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Science and Hypothesis & Math as Metaphor: We Do Not Choose Mathematics as Our Profession, It Chooses Us

“Metaphor helps a human being to breathe in this rarefied atmosphere of Gods.” – Y. Manin

“Somehow or other, for me mathematical research is a discovery, not an invention. I imagine for myself a great castle, or something like that, and you gradually start seeing its contours through the deep mist, and begin to investigate something. How you formulate what it is you’ve seen depends on your type of thinking and on the scale of what you have seen, and on the social circumstances around you, and so on.” – Y. Manin

“… truths are derived from a few self-evident propositions, by a chain of flawless reasonings; they are imposed not only on us, but on Nature itself. By them the Creator is fettered, as it were, and His choice is limited to a relatively small number of solutions. … they have asked if the savant is not the dupe of his own definitions, and if the world he thinks he has discovered is not simply the creation of his own caprice. Under these conditions science would retain its certainty, but would not attain its object, and would become powerless.” – H. Poincare

“We shall also see that there are several kinds of hypotheses; that some are verifiable, and when once confirmed by experiment become truths of great fertility; that others may be useful to us in fixing our ideas; and finally, that others are hypotheses only in appearance, and reduce to definitions or to conventions in disguise.” – H. Poincare

“Damn life-cribbing…” – Anon

In an attempt to grapple with the concept of wisdom (in its full sense: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise / the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. / the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period), one could make a worse decision than turning to two brilliant and ranging minds: Henri Poincaré and Yuri Manin. These are the stars we guide by.

I did not grow up in a household that privileged science and math. My folks both have tremendous strengths, but participation or interest in science and the manipulation of symbols are not in the mix. To the extent that I have any clue whatsoever with anything that even remotely resembles the mathematical (to my knowledge an open question), it has been beaten into me (yes, including self-flagellation) by the powers that be. This beat-down has been a privilege and an honor and although unorthodox, and essentially beyond good and evil, it has demonstrated results. There are still questions, as far as I know, regarding continuity, frequency, scale and scope. By the Unbearable Lightness of Being Theorem there is no way to know whether I could have obtained the same results via a different method. The method and the madness having chosen their victim, rather than the converse. I imagine that there is a heterogeneous opinion out there on such things (likely with a larger variance than the opinion on the person tap(p)ed); this is both no big deal and small peanuts. I can only say thank you to everyone involved, and a special thanks to those who participate(d) with big hearts. (It is beyond my comprehension how this stuff ends up on television, nor, at present, do I find it all that amusing. Interesting: yes, bizarre: definitely and, ok, a little amusing, but in a twisted, like, that’s fucked up ‘eh? sorta way. Perhaps some new data will change my perspective? Only time will tell. I imagine many delight in the house of mirrors set up when our TV blares last month’s audio feed and I acknowledge it in print that it is disorienting and destabilizing at best. (The preceding thing that just happened when I typed that sentence has never happened (to my knowledge) in the history of humankind. (Oh wait, there was Ellen the other day. Adjusting weights…) A real life historical moment here on Effluvia. Experimental data confirmed! Themes echoing into the void. [EDIT: sum [sick] 20 seconds later… Be careful what you wish for (dream up?)… But always, be grateful for what you get. I vaguely remember an idea for a novel I had in which the main character was to fragment, beyond all recognition, into echos of echos of himself via “the communications infrastructure“]? Dreams, these days, are made of reality. A human animal, caught on tape, in its natural [sic] environment, kind of like watching those shows on the nature channel, no? Like shark week or one of those lil’ critters tossed between killer whales, only better, because it’s human.) There. Isn’t that nice? Such an experience has yet to be named, as far as I know, I thusly dub it: Life-cribbing (hint: as in to crib someone’s crib). This can be seen as an act of power electronics.)

I was dumm-struck [sic] by a constellation of ideas I uncovered in Manin’s essay Mathematics as Metaphor and even the richness of the introduction to Poincare’s Science and Hypothesis.

