Ladder of Escalation and other more recent “scenarios” and “game plans” in the “theater of war” with characteristic dispassion, the imagination by necessity views the imaginal… and our dreams, our hopes and fears are filled with those same ancient forces that John of Patmos perceived in his visions, and which Albrecht Dürer depicted in the imagery of his own time. As a culture, we are now largely “unconscious” of the war in heaven — but it has not ceased to influence our lives.
I remembered this when MSNBC host Bryan WIlliams told the presidential biographer Jon Meacham a day or two ago:
if you’re going to clear those better angels of yours fo takeoff, remember the air traffic controllers are working without salaries..
I don’t suppose Williams‘ mind made a big deal of the mildly ironic conflation of heaven and sky, angels and air traffic controllers, he’d managed here in what was surely a passing comment — but the juxtaposition is in fact a significant one, as significant as John Donne’s celebrated juxtaposition of the pre-scientific square earth and the scientific spherical one in the brilliant opening lines of his sonnet:
At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, angels,
Of such juxtapositions are light laughs and great poems made..
[ by Charles Cameron — a meander to ponder, wonder, wander, a maze to amaze, or as CS Peirce might say, a muse to amuse, an amuse-bouche ]
Here’s a quick, long run-down of my HipBone games, where they came from, and where they’ll be going if book and online game plans come together.
My various HipBone and related games are intended as playable variants on Hermann Hesse‘s great Glass Bead Game (GBG for short).
You remember this?
As I said before:
I don’t know how Theodor von Kármán came by his Vortex Street, and I’ve spent a decade in Pasadena wandering its streets and even picked up his four volume works — signed — at a CalTech book sale — but if he had the Van Gogh painting in the back of his mind, there’s the beginning, the seed of an awesome leap.
And you might say van Gogh made a mighty leap, pre-intuiting the von Kármán pattern in the night sky..
This DoubleQuote is my favorite move in the game that has obsessed me for the last thirty or so years, the Glass Bead Game as described in Hermann Hesse in his Nobel-winning novel of the same name.
Linking arts and sciences as it does, I see it as a move at the nave roof-apex of what Hesse describes as the “hundred-gated cathedral of mind”.
The essence of a move in Hesse‘s game is associative linkage.
I’m using this post as something of a primer on my game thinking, before proposing a recent instance of a type of associative leap / example of a game move.
There are many fairly basic types of associative linkage that provide the connextive tissue between the items in an ontology:
Human knowledge, at an elemental level, can be described as a “transformation” of data.
Complex ideas are built using layers of “transformations” with each layer feeding into the next (think pyramid)
We teach these transformations at home and at school to our children.
We communicate by sharing transformations.
Questions We Need to Answer in the Age of Cognitive Machines:
How many transformations would it take to model all human knowledge?
How deep (how many layers of transformation is human knowledge) is human knowledge? Both on average or at its deepest point?
How broad is human knowledge (non-dependent transformations)?
How fast is the number of transformations increasing and how fast is it propagating across the human network?
From a process orientation, it’s pretty clear that the fundamental way in which most associative leaps occur to human minds takes the form:
this reminds me of that
— and that holds true even of conspicuous creative leaps not just out of the box but into the unknown — as when Yutaka Taniyama proposed his hypothesis that there exists a correspondence between elliptic curves and modular forms in 1955. Andrew Wiles eventually proved the linkage in what is now known as the Modularity theorem, as the key part of his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem in 1993 [don’t ask me to explain, I’m not a mathematician]
Creative leaps are in general the basis of much “opening of fields” both in the arts and sciences, as described by Arthur Koestler in his Act of Creation:
and elaborated by Douglas Hofstadter in eg his Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies and Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, and at a depth of penetration equivalent to Robb’s questions above, by Fauconnier and Turner in The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending And The Mind’s Hidden Complexities..
Level on level, the structure of a gothic cathedral is arch building on arch (forgive my Spanish):
Erwin Panofky‘s masterwork, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, argues for a common mental structure explaining the simultaneous occurrence of Gothic cathedral architecture and the scholastic argumentation characteristic of Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas..
The music of Hesse’s cathedral?
All the insights, noble thoughts, and works of art that the human race has produced in its creative eras, all that subsequent periods of scholarly study have reduced to concepts and converted into intellectual values the Glass Bead Game player plays like the organist on an organ. And this organ has attained an almost unimaginable perfection; its manuals and pedals range over the entire intellectual cosmos; its stops are almost beyond number.
And the game’s ultimate destination – besides the creation of an overarching synthesis uniting sciences and arts, great leaps of discovery and profound flights of imagination?
Every transition from major to minor in a sonata, every transformation of a myth or a religious cult, every classical or artistic formulation was, I realized in that flashing moment, if seen with a truly meditative mind, nothing but a direct route into the interior of the cosmic mystery, where in the alternation between inhaling and exhaling, between heaven and earth, between Yin and Yang, holiness is forever being created.
