Friday, 25 May 2012

Chris Port Blog #338. 'The Name of the Ghost' Style Teaser (First Draft): How To Walk Into A Pub (“You have enemies in high places…”)

First Draft: How To Walk Into A Pub
(“You have enemies in high places…”)
© Chris Port, 25th May 2012

See The Name of the Ghost for plot synopsis and clues.

[This is just me playing around with narrative style and character development for a spin-off project. It’s overwritten description at the moment, but it’s always easier to cut down than pad out. Nothing much happens here. There are a few minor clues, but the killer conversation takes place after the men sit down in the booth].

The Moon Rooms turned out to be a barrister’s pub near the Old Bailey, tucked slyly away in an Elizabethan mews. The alleyway was little more than a crevice. Without Sickert’s list of shop names, Josh would have walked right past it.

The entrance was guarded by a shabby Cerberus. A beggar sat on sentry duty while the world stepped around him. The heat and the traffic fumes were gagging.

Josh wondered how these men could survive in their heavy trench coats. The stench brought back sordid childhood memories – risky public toilets and sweaty fish paste sandwiches. London was full of these old soldiers. How middle-class of me, he thought. The streets are cold when the sun goes down. And tramps don’t have wardrobes.

Josh grinned at the man’s suspicious little dog. He filtered through his pocket change by touch and placed a quid in the cap. The landlocked ferryman gave him a gappy smile.

“You’re a gentleman, thank you.”

Josh nodded and said nothing. He didn’t feel like a gentleman. He felt like a cunt.

He stepped off the pavement onto cobble stones. The concrete had been sticky, sucking at his shoes like a dried coke stain. But the cobbles in the shadows were deliciously cool and smooth. They were polished slippery with age. The temperature dropped, and Josh smelled the Tudors soaked into the masonry. It felt like stepping back in time.

He pushed open the saloon door. An old shop bell jangled unexpectedly, echoing off oak wall panels. Not a pub you could sneak into then. Or out of.

Sickert was standing at the bar with his back to the door, ignoring the barman who was politely reading a book. Despite the bell, Sickert didn’t turn around. It was like walking into a room naked and being ignored. Josh noticed the mirror behind the bar. Status games. How tedious.

The lunchtime shift was back in court and the pub was dustily quiet. Josh walked up to the bar. His shoes clattered on hollow planks over a cellar. Not a western then, he thought. Sawdust. More like a man ascending the scaffold.

Sickert continued to ignore him and supped his real ale. It looked like ditch water.

The barman glanced up then returned to his book. Heart of Darkness Josh noted with wry respect. Probably a student on gap year. He looked tanned and Australian.

This wasn’t Sickert’s regular then. Josh knew that Sickert would despise barristers and Australians on principle. But he could see why Sickert had chosen it. The Moon Rooms was invisible to passers-by, and bored with the law. And it had booths.

“You look tired” said Josh.  Not much of an icebreaker, but it filled the sunny silence.

“Fuck off” replied Sickert evenly. There was no malice in his voice. Sickert swore the way Professor Horquine frowned over his glasses – merely to kill a boring conversation.

Sickert glanced in the barman’s direction and scratched his nose like a secret bidder at an auction. The barman dog-eared his page and slid off the stool, all in one smooth movement. Good peripheral vision, thought Josh. I’ll bet he’s got good peripheral hearing too.

“Yuss bro” said the barman in a carefully modulated murmur. A slight nasal twang. But short slushy vowels. A Kiwi then. Close enough.

“Another pint of this filth, and a gin and tonic for the bush lawyer here.”

Sickert turned and smiled. “It is G and T, isn’t it?”

“Yes”. More games. “How did you know?”

“Trade secret.”

Sickert turned back to the barman. “Beefeater, two cubes, one slice, lime not lemon. And Schweppes. None of that expensive shit.”

The barman looked a bit like Tom Cruise out of Cocktail, but he poured the drinks quickly without fuss. Josh and Sickert waited silently. One of Horquine’s homilies came to mind. ‘Only small men make small talk’.