The discrepancy between observed and calculated values is thus not regarded as a falsification of the law, but as a correction that the law imposes on our observations. In this sense, there is always a necessary difference between facts and theories, and therefore a scientific theory is not directly falsifiable by the experience. For Poincaré, the aim of the science is to prediction. To accomplish this task, science makes use of generalizations that go beyond the experience. In fact, scientific theories are hypotheses. But every hypothesis has to be continually tested. And when it fails in an empirical test, it must be given up. According to Poincaré, a scientific hypothesis which was proved untenable can still be very useful. If a hypothesis does not pass an empirical test, then this fact means that we have neglected some important and meaningful element; thus the hypothesis gives us the opportunity to discover the existence of an unforeseen aspect of reality.

Henri-Poincare

From the introduction of Poincare’s Science and Hypothesis:

… truths are derived from a few self-evident propositions, by a chain of flawless reasonings; they are imposed not only on us, but on Nature itself. By them the Creator is fettered, as it were, and His choice is limited to a relatively small number of solutions(…)

But upon more mature reflection the position held by hypothesis was seen; it was recognised that it is as necessary to the experimenter as it is to the mathematician. And then the doubt arose if all these constructions are built on solid foundations. The conclusion was drawn that a breath would bring them to the ground. This sceptical attitude does not escape the charge of superficiality. To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection

Instead of a summary condemnation we should examine with the utmost care the rôle of hypothesis; we shall then recognise not only that it is necessary, but that in most cases it is legitimate. We shall also see that there are several kinds of hypotheses; that some are verifiable, and when once confirmed by experiment become truths of great fertility; that others may be useful to us in fixing our ideas; and finally, that others are hypotheses only in appearance, and reduce to definitions or to conventions in disguise. The latter are to be met with especially in mathematics and in the sciences to which it is applied.(…)

Our laws are therefore like those of an absolute monarch, who is wise and consults his council of state. Some people have been struck by this characteristic of free convention which may be recognised in certain fundamental principles of the sciences. Some have set no limits to their generalisations, and at the same time they have forgotten that there is a difference between liberty and the purely arbitrary. So that they are compelled to end in what is called nominalism ; they have asked if the savant is not the dupe of his own definitions, and if the world he thinks he has discovered is not simply the creation of his own caprice. Under these conditions science would retain its certainty, but would not attain its object, and would become powerless. Now, we daily see what science is doing for us. This could not be unless it taught us something about reality; the aim of science is not things themselves, as the dogmatists in their simplicity imagine, but the relations between things; outside those relations there is no reality knowable.(…)

Space is another framework which we impose on the world. Whence are the first principles of geometry de- rived? Are they imposed on us by logic? Lobatschewsky, by inventing non-Euclidean geometries, has shown that this is not the case. Is space revealed to us by our senses? No; for the space revealed to us by our senses is absolutely different from the space of geometry. Is geometry derived from experience? Careful discussion will give the answer—no! We therefore conclude that the principles of geometry are only conventions; but these conventions are not arbitrary, and if transported into another world (which I shall call the non-Euclidean world, and which I shall endeavour to describe), we shall find ourselves compelled to adopt more of them.

yuri-manin-d

From Yuri Manin’s – Mathematics as Metaphor:

Note: that this PDF is an OCR copy of the original, this might have allowed point mutations to have crept in that further enrich the text?

What is relevant, is the imbalance between various basic values which is produced by the emphasis on proof. Proof itself is a derivate of the notion of “truth”. There are a lot of values besides truth, among them “activities”, “beauty” and “understanding”, which are essential in the high school teaching and later. Neglecting precisely these values, a teacher (or a university professor) tragically fails. Unfortunately, this also is not universally recognized. A sociological analysis of the controversies around the Catastroph Theory of René Thorn shows, that exactly the shift of orientation from the formal truth to understanding provoked such a sharp criticism. But of course, the Catastroph Theory is one of the developed mathematical metaphors and should only be judged as such.