In the coincidence of opposites — the buttressed left side of the cathedral’s gothic arch leaning into, against and with the buttressed right side, culminating in the high vaulting that characterizes the nave — transcendence of the physical in the spiritual..
Okay, very quickly, one associative link that jumped out at one poster recently after the Democratic response to Trump’s resolute desk address was the similarity between Schumer and Pelosi‘s stilted appearance, standing shoulder to shoulder at a single podium [left], and — returning to our theme of gothic as in a fugue — the celebrated painting titled American Gothic [composite, right] —
That’s a “haha!” (comedic, laughter) rather than an “aha!” (creative, excitement) or “aah!” (tragedic, tears) explosion, to return to Arthur Koestler’s notion of bisociation and its various types and expressions.
But that’s just fun, and will quickly become dated.. that’s an aside.
A new category of linkage:
More seriously, I’d like to suggest that one faascinating type of linkage, close kin to “this is similar to that” is the category of mistake:
this is, has been, or can be mistaken for that
My example here is the weird sonic effect that seems to have physically hurt American diplomats and other embassy employees in Cuba, and confused national security analysts —
The patients complained of intense ear pain, hearing loss, headaches, dizziness and difficulty with balance, as well as increased anxiety and irritability, doctors found, but who or what caused the damage is still unknown.
From The Atlantic:
Various parties argued that the strange noise was the result of a sonic weapon, a microwave attack, or malfunctioning eavesdropping equipment.
And back to ABC:
“The possible sources and the medical findings we have here do not have a quick or easy solution,” said Dr. Carey Balaban, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who contributed to the study. “I wish someone could tell us that right now. I wish we’d have that.”
Damn commie Cubans!
The thing is, otolaryngologists and high-tech security experts were the wrong people to solve the problem. Whenentomologists listened to a recording of the sound, they recognizedd it —
as the mating call of Anurogryllus celerinictus, the Indies short-tailed cricket.
the cricket’s call has been mistaken for a devious commie attack on American diplomats
Very briefly, then, to wrap up, since the idea is to link one concept to another, I use graphs as my game boards, assigning the concepts (images, quotes, clips &c) to numbered positions (nodes) on the boards, with the lines between them (edges) representing their associative links, which can be spelled out in however much detail a given game requires:.
top left, the standard WaterBird board; top right, a board from the Sembl game as played on iPads in the National Museum of Australia; lower left, the Doublequote board, for direct comparison of two concepts / images; lower right, the Said Symphony board, for us in “aymphonic” games.
The idea of conceptual graphs precedes Margaret Masterman by centuries:
Left, the Sephirotic Tree of classical Kabbalah; middle: Oronce Fine’s diagram of the elements and humors; right: a medieval Trinitarian diagram
And as a grace note — my two now ancient pages on Masterman, Boole and that Trinitarian diagram are still a quiet delight for scholars of conceptual graphs and the like. Masterman really was an unsung genius, and her curious and vastlky erudite paper Theism as a Scientific Hypothesis proves it..
I wonder when AlphaZero will be playing a game like this:
[ by Charles Cameron — this one with quite a few neat chyrons, a book recommendation, &c ]
Here’s PW Singer on his new book, LikeWar, and our cyber-security future:
Notable in the above, for the games metaphor collection as well as general understanding:
This is a space where ISIS’ top recruiter and Taylor Swift are using the very same tactics to achieve fundamentally the very same goal in terms of online, but very different effects offline.
And final point of it, if we don’t understand these new rules of the game, we are the losers of them.
A great few hours for chyrons
Melber Beat 12/26/2018
Melber 26 Dec: echoing politics as just a savage game ..
trump has no agenda here,he has no endgame, he has no strategy, he has no tactics ..
look, i went to the mat, i did everything i could do, i shut down the governmentmover this, and democrats just wouldn’t give me the billions that we agree we need to get this done
…..Bob Corker was responsible for giving us the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal, which I ended, yet he badmouths me for wanting to bring our young people safely back home. Bob wanted to run and asked for my endorsement. I said NO and the game was over. #MAGA I LOVE TENNESSEE!
djt: we’re not playing to lose slowly in iraq ..26/2018
all in chris hayes 12/26/2018
the secretary of defense jim mattis resigned with a letter that politely torched the president’s worldview ..
more and more like a mob boss ..
what’s the game plan here? ..
i wonder how you, your colleagues are thinking about gaming out the strategy of this house majority which is walking into day one, a sort of staring contest with the president ..
uncertain misc 12/26/2018
it’s given every other country around the world whiplash ..
pulling the rug out from under his own policies [ourob] ..
and the question is, does pressure work any more on the operators in this sort of game ..
it will be ironic if he was hoist by his own petard of sexism ..
they organize their own demise because they ask for too much ..
katy mtp: i wonder what the end game is for the president ..
ari: the federal reserve has to raise rates, because they have to reducfe the balance sheet, in order to get the dry powder, to come rescue the economy ../
chris hayes: markets have whipsawed back and forth as investors try to figure out whata exactly is going on ..
rule #1 of negotiation is don’t negotiate against yourself – the president negotiated against himself, and now he’s in a corner..
