Reflections at age 76
February 15th, 2014Is the Universe a Simulation? Today the NY Times has a piece postulating that we might inhabit a computer simulation universe based on the laws of mathematics, not in what we commonly take to be the real world. According to this theory, some highly advanced computer programmer of the future or past has devised this simulation, and we are unknowingly part of it. Thus when we discover a mathematical truth, we are simply discovering aspects of the code that the programmer used. Of course this not a new concept, Plato's theory of Ideas, that non-material abstract forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change, is the highest and most fundamental reality. Others, mostly mathematician, such as Bishop Berkeley have advance like theories; Berkeley called his "immaterialism".
God the computer programmer?
Religion seems to take another entirely different road, but on second look maybe they are not so different after all. Athena was to Plato the mind of God. The Book ofJohn identifies Jesus as the Logos. A term from Greek philosophy, it meant the principle of cosmic reason. In this sense, it was similar to the Hebrew concept of Wisdom, God's companion and intimate helper in creation. The Jewish philosopher Philo merged these two themes when he described the Logos as God's creator of and mediator with the material world. The evangelist adapted Philo's description of the Logos, applying it to Jesus, the incarnation of the Logos. Jesus as simulation turning to flesh?
Martin Heidegger examined the thinking of Parmenides and Heraclitus, when thinking was poetic not scientific, made logos central to his work. Logos means collectedness, the primal gathering principal. In fragment 50 Heraclitus joins logos and hearing. "If you have heard not me but the logos, then it is wise to say accordingly: all is one." This is the primary insight of mysticism: all is some how connected. Then in fragment 34, "Those who do not bring together the permanent togetherness hear but resemble the deaf." As the proverb says, they are present yet absent. This seems to take us to Plato's cave and back to the world of ideas, but Heidegger wants to deal with being itself and that is a major undertaking. Right now my back itches and that issue is more important than understanding the universe.
The Methodist minister will guide us through the Christian version of the Logos in the morning, so I will continue tomorrow afternoon. That is unless it is a beautiful day and I spot mallards on the pond. Feeding ducks is much more satisfying than delving into the Logos. Apprehending being is more satisfying than talking about being.
February 16th, 2014
6:45am and the full moon is about to set in the west and the sun is ready to rise in the east. Propitious. I should offer a brunt offering to curry the favor of whatever gods are active this time of year. Sunday, so Apollo is on duty. I woke up at 3 am when Vicky let the cat in or out and began to wonder if there is a connection between the logos and music. Heraclitus said you hear the logos and the music of the spheres incorporates the principle that mathematical relationships express qualities or tones of energy which manifest in numbers, visual angles, shapes and sounds connected within a pattern of proportion. Pythagoras and his school noted that the pitch of a musical note is in proportion to the length of the string that produces it, and that intervals between harmonious sound frequencies form simple numerical ratios. Pythagoras proposed that the Sun, Moon and planets all emit their own unique hum, which are physically imperceptible to the human ear, and that the quality of life on Earth reflects the tenor of celestial sounds. When I listen to Glenn Gould play Bach's Partita no.6 in E minor, I feel that is about as close as humans come to the divine.
Well, the minister covered the logos from Alpha to Omega, so to speak. By the time he finished total confusion had descended on the class, discussion about the logos inevitable end up that way. After Sunday school niece, Kathy, was down from Little Rock to drop off her income tax stuff so we met at the Tavern in Washington for lunch. Great to visit with her and to catch up on all the family news. Beautiful day and now Vicky and I are going take the golf cart out and check on a heifer that is showing signs of calving. You can usually tell when a cow is about to calf, but heifers are difficult to diagnose. You just have to keep checking.
February 17th, 2014
A Shroud for a Shrike. Schlepping this morning- taking the car to the body shop, then walking to Sheba's where the old guys gather for coffee. My hair was standing up in the back and somebody asked if "Tonto did my hair." Hitched a ride to the gym, walked my two miles, the went to the hardware and waited for Vicky to come to town and give me a ride home. The hardware owner, Keenan, and I discussed the Logos. As the meaning of the word has changed from Heraclitus and morphed into about fifty different meanings today, we agreed that what John meant was probably about the same as Philo's use. He did point out that Philo did not identify Jesus as the Logos, but only that the messiah would be the Logos; John made that connection. We also shared the impression that many church goers don't want to spend hours discussing all the nuances and interpretations of a concept: if you don't just give them an answer and move on they get bored. I mentioned the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, where the race of of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional being built a computer to calculate the Ultimate Question of Life, but when the answer was revealed to be 42 the computer also said the answer was incomprehensible because the beings did not know what they were asking. Of course the beings decided they needed a better computer. Reminds me of the story of the old boys hauling watermelons from Hope to Little Rock to sell. After losing money on three loads they decided they needed a bigger truck.
