Monday, 8 May 2017

THE INFINITE JEST (DAVID FOSTER WALLACE) AND THE NORMAL SCIENCIE OF KUHN AS A PLATEAU

'... that because you proceed toward mastery through a series of plateaus, so there's like radical improvement up to a certain plateau and then what looks like a stall, on the plateau, with the only way to get off one of the plateaus and climb up to the next one up ahead is with a whole lot of frustrating mindless repetitive practice and patience and hanging in there.’



The one who speaks is a teacher from the famous Enfield Tennis Academy and he establishes the analogy for the tennis training, how one must insist and keep training even when you think you aren´t progressing. I think the analogy also works for the language learning and for our topic today:  the change of paradigm in the progress of science and the normal science concept.
It´s necessary to cross over all the plateau to get to climb to the next one. In Kuhn´s words: it´s necessary that normal science advances mechanically until a crisis appears. Then, there is a change of paradigm followed by another period of normal science



Monday, 10 April 2017

AMERICAN PASTORAL (PHILIP ROTH) AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND MONKEYS

Monkeys, gorillas, they have brains and we have a brain, but they don’t have this thing, the thumb. They can’t move it opposite the way we do. The inner digit on the hand of man, that might be the distinguishing physical feature between ourselves and the rest of the animals. And the glove protects that inner digit. The ladies glove, the welder’s glove, the baseball glove, et cetera. This is the root of humanity, this opposable thumb. It enables us to make tools and build cities and everything else. Maybe more than the brain. Maybe some other animals have bigger brains in proportion to their bodies than we have. I don’t know. But the hand itself is an intricate thing. 


The genetic similarities between humans and primates are very clear when you see Mick Jagger. Regarding the differences, we have the thumb, as the text explains, but we also have the fact that primates don´t have a white sclerotic, so you can´t see where they are looking at. This has plenty of evolutionary implications, as José Cervera has explained in this conference very well.
From a literary point of view, American Pastoral is a great book, so is The World Accoding to Garp, by John Irving. However, neither books should be read by parents that are inclined to suffering about their children too much. 



Aspectos de la evolución humana en los que no solemos pensar from CRFP CLM on Vimeo.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY (KURT VONNEGUT) AND THE SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT APPLIED TO LITERATURE

As an undergraduate at Cornell I was a chemistry major because my brother was a big-shot chemist. Critics feel that a person cannot be a serious artist and also have had a technical education, which I had. I know that customarily English departments in universities, without knowing what they’re doing, teach dread of the engineering department, the physics department, and the chemistry department. And this fear, I think, is carried over into criticism. Most of our critics are products of English departments and are very suspicious of anyone who takes an interest in technology. So, anyway, I was a chemistry major, but I’m always winding up as a teacher in English departments, so I’ve brought scientific thinking to literature. There’s been very little gratitude for this.


Kurt says he studied Chemistry because his brother was already a big-shot chemist. This is a big deal. I don´t know whether eldest brothers are aware of their responsibility when they choose a degree. I am not sure if they know how they can influence on their siblings. How many soft, but genuine vocations have been destroyed by the big brothers influence?
Regarding the fear mentioned in the text, we have said several times that this dread is reciprocal between scientists and men of letters and that we try to make this dread as soft as possible. It is been accepted that the man of letters thinks all scientists are brutes and, on the other hand, scientists think men of letters are damsels. This is unbearable.
With thi­s text we want to express our gratitude to Kurt Vonnegut for the incorporation of the scientific thought to literature, even if we don´t believe in this thought or scientific method so much.
(looking at Vonnegut’s picture, he looks like Fogwill, the way that Cortazar believed that Baudelaire and Poe were actually the same person)

Thursday, 2 March 2017

CARPENTER´S GOTHIC (WILLIAM GADDIS) AND THE AGING OF MEN AND PLANTS

Well it's, yes of course that's what happens isn't it, he said as though again called on to explain, pursuing it as he had the house itself, welcoming facts proof against fine phrases that didn't mean anything with —all those glorious colours the leaves turn when the chlorophyll breaks down in the fall, when the proteins that are tied to the chlorophyll molecules break down into their amino acids that go down into the stems and the roots. That may be what happens to people when they get old too, these proteins breaking down faster than they can be replaced and then, yes well and then of course, since proteins are the essential elements in all living cells the whole system begins to disinteg..


It seems there are similarities between the animal and the vegetal aging, apart from the exchangable adjetives: glum, overripe… whithered! much harder.
Insane, whithered or dead” were the three possibilities, terrible possibilities, for women, according to a Mexican poet.
The Fisiology assesor of this blog told me that the text says the truth about the chlorophyll, but not so much about the animal proteins, from a scientific view. Maybe you, like I, have the feeling that the text should have more commas, I guess the author has made it in this way on purpose.

Monday, 27 February 2017

THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN (SIRI HUSTVEDT) AND THE FUNCTION OF CORPUS CALLOSUM

In 1906, the anatomist Robert Bennett Bean claimed that the corpus callosum—the neural fibers that bind the two halves of the brain together—were bigger in men than in women and hypothesized that the “exceptional size of the corpus callosum may mean exceptional intellectual activity.” Big thoughts = Big CC.


The corpus callosum is a controversial topic, not only from a feminist point of view. Back in those days, some scientists also tried to find differences between the corpus callosum of several races. Nowadays nobody thinks this is true. For me, it is not only diffcult to believe those differences exist, but also that this disgusting cauliflower is, as some claim, able to do anything except getting to know itself. This last thing would be, according to David Hubel, “like getting up from the floor by pulling up your own shoelaces”

Monday, 20 February 2017

JENIGAN (DAVID GATES) AND THE SPACE-TIME PERSPECTIVE

One of those disgraces best dealt with by putting off thinking about it. Once you’d moved on in time a little bit—making an analogy here between time and distance, though I’m not sure you can—it would be back in the past and therefore smaller. The law of perspective, as in Jon Nagy’s Television Art Book. Like an A-bomb blast, which seared you less the farther away you stood, in a featureless Jon Nagy landscape. I’m not explaining this right.


At the end he doesn´t explain it properly, like he admits, but I like the analogy. If in Modern Physics you can talk about the continuous spacetime, you can also talk about the spacetime perspective. When you do something embarrasing you don´t need to run away, it is enough to stay motionless and think (like in The King´s Ring tale): “this too shall pass”. The people who are able to discern how they will laugh in the future at the failure occured in the present, can be very happy

Monday, 13 February 2017

THEY CAME LIKE SWALLOWS (WILLIAM MAXWELL) AND THE PROPAGATION OF ESPHERIC WAVES

Once started, the music swept along of its own momentum, carrying Bunny with it. He was helpless. So was Robert and so was his mother. The only opposition came from the room itself. What the green walls threw back, the fire caught at and sent up the chimney. What the fire could not reach, the ringed candelabrum turned nervously into light, ring upon ring.


Sonic waves are tridimensional waves that propagate from their source. Its area would be the area of a sphere with radius R, where R is the distance to the sonic source. According to Huygens Principle, each obstacle that the waves face should become a secondary source of spheric waves, similar to the ones described by William Maxwell in this room. With the candelabrum, there is a more complicated interaction between light and sonic waves.