The Scilence of Howling Love Dogs

Montréal, October 3, 1999

Emile: I am intrigued by Burmese nibbles.

Zeus: ... Ok, Emile, ... are you speaking about some kind of exotic behavior, ... or about a person, ... one of your pub-time acquaintances, perhaps.

Emile: I'm not really sure, ... if I said 'fish nibble', ... would I be thinking in terms of the behavioral act of 'nibbling' and treating fish subordinately, as 'one of those organisms' which gives contextual meaning to the behavior 'nibble', ... or would I be thinking instead in terms of the organism 'fish' and treating 'nibble' subordinately, as 'one of those behaviors' which give contextual meaning to the organism 'fish'.

Zeus: Jeeezzz, .. pour me another Wittgenstein Sunrise, will you bartender?, .... and don't spare the tautology, ... make it a double, in fact.

Emile: ... it seems like we shall have to address our confusion on this issue of thought and language, Zeus, ... whether over a few drinks or not. Vygotsky pointed out that "language is a practical consciousness- for-others and, consequently, a consciousness- for-myself", .... that is, ... I know full well what my thought is, and it is rich and implicit, but to share it with you, ... I need to put it into words, right? And if I don't share the word, ... if I leave it unspoken, ... it is not a word in reality, right? As Vygotsky says; "The word is a thing in our consciousness, . . . that is absolutely impossible for one person, but that becomes a reality for two. The word is a direct expression of human consciousness."

So if you think of the word surrounded by a contextual balloon which represent's one's consciousness, ... when the word is spoken, ... a link goes out to the word as it is surrounded by another contextual balloon which presents the consciousness of the other. Thus, ... as Vygotsky further says; "... then not only one particular thought but all consciousness is connected with the development of the word." Images of a network of ballons, ... a nested space-time continuum, .... don't you think?

Zeus: .... so you who are always going on about the negative aspect of language and how much it confuses us, ... are finally coming back around to the fundamental importance of language.

Emile: You know full well, Zeus, ... that I am not an 'all or nothing', mutual exclusion freak, .... what is obvious to me is the dysfunction which results from putting the word into a primacy over thought, .... 'what's that, ... you called me 'mean'?', ...'yeah, but YOU called ME 'greedy'! ... If we stop at the literality of words, ... 'name-calling' in a general sense, ... we never get to the underlying thought process, as Laing says;

"She does not get what she wants from him

so she thinks he is mean.

She cannot give him what he wants from her

so he feels that she is greedy.

He does not get what he wants from her

so he feels that she is mean


he cannot give her what she wants from him

so he feels that she is greedy.

. . .

Jack feels Jill is greedy

because Jill feels Jack is mean

'Jill feels Jack is mean

because Jack feels Jill is greedy

Jack feels Jill is mean

because Jill feels Jack is greedy

Jill feels Jack is greedy

because Jack feels Jill is mean.

--- R. D. Laing, 'Knots'

Zeus: Ok, ok, ... where are we going with this, Emile?

Emile: Well, I was remembering when I used to go fishing as a child and teenager, .... and there was nothing more exciting than when you had a line out in the water, ... and felt that telltale tugging on the line from a fish nibbling, .... when you were at sea and you had a hundred yards of line out, heavily weighted, to get to the deep waters, ... it was so mysterious to feel the 'connection' between yourself and the mysterious, unknown 'nibbling other'. In Vygotsky's imagery of words and collective consciousness, I see website 'nibbles' in the context of a connecting strand on this collective web of consciousness, as it develops some tension and starts to vibrate.

Zeus: I see what you mean, ... it is like fishing in the sea of collective consciousness, ... and experiencing a relativistic co-tension, even if the word transmission is only in one direction.

Emile: Yes, ... it seems like even deeper communication when there's no immediate commentary. It's like the aboriginal's 'sharing' process where each person in the sharing circle holds the 'talking stick' in sequence, and no-one is allowed to speak but the one holding the talking stick. The one with the stick shares what's in their heart and mind, without debate as to whether the thoughts are 'correct' or whatever, and the tension of actually sharing it, is, in some mysterious way, ... deeply informing, .... there is definitely a 'return' somehow, via the 'shape' of the silence which modulates the pace and words of the speaker.

Zeus: Doesn't this 'return' depend on the goodwill of those involved in the sharing, ... what if they are only there to exploit?

Emile: Somehow, ... I don't think it matters. In depth, everyone is human and part of nature, and it is this connection with the collective which is so powerful, ... and the collective is both 'good' and 'bad' at the same time since it is everything. The lack of response, ... the tensional latency which hangs in the air as one speaks, ... seems to deepen the context of one's words.

