[Paleopsych] Frank's Continued Abandonment of Reality

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Fri Dec 17 01:33:02 UTC 2004

1. Beethoven's 234th Birthday
2. My Readings So Far
3. Thanks to All
4. My Next Readings
5. Planned Return
6. Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database

As promised, I have added several new items to my webpage, 
http://www.panix.com/~checker (don't forget the tilde). I'm ashamed of one 
of them, a too enthusiastic review of a book that I really thought very 
little of. I'm pleased by my prescience in noting the group selection 
implications in my piece, "Welfare Bums among the Lions." But the series, 
County Sovereignty, shows that my success as a prophet is not good.


Happy birthday to my greatest hero. Every year, I celebrate by listening 
to ten opus numbers, with a catch-up of the Werke ohne Opuszahl. This 
year, it's Opp. 91-100:

91. Wellington's Victory. I also have a CD of an electronic reconstruction 
of the original piece for Johann Nepomuk Mätzel's panharmonica, a 
mechanical contraption that played a trumpet, flute, clarinet, oboe organ 
pipes, timpani, triangle, cymbals, and snare and bass drums, but of the 
symphony at the end only. Such instruments later came to be used with 
punched cards, and indeed computer programming is derived from musical 
programming! Mätzel (1776-1838) had a fantastic career and built three 
instruments, the last of which was destroyed by Allied bombing during what 
Time magazine called "World War II," a fabulous propaganda term it 
invented. Photographs of a panharmonicon exist, as does Beethoven's 
scoring, making a computerized reconstruction possible. The disc is called 
"The Ultimate Music Box: A computerized re-creation of pieces for lost 
mechanical instruments by Beethoven, Haydn, CPE Bach, Handel, and 
Cherubini" (MHS 512264K (1988)).

92. Symphony 7
93. Symphony 8
94. Song: An die Hoffnung
95. Quartet 11

96. Violin Sonata 10
97. Archduke Trio
98. Song cycle: An die ferned Geliebte (the first song cycle ever)
99. Song: Der Mann von Wort
100. Song: Merkenstein

Except for Harnoncourt with the symphonies, I'm listening to the DG 
"Complete" Beethoven Edition on 84 CDs, of which I have a majority.


Recall that I abandoned reality for fiction on the grounds that I think I 
pretty much know, at least in outline form, what is really known about 
human nature from the standpoint of the biological and social sciences, 
but that writers of fiction have a way of getting at the complexities of 
human nature that elude scientists. I am particularly keen on increasing 
my understanding of non-Western peoples and how permanent (grounded in 
gene-culture co-evolution) their differences are but also the extent to 
which the world is converging to thinking like Westerners, of which 
teen-age mall rats might be taken as representative, though the teen-age 
mall rats may be become more alike than adults.

a. Jack Keroauc, On the Road (1957). This is part of the rebellion against 
the conformity of the 1950s. The scene describing Mexicans and the mañana 
ethic is far more devastating than anything I've ever read in the 
anti-immigration literature.

b. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967). Probably 
the best novel of the past half-century. A wonderfully complex work with 
themes of the coming of civilization, the coming of capitalism, the 
confusion of time, the confusion of reality and the fabulousness of the 
New World, cycles of repetition of the fates characters with the same 
names, and of course solitude. I read guide books to help me keep track of 
the themes, as well as a casebook edited by Gene H. Bell-Villada. I can't 
make any great pronouncements about how non-Western mentalities differ 
from Western ones, not yet after reading just one book, esp. since the 
author is so deeply influenced by Western writers, esp., so I read, 

c. Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age (1995). Thanks to Carolyn for giving 
me this book. Like OYOS, it is multi-layered but at a far lower level. It 
is set into the nanotechnological future, but like so many futuristic 
novels, how the underlying economy work is left unspecified, except for 
one hint, namely that now goods are basically free, what people do for a 
living is provide entertainment. But this failure to give an economic 
backdrop is widespread: implicitly, social economies run the world in 
_1984_, _Brave New World_, and _Player Piano_. I did find the book to be 
needlessly cryptic and overlong, though. The basic culture clash is 
between neo-Victorians and Confucians in a world without national 
governments but with continued tribal loyalties. (The main thread is 
the coming-of-age story of Nell, who managed to get a copy of the 
interactive book, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.) Still, I enjoyed 
reading it very much.

