Where Physics Comes From


I am reading this book “Distilling Knowledge” by Bruce Moran. It was recommended to me by Emma who is in a creative group I participate in. It is an analysis of alchemy as a science in its own right.

The interpretation of alchemy is always changing but some snapshots include
– Alchemy as being the marriage of internal state and external experimentation. The success of alchemy depends as much on the state of the the individual as on the external state. IE alchemy depends as much on the subjective state of the alchemist as on the objective result of the process.
– Alchemy as marriage of matter and spiritual. Objects in the world exist in different spheres if you will, we can call them contexts or world views, like a material body and an ethereal body. Alchemy is about the combination of these different spheres.
– Chemistry/Alchemy also seemed to have been the first “lab” science – I dont know if this is true or if I read this correctly, but it seems very provocative. 

Then there is the more mundane stuff that I was familiar with, the relationship between alchemy and chemistry (the academic discipline), alchemy and metallurgy, and alchemy and art (making paints / glazes etc). 

I underlined a line on page 89 “the best way to know the body and to understand its functioning was by means of chemistry”… and then I put a note at the front of the book. 

What are ways that we understand the body? Well there is biology, the study of the organs etc, and there is perhaps physics, how the body moves, how electron gradients permeate cell walls, and chemistry  different chemical reactions (enzymes etc) in the body. I suppose I had always known about this, but I had not really thought about it.  There is an enormous discussion of the doctor making cures (chemistry) and diagnosing illness (perhaps biology). The chemical lens was the last lens, after spirit, physics, and biology. It makes me consider what other lenses are there are is it useful to discard a lens after a while. Like once you are done priming the canvas and affixing it to the frame you dont need the vices to old the canvas and frame in place any more.  Scaffolding (and psycho-tools) are helpful at a stage and then become a hindrance. 

But let’s continue. So we have the laws of the universe, the biological (evolution), physical, chemical, and of course with me being me I consider, what would it be to consider the computational body. What would it be to look at the body as a set of computations?  I am not sure what that means exactly. It is something more precise than dynamic system. Something that unfolds in time according to a particular methodology. And it is likely that different parts of the body operate by their own computational law. What does computation mean but to process an instruction set. And this is what happens when a ribosome makes an enzime according to a strand of rna. But it also happens when chemical interactions take place. Where does chemistry start and computation begin? I don’t know.

As a coda to this I thought I would include the following….  Today I am also reading an Artist Book recommended to me by a (past) lover –  it is inspiring and beautiful … and coincidentally the name of the artist is Chimes – greek for chymes (alchemist).


Patterns and Models


The other day, after going to an art / mi panel I was inspired to finish the book “An Engine, not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape the Markets, by Donald MacKenzie.  I had read deeply into the philosophical nature of models in the past particularly the work of Eric Winsberg, but I sort of left it without any breakthrough in my own thought.  Im sure I have blogged about it here, the different types of models that exist, what they measure, the guardrails that allow them to create ‘knowledge’, but it still left me with questions around what models did, and what computers/computation did for models.

An engine not a camera refers to the notion of models, like black-sholes (the options formula), are engines that analyze reality rather than images that represent reality. So when we say E=MC2, that is not a image of energy but it is a way to analyze reality in terms of energy and mass and the speed of light. You might say, well, this is just like a point of view, or a framing, but that is not the case. It is more like a reduction, like desaturating a color photograph and making it black and white.

Models are a reduction. they reduce the world to a number of variables. Models create a representation of the world as expressed by these limited variables and the their interactions as specified in the model.

But while reading this book, I came to the thought that what made a model powerful or adaptable was its ability to generate patterns.  Black-Sholes became used in the trading pits of Chicago, once various trading patterns could be extrapolated from it, such as the spread.  In fact there is a wide variety of ways I can generate trading patterns from options.

What is this relationship between patterns and models?

For instance, it is this ability to form patterns that allows us to think about options trading as replicating a portfolio, in a way similar to  CAPM. It is the patterns of model use that allow us to form equivalencies between different models.

I started thinking about patterns long ago when I was a summer intern at the Federal Reserve of Chicago and I was given a book to read: Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software. This outlined a number of ways to create object oriented software, there were repeated patterns that people used. I still use this book and the patterns from it today.

