Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The story of Martin Eden

I have a habit of listening radio plays on sunday afternoons and monday evenings. Last time the play contained a short episode in which Kalle Holmberg, finnish director acting in the play, read a fragment of text from the end of a book by Jack London. London had imagined what it is to die by drowning and doing it by own decision. This piece of text was so impressive that I dediced to find the book from the local library. I found it, or actually half of it. The book was "Martin Eden" and it was chopped into two pieces as I realized when I was back at home with part II of the book.

I read what I had got and it struck my feelings very deeply at personal level. The book tells about Martin Eden living a period of life when he has realized that his mission is to become a writer. He devotes all his mental powers to this challenge and learns and works fanatically. He sends his texts to magazines and they are rejected again and again. In some rare occasions the text is published but he has to learn this is by no means a guarantee that he will get the promised royalty. At that time it was not really easy to become a writer in USA. There was no social security system and to become a writer meant readiness to literally starve for years. So did also Martin Eden.

Hunger was however not the worst enemy. The social humiliations were much more difficult to tolerate. At that time people had strong ties to their neighbours. Middle class people saw Martin as a person afraid of real work and wanting to spend his time in leisury pretending that he was some sort of a writer.

Those who loved Martin produced him the deepest agony. His sister and beloved one could not but believe that his continual failure to get the texts published proved that he did not have the needed talent. They tried their best to persuade him to go to job just like anyone else in the neighbourhood did. He could only tell that he knew that he had the gift and could not do anything else. He of course saw that they could not believe him. He had to face their pity and to sense that they felt shame for him.

As a serious writer he of course soon learned that the texts published in literary journals were mostly horrible rubbish. The readers of these magazines wanted simple daydreams. He learned to use his evening time to produce these secondary texts using a simple format and this purposeful rubbish was the only text he got published for a long time.

The catastrophe in personal relationships had to come sooner or later. Martin Eden was a hard borne individualist in the style of Nietche but ironically got a label of communist: this was the final catastrophe. What happened that his friend took him to a meeting of socialist party. He spoke passoniately against socialistic ideas as a slave moral and this stimulated a furious debate between people who had built their world view with hard work and hard life experiences and knew what they were talking about. A local journalist happened to be in the occasion: a young and rather stupid man who did not have a slightest idea what he or anyone else in the meeting was arguing about. As a natural opportunist this young fellow deduced that Martin must be a socialist since all rational people participating in meetings of socialist party had to be socialists in his simple world. So he wrote to a local journal telling about Martin as a local leader of socialist party! Martin Eden had now a label of communist and it become impossible to even buy food from the local store. People did not want to have any contact with him. Also his beloved left him. He was completely alone.

And then suddenly the success came. For some reason impossible to explain one of his texts was accepted in a famous literary magazine and the snowball began to roll. The very same magazines which had not bothered to even respond to him during last years were suddenly fighting to get rights to publish his texts. They were ready to pay him incredible sums of money for just getting the title of his next work. His books were translated to other languages.

Martin Eden was suddenly a rich and famous man. The people who had refused to recognize him at street were now inviting him to lunch. These endless invitations to lunches were really funny: no one had suggested a lunch when he was starving. And nothing had changed. He was exactly the same Martin Eden as before. He had not written a single line of new text during this period of success. Suddenly all these people who had regarded him as a total failure and expressed their disgust openly, were reading his stories and expressing their admiration. Here realized that they were even afraid of him!

Martin Eden had perhaps seen too much to cheat himself. We must have some beliefs or at least illusions about our fellow human beings and society in order to survive but this period of "success" stripped even the last ones off without mercy. The bowl became full when his former beloved came to him and with a lot of tears confessed that she had only now learned to really love him. Martin Eden could not feel anything but embarrashed anymore and by an unlucky accident he had to learn that the tragic episode had been a pre-calculated scene. He was now rich, famous, and desperately alone. He could not hate nor love, his life was devoid of meaning. From this it was not very many paragraphs to the impressive piece of text which I heard from the radio play.

There are many manners to interpret "Martin Eden". It could be seen as a failure of Nietche's idea about Superman. It could be seen as a story about how it is possible to get rid of social illusions to the extent that one is able to resist the basic biological trait to survive and is ready to leave the cycle of Karma. The story could be seen as teaching how mission can help human being to tolerate almost every imaginable humiliation, and how the sudden loss of reason for existence drives a man swimming in money and social wellfare to such a deep depression that the only way out is a suicide.