d. Yuu Watase, _Alice 19th, vol. 1: Lotus Master_ (2001, a manga or 
Japanese comic book, adapted into English in 2003). I slipped this one in, 
which took me about an hour to read. It turns out I made a good choice, 
since Watase has the second most entries in the Google directory Arts > 
Comics > Manga > Creators. There's even a site devoted to the Alice 19th 
manga series, now numbering seven, http://geocities.com/alice2827, though 
there's not much there. Google <watase interview alice> and read the 
enthusiastic reviews on Amazon. The authors says she introduced a lot of 
"Western" elements into the work, including the name Alice itself. But she 
kept the boy hero Kyou Japanese. Sarah spoke to me of Shinto elements in 
the manga, but they elude me. In fact, it's not clear to me how Japanese 
teenagers differ from American teenagers. More reading, though probably 
not magnas, is clearly necessary.

e. Steve Gregg, Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary. I have just 
started this 526-page book. This will not tell me much about non-Western 
ways of looking at the world, but it will be fascinating to read how there 
can be four different literalist interpretations of the last book of the 
Bible, all struggling for inner consistency. No theorizing here on how the 
book was written, though. I very much wonder if such a book exists outside 
the Occident.


Thanks to all who sent me their recommendations, if not actual books! A 
few special remarks are in order.

a. Thanks to Trish for recommending Orhan Pamuk's Snow, a novel just 
translated from the Turkish and published in January. It's a complex and 
enigmatic story about the clash between radical Islam and Western ideals 
and the inability to go back home. This is precisely the kind of 
literature I'm looking for. It seems that a great many non-Western novels 
deal with just this culture clash. A deeper question for me is how this 
differs from the clash *inside* the West between the faith of old and 
modern skepticism.

b. Miriam objected to my classifying Latin American authors as 
non-Western, though no one objected to my lumping in Russian authors with 
the West. There is no end to these disputes, but I went along with what 
the Great Books folks call Western, which includes the products of 
Classical Civilization (I hold the Occident to comprise Classical, 
Western, and Darwinian Civilizations, though I commonly go along with 
everyone else and lump them together as "Western"), the Bible, and the 
Russians. (Randall Collins, in his great The Sociology of Philosophers,
calls Islam Western.) My purpose is to broaden my awareness, and since I 
know little about Latin America and Islam, but have at least read some of 
the Russians, which I why I followed the Great Books division.

c. Lynn, of Mormon background, recommends Orson Scott Card's science 
fiction novel, The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, which I will 
certainly add to my list. (You'll remember my posting Card's reaction to 
Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ.) He also recommends The Book 
of Mormon. While Mormonism is in many ways to me the most attractive 
version of Christianity (it's American and it offers continuing 
revelation), I'm afraid that just reading the book untoutered would be 
just as futile as reading the Book of Revelation without a guide. Later.

Jerry says reading Wells would not inform me very deeply about human 
nature. True, perhaps, but I love casebooks, which is what my editions of 
The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds consist of. He suggests that 
the novels he wrote or co-wrote, The Mote in God's Eye, Footfall, and The 
Oath of Fealty, might fit the bill better. (Oh, I have read Jacques 
Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence and can recommend it to all who have not 
(yet) abandoned reality.) Please, Jerry, which one! I'm stressing getting 
a large diversity of authors under my belt at the moment and not reading 
several by one author.

Carolyn objects to Isaac Asimov's The Seven Deadly Sins of Science 
Fiction, on the grounds that his novels almost never have women in them, 
that Asimov just can't handle half of the human race. (A story related to 
me from his ex-wife bears this out.) I shan't disagree, though in this 
case, the book was merely edited by Asimov. A lot of the science fiction 
I've accumulated consists of books I've pushed aside for years, really, 
and think I ought to read.

Alice and Marti recommended the Harry Potter books, and others recommended 
C.S. Lewis, some of whose books I read a long time ago. Later. In the case 
of the Harry Potter books, I've read so much about them that I feel that 
I've actually read them.


a. Western novel: Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Like On 
the Road, this is another novel of the 1950s protesting the excessive 
conformity of the era. And like the latter book, I've been meaning to 
read it for a long time.

b. Non-Western novel: Orhan Pamuk, Snow. And again thanks to Trish. I 
won't wait till it comes out in paperback in June. I have moved it ahead 
of all others. Reviews in the magazine and on Amazon were almost uniformly 
very favorable.

c. Science fiction: Frank Herbert, Dune. Jerry has doubts that this will 
fit my bill, but it is a decided classic. It sounds like a classic that 
will long be read and cherished.

d. Religion: Thomas Cleary, translator and presenter, The Essential Koran. 
I still don't want to tackle the entire thing. I have read Michael Cook, 
The Koran: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford UP, 2000).