Midafternoon, Vicky, dead bird in hand, came into my office. It had collided with the glass sliding patio door. We identified the poor thing as a shrike or as I learned as a boy 'butcher bird', because they impale grasshoppers or small frogs on thorns or barbwire and dine at leisure.
Vicky decided it was too beautiful not to have a burial. She found a small piece of cotton cloth that she had embroidered years ago and we wrapped the bird and started towards the pond. On the way we noticed that the heifers had come up and were all standing near the corral. My partner had transported the angus bull to another pasture this morning and they were all sniffing around wondering what had happened to him. At the pond, we placed the shrouded bird in the water and the wind began to move the bird out towards the center of the pond. The two geese glided over to investigate and when they spied the unknown object moving in their direction, they made a tactical retreat. Vicky said, "Sigfried's Rhine Journey" is going through my mind and that concluded the ceremony.
February 18th, 2014
Not feeling so frisky, tooth abscess, trip to the dentist. But a few thoughts: most of the folks I communicate with, even today, are disgusted with the Washington ideologues and the lies they tell. So many lies nobody seems to even notice anymore. Some think there are enough moderate pragmatist between the socialist and the reactionaries to set the nation on the right path. I am skeptical. All I can see is vote buying by the Democrats to keep power, and on the other side unrealistic conservatives hamstringing the Republicans. The pragmatist should do the pragmatic thing: install a moat or emigrate to Zurich. I have opted for the moat, can't afford Zurich. One friend, a college poly science professor, thinks the only hope is being launched to Valhalla before the system collapses. Well, you can't label that false hope. Although my outlook is not sanguine, I agree with Kenneth Clark who said about the fall of the classical world: Civilization continued to drift down stream for longer than you would expect, it always does. I really don't worry much about the future, but the past is terrifying.
As for my online mythology course, today some students took issue with a question I posed about Gorgon blood and Asclepius. Seems Athena gave him two vials of blood: one drawn from the right side that could raise the dead and another drawn from the left side which was poison. Then Zeus killed Asclepius because he raised Hippolytus from the dead. (The Greeks took a dim view of the dead being raised.) Some students thought the blood from the left side raised the dead, so I just gave them all the point and deleted the question. The whole thing was silly and reminded me of the Danny Kaye routine: "The pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true, right?"
February 19th, 2014
The golf cart suddenly began making horrible grinding noises, emanating from the engine. I managed to make it back to the house. An indispensible piece of equipment for my daily putz around the farm... much more handy than a truck, plus it gets about 60 miles to the gallon. A 15 gallon spray rig attaches to the back for spraying noxious weeds and brush. It is my favorite toy, even better than the mechanical log splitter The Yamaha dealer is delivering a new one this afternoon.
February 20th, 2014
Speaking of log splitters: due to the drouth several red oak trees on the place died. I cut down a few, sawed them into two foot section and let them dry. In the fall of 2013 the split logs were stacked in the shed off the shop to heat the house. The Old Farmer's Almanac predicted even the South would have long cold winter. They were right. By the end of February there is just enough wood remaining for one more cold spell; which the Almanac predicts for March.
Cutting down oak trees is a bit tricky. Even professionals get fooled and injured. Last fall I cut one tree almost all the way through and it kept standing. I finally drove the tractor close by, raised the bucket, and gave it an encouraging nudge. Over it went. On other occasions a wedge and maul will do the trick on trees that lean without falling. A tree that twist when it falls is dangerous and one that kicks back when falling. Years ago I local man had a tree he cut fall on him and he was pinned down overnight. I always tell Vicky to come looking for me if I fail to return in a timely manner. Better yet, carry a cell phone.
|Although the three cords on the right were cut from dead trees the wood is still green. It will season through the summer and be ready for winter 2014.|
February 21, 2014
The old guys who gather at the bank sometimes have lively conversations. This morning the topic was how pine trees pollinate. One talker has a doctorate in agriculture and the other is a timber grower, so they knew something of which they spoke. However, neither were familiar with edible pine nuts, and seemed to doubt my assertion that I had pine nuts in the freezer at home. So, I have printed out the entry from Wikipedia and wonder what they will say when they learn that "In the United States, pine nuts are mainly harvested by Native Americans, particularly the Uto-Aztecan, Shoshone, Paiute, Hopi, and Washoe tribes. Certain treaties negotiated by tribes and laws in Nevada guarantee Native Americans' right to harvest pine nuts."
