Have you ever thought of an old friend who you hadn’t seen in years, and then met them minutes later?
As I was writing this post, I was in conversation with my brother while walking down the road in Dublin, talking about this type of coincidence. As luck would have it, we were midway through this conversation when an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years appeared directly in front of us. Coincidence? Read on.
On April 26, 1986, in northern Kiev Oblast, Ukraine, a fire started in Reactor 4 of a large nuclear power station near the towns of Chernobyl and Pripyat. The Chernobyl power station, which had begun operations nine years earlier, went into crisis as the fire spread and soon a small explosion occurred in the reactor. An evacuation was ordered, and fire services entered to attempt to reduce the damage and the spread of radioactive material into the air. However, it was already too late. Irradiated gas leaked into the local area, and within hours people began to feel nauseous and light-headed. Soon both towns were evacuated, and have never been repopulated to the same extent (although some people live there, in a fascinating story uncovered by Holly Morris).
“My excellency, I could illustrate the greatest manuscript of all time for you. Since my eyes will no longer be distracted by the filth of this world.”
Quote from ALIF in My Name Is Red by Ohran Pamuk
“Seeing is believing”, “a lens for the world”, “visionaries”, “point of view”: The eye is a metaphor for understanding or belief. But why do we connect the eye with our understanding of the world? Do you see what I’m talking about?
What if you couldn’t see the words that I have posted here?
What if, as this post continues, you descend into a pit of blindness?
Is it easier to only believe what you see? Or is there more to be seen if you can figure out a way to look beyond the traditional, the typical, the incidental?
The idea of blindness is discussed in Orhan Pamuk‘s book My Name Is Red. Blindness is used as both a metaphor and a story-telling device, but it was chosen by the author (partly) as a symbol of the commitment of master miniaturist painters such as Bihzad and their dedication to painting even as their eyesight failed them. Blindness, in the book, is seen by some as a mark of pride of a true master miniature painter. It is put forward that only through blindness can we really see the world for what it is.Continue reading “Seeing is Believing – Blindness metaphors and understanding”
One of the first rules of writing is to open with a catchy line, and never with a technical topic. So I’m going to blow that one right out of the water and start by writing about entropy.
Entropy is a theory in thermodynamics (yes, I’m doing it!) that has also crossed over into the fields of astrophysics and philosophy. It is used to describe a sudden change that causes erratic and chaotic events, often leading to the creation of entirely new objects. Entropy always moves forward with time, and creates events that cannot be undone. A good example is the collapse of a star, folding in on itself and becoming (perhaps) a black hole. Stephen Hawking describes the idea of entropy nicely in A Brief History of Time when he refers to how an “intact cup on the table is a state of high order, but a broken cup on the floor is a disordered state.” (p 161) Continue reading “Exquisite Explosions – The fine art of destruction”
Fadó, fadó in a world not unlike our own, a group of people embarked on an amazing journey through the stars.
Our journey, as Homo Sapiens, started approximately 400,000 years ago. Like all stories, there is of course a long history to our arrival at the start of this journey, but this story is about our collective selves and how we have travelled. Before the castles and the aqueducts, before we farmed animals or spliced atoms, our collective protagonist (we) was about to embark upon one of the most astounding journeys ever taken through the stars.
In Ancient Greek literature sudden and vast travel occurred regularly. As the nomadic and expansive ideas of the writers of that era sought to understand their world through travel they often created mystical methods of transcontinental journeying. Great waves tore Odysseus and his crew from his homeland, and the wings that Daedalus built helped him soar to freedom from his island prison. Airplane travel in the 20th Century led to unprecedented opportunities for travel and communication that mimic the adventurous nature of these fictional tales. If travel should broaden the mind then broader travel may have stretched the mind even further. The concept of travel has been broached across the arts, culminating in works in the late 20th Century and early this century that create a reality from the myth.
When Shakespeare plays were originally performed, it was not allowed for audience members to bring in paper for fear that they would write down and steal the plays. To counter this, furtive audience members would go to performances and each remember different sections of the plays, then meet later and write down all they could remember. Each section was then stitched together, and the works were stolen regardless.
Firstly, let me briefly apologise for the abhorrent lack of activity on MUW over the past three months. Blogging is time-consuming, and sometimes life is too, and unfortunately the latter has been the case of late. Expect posting to get back to normal over the coming weeks; no posts doesn’t mean no ideas and there is a colossal backlog of brainwaves. Watch this space!
Possession is nine-tenths of the law. In the past wars have been fought and families split over possession and the idea of ownership. However, this tenuous law is dependent on the idea that there is some value in ownership – the economic worth of property guides the idea that possession is valuable. People understand that the boundaries that surround owned areas and objects are respected by a sense of possession that we take for granted. In cyberspace, ownership is more ambiguous as spaces are owned or maintained in virtual areas that are often maintained for free. So how does possession work in a community with spaces and services provided free of charge?
From the moment we learn to read the English language (presuming you can if you are reading this), we learn to decipher a series of characters twenty-six letters long, give or take. Each character has a sound associated with it, and we hear these sounds as we read. The characters are all symbols, each with its own significance to our understanding. SSSSSSSSSSSS can represent a long, hissing sound, just as KAKAKAKAKA could be a machine gun. We learn this system of graphics, recognising the line across the top of a T as opposed to the one that is missing on an I, and we make sense of the words that are written by scanning these graphic signs and creating words from our understanding of their sounds.
Far before we learn to read and decipher the graphic symbols of this Latin alphabet, we learn another language. This is the language of the visual, and it involves the same method of deciphering what we see into other forms, but it is different as with this language we do not necessarily have a spoken language to go along with it. At our youngest and most naive, we decipher the symbols of the people raising us, seeing their representations as those of family or friends, but we do not recognise any link between these people and language. Instead, we simply categorise and recognise, realising that there is something different about these people to the people that we pass in the street. Continue reading “Seeing Scene Seen – Everything we read is art”
Once upon a time two armies assembled, opposed to one another on a battlefield. The crystal army, led by a foolish king, charged their king’s guard forward without thinking of the consequences. They left their king open to attack…
In “A Course On General Linguistics“(1916) Ferdinand de Saussure made comparisons between chess and language. Saussure was observing some intrinsic relationship between language and games, showing how changes in the design of pieces from ivory to wood make little difference, but changes in the movement or number of pieces distort the “grammar” of a game of chess. In The Medium Is The Massage, theorist Marshall McLuhan put forward a concept that the messages that we receive are not so much in what is said, but in what is used to say it.
There is a saying in school games, “to have pax”. This reminded me of chasing (tag), and something that we used to say as children, “tax” (probably a distortion of “pax”). The origins of the word pax are in Latin – it means peace. We said this in order to take a break, for example when we needed to tie our shoelace. I posed the question to my Facebook community about what was the common term in their school-yards, and received a spate of alternatives from across Ireland, from “boxed”, “tax” and “pox” to, bizarrely, “keys” and, predictably, “f**k off I’m tying my shoe”. There are many variations (my American and Canadian friends suggested “Time-out”) but the rule is the same regardless of where it is played. When you have pax, you are outside the game. Continue reading “Fool’s Mate – Language and storytelling in games”
IMPORTANT: this post is made like a game, assuming complete interactivity. In order to read properly please use the links (highlighted in orange). Or you could just read straight through and become very confused…enjoy!