I remember something Hussie posted on…  I think it was his old Formspring? I’m not sure, maybe it was somewhere else. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of:

“Homestuck is meant to be a story that’s also a puzzle. I don’t think all stories should be like that, but some stories should be.”

And that really hits home right now. Homestuck has always been what pretentious literary types would call ergodic literature. It’s not meant to be a straightforward story, it’s supposed to require effort in interpreting it, and leaves room for many different interpretations. That doesn’t make it better than other stories, but it doesn’t make it worse either. It’s a whole different medium that can’t really be viewed the same way you would a traditional narrative. It’s just really hard not to view it that way, as traditional narratives are really all we know.

But it started as a puzzle, and it ended as a puzzle, and if nothing else, I applaud Hussie for sticking to his vision of what the story should be, even if it wasn’t what many of us wanted it to be.

Homestuck did plenty of things wrong. I have a lot of criticisms for it, especially for Act 6. But it also did many things amazingly well, and it completely altered the way I think about storytelling (not to mention that it changed my life in many other ways).

As hard as it is to not be disappointed by this conclusion, it’s almost harder to be disappointed by it. Homestuck is still as great as it ever was, because it stayed true to the philosophy it was built on.


CSA: The Ergodicity Exhibition

Developed from their Evolo skyscraper competition entries, Ergodicity, an exhibition hosted by Canterbury School of Architecture, presented thesis work from eleven Graduate Diploma students.

With over 70 percent of the worlds growing population soon to live within major cities, the exhibition reconsiders the effect of increasing densities. Projects developed their research and design to accommodate for a variety of topics affecting our urban areas today, including: population increase, the rising demand for resources, pollution, waste management, and the digital revolution.

The projects which were shown covered a wide range of locations and programmatic responses, but as a collective all questioned ‘what role can the Skyscraper play in improving our urban areas?’

Responses included approaches such as Tiny Tokyo by Carma Masson, a mixed-use community micro scraper based in the business district of central Tokyo. Tiny Tokyo re-evaluates the approach towards designing skyscrapers, using them as a tool for reviving local heritage and culture, whilst introducing relevance for the people they are designed for, rather than designing them as a corporate tool. 

The future of our history is a concept which has been explored within Luke Hill’s project titled Dis.Assemble. This project involves a complex network composed of 6 miles of disused rail systems buried deep beneath London’s streets which provides a subterranean industrial waste facility: its sole intention to ‘Dis.Assemble’ materials produced by the metropolis above.

Unused space has also been explored within Jake Mullery’s SYMCITY thesis, describing an architectural construct that occupies the ‘dead’ space between existing skyscrapers. 

A comedic thesis by Paul Sohi told the story of one man’s life growing and living in a world of 10 billion people, where 90% of society lives in urbanised cities. The comic explores what such a world would be like.

The launch night was attended by many and with special guest Peter Wynne Rees, chief planner for the City of London, the exhibition was an opportunity to showcase the work of students at the Canterbury School of Architecture ahead of the end of year summer show which starts on the 31st of May.

-Text+photography by Taylor Grindley

YW Book Club: House of Leaves

Hey guys!

Back in late July I did a post about us all reading House of Leaves together. And we’re going to start on September 1! If you don’t have it yet, buy it from Amazon Prime and it’ll totally arrive at your house in time. You can’t get it as an ebook really because it’s not a normal novel, it’s like… well, it’s hard to explain. Here’s a description I found:

The format and structure of the novel is unconventional, with unusual page layout and style, making it a prime example of ergodic literature. It contains copious footnotes, many of which contain footnotes themselves, including references to fictional books, films or articles.[1] Some pages contain only a few words or lines of text, arranged in strange ways to mirror the events in the story, often creating both anagoraphobic and a claustrophobic effect. The novel is also distinctive for its multiple narrators, who interact with each other throughout the story in elaborate and disorienting ways.

