Monday, January 29, 2007

Manifest

Like all recovering academics, I know how to write a thesis statement. Mercifully, I’ve forgotten why, or maybe when. So one month in, what is it I think I’m doing here? This is my New Year’s project: blogging my way through Against the Day, at a rate of about 3 pages a day, a blog every other day, or so. And today isn’t any other day, you know: a slightly possessed Chicago reminder, and warning! Steal this at your peril (and that would be the peril of appearing exceedingly dull indeed, the living correlate of the null hypothesis.)

Traversing the web to post irregular illuminations to Pynchon’s text.

webs that when the early daylight was right could cause you to stand there just stupefied. (p.76)

I like the image of the literary crow-- raucous, social, sharp-eyed creature of a certain subversive intelligence and particular tastes, drawn to shiny things.

Our first example of a hermetic project is taken from "fault tree" analysis of nuclear reactors to determine their safety.

I am especially keen on scientists caught in unguarded Pynchonian moments of camaraderie and geeky enthusiasm, the kind of passionate individualists Gary Larson drew and Errol Morris delights in drawing out. The web in all its crosscurrents and blind corners is natural habitat for these rarae aves.

In summary, we consider the following aspects of hermetic projects: (1) the null hypothesis h0; (2) the application of the null hypothesis to problems (the "problem-solving" meaning of paradigm); (3) the application of more general considerations (the "sociological" or paradigmatic hypothesis H0) to the revision of the null hypothesis; (4) the rejection of apparent anomalies as experimental error or as "resolvable in due course"; (5) psychological investment of the participants in the project; and (6) sociological support by the community of participants for the project.

Hey look, it’s the sociology of science. I was laughing about this just the other day. Other constructs that I stumble across again and again in these wanderings: giant squid; sausage making, literal and figurative; Victorian dinosaur pioneers Waterhouse Hawkins and Richard Owen, prototypical Pynchon protagonists par excellence.

Two mysteries:

Following his success with the Crystal Palace Exhibition, Hawkins came to New York City… he set up a studio (shown at left) on what is now the site of the American Museum of Natural History on the upper West Side of Manhattan, and began to assemble a new menagerie of sculptured dinosaurs. The plan was to set them up in a "Paleozoic Museum" in Central Park, which was then being landscaped under the direction of Frederick Law Olmstead…

However, in 1871, before either the park or the dinosaurs were finished, New York City politics intervened. The corrupt Tammany Hall-Boss Tweed machine took control of city politics, and Hawkins and his dinosaurs were out. Those models that had been made were broken up and buried in the south end of the park, and Hawkins left New York a greatly embittered man. Although Central Park has been modified in the years since its inception, including the construction of the 8th Ave subway line which runs up the west side of the park, the remains of Hawkins' dinosaurs have never been found. They still rest somewhere under the sod of Central Park, probably not far from Umpire Rock and the Heckscher ballfields (see picture and Central Park map at left). Could one of the pitchers' mounds really be a small embankment covering the severed head of Megalosaurus? Who knows, maybe so.

Could that explain the Yankees?

and

Why, in the nine billion name of the deity, does the Microsoft spellchecker not recognize the forms of the verb, to blog? I blog, you blog, he blogs…

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to

50 comments:

Malady said...

So, I finally had time to pick up AGAINST THE DAY and I have read the first 16 pages. I eagerly trotted over here to read your blog and noticed that you quit blogging in January. Will you be continuing?

SteelR said...

How kind! I was just thinking it was time to continue. Thanks! and bon voyage!

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