Pedagogically, a proof is just one of the genres of a mathematical text. There are many different genres: a calculation, a commented sketch, a computer program, a description of an algorithmic language, or such a neglected kind as a discussion of the connections between a formal definition and intuitive notions. Every genre has its own laws, in particular, laws of rigour, which only are not codified because they were not payed a special attention.

A central problem of a teacher is to demonstrate at the restricted area of his or her course the variety of types of mathematical activities and underlying value orientations. Of course, this variety is hierarchically organized. The goals may vary from achieving an elementary arithmetical and logical literacy to programming skills, and from the simplest everyday problems to the principles of modern scientific thinking. In the spectrum of these goals, the emphasis on the norms of “rigorous proof” can safely occupy a peripheral position.

But having said all this, I must stress that my argumentation by no means undermines the ideal of a rigorous mathematical reasoning. This ideal is a fundamental constituting principle of mathematics, and in this sense Bourbaki is certainly right. Having no external object of study, being based on a consensus of a restricted circle of devotees, the mathematics could not develop without the permanent control of rigid rules of game. Applicability of mathematics in the strict sense of this word (like its indispensability in the Apollo project) is due to our ability to control series of symbolic manipulations of fantastic length.

The existence of this ideal is far more essential than its unattainability. The freedom of mathematics (G. Cantor) can only develop in the limits of iron necessity. The hardware of modern computers is an incarnation of this necessity.

Metaphor helps a human being to breathe in this rarefied atmosphere of Gods.

Additional surfing:We Do Not Choose Mathematics as Our Profession, It Chooses Us
Manin video @ Simons Foundation

[EDIT: I have been asking myself a few (hopefully?) guiding questions lately: e.g. To what end? Now that there are results, what to do with them? What would XXX do? (Where XXX is not a blue movie but rather your favorite totally morally sound deity or corporeal yet morally awesome human.) To the first question and the last, there might be a beginning of an answer. Consider the following thought experiment: You are you. Your life has been life-cribbed and your personhood hacked/cracked. Forget the technological stuff for a second, leave that to the beards. Instead ask, “Is there anything interesting in my experience that might provide some intuition or knowledge that I (you) can use to do something useful and interesting?” For example, you (being you) think about your experience, that is, your life (cribbed) and your personhood (cracked?) and ask if there is anything new here going on? People have been doing hacks and cribbing in various ways for a long time. Is there anything new going on or is the experience you’ve had simply a manifestation of age-old crap e.g. gossip translated to new media (think radio on the internet not TVOTR (the latter being quality not crap and, while not exactly new, not really age-old either)? You read the following remarks (Manin) from the AMS interview linked below: “For me, this story marks the period in which mathematics and physics parted ways. This divergence continued until about the 1950s. The physicists dreamed up quantum mechanics, in which they found a need for Hilbert space, Schrödinger’s equations, the quantum of action, the uncertainty principle, the delta function. This was a completely new type of physics and a completely new type of philosophy.” and realize that interesting new work is sometimes (always?) attached to people noticing and carefully thinking about interesting or novel situations (or ideas (that’s the part that might make the always? go) (e.g. physicists dreamed up quantum mechanics, in which they found a need for Hilbert space). Now without trying to draw a parallel to your experience and the “dreaming up of quantum mechanics” but recognizing it as (at least somewhat) unique, you do what you pretty much always do (if you were me) and poke around on teh intarweb for something to help you (me) make sense out of our experience. Upon poking, you have some ideas…
Another question you could ask yourself if you found your life fragged is, “Is there any interesting aspect of the structure underlying this sort of thing that might be worth reading some intelligent person’s assessment of?” Well, luckily (for you?) there might be a paper online at the arXiv that talks in straight language so that even I can understand it (you, being you, could easily read more advanced material on such things). Thinking over your experience of participating in deference (or, I shake my head and sigh as I have participated in something like deference (2, 3) but that lacks a key element from the previous definition. You, of course, being you, have never taken the respect out of deference and participated in such questionable behavior. I being me, unfortunately, know both sides of the whole issue of the above and have begin to take steps to modify my behavior based on new data and experiences (this, experts tell me is something called learning, an activity I am still struggling to learn.) and… (popping the stack) fashionable nonsense aka fashionista-ism.
You (being me) are sad that you have wasted time in such ways (submission, fashionable nonsense) and would like to make up for it by adding value. (This is because an influential person in your life once told you that this is something that you should do and you defered.)
Having performed our poor men’s thought experiment on the cheap. Now I/you/we are going to go a) watch TV OR b) read Aldous‘ “Interacting particle systems as stochastic social dynamics“? (I like (b) (and also the second link in add value above) but I wouldn’t bet on it being the likeliest choice unfortunately. Things being pretty unsurprising around here.)]