I'll return with my usual postings after the first round of readings, that 
is, after I get through the 528-page, slow moving tome Revelation: Four 
Views: A Parallel Commentary. But I shall slow it down to finish getting 
through a stack of unread copies of The Times Literary Supplement and of 
various classical music magazines, like GlennGould and Fanfare, as well as 
some things I xeroxed while we were at UVa on our annual Labor Day visit 
and various other backlogged matters. I have already stacked up a hundred 
articles to forward, and I hope they have more lasting value than much of 
what I have sent in the past. This time, I shall make little attempt to do 
more than scan the majority of articles, since all this reading interferes 
with my abandoning reality. In return, I'd love it if anyone would alert 
me to anything esp. worthwhile.

I did not miss all the commentaries about the Presidential election, 
except that I managed to find one illuminating piece, Redemption in 
American Politics, which will come after my return, I am not sure how many 
more months hence. Actually, hardly anything has happened since my 60th 
birthday that really affects me directly, though the various new political 
appointments may result in a bureaucratic reshuffling that will put me 
under a PSYCHOTIC SLAVE DRIVER. These things happen, and happen randomly, 
but I'm not very worried.

But here is one event that boosts my personal happiness enormously and 
which I send as:

New York Times, December 14, 2004

Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet
search service, plans to announce an agreement today with
some of the nation's leading research libraries and Oxford
University to begin converting their holdings into digital
files that would be freely searchable over the Web.

It may be only a step on a long road toward the
long-predicted global virtual library. But the
collaboration of Google and research institutions that also
include Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and
the New York Public Library is a major stride in an
ambitious Internet effort by various parties. The goal is
to expand the Web beyond its current valuable, if eclectic,
body of material and create a digital card catalog and
searchable library for the world's books, scholarly papers
and special collections.

Google - newly wealthy from its stock offering last summer
- has agreed to underwrite the projects being announced
today while also adding its own technical abilities to the
task of scanning and digitizing tens of thousands of pages
a day at each library.

Although Google executives declined to comment on its
technology or the cost of the undertaking, others involved
estimate the figure at $10 for each of the more than 15
million books and other documents covered in the
agreements. Librarians involved predict the project could
take at least a decade.

Because the Google agreements are not exclusive, the pacts
are almost certain to touch off a race with other major
Internet search providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo.
Like Google, they might seek the right to offer online
access to library materials in return for selling
advertising, while libraries would receive corporate help
in digitizing their collections for their own institutional

"Within two decades, most of the world's knowledge will be
digitized and available, one hopes for free reading on the
Internet, just as there is free reading in libraries
today," said Michael A. Keller, Stanford University's head

The Google effort and others like it that are already under
way, including projects by the Library of Congress to put
selections of its best holdings online, are part of a trend
to potentially democratize access to information that has
long been available to only small, select groups of
students and scholars.

Last night the Library of Congress and a group of
international libraries from the United States, Canada,
Egypt, China and the Netherlands announced a plan to create
a publicly available digital archive of one million books
on the Internet. The group said it planned to have 70,000
volumes online by next April.

"Having the great libraries at your fingertips allows us to
build on and create great works based on the work of
others," said Brewster Kahle, founder and president of the
Internet Archive, a San Francisco-based digital library
that is also trying to digitize existing print information.

The agreements to be announced today will allow Google to
publish the full text of only those library books old
enough to no longer be under copyright. For copyrighted
works, Google would scan in the entire text, but make only
short excerpts available online.

Each agreement with a library is slightly different. Google
plans to digitize nearly all the eight million books in
Stanford's collection and the seven million at Michigan.
The Harvard project will initially be limited to only about
40,000 volumes. The scanning at Bodleian Library at Oxford
will be limited to an unspecified number of books published
before 1900, while the New York Public Library project will
involve fragile material not under copyright that library
officials said would be of interest primarily to scholars.

The trend toward online libraries and virtual card
catalogs is one that already has book publishers scrambling
to respond.

At least a dozen major publishing companies, including some
of the country's biggest producers of nonfiction books -
the primary target for the online text-search efforts -
have already entered ventures with Google and Amazon that
allow users to search the text of copyrighted books online
and read excerpts.

Publishers including HarperCollins, the Penguin Group,
Houghton Mifflin and Scholastic have signed up for both the
Google and Amazon programs. The largest American trade
publisher, Random House, participates in Amazon's program
but is still negotiating with Google, which calls its
program Google Print.

