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Chaos Theory - James Gleick

"You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star" - Friedrich Nietzsche

My brain is temporarily unable to process what it is currently processing. I feel a fulfillment, a wonderment, a fright, an excitement, but probably most of all, a purpose. I've seldom felt that before in my life.

Today, I read a lovely poem on "Reality Bites" blog that personally moved me, because I felt it was telling a great deal of my life story; putting myself down, pushing people away from me, wearing masks so no one ever knows me, whoever "I" am. I am a mask-wearer.

"just remember this one thing
when you turn and walk away
tomorrow will begin anew
a chance with each new day.

weep no more, shed no tears
and wash away the pain
move along, there's nothing left
the memories are insane."

Then I wrote an e-mail to a friend who used to provide me with the greeting cards I sold before I had to give up my business due to my manic attacks and confused periods I'd have from the pressures.

In a return e-mail, she mentioned the book "Chaos" by James Gleick. I'll be honest, I had never heard of it, but it deals with chaos theory and Mandlebrot's Set (which has something to do with the formulas behind fractals).

I watched an intriguing show the other night about an experiment that brought 6 couples to New York City. They were completely unknown to each other, knew absolutely nothing about each other except that they were looking for each other. They started at six different places around the island, and within only 3 or 4 hours, three couples had met up at one place, and the other three at a second location. All this based solely on the knowledge that what the other person is doing, and what you think they'll be doing affects what you'll do. Even the producers of the show didn't expect all six to find a match. Chaos theory.

I mentioned to my best friend in a long overdue phone call just two nights ago how much at peace I have become, and getting hooked on fractals has emphasized that. I told him that for the first time since I left teaching over 8 years ago now, I feel finally like a person. Someone who is not only retired, but has something interesting to pursue beyond doing dishes, and wishing for a different past. I feel healthy. I'm still aware the forward path will always have its bumps, it's just that now I don't much care about focussing all of my time and energy on the anticipation of when things will get tough again, stealing my todays for my tomorrows.

Anyone who has been reading my posts over the past three months has seen me repeatedly refer to a "theory" I call 'is'. Most have dismissed it as crazy, or have made attempts at following it, but honestly admit that they just don't get it.

I think that's fair. I'm not really writing it as a cohesive stream of thought. It comes in dribs and farts as each day faces me with a new keyboard of words to type out.

But here's the key.....

I KNOW in my own head what I want to say, and it makes total sense to me (and "more total" sense with each bit of supporting evidence I find...yes, it 'is' possible to be "more total" on an infinity scale.)

I did a search on "chaos theory" and Gleick" and came up with so many "YES!" mental shouts, I had to stop searching to write this blog. I feel vindicated at a personal level. I feel rejuvenated. I don't feel the least bit hypomanic (for those who personally know me, and have concluded that I am, just from the tone of this note).

"don't you judge me and don't you point
at me or at my ways
the end is coming soon enough
I need none of your delays" -she wrote in her poem

In a review of a book called "Hyperspace" by Michio Kaku, the reviewer writes: "The laws of physics are far simpler than we think, IF we can conceive of them as being manifestations, "echoes" of higher-dimensions phenomena. Much like shadows on a plan, the laws of the universe could be shadows of hyper space. It sounds crazy, almost science fiction, but Kaku makes it utterly convincing. And that's one of the lesser revelations."

"Shadows - my fractal"

I ponder the following:

Is it just possible, perhaps even probable, that there is something so much more real to all this than what is so cavalierly dismissed by the 5 easy reasons: 1) insanity, 2) astrology, 3) non-scientific, 4) anti-religious/creationist, 5) kooky (which encapsulates any other dismissive reason that is proffered without unbiased thought, without a tabla rasa mind processing the data).

It is far more than coincidence, as I have consistently maintained, just from personal experience. It's supported, for instance, by the deja vu experiences we've all had (and Dave and Jay discussed this week). But I believe it also goes well beyond the mere realm of humanity, as does Mandlebrot, I found out today.

But what either excites me or frightens me the most is that it "fits" into all this thinking my brain has been throwing at me for the past 15 years, and I'm starting to attempt to find ways to translate it into English, which is such a limiting, frustrating and ambiguous language at times. At least for some of us.

I am becoming more convinced with each passing day and each new piece of my life that "fits in", that the layperson, unlearned and unstudied, has the same capacity of knowledge and understanding as any expert might have, perhaps even greater because it is untarnished and unbiased as so often a researcher's is. In spite of genuinely attempting to be as dispassionate as possible, doesn't it seem odd that most research is subsequently either debunked, disproved or replaced by a different model with the passage of time? That's the curiousity that drives me. They're not in conflict one with the other, it's just that the experts aren't the sole source of finality. At least, they shouldn't be. That's my layperson's opinion. After all, experts consistently disagree, and every expert is also a layperson in some "other" area than that which they profess expertise. Often expertise is merely assigned by a document, a research grant, a willing overseer and some test results. It has been said we take more care in selecting a cow than a teacher. So what, how and who declares "expertise" to exist?