Josh studied Sickert’s tie instead. It was plain, navy blue, silk, and uninteresting - apart from a tiny fleck of ale near the tip. And a gold masonic tie pin.

Sickert studied Josh’s face without embarrassment. “We look like two dogs sniffing each other’s arses” he said out of the blue without any discernible humour.

And Josh warmed to him a little more.


  1. 'sucking at his shoes like a dried coke stain' - I like this like, I thought it very effective.

  2. Spoilers... :)


    JOSH: Astrology I can understand. I mean it’s shit, but it fits. But what’s this… obscenity got to do with astronomy?

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: Tonight, forty years ago, something unspeakable happened in this room. I use the term unspeakable with precision. Every witness - bar one - is now dead.

    JOSH: But it was filmed…

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: And unless you know something I don’t, every copy of that film has been destroyed. Do you know something I don’t?

    JOSH: I know less than when I started. So that’s it…

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: Don’t be so defeatist. The heavens tell all.

    JOSH: You don’t believe in heaven.

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: Don’t be obtuse.

    JOSH: Don’t be obscure.

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: Touché. A young technician - his name is unimportant -

    JOSH: You?

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: I am not unimportant. A… nameless technician arranged a remote telecast - live - on an obscure narrow bandwidth.

    JOSH: Did he record it?

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: No. That would have been signing his own death warrant. And no-one else knew of its existence, let alone where to look for it.

    JOSH: So no-one picked it up…

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: Correction. No-one on earth picked it up.

    JOSH: Are you talking about aliens?

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: No. I’m talking about astronomy... In deep space, twenty light years away, is a star-sized dark object. We’ve no idea what it is. But we do know that it acts as a mirror. A black mirror, which is odd… Anyway, for twenty years, those telecast signals were lost in deep space. Until they hit this black object -


    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: Well done. Deep Space Reflective Anomaly. And for another twenty years those telecast signals have been reflecting back towards us.

    JOSH: Like a sonar blip.

    PROFESSOR HORQUINE: Or a mirror. A mirror into the past. And tonight - in just under three hours - the past is going to arrive in this room, on that screen. And, for the first time in forty years, the unspeakable will become… spoken. I think you’ve earned the right to be here.

  3. Add. “A black mirror, which is odd…”

    “Slave in the magic mirror, come from the farthest space, through wind and darkness I summon thee. Speak! Let me see thy face.” ~ Queen Grimhilde in “Snow White”

    “You talkin’ to me?” ~ Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver”

    Out flew the web and floated wide;
    The mirror crack’d from side to side;
    “The curse is come upon me,” cried
    The Lady of Shalott.

    ~ “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards” ~ The White Queen in “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There” by Lewis Carroll

    “The “black mirror” of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.” ~ Charlie Brooker: “the dark side of our gadget addiction”

    “… to hold as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” ~ “Hamlet” (“Speak the speech”)

    “The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.”

    “The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.”

    “All art is at once surface and symbol.
    Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
    Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
    It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
    Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.”

    ~ “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (Preface) by Oscar Wilde

    “The quivering, ardent sunlight showed him the lines of cruelty round the mouth as clearly as if he had been looking into a mirror after he had done some dreadful thing.”

    ~ “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde

    “For now we see through a glass, darkly.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12

    “I’m really just using the mirror to summon something I don’t even know until I see it.” ~ Cindy Sherman

    “Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter?” ~ Pablo Picasso

    “Rumi, who is one of the greatest Persian poets, said that the truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.” ~ Mohsen Makhmalbaf

    “Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” ~ Ernest Holmes

    “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton

    “Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    “You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

    “We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror.” ~ Marshall McLuhan

    “The doctor should be opaque to his patients and, like a mirror, should show them nothing but what is shown to him.” ~ Sigmund Freud

    “Don’t stare into a mirror when you are trying to solve a problem.” ~ Mason Cooley

