Total Dictionary of Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead was an English philosopher and mathematician. His most famous work is called Principia Mathematica, a three-volume work that attempts to deduce all mathematical truths from a finite set of axioms and rules of symbolic logic. Bertrand Russel was co-author of this work.

One of the things Whitehead showed was the fallacy of thinking of a total dictionary (henceforth The Dictionary), which can contain the words for all possible things.

Languages have exact words for very specific situations. The Portuguese and longing are a classic example. Longing can be the “sad and gentle memory of distant or extinct people or things, accompanied by the desire to see or possess them again; regret for the absence of someone who is dear to us.” In Russian, we call pochemuchka a person who asks too many questions. A person who is willing to forgive any mistreatment for the first time, to tolerate it for the second time, but never for the third time is said ilunga by the speakers of the Tshiluba language, a Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Polish, it is said that someone was a radioukacz if he worked as a telegraphist for the movements of resistance to Soviet rule in the countries of the former Iron Curtain.

All these words are of very specific use, but they can still be included in a dictionary, as they refer to something general within its specificity, and not to just one individual. For example, think of a tiger. That big orange feline with black stripes and some white hair. Think of him in any position, whether it’s attack, playing with the cubs, running after the prey or just sleeping.


Is this the image here you thought of?

Probably not. They probably thought of something different, no matter how small the difference. The size of the tiger could be different, the position of it, the coloring of its hair or even the pattern of its stripes.

The Dictionary should have a word for every tiger that ever existed and that will exist. In addition, you should have a word for every moment of each tiger’s life, because every moment the tiger is different. He changes. Either he’s hungry, or he’s mating, or he’s on two legs. Or all of it simultaneously.

And not only tigers are different. People, rivers and cups are different every moment. The way I saw my cup now was different from the way I saw it ten minutes ago (my viewing angle has changed and it’s empty).

The Dictionary is an impossible task. John Wilkins had already proposed something similar (but not so absurdly complete) in An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, a language very similar to what Esperanto would later be. Borges discovered (discovering and inventing are synonymous) an ancient Chinese encyclopedia organized by a great sage, who divides animals into:

a) belonging to the emperor
b) embalmed
c) domesticated
d) piglets
c) mermaids
d) fabulous
e) dogs in freedom
f) who stir like crazy
g) innumerable
h) who have just broken the jug
i) that by far look like flies
j) et cetera
(l) included in this classification
m) drawn with a very thin brush of camel hair.

Something that embraces all knowledge, even redundant knowledge, is an absurd task. The Library of Babel and the Book of Sand are two absurdities that complete this task masterfully. The second, in my definition, is the pocket version of the first. But both are impossible to exist. Funes, The Memorioso, tried to accomplish this mission in life. He would be the librarian of the universe. But he died too soon, without succeeding. But even if he had lived all the years of the universe, he would have failed. It’s too much information for someone alone (except for God).

Whitehead, unlike his predecessors, who tried to build (or show how to build) something total, proved that The Dictionary is impossible. Something like this could only exist in fiction. Someone who knows everything about everyone is inconceivable within a consistent logic.

That is, either God does not know everything or he exists only in fiction.

Like The Dictionary.

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Best of 2006

Then the most anticipated time of the year is here: my list of best rock albums of 2006 (as if someone who reads this blog really cared about it). The list is already traditional; third year I’ve been doing. I can even predict some of the comments that will be made. Gian’s going to say he doesn’t have a single record on this list. The ever will say that I always hear the same thing. Mari will say she knew everything.

2006 was, compared to 2005, a more difficult year to choose the discs from the list. In 2005 the race was more complicated, because there were fewer good records released. It was hard to find 10 good records to put on the list. In 2006 it was difficult to find only 10 good records to put on the list. Excellent debut records appeared, such as 5:55, by Charlotte Gainsbourg and the namesake of Corinne Bailey Rae. There have appeared bands already consecrated in other decades with very good records, as the case of the also namesake pearl jam and riot city blues primal scream. Bands that started their careers this millennium also came up with really cool records, such as Strokes and their First Impressions of the Earth and yes yeah yeahs with Show Your Bones. Even Caetano Veloso released Cê, a very good album, unlike Thom Yorke and his The Eraser, only average.

Another thing that marked 2006 for me were the bands of cool names: We Are Scientists, I Love You But I’ve Choose Darkness, Clap Your Hands Say yes, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, You Say Party! We Say Die! and so many others that it seems that they spent all their creativity coming up with their names and forgot about the songs.

