6 Sep 2013: Marching UP and DOWN the Square!

25 minute workout started at 6:27 AM: 200 middle-height steps in the stairwell, walking, dance to iPod. Then had Physio at 2:00 PM: 20 minutes: 8 centuries.

Breakfast was the best white congee and the Egg, with Nescafe instant coffee.

Only in Asia is instant coffee a delicacy, and mine is even more so because, as described below, I must make a trader’s voyage in my Delicate Condition to get it.

A beautiful day, cooling down nicely from August.


Doing a Lucky Seven read (7 reads) of Dieter Henrich’s 1969 article, a real rib tickler, “The Proof-Structure of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction” online at jStor, with my own outline to follow.

I dragged a frayed, dog-eared copy of Evert W. Beth’s book “The Philosophy of Mathematics” around with me as an undergraduate, blaming myself for finding this rather thick book hard to understand especially in comparison to Korner’s admirable Philosophy of Mathematics.

But I now realize that this was the result of Beth’s obvious preference for mathematical intuitionism, the Kantian philosophy which accounts for number and geometrical forms as being forms of our intuition thru sensation of time (arithmetic) and space (geometry) in themselves. Oh yes, and in intuitionism, trivial sums such as Kant’s 7+5=12 are grand high synthetic aPriori. This is because the concept of 12 is in neither 7 nor 5 and mathematics is not derivable from logic, according to the Intuitionist.

The Intuitionist philosophy of mathematics is far more difficult to understand than Russellian logicism: mathematical forms are Platonic and eternal, and, because math follows from pure logic, 7+5=12 is trivial analytic apriori.

And, mathematical intuitionism is far more difficult to understand than Hilbertian formalism (in which math is a game like chess, but played on journal article papers, blackboards, and such, and without any meaning whatsoever.)

But this helped forty years on for as soon as I read the Whopper (that 180 English/150 German word sentence on p 712 of the 1787 Critique and p 613 of the Guyer/Moore translation that I have covered in this blog) I realized that here was mathematical intuitionism and its distinction, between constructive and Platonic infinities, “slouching towards Bethlehem to be born”, and as an infant, lacking language outside of Babel, language that it provided to its descendants.

To avoid the paradoxes (what Kant would call the antinomies) of logic and mathematics (the showstopper paradoxes of set theory discovered by Bertrand Russell, the impossibility of proving the simultaneous completeness and consistency of mathematics discovered by Godel, the parallel halting problem discovered by Turing) Intuitionism restricts the logician’s toolset. She may no longer assume the existence of an infinity (denumerable and isomorphic to the natural numbers, or nondenumerable and isomorphic to the reals, it makes no matter) of anything as opposed to a construction rule and she may not argue by contradiction (p => … => ~p no longer can be used to prove ~p: in other words, excluded middle can no longer be used.)

This elegant and severe, almost moralistic, reductionism of the toolset (no constructed infinity, no excluded middle) reminded Donald Knuth of structured programming, an Italian discovery to be sure but emerging in the Dutchman Dijsktra’s praxis first. It reminds me of Mondrian and Theo Van Doesburg’s De Stijl (the Style) movement of the 1930s, and their prohibition of the use of lines not at a 90 degree angle to each other and/or the painting’s borders, and likewise of non-primary colours, which resulted in Mondrian’s grand work during the war and under the conditions of the Nazi occupation of Holland.
Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 4.24.23 PM

Mondrian: Severe de Stijl (primary colours and right angles exclusively)

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 4.26.56 PM

van Doesburg: Moderated de Stijl (primary colors and some 45 degree angles)

An Expedition to Causeway Bay

DON’T STAND THERE GAWPIN’, LIKE YOU NEVER SEEN THE HAND OF GOD BEFORE!!! – Monty Python, “Marching Up and Down the Square”

Went at 10 AM to Causeway Bay by taxi.

“And there’s Uncle Joe, he’s a movin’ kinda slow
At the Junction! Petticoat! Junction!”

– Old TV show song

Yeah, and it’s disgusting: I see myself in the window of Sogo, tall, thin, fit, but moving glacially slowly owing to cancer, and cancer’s pain. This is it, aka Reality, which in Saul Bellow’s early novel Seize the Day overwhelms us like a wave tunneling the surfer or the Tsunami. And like a wave, it is full of all colors. The saint sees all things in a day.