While some have attempted to describe the book as a horror story, many readers, as well as the author, would define the book as a love story. Danielewski expands on this point in an interview: “I had one woman come up to me in a bookstore and say, ‘You know, everyone told me it was a horror book, but when I finished it, I realized that it was a love story.’ And she’s absolutely right.

This week I’ll do another post, tagged #ywbookclub, about the reading schedule and how we’ll facilitate a Tumblr based discussion as we go.

Yay I’m excited!!!

The Encyclopedia of Mathematics (2002) defines ergodic theory as the “metric theory of dynamical systems. The branch of the theory of dynamical systems that studies systems with an invariant measure and related problems.” This modern definition implicitly identifies the birth of ergodic theory with proofs of the mean ergodic theorem by von Neumann (1932) and the pointwise ergodic theorem by Birkhoff (1931). These early proofs have had significant impact in a wide range of modern subjects. For example, the notions of invariant measure and metric transitivity used in the proofs are fundamental to the measure theoretic foundation of modern probability theory (Doob 1953; Mackey 1974). Building on a seminal contribution to probability theory (Kolmogorov 1933), in the years immediately following it was recognized that the ergodic theorems generalize the strong law of large numbers. Similarly, the equality of ensemble and time averages – the essence of the mean ergodic theorem – is necessary to the concept of a strictly stationary stochastic process. Ergodic theory is the basis for the modern study of random dynamical systems, e.g., Arnold (1988). In mathematics, ergodic theory connects measure theory with the theory of transformation groups. This connection is important in motivating the generalization of harmonic analysis from the real line to locally compact groups.

We’re delighted for Professor Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female recipient of the prestigious Fields Medal in mathematics. In this long overdue landmark, Professor Mirzakhani has been commended for her work in complex geometry.

The mathematics community is hopeful that this will encourage more girls and young women to pursue careers in the field.

The following articles by Maryam Mirzakhani, published in International Mathematics Research Notices, are free for a limited time:

Image: Maryam Mirzakhani by International Mathematical Union (IMU). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Love and Tensor Algebra

Come, let us hasten to a higher plane
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

Come, every frustrum longs to be a cone
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.

In Riemann, Hilbert or in Banach space
Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways.
Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
We shall encounter, counting, face to face.

I’ll grant thee random access to my heart,
Thou’lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
And so we two shall all love’s lemmas prove,
And in our bound partition never part.

For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
Or Fourier, or any Bools or Euler,
Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?

Cancel me not—for what then shall remain?
Abscissas some mantissas, modules, modes,
A root or two, a torus and a node:
The inverse of my verse, a null domain.

Ellipse of bliss, converge, o lips divine!
The product o four scalars is defines!
Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
Cuts capers like a happy haversine.

I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
Bernoulli would have been content to die,
Had he but known such a² cos 2φ !

Love and Tensor Algebra is a math poem from the book The Cyberiad written by Stanislaw Lem, a Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy and satire. The Cyberiad is considered one of his best work.

Though the term didn’t exist back when I was a teenager, squatting on comic-book floors to thumb through expensive hardback editions, RPGs are an example of the kind of literature described by Espen J Aarseth as ‘ergodic’. These are books, like digital literature, computer-generated poetry and MUDs, where a ‘nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text’. And they are more common than you might think, especially in geek culture. Game books that allow you to ‘choose your own adventure’ are ergodic, as are fantasy novels with extensive maps and world-building notes. But the RPG handbook pushes ergodic reading to its limit.

Reading Roleplaying Game Books

From Damien Walter’s The joy of reading role-playing games at The Guardian. Yes, The Guardian.

Nalini Anantharaman

(born 1976) Mathematician

Nalini Anantharaman is a mathematician and 2012 winner of the Henri Poincaré Prize. She was included for her work in quantum chaos, dynamical systems, and the Schrödinger equation, including a remarkable advance in the problem of quantum unique ergodicity. She is also winner of the Salem Prize, as well as the Jacques Herbrand prize from the French Academy of Sciences.

Number 72 in an ongoing series celebrating remarkable women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.