Last week there was a discussion about a passage in the bible where God "winked" at Moses concerning divorce: winked depending on which translation you use. I broke in and said that giving God human characteristics is called anthropomorphic theism. Today the retired banker gave a short lecture on the topic. Apparently, he went home and did some research. I awarded him a B+ for his curiosity.
The radio was just play "Madamina, il catalogo e questo" aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni by Leporello, Don Giovanni's servant, to Elvira:
My dear lady, this is a list
Of the beauties my master has loved,
A list which I have compiled.
Observe, read along with me.
In Italy, six hundred and forty;
In Germany, two hundred and thirty-one;
A hundred in France; in Turkey, ninety-one;
But in Spain already one thousand and three.
Among these are peasant girls,
Maidservants, city girls,
Women of every rank,
Every shape, every age.
With blondes it is his habit
To praise their kindness;
In brunettes, their faithfulness;
In the white-haired, their sweetness.
In winter he likes fat ones.
In summer he likes thin ones.
He calls the tall ones majestic.
The little ones are always charming.
He seduces the old ones
For the pleasure of adding to the list.
His greatest favorite
Is the young beginner.
It doesn't matter if she's rich,
Ugly or beautiful;
If she wears a skirt,
You know what he does.
There is a theory that the Don is a fake, he never consummated any of the supposed conquest or raped anybody. If it is true this gives yet another twist to the ending: The Commendatore offers him a last chance to repent, but Giovanni adamantly refuse and the statue sinks into the earth and drags Giovanni down with him. Hellfire, and a chorus of demons surround Don Giovanni as sinks. Giovanni does not repent of offences he never committed, nor for the sin of telling lies about fake conquests. If the list is composed of school boy fantasy conquests, then Giovanni goes to hell for defending his Ego. The supposed stud is just an obnoxious pansy.
February 23, 2014
The Cabin is sheathed in western cedar that has over the years turned almost black, very ugly. I began spraying the cedar with a mixture of bleach and water, about 1:1. The cedar is looking very good, but it needs to be washed down. I am unable to get the power washer to start and that makes me furious with the federal government. They spent tax dollars converting corn to ethanol. Not only does the process use as much energy as it yields, ethanol combustion in an internal combustion engine yields many of the products of incomplete combustion produced by gasoline and significantly larger amounts of formaldehyde and related stuff such as acetaldehyde. This leads to a significantly larger photochemical reactivity that generates much more ozone than gasoline. It has been shown that ethanol exhaust generates 2.14 times as much ozone as does gasoline exhaust. And every spring every lawn mower, weed eater, and POWER WASHER in the entire country has a carburetor clogged with goop from the stuff AND WILL NOT START. I suspect that everything the federal government touches turns to merde. Over the last few decades what works has been replaced with what sounds good. So, now I am done with my rant against Washington, at least for the moment.
February 24, 2014
The Methodist church that I attend in Washington (Arkansas, not D.C.) is in a state park. The theme of the park is the antebellum south..lots of old homes, buggy rides, and civil war reenactments. Yesterday, a couple in the church celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a social in the church. Vicky and I arrived soon after the festivities (a buffet) begin. We congratulated the bride, signed a book, and took plastic cups of punch. The groom was in another part of the church visiting with a bunch of guys and I gravitated there. I shook his hand and stepped back as he was engaged in conversation with three men regaled in cutaway coats and sporting large pistols strapped around their middles.
When they moved on, I asked the groom, "What is the occasion?"
He gave me a funny look, and said, "Its Jackie and my 50th wedding anniversary."
"I know that, that's why we are here. Why are those guys wearing hog legs?"
"I don't know. The Park must be doing something tonight."
Washington, Arkansas. Where space and time are one.
February 25, 2014
Jean Anouilh's play Antigone is a tragedy inspired by Sophocles' Antigone. It was first performed in Paris on February 6, 1944, during the Nazi occupation. Produced under Nazi censorship, the play is purposefully ambiguous with regard to the rejection of authority (Antigone) and the acceptance of it (represented by Creon). The parallels to the French Resistance and the Nazi occupation are clear. The play was approved by both sides.
