Re: el duende

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Wed Dec 26 2001 - 19:44:40 MST

At 08:26 PM 12/26/01 +0200, scerir <> wrote:

>Victor Weisskopf wrote that science turns a single phenomenon
>into a general form (law) and art turns a _general_ experience
>into a single form. (Victor Weisskopf, The Privilege of Being
>a Physicist, 1989 ?).

Damien Broderick wrote: Recall a roster of the mythology of their oppositions:
        Science, we suppose, is the disciplined quest for absolute, fundamental
truth. All art, by contrast (to bend Walter Pater's famous dictum) aspires
to the conditional.
        Fiction's home is the heart, while science dwells in the head.
        Science seeks to condense the empirical into broad generalizations,
compress the thousand things into naked equations: the objective. Fiction
strives to render or construct the contingent, the particular, the fleeting
and ambiguous: the subjective.
        Fiction burrows inward, science soars outward.
        Science simplifies into stark graphs valid for all times and places.
Fiction complexifies into nuance, joy, heartbreak, the uncanny, the
sublime, the provisional, the extraordinary within the ordinary.
        Such divisions into contrasted categories swiftly fall apart, however.
        Is it fiction or science which is holistic rather than reductive? Science,
we guess at first, is surely the very paradigm of the reductive, stripping
the meat and fat from the bone, boiling down the flensed carcase into a
skeletal substrate, all sumptuous life reduced to numbers. But that's true
also of the mechanics of fiction, as narratologists show us: every imagined
action, in folk story and Tolstoy alike, derives from a handful or two of
types, functions, actants, deployed in words built from an equally small
number of distinguishable acoustic or graphic segments. Meanwhile, even the
most austere and limited science cannot (or should not) escape the context
of its whole surround, as the non-local connections of quantum theory
prove, the vast geometries of Relativity's inertial frames, the dense
ecological webs of the life sciences, the no-less-dense economic and
psychological webs of culture. Fiction's mythemes, science's vectors and
tensors, serve alike to direct us in (re)constructing stories adequate, in
some appropriate and contextually satisfying fashion, to the unspeakable
plenitude of the world.

Serafino, ; thanks for posting your beautiful, haunting meditation on
duende. And Spudboy's wry comment was apt. < Perhaps it spawns in Jurgen
Schmidhuber's dreams, that the universe is a single dream, a subroutine, on
its way to David Deutsch's equations? From Switzerland to Oxford, in the
wink of a lidded-eye. But hardly ever on this list. > No, alas, alack.


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