17 November 2015

Postcard 41

Movie studios often used to keep a person on set called a Wildy, who was often drunk. The Wildy's job was to come up with what happened next. An example is: Laurel and Hardy are moving an upright piano across a ramshackle rope bridge is the Swiss Alps. The planks break and physically comedic misadventures ensue. What next Wildy? A gorilla emerges. Wildy brings it from the left.

In the first World War, battleships were painted with garish colors -- pinks, emeralds, turquoises -- in disorienting patterns of broken stripes and asymmetric plaids. It was designed to disrupt the visual estimation of the ship's speed and bearing, and it was very effective. The camouflage was called razzle dazzle.

Bernoulli called it Spira Mirablis. It is also called the golden spiral, or more generally the logarithmic spiral. At every scale it persists in the created world. From space to the subatomic, nature approximates it. It is tempting to take a pythagorean view and ascribe a mystical pre-existing formal reality to the mathematical description we call Φ. Reality, though is much less elaborate, I feel, but no less profound. We say that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but we don't account for friction. 
The universe has determined that the most efficient way to respond to the hazards of movement through its own laws is to deflect, to bend, to deviate, to curve, to parry, sheer, slew and slip, to swerve and to whirl.

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