    “Monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey.” ~ Malcolm De Chazal

    “Looking at yourself in a mirror isn’t exactly a study of life.” ~ Lauren Bacall

    “I look in the mirror and say to myself, Can it be you once played Romeo?” ~ Bela Lugosi

    “The Mirror Stage as formative in the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience.” ~ Jacques Lacan

    Mirror Stage

    Lacan: The Mirror Stage

  4. Signs and Symbols

    Secret Signs and Symbols: The Ultimate A-Z Guide from Alchemy to the Zodiac

    Chinese magic mirror

    Specular holography

    Richard Rorty: Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature

  5. Technical Note on Signal Degradation

    It has been pointed out that the telecast signal would be diffused into the background static of the cosmos. This is due to the Inverse-square law whereby the strength of the signal is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source.

    Put simply: twice the distance, a quarter the strength; ten times the distance, a hundredth the strength, etc. The inverse square of 40 light years is quite small…

    See Inverse-square law

    One commentator has noted that trying to decipher a broadcast after 40 light years would be like someone in California trying to detect the ripple from a pebble dropped in the Pacific Ocean – off the coast of Japan.

    However, there are some ways to preserve signal integrity. Put simply:

    1. Use a phase locking unit. This controls the phase of an oscillating frequency signal by controlling a voltage control oscillation unit.

    2. Connect the phase locking/voltage control oscillation units to a mixer unit. This mixes the frequency oscillation signal and a radio frequency signal received through an antenna.

    3. Connect the mixer unit to a demodulator. This demodulates the signal output from the mixer.

    4. Connect the demodulator to a signal detection unit. Obviously, given the weakness of the diffused signal, this will need to be highly sensitive. Such sensitive equipment was probably not available 40 years ago. Whether it is available now is speculative, but not unreasonably so.

    5. Connect the signal detection unit to a comparison unit. This calculates constellation and error vectors by comparing the detected signal to a reference signal set up on transmission.

    6. Connect the comparison unit to a controller unit. This controls the phase locking unit, mixer and demodulator selectively in accordance with a comparison result. It makes the constellation and error vector of the detected signal coincide with the reference signal.

    Put another way, the ghost of a whisper of an echo can still be heard if one can uniquely isolate it from all other sounds.

    Alternatively, this could all be a smoke and mirrors MacGuffin. Or there could be a supernatural Deus Ex Machina lurking in the looking glass. Or it could be all of the above. Or none of them. Or it could be something totally unexpected, staring you in the face.

    “No matter how many detective stories or horror films you think you know, it’s not what you think. It never is...” ;)

  6. "Warm Bodies: Longing for Something That Isn’t There"
    George Elerick, 29 June 2013

    "Memories are identity... That in reality, we are forced to feel things about events we never experienced. We are forced to react to certain events as if we were actually there..."

    "All movies are window[s] into reality as we know it. But even a window limits our ability and knowledge of that which it shows us. Just as some of the theorists below show, windows aren’t always that helpful."

    "This “window” idea figures into the very form of cinema itself. One of my favorite film theorists, André Bazin, often compared the cinematic “shot” to a framed window that hints at a vast reality just outside of view. While other theorists saw the framed shot as something that restricts or limits what can be seen (i.e., what is inside the shot), Bazin theorized that the film image—through its suggestion of off-screen space—was about being “part of something prolonged indefinitely into the universe.” Siegfried Kracauer, another of my favorite film theorists, agreed that the film image was by nature indeterminant, ambiguous and open-ended—a fragment of reality suggesting endlessness."

    "We are left here with the possibility that movies, as escapist as they are, enforce their paradigms upon us. However, maybe they don’t [do] such a thing at all, but rather, more like mirrors, reflect back to us what we have forgotten we already know about ourselves."

  7. My nightmares are becoming existentialist jokes…

    I woke up in terror this morning. It was 3 a.m. (the soul’s graveyard shift). Someone (someTHING) had knocked on my door. My heart froze. “Who’s there?”