Zeus: That reminds me of Rumi's poem 'Love Dogs'. Coleman Barks, who translated the version I have of it, ... has one of those names which is reminiscent of 'Burmese Nibbles'. Barks says that his teacher always went into a wolf howl every time he saw Coleman, because of his last name, ... as if to underscore Rumi's point on the value of crying out;

One night a man was crying,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Allah, Allah!

His lips grew sweet with the praising,

until a cynic said,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "So! I have heard you

calling out, but have you ever

gotten any response?'

The man had no answer for that.

He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,

in a thick, green foliage,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .'Why did you stop praising?'

'Because I've never heard anything back.'

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .'This longing

you express IS the return message.'

The grief you cry out from

draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness

that wants help

is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.

That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs

no one knows the names of.

Give your life

to be one of them.

Emile: .. and in some curious way, .... Rumi's 'love dogs' is very much related to our 'Gödel's Theorem and the Theory of Relativity' submission to the Cybersymposium.

Zeus: I see what you mean, ... we seem to have lost sight of the value of 'silence', ... of how feeling shapes the space of our communicating, ... inserting the rhythms and pauses and breaks, .... feeling which comes from our coresonant relationship with our containing environment.

Emile: Exactly, .... 'shape' is how we put expression and feeling into our utterances and it transcends the literal meaning of the words, ... words which could be transcribed into text and re-rendered from text-to-audio by a computer system, ... the synthetic re-expression having lost all of its expressive content. But the shape of space-time, because it is reciprocal and implicit, is non-causal and cannot be handled by causal inquiry, ... the foundation of mainstream science.

Zeus: But we know that expressive statements make tangible changes in the world, ... the speeches of Churchill and Hitler certainly demonstrated that.

Emile: ... Nevertheless, our society, at least in its educational and regulatory approaches, like the poor pool player, insists that the game of life is fully described in terms of 'causal shot-making', and our western notions of freedom and justice are built upon this mechano-dynamical 'cause'-based model. Unlike the skilled pool player, our society, in its regulatory process, refuses to accept, that the evolving shape of space-time is the primary evolutionary force while the mechanical dynamics are simply fall-out from the evolving shape of space-time, ... analytical backfill, ... a way of looking upon the game, ... but by no means characterizing the evolutionary dynamics of the game itself.

Zeus: I can see a great problem in this, Emile, ... because mainstream science and the scientific inquiry approach which permeates our society, puts 'explicit knowledge' in the primacy over 'implicit experience', and expects all phenomena to be explicitly explained in words, ... and if one maintains that part of the explanation resides in the spacing of the words, .... he will be expeditiously removed from any scientific forum and/or 'sent to Coventry' as they say. How are we, as a society, to get around these 'linear filters' which will not 'pass' any content other than linear, ... and which thus prevents science and our regulatory processes from being reborn into a new and larger 'story'.

Emile: There is no guarantee that we will liberate ourselves from our own language-assisted psychological enslavement. But it is worth noting that our relational intelligence which brings things into connection in our mind, is THE background process within which our foreground rational intellection process operates out of, so that if we present the network of linkages which demonstrate the incompleteness of causality closely enough together, ....the relational intellect may pick up on it and say, ... I see a different, inverted image here. Such was the case with paradoxes such as 'all Cretans are liars' which attracted people to the fact that some issues are not resolvable in logic, .... such as those issues which involve self-referentiality, the interference between containing ensemble and constituent, ... 'all Cretan's' ... and... 'liar' in this case.

Zeus: Yes, since relativistic space-time is self-referential, it seems that in order to put across the relativistic viewpoint, ... one must juxtapose the view 'of the ensemble' and the view 'of the constituent' and show these to be mutually interfering and/or co-resonant, so that communication of the 'reciprocal', ... the shape of space-time, ... the interferential informational content of what is 'not-said' and 'not-done' becomes an imperative. The notion of a 'prose-poem' comes to mind in this regard; i.e. "The prose poem... that paradoxical, oxymoronic genre which, as Jonathan Monroe puts it, does not want to be itself [and] appears to want to resist immediate comprehension and simple classification." Perhaps one can construct a manner of communication which is like the prose-poem, ... where the paradox will seduce the scientist in the manner suggested by Einstein, ... wherein he will recognize that "in difficulty there lies opportunity". While the prose poems of Laing may be too direct and blunt an expression of our real life dysfunction to be associated with what we are doing in our own everyday practice, ... perhaps one can develop softer ones, ... more in the line of this prose poem from Jonn Watt's website;


If actions speak louder than words,

Why are mine so misunderstood.

