Intuitive Backfill

Montreal, October 23, 1998

Emile twisted the cap off a frosty bottle of Sleeman's Ale, and gurg-a-lurged the better half of it. He noticed that the window shades were open onto the street, but he didn't allow himself to reactively 'tune' to the political incorrectness of his act, drinking Ontario beer deep in Labatt and Molson country. Emile believed in cultivating harmonies, and while he most often drank litres of Molson's by the bottle in bar des Pins, following the 'when in Rome' spirit, right now he was cultivating harmonies with his own taste buds in the relative privacy of his own apartment. Still, if the revolution came, he would park his Sleeman empties down the street, in front of someone elses place.

Revolution or evolution, ..... Emile asked himself what it was that determined whether opposing tensions were overcome by transformation or by violent rupture. The sandpile which receives a continuing stream of sandgrains on its crest can either accommodate the building of tensions by a series of many tiny avalanches or by one massive one, this 'self-organized criticality' which comes into play in such situations, Emile recognized as being beyond predictability, but it was nevertheless known that the distribution of avalanches observed 'the power law', wherein there are exponentially more small avalanches than big ones. Emile mused that fortunately, the same held true for the shifting of fault-faces along the San Andreas and related westcoast fault systems set up by the collision of the Pacific and North American plates.

But Emile now had a new insight on the balancing geometries between tensional and compressional forces which, like a game of poker, more often delivered small pots than large ones. He asked himself if the concept of the inscrutible 'poker face' came in here and he knew immediately that it did. If one was open and honest in the game, the pots would tend to be small. The big pots came from 'bluffing' and when bluffing was a strong component in the game, a man could walk away from the game minus his paycheck or worse.

Emile had never played that much poker, probably because he had little interest in gambling outside of the context of purposeful risk-taking pulled by his natural 'ontogenetic' need. He had nevertheless been exposed to a few card-playing 'sharks' and knew how they could interpret one's tiniest movements and voice inflections to intuit the strength of your hand, while they at the same time erected an impenetrable shield of inscrutibility. The most open, honest and 'readible' player, in combination with the most inscrutable and amiable bullshit artist could sustain the tension for longest, leading to the biggest final breaks, in the form of large pots; .... pure rationality in a dance with pure imagination, .... this was the stuff that music was made of, ... heavy metal music which crescendoed and crashed, rather than flowing on gently. The hard facts, or hard notes, in either a dance or wrestling match with pure imagination. If you asked the bullshit artist the rules of poker, he would articulate them 'according to Hoyle', but that would have relatively little to do with the intuitive way he played.

The new insight was what Emile was calling 'intuitive backfill'. Ever since the notion of 'analytical backfill' had sunk into his head, it had changed his outlook in a fundamental way, and he had been able to see how rational constructs, the addiction of western culture, were no more than the 'netting' that Wittgenstein described, draped over the invisible latencies of true nature, so that one could describe their tangible movements, but still say nothing about what was going on under the netting.

But he had not even considered the possibility that there might be a harmonic inverse to analytical backfill, .... i.e. intuitive backfill, until it popped right out at him, in his long series of discussions with Maya over the linearity of the models of Robert McKee.

While Emile was trying to avoid it, his thoughts on these topics inevitably came back to the question of relative proclivities of man and woman; .... analytical backfill was clearly the forte of man, whether or not this was cultural overprint due to the difficulty for woman in gaining entry to the 'gentleman's science clubs', ... whatever the complex origins of it, almost all of the major developments in science; i.e. in the fabrication of laws and theories aka 'analytical backfill', had had male authorship stamped on them.

While 'analytical backfill' force-fit structural observations into generalized Wittgensteinian nettings to yield 'linear', rational models, 'intuitive backfill' force-fit intuitive insights onto the method of selection of rational models, .... 'intuitive backfill' led to the selection of rational models on the basis of WHOSE models they were. This was the fascinating conclusion that Emile had come to, .... that rational models were embraced by intuitives, on the basis of the intuitiveness or overall 'appeal' of the model's makers and advocates. It seemed clear that McKee's demonstrated prowess as an intuitive story-telling artist had led to Maya's embrace of his linear models.

But, as Emile also knew, the achilles heel of the western culture was in intuitively 'knowing' what needed to be done, but not being able to model it without regressing to models and explanations in terms of Euclidian space and linear time. As long as people were 'doing their own thing' in relative isolation or in artistic 'take-it-or-leave-it' endeavors, the faulty models didn't matter so much, but when one began using them as a basis for building social and commercial structures, dysfunction came galloping into the scene like Apocalyptic horses.