    I didn’t want an answer. And there wasn’t one. Just a dreadful silence: sly, unspeakable. My imagination filled it with a lifetime of horror films.

    Then I really woke up: icy sweats, the works. My heart had no sense of timing. It was like a quick-fire comedian, dying in front of a tumbleweed audience. And then I got the joke…

    Night Terror

    Knock, knock. “Who’s there?” Dark,
    freezing silence between stars
    answers my heartbeat.

  8. cf. “I am Arthur Frayn, and I am Zardoz...”

    “What do you see in the ball?”


    “Nothing? Then I have nothing to tell you.”

    The Wonderful WiZARD of OZ

    “I am Arthur Frayn, and I am Zardoz. I have lived three hundred years, and I long to die. But death is no longer possible. I am immortal. I present now my story, full of mystery and intrigue - rich in irony, and most satirical. It is set deep in a possible future, so none of these events have yet occurred, but they may. Be warned, lest you end as I. In this tale, I am a fake god by occupation - and a magician, by inclination. Merlin is my hero! I am the puppet master. I manipulate many of the characters and events you will see. But I am invented, too, for your entertainment - and amusement. And you, poor creatures, who conjured you out of the clay? Is God in show business too?”

  9. April Fool :)

  10. "Notes on The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler"
    Marcus Pearce, Department of Computing, City University


    According to Koestler “the principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality” (pp. 402). He argues that, while the emotional context changes, the psychological processes supported the generation of original results is ultimately the same in humour, science and art and involves the bisociation of previously unrelated matrices of thought. The importance of creative thought, and Koestler’s ultimate motivation in studying it, is eloquently described:

    “Habits . . . reduce man to the status of a conditioned automaton. The creative act, by connected previously unrelated dimensions of experience, enables him to attain a higher level of mental evolution. It is an act of liberation – the defeat of habit by originality.” (pp. 96).

  11. Nuclear magnetic resonance

    Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a physical phenomenon in which nuclei in a magnetic field absorb and re-emit electromagnetic radiation. This energy is at a specific resonance frequency which depends on the strength of the magnetic field and the magnetic properties of the isotope of the atoms; in practical applications, the frequency is similar to VHF and UHF television broadcasts (60–1000 MHz). NMR allows the observation of specific quantum mechanical magnetic properties of the atomic nucleus.

    Quantum computing

    NMR quantum computing uses the spin states of molecules as qubits. NMR differs from other implementations of quantum computers in that it uses an ensemble of systems, in this case molecules.

    Nuclear magnetic resonance quantum computer

    However, even from the early days, it was recognized that NMR quantum computers would never be very useful due to the poor scaling of signal to noise in such systems. More recent work, particularly by Caves and others, shows that all experiments in liquid state bulk ensemble NMR quantum computing to date do not possess quantum entanglement, thought to be required for quantum computation. Hence NMR quantum computing experiments are likely to have been only classical simulations of a quantum computer.

    Shor's algorithm

    If a quantum computer with a sufficient number of qubits could operate without succumbing to noise and other quantum interference phenomena, Shor's algorithm could be used to break public-key cryptography schemes such as the widely used RSA scheme. RSA is based on the assumption that factoring large numbers is computationally infeasible. So far as is known, this assumption is valid for classical (non-quantum) computers; no classical algorithm is known that can factor in polynomial time. However, Shor's algorithm shows that factoring is efficient on an ideal quantum computer, so it may be feasible to defeat RSA by constructing a large quantum computer. It was also a powerful motivator for the design and construction of quantum computers and for the study of new quantum computer algorithms. It has also facilitated research on new cryptosystems that are secure from quantum computers, collectively called post-quantum cryptography.

  12. Post-quantum cryptography

    Post-quantum cryptography refers to research on cryptographic primitives (usually public-key cryptosystems) that are not breakable using quantum computers.

