Vasty Deep

Gnon spotted in Shakespeare:

I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

Why, I can teach you, cousin, to command
The devil.

  • Henry IV, Part 1 - Act 3, Scene 1

Add Little to Little

Adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit.
[Add little to little and there will be a big pile]

  • Ovid

What Whispers Are These

With the steam-ship, the electric telegraph, the newspaper, the wholesale engines of war,

With these, and the world-spreading factories, he interlinks all geography, all lands;

—What whispers are these, O lands, running ahead of you, passing under the seas?

Are all nations communing? is there going to be but one heart to the globe?

Is humanity forming, en-masse?—for lo! tyrants tremble, crowns grow dim;

The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a general divine war;

No one knows what will happen next—such portents fill the days and nights;

Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vainly try to pierce it, is full of phantoms;

  • Walt Whitman, Years of the Modern

Cybernetics and Management

We must beware of invalid ‘implications’ in the discussion of nervous systems, brains and machinery. Are there men who would deny the meaning of ethics, of aesthetics, of religion, on the strength of a mechanical tortoise? Absurdly enough, there are.

  • Stafford Beer, ‘Cybernetics and Management’ 1959

Why the name, Keras?

Keras (κέρας) means horn in Greek. It is a reference to a literary image from ancient Greek and Latin literature, first found in the Odyssey, where dream spirits (Oneiroi, singular Oneiros) are divided between those who deceive men with false visions, who arrive to Earth through a gate of ivory, and those who announce a future that will come to pass, who arrive through a gate of horn. It’s a play on the words κέρας (horn) / κραίνω (fulfill), and ἐλέφας (ivory) / ἐλεφαίρομαι (deceive).

Keras was developed as part of the research effort of project ONEIROS (Open-ended Neuro-Electronic Intelligent Robot Operating System).

“Oneiroi are beyond our unravelling –who can be sure what tale they tell? Not all that men look for comes to pass. Two gates there are that give passage to fleeting Oneiroi; one is made of horn, one of ivory. The Oneiroi that pass through sawn ivory are deceitful, bearing a message that will not be fulfilled; those that come out through polished horn have truth behind them, to be accomplished for men who see them.” Homer, Odyssey 19. 562 ff (Shewring translation).

Theophany &etc

I need a browser tab dump.

Theophany “refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being.” Linked to by The Owl in Daylight, an unfinished Philip K. Dick novel, about which it is speculated that:

He might have become fascinated by Dante’s Divine Comedy as a form of theophany. In his final completed work, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, his narrator, Angel Archer, shows similar appreciation for Dante’s masterpiece, which suggests that this argument may have some merit.

Itself a sequel to VALIS, the article for which includes this gem:

The Black Iron Prison is a concept of an all-pervasive system of social control postulated in the Tractates Cryptica Scriptura, a summary of an unpublished Gnostic exegesis included in VALIS.

Once, in a cheap science fiction novel, Fat had come across a perfect description of the Black Iron Prison, but set in the far future. So if you superimposed the past (ancient Rome) over the present (California in the twentieth century) and superimposed the far future world of The Android Cried Me a River over that, you got the Empire, as the supra- or trans-temporal constant. Everyone who had ever lived was literally surrounded by the iron walls of the prison; they were all inside it and none of them knew it.

An apocraphyl Aristotle quote?

When looms weave by themselves human’s slavery will end

The Machine Stops

Gnon sighted:

Night and day, wind and storm, tide and earthquake, impeded man no longer. He had harnessed Leviathan. All the old literature, with its praise of Nature, and its fear of Nature, rang false as the prattle of a child.

And again:

“Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives in the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It was robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops - but not on our lies. The Machine proceeds - but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die. Oh, I have no remedy - or, at least, only one - to tell men again and again that I have seen the hills of Wessex as Ælfrid saw them when he overthrew the Danes.

From 1909 no less.

It from Bit

John Archibald Wheeler:

It from bit. Otherwise put, every ‘it’—every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself—derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely—even if in some contexts indirectly—from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. ‘It from bit’ symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom—a very deep bottom, in most instances—an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe.

See also: Pancomputationalism

When He Had Gone Twelve Leagues

Gilgamesh journies through the underworld:

When he had gone one league the darkness became thick around him, for there was no light, he could see nothing ahead and nothing behind him …

After nine leagues he felt the north-wind on his face, but the darkness was thick and there was no light, he could see nothing ahead and nothing behind him. After ten leagues the end was near: After eleven leagues the dawn light appeared.

At the end of twelve leagues the sun streamed out.

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