When teaching I used the 1974, American PBS production of the play (on DVD), that starred Genevi?ve Bujold. The objectives were 1) to show students that the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong is not always clear cut and 2) to introduce students to the concept of the dialectic. Who knows how this worked, but I do know one occasion it did not work.
The college drama department once staged a production as, of all things, a romance between Antigone and Polynices. The guy who directed the play asked me to make a short speech at the conclusion about the play, which I did. When I tried to show Creon was not pure evil and that Antigone was not necessarily all good (though I did not dare as go so far as say she might be a hysteric). I thought the audience was going to charge the stage and drag me away. I learned a valuable lesson: in America good guys wear white hats and ride white horses, bad guys wear black hats and, by gum, don't you go messing with that arrangement!
With any great work of art, we don't deal with it just once and move on. Once in the Louvre I noticed an American woman who stuck her head in the room where the Mona Lisa hangs and said to her friend, "There it is! Let's go." and on down the hall they went - continuing the scavenger hunt. I return to the Theban cycle, or I might say cycle back to it every few years. As a young person I found Oedipus to be the important play. It dealt with the search for self, meaning, and finding a way in the world. In my middle age Antigone came to the fore - understanding the forces of history and religion. Now that I am old Oedipus at Colonus gets my attention. But that said and done, I return most often to first chorus from Antigone (lines 332-75). There are many horrible translations. This translation by Ralph Manheim is the best that I have found and offered here:
|There is much that is strange, but nothing
that surpasses man in strangeness.
He sets sail on the frothing waters
amid the south winds of winter
taking through the mountains
and furious chasms of the waves.
He wearied even the noblest of gods, the Earth,
indestructible and untiring,
overturning her from year to year,
driving the plows this way and that
And man, pondering and plotting,
snares the light-gliding birds
and hunts the beasts of the wilderness
and the native creatures of the sea.
With guile he overpowers the beast
that roams the mountains by night as by day,
he yokes the hirsute neck of the stallion
and the undaunted bull.
And he has found his way
to the resonance of the word,
and to wind-swift all-understanding,
and to the courage to rule over cities.
He has considered also how to flee
from exposure to the arrows
of unpropitious weather and frost.
Everywhere journeying, inexperienced and without issue,
he comes to nothingness.
Through no flight can he resist
the one assault of death,
even if he has succeeded in cleverly evading
Clever indeed, mastering
the ways of skill beyond all hope,
he sometimes accomplishes evil,
sometimes achieves brave deeds.
He wends his way between the laws of the earth
and the adjured justice of the gods.
Rising high above his place,
he who for the sake of adventure takes
the nonessent for essent* looses
his place in the end.
May such a man never frequent my hearth;
May my mind never share the presumption
of him who does this.
*essent: the being that belongs to every being, the present participle of "sum" in Latin. From which "being-there" emerges.
February 26, 2014
Winter has returned. I will sit by the fire and continue reading my new book: The Parthenon Enigma by Connelly.
February 27, 2014
The replacement heifers are separated from the larger herd and brought to the thirty acres around the cabin. This is done for several reasons. First, separation keeps them from getting bred too early. When they are old enough a small headed black bull is brought in to, hopefully, ensure ease of calving. Also, the cows will push heifers away from hay in the winter. And finally, I can keep a close eye on them when they began to calf, they often require assistance - even with a black bull.
Today, the first heifer calved. She had been showing signs for a week or so, but with heifers you never know. The black white faced heifer, now a cow, gave birth to a black white faced bull. I watched until I saw the calf suck to make sure all was well. Calves have a sucking instinct that last for a few days, then fades. If the calf can not locate a teat before the instinct fades, it is difficult to get them to suck - you have to bottle feed, but sometimes they just die no matter what you do. When all the heifers calf, we will pen them all, give the calves shots, notch ears, and castrate the bull calves.
Vegetarians think eating beef is immoral. I agree, but I am not trained to graze on vegetables. Moreover, a tenderloin from a corn fed steer is delicious and I have no feeling of guilt, only pleasure, when I cut into a perfectly prepared steak. In defense of meat eaters, I offer this observation: when I was growing up every farm had mules. Mules were replaced by tractors. Today the only mules are kept as a hobby. If we stopped eating beef, there would soon be no beef cows. A rationalization? Sure, but a good one.
March 1, 2014
The weather remains inclement, cloudy with thunder storms in the forecast. We have to drive to Little Rock today. Ugh.
