Browsing the blog archives for May, 2009.

Let X = Spirit

Uncategorized / Misc

I’ve been re-reading Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. Early on, during a (fictional) conversation, Alan Turing comments that all math (and therefore everything of importance in Turing’s world) can be reduced to symbols.

For example, the number 5 is a symbol representing five somethings. Maybe five pickles, five clouds, five angels on the head of a pin, five amorphous interwoven boundary-less concepts, five people.

The symbol can be manipulated without affecting the things it represents.
Math can be applied to the 5.

The symbol 5 can be encrypted, transmitted, decrypted, read, stored, and redundantly backed up. Because the 5 is a symbol, an icon that is a representation of other meaning besides the symbol itself.


Let X = Spirit /* X is a symbol representing the big "S" Spirit, or Self */
Let X = pow(X,X) /* Raise X to the Xth power; Increase Spirit to the Spirit power */
Transmit(X) /* Cast the Spirit upon the waters */
While (true) { Receive(X) } /* Get more Spirit back forever */

When the symbol is transmitted, actually we hope to transmit the Spirit; that a properly-outfitted receiver will get the Spirit. Is this because the transmitter and receiver had previously learned and agreed that this symbol is a shorthand for the Spirit? Or does the Spirit itself get transmitted along with the symbol?

My son, Ben, has written about a related topic, exploring the limits of Reason when dealing with the spiritual / artistic / heavenly:

There is a vast complexity in the world that Reason cannot hold.
Reason is masculine, the Tarotic Emperor, that wishes to control
everything and make Heaven into an orrery. It cannot succeed, and in
attempting it necessarily discards that which it cannot hold. It does
not understand that observing collapses the wave-function, that the mere
asking the question causes the answer to become, once divine and
all-[knowing/pervading/consuming], now dead and mundane.

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