All the things that I've done for you,

They have only landed on deaf ears.

All I have left is words and words are cheap.

Anyone can say I love you,

But no one can tell you the way I feel about you.

Emile: Indeed, this approach would seem to have merit,... and as Vygotsky suggests, ... such an exercise need not be confined within a single language. The relationship between spontaneous, relational concepts (interference patterns and implicit understanding) and rational concepts (causal dynamics and explicit knowledge) is sometimes exposed in translating from one language to another, ... as he says; "The analogy with learning different languages goes beyond a superficial similarity, for it reveals psychological relations that are actually akin to those existing between scientific [rational] and spontaneous [relational] concepts." As others have noted, the different philosophical and space-time underpinnings of different languages, when juxtaposed, seem to raise questions about presuppositions, which never registered on the reader's consciousness until flitting from one language to another. In regard to the differences between French and English, Michael Sorrell [1] says; "Might it be that an essential difference between English and French, when used for poetic expression (this is crucial), is as much to do with syntactical condensing, short-circuiting in English, and what one could call an "unpicking" process in French, as it is with inherent qualities of individual items of vocabulary?

Zeus: ... Well then, ... perhaps the abstract to our paper submitted to the Gödel's theorem Cybersymposium should be delivered in French and in English, ... if its true that French has more power on the container-to-constituent side, while English is more powerful on the constituent-to-container side.

Emile:, .... there's now't to be lost in the translation, ... when both stand side-by-side exposing their relatively different sized attributes. Stand back now, while I howl out in both languages and we'll see if the quality of the scilence which comes back to us has any different properties than usual.

* * *

Le Théoreme de Gödel et la Théorie de la Rélativité

Résumé: Dans un reseau (un ensemble) auto-repérant limité, on ne peut pas parvenir a l'harmonie simultané parmi le tout et les parties par l'introduction d'un bruit. C'est a dire, ... on ne peut pas éliminer le bruit par le bruit. Ce qui est nécessaire, c'est que chaque partie se répere a l'espace commun qui l'englobe. Dans un reseau conscient (une équipe, par exemple), une modele commune de contrariété peut etre imaginé par tous les éléments de l'ensemble, ... ce qui sert pour organiser pas seulement les réponses collectives des elements, ... mais d'organiser aussi les manques intentionels de réponses (c'est a dire les reponses reciproques et non-causale.). L'oeuvre 'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' de Ludwig Wittgenstein, qui était a l'origine de la Théoreme de Gödel se conclut avec la proposition "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." Les 'silences' (les manques de réponses ou les réponses reciproques) bien situées, constituent les réponses 'imaginaires' tirées d'une visualisation de la relativité parmi le tout et les parties de l'ensemble, par contraste avec lés réponses réelles tirées des comportements réels. Donc, relativement a l'espace rélativiste (auto-repérant), Gödel's Theorem parle de l'incomplétude de la causalité, ... la causalité soyante le sous-moyen special de reglementation d'un systeme dont l'imagination va a zéro.

Gödel's Theorem and the Theory of Relativity

Abstract: In a finite, self-referential network (ensemble), it is impossible to achieve a simultaneous harmony amongst the whole and all of the parts by the introduction of a corrective regulatory signal (a calculated 'noise' which seeks to remove noise.). That is to say, ... one cannot eliminate noise with noise. What is necessary is that each part of the network reference itself to the common space which englobes the network. In a 'conscious' network (a team, for example), a common model of interference can be imagined by all of the team members (i.e. by all of the elements in the ensemble), ... which serves to organise, not only the collective responses of the members, ... but to organise, as well, the intentional lack of response (i.e. reciprocal and non-causal responses). The work 'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' by Ludwig Wittgenstein, which was at the origin of Gödel's theorem, concludes with the proposition "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." The well-allocated 'silences' (the lacks of response; i.e. the reciprocal responses) constitute 'imaginary response' derived from a visualisation of the relationships amongst the whole-and-part, in contrast to real responses derived from real behaviors of the system. Thus, with respect to relativistic space-time (self-referential space), Gödel's Theorem speaks to the incompleteness of causality, ... causality being the special sub-means of system regulation wherein imagination goes to zero.

* * *

[1] Excerpt from 'English and French poetic languages compared' by Martin Sorrel.