But none of these artists made my list. I’ve heard a lot of music this year. More than anyone else. In fact, much more than any other. This was reflected in my list, since half of it is composed of debut albums, by people who in one way or another injected something new into the song, even if it was doing that same thing whenever I love to consume.

My album selection criteria are quite subjective. You don’t have to be a guitar hero to get on my list, or have the best vocal timbre in the world. Just look authentic and touch me (oops!) somehow. My list is probably different from most of the lists out there, but it should bear some resemblance to those you already suspect: Rolling Stone, NME, Lúcio Ribeiro. I also know that none of you will go after what I write or suggest, but anyway I will publish, even if it serves only as a record of mine.

To the list, then:

Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, I’m Not10. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, I’m Not

The hype of the year. When I took the album to listen, I didn’t think much of it. If I were to make analogies, I’d say libertines are for clash just like Arctic Monkeys is for libertines. And that disappointed me a little, because the great feeling of the year, which broke record sales of records at the premiere, was nothing more than a byproduct of the Libertines, which ended up disappointing me a little at the time of the album’s debut. After a few months I gave the band one more chance and saw that they’re even cool. Nothing new, but a lot of fun. And much better than Dirty Pretty Things and Babyshambles, the new designs of the former Libertines.
Listen to I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, Fake Tales of San Francisco and A Certain Romance

The Rapture – Pieces of the People We Love9. The Rapture – Pieces of the People We Love

Electronic music, half disco half punk, made to dance and listen, without being stupid. Rapture can capture the energy of the tracks and turn it into music. It’s the kind of record you hear from start to finish without stopping. Being able to stay without getting carried away with the sound is impossible. You can quietly take the record and put it from end to end as a soundtrack to a party.
Listen to Don Gon Do It, Pieces of the People We Love and Whoo! Alright yes… Uh Huh

Muse – Black Holes and Revelations8. Muse – Black Holes and Revelations

From next Radiohead to a band with its own identity. While the first band got lost in the trials, Muse releases really cool albums, one after the other. With Black Holes and Revelations it was no different. The album has a kind of paranoid atmosphere, half theatrical, all visceral. It’s music made from within, with talent and energy. It could have been better placed on my list if it had a less airtight, more pop sound. But it’s still a big deal. Buy, download, steal, but listen. It’s really worth it.
Listen to Starlight, Supermassive Black Hole and Invincible

The Pipettes – We Are The Pipettes7. The Pipettes – We Are The Pipettes

You get those black American female vocal groups from the golden years, like Ronettes and Supremes? Pipettes are like that, only white, English and contemporary. Songs about lost loves, possible loves and impossible loves. And with a trio of sweet voices, they make you wonder how beautiful they must be wearing retro dress at a dance like the one at the end of the movie Back to the Future. Music to listen passionate or dispassionate. That is, music for any situation.
Listen to We Are the Pipettes, It Hurts to See You Dance So Well and Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me

Wolfmother – Wolfmother6. Wolfmother as Wolfmother

Metaaaaaaal! yes, I know they remind Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age and such, but do what? It’s an exciting record, one of those head-banging on the bus. Those of putting on the iPod, turn on the first song and run away, until finished, be it the disc, the breath or the road. Recommended for metal fans in general. And not fans either, because it’s a very easy record to hear and like. Next big, you’re already banging your head on the beat of the riffs.
Listen to Dimension, Woman and Joker & The Thief

5th Irene – Apple Bay
Swedish band with silly love songs (well, if they weren’t silly they wouldn’t be love songs). It looks like Belle and Sebasian, but there’s a vocalist who sings like a ’50s crooner. Kind of music to sing along, backing vocals or just dance, like I ended up doing the first few times I heard it. The only problem was dancing in the street… Disc made to get it rolling and forget about life. There’s 12 songs in just 25 minutes. Too bad, because the record starts to get excited and it’s over.

Listen To Be With You, Baby I Love Your Way and The Game

Belle and Sebastian – The Pursuit Life4. Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
Belle and Sebastian has always been one of my favorite bands since I first saw them on MTV. Only, for the uninitiated (and for the initiated as well) their disks always sounded a little similar to each other. But The Life Pursuit is different. yes, there’s still that cute pop and those naïve lyrics, but this record is a step forward. The songs are more different between you. It is an evolution in the sound of the band, but without losing identity, without losing the line. Also, this record is my official soundtrack of sunny days.