Note: the below license obtains for this page but not the images (go Google your own images of famous mathematicians), nor the linked-to material, nor the author’s life and the life of the author’s family and their living space, nor sounds emanating from said living space, nor other aspects of the author’s life or that of his family (unless specific permission is given by the author or at least a reasonable conversation with the author, or even a the slightest effort at communicating with, getting to know or otherwise having a relationship (traditionally construed) with the author, or perhaps a discreet email or cup of coffee with the author, … , etc.). Note, despite the general “La mort de l’auteur”-ness of the present day, people are still people (yes, even ones that have become post-human by being fragged into a million-million tiny pieces and sent on their way to information heaven), with eyeballs and ears (usually) attached to brains that process information and that can perform tasks like sitting at their computer, writing a pastiche-piece about some interesting philosophy of math/science that they just read, hearing the TV from the other room, rolling their eyes (vision science), getting up to investigate (locomotion science)…

Thanks again to everyone for all their patience with my incredibly slow learning rate and other assorted difficulties and defects.

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Effluvia Magazine (me, myself and I) by Kebs Casey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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Light me up again: unspinning the spun honey

Enactment: I just got it! There. That’s a reference to a work of fiction, not a patronizing text-gesture? And all this time I thought that he was being unkind, rather than referencing one of the favorite books of my college years. How short sighted of me. There. Now doesn’t that change everything except perhaps the global truth value of the message? I love it! And the gnu wherever your beard-is-at vibe!

Come on, don’t hate!

Attention Conservation Notice: the elevator pitch?
Missed connections: A couple in a cafe told me what time it is. And that people cared. I thought, “A rising tide lifts all boats? I lose character? You said that was what I had retained? (Or perhaps I misheard.) Are you friend or faux? I too care. How strange does this all really get?” (see below for more information)

einmal ist keinmal

and again, and again… what about einmal ist keinmal? I actually thought yesterday was the final final. I am simply never right. (I should just put a negative one in front of all of my ideas and work from there.)

aross-cat

Two nice people told me what time it was today. They told me that many people cared about me as well. Thus, they seemed both comforting, alarming and interesting (as infrequent events often cause a fight or flight response (Or are they correlated? I forget the difference.). No one has told me that in quite some time. (I invite you both to celebrate the 4th with me! I would love to understand you! :)) These days I am motivated, as corny as it sounds to some, by a desire to be, at worst neutral, but hopefully genuine, loyal and decent to those I interact with in a mutually beneficial way. These days, I am motivated mostly by the part of my character that I have de-flawed (the the extent that that is possible), curiosity and an attempt to gain some proficiency (re: Katz: as a being with more than a few lives, I identify with the above w/r/t curiosity! – see the image of a picture of a painting above for an example in the small… Q: do small cats still wurk as affective mammalian mousetraps?), but, for reasons related to security I also have questions as to extent, or size. (Since we all know that it matters after all… or there would be no this! You were expecting something else?)

(Full Disclosure: I was, as often enough, high on coffee… drinking my favorite beverage, sitting there, beret in hand, twisting my mustache and musing pseudo-philosophically to myself about how I, like Oedipa like spun-honey with my quad-shot, and cosidering my self-identification as a geek… is it spun-honey or genuine honey-that-unspins?

