* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Proceeding to the next stage

21 March 2002
Matt has been inducted.

L-- emailed me in what would have, for him, been midnight but, for me, arrived at the more respectable time of 8am. He wrote I must tell him how the universe works in order to proceed to the next stage of my initiation, and I must tell him before the end of the week.

It was to be a week of frantic activity.

Most of it I spent in the library, a rushed exploration of the last few hundred years of science.

There are trends towards complexity. Einstein explained much of what Newton already had, but in more detail with more complexity. How much is science really explaining, if nobody can understand it? I broke into Stephen Hawking's house and read the manuscript for his next book in case he's hiding anything, but no Theory of Everything there either.

Basis vectors. Think of a pool table. The position of each ball could be described in terms of two vectors: up, and left. Two vectors of equal importance. But if all the balls were roughly lined up along one diagonal, a better way of saying where they were could be: how far along that diagonal, and how far away from the line. These directions, these new ways of describing the position: these are the basis vectors.

This is a better way because even if you only know the first figure (how far along the diagonal) you've got a pretty good idea of where all the balls are.

Revelation one: Natural laws are simple a set of basis vectors for reality.

The rules we have while not accurate tell us a large amount about the nature of reality. If we wanted to describe the universe exactly our rules would be just as complex as reality itself, but we can get most of the way there quite easily.

So there are two kinds of reality. There is the universe itself (that's one set of vectors). And then we can describe reality in this alternative way, these other basis vectors, where we can know a lot of approximate stuff but finding out about the detailed stuff is hard.

I read about religions.



The Church of Mrs Bins and her Nine Lovely Daughters (New Orleans division).

But I was getting nowhere. Naturally, I went to the ocean.

The ocean's enormous; it's impossible to know where each drop of water is -- yet we can say with confidence that it's still going to be there tomorrow. And (as i watched someone play with the waves, trip, and scramble out of the way of the next one) that waves come in with some regularity, even if we can't predict exactly what.

Revelation two: I don't need to know everything that happens, just some of it.

Which got me thinking. Mrs Bins models the universe with her voluptuous daughters who represent the Nine Figments of Reality. Daughter Five is the cycle of life; Daughter Six is the harsh unfairness of the world; and so on. Nowhere did Mrs Bins says that one of the Figments was that Force equals Mass times Acceleration. It just wasn't important. What's important are the human figments.

Revelation three: The important vectors are human vectors.

Why? Because all those scientific rules about atoms and acceleration don't explain evolution to me, don't explain love, don't explain advertising. Those are convenient basis vectors we choose to define. I know that if I insult you, you'll be annoyed or unhappy. I use that rule every day, and any answer to L--'s question that doesn't say that isn't going to be a good one.

So what I lose in accuracy with abstraction, I gain in understanding.

Revelation four: If it's good enough, that's good enough.

And it becomes a matter of finding out what the most important basis vectors are.

To be as simple as possible we need two:

The introspective of the human contrasted with our place in society. That's the brain and the genitals, the major axis.

The way we interact with reality, beyond that. The hands. Minor axis.

Imagine those two axes crossing, one big, one small. Man at the origin.

The crucifixion. The ancients have always known this.

I emailed L-- immediately:




This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
23 October 2003. Matt writes: Topology
2 October 2003. Matt writes: Haunted
8 September 2003. Matt writes: The Gardener's Diary
21 August 2003. Matt writes: The Starling Variable
31 July 2003. Matt writes: Two stories
14 July 2003. Matt writes: What is real?
23 June 2003. Matt writes: Mapping and journeys
29 May 2003. Matt writes: Extelligence
5 May 2003. Matt writes: Religious experiences
17 April 2003. Matt writes: Seeing the Light
27 March 2003. Matt writes: Flowering
10 March 2003. Matt writes: Climax state
10 February 2003. Matt writes: The Role of Cooperation in Human Interaction
20 January 2003. Matt writes: The same old subroutine
2 January 2003. Matt writes: New beginnings
9 December 2002. Matt writes: Packet Loss
18 November 2002. Matt writes: Wonderland
31 October 2002. Matt writes: Having and losing
10 October 2002. Matt writes: Trees of Knowledge
19 September 2002. Matt writes: The online life of bigplaty47
29 August 2002. Matt writes: Divorce
8 August 2002. Matt writes: How to get exactly what you want
18 July 2002. Matt writes: Eleven Graceland endings
27 June 2002. Matt writes: Listopad, Prague 1989
3 June 2002. Matt writes: Engram bullets
6 May 2002. Matt writes: Sound advice
15 April 2002. Matt writes: How it all works: Cars
21 March 2002. Matt writes: Proceeding to the next stage
25 February 2002. Matt writes: Spam quartet
31 January 2002. Matt writes: Person to person
7 January 2002. Matt writes: All for the best
13 December 2001. Matt writes: Life
19 November 2001. Matt writes: Giving is better than receiving
25 October 2001. Matt writes: Ludo
1 October 2001. Matt writes: Gifts, contracts, and whispers
6 September 2001. Matt writes: The world is ending
13 August 2001. Matt writes: The Church of Mrs Bins
16 July 2001. Matt writes: Things I Don't Have
25 June 2001. Matt writes: Fighting the Good Fight
31 May 2001. Matt writes: Code dependency
7 May 2001. Matt writes: Up The Arse, Or Not At All
5 April 2001. Matt writes: The increasing nonlinearity of time
19 March 2001. Matt writes: Hit Me Baby, One More Time
22 February 2001. Matt writes: Space, Matter, Cities, Sausages
29 January 2001. Matt writes: Truth in Advertising
1 January 2001. Matt writes: Six predictions for tomorrow
7 December 2000. Matt writes: You must reach this line to ride
16 November 2000. Matt writes: The truth about the leopard
23 October 2000. Matt writes: Shopping mauls
28 September 2000. Matt writes: Heavy traffic on the road to Utopia
4 September 2000. Matt writes: Sixty worlds a minute
17 July 2000. Matt writes: You, Me, and Face-space

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