Archive for February, 2006

What’s making sense?

February 10th, 2006

Someone uttered: Stop making sense!
Being asked: What’s making sense?
I answered: We are.

And that’s where all the trouble and the fun started.

Asking for the opposite

February 8th, 2006

Today, I bought an eagerly awaited book. On my way back to the office, I was going by tram, and of course, I immediately started reading my new book. Shortly afterwards, a woman approached me and asked me: May I ask you something?

I smiled, knowing that once you have heard this question there is only 1 possible answer no matter what you are going to “answer”. You could say “No!” but then this is an answer to her question. You could say “Yes, but only this 1 question”. Yet, I guess, that’s likely to provoke another question.

Anyway, I kept smiling and said: Yes. She then asked: Are you vegetarian? I said: No. She: Uh, you eat everything?
I was already about to say “Yes” when it hit me: Sure enough, I do not eat everything. I mean, at last, I’d have a problem swallowing myself. So, I clearly stated: No.

She went on asking me some more but I was already so much confused that I helplessly hold up my book so that she can read the cover:

E. & H. Bulitta: Wörterbuch der Synonyme und Antonyme
(Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms; that is a dictionary listing similar words and words that mean the opposite)

She looked at the cover and asked: You are reading a lot? While I was silently thinking what it means to “read a lot of a dictionary” she concluded: You are an artist!?

I stayed silent and continued to read my book. But, now that I think of it, maybe, I should have said: No, I am not an artist, I am liar. :-)

By the way, after I got off the tram I looked up the opposite of “vegetarian” only to find (pun intended) that the word is not listed. So, maybe the woman knew better than me that the cover says nothing about the contents.

Why Blues is blue

February 7th, 2006

I was just listening to Dion‘s album “Bronx in Blue” when it occurred to me why Blues is called Blues: It’s because it is not Black and White.

Why then Blues is not Reds? Nonsense! But, why listen to a liar like me if you could as well listen to Dion? E.g. at NPR‘s World Cafe “Dion Rediscovers the Blues on ‘Bronx’“. Enjoy.

Trust not truth

February 5th, 2006

Heinz von Foerster shares with us a beautiful riddle about trust and truth. When I wrote about it my working title was “Trust not truth”. I was thinking this title forth and back because one of my inner voices kept yelling something like “You can’t say one shall not trust the truth if Heinz von Foerster clearly shows that truth is based on trust. I mean, what else could we do but trust the truth?
Trust not truth is nonsense. Put it in your Nonsense Box.”

I did see that “trust not truth” can be read in many ways, too. One being “trust — not truth”. Yet, I eventually changed the title to “The problem is not truth” as if this was any less nonsense. But, I could always say it’s a quote of a quote of a quote :-) That’s why.

So, the problem is trust — not truth.
And this is the truth.

What? You mean there is probably more to it? You mean trust not truth? — Oh, yes, you got me on this one ’cause I am a liar.

Rather short than long

February 3rd, 2006

A friend of mine told me that she likes my blog’s short posts more than the longer ones.
I better keep this short.

The problem is not truth

February 2nd, 2006

There is a wonderful quote by Heinz von Foerster that I first learned about at a workshop in April 1991 in Vienna where he presented it in his opening talk:

The problem is not truth,
the problem is trust.

This is a very riddle. One can read it in many ways, and every time I look at it it’s likely to tell me another story. I am most thankful to Heinz von Foerster that he suggested 2 things for reading this riddle: Look up the words in an etymological dictionary, and … silence. He just looked into my eyes and smiled.

May I invite you to see for yourselves. Here is the quote with links to the Online Etymology Dictionary:

The problem is not truth,
the problem is trust.

In an opening address for a conference in 1990, see “ethics and second-order cybernetics“, Heinz von Foerster tells a story about the origin of the quote.