Monday, July 16, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter Four

With apologies to the ghost of Robert Anton Wilson and to Eric Wagner, this is another chapter in which it is difficult to follow the exercizes as written. So I will post one, and pose a question of my own. The first is from the book (I've adapted it slightly and linked to a Picasso)

1. Let every member of the book mentally "acquire" the following 13 items:

a toy fire truck
a Barbie doll
a reproduction of a Picasso painting
a brick
a screw-driver
a hammer
a turkey feather
a piece of balsa wood
a rubber ball
a piece of hard wood, such as birch
a "ghetto blaster" (portable stereo)
a pornographic novel
a philosophical treatise by Bishop George Berkeley

Place these items on the floor and let everyone sit around them. First divide them into two groups: Red things and not-red things. See how many times ambiguous cases arise (e.g., should a book with a red-and-white cover go in the red pile or the not-red pile?

Let the 13 objects be divided  into another two groups -- useful objects and toys. See how many ambiguities arise. (Does art belong among toys? Does pornography?)

Each week, as long as the group continues, let somebody think of another dualism and divided the 13 items into two piles according to that new dichotomy. [Each week, I will ask one person who had been participating to do this -- Tom.]


Note each case where two things fall into different groups according to one dualist system fall into the same group according to another dualist system. (E.g., balsa wood and hard wood will fall into the same group if one divides "wooden things" from "non-wooden things" but will fall into different groups if one divides "things that float" from "things that do not float").

Note how the Aristotelian argument "It 'is' either an A or a not-A" appears after you have found several things that belong on the same side of one dualism but on opposite sides of other dualisms.


Some suggestions for other dualisms: "educational things" and "entertaining things," "scientific things" and "non-scientific things," "good" things and "bad" things, "organic things" and "inorganic things."

See how many odd and imaginative  dualisms the group can create.

At this point, an obvious fact seems worthy of special emphasis. Actually doing these exercizes  in a group, as suggested, teaches more than actually reading about them.


2. Robert Anton Wilson writes, "Joyce's Ulysses mutated the novel by describing one ordinary day, not as an "objective reality" in the Aristotelian sense, but as a labyrinth in which nearly a hundred narrators (or "narrative voices") all report different versions of what happened. Different reality-tunnels." Please give another example of a novel that uses this strategy.


35 comments:

tony smyth said...

Not a book, but Kurosawa's Rashomon is a bit like this, in that the story and hence the 'seeming reality' changes depending on which character is telling the story. There's also an art photographer who used the same idea: You get presented with one photo which contains a scene. Next photo is the same scene but the photo includedes detail to the left/right etc of the original frame which adds noew information and then changes the viewers interpretation of the original scene.(can't remember this photographer's name - was decades ago when I saw them, but kind of sticks in the memory)

Eric Wagner said...

It seems possible to me to do exercise one online each week. We need to have photos of the items listed. Then each member can divide them into two groups based on each duality.

For #2, Faulkner's As I Lay Dying has a number of different narrators.

beowulf1723 said...

Epistolary novels like Dracula would, by definition, have multiple narrators.

magickm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
magickm said...

Here is my list of assorted items.

Red Things.
a toy fire truck
a brick

Not-Red Things.
a Barbie doll
a reproduction of a Picasso painting
a screw-driver
a hammer
a turkey feather
a piece of balsa wood
a rubber ball
a piece of hard wood, such as birch
a "ghetto blaster" (portable stereo)
a pornographic novel
a philosophical treatise by Bishop George Berkeley

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Tony I wish I had thought of mentioning "Rashomon."

I think of red as the color of passion, so here is my division:

Red:

fire truck
Barbie
brick
rubber ball (as in the song)
pornographic novel
Picasso's "Guernica"

Not red:

everything else.

The novel besides "Ulysses" which comes to mind is the obvious one, "Illuminatus." But two of my favorite writers, Neal Stephenson and Iain Banks, consistently write novels with multiple viewpoints.

PQ said...

Once again, just by reading the exercise I was really struck and his attempted brain change seemed to be effective for me and then I came to that final sentence: "Actually doing these exercizes in a group, as suggested, teaches more than merely reading about them."

I'll bet it does. Still heavily struck by reading it, though.

As for the exercise about Ulysses, I read very novels, in fact aside from Joyce I haven't read much fiction at all in the past 10 years or so. So I'll just mention that I was momentarily perplexed at RAW saying Ulysses has hundreds of different perspectives because I figured you can only throw in Stephen, Bloom, Molly and a handful of other characters when it comes to narrators. Then I realized Cyclops and Oxen of the Sun contain vastly different prose styles "interpreting" the same events, Wandering Rocks has the perspectives of a nice chunk of Dublin citizens, Circe completely explodes perspectives and Ithaca really plays with this multi-view angle as well.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" shifts narrators and also radically shifts styles. Faulkner is mentioned in ILLUMINATUS! so I'm sure RAW read him.

Eric Wagner said...

Bob loved Faulkner. On the recordings "Uncle Bob Explains Everything" he talks about reading all of Faulkner. He also wrote about Faulkner in Trajectories.

Mike Smith said...

