Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Only at the U of C, ish.

WARNING: RAMBLY. I might clean it up later, make it more coherent, but probably not.

Every so often, something happens that reminds me of why I went to school at the U of C and not somewhere like MIT. Well, it's fairly often because this quarter it's been every Monday and Wednesday at 3:00 when I have a philosophy of literature class that certainly would not occur at a tech school. But every so often, something (other than Ted Cohen telling a joke) happens that reminds me of why I went to school at the U of C and not somewhere else, like MIT. Often enough, that thing involves Tom Stoppard. Today it was my glee upon finding an article talking about "postmodern science" or, rather, the use of science to explain postmodern life and vice-versa as epitomized by Stoppard's use of Quantum Physics in Hapgood (Quantum Physics + Espionage = fun times!) and Chaos Theory in Arcadia. Although the Arcadia analogy is not nearly so good, in my opinion, because in Hapgood the whole thing is tied up tightly in uncertainty and such (of every sort), whereas in Arcadia chaos theory plays much more of a sub-role, being discussed alongside other subjects, but never really encapsulating the whole thing; really Arcadia to me seems as much about thermodynamics as chaos theory, and as much about Byron as either of them (the link between Byron and thermodynamics is drawn, and beautifully so, by the simple statement "the action of bodies in heat"). I couldn't read the entire article, because Questia is a bastard that way (and the U of C network goodness doesn't give me access). But nothing is lost to the march, and so I can reconstruct it.

Ooh. I should re-read Hapgood now that I know some Quantum. Heh. And I should read Arcadia again after I finish Thermo, just because. I wonder if Stoppard has a Kinetics!Play, but I probably won't be taking 3rd quarter Physical Chemistry, so I suppose it's immaterial.

Also, I should maybe finish my work for class before going on a Stoppard binge. Although in one week I think such a thing will be entirely called for.

OH MAN. I just had a hilarious idea. Absolutely wonderful and hilarious. I'll post more on it later when I have my book next to me and have enough time to think it out more fully. BUT, to give you a sneak peek into how weird it's going to be, well, for a second there I imagined the Doctor philosophically interrogating Tom Stoppard's characters. ("No more it can, for time needs must run backwards" (or something like that) versus "From a non-linear, non-subjective point of view, time is more of a ball of... wibbly-wobbly... timey-wimey... stuff." (or something like that)) I realize, of course, that one is "real" philosophy while one is goofy, but I don't much care about that (have I ever? There's philosophy in Harry Potter, I tell you, just not very complex philosophy!). Anyway, if science fiction is good for anything, it should be good for blowing apart the paradigm and fostering imagination. Pointing out what should perhaps seem odd to us.

And that brings me back to Ted Cohen, and the Stories class, and the order: "Don't take it as a matter of course or an obvious fact that pictures and stories please us." And the burning bush. And that noticing that something is odd, or striking, or interesting (nothing more and nothing less) sometimes says something about you, and teaches you something about yourself and the world. Hah.

That's overwrought philosophy for you!

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