The Amazon and Google programs work by restricting the
access of users to only a few pages of a copyrighted book
during each search, offering enough to help them decide
whether the book meets their requirements enough to justify
ordering the print version. Those features restrict a
user's ability to copy, cut or print the copyrighted
material, while limiting on-screen reading to a few pages
at a time. Books still under copyright at the libraries
involved in Google's new project are likely to be protected
by similar restrictions.

The challenge for publishers in coming years will be to
continue to have libraries serve as major influential
buyers of their books, without letting the newly vast
digital public reading rooms undermine the companies'
ability to make money commissioning and publishing authors'

>From the earliest days of the printing press, book
publishers were wary of the development of libraries at
all. In many instances, they opposed the idea of a central
facility offering free access to books that people would
otherwise be compelled to buy.

But as libraries developed and publishers became aware that
they could be among their best customers, that opposition
faded. Now publishers aggressively court librarians with
advance copies of books, seeking positive reviews of books
in library journals and otherwise trying to influence the
opinion of the people who influence the reading habits of
millions. Some of that promotional impulse may translate to
the online world, publishing executives say.

But at least initially, the search services are likely to
be most useful to publishers whose nonfiction backlists, or
catalogs of previously published titles, are of interest to
scholars but do not sell regularly enough to be carried in
large quantities in retail stores, said David Steinberger,
the president and chief executive the Perseus Books Group,
which publishes mostly nonfiction books under the Basic
Books, PublicAffairs, Da Capo and other imprints.

Based on his experiences with Amazon's and Google's
commercial search services so far, Mr. Steinberger said, "I
think there is minimal risk, or virtually no risk, of
copyrighted material being misused." But he said he would
object to a library's providing copyrighted material online
without a license. "If you're talking about the
instantaneous, free distribution of books, I think that
would represent a problem," Mr. Steinberger said.

For their part, libraries themselves will have to rethink
their central missions as storehouses of printed, indexed

"Our world is about to change in a big, big way," said
Daniel Greenstein, university librarian for the California
Digital Library of the University of California, which is a
project to organize and retain existing digital materials.

Instead of expending considerable time and money to
managing their collections of printed materials, Mr.
Greenstein said, libraries in the future can devote more
energy to gathering information and making it accessible -
and more easily manageable - online.

But Paul LeClerc, the president and chief executive of the
New York Public Library, sees Web access as an expansion of
libraries' reach, not a replacement for physical
collections. "Librarians will add a new dimension to their
work," Mr. LeClerc said. "They will not abandon their
mission of collecting printed material and keeping them for
decades and even centuries."

Google's founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have long
vowed to make all of the world's information accessible to
anyone with a Web browser. The agreements to be announced
today will put them a few steps closer to that goal - at
least in terms of the English-language portion of the
world's information. Mr. Page said yesterday that the
project traced to the roots of Google, which he and Mr.
Brin founded in 1998 after taking a leave from a graduate
computer science program at Stanford where they worked on a
"digital libraries" project. "What we first discussed at
Stanford is now becoming practical," Mr. Page said.

At Stanford, Google hopes to be able to scan 50,000 pages a
day within the month, eventually doubling that rate,
according to a person involved in the project.

The Google plan calls for making the library materials
available as part of Google's regular Web service, which
currently has an estimated eight billion Web pages in its
database and tens of millions of users a day. As with the
other information on its service, Google will sell
advertising to generate revenue from its library material.
(In it existing Google Print program, the company shares
advertising revenue with the participating book

Each library, meanwhile, will receive its own copy of the
digital database created from that institution's holdings,
which the library can make available through its own Web
site if it chooses.

Harvard officials said they would be happy to use the
Internet to share their collections widely. "We have always
thought of our libraries at Harvard as being a global
resource," said Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard.

At least initially, Google's digitizing task will be labor
intensive, with people placing the books and documents on
sophisticated scanners whose high-resolution cameras
capture an image of each page and convert it to a digital

Google, whose corporate campus in Mountain View, Calif., is
just a few miles from Stanford, plans to transport books to
a copying center it has established at its headquarters.
There the books will be scanned and then returned to the
Stanford libraries. Google plans to set up remote scanning
operations at both Michigan and Harvard.

The company refused to comment on the technology that it
was using to digitize books, except to say that it was
nondestructive. But according to a person who has been
briefed on the project, Google's technology is more
labor-intensive than systems that are already commercially

Two small start-up companies, 4DigitalBooks of St. Aubin,
Switzerland, and Kirtas Technologies of Victor, N.Y., are
selling systems that automatically turn pages to capture


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