Friday, July 29, 2011

Introducing history into physics

It is not often that books outside literature and the study of it concern quite directly with my major preoccupations - but Philip Ball's Critical Mass does exactly that. Of course, it does not really offer even rudimentary approaches for the actual study of history, but surely natural science is the direction where the much needed paradigm change will eventually come. Actually, Ball's approach probably corresponds quite exactly to sociology, but I suspect that the kind of statistical understanding that goes for gaseous molecules will not do for humans - the particulars are too important for the overall state of affairs. But surely we will once be able to posit a functioning physical model of historical change and be rid of the current tools far too crude to capture any certain connections between historical occurences.

Maybe this sounds, even now, over-ambitious and mechanistic, nevertheless I have never been able to fathom the distinction between physical and human sciences. It is just that human affairs have been much too complex for the natural sciences that have been more gainfully employed with simpler matters, such as the origins and structures of the universe etc. Perhaps we are now, at long last, developing sophisticated enough tools for the natural sciences to engage with our own experience...

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The same old druid

For some reason the Finnish expression "sydämen maisema" sounds much more authentic than its English translation "a landscape of the heart" which has an odd literal feel to it. In any case there are places - should one be so lucky - that stay disproportionately sharp in mind, in memory. Places that somehow retain their original magic and thus distort time: strange, strange places.

I visited one such place this weekend, and can't really here make full sense of the experience: how 28 years vanished and became heightened, how one could hear very distinct echoes of long since passed words in the summer night, young voices over the still waters. How not much had changed: due to its nature this river had kept its name particularly well.

I cannot really regret my path, at all, apart from a universal sense that we all ought to, in this fallen world. But back then I could not take all in that was so generously on offer, and there is a certain sadness in recognizing this. But for the circumstances I took much in, and that place, those people did stay and do stay in my heart, sharply etched.