Saturday, November 21, 2009

Anathem Hangover

I've been on a Neil Stephenson kick, and just finished his _Anathem_. I started with _Snow Crash_ then read _Cryptonomicon_, and found that I just couldn't get enough. Anathem was the most thought provoking, and prompted me to get some of it down here.

The idea of guilds have always interested me. John Michael Greer very recently blogged about the past and future of guilds at In Anathem, Maths combine guilds with religious orders, and are segregated groups of scientists, mathematics, philosophers, and thinkers. Secular society goes on it's own business, isolated for the most part for generations, from the Maths. The maths have ways of sharing their knowledge, and an order of Fraas and Surrs (male and female Avout) exists to know what is already known so others don't waste their time thinking they have stumbled upon a new thought.

The internet is full of knowledge that just doesn't get much attention, at least not in relationship to youtube, facebook, and blogs like this. Neal Stephenson mentions in one of the videos at his site,, that the world now has access to esoteric knowledge that just wasn't available in the past. Most folks just aren't interested, and others are simply distracted, so the knowledge contained in such works just haven't made it into the mindscape of today's society.

The internet is also full of groups of people working on esoteric projects, but are strangely disconnected from each other enough to make duplicated efforts the norm, if not fostering competition where cooperation would be much more productive. Virtual, decentralized "maths" are within the capabilities of the internet, and are threatening to be developed ( One can only hope, as such an organized group could accomplish great things and help create a more sustainable, cooperative, civil world society from the bottom up.

Anathem brought other things to my mind.

Quantum mechanics and metaphysics play a large role in the novel (see as does music. Those themes brought my own research notes at to mind, and was honestly the thing that prompted me to make this blog entry.

At one point in the novel, the main character was awakened by another Fraa's singing, and I immediately knew that the sound was comparable to Tibetan/Tuvan overtone singing. This was confirmed by listening to "Thousander Chant" at, a testament to the fact that music played an important role in the novel.

Such music, and sound, in relationship to my "Wave Book" notes and the novel's Hemn Space (see Stephenson's Acknowledgments page, link above) brought to my mind the possibility that events in one "configuration space" could effect another through Gödel's “I conjecture that some physical organ is necessary to make the handling of abstract impressions (as opposed to sense impressions) possible...Such a sensory organ must be closely related to the neural center for language.”

It is my thought that such impressions come to us through the mind/body as a whole, acting as a complex matrix of multiphase "antennas" able to detect resonant components of various causal activities. Not so much as a "shot heard around the world" but the resonant components of thoughts, emotions, synaptic firings in reaction to the audible "shot", philosophical reactions to the initial act of monumental events like the start of the American Revolution. I propose that such an impression wouldn't be a thought, feeling, picture, or smell but a wave (quantum effect, impulse, packet, ripple in "The Force") that resonates something with us that triggers such things in a sympathetic, harmonic way. I would make sense that such resonance would need to, as Gödel phrased it, "be closely related to the neural center for language" and that there would need to be some universal commonalities between such resonants and their cognitive manifestations.

Of course we only have those resources available to us on Earth to experiment with, but baseline measurements could be made of the various sensory inputs I mention in my "Wave Book" notes. It would seem to me that such commonalities found would only be harmonically related to whatever it is that could influence different configuration spaces, but sound findings would be an interesting start.

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