Intuitively, everbody knew that the flatspace cultural models were 'up the creek', but like lemmings, everyone seemed powerless to stop the mindless journey. Emile went over to the tape deck and rewound Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man' album to the third track and was chuckling at the wryly delivered wisdom in the lyrics before the song "Everybody Knows" had even commenced;

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded,

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

Everybody knows the war is over,

Everybody knows the good guys lost

Everybody knows the fight was fixed,

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

That's how it goes, .... everybody knows.

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking,

Everybody knows the Captain lies

Everybody's got this broken feeling,

Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talkin to their pockets,

Everybody wants a box of chocolates

and a long stemmed rose, .... everybody knows.

Everybody knows that you love me baby,

Everybody knows that you really do

Everybody knows that you've been faithful,

Ah,, give or take a night or two

Everybody knows you've been discreet,

But there were so many people you just had to meet

Without your clothes, ..... and everybody knows.

Everybody knows, .... everybody knows

That's how it goes, .... everybody knows.

Everybody knows, .... everybody knows

That's how it goes, .... everybody knows.

And everybody knows that its now or never,

Everybody knows that it's me or you

And everybody knows that you live forever,

Ah,, when you've done a line or two

Everybody knows the deal is rotten,

Old Black Joe's still pickin cotton

For your ribb'ns and bows, .... and everbody knows.

And everybody knows that the plague is comin,

Everybody knows that it's moving fast

Everybody knows that the naked man and woman

Are just a shining artifact of the past

Everbody knows the scene is dead

But there's gonna be a meter on your bed

That will disclose, ..... what everybody knows.

And everybody knows that you're in trouble,

Everybody knows what you've been through

From the bloody cross on top of Calvary,

Ah,, to the beach at Malibu

Everybody knows it's comin up on

Take one last look at this sacred heart

Before it blows, ... and everybody knows.

Everybody knows, .... everybody knows

That's how it goes, .... everybody knows.

Everybody knows, .... everybody knows

That's how it goes, .... everybody knows.

In Emile's mind, Cohen had somehow captured in these lyrics, the mismatch between reality and modelled reality, it was no secret, .... it was obvious. But what was not so obvious, it seemed, was that this gap had emerged from the 2500 year old western pretense that space was flat and time was linear, that only the 'tangible' needed to be accounted for, and that the 'intangible' would follow in line like the 'shadow' of 'real things', the only entities that our flatspace western models accounted for. As Emile had tried to show his essay 'Kilroy was Here', the intangible patterns we perceived were constantly giving rise to 'real', 'tangible' behaviors, and very often, this was not just confined to individuals, and collective imagining could give rise to the emergence of tangible collective behaviors, as when Orson Welles had broadcast his dramatic rendering of H. G. Wells 'War of the Worlds', and some groups of families and friends had begun to convert their collective imaginings into tangible preparations for 'the end'.

Emile's researches had reinforced in his mind that literally thousands of writers and philosophers over the years had observed that the denial of imagination, of mystery, and the intangible, .... the denial of 'real experience', led directly to an aberrant cultural notion of 'normality' and to a schizophrenic existence, splitting our minds between what we really experienced, and the flatspace views of experience demanded by our culture, .... a fragmenting force which was putting more and more people into mental hospitals and abnormal states of addiction and behavior, if not directly into the morgue.

Emile groped for the answer as to why these 'messages' didn't 'take' in the culture. Even Denis Gabor, in his theory of communications, in the hard and culturally respected terms of mathematics, had shown that to be physically realizeable, information could not be considered in terms of tangible 'things' such as pure 'bits' or pure 'frequencies' because these entities were 'absolute in themselves' or 'eternal' and had no place in nature; i.e. they were physically unrealizeable. Gabor had proposed, mathematically, that elementary signal had to be composed of geometrical archetypes, .... of the same type as Kepler had proposed on a celestial scale, archetypes of 'harmony and structure', ... a kind of grappling between continuous 'becoming', ... on the one side, harmonic oscillation which wanted to go on and on, like the dance of the planets, and on the other, a fixed and rigid structural 'being', as in the ratiocinated and quantified orbital structures of the planets, with their fixed axial lengths and eccentricities.

