“Our logic is full of holes...
I can see the bubbles.”
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/* How are you gentlemen? All your James Joyce are belong to us! */
/* March 28, 2006 */
/* JJwKv3 - now with added CSS goodness.

Happy happy joy joy. */
/* March 26, 2006 */
/* I do like a little bit of infinite recursion on my bread...

I've been thinking a lot recently about how one can be affected by knowing how one uses symbols; about how the knowledge of the knowledge (woot! metaknowledge) alters how one sees one's use of basic symbols and how one perceives the world.

The thing is - that when I woke up to what the stone language was and how I could speak parts of it to people who didn't understand it as I did, and yet it still worked, I was somewhat confused; grateful, as it finally gave me a way to express certain emotions that I had no real way of expressing before, but confused. And as I learned about symbology I began to feel slightly guilty about using it, because it felt manipulative to speak to people in a langauge so deep they didn't know it was a language at all. But I'm not sure that it is; the datum of whether or not I am and was speaking it is entirely orthogonal to whether or not I actually am and was speaking it; knowledge and ability are not the same thing. And I know that a lot of the symbols I used before I knew what they could do and how they worked.

In a similar vein, I'm curious as to how the symbols one uses fundamentally shapes one's perception of the world around one; and how the knowledge that one is using them can likewise alter said perception. The thing is that, to an extent, everyone uses them; the price of being a pattern-recognising creature is that one is also a pattern-generating creature. The price of being resonant is that one will resonate. The price of being human, as Aiw pointed out, is being human. And the symbols, the live symbols that speak directly to the emotional self, are notable because even as one uses them to explain oneself to others, the shapes that the symbols that you use reshape one's own perception. As you speak the language, the language speaks to you. Though I suspect this is true of all such.

"I find myself gone from all but secret languages."

Which leads also to the thought that words are wonderful because they tame the symbols; the act of speaking is considerably safer for sanity than the act of symbolising (whether that is making a symbol or, for bonus points, becoming one oneself), and while one can very easily be swayed by one's own words, it's much more binary and emotive than the use of symbols, which very slightly warp the fabric of perception itself on a more subtle level.

I wonder whether words and language themselves come from a need to tame and use the everpresent - for good biological reason - obsessive urge in humankind; a ritual is really just a symbol partially in the time domain; if you take a safety-ritual and transform it into the space domain you end up with the concept of a space being a symbol of home; and spaces are powerful symbols indeed. Witness the cathedral; the river; the bedroom.

"A sympathetic stranger lights a candle in the middle of the night."

Maybe the self-symbol is partly (only partly; being archetypal implies that it cannot be entirely dismissed this easily) the ritual that is only performed once; the ritual of one's own life.

All of this can be seen to be a bit deconstructionist or negative or cynical; but I don't mean it to be. To assume that because I know what I'm doing then I'm doing it wrongly is a delusion that haunted me for some time. However; it is possible for a linguist to write. And it is possible for me to say truth, what I mean and what I feel, even if I do know how I say it. That's a difficult thing for me to understand. Maybe people who are less suspicious of themselves will have it easier.

This is all linked in my head to why proofs, poems, programs, stories and destinies are all the same thing; the rules by which symbols change over time or space or some direction are all linked; the direction is more or less arbitrary. This is what I said in the Seven Manifesto; and indeed, this concept of the fundamental idea being a direction has been reinforced by the discussions I had today about UIs with Jimmy, and about monads and functors and all those other functional goodies...

/* March 22, 2006 */
/* "They build a ship each winter-time to put to sea before the storms."

My memory was true. I am glad of that, even though it's over a silly, tiny thing.

When I was small, we borrowed a machine running an ancient Xenix for a while, and I learned a little of how to use UNIX on it. Not much, I'd imagine. I don't remember many details.

But - I could have sworn that user home directories were stored under /usr; when I came back to UNIX some considerable time later (in the forms of Linux and NetBSD), user home directories were stored under /home. So I thought I must have conflated /usr and /home, or something silly.

I don't know why I didn't look it up. Wasn't important enough, I suppose; and I am always willing to believe in my own wrongness rather sooner than my own rightness.

However, I have been reading more UNIX documentation; specifically, the Seventh Edition Programmers' Guide. In Volume 2 of this there is a Beginners' Guide to UNIX that shows home directories placed under /usr.

I feel vindicated. Ish. Not that this is probably in the least important to anyone who isn't me. */
/* March 20, 2006 */
/* "It's not stalking, it's a conspiracy."

The past is a strange place... they do things... similar there.

I don't know; there's something comforting about considering the time before I existed that's not there when considering many other things... I suppose it's the same urge that drives me to enjoy thinking of the classical civilisations, even in all their decadent squalor; but this is no Ovid that brings me to these thoughts, no Parmenides nor Juvenal nor Jung...

Nah, it's Thompson and Ritchie.

Reading currently is the First Edition of the UNIX Programmer's Manual... it's strange and - weirdly - emotional reading it; strange to know, strange to think.

Maybe there is some belief in golden ages in me yet. I've certainly installed SIMH, not that I've got anything actually running on it yet, but early days...

Maybe that's the fun of it, the interest in it. Early days. Heh.

Maybe maybe maybe.

