December 21, 2006
by: jovial_cynic
I think something is off.

I can always tell that the circuitry inside my head has crossed wires when I start working on way too many projects at once. And it's not even the actual act of working on the projects -- it's when I can feel the gears in my head getting hot as I think about all the projects at once.

Of course, I don't notice that it's a problem until I start feeling overwhelmed by the number of projects I'm juggling, and by the fact that I can't seem to think about anything other than the projects. Another clue: there are 1/4-size pieces of notepad paper, like leaves, scattered everywhere, mostly strewn across my work area. Most of them are difficult to decipher - formulas, measurements, arrows pointing every which way, some towards scribbles, some away from scribbles... and lots of little circles. But I know that they made perfect sense when I wrote them, and if I could decrypt the symbols, I'd be better at finishing some of the projects I started.

Mandelbrot set

I chatted with my boss a few days ago about the way in which some computer programmers analyze data (at least those that code in object-oriented languages), and that their arrangement of that data can make it difficult for them to function socially. Many programmers arrange data into trees, with a trunk (being the main data type), and the branches serving as subsets of the data in the trunk. The nodes on the branches can have their own branches, so you end up with multiple subsets, each item in the tree having a parent branch, until you work your way back up to the trunk. Or the root, depending on your nomenclature.

For programmers that spend a lot of time thinking in this manner, everything is categorized and related. Everything is a subset of something else, and everything can be tied back to some universal... something. It's a bit like viewing the universe as a giant fractal pattern, seeing beneath the three-dimensions and discovering the infinite. Everything... every drop of rain, every pebble, every star, every word, every kiss, they're all manifestations of that same recursive universal something. I think this is why Pythagoras had the religious beliefs he did.

Mandelbrot set boundary

And perhaps the difference between people who become programmers and "normal" people is that normal people view the Mandelbrot set and just see a bug. Programmers can see inside the set... and find the infinite, and at the same time, lose their ability to relate to folks who just see the bug. It's not even a matter of speaking a different language -- it's speaking from the perspective of a different existence.

I feel like the times that I get stuck on so many projects and find difficulty thinking are the times when I've looked too many layers deep into the fractal universe and have gotten lost. And I'm not always sure how to get out.


ajay said:
hi.., really interesting post about fractls.nice work...
December 21, 2006

Kristen said:
Drugs, man. Lots of drugs.

J/K I'm not a programmer, but I can relate in a small way.

December 22, 2006

ID said:
I never want to get out, but I'm not a programmer, rather an artist. Your Blakeian description fits the nature of fractals perfectly and the split described is perhaps identical to the oft-speculated and impending bifurcation of humanity.
December 26, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
Thanks for your comment, ID. I'm not entirely familiar with what you mean by "Blankeian description," though. Could you explain a bit more?

And... there are times that I don't want to get out of it. It's a bit like a drug, I suppose, and it appeals to the need to escape from this reality. But one can't live that way when one has responsibilities, like raising a family, maintaining a job, etc., etc.

December 27, 2006

ID said:
By "Blakeian", I meant "after the style of William Blake", particularly the lines from his poem 'Auguries of Innocence':

"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour."

Your description of those of us who 'see' the infinite in a fractal struck the same chord.

Of course, one cannot quite literally 'stay in there', but the trick is to live multiple 'realities' simultaneously, such that the vicissitudes of consensual reality become, if not explicable, at least bearable within a context of greater connectivity.

December 28, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
Oh... wow. I've never even heard of William Blake until now. That poem is exactly it! Fascinating. I'll have to do some more research and see what else he says.

This all has a "Plato's forms" feel to it as well -- that earthly existence is but a shadow or an image of that which is truly real.

December 28, 2006

ID said:
Very much so, but the only aspect of the Platonic Form that seems at odds with experience/current thinking is its static nature. I think the Forms remain an excellent thought-experiment (and perhaps more literally something like a morphological catalogue) but feel that David Bohm's 'Implicate Order' model best fits the hidden realms in that all is flux, and from that flux unfolds (or explicates) other orders where the hidden potentialities become manifest.
December 29, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
True - Plato does seem to suggest that the form of a tree is some sort of etheral true tree that is the root of all trees. Such thinking could suggest that there may as well be a true pickup truck, or true crayon, as though the etheral is created as mankind creates new shadows. That would be a bit like man creating God and the heavens, instead of the other way around.
December 29, 2006

Jeremy C said:
Nice, this is good. I agree to. LOL

Go tree veiw. Kidding.

December 30, 2006

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