Views last month

Donnerstag, 2. Februar 2017

Patterns of life and death beneath the steel

I am wondering a lot these days. I wonder about patterns, about spirals (

 and screws


and dendrites. I wonder about life and about death. Yes, I have a reason, but there is no reason involved, or better, more than reason it is that is involved.
 There are these curling, swirling patterns in the steel... steel I found in the woods.

Of course you can explain this metallurgically sound: These are deviations in the carbon content or - distribution. In the forging process you break up the dendrites of, say Wootz steel or crucible steel... and only then, when you submit it to fire and work, will these patterns show. Steel is not a gentle material. It is cold as death, and even more so when you look at these dendrite structures or the swirling patterns in the steel of the blade.

For some reason I have always emotionally connected dendrites and crystals with death.

There is this association of winter with death, and winter is full of flakes, of scales of ice and snow. Maybe it is because of this. But dendrites are not only found in crystals, but also elsewhere.

Some people mock at me because I am that fond of spirals. And spirals are everywhere and have become a symbol of blossoming and prosperity, of fertility and renewal with mankind. And yet, when you look at the way dendrites grow in screw dislocations, they are there, also.

And if you look at the famed Mandelbrot simulation, which is a diagram of the formula z->z²+c and is an evaluation of imaginary and concrete numbers, there you have it, too:

And what do you have there, when you look at it from a mythogrammatical or poetologic point of view, is something very weird. Reality, well, is just reality, but what is imaginary? The word derives from Latin "imago" and stands for a picture. And yet "Imago mundi" is more than just a picture of the world, as the name might imply. It is more of a view. What, then, you ask, is a view?

And then there is the different between the semantic properties of  "image" versus "picture" or depiction. The image of a person is that which is made of a summary of his real and imagined properties and the way he or she portrays him or herself in public. Sometimes it is just wishful thinking. Now, wishful thinking can be seen as negative quite easily. But sometimes you need imagination to change yourself. Say, you are a bit huge around the hips. You have to envision yourself with a sixpack (and I am not talking  Coronas here ;-)), or even a tiny bit leaner, to even start losing fat. Then you can achieve a goal in the first. So the imago, as I want to call it from now on, starts becoming reality. Just for theory modelling I want to define the imago as the properties not given concretely in reality a priori, but by will or another impetus becoming a "goal" and therefore standing a chance of becoming real. This is a constant process.

I constantly ponder the question: How does the fern know how to grow? And why is the world made from patterns of spirals, dendrites, honeycombs, flakes and structures that have an immanent logic and are capable of being reproduced mathematically? Yeah, there are a lot of short and long answers to it, from "all is Gods creation" to "everything can be explained", but that´s not the culprit.  

The "other world", the "yonder", "heaven" (or hell, if you so will), in that theoretical context, seems to be much, much more than is portrayed in all the mythologies of the world. More so, it can be mathematically and physically explained, even if the complex and real numbers and consequentially the Mandelbrot set are just one aspect of this relationship of "mind and matter";-).

How, for instance, does a tree grow out of dendrites and spirals and root and stem and crown? What do the structures in the bark tell us? No, I do not think, there is only one "plan" and the tree just follows through. The way it grows is fractal. Say, the seed is resting in the earth and "wants" to grow out of the ground. Now postulate there are several universes and in each one of them there is a tiny detail that is different. Let us just look at two of them: In one plot the sapling simply grows straight out of the ground, so it becomes straight as an arrow. In the other a heavy branch had fallen from the crown over the sapling. Now there are several more plots. One possibility is that the seed dies and the sapling never grows. Another is that it has to grow around the branch... and a lot more I cannot think of now, and each and every one opens up new possibilities. The tree follows through a course of circumstances. These circumstances are not arbitrary in themselves, but fractal. Each fractal complex is interconnected with the other. The whole unit is so complex that I can safely argue that it is not to be described.

And look at this: This is not a renaissance ornament. It is a pine cone. Above you can watch an inspiring video by video artist Vi Hart with a bit of humour ;-).
Turn the pine cone, and there are the scales formed by a golden ratio spiral in the third dimension.

This is what we tend to forget: That even two - dimensional diagrams and concepts can be three- or four - dimensional. When we watch Vi Hart drawing lines on paper, two-dimensional gets a third dimension that is essentially the fourth: Time.

In a time lapse of a fern we see it grow. And trees grow. They grow year rings, but what we see...
Are scales on the bark, and similar patterns.
It grows in dendrites, and the stem is forked...
And when we look at it, we have to keep in heart that it grows at this very moment.
If you look at a screw from above, you´ll see a spiral...

Snow crystals grow in dendrites... but essentially they are water.

There are patterns that repeat themselves...

I am not a mathematician. I can barely understand the Mandelbrot set. I am a writer, a poet maybe. But to understand the beauty of these dynamics, I need not know. I just have to see.

