My usual territory is way more visual (meaning solely concerned with geometry to the point that linear descriptions are rather limiting, but I thought I'd say the following)
Some I knew once described language getting stretchy on mushrooms. Gracie and Zarkov's visible language experience
Somehow the description of visible language vaguely reminded me of David Keenan's little essay about logical combinators
At this point, I recall a dream in which I was in my old room in my old house reading a book. The book was mathematical/scientific in character. As I read it, the formatting of the paragraphs changed into that of indented computer code. (like any one of the variants that you'd see with C or perl and so on)
Sometimes I think Senor McKenna is unneccessarily messianic in character, and a little silly. But let's take
three things together:The classic gnomes essayhis visible language essay
I think that in the case of the second essay, mathematicians have a striking advantage.
Have you ever worked on a completely nonvisual problem for hours on end only to get math-high
dreams that were startlingly visual in character? I did this once. Kind of a reminder that I should
get my head firmly around group theory. It's like dealing with mathematics is dealing in terms
of something highly visual for which the easiest current representation is not terribly visual.
Take Julia sets. Gaston Julia only vaguely hinted at their bizarre properties in his paper, but didn't
have the computational resources at the time to see them displayed in brilliant color.
(the paper was Mémoire sur l'itération des fonctions rationnelles
(I seem to recall
a very rough sketch sampled from his paper in some other book). What happens when you find
yourself dreaming or tripping of looking at an an exotic R^4
from a vantage point in some fifth dimensional space. If somone doesn't have the written language
or the experience to see it as an exotic R4, their mind might try to fit it into the categories it's accustomed to.
Rapidly changing tacks (okay, not really, and you'll see how in a bit), I was
reading John Baez's website, and came across his description of one
of the conferences he recently attended
. It was about the geometry of computation ... turning various computational processes into higher dimensional forms (one morphisms, two morphisms and so on, not the vagaries that McKenna produces!)
I was poking through Pharyngula and found this analogy for the genome
as a villiage of idiots.wacky hypothesis time!
space travel is exorbitantly expensive. in terms of social and mechanical costs it is insanely expensive.
it takes years to send probes to other parts of the solar system, and no human being now alive is going to
get to other stars. I think I remember some part of Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas where
he talks about a machine designed to search logological space for pangrams. (aside: if the universe
were a piece of fiction, then the speed of light might be one of its constraints, Oulipo style).
Mathematics explores space the same way that physics explores space. They're just different, equally valid
types of space exploration.