The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

May 13, 2006

When the plateau of flesh meets the fire of mathematics 7.5 meg

"At this moment the flames rolled again into the room and then again
retired. The whale and alligators were by this time suffering dreadful
torments. The water in which they swam was literally boiling. The
alligators dashed fiercely about endeavoring to escape, and opening and
shutting their great jaws in ferocious torture; but the poor whale, almost
boiled, with great ulcers bursting from his blubbery sides, could only
feebly swim about, though blowing excessively, and every now and then
sending up great fountains of spray. At length, crack went the glass sides
of the great cases, and whale and alligators rolled out on the floor with
the rushing and steaming water. The whale died easily, having been pretty
well used up before. A few great gasps and a convulsive flap or two of his
mighty flukes were his expiring spasm. One of the alligators was killed
almost immediately by falling across a great fragment of shattered glass,
which cut open his stomach and let out the greater part of his entrails to
the light of day. The remaining alligator became involved in a controversy
with an anaconda, and joined the melee in the centre of the flaming
"We believe that all the living curiosities were saved; but the giant
girl, Anna Swan, was only rescued with the utmost difficulty. There was
not a door through which her bulky frame could obtain a passage. It was
likewise feared that the stairs would break down, even if she should reach
them. Her best friend, the living skeleton, stood by her as long as he
dared, but then deserted her, while as the heat grew in intensity, the
perspiration rolled from her face in little brooks and rivulets, which
pattered musically upon the floor. At length, as a last resort, the
employees of this place procured a lofty derrick which fortunately
happened to be standing near, and erected it alongside the Museum. A
portion of the wall was then broken off on each side of the window, the
strong tackle was got in readiness, the tall woman was made fast to one
end and swung over the heads of the people in the street, with eighteen
men grasping the other extremity of the line, and lowered down from the
third story, amid enthusiastic applause."

Urner, in the Tribune, quoted in Barnum, Forty Years' Recollections,
Author's edition, 1872-3

The Story

I drive a 2005 Jaguar S Type. Taking home 6 digit level in 18 months.
Having a great time. It's a blast and I am a hero to the courts and to my
clients. What an outstanding career to be in. I know God is on my side. At
night I pray for my good fortune. I wonder how many will believe me, or
how many will just find this "literature." I hate literature with a
passion; it is not the force that drives this mighty civilization. Doing
exactly what God tells me to do is working beautifully. I go to the court
and locate all of the clients I can handle. Some say this is a court "of
last resort." I say this is the difference between Law and Justice,
between reason and the vigilante. For I mete out Justice which some find
Law. I find all assets and employment. Funds arrive to my PO Box. It's
like magic. I love it. I can take a holiday when ever I have a whim to do
so. Hawaii and a 1050 footer to the Panama Canal this year. Yes, God has
been good to me; my boat is one fifth of a mile long, less 30 feet. It is
a wonderful length and I walk it during my meditation. For I do question
the mathematics of this world, and my Jaguar and 1200 foot boat do not
distract from my ultimate goal of solving this world's problem, while
retaining an absent ontology which some may well considered entitled to
the name of "Absolute." Here is what I have dreamed, closing the great
chasm that lies between us:

"Thereupon I descended until, as the ocean's surface came nearer and near-
er, I discovered a tiny island lying almost directly underneath me. It was
hardly big enough to make a dot on the biggest map, but a clump of trees
grew in the central portion, while around the edges were jagged rocks
protecting a sandy beach and a stretch of flower-strewn upland leading to
the trees."

Now it is clear that the island is that of mathematics, and the central
portion is the refuge of axiomatics. I am certain as well that the clump
of trees is the effusion of postulates necessary to remind us of our
finitude in the grasp of idealities. Moreso, the jagged rocks are those of
chaos and catastrophe theories forced from smooth manifolds, just as the
flower-strewn upland references the set of those cellular automata whose
patterning is inherently irregular.

My house is filled with the latest plasma, RFID, and wireless technolo-
gies, yet I do not seem happy, not even when I have completed mergers,
foreclosures, or buyouts. I cannot reasonably deny that a central core, if
such there be, is missing from my life. But when I close my eyes, or ride
at high-speed in my Jaguar S, Something tells me it has all been worth it.
My only question is: What, or who, is that Something? Where is happiness?
When is joy?

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