    Quantum cryptography

    Quantum cryptography describes the use of quantum mechanical effects (in particular quantum communication and quantum computation) to perform cryptographic tasks or to break cryptographic systems.

    The advantage of quantum cryptography lies in the fact that it allows the completion of various cryptographic tasks that are proven or conjectured to be impossible using only classical (i.e. non-quantum) communication... For example, quantum mechanics guarantees that measuring quantum data disturbs that data; this can be used to detect eavesdropping in quantum key distribution.

    Quantum entanglement

    Quantum entanglement occurs when particles such as photons, electrons, molecules as large as buckyballs, and even small diamonds interact physically and then become separated; the type of interaction is such that each resulting member of a pair is properly described by the same quantum mechanical description (state), which is indefinite in terms of important factors such as position, momentum, spin, polarization, etc.

    Quantum entanglement is a form of quantum superposition. When a measurement is made and it causes one member of such a pair to take on a definite value (e.g., clockwise spin), the other member of this entangled pair will at any subsequent time be found to have taken the appropriately correlated value (e.g., counterclockwise spin). Thus, there is a correlation between the results of measurements performed on entangled pairs, and this correlation is observed even though the entangled pair may have been separated by arbitrarily large distances. In quantum entanglement, part of the transfer happens instantaneously. Repeated experiments have verified that this works even when the measurements are performed more quickly than light could travel between the sites of measurement: there is no slower-than-light influence that can pass between the entangled particles. Recent experiments have shown that this transfer occurs at least 10,000 times faster than the speed of light, which does not remove the possibility of it being an instantaneous phenomenon, but only sets a lower limit.

    This behavior is consistent with quantum-mechanical theory, has been demonstrated experimentally, and is an area of extremely active research by the physics community. However there is some heated debate about whether a possible classical underlying mechanism could explain why this correlation occurs instantaneously even when the separation distance is large. The difference in opinion derives from espousal of various interpretations of quantum mechanics.

    Research into quantum entanglement was initiated by a 1935 paper by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen describing the EPR paradox and several papers by Erwin Schrödinger shortly thereafter. Although these first studies focused on the counterintuitive properties of entanglement, with the aim of criticizing quantum mechanics, eventually entanglement was verified experimentally, and recognized as a valid, fundamental feature of quantum mechanics. The focus of the research has now changed to its utilization as a resource for communication and computation.

  13. Quantum superposition

    The principle was described by Paul Dirac as follows:

    The general principle of superposition of quantum mechanics applies to the states [that are theoretically possible without mutual interference or contradiction] ... of any one dynamical system. It requires us to assume that between these states there exist peculiar relationships such that whenever the system is definitely in one state we can consider it as being partly in each of two or more other states. The original state must be regarded as the result of a kind of superposition of the two or more new states, in a way that cannot be conceived on classical ideas. Any state may be considered as the result of a superposition of two or more other states, and indeed in an infinite number of ways. Conversely any two or more states may be superposed to give a new state...

    The non-classical nature of the superposition process is brought out clearly if we consider the superposition of two states, A and B, such that there exists an observation which, when made on the system in state A, is certain to lead to one particular result, a say, and when made on the system in state B is certain to lead to some different result, b say. What will be the result of the observation when made on the system in the superposed state? The answer is that the result will be sometimes a and sometimes b, according to a probability law depending on the relative weights of A and B in the superposition process. It will never be different from both a and b [i.e, either a or b]. The intermediate character of the state formed by superposition thus expresses itself through the probability of a particular result for an observation being intermediate between the corresponding probabilities for the original states, not through the result itself being intermediate between the corresponding results for the original states.

    Anton Zeilinger, referring to the prototypical example of the double-slit experiment, has elaborated regarding the creation and destruction of quantum superposition:

    "[T]he superposition of amplitudes ... is only valid if there is no way to know, even in principle, which path the particle took. It is important to realize that this does not imply that an observer actually takes note of what happens. It is sufficient to destroy the interference pattern, if the path information is accessible in principle from the experiment or even if it is dispersed in the environment and beyond any technical possibility to be recovered, but in principle still ‘‘out there.’’ The absence of any such information is the essential criterion for quantum interference to appear.

