Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Totalization of Shadows, Part VIII

I want to look for a moment at what a dilemma is, and how that is a special case of a fork in the garden of forking paths.

As the Wikipedia definition reads,"a dilemma (Greek δί-λημμα 'double proposition') is a problem offering at least two solutions or possibilities, of which none are practically acceptable; one in this position has been traditionally described as being impaled on the horns of a dilemma, neither horn being comfortable." In a garden of forking paths or a Galton's quincunx, one would come to a fork or a post around which neither direction would be "practically" acceptable.

I have so far been thinking of the choice of path as being indifferent—one wouldn’t care whether one went one way or the other. This basically means that so far I have been assuming that “choice” is not a factor or variable. Also, I have been assuming that one can choose one path or the other. Finally, I have been assuming that after choosing a path, one can go down that path.

Thinking of the nature of dilemma modifies all of this.

One would come to one of these forks in the garden of forking paths, and would come to a stop. Either this would be a full stop, an inability to move forward at all, or a pause, after which one would continue, but having somehow accepted a level of damage.

I notice that in the Galton’s quincunx simulation, none of the forks is modeled as a dilemma, and I wonder what would happen if instead of allowing free flow around each side of at least one of the posts (or forks,) we introduced either a full blockage or a partial blockage. A full blockage would cause particles to back up and around the post until they reached a pressure which would allow them to overflow in another direction. A partial blockage would not cause the same degree of particle build-up behind the fork, but it would cause a shift in the direction the particles flowed, as did the full blockage. In either case, there is going to be a skewing of the distribution of the particles reaching the bottom of the quincunx.

Is a dilemma well-modeled as a full or partial blockage in a garden of forking paths? This is a silly sounding question I know, but if I can somehow get it to point toward what I think it may reveal about a certain powerful conception of “mind” then maybe it won’t be so stupid.

At first, when thinking of dilemmas, I was wondering if I even needed to think of them as being real. I thought maybe they only have significance as symbolic, by which I mean to say they are only really existing in the human mind (in human consciousness.) I can’t think of examples where a dilemma is imposed upon nature or a natural flow (except as a full or partial blockage.) Even the human unconsciousness does not seem to heed a dilemma….The flow, with or without deformation, will continue.

This relates back to this mysterious variable which I was going along as if it wasn’t there—the variable of choice. Choice has to be conscious or it isn’t choice. The dilemma must be conscious or it isn’t a dilemma. The flow of marbles (particles) through a Galton’s quincunx doesn’t require consciousnesses…In a very peculiar but perhaps revealing way I have been proceeding along confusedly thinking I both had added and excluded consciousness while thinking about Totalization.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Yusef,

Just to let you know that you are still being read.

I just don't have much to contribute at present although the figure of the dilemma is very potent.

Keep posting and (re)creating concepts.

I shall return.

All the best.


7:18 PM  

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