“Gentile or Jew,
Consider Phlebas, who was once as tall and strong as you.”

– TS Eliot, Phlebas the Phoenician, The Waste Land

But can’t stand there gawpin’ after the hand of God has touched me. I have things to do, whether reading a book or marching up and down the square.

So…I cabbed it at 55 Hong Kong dollahs to Causeway and made it to Wellcome. I remembered the white chocolate donut and also the dark one: 22 dollah in coins alone dug out of the bottom of my bag. You see, my consigliere has my ATM card so I have to act as if I am broke, and get people to accept all coins, which, I find, is easier than I expected. This preserves my folding money and creates a wealth effect. I like wealth effects.

Then to the choco rack which at Wellcome in Causeway is *pour mourir*, to die for. I snagged two 90% Lindt cacao *noir* bars. Expensive to be certain but the point of the trip as well. O reason not the need, as King Lear says i’th’old play.

A small jar of Nescafe and payment in coins completed the Wellcome experience. Forgot to smell the Durian fruits, tho.

Not enough “available” money and unable to walk more than glacially slowly to the Mom and Pop stationary store opposite the Rugby Sevens stadium, have sufficient paper and pens until I can get my personal allotment from my funds as I have budgeted. Most pleasant to be frugal. Simplifies things.

And, of course, without funds, had no motivation to go to the new book superstore, Eslite books. Even with the funds, my intention is to get the Kindle and download free books from before 1920. No more dead tree books, heavy as sin, left for others to move.

Donuts duly snarfed after return to Grantham, Lindt bars lie quivering with anxiety in my bag, discussing their fate like the soldiers on the troopship in Malick’s thin red line: “So whaddya want me to tell ya?” “Tell me nothin’!”

Next weight check will be on cancer follow up day (11 September). Last one still surprisingly low at 150 pounds. Will reimpose my old food patrols when up to 165, ten pounds under the norm. But that means no chocs. Yikes. This may be difficult.

Going Proustian on levels of detail here, which is damned odd, since I have never read Proust. My late son did. Read Proust. I should. I wonder if Proust is off copyright? If Gutenberg has him old fellow is indeed off copyright…wait a sec…aha, du cote de chez Swann and Swann’s Way and Remembrance, all in Gutenberg. Serve contemporary publishers right if the impoverished middle class just stops reading copyrighted content…there’s a lot of content that is indeed off copyright: Homer. Cervantes. Dickens. Shakespeare. It’d be nice to read Aldous Huxley, still on copyright except for one or two titles from the early 1920s…Brief Candles, I believe. Hey hey what what mumble mutter…

A Note on Racine’s Phedre

“Hé bien ! vous triomphez, et mon fils est sans vie.
Ah ! que j’ai lieu de craindre ! et qu’un cruel soupçon,
L’excusant dans mon coeur, m’alarme avec raison !
Mais, Madame, il est mort, prenez votre victime :
Jouissez de sa perte, injuste ou légitime.”

– Racine, Phedre, Acte 5 Scene 7

Very well, Phedre, you triumph and my son is no more
But what room have I for terror and how unjust was I
To blame him for his death when your incestuous eye
Has slain him, he is dead, accept your victim
Let your black heart leap for joy now that you have slain him!

– Tr Edward Nilges

But Phedre replies taking the blame and dying.

Moral: do not accuse Phedre of wrong-doing, as soon as she realized her love for her step-son she disavowed it. She is NOBLE and without baseness.

The backstory is the loss of Hypolyte shared by Theseus and Phedre, not Phedre’s incestuous love, for she had none.

And my backstory? That there’s no point in blaming anyone (myself or anyone) for my son’s death. That would waste energy I need for weeping in taxicabs.

The actor who plays Theseus comes close to breaking the wall between the actors and the spectators when he falls down weeping. In my scene in 2010 playing Sheldon Levene tearing up the bad check and saying the Kaddish for his daughter and himself, I was only inches from the audience and came likewise close to breaking the wall. The redoubtable Adam West in his incredible one man Vincent likewise did so, and magically sealed it.


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