Unforgiven, the long lands
Your face is like a hamburger joint, the tables are greasy and the company grim.
Your face is like a book with leaves pressed into it, the history of rooted things dying when they try to mobilize.
Your face, a rag for sopping up ink.
Your eyes are like your face, dim and black and filled with empty times.
Alright, your face, enough of it then. Instead, a song for you:
Til life's replete,
With all them things what held you up
and kept you down,
An empty cup, a smiling frown,
starting points and wreck the joints
and all ways and wises in between,
Oh yes my loves, the multiple perfect one of you.
World wearied bones don't all fossilize or liquefy. Sometimes they subside in the shade and revivify just at the wrong times.
Ah, friends, dear friends! The sun she shines loud these clean days we've got, the last ones we've got together likely as not.
Yes, friends, we find ourselves burnt and barren together huddled up against the shade, cowering from the light, scurrying and bumping into each other frantic and smiling.
The new kinds of terror we invent as games, pleasant and heart-palpitating.
Only the largesse of the largest do we really love. All small things we smile at as at a situation comedy. Only the massive and horrifying can wend their way into our hole filled hearts. And those, too, have their small things, and those too we hate.
Invisible invincible thing of you.
"My life as a face"
Its wings so wide
There are two kinds of things: the kinds that are things and the kinds that aren't things.
There are two kinds of kinds, the kinds that apply to things, and the kinds that don't.
All the ink spilt, and so little of it cried over.
(The tragedy of the tragedians, yes).
Gilt like the edges of a bloodless sword, ceremonialized and sharp between the fabric.
Why do you condescend?
Why do you deign?
"As I live and breathe"
(All your dandelion-crowned guises fool me not, you shift from foot to foot same-wise every day I've seen yet).
Today, just now, I wrote a clump-like string of things about historical analysis, but, woe unto me, I clicked refresh on the browser window before I had updated my scratch pad, and all was lost to the white ocean of the blank page.
In the mean time, new thoughts.
the crash of a wave against your horrible face gladdens the heart it does
In the main, though, new thoughts
Title: The Erlanger Programm and Historical Analysis
Alright then, alright, settle. So. Felix Klein. Yes, Felix Klein; he was a German mathematician (1849-1925) who worked at a few universities throughout his career, notably Erlangen and Gottingen. During his tenure in the latter institution he, along with David Hilbert, formed probably the best collection of mathematical researchers since Plato's Academy, and doubtless they trumped that, too. In his tenure at the former institution, during the early 1870s, Klein formulated what has come to be known as his 'Erlanger Programm'.
At the time, after the 1868 publication of Bernhard Riemann's radically general approach to geometry (in his Habilitationsrede, first delivered in 1854, entitled 'On the hypotheses which underlie geometry') there emerged a whole slew of new geometries and old ones reconsidered: projective, hyperbolic, elliptic, affine, metric, non-metric, etc. etc.
Klein, along with his Norwegian friend Sophus Lie, was interested in classifying these different geometries according to a single scheme. He turned to the also-burgeoning field of group theory and developed his famous Programm.
The basic idea of Klein's work is that each of these geometries can be characterized by a group of transformations, and that the appropriate transformation groups within which the basic concepts of the appropriate geometry remained invariant. Now, this also required shoring up the rather dim conception that individual geometries possessed their own batch of basic concepts. Thus, affine geometry, for instance, is the geometry which is concerned with collinearity (i.e., points lying on the same line); thus the affine group of transformations is that group under which relations of collinearity remain invariant.
For each distinct geometry there are related transformation groups derived from a specific set of basic concepts.
That's the basic idea of the Erlanger Programm and it was rather wildly successful. Essentially, Klein's work provided a general language (that of group theory) within which we can discuss the relationships amongst distinct geometries. Prior to Klein's work confusion reigned as to these relationships. (Though Klein's work could not encompass all aspects of the geometries allowed by Riemann's work, it was later generalized by a number of French geometers working under the pseudonym 'Nicolas Bourbaki', Cartan, in particular, worked to generalize Klein's work).
I liked Klein's ideas the first time I found out about them (which was, somewhat oddly, through Tarski's attempt to characterize logic in semi-Kleinian terms, as that subject which deals with the concepts/relations which remain invariant under the most general group of transformations, namely the group of all possible permutations of a given domain). And, more recently, I've been writing about Klein again for some other reasons, particularly the so-called Beltrami-Klein model of hyperbolic geometry.
So, with all that floating up around my gills, I started to think about applying Klein's idea to the field of history. I only started to think that after my earlier musings on historical analysis were inexorably lost. Anyway, my thought was something like this.
