Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Sunday, June 14, 2009


We don't often consciously realize how getting something new entails giving something up. And sometimes, the trade-offs we have made are subtle enough that we don't even notice that which has been lost, let alone miss it.

As a case in point, think about the title of this post. Most likely, the first connotations it brings up involve things to do with mouses and websites, hyperlinks and clicking. It is how we flit from page to page on the internet.

Yet the original connotations of this word had nothing to do with websites. They involved flipping, rather than flitting. We would browse at bookstores, picking up volumes, sometimes at random, and seeing where that led us. The succession from book to book was sequential only in the sense that it was chronological. More centrally, it is stochastic -- the maker of the book in hand owes nothing to that of the one held previously.

Such browsing can be pleasure as well; indeed, it is what we used to recognize as pleasure before the advent of the hypertext. And the convenience of the online store has put paid to the hours spent and wasted at bookstores and music stores, the lure of the impulse purchase is considerably less material online. Which is why yesterday, for a brief period, I had a great time when I rediscovered these pleasures. It was time well wasted, for I got to dip my nose into things I would have clicked past in blissful ignorance online.

And I got my just rewards too -- a reacquaintance with the teen-thrilling works of Mr. Ray Manzarek.

Oh, how I loved those keys :-)


My latest hero is Michael Pollan, the author of In Defense of Food (which everyone should read), The Omnivore's Dilemma (which all intelligent people should read), and the Botany of Desire (which I am currently reading). Imagine my pleasure when on p166 of this latter work, in the chapter called "Desire: Intoxication / Plant: Marijuana", I come across this transcendental passage:

You know how it goes, this italicization of experience, this seemingly virginal noticing of the sensate world. You've heard that song a thousand times before, but now you suddenly hear it in all its soul-piercing beauty, the sweet bottomless poignancy of the guitar line like a revelation, and for the first time you can understand, really understand, just what Jerry Garcia meant by every note, his unhurried cheerful-baleful improvisation piping something near the meaning of life directly into your mind.


(I think he's talking about Stella Blue.)


Anonymous T C - talfulu said...

Who u tube. Eh! Man. Learn y/s to spell wright, plss. Ta Muchly

6/15/2009 12:48 AM  
Anonymous blewgenes said...

I think you should watch the movie Food, Inc.

After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, whenever I look at the brightly colored, ever fresh and beautiful fruits and vegetables and the juicy meat, all I can see is Corn, crazy hybrids and Petrochemicals !!!
Even off-the-shelf juice puts me off...they shout high-fructose *CORN* syrup.

arrggghhh Michael Pollan !!

so now switched to locally grown fruits and vegetables with more personality and less good looks.

6/15/2009 4:24 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

try coherence, you might be surprised.

have you seen food inc? the nytimes review says it's old hat to people who've read pollan :-)

6/15/2009 8:16 PM  
Blogger gaddeswarup said...

I agree: both about browsing and that weed which I gave up after one year. I did not like the after taste. Last couple of years, I have been trying to read about India and found most books were contradictory and confusing. A few weeks ago, I went to the library without any preprepared list and just started browsing. Finally found a couple of books by Bruce Stein and John Keay which are more two my taste.

6/16/2009 6:11 AM  
Blogger km said...

Pollan is all kinds of awesome.

//drove through Haight/Ashbury yesterday and flashed a peace sign at "the house" :)

6/16/2009 8:31 AM  
Anonymous blackmamba said...

@km: excellent timing. so you were there for the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair? :)

6/16/2009 10:45 AM  
Blogger km said...

bm: I couldn't attend. Were you there?

6/16/2009 10:14 PM  
Anonymous blackmamba said...

nope. wasn't there.

found out it was this weekend much later in the evening. someone casually mentioned that we could have been there instead of biking up a mountain trail. sigh.

6/17/2009 1:15 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

could you please tell me the names of the books? or perhaps a brief post reviewing the books when you're done with them? (i'm being lazy.)

km, mamba:
yay for the house! i got myself photographed in front of it the first time i visited frisco :-)

6/18/2009 5:29 AM  
Blogger gaddeswarup said...

At some stage I will write a post; I just started writing an introductory book on Algebraic Topology. So the posts will be more prefunctory than usual. The two books I liked more for the doubts they express about other accounts and for indicating methodologies for plausible scenarios are:
John Keay: A History of India
Bruce Stein: A History of India
The first is a journalist. The second is a historian and they are comments at the end by other historians commenting on his work; it was published after his death.
But Topology was my first love and I thought I would write an introductory book and make it available on the net. Since I have been away from these for a while, I thought that it may turn out to be understandable.

6/18/2009 6:29 AM  
Anonymous Weber's daddy said...

that passage really distilled what pot-smoking is all about, when done in relative moderation. dee-lightful. i have had some of my best ideas while high and re-reading my essay drafts. who says it dulls the mind!

10/20/2009 1:09 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home