Anyway, Connelly does a good job of linking the Pergamon Altar with Athens and the Parthenon. The 'brand" of the Parthenon held as much cache in the Hellenistic era as it does today. The base is decorated with a high relief frieze showing the Gigantomachy from early Greek mythology. There is a second frieze (on the inner court walls which surround the fire altar on the upper level of the structure) depicting events from the life of Telephus, son of Heracles, legendary founder of the city of Pergamon. Odd that the Gigantomachy played such a prominent role in the decoration of the altar.
In the 19th century London and Berlin were in nationalistic competition for the Classical Greek "brand". The English won with the Elgin Marble, but the Germans made a good show by bringing the Pergamon Altar to Berlin. There are no Attalids (Pergamons?) around any more, so the Germans are not bothered with demands to return the Altar, but there are many Greeks and their demands for the return of the Parthenon marble will continue. My guess is that if the Olympic games stop moving around the world and settle in Olympia, Greece the English might have to yield. After the Russians spent 55 billion dollars on the last winter games, the permanent fixture of the summer games in Greece may not be too far away. Who knows?
March 2, 2014
In Little Rock, we had a bitter sweet evening. A birthday dinner party for an old friend. We grew up together, so he was pleased to talk about events of 65 years ago ("Remember when we filled the fish pond with millions of frog eggs. All of the tadpoles hatched at once and the front page of the Hope Star reported, 'Residents of North Elm experience Biblical plague of frogs.' ")
I grow old. I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.
March 4, 2014
An old friend sent this youtube clip of starlings going to roost (click and watch). Now I will relate the story of
"God's Whoopee Cushion"
Christmas day about 2001 or 2002 Vicky and I were in Rome. We learned that Pope John Paul II would be giving Christmas greeting at St Peter's Square in the afternoon, so we walked over from our hotel and joined the crowd gathering there. The Pope appeared in the window and gave the greetings in various languages. Each time he pronounced the greeting the people from that country would cheer. There was a group of Filipinos just behind us and when he greeted them they screamed with joy. I thought how silly of them. Then a few minutes later the Pope said, "Merry Christmas" and Vicky shouted with joy.
Later the Pope waved goodbye and the crowd begin to disperse, we crossed the Tiber on the Ponte Rotto. From that bridge the outfall of the Cloaca Maxima into the River Tiber is visible.
Our next stop was the 5th century Basilica of Santa Sabina which is a short walk up the hill to the right of the bridge. Below is a picture of the interior and to the crucifix located way up on one of the wooden entry doors - far from prominence.
This is one of the earliest surviving depiction of the crucifixion of Christ. For the early church, which was seeking membership, the crucifixion was not an encouraging subject. It will not be until the 9th century that the church will find its way to what has become the supreme symbol of the religion. After the visit we went behind the basilica where there is an overlook of the Tiber and Rome. There were about a dozen locals already enjoying the view. Then some of the viewers began exclaiming and pointing. we saw starling murmurations about a mile away over central Rome, but nobody seemed to know what we were seeing. Finally one man explained that they were "small birds that come down from the north" I said to him they look like angles and he replied with a smile, "We Romans believe so." A magical ending to a memorable Christmas.
The next morning we left our hotel before sunrise and walked to the train station to catch a train to Naples. Approaching the station we entered a tree filled dimly lighted piazza. The trees were filled with, you guessed it, a million starlings. The angels of Christmas twilight had turned into so many tiny devils. The walk was covered in starling poop. We covered our heads as best we could and sprinted to the entrance. From inside the station we look back out at the filthy piazza and I said, "God's whoopee cushion."
March 6, 2014
Consciousness and so on
Prometheus was a Titan who managed to avoid being in the direct confrontational cosmic battle between Zeus and his followers against theother Titans. Prometheus, thus, was not eternally banished by Zeus to the chthonic depths of Tartarus. After the gods made humans and others critters from clay and fire two brothers Epimentheus ("after-thinker") and Prometheus (from the Greek pro (before) + manthano (intelligence) and the suffix -eus, thus meaning "Forethinker") were called in to distribute natural qualities. Epimetheus distributed all the gifts of nature among the animals, leaving men naked and unable to survive in a hostile world. Prometheus decided to steal the fire of creative power from the workshop of Athena and Hephaistos and gives it to mankind. This creative power allowed men to develop the arts of civilization, such as writing, mathematics, agriculture, medicine, and science.
Plato in his Protagoras makes a distinction between creative power (techne) which is presented as superior to merely natural instincts (physis). For Plato, only the virtues of "reverence and justice can provide for the maintenance of a civilized society -- and these virtues are the highest gift finally bestowed on men in equal measure."
