Tall Man Small Elephant


I had my measuring tape out yesterday. Doing some rough calculations. I was attempting to measure the distance between the natural and the supernatural. Or how I imagine the measurements and calculations  would be made in a pre-industrial Scottish village.

Really looking for the moment where no distance lies between them. It’s a situation that occurs with relative ease.

I made a spectacular mess.

I had one particular object that in this situation is entirely distant. That would be the diabolical peasant. Yet I was uncertain if discussing second-sight and magic in a pre-industrial Scottish context to what extent a reader would draw a relationship with second-sight, witchcraft with Satan following close in the wind and attempting to sour the buttermilk.

It’s a rather large elephant entering the room as when it sits down I lose sight of all the other objects I have been trying to map as they move through the space.

Its a subject that is distant in this moment of little relevance as it has no context in this space. A relationship between second sight, the witch and satan does not occur at a village level.

I have a further difficulty as at the moment I can’t tell the difference between an empirical peasant and a diabolical one.

My initial response to this state, is to out of context, take a source I do not have to worry about or relate to closely to the tightly woven mess of things I like to think with.

I need some fresh air, a pleasing walk in the woods in a situation where a range of half thought out relationships do not start tumbling from the branches.

I need the quite confines of a well-ordered therapeutic garden.

Ding an Sich (How Do I Get A Bike Down The Stairs?)

a thing as it is in itself, not mediated through perception by the senses or conceptualization, and therefore unknowable.


Before bed- time

I read something on functional logic and higher order propositions grasping small parts here and there, that leads me to Quine on theories and things and his take on ding an sich, which seems to be more within my grasp.

My next thought is, should work up a paper on aspects of Second sight in the late 17th century and see if I can publish it?

I reject that thought immediately as stupid. The easy route to publication is in the History of Science. Both editor and audience would demand a radical alteration and limit on inflection.

I knew when it came to mind it was not a serious thought, I was wrong.

I have the same issues in the late 17th century when descriptions of second sight appear to undergo an alteration of inflection in order to reach an audience with an interest in natural history and the new experimental sciences.

This morning I can see I am peforming my usual method of compaire and contrast, take multiple time- lines and look for similarity and difference.

The nature of the sources I first worked with make me prone to a comparative historical approach but that I choose the subject in the first place suggests some pre-existing disposition that makes such subjects appealing.

Before university my only other form of education was craft based. Here, the thought ,how can I use the situation I find myslef in to alter the inflection of a script? is rather a standard and early move you make. Its the start of a processes, it means I don’t have to think or be slowed down by the clunk clunk of language and can get things up on its feet and moving.

This morning what I was thinking about comes to mind.

What is second sight and what can we related it to?


As I am in the middle of something, I am not particularly bothered about noting in detail what exactly it is I am doing. I don’t need to think I just need to see things pattern, layer, take on an order and then fall apart, move and become something other than it was.

What happens to our sense of time when the inflection changes to something other than it was?






Synchronized arousal between performers and related spectators in a Fire-Walking Ritual

There is a Gaelic saying that “Envy splits rocks”……., and in proof of this the following story is told. An industrious, careful man sold more cheese than his neighbours, and was much envied when seen, as he frequently was, on his way to market with a cheese and a bag on his back. One day, instead of a cheese, he put a small mill-stone in the bag. His neighbours, filled with envy, saw him jogging along as usual to market, and stood in their doors looking after him and making remarks. On reaching the market and opening the bag he found the mill-stone broken in two, a certain proof of the power of envy and of the truth embodied in the proverb.

 The source below has a close relationship with this Scottish tale of  hazards associated with cheese production. But in terms of its measuring equipment it is using updated tools rather than the old stone bag of yore.
Abstract: Collective rituals are present in all known societies, but their function is a matter of long-standing debates. Field observations suggest that they may enhance social cohesion and that their effects are not limited to those actively performing but affect the audience as well. Here we show physiological effects of synchronized arousal in a Spanish fire-walking ritual, between active participants and related spectators, but not participants and other members of the audience. We assessed arousal by heart rate dynamics and applied nonlinear mathematical analysis to heart rate data obtained from 38 participants. We compared synchronized arousal between fire-walkers and spectators. For this comparison, we used recurrence quantification analysis on individual data and cross-recurrence quantification analysis on pairs of participants’ data. These methods identified fine-grained commonalities of arousal during the 30-min ritual between fire-walkers and related spectators but not unrelated spectators. This indicates that the mediating mechanism may be informational, because participants and related observers had very different bodily behavior. This study demonstrates that a collective ritual may evoke synchronized arousal over time between active participants and bystanders. It links field observations to a physiological basis and offers a unique approach for the quantification of social effects on human physiology during real-world interactions.
J.G. Campbell, Witchcraft & Second Sight in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland, 1902.
Ivana Konvalinkaa, Dimitris Xygalatas, Joseph Bulbulia, Uffe Schjødt, Else-Marie Jegindø, Sebastian Wallot, Guy Van Orden, and Andreas Roepstorff. Synchronized arousal between performers and related spectators in a fire-walking ritual. PNAS, May 17, 2011 vol. 108 no. 20 8514-8519, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016955108

Allothetic means being centred in people or places other than oneself, and is used in navigation models (e.g., of a rat in a maze) as in the phrase “allothetic map” to indicate that a global map, not orientated or centred on the subject was used, rather than idiothetic, which means a navigation system centred on the subject.