Moby_Dick_final_chase

Starbuck, the young chief mate of the Pequod, is a thoughtful and intellectual Quaker from Nantucket. He is married with a son. Such is his desire to return to them, that when nearly reaching the last leg of their quest for Moby Dick, he considers arresting or even killing Ahab with a loaded musket, and turning the ship back, straight for home. Starbuck is alone among the crew in objecting to Ahab’s quest, declaring it madness to want revenge on an animal, which lacks reason; such a desire is blasphemous to his Quaker religion. Starbuck advocates continuing the more mundane pursuit of whales for their oil. But he lacks the support of the crew in his opposition to Ahab, and is unable to persuade them to turn back. Despite his misgivings, he feels himself bound by his obligations to obey the captain. Starbuck was an important Quaker family name on Nantucket, and there were several actual whalemen of this period named Starbuck, as evidenced by the name of Starbuck Island in the South Pacific whaling grounds. The multinational coffee chain Starbucks was named after Starbuck, not due to any affinity for coffee, but because the name “Pequod” was first rejected by one of the co-founders.

It Is What It Is – Save the date: July 4th, Independence Day, 2015

jasper-johns-three-flags
Three Flags – Jasper Johns

(edited to reflect the a more positive outlook)
In the spirit of encouraging connectedness (I’ll refrain from scare quotes or anything else that might be misconstrued as irony for the duration of this entire post and hereby swear to utilize such symbols with the care and respect they deserve): I want to reach out to you all and thank you for the events leading to the exquisite death of vapid idiocy!

In addition, I would like to invite you and anyone else that you think might benefit from a sense of connectedness or disconnection this 4th of July, to join me in celebration, by participation or non-participation, in spirit or in meat-space! (1)

Love,
kebs

PS – I genuinely want to thank EVERYONE involved in the collaborative construction of this unfolding story. I will refrain from naming True Names but will instead, point toward a post-singular afterward. My mind reels at what feels like the possible breadth and depth of this and related stories, but I am conscious that I cannot necessarily trust in the veracity of intuition, such things I have learned, are (easily?) manipulated. (Literally as I type 4:30 PM PST, I cannot believe what I hear emanating from a Tube nearby, the voice of Ellen Degeneres mapping so perfectly onto elements of this story’s structure that I can hardly believe my ears!?! I might have finally lost my mind, but occasionally, and luckily, it seems that some people help me find it every now and then.) Happily, I recall a quote from a passage in one of the links above, “… when a problem seems hopelessly complicated, there always can be hope. But, when a problem is hopelessly simple, there can’t be any hope at all.” Not unlike the insinuated continuation in the successive frames of Johns’ flags above, we always face whatever is coming next, gladly, the frames within frames appear, to my eye, to be converging toward a limit rather than expanding beyond all hope (but this itself is a clear matter of choice once one recognizes that there is nothing to indicate that the implication is one of uniform convergence, rather than endless expansion, except perhaps that that latter interpretation results in hitting a wall).

PPS – To my eye, the willingness of Rucker to expose sources, notes and methodology is both generous and instructive. With genuine respect to the Afterward above (an essay with themes that I have only begun a cursory exploration of), I imagine that new ideas will only open up with deliberate, repetitive, disciplined attempts to understand its meaning. Of course this requires, at times, compliance, especially in order to organize collaboration, but it seems to also involve autonomy, private reflection and the understanding that there is a responsibility to think about the potential consequences and effects possibly caused by the transmission of your ideas before just mindlessly tossing them out into the world of discourse. Mindful of this, I think I’ll keep some of the varied continuations of this story to myself (as much is possible that is, the growth of an excessive beard (from my mere stubble), driven by an infatuation with privacy, has not yet motivated me to transform my insecurity into a formidable set of skills, ownership of air-gapped computers, etc.).

PPPS – The works “linked” from this message (e.g. True Names by Vernor Vinge and the Afterward by Marvin Minsky, while containing meaningful connections and context are NOT covered under the CC license below, this disclaimer extends to images of Jasper Johns’flag paintings“, and their cultural context as well.)