Listen to White Collar Boy, The Blues Are Still Blue and For the Price of a Cup of Tea

3rd The Killers – Sam’s Town

I must confess that in my first auditions for Sam’s Town I found a weak work, well below the killers’ debut album, the excellent Hot Fuss. Despite the excellent When You Were Young, the rest of the record didn’t excite me at all. It seemed that they wanted, already on the second album, to become the U2 of the time of Achtung Baby, a big band, which began to do shows filling stadiums. That is, I felt a bit of megalomania on the album. But after hearing it little by little, of discovering each song individually, of feeling each one, I saw that I had a dial in my hand. In fact, there isn’t a carat hit from Mr. Brightside here, but on the whole, it’s a better record than Hot Fuss.

Listen When You Were Young, For Reasons Unknown and Bones

She Wants Revenge – She Wants Revenge2. She Wants Revenge – She Wants Revenge
As I said here, English punk post of the 80s made in California 2004, but released only in 2006. She Wants Revenge is a duo that emulates the sounds of the joy division, bauhaus, depeche mode and the like in the 2000s. And you do it very well. The disc creates an atmosphere of anguish at every hearing. Perfect for quiet moments.

Listen to I Don’t Want to Fall in Love, Broken Promises for Broken Hearts and Tear You Apart

Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers1. Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers
Jack White is the guy. With the White Stripes, a band with only two instruments, and the drummer looks like a metronome, he manages to make remarkable songs, the best rocks of the millennium. And with a full band, with two guitars, bass and real drummer he made the 2006 album. Beautiful pop melodies, striking guitars, teen lyrics. Everything I like and that makes a record be good. In this case, an instant classic.
Listen Steady As She Goes, Broken Boy Soldier and Yellow Sun


Dirty Dream #72

I recently had a dream. I dreamt I’d come alone with a blue suitcase in a hotel. I don’t remember exactly where this hotel was, but I knew I should stay there for some reason. While the porter was taking my bag to his room, the receptionist gave me an Embratur file to fill out. When I gave it back, he said:

Mr. Marcus? You’re being expected.

What do you mean, I thought. nobody knew I was coming here. The journey was impulsive. I asked the receptionist:

Am I being expected? By whom?

By yourself. Room 1603.

I don’t know why, but in the dream I didn’t find it so absurd to be expected by myself.

Strangely, I took the elevator without thinking of anything. Meeting myself would be a rather strange thing, but I wasn’t too worried about it.

I put the card in the door and went into the room without knocking. I saw an old man sitting on the bed, looking down. He must have been over 70. He wore glasses and white hair. From the same door I said:

Hey, i’m sorry.

He raised his head and looked in my direction, without speaking. He took a piece of paper that was next to him on the bed and reached out towards me. I got the paper. It was a suicide note. I don’t remember exactly what was written; just the last sentence: “At the end of the day, just lego the nothing to anyone”.

– Why is that?

I’m done with life. I made this appointment with you so you wouldn’t do what I did.

What do you mean, you don’t know?

He started talking and I felt a vertigo. As I passed out, I woke up sweaty in my bed.

No Sábado

On Saturday you forced me to remember something. Something I’d forgotten and that, therefore, no longer mattered. And this thing wasn’t the scroll lock function.

22 months ago and one day I sent an email (des?) necessary and (only now I see) somewhat cruel to you. And I had completely forgotten this email by Saturday. On this day you reminded me of his existence, but not of his exact contents. I got it back yesterday and saw that it was worse than I thought.

At first I found it shocking what I had written. But I tried to remember the circumstances in which the e-mail was made. And a succession of memories, good and bad, came back to me. I read, reread and read again for the third time and, despite the cruelty contained in it, the almost gratuitousness of the aggression contained there, I found it necessary.

Necessary because he, modesty aside, is well written. He makes it very clear what feelings I had. It’s a kind of exorcism, something I needed to say to someone and i ended up finding the receiver and the way to do it. It was very hard to write and it must have been even harder for you, who read it. But I needed this. I needed to say everything that was stuck. As the Belle and Sebastian would say at the end of Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying,

Into the windows of my lovers
They never know unless I write
“This is no declaration,
I just thought I’d let you know goodbye”
Said the hero in the story
“It is mightier than swords
I could kill you sure
But I could only make you cry with these words”

I could kill you for sure, but I could just make you cry with these words.