Stories collapse the maybe, possibly like a black hole collapses 'direction'; not that going in any direction takes you to the same conclusion, but all the other directions bar one actually cease to exist; and whether that conclusion is desirable or terrifying, good or bad, is pretty much beside the point; the story Is, and the players in the story are its prey, or its benefactors. One or the other. Depends on the story.

"There's only one direction, and time is its only measure."

I've been trapped in bad stories; and guided gently by good ones. Doesn't mean that the good ones are any less powerful, just... they're different. You can fight gravity on rockets or go with it on parachutes.

Happy stories are best.

</person type="idealist/sloppy"> */
/* March 12, 2006 */
/* There's no need to be frightened:
We all already are dead,
Yet as unending vibration
Danger lurks only in my head.

Come on, break through with me,
Such wonders terrify the soul.
It's real; no need to question;
Knowledge infiltrates the whole.

Lightning strikes in the darkest places
om mane padme hum.
Threatened, we have to make choices
Lizards try to tell us which one...

Not that I've been obsessively listening to that on repeat for the last two days. Drowning the self in a tide of ritual and noise. "Beats and waves will take me to my grave..."

One for the geeks: I've been experimenting with visualising web stats, specifically internal referals, using the prefuse toolkit - which has reminded me quite nicely as to why trying to code in Java makes my brain leak, but is quite pretty; I need to take it a bits to work out what makes it tick better. At the moment I'm just hacking the hell out of the demos with the aid of perl and TCL for preprocessing - the idea being that I'll stick the log analysis in a crontab overnight or something. Sigh. Maybe I should be doing something worthwhile, but I lack the motivation or energy... I like to hope that it's winter keeping its grip on me... but meh. I don't know. Things are strange.

/* March 10, 2006 */
/* "And some there be which have no memorial,
Who are perished as though they had never been."

I've been trying to bring this site back into the light slowly, largely under the influence of Mel, who seems to be rather under the impression that what I say is actually worth saying... it's weird, though, that while doing so, I have been stalking softly through my old guestbook from back in the BTInternet days; and the links I had quietly acquired since the last apocalypse that befell this site, back in the days when I had commenting and links divided simply into Pipes and Things. It's strange how things change and pass, how time jerks and snaps like a broken chain. I think nearly all my "live blogs for live people" are no longer live; though, fortunately, as far as I know, all the people are.

I suppose, when you get down to it, just because it's virtual doesn't make it any less open to the depredations of entropy, to the single solitary fact, that "this, too, shall pass". Rather the opposite; bits and bytes have no real existence at all, they only exist as a property of the existence of some other physical entity, or as a neat mathematical abstraction. Thus their existence, or lack of it, is not only subject to the physical forces of creation and destruction, but the gentler ongoing force of change. And so we have that { creation, destruction } and change arise out of each other like the snake eating its own tail, a wheel. Maybe.

This, however, while being very neat philosophically (heh, opposition, I think I'm obsessed...) doesn't fundamentally change the fact that I have to face the depressing fact of people that I don't really talk to any more, or of people who have dropped offline.

The changing of the changeless.

This post would probably make considerably more sense if written at a saner hour. */
/* March 6, 2006 */
/* Really Fucking Weird Dream: (not, afaik, embellished in any way)...

I was a traveller among a tribal people (although not that primitive), and I was witnessing one of their rituals; I went down a dry set of stone stairs through a door into a large cave, at the front of which was a kind of altar, a table with a sheet over it. On the table lay two strange animals, one white and about the size of a ferret, which was wearing a mask that made its face look like a rat, one brown and large and slothlike, with a very long tongue... the brown slothlike one was trying to lick the nipples of the small white one. Also on the table was some kind of red lamp - I think it may have been an octohedron - which had a candle in it, and flickered.

There was a candle in the middle of the first row of the congregation (who filled the rest of the cave), and someone standing next to it lit it; this seemed to be the signal for the ritual to start, because someone at the front said, very clearly, "I call the spirits of our ancestors to witness the decisions we make today."

Suddenly the spirits of the ancestors were there with us. They were etched in light blue lines against the darkness of the cave. One walked through me, which was the most bizarre feeling I've ever experienced; I looked over my left shoulder and saw the ghost of a sad-looking woman with short hair watching from a distance. They waited, and slowly the space around the living filled up with the dead.

Then some kind of spotlight, except it shimmered like a flame, fell on a clock next to the candle... it was shaped like one of those house-shaped cuckoo clocks. The priest said something about time, whereupon there was an answering speaking from the congregation, saying with overtones of fear and wonder: "The clock isn't moving."

There's a confusing bit here where I seem to remember slipping out and back to my quarters to look stuff up in books, but I can't remember what I looked up.

When I slipped back in, the decisions that were to be made had been made, and I think they were making ready to sacrifice the sloth-thing; but then a whisper, bordering on a panicked shout started: "The clock isn't moving back." The hands were frozen; they should have been moving back to the correct position. Panic started to spread in the people; those at the front didn't know what was going on... to save injury, I leant over and blew out the candle in the front of the congregation, then, thinking maybe it was my presence that was breaking the magic, I slipped out.

As I got to the door I turned back to look at the room. A huge lamp-post had grown out of the floor - its head bent down, spilling sodium light everywhere over the terrified people. They were running hither and thither; I quietly closed the door and began walking - fast - up the stone stairs to the outside world.

I had nearly reached the door at the top when I heard the terrified screams from below of "FIRE! FIRE!" */
return 0;

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