BW_jasper-johns-flag

(1) W/r/t this invitation… Use it for whatever purpose you want. (It is even licensed! Creative Commons – Free Culture) Please add additional meaning to this message, delete meaning, involve additional parties, focus the recipients, take off that hot sweater, put someone on… freely forward or circulate this or derivative works around, or not, to friends enemies and neutral parties – anyone who feels like a reduction in isolation or an increase in it, a sense of friendship and kindness or lack thereof, a willingness to act crazy or a fear of it (neurotic or practical), an ability to forgive others or a steadfast inability to (that is to forgive or not forgive: for peoples’ own ways of experiencing or failing to experience, for acting crazy, or for remaining perfectly sane (in a world in which everyone is mad or in a sea of reason(s))), a desire to share or an inability to, from wanting to hide all the way the spectrum through vomiting *TMI* on the daily, those who take comfort in THE FACTOR, or perhaps CRASS, or those that prefer their unspun spinors spinned back unspun, the sprung, the fed-back and controlled, those who believe in rights, the rights of spring, writes of passage, … , those that participate intentionally, under duress or stress (hard or soft) in the vapid or idiotic, as well as perfectly rational actors that, if the world were composed entirely of them, would breath new life into that HF-beaten dead horse: the Efficient Market Hypothesis, any anybody or nobody, (ir)regardless of body type, for those who endlessly (and idiotically?) search for connection, for those who refrain, those who want to be down or grow up, get down or up-rock, absolutely anyone (irregardless [sic.] of age, race, sexual orientation, the ability or inability to manipulate media (excitable, social, …), LBGT, TGIF, #NSA, NRA, #CIA, CADAC, TRM, TFR, AA, NA, …) the anonymous or the folks that “let it all hang out”, gentlemen, scholars, miscreants, cretins, geniuses, the average, the below and the above, the big and the small, the sensitive and the insensitive, the ballers and shot callers, G.O.D., GOD and GAWD, stubbled freaks and bearded phreaks, users of both VI and EMACS, haters, players and playa-haters, gamers and the gamed, those that recognize and then some, and everyone who celebrates loofa day in their own special way. Perhaps some of us are working on the same things? Perhaps some of us are working through or around each other? In a completely un-corny way we should all be so lucky to explore such things to the best of our ability without the fear of being mistreated but, one might hope, always asking the best of ourselves, our friends, our detractors and all the others.

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jasper-johns-flag-caf1000v2with-flag-outline-caf-web

Note: the below license obtains for this page but not the images (go Google your own images of famous mathematicians), nor the linked-to material, nor the author’s life and the life of the author’s family and their living space, nor sounds emanating from said living space, nor other aspects of the author’s life or that of his family (unless specific permission is given by the author or at least a reasonable conversation with the author, or even a the slightest effort at communicating with, getting to know or otherwise having a relationship (traditionally construed) with the author, or perhaps a discreet email or cup of coffee with the author, … , etc.). Note, despite the general “La mort de l’auteur”-ness of the present day, people are still people (yes, even ones that have become post-human by being fragged into a million-million tiny pieces and sent on their way to information heaven), with eyeballs and ears (usually) attached to brains that process information and that can perform tasks like sitting at their computer, writing a piece about some interesting philosophy of math/science that they just read, hearing the TV from the other room, rolling their eyes (vision science), getting up to investigate (locomotion science)

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Effluvia Magazine (me, myself and I) by Kebs Casey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.effluviamagazine.com/.

Spazzin out spazzin out we spazzin out we spazzin out…

Rihanna-ft.-Kanye-West-and-Paul-McCartney-Four-Five-Seconds-Lyrics
Yuuup…

F&^k the Honeymoon Phase

oxytocin (source)

Things come in cycles. Love being one of them (for us mere mortals who still (?) believe in the biochemical process of love, that is the vescicles of appropriate neurotransmitters fusing with the cell wall of the neuron and spilling their contents en mass across the synapse and other hormonal such stuff taking place). In the vernacular there is the idea of “the honeymoon phase”, that is, the early “phase” of love wherein the participants have only eyes for each other, are blinded to each others problematic or “negative” traits and are blissfully and unproblematically in love, until the other shoe drops, usually in the form of the recognition that each of them are human with faults and emotional problems and pasts and boundary issues, etc.