    Eigenvalues and eigenvectors

    Mona Lisa eigenvector grid

    Generalizations to infinite-dimensional spaces: Spectral theory

  14. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… Cold fusion is quietly bubbling away on EU electrodes again…

    BBC Horizon “Too Close to the Sun” [From 1989 to 1994]

    Pathological Science or Pathological Criticism? Includes Physics, Lab Explosions, Tricksters, Money, Politics, Conspiracies… and Faith

    Professor David Williams

    “It’s often asked why… erm… people, for example, the Japanese, should want to put very large amounts of money into a phenomenon like this. And some people would take that to mean that this phenomenon is a real phenomenon. Well I find that argument spurious too… For example, a multi-millionaire, who decides to indulge in… eccentricities, or to sponsor an artist of some sort, is never questioned as to why he should wish to spend his money in this way. And if you have plenty of money to slosh around, as the Japanese have, then why not? In the circumstance you can consider that you have someone like Martin Fleischmann… who is an absolutely brilliant man. Now, in my view, he’s obsessed with cold fusion. But, who knows what might be creeping around in the corner of his brain? When you have a man like that, you never know what might appear. And it’s worth the odd million to indulge his obsessions. You never know what you might get.”

    John Maddox (Editor, ‘Nature’)

    “I think it’s inevitable that if you have a persuasive, articulate, charismatic man who believes that he’s made a very important discovery that challenges scientific orthodoxy, it’s inevitable that his students, his colleagues, will have to take a view: are we for him or against him? And, in a way, it becomes quite quickly like the founding of a religion. You have a charismatic leader who persuades some people to become his followers, that they have seen the true light. And there’s a large element of that, I fear, in what’s happened with cold fusion.”

    Stanley Pons

    “Science is science. Science is truth. And err… without some morals or something to believe in on this planet, be it God or science or whatever you truly believe in, what do you have? What do you have? What do you have, what reason do you have, to survive? What reason do you have to go on? We did nothing wrong. We made no mistakes in our observations. We made no mistakes.”

  15. How to Produce the Pons-Fleischmann Effect
    E. K. Storms, 1996

    Judging the Validity of the Fleischmann-Pons Effect
    E. K. Storms & T. W. Grimshaw, 2009

    EU Parliament Holds Special Meeting June 03, Preparing For Cold Fusion Age.
    Atom Ecology, 24 May 2013

    Strong Confirmations of Fleischmann Pons ‘Cold Fusion’ Effect at EU Parliament

    New advancements on the Fleischmann-Pons Effect: paving the way for a potential new clean renewable energy source?
    Agenda: European Parliament, Brussels, Monday 3 June 2013

    New advancements on the Fleischmann-Pons Effect: paving the way for a potential new clean renewable energy source?
    ENEA, European Parliament – Brussels, 3 June 2013

    Material Science for Understanding the Fleischmann and Pons Effect
    V. Violante PhD, ENEA LENR Research Coordinator
    European Parliament Bruxelles, 3 June 2013

    Concluding Remarks

    The large amount of produced energy (> 10eV per atom) is impossible to be interpreted as a chemical process.

    Material status is the key to observe the effect.

    Material science is the key to understand it, since some material characteristics support some processes rather than others.

    Reprducibility [sic] of the Effect requires the reproducibility of the material status.

    By applying the scientific method future work should be oriented towards the definition of the effect rather than its demonstration.

    Progress in the field requires well conceived coordinated research projects involving modern instrumentation.

    Cold Fusion: News

  16. Is there such a thing as "absolute existence"? That is, something which exists whose existence is not relative to the perception of an observer?

