Riddles you may read in trust as in trees.

Changing assumptions

November 15th, 2009

Change an assumption
and save the world.

— Heinz von Foerster, 1970

Quoted after Paul Schröder who 2009-11-14 at the Heinz von Foerster Congress 09 said he found this quote several times in his notes.

Logicians’ warm-up

June 30th, 2009

No example of the liar’s paradox but a good warm-up is

The Puzzle of the Masked Men (found at Fallacy Files)

During a bank robbery, one of the masked robbers shot a bank guard. The police caught all four robbers and interrogated them in an attempt to determine which was the shooter. Each was questioned while attached to a lie detector machine and … (read on at Fallacy Files)

Try a secret

May 25th, 2008

If there were secrets do they need to be secrets?
If a secret does not need to be a secret it will not be a secret anymore. I believe in secrets which is why I do not try to reveal them. Is this why magicians never reveal their tricks? Magicians’ tricks are their reality. Moreover, they are their tools to manufacture reality (and not just someone else’s). Are they tricks at all?

However, yes, I wonder what the tricks of life are, too. — Love? Love is just part of it. I dared to look further. Until I stopped looking.
Once you look through and you see clearly what is going on, you see what was hidden behind or underneath. You don’t see what there was. You see something new.

It’s like you start loving another man or woman once you begin to understand the one in front of you. Maybe this is what LaBute meant when he said one should not ask why when “what” is in front of oneself?

There are secrets. Do we need to reveal them? Or should we just try not to try?

“You are off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters!”

Where are the maps that show us how to approach the secrets of life?
I guess, I like monsters.

What is the secret? Can you keep it?

[X] [X] [X]

[This entry was originally posted 2008-05-28. It was re-done, updated, and expanded 2008-06-07.]

Should I

October 26th, 2007

. . . ~ ~ ~ . . . should I, or should I not? Could I now or am I to do it later? May I ever or could I never? Should I not, should I still? I will, I will not, no I will, yes, I will, shall I? I do it right now, or have I already, or am I going to … to … should I, or should I not?

It’s done, isn’t it?

Difficult and Easy

August 12th, 2007


Act without doing;
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.

The Master never reaches for the great;
thus she achieves greatness.
When she runs into a difficulty,
she stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn’t cling to her own comfort;
thus problems are no problem for her.

— Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching. Translation by Stephen Mitchell.

Translations of the Tao Te Ching are widely debated, see the Wikipedia’s article. The Xenophon Library offers line by line comparisons of several translations, including chapter 63. The title of this entry is taken from Lin Yutang’s translation.

Simplify simplification

May 18th, 2007

A few days ago, I was skimming through thousands of pictures looking for eyes, preferably eyes of a strong tree out of a dream come true, but that’s another story. Siona von Dijk In my breaks, I did some day-to-day work like hopping over, actually scurrying over, to Dave Pollard (who we had already referred to) reading his daily blog on why we have not yet saved the world. So much for the history. Recently, Dave was asking for advice in seven words or less. His list, whether I like it or not, made me add our blogs starting credo Stop making sense to the list of comments and further advice. But only when I checked back I found the one advice (to love, to remember, to be and trust)


Added by Siona van Dijk. Or in my mother’s words: Schnaufn nid vagessn (Austrian dialect for “Don’t forget to breathe”). Thus, in a daring attempt to get the feel of an eyes’ glimpse of the air she is breathing, I scurried over to Siona’s profile where she writes

I trust uncertainty, don’t care for irony, and believe that paradox is a profound measure of truth.
Siona van Dijk

Paradoxes only! Can you see the tree? On the path from trust to truth and back, the very grounds for liars to let trees flourish (trees with leaves of words) what more could we ask for? — Coffee! Of course, yes, but that’s again another story (though the same as above). — Simplification? — This is going to be complicated.

However, in the list of Siona’s bookmarks I found a link leading us to a list of Ten Commandments for a Simpler Way of Life (maybe we should make a list of lists, Juliet, please) where one can find (further) advices such as

II. You shall laugh on a daily basis.
VII. You shall turn off your technology.
VIII. You shall be spontaneous.
X. You shall learn what is ‘enough’.
Ririan, 2007-04-05

An interesting list of commandments as only no liars could ever compile. A liar, though, cannot resist to add: For to lead a simple life You shall simplify simplification!

Sure, we “believe that all this could very well be wrong” (Siona van Dijk).

Having found the eyes, I’ll now go and look for roots.

But before I gonna move on, one more advice from yours truly rattus rattus: Answer for yourself what advice means to you.

Perception of order

February 7th, 2007

At several occasions, Heinz von Foerster presented a numerical sequence which, in a modesty, I shall call “Heinz von Foerster’s sequence”. Given the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3 … up to 9 how would you complete the following ordered sequence:

8 — 5 — 4 — 9 — 1 — …

If you prefer to read about the riddle in detail have a look into Heinz von Foerster’s article “Perception of the future and the future of perception” published in Instructional Science 1 (1972) 2: p31-43.

Here is a variant of “Heinz von Foerster’s sequence”, again for numbers 0 to 9:

8 — 3 — 1 — 5 — 9 — …

Some dichotomies

May 29th, 2006

A little list of lies, um, I mean, dichotomies. Just some that I had to deal with recently:

FRONT ache – comfort | analog – digital | analysis – synthesis | animal – human | art – kitsch | ask – reply | at least – at most | avoidance – devotion | BDSM – vanilla sex | beautiful – ugly | because – why | being – inexistence | black – white | blind – sighted | box – content – cover | cheap – expensive | coffee – tea | cold – warm | colored – plain | construction – destruction | continuous – discrete | crazy, mad – sane | criticism – praise | cut – glue | dark – light | dated – recent | day – night | denial – agreement | dichotomy – warrant | dynamic – static | early – late | East – West | ecology – economy | element – system – environment | expert – layperson | far – close | fast – slow | find – lose | finite – infinite | foreigner – native | freedom – slavery | friend – fiend | front – back | full – empty | funny – sober | global – local | god – human being | good – bad | green – red – blue – black | guilty – innocent | handicapped – unhindered – healthy | handmade – manufactured | happy – sad | healthy – sick | heaven – earth | heavy – light | help – damage | homosexual – straight | honest – deceiving | independent – tributary | interesting – boring | justified – random | knowledge – ignorance | left – right | liar – liar | life – death | light – shadow | linear – non-linear | list – pile | long – short | loud – silent | love – hate | maybe – sure | mind – body | modification – conservation | natural – artificial | nature – nurture | negation – affirmation | nonsense – sense | once – twice | one – many | one way – anyway | open – closed | opponent – supporter | order – chaos | part – whole | past – presence – future | political – apolitical | polyamory – monogamy | popular – elitist | positive – negative | preserver – dominator | prose – poetry | question – answer | reason – aim | relative – absolute | religious – unbelieving – atheistic | responsible – irresponsible | revolution – evolution | rich – poor | right – wrong | riddle – advice | science – public | serious music – popular music | sexual intercourse – petting | silence – noise | simple – complex | small – big | smoker – nonsmoker | some – all – none | stagnation – variation | strong – weak | subject – object | sustainable – wasteful | synonym – antonym | talking – mute | thick – thin | time – space | top – bottom | torturer – victim | town – country | truth – lie | unemployed – employee | up – down | warrant – ruination | word – picture | yes – no | young – old | zero – one | 6/8 – 4/4

If you look closely you may find at least twice as many, maybe more. Anyway, if you ask me (but don’t you): Avoid dichotomies for they are lies.