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July 13, 2005


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Mark Kaplan

Erm, are the two synonymous or irreconcilable alternatives?

btw, Doesn't academic protocol determine that there should be a semi-colon after jelly fish? Seriously, tho', the idea of 'thinking monstrously' might be something to include in my post - I'm sure Deleuze talks about somesuch thing (in relation to buggering Hume & Kant).


I consider various arrangements:

Jellyfish thinking, or about Mark Kaplan

Jellyfish thinking about Mark Kaplan, or...

About Mark Kaplan, thinking or Jellyfish

About Mark Kaplan thinking, or Jellyfish

Or Mark Kaplan thinking about Jellyfish

Bill Wilson

On the body bodying forth thoughts:

We understood Her by her sight; her pure and eloquent blood/
Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought/
That one might almost say her body thought.

- John Donne, Funeral Elegies--Of the Progress of the Soul--Death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury


Well I have a fun little project for the weekend.

Clicked on Kaplan's link for the now abandoned creature feature encyclopedia, and saw this:

Beast of Le Gevaudan. French wolf-like monster that savaged people of the region in the period 1764-67.

One of my favorite films is Le Pacte des Loups (in the original French, there should be laws against dubbing films)...

Maybe I've been living in a bubble, but never knew there was possibly some "truth" to the whole "wolf beast" aspect of the story.

Now I'm curious to hear real tales from the time involving this creature. Probably was some rabid poodle that went berserk, but you never know.

On an even more random rant:
I'm convinced that the octopus will one day emerge from the oceans as a new sentient species. Who needs space, when lab tests show these multi-armed creatures have problem solving abilities that rivals some primates!

john reeve

"On an even more random rant:
I'm convinced that the octopus will one day emerge from the oceans as a new sentient species. Who needs space, when lab tests show these multi-armed creatures have problem solving abilities that rivals some primates!"

Creepily, I had this notion a while back. Nova, IIRC, did some show on the octopus and how it operated. They seem quite smart, and they are way better than me at figuring out how to get meal without working for other octopuses.

I suspect that understanding these creatures as 'sentient' is an episteomoligcal problem-- we just don't categorize the world in the same way that they would, and so our interaction is limited.

But is that what is the monstrous: something that we recognize as thinking, but which cannot be comprehended by our own categories? I.e. if it has no head/soul(form?), it shouldn't think(it is informal), yet it does somehow(has an emergant form), so we must !turn away!(lest our own form be threatened).


Great stuff John,

You touched on something I always found fascinating.

The line of epistemological thinking that leads most UFO experts to assume that the only way we would be able to converse with extraterrestial life is through math.

In theory it makes sense, but doesn't that presupposition assume that our understanding of mathematics is a universal truth or constant.

Is it possible to categorize, describe, or understand what we consider are scientifically proven truths from a different lense?

What if our comprehension of this phenomena is not unlike the archaic belief that the world was flat?


Octopi: In The Rat, Gunter Grass has the increase in squid population in the North Sea signify the devastation of the planet. (I know there is a difference between s and q, I'm reaching....)

I also once had an end of the world dream with atmospheric squid stinging people and leading to a dramatic decrease in population; the remaining population was organizing by right wing fundamentalists into 'churches'. The squid were a result of chemical emissions.

Thinking: why should we use this term to designate other ways of knowing, feeling, discerning, embracing, accessing, experiencing, etc?


Thinking - (somehow I knew I was going to have to explain that one)

It was almost by instinct I used this word. In hindsight I believe I've been able to identify why I use the word "think" in some cases.

Disclaimer: Some BIG reaching here....

By using "thinking", as opposed to other ways of describing the process, I've noticed that I am referring to arguments of others that does not meet the conditions for a validity claim to be tested through discussion (discourse.)

It is hard to debate, for example, that mathematics is a universal language (at least for me) because we don't have an "other" intelligence that can, through process, offer a different understanding -- A different way of categorizing the world, as John said, that can be argued and weighed.

We can relate to the claim that mathematics is universal, among one another, because it has been used by science to describe the world around us. We view the world with this unified cultural understanding because through standardized methods, mathematics has effectively described natural phenomena (but there are major issues.) Being bound to this frame of reference, it seems nigh impossible to assert math isn't.

What started this line of thinking (which has lead to much frustration) was a trip to California this year.

A friend of mine is an Army Ranger, and he pointed at Chinook helicopter flying overhead. Apparently the Chinook is a freak of modern science!

That helicopter should not be able to get off the ground since its design violates numerous principles of helicopter aerodynamics.

Apparently chaos theory has been used to describe why that beast of a machine can take flight, and that revelation opened up a nasty can of worms in my head that have lead to me having serious issues with chaos theory.

I'm no mathematician but it is my understanding that chaos theory is used to describe the variance of results that can occur within a system due to a “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”. It acknowledges the unpredictability of systems leading to unique results, but falls back on creating formulaic solutions that makes those unpredictable outcomes predictable.

Quite a conundrum that has been irking me, and one that has been dismissed by a friend of mine that is a physics guru (hence the disclaimer.) The Chinook and reliance on chaos theory started me questioning the universality of mathematics.

Then again, this all could be the result of watching Close Encounters waaay too many times.

“As soon as you discard scientific rigor, you're no longer a mathematician, you're a numerologist.” – Sol Robeson, Pi (the movie)

But then later Sol states: “That is the truth of our world, Max. It can't be easily summed up with math.”


I recently picked up Rebecca Goldstein's book on Godel. I'm looking forward to the discussion of his two incompleteness theorems. The bit I have a tiny sense of before reading it is Godel's proof that no account of a system can fully account for that system; it will remain incomplete, unable to account for results that its own rules generate. For me, this kind of incompleteness or non-all character of sets helps me think differently about universality. That is, the issue is that a seeming universal cannot be universal with regard to itself; there will be remainders, knots, excesses.


I must grab this tonight.

Scott Eric Kaufman

This may shock many of you, but I'm an expert on all things (monstrous and otherwise) acephalous. And cephalous for that matter. I have family mollusca all wrapped up, is what I mean. (You may now resume your intelligent conversation.)


I am really thrilled to have an acephalous expert share some wisdom!


I look forward to the Godel discussion.

My first, hasty assessment is that
the Godel sentence, which asserts its own unprovability, is like a symptom (in the Lacanian sense).

It was the fantasy of Hilbert and Russell that there could be a foundation for mathematics on the basis of which all of mathematics could be built. Godel's first incompleteness theorem says that, whatever your foundation is (provided that it is strong enough), there will be a Godel sentence, which asserts its own unprovability, and is true but not provable.

I am a beginner when it comes to Lacan, so I will be interested to hear what others have to say. Looking at The Sublime Object this afternoon, it seems that symptom is also connected to a mis-recognition. I suspect that the mis-recognition as regards mathematics is the confounding of the true with the provable. Mathematics is really the science of the provable, but it is talked about as if it were the science of the true. And Godel's sentence is a clog in the smooth functioning of that illusion.


Hugh! Welcome back!! Great to hear from you. I haven't read the book yet, but hope to get to it within the next few weeks. I think your analogy (homology?) with the symptom is good. It might also work homologously with objet petit a--the knot of the real left over after a univeralizing procedure.

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