Sunday, August 21, 2005

Grasping at Shadows: Pygmy Chimp Nature

simultanagnosia: n. the inability to perceive elements as components of a whole.

It was over a year ago now, worlds away it seems, a distinct element of my life, during rehearsals for Framing Harmony, the play I'd written for the ACU Alive arts showcase. Behind the curtain with Harmony, waiting for our classroom scene as the music played along, she began to carelessly read out aloud from one of the science books I'd brought along as a prop - advanced anthropology I think it was, really old. Curiously made me think of a strange piece of music I'd heard not too long before during the end credits of the film Human Nature, written by Charlie Kaufman - she hadn't seen it though - orchestral backing with a clinical, almost haunting, female voiceover, reading what at first I passed off as nonsensical, perhaps fragments from some old text book.

I really enjoyed the film the first time I saw it, though I could see why some may not have liked it at much as Being John Malkovich or the later, Adaptation. Last night I saw it once more, noticing that for the dvd menus, they had chosen the very same music, and after hearing it again, I decided upon a little investigation.

The first section, as I found out, was a little harder to find than the second, as it appears on the web in a different old English translation from that which is presented in the film. Turns out it's from the epistemological writings of William of Ockham, and it seems to read as follows:

"When some things are known of which the one inheres in the other or is locally distant from the other or is related in some way to the other, the mind straight away knows by virtue of that simple apprehension of both things, whether a thing inheres or does not inhere, whether it is distant or not and so with other contingent truths and in general every simple apprehension of a term or of terms, that is of a thing or things by means of which some contingent truths, especially concerning the present, can now be known."

The second part is from Francis Bacon's Novum Organum: Aphorisms concerning The Interpretation of Nature and the Kingdom of Man. Aphorism one hundred and six or CVI in roman numerals goes something like this:

"In establishing axioms by this kind of induction, we must also examine and try whether the axiom so established be framed to the measure of those particulars only from which it is derived, or whether it be larger and wider. And if it be larger and wider, we must observe whether by indicating to us new particulars it confirm that wideness and largeness as by a collateral security, that we may not either stick fast in things already known, or loosely grasp at shadows and abstract forms, not at things solid and realised in matter."

I imagine the one in charge of voicing these orphaned fragments of physical philosophy on film, their stories, if they truly understood what these men, long departed, were attempting to convey, if anyone really could. I imagine those who originally penned these words, meticulously thought out so long ago, grasping at shadows for survival - human nature really - if, in the end, they perceived their writings as components of a whole.

"To use the vernacular, I wanted me some of that"


Blogger Darran said...

hey josh lookinf forward to reading more of your blog you put alot of thought into all that you say see you at the wedding or see you around sometime

8/21/2005 08:29:00 pm  

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