To me this story was to a surprising degree a story of my life. For me the courage to think with my own brain and express my thoughts was what mission to write was for Martin. How painful it was to receive a label of crackpot as a prize for working years seven days a week and with five hours of sleep per day and going through all the social humiliations that Martin also experienced. How painful it was to realize that the real motivation of my academic destroyers was envy, and that it was useless to try to tell this to anyone because everyone of us wants to live in the world in which professors can be trusted. The complete inability to defend oneself against brutal social violence: it is impossible to tell how paralyzing this experience can be.

I did not of course starve physically but I was starving socially. I had become an academic Zombie. It is quite a feeling to realize that colleagues do not want to sit at your table, that you are not wellcome to any academic party, that you are not invited to speak in any seminar, that people seem to be even afraid of being seen in your company, that you simply cease to exist in academic sense. After this kind of experience, you begin to ask what really distinguishes these people regarded as highly civilized human beings from primitive savages living in a world of taboos.

With a deep pain I remember also the well-meaning attempts of people closest to me to persuade me to take an ordinary job. How painful it was to see that they regarded me as a loser who for a sheer personal vanity could not admit it. My mother dreamed that his son could some day enjoy human rights in this country famous for its social security. Her dream was not filled: she died this summer at the age of ninety four years. I feel that I could forgive these academic bastards all that they have done to me but not what they did to these good and honest people who believe that also professors are good and honest people.

Martin Eden experienced also "success". It seems that also I have now to face the "success" since the tide is now definitely turning in the academic stock market. For slightly more than decade ago two young finnish professors stated publicly that my work fails to safisfy every requirement that anyone can imagine scientific work should satisfy. Now I am listed as a candidate to a category "Phycicists" in Wikipedia. As Martin Eden did, I definitely know that I am the same person now as I was a decade ago and what I have done after that relies on what I had done before this time! Some people were lying for more than decade ago and this meant a professional murder in practice. Elsewhere in society these people would be responsible for what they have done but not in the world of science.

There are also definite social signals that the people who previously did not literally see me are experiencing strange metamorphosis. It has begun with friendly smiles and taps to the shoulder; Nice to see; How it is going..;... If this trend continues, I might be invited sooner or later to give a seminar in Physics Department about my life work! You never know about academic stock markets!

The most amusing piece of social commedy was the appearence of a link to my homepage at the homepage of some young finnish physicist. Certainly one of the first such links since my colleagues are well aware of the dangers of their profession. This fellow obviously knew that this is risky business and had decided to be cautious. He added the link under the title "Hörhöt" ("Nuts") to send a positive signal to the community. To give a positive signal to my direction he divided "Nuts" section into two clearly separate pieces and added a strong intendation to the lower section to create the impression about a separate section whose title had somehow disappeared (I would recommend "Controversially Nuts" as the lost title;-))! My name was the lowest one in the lower list to maximize the spatial distance to "Nuts" . I admit that I had never thought that social calculation could manifest itself as a precise geometric variational principle: maximize the spatial distance between the expressions of two opposite opinions you are forced to have simultaneously!

Despite all this and knowing the fate of Martin Eden, I would love to believe that these people in this corner of Universe have suddenly become human beings in a deeper sense of the word than the social games usually allow. I confess that this is not easy after these 28 years. I try to tell for myself the story about the commendant of a concentration camp with deep admiration for the music of Bach and living a happy family life. I try to tell me that the same human beings who are charming, humorous, and genuinely warmhearted individuals can become monsters as members of a collective. Martin Eden did not have this view about humans to help him over his crisis and this was fatal but I try to have so that I have good reasons to be optimistic.


At 12:56 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

08 15 06

Hello Matti:
Your theory looks very interesting. I saw the Wikipedia stub on you and was quite surprised. I was surprised that more people aren't on your site trying to figure out what you are doing!

I will have to read your publications because I have been studying LQG and AQG as of late, but would like to expand. That can never hurt methinks. I found your link via Lubos Motl's blog from an older post on his criticism of trinions, developed by Smolin et al.