We cannot really call oriented software design a model, but we can probably call a computer program a model. A machine learning algorithm is a model, but a model plus and maybe that means it is not a model (I’ll discuss that in a future blog post).

A computer program is a model, in the same way that a mathematical formula is a model, and all computer programs are just expanded lambda calculus – so these two concepts are closely related.

Back to patterns, perhaps what makes a model good (or correct or better), is not its error, its fitness, or some other thing, but its ability to generate patterns of usage. These patterns can then connect the model to other models, or be used in a wider variety in instances and exhibit more flexibility (which perhaps is a good standard for a model).

A model is an engine for analyzing. What does analysis do? What is the difference between analysis and representation? If in the past our artists were artists of representations, what would it be to be an artist of analysis?

Answer to Job – CG Jung

book, consciousness, jung

I read a commentary on jungian psychology a few months ago that referenced the Answer to Job, Jung’s analysis of the biblical book of Job and then other theological issues such as the Virgin Mary, the holy spirit, prophetic visions and what not.

All my reading now is filtered through a particular subjective lens.  Perhaps all reading everywhere is done through this sort of lens.

There is the general discussion of the idea of God’s unconscious. How he is blind or unconscious to his omniscience. This is not super interesting to me. What is most interesting to me about the depth psychology that Jung explores is the opportunity of human ‘evolution’ by integrating possibilities that lay in the unconscious.

Lets get the banalities out of the way. God is unconscious, or god has an unconscious. He is not aware of his omniscience while he is focused on his omnipotence. Why make Job jump through these hoops – when God knows that Job will ‘pass’? Why is God duped by Satan (his creation or son)?  Ok – the unconscious.

There is also a discussion of the feminine principle/Sophia and the lack thereof in contemporary protestantism, as well as an analysis of visions in the Bible.

But, what resonated most with me is the discussion of the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Holy Spirit (Paraclete), what are these things.  First, I never understood what son of man, son of god meant. And here, I might have misinterpreted it again, but at least I have a touch stone, a definition, that resonates with me. Son of man, that is the next incarnation of man.  If we think of consciousness as something that can evolve, the son of man would be the next evolution of consciousness.

Is divine consciousness qualitatively different from human consciousness? Both consciousnesses are creations of human consciousness and of particular human consciousnesses. The discussion in the book of Job is a product of Jung’s consciousness.  And this blog post here is a product of my particular human consciousness. But let’s look at Book of Job. God’s consciousness is not different than human consciousness in that they both possess an unconscious.  However this is this Paraclete -the holy spirit.

Lets say consciousness is spirit: psychology is the logos of the spirit (psuches) Mind is nous – that is what they do over in cognitive science or neuroscience – noosology. Is the noosophere of Teilhard de Chardin mind or spirit?  But I digress.

Consciousness is spirit.  There is this qualitatively different thing, holy spirit, that when a son of man possesses it, it makes him God. This is the son of god. Then next incarnation of God.

There is a split between man and god, as split put into relief by the book of Job, Job is more just than God, Job is abiding by the laws that God has created but himself does not follow.  We could analyze this with regards to Agamben, the state of exception, and the position of the sovereign.

The creator of the rule is not subject to the rule. But I prefer Jung’s analysis, or my analysis of Jung’s perhaps, that this represents a schism in consciousness that must be reconciled in by a third way, or a dialect process – an evolution, a spiral. The amorality of god and the morality of man must create a new being partaking of each – the son of man and the son of god.

The son of god arises from partaking in the soul stuff of god (the paraclete). The son of man arises by man acting with more consciousness than god, or by exposing the unconscious of god. God does not come into contact with his unconscious through the talking cure, but through the works and deeds of his creation.These could be also called the product of his active imagining.  God’s creation is a massive active imagining.

We still have the split, the son of god and the son of man. How do we reconcile these things? How do we reconcile the false dichotomy of the holy spirit and the human spirit? What makes a spirit holy vs human? Is it mere otherness? There always be an otherness that the human must integrate into his own spirit that accounts for his continued evolution  – ie individuation. Is this just the dialectic restated?