Ant=d this, IMO, is brilliant, capturing a whole series of mirroring arguments:
to play that “if obama had done” game..
that’s one heck of a game!
Subtitle from Vanity Fair’s Hive today:
The author of Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace recounts the society columnist who tried to out-Trump the future president.
Some contest / fight / war..
More as relevant events, quotes, tweets, headlines & videos crop up in my various feeds..
[ by Charles Cameron — the Trinity and National Security, Game Boards and Mathematics, Japanese wave patterns, Maestro Harding on the interconnectedness of “all branches of human knowledge and curiosity, not just music” — plus Blues Clues at the tail end ]
Not only have the last couple of days been riotous in Washington, with more news to track than I have eyes to see, but today, still reeling under the weight of Mattis‘ resignation, McConnell‘s statement in support and other matters, I found myself with a richesse of board-game and graph-related delights.
Followers of this searies will be familiar with the Trinitarian diagram juxtaposed here with its equivalents from classical Kabballah and Oronce Fine:
That little triptych is from my religion and games avenues of interest, but of course I’m also interested in matters of national security, as befits Zenpundit, the strategy & creativity blog. You can imagine my surprise and delight, then, in coming across a natsec version of the trinity diagram, in a tweet from Jon Askonas.
Here’s my comparison:
My own attention was first drawn to the Trinitarian diagram as a result of reading Margaret Masterman‘s brilliant cross-disciplinary work, “Theism as a Scientific Hypothesis”, which ran in four parts in a somewhat obscure and difficult to find journal, Theoria to Theory, Vol 1, 1-4, 1966-67.
And finally, here’s an ugraded version of the other DQ of mine that seeks to bridge the arts and sciences — featuring Hokusai‘s celebrated woodblock print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa (upper panel, below) and Jakob aka nikozy92‘s fractal wave, which I’ve flipped horizontally to make its parallel with the Hokusai clearer (lower panel) — Jakob‘s is a much improved version of a fractal wave compared with the one I’d been using until today:
That brings me to the Met’s marvelous offering, to which J Scott Shipman graciously pointed me:
Finally, I’ve been delighted today to run across a couple of vdeos of my nephew, Maestro Daniel Harding, conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra some years back in programs exploring the interplay of mathematics and other disciplines and music:
Daniel is not working the graph-based angle that my games explore, but his thinking here is pleasantly congruous with my own. His work with the SRSO has, he says in the first video here, “to do with all branches of human knowledge and curiosity, not just music — because everything is connected”.
You can’t get much closer in spirit to Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game than that!
[ by Charles Cameron — a quick, deep (or high altitude) look into various ways to play ]
I learned quite a bit on a topic of huge interest to me — playing games — in short order over the last couple of hours.
To wit, from Pine Gap, the Aussie espionage series on Netflix, which is how I take my naps — Pine Gap (Netflix) s 1 e 4:
There are three ways to play any game:
A: Plan your moves so far in advance your opponent can’t predict them,
B: Make your opponent watch what you’re doing with one hand while your other is busy with your real game plan., or
C: Play your cards very, very close to your chest..
Sometimes all you can do is wait.. until your opponent makes the next move.
Another game rule, this one from MTP Daily (MSNBC) 12/18/2018, which obviously obviated the nap:
Whatever comes of this, both sides have got to save face.
And back to Pine Gap s1 e 5:
Good game ..
A loss is always a bad game.
That covers quite a decent bit of ground: strategies in competitive games; games of negotiation, quasi-competitive, quasi-collaborative; games as play, pretend-competitive, non-competitive, playful — “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes – not that you won or lost – but how you played the Game” — and game as victory or defeat, period.
Now, get this, with an associative geopol link below, from Pine Gap s1 e6:
We’re on the same side really, aren’t we? I mean, we all just want to be safe and happy, and our leaders want to be rich and powerful.
Sure, but there are differences, too. See, uh, Americans play Chess, right? Where the object of the game is to kill the other king. A fest attack, a total victory. But we play Go, where the object of the game is to gradually own the most territory, slowly acquire a .. a winning position, which is a completely different approach — to, uh, life, business — even relationships ..
Read that, which ties up many strands in the plot of Pine Gap, and also applies interestingly to events in the South China Sea: “to gradually own the most territory, slowly acquire a .. a winning position”.
It’s been a good afternoon for picking up game quotes.
And holy moly, there’s more:
It’s not about winning, Kath, it’s about maintaining dominance. [..]
We keep everybody in check. [..]
You played a good long game, Paul..
We both played a pretty good long game, mate. I’ll be watching to see how yours plays out.
And the coup de grace, quietly yet quite viciously delivered, wrt a divorce & who gets to keep the cat — with high irony:
Shake hands, well played. Moving on, that’s me. No thoughts of revenge whatsoever.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.