1. Can you tell me which of your publications will give the introductory material to your theory?

2. Have you done any quantizations in your theory yet, and do they agree with the usual results?

3. In what way is your theory consistent or inconsistent with the ideas in string theory, LQG and/or AQG? Just curious. Best wishes developing your theory; I admire those who do independent research. It truly shows that you are dedicated to the field. I am looking over your comments on the thread and see that you are quite knowledgeable. Thanks for your attention. Mrigmaiden@yahoo.com

At 6:05 AM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Dear Mahndisa,

thank you for your questions. My reply grew to an essay. I hope that it is not too long.

Question 1: About publications.

Besides 15 online books I have recently published a book "Topological Geometrodynamics". It can be found at Amazon and is already now a little bit out of date due to the developments relating to the quantization of Planck constant during this summer.

For a decade ago I gave up attempts to publish in journals and have published only on request since then. Basically for deep frustration. The latest published summaries date are probably 5 years old and obsolete.

My home page is an attempt to give a well-organized account of TGD but the large amount of material does not make easy to get a bird's eye of view. Abstracts and introductions of various chapters try to give an overall view about what is involved. Certainly the framework is highly speculative and it is the internal coherence which makes me to take it very seriously.

The chapters An Overview about the Evolution of TGD" at http://wwww.physics.helsinki.fi/~matpitka/tgdview/tgdview.html#tgdevoI


An Overview about Quantum TGD at http://wwww.physics.helsinki.fi/~matpitka/tgdview/tgdview.html#tgdevoII

might help to get idea about what is involved.

Question 2. Quantum theory

My main focus since thesis at 1982 has been the construction of quantum theory around the basic idea of TGD: space-times as four-dimensional surfaces of M^4xCP_2 space fixed by the symmetries of the standard model.

The basic finding after 2 years of TGD (around 1980) was that both path integral approach and Hamiltonian formalism fail completely in TGD framework. This led eventually to a completely new approach based on the extension of Einstein's geometrization program. Quantum theory is geometrized in terms of infinite-dimensional Kähler geometry for the "world of classical worlds" identified as the space of 3-dimensional surfaces in M^4xCP_2. This space is a generalization of the loop space for closed strings.

Physical states correspond to classical spinor fields in this space and gamma matrices for this space are essentially fermionic oscillator operators so that fermionic statistics is geometrized. 4-D general coordinate invariance forces the definition of geometry to assing a unique 4-surface to a given 3-surface: space-time surface is thus an analog of Bohr orbit so that Bohr rules emerge from infinite-dimensional geometry and general coordinate invariance.

The mere existence requirement for Riemann connection in the infinite-dimensional context forces infinite-dimensional symmetries already in the case of loop spaces as found by Dan Freed in his thesis. The idea is that the world of classical worlds is a union over infinite-dimensional symmetric spaces possessing super Kac-Moody symmetries and their generalizations (conformal generalization of canonical symmetries) as isometries. The crucial element is the observation that 3-D light like surfaces and light-like boundary of future/past light cone allow extended conformal symmetries due to their metric 2-dimensionality. Dimension D=4 for space-time is thus one critical dimension of the theory.

Question 3. Relationship to string models

At fundamental level only light-like 3-D surfaces, orbits of partons, appear in the formulation of TGD and Kähler action assigning to them 4-D surface as a preferred Bohr orbit like extremal emerges as a logarithm of Dirac determinant for modified Dirac operator defined at partonic 3-surfaces. One can say that the classical dynamics in space-time interior defines a classical correlate for partonic quantum dynamics and this correspondence makes possible quantum measurement theory.

Super-conformal invariance is shared by TGD and superstring models but the TGD version of superconformal symmetries is slightly different. No space-time supersymmetries are predicted and critical dimension is D=8 for imbedding space. This space is not dynamical as in string models so that landscape is not a problem. There is however considerable generalization of the notion of imbedding space M^4xCP_2 as 8-D manifold: for instance, due to the number theoretical democracy of reals and p-adic number fields.

The notion of many-sheeted space-time and quantization of Planck constant predict that there should exist infinite hierarchy of fractal copies of standard model physics. The interpretation is in terms of dark matter.

One important difference is that infinite-dimensional Clifford algebra for the "world of classical worlds" corresponds to a von Neumann algebra known as hyper-finite factor of type II_1. I have begun to understand the implications of this fact only during last years and in the latest formulation entire TGD emerges from this algebra when extended to its local version. Note that factors of type I correspond to quantum mechanics and factors of type III to quantum field theory in dimension four.