What the great thinkers seem to be telling us is that we must first have consciousness, then understanding, then wisdom, then reverence, then holy wisdom. These are not separate categories, but a life long progression - what some call the spiritual journey. So let me attempt to walk through the progression, if I stumble have patience:
|And he has found his way
to the resonance of the word,
and to wind-swift all-understanding
An illness renders infant Helen Keller blind, deaf, and consequently mute. Pitied and badly spoiled by her parents, Helen is taught no discipline and, by the age of six, grows into a wild, angry, tantrum-throwing child in control of the household. Desperate, the Kellers hire Anne Sullivan to serve as governess and teacher for their daughter. After several fierce battles with Helen, Anne convinces the Kellers that she needs two weeks alone with Helen in order to achieve any progress in the girl's education. Annie teaches Helen discipline through persistence and consistency and language through hand signals, but the girls is little more than a trained animal until there is breakthrough that changes Helen's life and has a direct effect on the lives of everyone in the family.
In the play and movie "The Miracle Worker" the breakthrough comes when the child connects the sensation of water on her hand to the one word she remembers before her illness, "water". At that moment she connects words to the sign language she had learned my rote and the miracle occurs - the world is suddenly alive. The New York Times in its review of the play titled "Giver of Light" also praised the performance of Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke's performance as Helen.
Without language and music what are we?
|Clever indeed, mastering
the ways of skill (techne) beyond all hope,
he sometimes accomplishes evil,
sometimes achieves brave deeds.
He wends his way between the laws of the earth
and the adjured justice of the gods.
Rising high above his place,
he who for the sake of adventure takes the nonessent for essent looses his place in the end.
There is an old Arkansas story about two ol' boys from around Hope, famous for watermelons, who decided to buy local melons and haul them to Little Rock to sell at a profit. They purchased Hope melons for a dollar each, but when they sold them in Little Rock all they could get was a dollar each. After the second experience of loading, hauling, unloading, and then driving home broke, one of the boys said, "This is not working, we are going to have to do something different." The other boy said, "What do you think we should do?" The first boy replied, "I think we need a bigger truck."
The joke is repeated in a more sophisticated British version involving not a bigger truck, but bigger computer.
In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (published in 1979),
the characters visit the legendary planet Magrathea, home to the now-collapsed
planet-building industry, and meet Slartibartfast, a planetary coastline
designer who was responsible for the fjords of Norway. Through archival
recordings, he relates the story of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional
beings who built a computer named Deep Thought to calculate the Answer to the
Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. When the answer was
revealed to be 42, Deep Thought explained that the answer was incomprehensible
because the beings didn't know what they were asking. It went on to predict that
another computer, more powerful than itself would be made and designed by it to
calculate the question for the answer. (Later on, referencing this, Adams would
create the 42 Puzzle, a puzzle which could be approached in multiple ways, all
yielding the answer 42.)
The computer, often mistaken for a planet (because of its size and use of biological components), was the Earth, and was destroyed by Vogons to make way for a hyperspatial express route, five minutes before the conclusion of its 10-million-year program. Two of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who commissioned the Earth in the first place, disguise themselves as Trillian's mice, and want to dissect Arthur's brain to help reconstruct the question, since he was part of the Earth's matrix moments before it was destroyed, and so he is likely to have part of the question buried in his brain. Trillian is also human but had left Earth six months previously with Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Galaxy. And so on.
One of the most tragic examples of the Bigger Truck solution to a problem was World War I. Both the Allied and Axis powers settled on the same approach to winning the war: We can send more young men at your position than you can shoot with machine guns. The total number of casualties from all causes, not just machine gun fire, are estimated to be 21,228,813.
Watermelon truckers, Deep Thought, the WWI strategist and others like them (the invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration and Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam fiasco do come to mind) lead me to ask the question posed by the first chorus in Antigone and by Job: where is wisdom?
From where then comes wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?
21Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.
22Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.
23God understands the way thereof, and he knows the place thereof.
24For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven;
25To make the weight for the winds; and he weighs the waters by measure.
26When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:
27Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yes, and searched it out.
28 And he said to the human race, ?The fear of the Lord?that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.?
Before I reveal where God hides Wisdom, I just went down to the big pond to feed the geese, duck, and fish and there were wild ducks on the pond. They had black heads and I think they were Buffleheads, but I am not sure.
This image from the Internet of a Bufflehead has a white spot, which I did not see.