Now, I myself have never been an advocate of the honeymoon “phase.” First of all, unlike many actually phasic cycles in a relationship, it is not cyclic. It is an anomoly that comes only once, if ever, at the beginning of a relationship in the form of infatuation. As I’ve never been a fan of infatuation, how can I be a fan of one of its many manifestations. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been a victum of all sorts of infatuation: record collector, art admirer, literary Hoover (as in to purchase and suck up books), idea collector, metaphor whore, etc., all with varying degrees of sub-dilettante sucess. But this is an albatross around my neck not a virtue. Always chasing after the next great idea or collectable thing, perfect song, book or pair of glasses. True love is reading a book over and over until the pages fall off, especially a book with depth. It is skipping over the honeymoon “phase” as fast as you can or achieving a somber, neutral view of the world that allows one to get past infatuation completely and dive right into a deeper relationship with a person or object where immediately you and the other begin to work on each others strengths and weaknesses, building new structures where you can, butressing weak points or circumventing them with new constructions, finding novel objects that are the products of elements from the direct product of both where it just wouldn’t be possible to build without objects from the pair.

This is not “honeymoon style romance” this is dirty work, like, waders on, I know your shit you know mine and we’re both fine with it and lets party sort of work. I don’t know how often this happens in human relationships, anecdotally I would guess next to never, but I don’t get around much. In groups, special groups, where people tend to know, at least in certain domains, deep stores of other’s affairs, whether in their knowledge of physical chemistry or their relationship to drinking alcohol, it seems to happen more often.

Take the sciences for example. Lineage is important. People know who each other’s mentors are/were, who they have published with, what problems they have worked on, how many citations they have accumulated, they have read their work (stories?) themselves and can attest to the quality first hand, evaluate their depth with respect to the field.

Similarly, in a sort of strange, and at first glance, non-resonant, parallel, in some recovery communities, their is a “sponsorship” lineage, that some take quite seriously, people tell their stories from the podium and to their sponsors, and others can gauge the depth of their relationship with substance abuse and recovery, their are informal networks within networks that serve to filter out (and in) those that look like they are prospects to be taken seriously (at least that is my understanding). Like any goup with dynamics there are various jobs and personalities and one can guess at an anthropology of such things. (Interestingly, in this second example, it might be in the interest of the new participant to develop a “honeymoon” relationship and allow the group to do some heavy lifting for them and not ask too many questions about the mechanics until later, allowing for the “miracle” to take place, and enthusiasm to bubble.)

In any case, at some point, one has to get down to brass tacks, lift up the hood, be it in a job, an academic disclipline, a community centered on recovery, or a romantic relationship with their lover and get to know all the grime and grit and the parts that makes them work, if not, how best can they be a good participant in the relationship/community/company/academic community? I think many are afraid of this level of commitment in many of the domains above or perhaps it simply seems like too much to ask, too much work, too much. But we do see it in some well run companies with great HR departments, in some intentional communities with well defined process and good decision making protocol and in many academic disiplines (e.g. in physics and mathematics with online preprint servers (and those that study them) like arxiv and newsletters and people who put a lot of thought into how to best shape the community over time and make sure that say, mathematics remains healthy and full of talented new mathematicians (you can see evidence of this in say, the Notices of the AMS).

It is for this reason why I think a tempered enthusiasm going in, a skeptical, I hope this turns out to be interesting but I’m not going to put all my chips on it sort of approach”, seems best. From that vantage point one can begin to develop an infectious attitude only if the relationship demands it, as you get to the innards and you see what makes everything go, if the mechanisms behind it all still drive you to ask more and wanto to learn and build more, then chances are, whatever it is, it’s a keeper. That my friend, sounds like love to me.