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A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, August 26, 2011

On the Connectedness of Nature

That any two things in the universe are connected can be demonstrated inductively by the magic of Google.  It is not necessary that to be computationally tractable a process must be informationally encapsulated.  Take any two words.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy uses "banana" and "mandolin" in an article on the Frame Problem.  If you google it, you obtain 2,690,000 hits. 

So I tried "melancholy" + "eels" and obtained 3,090,000 hits, including unlikely poetry precisely imagining melancholy eels, at a site yclept poetry-of-despair. 

Then I tried "elephant" + "petunia" only to discover that there is a plant called an elephant petunia along with 3,570,000 other hits. 

Then I opened the dictionary at random and got "theosophy" + "hemorrhage."  This yielded a mere 71,300 hits, including those with "theosophist" (at least one of whom appears to have died of a hemorrhage) and "theosophical." 

Then "canthus" (the corners where the upper and lower eyelids meet) + "deliverance."  After quote-enclosing "canthus" to avoid the homonymous "can thus," I obtained 4,240 freaking hits and learned that surgical management of carcinomas at the inner canthus involves rotation and deliverance of the flap under the glabellar skin.

Even "unobtainium" + "maple" harvested 45,300 hits. 

Your task, my devoted henchmen, is to explore this phenomenon yourselves. 

3 comments:

  1. That reminds me of an article G.K. Chesterton wrote for the Illustrated London News in 1906 (February 17, "The Dangers of Metaphor") in which he did a similar experiment. As he stated near the beginning of the article:

    My trouble is that I never can really feel that there is such a thing as a different subject. There is no such thing as an irrelevant thing in the universe; for all things in the universe are at least relevant to the universe. It is my psychological disease...that I can never see disconnected things without connecting them together in a train of thought. I have just been glancing down the columns of a newspaper to find matter for my new shortened paragraphs. I try to pick out different subjects, and even as I do so my mind weaves them mechanically into the same subject. I carefully take four things from the paper, and even as I take them, they turn into one thing.

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