Perhaps as in any area, one is drawn to an area of personal interest, contributes what one can or is able to, and moves on. The selection of research topics, support of grant money, availability of lab space and equipment is all quite arbitrary. I often wonder when Sam Walton, founder of the Walmart chain, stopped being a "person" and became a non-descript mega-corporation. What event or moment did George Bush stop being the kid who played in a sand box and peed his pants like every other kid, and become an icon of ineptness. When and how do "people" shape-shift into "corporations". The "people" who think it's more important for an oil conglomerate, or tobacco firm or drug company to have higher profits than the year before at any expense. Where does that thinking find its birth? How does that come about? What causes people's attitudes to shift as the rungs of recognition become higher on the ladder? It surely can't be reduced to the simplistic pursuit of personal accumulation at the expense of others, can it? The guy with the biggest toys at the end wins? Is that all there is? I don't think so! That would mean the sun revolves around humanity, and that theory went out the window millenia ago.

Ah yes! I feel renewed, and puzzled, and frightened, and challenged, and at peace. I feel it all. I shall be pursuing my thoughts more here, as I parallel mine with additional readings, rendering of fractals, and chatting on-line with a wonderful bunch of people.

I have found purpose.


Hey man, this is a great post to read on a Monday morning. Glad you're finding the connections and the inspiration you need to feel happy and whole.

You know, I really think the big issue with trying to convey your philosophy is a koan-like paradox. You grasp it in its totality, but struggle to translate it into discrete chunks of language that other folks can glean.

I feel that you should treat this difficulty as the crux of the matter. As Leonard Cohen said, "Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in."

You must see that your theory is dependent on radical subjectivity. The heart of the matter, it seems to me, is RICK-is-PEACE. (Hope I got the syntax right.) Like many sages before you, you've come to the difficult place where deeper exploration of your truth requires deeper subjectivity. The logical outcome of your exporation is further exploration, and you're being faced with the age-old choice: to proceed into the wilderness of your philosophy, intellectually and spiritually, or to stay and teach what you know so far?

One of the most important books I ever read was Ludwig Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus." I think the timing would be perfect for you to meet this book. It contains one of my favourite phrases: "Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must pass over in silence." It's a humble and a moving bit of wisdom about the paradox of trying to share what only intuition and contemplation may grant.

Rock on man. It suits you that you've become a fractal artist. You should put up a gallery.


Reading your postings over the past few weeks I had come to see you as a person who has found some peace in the world. Your express statements in this post about attaining that peace confirms in my mind that I "get" you at some level, even though some of the things you say still mystify me.

Thank you, humbly, Dave for your thoughts and observations. I read sometihing on a site I was visiting yesterday that struck me. The gentleman said he was open to feedback, and would answer all, but only once. Once he had stated his case, he felt "arguing" it would simply serve to entrench both sides further. I'm not suggesting that there is any argument in your response, it's just a thought that seemed appropriate to share.

I intend to do more reading than I have done in the past, even though, as I pointed out earlier, I tend to be a poor reader in that my mind takes many side paths triggered by what I'm reading. I seldom complete a book from start to finish, because it's not my mental journey, but that of the author's. Perhaps that is what you're saying in your reply too. My message is mine.

You offer that I'm faced with the apparent mutually-exclusive choice of "proceeding into the wilderness of my philosophy, intellectually and spiritually, or stay and teach what I know so far". I would suggest that they aren't mutually exclusive options. After Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, after Freud and Gauss...they came back and taught what they had found.

For better or worse, through my eyes, I will always see myself as a teacher, of both myself and of others. In fact, that's how I view everyone.

Your comments uplift me, and give me encouragement. Thank you.

That aside, how did your musical weekend go? Highlights? Surprises?



Your comments got posted as I was composing mine to Dave! Therein lies yet another one of my simultaneous serendipitous little chuckles. At exactly the same moment in New York City and Edmonton, we were responding to the same post about much the same topics.

Thank you for your observations. It's encouraging that you have picked up on the sense of inner peace I'm evolving (especially when taken in context with my earlier Bush-bashing rants of a few months ago). I truly am beginning it beyond just the words. Perhaps corny sounding, but true.

I appreciate so much that you take the time to read these, and "get me" at some level. I hope you sense the same in return about your posts.




I had New York on my mind from that experiment.

Yes, Rick, Washington. Just two short miles northwest of the Bush White House. (Don't hold that against me.)

I have read a bit of Chaos Theory, while perusing fractal sites. Not understandable to me. But your using fractals and chaos theory with your words, I was able to understand your writing better. Once in a while I get an epiphany. LOL

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  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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