Emile reckoned that these little 'grapplings' between harmony and structure, or 'logons' as Gabor called them, were what had fascinated Manus who had given him the Gabor paper just before he had died, telling him, .... 'Emile, there's something profound in this paper that I can't quite get to, ..... everything Gabor says in here checks out, it all seems flawless, but what you can do with these 'Gabor cells' blows the mind and runs counter to all of our standard scientific models'. Emile, though he hadn't seen the paper before, had glanced at one of Manus's mathematical treatises on 'Gabor cells', immediately protested; 'Manus, my math skills are nowhere near up to dealing with this kind of stuff.'. Manus smiled at him and in that extremely forceful convincing way Manus had, gave Emile the paper, saying simply "Just keep it. It's too early for it now, ... wait a few years, .... perhaps a decade or so, .... you'll figure out what to do with it."

'Sure, sure, Manus', thought Emile sceptically, but Emile ended up by complying with Manus' request nevertheless. A decade later, Emile had pulled out the paper and personally delivered copies to at least a dozen people who had the mathematical skills to deal with the equations in Gabor's paper, and the answer was always the same; .... 'This looks really interesting', .... full stop, ... and that was it. Emile had even sent the general gist of the Gabor paper, enfolded in his essay 'Skyclock_Gods' to Gregory Chaitin, the author of 'Chaitin's Theorem' which was the information theory 'parent' of Goedel's Theorem. Gregory had emailed back, politely commenting; "Thanks for sending me your essay. I didn't understand very much (except for the contrast between Celtic and Christian theology), but I enjoyed reading it!"

Emile was grateful for that response, because it was far more than he normally got, and Gabor's premise had implicitly survived scrutiny by one of the strongest reasoning minds around. Emile had been forced to continue to probe the message in the Gabor paper himself, and since he didn't have the mathematical skills to do it by re-working the equations and re-developing Gabor's theoretical thought train in his own head, he had to approach it on a geometric or 'bootstrapping' basis, making use of his knowledge of the underlying concepts of Fourier theory etc. In the end, it became dead clear to him what Gabor was saying in his mathematical discourse, and the message was dead simple as well. What Gabor was saying was that; '... If you want to deal with informational systems which are both physically realizeable and have harmonic content, then you must allow for both REAL AND IMAGINARY components in the elemental signal.'

Now Emile knew that this word 'imagination' always put goosepimples on the back of scientific necks, but 'everybody knows' that there is this thing called 'phase', or the RELATIVE timing with which things come together in a collective dynamic that makes all the difference in the world to tangible behavior, and one can't have 'phase' without an 'imaginary' signal component, because, on their own, 'tangible' events in 'time language' (as Gabor called it) don't speak to their 'phase relationships' with their containing world, just as the fledgling artist's brushstroke does not speak to its spatial phase relationship to the space which contains it. So how on earth, mused Emile, can we expect a string of ones and zeros pasted along a linear time axis to convey the complex information of our sensory experiencing of reality? If the imaginary component isn't in there from the beginning, adding in after the fact, by kluging the patterns of abstract eternal one's and zeros is just not going to do the trick; ... you can't make a jazz band out of a collection of 'musical technicians', ... phase and imagination have to be in their blood to begin with.

Emile's thoughts went back to the intuitive Maya and her support for the also intuitive McKee which she seemed to confuse with her support for McKee's linear models. What the hell was the geometry at work here, wondered Emile, .... and this confusion between a 'thing' and a property of the 'thing', and how it could dominate the 'colour' of the 'thing' came into his mind. Sinead O'Connor, whose music Emile greatly admired, had torn up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, .... an act which was stimulated by intuition, yet was rationalist in thought .... since the Pope was far more than his doctrines, he was a human being, .... flesh, blood, emotion and imagination like everyone of the inhabitants of both southern and northern Ireland.

Emile drew on his flatspace rationalism to make a simple model out of this, .... a model which he knew could be no more than a Wittgensteinian ladder to get a look on what was really going on here; ... Maya accepts McKee's linear models because McKee is an intuitive 'thing', while Sinead rejects the Pope 'thing' because of his linear models. Emile stopped as he figuratively scratched his head, then got up and went to fill his coffee cup and have a smoke.