And there is so much to see. Spirals from spirals stem to dendrites and spirals... winter from summer, and summer from winter. Oh, true, also the life of my old mother which is currently in danger. But my mother is not just what she is now, but she is everything she always was and will be. Her life is something that I cannot fathom, as I cannot fathom mine. I´d wish she would get well again, of course, but I have to remind myself that she is more than just the momentary person, but a dynamic process embedded into a complex pattern. She IS the complex pattern, and will be and was, for, if you look at a screw from above, it is a spiral. If you look at a life from outside, there is no time dimension, or more than time, so to say. Words (or even maths) are not made to describe this. But one can feel it. One can feel the spirals turning and swirling. How can that be?

Now on another occasion I have stated that I have the strong suspicion that there is a connexion between the whiplash line and a dynamic yin yang in satori, flow or eucharist:

This connexion is an interspersion of fractal systems. Let´s talk flow for starters. Say, a climber or mountainbiker experiences flow in a natural environment... The experience is called "autotelic" in sports psychology. This means that, since Hogrebe (1995: Metaphysik und Mantik)  along the lines of Hegelian dialectic, stated that semantic orientation in the human mind is vectorial, "telic" (the term deriving from Greek: telos: missile, javelin, arrow), the semantic experience of flow is returning onto itself and similar to itself, like the Mandelbrot set is. This is a feature of fractal logic. So, one can assume that flow a priori is fractal. Flow takes place in natural environments (Williams / Harvey 2001: and is triggered by e.g. forest environments.

Now that mountainbike rider rides through a trail in the woods where he experiences flow. And, to my personal experience, flow occurs often when there are a lot of dynamics shifts of weight and balance involved and at roundabout 80% of your own capability. Now many efficient moves in mountainbiking (bunny hop, manual, wheelie, even pedal strokes) follow circular and golden ratio spiral patterns (especially the bunny hop):

Look closely at the motion of the handlebar when the rider pulls at it.

Now this is not just about riding bikes and certainly no tutorial. If you feel so inclined, feel free to practice your hopping skills no less, but even in the intro of the vid you can see when you look at the movements of the bikes and riders through the berms, that their movements are smoothly and dynamically following circular or spiralling patterns. The system of all their movements during their descent is "constructed" fractal. And, according to my experience, it is trails like that in the video that are inclined to induce flow. Now add to all this that it takes place in a forest, on a trail that is subject to constant dynamic changes, that are self-similar in themselves, and the feeling of flow is par definitionem self-similar and self-directed.

Now flow would be just a psychological feature of some superficial members of the leisure society doing some fun sport, were it not described in books and stories far older than even the bicycle, let alone the mountainbike scene. From epiphany, hierophany, bodhodaya, satori, the descriptions of this dynamic psychological status are legion and congruent. It is in epiphany (according to Christian belief) alone that one can agnize that Christ is the son of God. It is called bodhodaya, when Arjuna in Hindu myth agnizes that his charioteer Krishna indeed is the incarnation of God (Bhagavadgita), and only in this state of mind he is able to do so. Flow therefore might be the state of mind to dissolve the conflict between the tininess of our agnition capacity and the fractal vastness of the universe. It´s so simple it would be a laughing matter. Of course I would like to continue on this topic...

...but in the meantime...

...I think...

...I´ll just have a cuppa forest.




  1. What the....???
    I barely understood anything of what you've written.
    The unfolding fern. That I get!! One of my favorite plant(group)s.
    The cup of forest. That I get too...
    Anything mathematical and I am lost. I have zero affinity with figures! They make little to no sense to me. Any figure over 4 digits and I find myself having a hard time reading it. Anything over six... that's it... It all floats together. Can barely tell one from the other. And why is 5 5? Why not 6? Or orange??

    And looking at your blog posts I sometimes would swear there are 2 people writing. So completely different in style and context...

  2. I suspect that if any of life's processes, even the whole of the Earth's ebbing and flowing and swirling were to be filmed and sped up to many times 'real time' (like the fern video), it could trigger an understanding (without the need, or even the ability, to delineate it). Maybe it simply requires letting go of the need to understand.

  3. You both are right, as far as this post is concerned;-) at least, of course. Ron, in that you say "It all floats together", and Leo, in that you say that it might simply require a letting go. And Ron, I am completely with you on the mathematics part-not my piece of cake, either.

    But look at that Mandelbrot set and imagine all the seasons you have seen. To me it always looks familiar, like the fern uncurling.

    As for the dilemma of the two Fimbulmyrks ;-)... I would be a poor narrator If I could write only in one style ;-P. Kidding aside, what I want to say is, that there are two sides of the coin, myth and logic. But they are the same coin. The same goes for maths and myth and language.

    So, the paradoxon of the two Fimbulmyrks ;-) is none... just two sides of the same coin.

    And who said 6 is not orange? ;-D

  4. No, I learned on an esoteric website that six is green. ;-D


Now go on, discuss and rant and push my ego;-). As long as it´s a respectful message, every comment is welcome!

Beliebte Posts