Wait. A bit more elsewhere first alright okay.
So, my love, we talk history talk together, we talk about things and non-things and all things in between in the great domain of God's good work. Yes. So, my love, you thought I should write something up about the idea of their being differing equally acceptable 'levels' of historical analysis and you wondered whether someone mightn't have gotten there already. I thought about Foucault when you said that, and so I looked into the Archaeology of Knowledge again and, lo, there was hinted at something of what we wanted.
Therein Foucault starts out by contrasting his archaeological approach with something I don't know how you would call it exactly, something glacial. My inkling is that he is differentiating himself from the Annales school (people like Fernand Braudel, in particular); historians who take the long lean line of things and write the drift of thousands of years, collecting and clumping everything into a vast sweeping, unchanging edifice, all of it with a terrible inevitable weight like Katamari Damacy stretched to infinity.
Foucault's view, by contrast, takes up the system of gaps and fissures and rarities and backsliding against these trends, all the little wigglings and silences and subtle things that can be clumped together or segmented or any other sort of thing between. A bad description of both projects, yes, but here we are.
Anyway, what interested me in Foucault's brief contrast was his lack of polemic: he didn't dismiss the Annales approach (rightly, of course, it is rather an interesting and fruitful one). Then I thought about how Foucault often seems to characterize his work, when he focusses on methodology, by the concepts which guide it, often you will see lists of such concepts, long lists, very French this listing.
Mightn't we then produce a sort of Erlangen program for history as well? Take some set of historical approaches: Foucault's, Braudel's, Spengler's, cultural history, Marxist history, etc, etc. We isolate (insofar as this is possible) their guiding concepts, and then we discuss the fields of events which remain when those concepts are treated as invariants. We might then derive a clearer conception of how these differing historical approaches are (or can be) related to each other. The problem, again, though, is how to characterize the stratifying process of applying the Erlangen approach to history, how, that is, to characterize our typologizing amongst the various historical approaches themselves because it, too, is historical.
Of course this might lead us to a higher level of generality within which we discuss different possible forms of stratification amongst the typology of historical approaches, and then different stratifications of those stratifications, etc. ad infinitum. Within mathematics this process is pushed rather far, until, perhaps, one reaches the vast generality of category theory, which is so pared down it is hard to see how we can pass beyond it without lapsing into inarticulate grunts of "this. this. this." (A bit far there, a bit far, rein it in, keep it on the same level brother, all on the same level, very very cool.)
Alright. So. In history we needn't worry about these problems, those are perhaps for the philosophy of history or for the methodology underwriting our particular approaches to historiography. The idea was a passing one and I thought interesting, it might prove helpful to have a clearer picture of the relationships between the various levels of analysis at which our work operates, even if this clarity is rather contingent upon our selection of just these basic concepts and just this mode of stratification. (And, our biographers can discuss the historical forces which hemmed in our choices and limited us to just those and just these, yes yes).
All of that too my friends.
Still being drawn to you
the gravity of you
pulling all the light I aim to create to your surface
into a point
and everything filiates infinitely from that point
is always also drawn back into it
and remains always within it
so that at every instant there is only the tension of it
and the tension of you
into the density of lightlessness
and brilliant despair
The thought of whiteness
With all them forever's on the horizon you'dve thought we had something to talk about. (And we did, true, but it wasn't much other than the horizon neither).
All the gin in the world isn't gonna put out this fire, friend.
I'm not your friend, none of that neither.
What sort of perfections are we hiding in this attic, hidden away from the world silently spinning yarns to each other with our queer signed language, our strange finger motions, linked and counter-linked.
A few times in your life the distinction between etymology and philosophy will fail you, and you will flounder about thrashing and grasping for the thin strands of word history nearest you, mistaking them for firm foundations. And once you scrabble back up out of the pit you realize the cave you've found yourself in is vast, lonesome, and echoless because you've emptied out all the words. Sitting down, you set a small fire and begin anew. O such a friend as this.
...only arises from the circumstances
"We deal in lead, friend"
Yes, yes. But what occupies your time, though?
You, you do, my love.
"...the living member that makes the living insult..."
I think it is a bit of a shame how far apart the humanities and mathematics have drifted. Mathematics, chiefly, but the other sciences, too. Specialization, yes, a problem. But I think the careerism at the heart of Western university culture has just as much to do with the problem. (The difficulties of long research without the promise of publishable results are not much valued or noted, no).
strange the differences
old words for new worlds yes