I am sure our combined imagination could take us well beyond the practicality of first part of the exercise so I will defer dwelling on this and wave my staff in the air. But I will do as Wilson asked and offer a deulism each week if we continue it. Items that have names with odd number vowels and those with even numbers of vowels. Since we are viewing these items from text first, names will probably stay universal however if they were physical items in front of us we might have different names.

However I do like the book sharing, I always love writing titles down for my next binge which sadly may be a wile as my previous was but a few days ago... One book I read some time ago that is told from multiple perspectives is "Rant" by Chuck Palahniuk and it was awesome. The entire text is in a interview style, where multiple observers of the main character named Rant, offer statements like those in a documentary. But Chuck never presents questions and instead jumps from opinion to opinion in such a way as to convey feeling, essence, or context to the story being told. Not only is the style unusual but the story told is definitely a reality tunnel uncommonly met. For those of you unfamiliar with Chuck by name, he wrote “Fight Club” that was made into a popular movie.

Mike Smith said...

Please forgive my spelling ... was never able to master that skill.

Eric Wagner said...

toy fire truck

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=t6zigmx_cxtLSM:&imgrefurl=http://www.autotoys.com/x/product.php%3Fproductid%3D9319&docid=70TfD9cnda-TwM&imgurl=http://www.autotoys.com/pics/6688-06A.jpg&w=350&h=350&ei=toUFUK6XBcia8AG40P2FBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=462&vpy=172&dur=3706&hovh=225&hovw=225&tx=120&ty=168&sig=114104234220942814429&page=1&tbnh=143&tbnw=143&start=0&ndsp=15&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0,i:109

Eric Wagner said...

Barbie doll

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&prmd=imvnsr&tbnid=-iAdcS7wGhzSvM:&imgrefurl=http://www.beautifullactress.com/Barbie%2520dolls%25202.html&docid=o4MZ2eewSwoX4M&imgurl=http://www.beautifullactress.com/Images/dolls/Barbie%252520dolls/Barbie_Accessories_2011.jpg&w=350&h=426&ei=m4cFUOm9N-m48AGCwoGGBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=371&vpy=296&dur=2751&hovh=248&hovw=203&tx=91&ty=155&sig=114104234220942814429&page=1&tbnh=135&tbnw=111&start=0&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:0,i:186

Eric Wagner said...

brick

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&tbnid=yjKD2Sr4VwU1FM:&imgrefurl=http://earth911.com/recycling/construction/brick/facts-about-bricks/&docid=VrCoYSX0PTHnFM&imgurl=http://earth911.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/single-brick.jpg&w=300&h=300&ei=44cFUJiMJK-K8AHRkeWGBw&zoom=1

Eric Wagner said...

screw-driver

http://www.clker.com/clipart-14895.html

Eric Wagner said...

hammer

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&tbnid=Y6byYxkPI4eqTM:&imgrefurl=http://www.wallyhood.org/2012/02/wallingford-tool-library-weds-feb-29/hammer-1/&docid=H6UuoaL3FJKGYM&imgurl=http://www.wallyhood.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/hammer-1.jpg&w=400&h=378&ei=R4gFUKfHMaSO8gGp7bSGBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=111&vpy=177&dur=1210&hovh=218&hovw=231&tx=101&ty=90&sig=114104234220942814429&page=1&tbnh=146&tbnw=154&start=0&ndsp=15&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0,i:139

Eric Wagner said...

turkey feather

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&tbnid=1PQmLLNGzkmO1M:&imgrefurl=http://www.photo-dictionary.com/phrase/4201/turkey-feather.html&docid=V8gfToNIs8h5BM&imgurl=http://www.photo-dictionary.com/photofiles/list/4201/5615turkey_feather.jpg&w=694&h=600&ei=fogFUNCODqm88AGXz_2FBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=106&vpy=181&dur=207&hovh=209&hovw=241&tx=156&ty=118&sig=114104234220942814429&page=1&tbnh=144&tbnw=177&start=0&ndsp=15&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0,i:139

Eric Wagner said...

a piece of balsa wood

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&tbnid=3PXQHBllzbrZNM:&imgrefurl=http://www.emblibrary.com/EL/ELProjects/Simpleproduct_ELP.aspx%3Fproductid%3DPR1018&docid=yRsEzNYZ80LpjM&imgurl=http://www.emblibrary.com/EL/images/ls111704-009.jpg&w=300&h=291&ei=rogFUMD9Fue08AHspICGBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=668&vpy=228&dur=3485&hovh=221&hovw=228&tx=139&ty=117&sig=114104234220942814429&page=1&tbnh=115&tbnw=118&start=0&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:0,i:91

Eric Wagner said...

a rubber ball

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&tbnid=snqezPv6bO-6oM:&imgrefurl=http://kitchendispatch.blogspot.com/2009/10/bad-yoga-mat-ma-bringing-milblogging.html&docid=SJInyNsmS0H-PM&imgurl=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_56gLVT8U0Vg/StZO59wUhvI/AAAAAAAAE6w/TSiSrx9ydbw/s320/rubber_ball1234066187.jpg&w=200&h=191&ei=5IgFULHMKMK08AH4nfyFBw&zoom=1