The characteristic feature of this algebra is that infinite-D unit matrix has unit trace. This together with the fact that vacuum functional (exponent of Kähler function analogous to partition function) is a non-local functional of 3-surface implies that the standard divergences are absent from the theory.

Question 4. About the relationship with LQG and AQG.

a) Concerning LQG the basic difference is that TGD approach does not involve Hamiltonian quantization.

b) In TGD p-adic number fields appear democratically with reals and the fusion of reals and p-adics to a more general structure is now a basic corner stone of quantum TGD. S-matrix elements must be universal in the sense that they exist simultaneously in all number fields or their suitable algebraic extensions (in case of p-adics). This makes sense only if S-matrix elements are algebraic numbers which poses very strong constraints on the formulation of the theory. For instance, the stringy diagrams formulated as 1-D integrals for n-point function are replaced by a sum over a discrete set of values of its arguments in S-matrix elements.

Basic structures are continuous and manifold geometry is generalized to infinite-dimensional context which means difference with respect to LQG. On the other hand, there is necessarily a discretization at the level of construction of S-matrix elements.

The reduction of S-matrix elements to algebraic numbers and the fundamental role of hyper-finite factors of type II_1 plus reduction of physics to number theory (octonions, quaternions, complex numbers, reals, finite fields) plays a key role in number theoretic approach to TGD: this means that there is something common with the spirit of AQG.

The chapters of the book Towards S-matrix at http://wwww.physics.helsinki.fi/~matpitka/tgdquant/tgdquant.html try to give an overall view about the recent situation in quantum TGD.

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

08 16 06

Hey Matti:
Thanks for the response. I included a link to your site on my blog today. I talked a bit about the trinion pants that Lubos made fun of not too long ago and how I don't think the idea should be discounted so easily. The link you provided doesn't work though:( So when you have time, if you can fix it that would be great. I am greatly curious about your thoughts! Sorry that you have been experiencing so much resistance to your ideas. However only time will tell. I think Lord Kelvin had an awful time getting acceptance for his thermo/stat mech ideas and now we use him allthetime! So keep you head up and I encourage you to keep sharing what you have learned and discoverd. I wouldn't have minded if your essay was twenty pages, knowledge is the most important, sleep be damned! heheheeheh Thanks once again:)

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Thank your for the link. They are really important. I will add your blog to my own links.

Sorry for non-working links. There was a systematic error: wwww. everywhere instead of www. I give the links again

General overview:

The chapters An Overview about the Evolution of TGD" and

An Overview about Quantum TGD.

Quantum TGD: The chapters of the book Towards S-matrix.

I saw at your blog something about Teichmuller spaces. It remained unclear to me whether they relate to trinions whatever they might be;-).

In any case, in TGD framework partonic 2-surfaces are characterized by their genus (handle number). Genus explains topologically family replication phenomenon of fermions so that all that remains to be explained group theoretically are electroweak and color quantum numbers and you end up with M^4xCP_2 as the only possible choice for the imbedding space.

The construction of modular invariant vacuum functionals in the space of conformal equivalence classes for partonic 2-surfaces in turn leads to functionals in spaces parameterized by Teichmueller parameters. One can understand why only three lowest genera correspond to visible matter from the fact that only for the three lowest genera Riemann surfaces are always hyper-elliptic (allow Z_2 as global conformal symmetries).

Best Regards,


At 8:10 PM, Blogger Christine said...

Dear Matti,

I have found your site through Mahndisa's. You seem to have an interesting material here. I will take years to understand a fraction of it. But, like Mahndisa, I am eager to learn and expand my knowledge. I also appreciate the work of independent researchers. Congratulations for setting up this blog and keep up the good work.

Best wishes
PS - I cannot open my office's email account now to check it out: perhaps I am mistaken, but have you sent an email to me some weeks ago? If so, did you receive my reply? Thanks.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Dear Christine,

thank for the feedback. I am glad to hear that there still exist theoreticians who are ready to consider seriously also ideas which do not represent the main stream.

I visit your blog regularly. It is quite possible that I have sent a comment sometime but not so during last weeks.

Best Regards,


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