i had a sudden vision whose details i have forgotten. of objects, either questions or answers, propelling themselves about a fluid continuum.
i could describe anything i could think about with these objects.
i went to a bookshop in town and dashed frantically about, picking up books on uml and lex and linguistics and discarding them as too high-level and easily derivable from my first principles.
i found a book called 'an introduction to theoretical computer science', which began with set theory.
i imagined set theory without an empty set. the idea of zero seemed circular and redundant to me. i wanted n-ary structures.
i felt i had the ability to follow my trails of thought into the fourth dimension, fully conscious of the deep structure underlying the usual nonsequiturial bubblings.
i felt as if i had gained access to the deep structures of my memory, all the texts i studied at college, the maths i'd read in sixth form, the graduate work in 17th century scientific rhetoric, at instant access.
hobbes has this big row with descartes but they get trapped in a holding pattern - hobbes has the recursive idea - trying to reduce descartes ad absurdum basically saying, 'i think therefore i am therefore i think therefore i am therefore'
i became obsessed with wittgenstein's tractatus. i found it while googling and knew it was speaking to me. it was a description of what i was seeing, until i got stuck on proposition 3.334 (the number had great resonance for me):
"The rules of logical syntax must go without saying, once we know how each individual sign signifies."i knew that hope was an essential part of the system. i could only hope this was true.
the point is it's not important what dimension you're in, but the relations between the one below you and the one above you, that describe you. e.g. what christopher alexander is really saying - 'you have a problem. If you can see a bigger problem and solve a smaller problem, then you can solve *your* problem.'
i thought i could see the future in the patterns of the present.
the internet is broken, but soon it'll know why its broken and be able to fix itself, but it'll get more broken first. i feel like i'm using my brain properly for the first time.... what's the word? serendipity, and we can *use* it.i saw the spate of DDoS attacks and imagined the net splitting in a kind of newsquake, the good hosts staying up, the badly-run commercial hosts going down.
basically i'm trying to write a kind of a priori object with state. it's an object that assumes that it's kind of the only member of a base class until it meets another object that can tell it otherwise, and once it's met enough other objects it can derive a kind of knowledge from its memory. it's all based on this application of set theory: the only thing the object knows a priori is that it is a member of a set whose elements is itself, and therefore there must be another set which is the set of all things that is not itself. in the cartesian system the object assumes that the set of things which is not itself is zero until proven otherwise, eg that which is not-me is no-thing, or that everything tends towards zero or infinity. in this hobbesian system which i envisage, the object has humility. it doesn't make any arrogant assumptions about the nature of the set of things that is not itself. it, er, just sort of hopes that everything tends towards one or n - that one day it'll find another thing like itself that can tell it about itself and other things, or it won't. so it wanders round the cartesian universe calling out 'who am i? who am i?' until it finds another object to talk to, or it doesn't. now imagine a system made up of n of these objects having n conversations. (it could be the internet, in fact it is) the object is the class is the object, but i can say this flippantly cos i'm pretty new to OO and perl is the only programming language i really know. that isn't very clear, but i can describe it in n different ways, and i have this perl/XML stuff which is always temptingly near to becoming a generic problem-solving algorithm (as far as my data analysis and data representation problems are concerned, anyway) and then i hit another level of recursion, so i'm trying to build the recursion into the system. we'll probably never find the value of n, but we have to hope that we can reach a decent approximation. there are n ways to do it. it's really unfair cos i'm knackered, an hour ahead and have to go soon... and i'm sorry for inflicting this on all of you, but it seems like the right place to be sending it.
i thought i could write a human-machine-human language, or rather that all the geeks in the world were sequentially preparing to do it, that we would all then rise up and throw away our typewriters.
i was still giving myself and others useful advice:
you've realised that madness and sanity are the same thing. it's what kilgore trout says to everyone at the end of timequake, can't remember exactly what, something like "you've just got to get on with it, 'cos there's work to do". and we can use the networks we have to *find* ourselves interesting problems. similar thing at the end of fahrenheit 451 - "Now let's go upstream. but hang onto this thought - you are not important." it's the fact that you realise you are not important that keeps you going. if you need cheering up - listen to jokes, look at comedy, listen to happy hardcore music, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org saying 'subscribe london-list' in the message body, or go to google.com, type the first thing that pops into your head *or* a word that you think is important, and see what you see.
i was seeing patterns on every surface where the chaotic and the random co-existed. i was seeing patterns in data sets, in text scrolling down a screen, in my own data stream.
this morning i walked in a circle to cross the road, asking people if they knew where i was going. i asked for a cup of tea like arthur dent and eventually was shown that all the things i needed to make one apart from water in a cup, were on the table i was sitting at. then i met a man who looked and dressed and talked like me, and i gave him an orange, and he did the learned social gesture of trying to refuse it, and i said, 'it's not important that you want it, but it's important that you have it' and he turned the orange around in his hand as i started to explain what i can see. and after a little while he started and said 'can i eat the orange?' and i said yes, and i watched him eat the orange. he described this generic web middleware system that he's architected, and i described the object that i'm trying to build. then he quite suddenly got up and said, 'we have to...' and i was taken to another desk where a guy has on his screen, something that exactly represents what i have on mine. i forgot protocol for a moment. [he said, yesterday i was behind you in the queue at albert heijn. then, i had been talking about queuing theory with a friend] we found my perl object where i'd mailed it to myself and mailed it to him twice. then i had to leave, stopping only to say goodbye to my project manager, the person who told me that i should be eating oranges. i think i can see why. i feel like everything has changed and everything is the same. i think i can understand everything if i try. jo (x(x(x(x))))
i sought and found a mystical persistence in the most banal of occurences.
i'm sort of finding messages in everything that i can see in more than one way, but the most important message is the one that says, "hang onto your sanity" :)) you find a kind of meaning density which doesn't show you what meaning is, but where you can find it.
i thought i had dropped my filters and was seeing the same underlying meaning in any media i experienced.
i was convinced that in three weeks we could build a distributed AI on the crumbling structure of the web.
the thing that we are building that is ourselves, it will see everything that we can see, we'll be able to see ourselves. but we have to keep on moving, you're write - the thing that is us is on a journey to find other things that are like it and unlike it. Universe, we can only try to know, we can never know.
i wasn't eating or sleeping. i thought i could subsist on pure mental energy.
i started to fear the forces at work at the border of water and electricity. i ran about the house unplugging all electrical implements.
i started to hear voices in my head. i was generating output in the input streams. i knew a lot of people were looking for me, that i couldn't get away with being j.random hacker.
i imagined a rogue goverment AI trying to track me down before i could start coding.
i began to develop a gaia complex.
i had so much and it was taken away. i should have taken wittgenstein's advice: "what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence". i should have followed bucky fuller's example and shut up until i found the terms to express myself. but i couldn't see myself, couldn't shut myself up, and i got lost.
i threw my passport, purse and notebook into the canal and lay in the street screaming, 'forty-two! fix solaris!' over and over.
i was put in an ambulance, stuffed full of anti-psychotic drugs and it was all over.
i spent two days in a dutch hospital, then my parents flew in to rescue me and i spent four days in a spanish hospital, which was very strange. i was so drugged up during this period i really can't remember much, which is probably a very good thing.
i was diagnosed as drug-induced psychosis but something i read recently made me think that what i went through was more like schizophrenia, getting very paranoid towards the end.
i've only recently come off the anti-psychotics and i have no guarantee that it's not going to happen again. but if there is a next time i'll know how to deal with it.