Interstice: an opening, crack, gap, or interval; an intervening space.

I am a psychotherapist, buddhist, feminist, artist, pleasure-seeking Thinker of Things.

I am interested in ways of engaging with complexity and interdependence through hybrid knowledge and interdisciplinary modes of investigation at the intersections of science, critical theory, art and religion.

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  1. Thank you! I just came across your post “In Praise of Obfuscation”. Weirdly enough I googled that phrase! And your post was better than I could possibly have hoped for.

    Are you familiar with the book ‘The Shape of Ancient Thought’ by Thomas McEvilley? It’s looks at the connections and flows of ideas between Greece and India.

    A particular idea McEvilley gets into may be of great interest to you, given the span of your interests. He talks about an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Rig Vedic story of the battle between Indra and Vritra.

    To cut a long and complex story short, there is an interpretation that suggests that the Rig Veda was using mathematical double/triple-entendres to connect astronomy and musical mathematics. The Vedic storm god Indra in the story may represent the rational mind, which uses rational (ratio-based) numbers to divide up the circle (of the sky’s ecliptic, or of the musical octave) — thereby carving meaning out of primordial chaos. Vritra is the serpent/dragon of primordial chaos, and is the circle itself. Vritra can also be seen as the real numbers (which include the irrational numbers, which weren’t discovered/invented/named until much later). Modern mathematics teaches us that there are infinite real and rational numbers between any two intervals (0 and 360 degrees / 2 pi for a circle) , but there are always “more” real numbers than rational numbers. Another way to say this is that the rational numbers are the nameable/countable numbers, which are always dwarfed by the unnameable/uncountable numbers that surround them. This also relates, by the way, to Georg Cantor’s work on different infinities.

    The math/music interpretation doesn’t stop here, however. In the case of music theory, different rational number choices lead to different musical modes — vaguely similar to ragas in Indian music. Prior to the invention of equal temperament in Western music, there were certain discords produced by each rational-number-based method for tuning music instruments. The more notes you want to divide your octave into, the more likely you are to produce dissonant sounds. Indian music chose to divide the octave into various ragas — each with up to 7 notes out of a possible 22 (in Carnatic music). By not playing/singing all 22 notes in one musical piece, dissonant sounds can be avoided. So each of the many raga choices allows for different subsets of the 22 notes. The moral/social implication is that different worldviews are like different ragas — they “pick” different rational values from the infinite circle of possible values. Each has the possibility of being internally consistent/consonant. But other choices exist. (This is the source of this non-standard interpretation: http://goo.gl/Fp8c6Q)
    Contemplation of the different, mutually inconsistent/dissonant worldviews/ragas highlights the kind of gaps and tensions that your post seems to be about.

    Your ideas about apophatic discourse might work well with this myth. The Real is never fully captured by the Rational. Fixed, rational discourse is always outflanked by the uncountable fluid infinities of experience. But this itself is a dynamic process — the Indra of one’s rationality can name every new experience-Vritra as soon as it emerges, temporarily beating back the “irritation” of lack of clear meaning. Rationality can always crystallize and therefore contend with non-meaning by simply naming it.

    The Hindu concept of Lila might actually be related to this dynamism. Lila can be the hide-and-seek game that creates islands of calm meaning in chaotic seas of non-meaning, or, alternatively, oases of non-meaning (or art, or fun) in deserts of meaning (or rationality, or totalizing ideology).

    Good luck with all your endeavours!

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