Trains of Thought
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XXII. 07/08/17-15/10/17; better distractions

Entertainment forced on you at the airport: first at the queue for the security check-in, later in the plane itself.  A dark mirror mounted on a column in front of the x-ray machines shows a superficial likeness. Why is music needed here? Who decides, who benefits?

We may soon see neuroses and allergies developing against certain music, psychological equivalents of nut allergies.

Mozart writing music for fluteplaying clocks and Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory written for Maelzel’s pan-harmonicon… good God Vaucanson’s flutist! actually played the flute? Because that’s where it came from, there the technology came from right down that paper roll with the holes in it where the computer came from, you see? Just take a minute to explain all this computer madness besotted by science besotted by technology by this explosion of progress and the information revolution what we’re really besotted by is people making millions, making billions…

William Gaddis

Tiredness moves the self aside. Words become automatic. Consciousness becomes a bit detached.

First, wear sunglasses during morning exercise outdoors. This will reduce the influence of morning light being sent to your suprachiasmatic clock…

Matthew Walker

No airline has yet solved the overhead-locker- problem. The small aircraft, which service short-haul flights, are most elegant. The travelers are seasoned. No tourists. A flight that lasts less than an hour is a sort of extravagance. Time must be precious. And overhead bags don’t fit in, so they’re left on trolleys and put into the hold. And it’s easy to pick them up later because there aren’t many passengers, not many bags.

Fishnet stockings, wrist tattoo, necklaces, ears pierced around the perimeters. A business traveler can look like this. A new uniform for some pursuits.

The side of a church tower looks like a stone-masoned vent, slits hewn into cold surfaces to condition the air.

And City Airport draws a different crowd. The restaurant serves overpriced linguine. It’s a tight fit at the raised table. A forceful maître d‘ tells the incumbents to move bags and make space.

A recruiter for Sotheby’s Master’s programmes is waiting for a flight to Edinburgh. Many of the new students are Scottish. They are lawyers and other professionals wanting to round out intellectual resumes. Good students come from France as well. Chinese students are a market, but it’s not easy to make inroads there. The recruitment office is understaffed. The quality of people who fly from City Airport is better, she says.

Rimmed glasses, narrow head, indefinite. The plane accelerates more rapidly from City. Less space. And then London appears with its light gently diffused. Frankfurt from the taxi looks like a sterile, futuristic place with no life. This is not a good  replacement of London. The Intercontinental by the central station: solid surfaces, bathrobes and slippers.

A fat man in an orange shirt eats boiled sausages on the train. He makes phone calls: procurement issues. A family settles in the quiet section of the carriage and makes civilized noise.

Never reveal everything: take the cropping in Degas’ rehearsal. Highlights and a hyper-real quality. A seasoned man is in the background at the center, in charge, but ambiguously so: not quite the organised movement that he is trying to conduct.  Who cares? It’s 1874. Later: a woman at her toilette, pigments on primed, grainy canvas, blocks of colour. Rothko means nothing here. Another combing her hair: low resolution. The late works are spare and pared back. (Munch the only other like this in 1897.) He was losing his sight from 1880-1890s. Shoulder straps adjusted: blue, red hair, green and yellow where the arm folds into the body.

Michael E., the name of the man next to me. A wedding ring on his left ring finger, squeezing the flesh of his finger, which looks swollen around the smoothness of the metal. Early morning emails on the train. So many words: struck into the screen. We are all writing, all the time, compressing life into a kind of code. “If we had more time we could have let Macroland deal with this whole package including the ordering and delivery… of the four I went to, Zoom were by far the best in terms of distilling our requirements…”

Business (work?) is a game of desperation. You’re out to reach a level at which the desperation is balanced by social or pecuniary compensation.

Fit for work: Monday morning on the train, eyes stinging slightly with tiredness. Ennui spreads like alcohol in the bloodstream, slowly pumping its way through the liver jamming up the processes, putting the healthy metabolism on hold.

The young business administrator in a cashmere sweater leafs through the MIT Technology Review: “we view our technology as a central nervous system for companies that aggregates [sic] data and makes sense of it within milliseconds, at scale,” someone called Neha Narkhede is quoted as saying.

Tallis Gomes is building an “Uber for beauty.” Bill Liu has flexible components that could change the way we use electronics. Kathy Cong is developing new models for entrepreneurship in China. Wiens has developed computational models that use algorithms to search through data contained in a hospital’s patient record system…

What is the processing power of the brain? At what rate can it parse flow?

Mountain bike racing in the woods is probably a good speed test for the right cerebral hemisphere’s ability to interpret incoming visual data. The entire scene is certainly changing much more quickly, and this is likely recruiting as much of the optic nerve’s “bandwidth” as possible. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the bit rate exceeded 106 bits per second, but the degree of abstraction is much lower. “Go there” and “Don’t hit the tree” is about all that’s necessary. Indeed, one of the most valuable things a racer can do to improve race day lap times is to pre-ride the course the day before. Pre-riding is not nearly such a big deal in road racing.

Niels Olson

Still next to me, now on the phone, the ring-tone is the Scooby Doo theme song and the technology review says how Olga Russakovsky plays an important role in promoting diversity among AI workers.

“I wanted to create the most ultimately small fluidic channels possible…”

Sinewy arms, narrow face, overbite, coloured hair, a grey jacket.

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