Wednesday, April 26, 2006

as at a crossing, one train may hide another train

I'm very slowly pulling together some campus talk here at the University of Iowa on science, art, and literary fiction, which is part of why I'd started this blog. I wanted a space for hashing out related ideas with other people and looking for ways of having fruitful conversations among artists and scientists, and I hoped it'd change my mind about how to host real-life conversations.

I think that's happening -- I think this is softening me up. Originally I'd had a teacherish eat-your-veg view, where the lack of talk between scientists and artists disturbed me, and I wanted to sort of mash the two groups together. (The fascist preschooler in me is very hardy.) But thanks to conversations like this one, and articles on other two-cultures sites like Lablit, I'm starting to suspect we're better off if the artists who show up are already genuinely interested in science, scientists, the culture of science. Which shows I'm slow, but this is not new. Anyway, thanks to commenters.

I've started reading John Searle's Mind and it's made me suspicious of some of my favorite childhood thoughts. I spent most of fourth grade, which was less than engaging, studying my hands, peeling Elmer's glue off them, and wondering how it was I could move them just by wanting to. Searle raises that question in his introduction (minus glue) and points out that it assumes a distinct mind and body, and I see that at nine I assumed mind and body were separate. I don't anymore, so I have a feeling I'll sit by while he dismantles something I've got no stake in, but I'm curious to see what he's got to say about materialism and what he calls "emergentism as it is standardly conceived."

My daughter sounds like she's wrecking my bed as it is standardly conceived, so that's it for now. The poem is Kenneth Koch's "One Train May Hide Another"; I'll quote it later.

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