    The question is nonsensical. It invites us to assert or refute that which (by definition) can be neither asserted nor refuted.

    e.g. I may infer the existence of an antecedent universe. This preceded all consciousness. However, that inference is still relative to perception. Without consciousness, it cannot be claimed that the universe exists (for obvious reasons).

    Therefore, all conceivable phenomena are dependent on perception. To claim that they are independent of perception is contradictory (again, for obvious reasons).

    This is more than mere metaphysical pedantry. It is one of the key conundrums of quantum mechanics.

  17. Add. Dissolving an apparent contradiction...

    Extract from "A Classic Example Of How Empiricists Can Get Themselves Into Trouble... Which came first, maths or the universe?"

    S: "I have just had a thought that may bear some examination and may be a problem for theists, though they will have a facile way out. It has just occurred to me that Mathematics is something that exists in effect outside of the universe and simply is. Completely immutable, absolute, existent before time or the big bang, defining everything there after, and built upon rock solid axioms. Like “god” Mathematics is eternal and self existent though sadly has offered no opinion as to how Noah should have built the ark."
    Me: "The word ‘exist’ may be leading you astray here. Mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space, and change. It is overwhelmingly probable that these phenomena exist independently of our minds. However, mathematics is the study of the phenomena, not the phenomena themselves. Mathematics is the attribution of consistency in the mind. The universe itself is as indifferent to mathematics as it is to beauty. Without consciousness, mathematics would not exist."

    * * * * * * *


    Compare these two assertions:

    "... all conceivable phenomena are dependent on perception"

    "It is overwhelmingly probable that these phenomena exist independently of our minds".

    At first glance, these appear to be mutually exclusive. Actually, they are complementary.

    I am not so egocentric as to believe that, when I die, the universe will somehow pop out of existence. I believe that it will continue to exist, just as it (probably) existed before my mind emerged. The confusion arises because of the phrase "our minds". This should not be read as "all minds".

    Put simply, phenomena (probably) exist independently of any single mind. However, they do not exist independently of all minds. This is because minds are not seperate from the universe but are a part of it. Taxonomies and meronomies are still dependent upon perception. The universe, as a totality, is indifferent to differentiation (as it is indifferent to everything, i.e. itself).

    cf. Taxonomy (general)

    cf. Meronomy

    See also: Antinomy

  18. Add.

    MNB: Do you believe in Fate and or Free will... is it either or... or are you able to reconcile the paradox of believing in both?

    CP: By 'Fate' we mean 'a predetermined course of events'. We assert that "things are this way because they could not be any other way".

    By 'Free Will' we mean 'the ability to make choices'. We assert that "things are this way but they could have been another way".

    Thus, 'Fate' and 'Free Will' appear to be mutually exclusive. If we accept that both concepts have their uses, then we seem to be trapped in a paradox.

    Can we dissolve the problem by redefining our terms? Consider the following assertions:

    Fate = Certainty.
    Free Will = Uncertainty

    These are complementary.

    By 'certainty' we mean 'perfect knowledge'. Lacking omniscience, we work with a lesser definition. We assert that "all relevant things are known".

    By 'uncertainty' we mean 'imperfect knowledge'. We assert that "all relevant things are not yet known".

    Thus, the problem is not so much one of knowledge as one of relevance.

    "There is no such thing as a fact. There are only stories. Choose different facts, and you get a different story." (Marty Gull)


    "The conflict, therefore, is not between actions that are free and actions that are caused: our science of human nature applies indifferently to both and denies the reality of the contrast. The conflict is between attitudes that require us to overlook causality and attitudes that require us to attend to it, and to define what we see in terms of it." (Roger Scruton, ‘Modern Philosophy: A Survey’, 1994).

    Quantum mechanics suggests that determinism emerges from perception. All possibilities co-exist simultaneously as probabilities. The act of measurement 'collapses' an indeterminate state into an actual one. Thus, the illusion of consciousness (qualia) somehow interferes with uncertainty.

