[Edu-sig] RE: Pygame, gameMaker etc.

Kirby Urner urnerk at qwest.net
Tue Mar 15 19:36:15 CET 2005

> Help me.  Can you recommend source material that might help me understand
> what you are saying?  What might you mean by "coherent geometric
> language"? If it is to be coherent, presumably it is also accessible.  
> I am not unwilling to dig, but have not so far found that coherence.

http://synergeticists.org/synergetics/synergetics.html (mirror)

For example, take this prose description of a tree:

793.04  Enormous amounts of water are continuously being elevated through
the one-way, antigravity valving system. The tree feeds the rain-forming
atmosphere by leaking atomized water out through its leaves while at the
same time sucking in fresh water through its roots. The tree's high-tensile
fiber cell sacs are everywhere full of liquid. Liquids are noncompressible;
they distribute their local stress loadings evenly in all directions to all
the fiber cell sacs. The hydraulic compression function firmly fills out the
predesigned overall high-tensile fiber shaping of the tree. In between the
liquid molecules nature inserts tiny gaseous molecules that are highly
compressible and absorb the tree's high-shock loadings, such as from the
gusts of hurricanes. The branches can wave wildly, but they rarely break off
unless they are dehydratively dying -- which means they are losing the
integrity of their hydraulic, noncompressible load-distribution system.
Sometimes in an ice storm the tree freezes so that the liquids cannot
distribute their loads; then the branches break off and fall to the ground.

It takes some getting used to, but it's readable prose.

> What I tend to see is a focus on regular polyhedra and their properties.
> And in Fuller's famous domes he seems to have discovered structural
> properties - in the engineering sense - of certain regular space lattices
> that had been formerly overlooked.  Overlooked by human engineers, that is
> apparently they are being found in nature at the microcosmic level.
> How am I doing, and what am I missing?

Fuller's deeper commitment was to invention *in language* i.e. to come up
with an integrative way of thinking about everything using geometry as the
principal source of metaphors.  Per the quote at my synergetics page:

The integration of geometry and philosophy in
a single conceptual system providing a common language
and accounting for both the physical and metaphysical

Synergetics 251.50


What I think the culture misses in general about Fuller (I'm not picking on
you in particular) is that he was an interesting 20th century philosopher
and literary figure, not just some architect/engineer and maybe an amateur

> >
> > The concentric hierarchy stuff I dwell on in my hypertoons is
> > regular/rigid
> > (except the jitterbug plays on joint flexibility) and embeds in a frozen
> > lattice of CCP spheres.  Crystallography mostly.  Plus a basic grounding
> > in
> > coordinate systems and spatial relationships.  Geometry 101.
> I guess that's a little what bothers me.

Everything is bothersome at some level.  What bothers me about my hypertoon
code is the kludgey way I implement some of the transformations (the
jitterbugs in particular).  It works, but there's gotta be a better way.  I
can't resist trying to tinker.  More experiments scheduled for this evening.
> A) It is pleasing, but not necessarily easy.

The concentric hierarchy is an absurdly easy way of integrating a huge
amount of geometric info in a memorable way.  We just need the right
teaching tools to communicate it.  Hypertoons may help.  I've done several
live presentations in classrooms, including to very young kids, and they
really like getting this.  It's truly shocking and amazing to me that this
one particular "language game" (Wittgenstein reference) has such an up-hill
battle being accepted into the mainstream.  It's just mind-boggling.  I say
that as a former high school teacher, a good one, who covered geometry thru

There's a lot in Fuller that's speculative and "out there," and of primary
interest to scholars who've chosen to specialize in this branch of
literature (as with James Joyce or Shakespeare -- there's a lot of minutiae
and stuff that doesn't need widespread attention).  But the concentric
hierarchy is a piece that deserves adoption on a much broader basis, as an
intrinsic part of just about any well-rounded curriculum, or so it seems to

> B) Geometry, to me, needs to be presented as purposeful.  Purposeful being
> very different from practical.  But purposeful in being the working out of
> the logical implications of a limited set of propositions. That's what
> makes it geometry, not drawing or engineering. And I guess that the part 
> not necessarily getting through to me from Fuller and Kirby.
> Art

I think the right way to look at Fuller is his philosophy *overlaps*
geometry in a very big way, but ultimately it shouldn't be pigeon-holed as
geometry, the academic field, as that brings up too many expectations that
won't be fulfilled.  We still need geometry as you describe it, i.e. I don't
represent Fuller's stuff as a way of "getting beyond" geometry, as if now
geometry were obsolete or something.  That'd be foolishness.  Indeed, Fuller
dedicated his magnum opus to Coxeter, probably the premier geometer of the
20th century, or certainly one of the top ones.  He was paying homage to a
leading light in a related/overlapping discipline.

That being said, I find in Fuller's work much that's worth *exporting* to
geometry-the-school-subject.  And to other disciplines.


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