And that’s what I did. No regrets. So unrepentant that I couldn’t remember what I had written. If you hadn’t reminded me, the e-mail would have remained forever quiet, untouched. I don’t feel bad about anything I wrote.

So that was it. Now that I’ve reread the contents of the three printed pages (and I’ve noticed that at some points I was really right), I’m more relaxed. It was horrible things, yes, but none of that was a lie. Some things have changed, but let’s stay the way we are. It’s better that way.

To complement, St. Augustine, in The Free Will:

Anyway, there’s only guilt in case one being refuses to be what he had the power to be if he wanted to. And because then it’s about refusing a good that’s been given to you, the soul becomes guilty.

I Kill Zombie Infected Villagers

Since the weekend I have dedicated myself to a new purpose in life: to finish Resident Evil 4. You know, it’s a personal matter. If I got this in Metal Gear, a game in which humans must be eliminated, why couldn’t I eliminate zombie villagers infected with Las Plagas? It should be a lot easier.

Resident Evil is very well done. The soundtrack, ambiance, graphics, gameplay and how the camera positions itself in the scenarios contribute to making the experience richer. The only problem is the emo hair of the protagonist of the game, Leon Scott Kennedy, a guy with great chances of dying, thanks to his famous kinship.

I believe that the game takes place in Spain, because the back of the game box says that the events take place in Europe and the zombie villagers infected with Las Plagas speak Spanish. I confess that it was quite strange to be following dialogues in English and, suddenly, to hear shouts like ¡Es el forastero!, ¡Mátenlo! and ¡Te voy a hacer picadillo!.

A big problem I’ve always faced in the other versions of Resident Evil I’ve played is the ammo. This one’s no different. It has to be saved as there are not enough bullets to kill all the zombie villagers infected with Las Plagas. Depending on where you hit, it takes up to 6 bullets to kill a cheap zombie villager infected with Las Plagas! To work around this problem, I developed a special technique. I keep a distance from my target, long enough for him to see me and start getting closer. If he comes running, I expect him to stay 10 or 10 feet away. Right now, I shoot you in the knees. It only takes one or two shots for him to fall. Then I approach and I kill him. If he comes walking, I walk away and I hope he runs after me to perform the maneuver described above.

Of course this method only works when they appear from 1 in 1 or at most 2 in 2. When the thing thickens and several appear at once, the solution is to take my 12 caliber and blow their heads off. I’ve already managed to kill 3 zombie villagers infected with Las Plagas with only 1 shot. Generally firing 2 or 3 to end up with n-1 zombie villagers infected with Las Plagas in a group of n zombie villagers infected with Las Plagas, where n≤5.

And Resident Evil rekindled in me the taste for terror, let’s say, more gore. In addition to the Coffin Joe movies I’m downloading, I found a pearl in the e-mule: Cannibal Holocaust. Draw the synopsis of the film:

Classic of Italian-Colombian terror/splatter filmed in 1979 in the Amazon jungle, about cannibal Indians, depraved European tourists and the brutal border army in Colombia.

A movie like this can’t be bad. The trailer proves:

As Férias

Officially, I went on vacation on December 31, which was the last day of validity of the scholarship that Rigotto (aka State Government) paid me. But since 12:06 on December 13th, I haven’t really worked. I had to submit a report of my scholarship activities to FAPERGS. I delivered, of course, but it was made entirely on the thighs, pure copy and paste of previous years.

After I stopped going to college the Friday before Christmas, the thing went off for good. In the last 24 days I just wanted to date, play video games, use the PC, read, eat, drink and sleep.

But today it’s over. During the morning my Java course started and, if I really want to finish my final project, I’ll have to start acting a little more seriously. Besides, I want to finish my Master’s degree by March next year. So I have to start reminiscing about my research as soon as possible so I can get back to working on it. I have a new theorem to deliver next year. Or rather, I have to come up with a new theorem to deliver next year.

But back to java, I did my first show today. It is a calculator that sums, subtracts, multiplies, divides, potentiates and data two catetos of a right triangle, returns the hypotenuse. Note that it is a totally excellent program, useful and indispensable on any modern computer.

Today I also began to remember Probability. I got Patrick Billingsley’s book Probability and Measure. I have a job to give about him. I’ve been putting it off for two years. But until February I finish (I hope).

And so my vacation went on. Total and uninterrupted loitering. And amazingly, I could still last a few more weeks like this.