    In one sense, Free Will doesn't exist. In another sense, the illusion of Free Will creates reality. Thus, 'Fate' and 'Free Will' (or, more usefully, 'Certainty' and 'Uncertainty') are complementary. Neither exists in its own right. But both somehow exist in relation to the other.

    Add. The way I look at it, life is the 'dessert of the real'. I remember, as a small child, being offered a limited dessert menu. "Would you like ice cream, or strawberries?" I frowned suspiciously. "What's all this 'or' business? Why not ice cream AND strawberries?"

  19. Writing some real Boy's Own dialogue this morning...

    CHAPPEL: The rich and the powerful are surprisingly naïve. You know what they say: "It's not what you know but who you know". That makes my job much easier.

    JOSH: Oh? And what exactly is your job?

    CHAPPEL: As you know, there's been a bit of a fuck up. My job is to identify those responsible, and kill them. Do you know Madeleine Charmet, real name Louise Rocambole?

    JOSH: Never heard of her.

    CHAPPEL: Sense of humour. I like that. It's going to be a pleasure getting to know you.

    JOSH: Suppose I go to the police?

    CHAPPEL: The police? How quaint. I have eyes everywhere. Some of them I gouged out personally... That's a joke. Sort of. (HE PLACES A PHOTO OF MADELEINE ON THE TABLE). This isn't.

  20. WG: If morality evolved for the purpose of fostering community, can we deduce anything about what is moral/immoral without committing the naturalistic fallacy? If so, what?

    Naturalistic fallacy

    CP: Assuming evolution (and discounting intelligent design) we would be committing a teleological fallacy if we claimed that morality evolved for any purpose.

    See Teleological Argument

    It would be less erroneous if we simply claimed that community evolved as a successful survival strategy. From this we can deduce that morality evolved from a natural hierarchical pecking order into etiquette.

    See Etiquette

    The problem of the 'Naturalistic Fallacy' arises because of a manmade distinction between natural and manmade.

    This distinction seems to be an inverted form of the anthropomorphic/pathetic fallacy.

    See Pathetic Fallacy

    Man (i.e. homo sapiens) evolved IN the natural world. However, our intelligence evolved as another successful survival strategy. Eventually, this sapient differential resulted in misrecognition. We began to see ourselves as SEPARATE from the natural world.

    However, this separation is a fallacy. In (physical) reality, sentience is an emergent phenomenon. The artificial is still part of the natural world.

    From our initial premises, we can deduce that morality (i.e. evolved etiquette) can only exist in higher level consciousness. Therefore, we can deduce that morality is a complex emergent property.

    After that, we can only deduce that we are playing Wittgensteinian language games.

    See Language-game (philosophy)

    In 'The Moral Landscape', Sam Harris proposes we should discard cultural relativism and quantify these language games in terms of 'the well-being of conscious creatures'. It's a logical deduction and a valid premise.

    See 'The Moral Landscape'

    Whether his arguments are sound is still up for grabs though.


    CP: If morality is ‘the well-being of conscious creatures’, then consciousness must precede well-being.

    This is a one-way logic gate. We can talk of consciousness without well-being, but it makes no sense to talk of well-being without consciousness.

    Ergo, existence must precede essence (sans Sartrean Free Will).

    Ergo, survival must precede morality.

    But survival of what? Individuals, communities, genes, or memes?

    These qualities are entangled and interdependent. But which is most important?

    Ironically, we cannot be equitable from first principle here. Unfortunately, we do not live in a deathless paradise. Therefore, in the physical universe, we can only talk of survival and morality in terms of priorities (e.g. dilemmas or conflicts of interest).

    The scientific method can quantify well-being. But can it qualify existential priorities? If not, then a scientific morality without aesthetic qualification has no system of prioritization.

    Ergo, does ‘scientific morality’ encounter similar inconsistencies to those identified in Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems?

    Raatikainen, Panu, "Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

  21. The Name of The Real

    A hero should steal
    a look in his shield; that’s Art –
    the Gorgon is Real.

    Mirrors and shields

    The Gorgon (1964)