When he came back to his keyboard, he still hadn't 'figured it out' so he just spaced down from 'have a smoke', started a new paragraph and started tapping away; ... 'it seems that a particular property or suite of properties of a person can condemn the whole person in the eyes of another'. This was clearly a structural model of a person, and the wholesale rejection had the same type of feel as the condemning of a building on the basis of structural faults. Emile mused that here was the difference between Maya and him on their interpretations of 'Dead Man Walking', Emile saw people as 'gardens' containing many plants; .... this was not to say that some of the plants could not be nasty and dangerous and the garden could be a jungle that you'd never even want to get near, let alone want set foot on, ..... but you could never rule out the possibility that in the nastiest garden, tucked away in a corner somewhere, there could be some lovely little flowers, and if someone, like Susan Sarendon, another of Emile's favorites, could charm those lovely flowers to the point that they grew and multiplied, than it was quite possible that they could overtake and starve out the nasties in the garden, changing the overall human landscape and outlook in a fundamental way. This, thought Emile, was probably what happened with Carla Fay Tucker, whose life was taken by the Texas 'legal machinery', as the euphemism goes, nonetheless, since our flatspace culture has this proclivity of seeing people as fixed structures rather than as continuously evolving gardens.

Ok, thought Emile, there's some geometry cooking here, .... a bad plant in the garden can taint the whole garden in the flatspace view, and stinkweeds in an attractive garden can draw glowing commentary, by this same flatspace view. Now the first part of this relation seems to fit with alot of stuff, including the McCarthy era hysteria where people's gardens were tainted even by attending a Communist meeting, but what about the second part, .... the acceptance of a small dissonance when drawn from a larger harmony? Perhaps that was the trouble that Chretien got himself into with his over-enthusiastic welcome of Sukarno? .... how does this work? It seems that we elevate the tangibles above the intangibles again. Henry II doesn't get nailed for killing Thomas A'Beckett, because Henry didn't physically do it, .... no smoking gun kind of evidence which is the only kind our culture seems to accept.

Ok, we'ver already got that one, it's the 'analytical backfill' obsession, thought Emile, ... and his mind returned to the thought about major scientific discoveries being mostly authored by males. It seemed that many people had math-phobia and rational mappings were troublesome for them, as in Jamie-John's story about how she had great difficulty in reconciling a roadmap with her actual driving experience and typically ended up getting lost. It seemed to Emile, that the default in one's basis of selection for embracing or not embracing rational models, was to tie it to what you thought of the author of those models. 'Faaaaaaakkkkkk!' rode out on the back of Emile's long exhalation, as the lightbulb came on and he realized that that was precisely what he been doing in the case of the Gabor paper given to him by Manus; .... he respected and trusted Manus, and here he was believing in the Gabor model well before he had even had a clue as to what those second order differential equations in 'f' and 't' and 'Psi' all meant. If Manus hadn't have died, Emile would never have had to probe the deeper meaning of Gabor's work on his own, and he most assuredly would have taken Gabor's work 'on faith' from Manus, that Gabor's models were 'correct', and as a result, he never really would have understood what Gabor was talking about. Emile thought about how much understanding we must be denying ourselves by our intuitive trust in other people's models, and what a double-edged sword this could be.

The Wittgensteinian ladder-model that Emile had been looking for had now clunked down solidly into place; .... In a world of specialized rational models and experts, we selected our rational models on the basis of intuitive trust in their authors. The fly in the ointment was in the case where the most appealing, sincere, honest, open, artistic, respected, of authors WERE WRONG! Numerous images flooded into Emile's head, of the 'Emperor's New Clothes', of the Captain of the Titanic looking for some ice for his drink just before hitting the berg, and his mind slowly settled in on the ASIDS imagery he had written about, .... about pre-Pasteur surgeons unawarely performing surgery on their patients with contaminated hands and equipment, .... sensitive, humanist surgeons who were fully invested in saving their patient's lives and making them healthy again.

Dr McKee: 'Emile?';

Emile: 'Yes, Doctor McKee?';

Dr. McKee; .... 'I'm sorry to inform you that your story has just died, although I did everything humanly in my power to save it'.

Emile; 'I understand, Doctor, .... I trust your thoughts and words and want you to know that this does not diminish my respect for you and your models one iota, .... and may I ask whether it was a quick and peaceful death or was there much suffering?';

Dr. McKee; 'It came very quickly, in fact as soon as we opened it up and began to examine it, the weaknesses in its structure grew worse and soon reached the point where avoiding a total collapse was no longer possible. Ultimate failure was brought on by a massive drop in structural logic and the onset of subject-object arhythmia which opened it up to dangerous infusions from its surroundings."

Emile; 'I am glad to hear that there was not much suffering, as in many cases these days the malady seems to linger on long after the music has stopped. By the way, Doctor McKee, what was this harmony-killing strain of bacteria?'

Dr. McKee .... 'S'cuse me, Emile?, ...... what's this word 'bacteria'?'

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