WiW Notes 07


I found this excerpt from Bergson on relentless change. It feels connected to ideas of complexity; in complexity, there is always more to notice. It is up to us to negotiate with (manage) our resources (time, care). But, a system is as complex as we need (/can sense it) to be.

I find, first of all, that I pass from state to state. I am warm or cold, I am merry or sad, I work or I do nothing, I look at what is around me or I think of something else. Sensations, feelings, volitions, ideas—such are the changes into which my existence is divided and which color it in turns. I change, then, without ceasing. But this is not saying enough. Change is far more radical than we are at first inclined to suppose.

Let us take the most stable of internal states, the visual perception of a motionless external object. The object may remain the same, I may look at it from the same side, at the same angle, in the same light; nevertheless the vision I now have of it differs from that which I have just had, even if only because the one is an instant older than the other.

My memory is there, which conveys something of the past into the present. My mental state, as it advances on the road of time, is continually swelling with the duration which it accumulates: it goes on increasing—rolling upon itself, as a snowball on the snow. Still more is this the case with states more deeply internal, such as sensations, feelings, desires, etc., which do not correspond, like a simple visual perception, to an unvarying external object.

—Creative Evolution, Henri Bergson translated by Arthur Mitchell, 1911


I have been thinking about Gertrude Stein’s comments on replication and portrait. There is no repetition. A Rose is a Rose is a Rose”

There is no such thing as repetition, says Gertrude Stein, noted poetess, who said: A rose is a rose is a rose.”

Miss Stein, addressing an audience limited to 500 by her own request, Friday afternoon explained her conceptions of the psychology back of attempts by the individual to give verbal expression to thoughts and ideas. She spoke in Lydia Mendelssohn theater on the subject Portraits and Repetition.”

I am inclined to believe that there is no such thing as repetition,” she said. The inevitable seeming repetition in human expression is not repetition, but insistence.”

The original news clipping from 1934 is at https://aadl.org/aa_news_19341215_p1-miss_stein_states


Related: the more media comes up, and AI firehoses are top of mind, the more it becomes clear that any stationary thought (as the kind promoted by thought leaders and celebrated in the Zeitgeist) will be automated. It feels like a futuristic comment but one whose weak signals will be felt by anyone working on a book + talk combo.

I invite your thoughts and ideas by replying to this email.

With gratitude


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