Yves Bonnefoy's 1959 essay on translating Shakespeare [1] is simultaneously illuminating and contentious. As a translator from English (Shakespeare and Yeats principally) as well as a major poet in the French language, he is admirably placed to evaluate what he sees as the inherent and regrettably irreconcilable differences between English and French. Bonnefoy's meditations on this issue - he has written about it in other contexts too - constitute a fascinating if troubled contribution to any debate about the nature and reality of "the nation". In this essay, I propose to give a brief account of Bonnefoy's argument, and to test it against a number of examples of French-English and English-French literary translation.

Put succinctly, Bonnefoy sees Platonism as the heart of the French language, and Aristotelianism as that of English. The received wisdom that French tends to abstraction is something Bonnefoy appears to believe. He sees such abstraction as the result of a French desire to seek and map out the "Idea". The consistent movement is away from the particular, the discrete, and towards the general, the universal. So French is a language which reduces, which excludes. Its constant tendency is to transform the rich diversity of the world into manageable, intellectual categories. For Bonnefoy, a function of this need is that the focus of attention will be on the word rather than on the thing which it signifies. The symbol, not the thing symbolised, carries the weight. The word is the signifier of an eternal form.

The concreteness of English, however, is for Bonnefoy a mark of what he terms its "passionate Aristotelianism". Clearly, he is nostalgic for that commitment to the phenomenal world which is at the heart of the English language, but which has been lost to French (he appears to imply) since the Cartesian Classicism began its one-party rule. Bonnefoy writes of the "intense and narrow aim that restored to poetry that almost obsessional detachment from the phenomenal world [and] which seems to be the fate of our [France's] main body of work". [2] Nowhere is this difference made clearer than in Shakespeare. Quoting from Henry IV, Part 1, Bonnefoy seeks to demonstrate how there is a particularity about Falstaff, a unique individual living in a specific world (taverns, bawdy houses) and not any other, yet who contrives out of this specificity to suggest universal issues and truths. The passage Bonnefoy quotes is from Act III, Scene 3:

Falstaff [to Bardolph]: "Why, there it is; come, sing me a bawdy song; make me merry. I was as virtuously given as a gentleman need to be; virtuous enough; swore little; diced not above seven times a week; went to a bawdy-house not above one in a quarter - of an hour; paid money that I borrowed three or four times; lived well and in good compass; and now I live out of all order, out of all compass."

Bonnefoy discerns in these lines, as elsewhere in the play, a unique, complex and enigmatic figure who is as unfathomable as any other real human being. His Aristotelian dicreteness is manifest in all the turbulence of a real life led in a real world, yet nevertheless something archetypal arises from the flux and chaos. To this, Bonnefoy compares the translation of François Victor-Hugo:

"Oui, voilà la chose. Allons, chante-moi une chanson égrillarde. Egaye-moi. J'étais aussi vertueusement doué qu'un gentilhomme a besoin de l'être; vertueux suffisamment; jurant peu; jouant aux dés, pas plus de sept fois... par semaine; allant dans les mauvais lieux pas plus d'une fois par quart d'heure; ayant trois ou quatre fois rendu de l'argent emprunté; vivant bien et dans la juste mesure; et maintenant, je mène une vie désordonnée et hors de toute mesure."

The effect of the French, claims Bonnefoy, is to distance the reality in all its physical 'thereness', to remove us from the actual room in which Falstaff is sitting, and to have us instead observe him through a windowpane. He is now dimmed, distant, insubstantial. He is a character in literature, says Bonnefoy, striving by his exuberant language to resemble life too closely and hence all the less convincing. He has lost his roundness.

Elsewhere in his essay, Bonnefoy quotes with wondering approval a line from the last scene of Anthony and Cleopatra, together with a couple of translations into French which show as pertinently as any other example some unbridgeable gaps between French and English. Cleopatra says: "I have immortal longings in me", words whose condensed poetic power thrills Bonnefoy. The two translations perhaps show that a similar condensing is not available in French. Neither "Je sens en moi l'impatient désir de l'immortalité" (Letourneur) nor "Je me sens pressée d'un violent désir de quitter la vie" (Francisque Michel) gets the reality of Shakespeare's adjective-plus-noun. It is as if the power of the high-voltage English has had to be dissipated in the French opened-out syntax. Might it be that an essential difference between English and French, when used for poetic expression (this is crucial), is as much to do with syntactical condensing, short-circuiting in English, and what one could call an "unpicking" process in French, as it is with inherent qualities of individual items of vocabulary? It might be argued that the problems identified by Bonnefoy are rather more localised than he accepts, that is, that they are caused principally by the constraints of the French Classical tradition, constraints which some writers have been able to refuse.

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