Eric Wagner said...

a piece of hardwood such as birch

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&tbnid=keof77ZqO98CsM:&imgrefurl=http://www.oakwoodveneer.com/veneer/birch.html&docid=-axNcetmYFo-4M&imgurl=http://www.oakwoodveneer.com/samples/veneer/birch-white-rotary-whole-piece.jpg&w=900&h=700&ei=PYkFUPf4J4m48AHfn_2FBw&zoom=1

Eric Wagner said...

a "ghetto blaster" (portable stereo)

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=674&tbm=isch&tbnid=bgrjLdm80vCHaM:&imgrefurl=http://weeklydrop.com/2009/04/lasonic-ghetto-blaster-x-famous-gold-edition/&docid=HHU5gWNIkV7W4M&imgurl=http://weeklydrop.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/lasonic-ghetto-blaster-famous-gold-edition.jpg&w=500&h=272&ei=rIkFULuoKoao8AG4tv2FBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=676&vpy=257&dur=1603&hovh=165&hovw=305&tx=73&ty=106&sig=114104234220942814429&page=1&tbnh=81&tbnw=149&start=0&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:0,i:94

Eric Wagner said...

a pornographic novel

http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/0872165868/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_2?ie=UTF8&index=2&isremote=0

Eric Wagner said...

a philosophical treatise by Bishop George Berkeley

http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/0915144611/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_all

If one of you tech savy critters can gather this images in a more user friendly way, I'd love it.

Eric Wagner said...

These items seem red to me: the rubber ball, the fire truck and the brick. The rest seem non-red to me.

magickm said...

How about uncle Bob's "Masks of the Illuminati"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masks_of_the_Illuminati

Eric Wagner said...

I would classify the toy fire-truck, the Barbie doll, and the rubber ball as toys. I would classify the rest as useful objects.

Mike Smith said...

oops I feel bad now, I missed where you had detailed how you would run the dualisms each week and offered mine too soon. :( Eric use http://imgur.com/ to load pics from web into a gallery.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Mike, emall me a dualism and I'll post it next week.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I will take care of posting all of Eric's links in one place.

Eric Wagner said...

Thanks, Tom. I think this online group on QP would have delighted Bob Wilson.

Andrew Crawshaw said...

I didn't know you were a Banks fan, Okie. I am just in the middle of reading Surface Detail, enjoying it so far (I am on page 360). I think my favourite is Excession, which has viewpoints and conversations between the "Minds" of the ships, which are funny and intersting by turns, though the narrative acrobatics in Use of Weapons are only one step away from Illuminatus!; Banks said the style he originally wrote it in was too complex, and so he simplified it for publication.

Thom Foolery said...

Exercise 1:

Here is how my mentally acquired items divide, based on the categories of red and not red.

Red:
- a toy fire truck
- a screw-driver (the handle is red)
- a rubber ball (a red one, of course)

Not Red:
- a Barbie doll
- a reproduction of a Picasso painting
- a turkey feather
- a piece of balsa wood
- a piece of hard wood, such as birch
- a "ghetto blaster" (portable stereo)
- a philosophical treatise by Bishop George Berkeley (not only is it un-red, it is also un-read, at least by me)
- a pornographic novel (blue and read, but not red)

Ambiguous:
- a brick (is "brick red" the same as red "red"?)
- a hammer (red and black handle)

Thom Foolery said...

Mike, re: your spelling, I thought "duelism" was both intentional and brilliant. I suspect Joyce and RAW would both have been proud of this double entendre.

Regarding the second experiment, two books come to mind that definitely shake up my reality tunnel. Neither, however, uses the multiple narrator strategy to achieve the shaking up.

Zoom by Istvan Banyai, is a wordless book which presents a scene and then, through a pull-back, reveals that the scene wasn't what it initially appeared to be. Pull-back after pull-back opens into reality tunnel after reality tunnel.

The other book, Motel of the Mysteries by David Macauley, juxtaposes the investigations of a future archaeologist with the "common sense" of the contemporary reader.

I highly recommend both books.

phodecidus said...

Upon reading about books with multiple narrators,Ian Banks came immediately to mind since I've recently finished two of his books.
The Bridge seems an interesting choice since it uses several voices, in different realities which eventually converge, to describe the goings-on inside a comatose man's head.
Complacency, however, shifts between characters, using first and second perspective, throughout the book. Only until the end does the second perspective character leave the novel while the first-perspective character shifts to second. Interesting and definitely worth reading.

Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City only has once narrative voice in the first perspective except for a series of letters written by either the narrator's fiance or a ghost-writer. I'd say the example works in this context since the letters reflect the rest of the novel and 'shake things up' by adding a second reality-tunnel.

Leif said...

I highly recommend comic artist Shaky Kane's "children's story" Monster Truck, which is the story of a driver of a monster truck in what appears to be a kids reality tunnel:
https://www.google.com/search?q=shaky+kane+monster+truck&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=WYR0UM2RN8e7iwKxyID4Cg&biw=1024&bih=672&sei=XIR0UPCBAoK4iwKErICwBQ