Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Four

A hardcover sketchbook, completed mostly in 1991. I was so happy to find a hardcover book that did not have lined pages. Perhaps they always existed and I had just let a sheltered provincial life, but my joy was profound.

The front endpaper is a figure I devised, named the "mythic aleph" It is  composed of an aleph, photocopied over and over again until it reached the size of a sheet of paper, collaged with a cutout of a double ouroboros. In the study of mathematics the aleph is used to number transfinite sets. The figure (and my interest in many aspects of philosophy) was inspired by the Jorge Luis Borges storey, "The Aleph." This notebook is filled with notes from my Master’s Studies in Philosophy of Science.

The back endpaper is the notorious "Bertie Bassett" Liquorice Allsort man. He is an anthropomorphik - a human-ish figure made out of inanimate parts - like the Michelin Man. He led at lest one poet from London Ontario to produce a book of poetry. Anthropomorphiks by Robert Fones was the result of thinking "What power held all those inanimate parts together?"

Skimming this journal twenty years after it was written, I find wonderful (to me, at least) lines like:

Metaphoric considerations cannot be adequately dealt with by the framework of logical empiricism due to the simple fact that a metaphor is not subject to empirical confirmation.


Every game of perfect information has a solution in terms of pure strategies.

And earlier, an outline for a cross-diciplinary presentation given to a class in the English Department:

Language Theory – Adaptation of the model theoretic argument.

  1. What is a formal language and why would we want one? Leibniz's answer for a universal characteristic. The alchemical equation - that language is an exact copy of the world. Hence to master the world is a logocentric endeavour.

  2. What would the failure of attempts to recover the adamitic language imply?
          - Occult Platonism
          - Anthropocentricism or anthropological relativism
          - The failure of the axiomatic conception of science as realism
          - An undermining of any realist theory based on linguistic distinctions
          - Failure of the Universal Characteristic and confirmation of the fall.

"Adamitic" language is the lexical system used by Adam before he was kicked out of the garden, or the language used in the world before the tower of Babel was cast down. The rigour of the argument depends not one jot on religion, or if you believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. All you need to believe (mistakenly, as it turns out) is that there exists an exact correspondence between language and the world.

There is a break in book four -  a number of blank pages - and then if fills with notes on hypertext. They became the foundation for my contribution to what is now The Electronic Labyrinth.

One of the hypertext platforms of the early '90s was called Hypercard. As I was working I kept a series of notes for a hypertext to take advantage of the hypercard platform, "HockeyCard" was to be a collection of citations and anecdotes in hockey card format detailing the loss of life and violence associated with the game. Research let to these notes:

In 1907, a game between Ottawa and Montreal included several stick swinging battles that moved the Montreal Star to call the game, "an exhibition of butchery." Later that year, Owen McCourt of Cornwall died the day after being struck in the head by a stick.

On March 28, 1950, in a game between Detroit and Toronto, Gordie Howe went into the boards and suffered a brain concussion, a slashed eyeball, and a nose fracture. Doctors discovered severe hemoraging in the brain. "When they opened up Gordie's skull," recalls Sid Abel, a team mate of Howe's at the time, "blood shot to the ceiling like a geyser."

And so on. I'm keeping "HockeyCard" in the wings - if the hockey riots keep happening, maybe I'll complete it.

Here is a list of the books.

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