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<eyebeam><blast> posthuman? Fissiaultian Paradigms

The Yves Fissiault/Thomas Pynchon Internet Connection

In response to Eve Andree Laramee <wander@earthlink.net>
>Didn't his (Yves Fissault's) theories of determinism and
>stochasticity in complex dynamical systems derive from his studies of
>ant colonies?

and Brian Holmes <106271.223@compuserve.com>
>more on Fissiault and Pynchon - though that would be welcome, it's

Duane Griffin <dgriffin@nwu.edu> wrote:
>I must admit I was completely unaware of Fissiault's
>work with ants, though it makes perfect sense. How fascinating.
>I am of course familiar with his projects with Pynchon at Boeing
>in Seattle in the early 1960's. (And Fissault's later work at
>Rockedyne in Hawthorne, California.)

Eve Andree Laramee <wander@earthlink.net> replied:
Actually, Duane, it was in 1959 that Fissiault wrote letters of
recommendation for employment on behalf of Pynchon to colleagues at
Boeing Company, Seattle, and Hughes Aircraft, Los Angeles. Pynchon was
in fact hired by Hughes as a tech writer.

It was the same year that Yves and Mia L'amar (his wife, a Hollywood
actress blacklisted duiring the 60's  - more on her later...) moved into
a duplex apartment at 1819 Bellevue Ave in Echo Park, California. They
befriended a young neighbor, Francis Vincent Zappa, a young
Italian-American musician interested in electronics and chemistry. They
shared an interest in the music of Edgar Varčse, Béla Bártok, Arnold
Schoenberg, John Cage and Conlon Nancarrow. Frank introduced Yves to the
jazz and underground music scene in Los Angeles, while Yves shared his
knowledge of the early electronic instruments of Theremin and Moog. (I
know this is a little off the subject, but it's pretty facinating, no?)

Duane Griffin <dgriffin@nwu.edu> wrote:
Something of a side note 9speaking of off-subjects): In 1986, I met a
Mexican engineer (now a research neurophysiologist) named Octavio Ruiz
de Leon who had been working for 15 years on a project to understand
what he believed to be a global intelligence based on beetles. His work
began on an afternoon in 1971 at Teotihuacan, where he was picnicing
with his family. He said that they had climbed to the top of the pyramid
of the moon and he chanced to look up just in time to see a large scarab
beetle flying directly at his head. He reached up and caught the beetle,
which drilled into his hand, slightly breaking the skin. Dr. Ruiz told
me that, in that instance, he became aware of what he described as "a
very low frequency thought that was very large" that he found profoundly
shocking and strange. Several years later, working in France, he became
interested in general systems theory and, later, cybernetics. When I met
him in 1986, he was convinced that there was such a thing as a global
intelligence that was concious and had a very long memory. He explained
to me that beetles, which are essentially nothing more than life support
sustems for chemical sensors connected to ganglia of nerve cells, act as
"neurons" in an ever changing, but dynamically permenant global "brain."
He figured it would operate at a phenomenally slow rate, since the
transfer of a chemical signal from one "neuron" to another (i.e. one
beetle coming across the chemical signal of another) might take days or
even weeks to occur, rather than microseconds as it does in a brain.

Essentially, he thought of our brains as a chemically mediated
combinatorial system. He's an interesting guy. When I knew him he was
building interfaces for neurological research at the Polytechnic
Institute on the north side of Mexico City. One day I visited his lab,
and they were doing experiments in which they had exposed a cat's spinal
cord and inserted electrodes at key points. The electrodes were
connected, via Dr. Ruiz's interface boxes, to a computer that was linked
through the Internet (via satellite hookup to the backbone) to a
supercomputer at Los Alamos (NM).

Back on track....
>>>Interesting you mention Pynchon. The two first met in 1953 while Pynchon
>>>was at Cornell University in the Engineering and Physics Division.  That
>>>was the year IBM announced the 650 computer, and Fissault, having worked
>>>extensively on ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer)

>>That is remarkable. My uncle, Dave Leddy, worked on ENIAC at Pennsylvania!

>They must've known each other. Pynchon was at least a decade younger,
>and still in school when he introduced to Fissault his thoughts on
>the Thurn and Taxis postal system Trystero, the undercover message
>relay system with the symbol of the muted horn. The "loose canons" in the
>defense dept. at the time modeled ARPANETon this.

>>Although,  as you mention, he refers to this incident as "action poetry",
>>he was also involved in hard science: .........(snip)
>>So it was more his distain for the defence industry in which
>>he worked which fueled his art and performance rather than his being
>>ill-appreciated in the defense industry".

No doubt that's how he knew how to hack the Hermes guidance system. And
after the Hermes hack, he was plenty ill-appreciated.

>Again, let me refer to the ant analogy. Why should ants play an apparently
>crucial role in the transition from chaotic to ordered behavior?

Do you know about percolation theory?

Eve Andree Laramee <wander@earthlink.net> wrote:

Thank you for your response Duane.
You wrote:
>I am of course familiar with his projects with Pynchon at Boeing in
>Seattle in the early 1960's. (And Fissault's later work at Rockedyne
>in Hawthorne, California.)

Fissiault's work at Rockedyne (again, primarily with gyroscope
technologies) inspired Pynchon to invent the literary conceit, Yoyodyne,
in San Narcisco near L.A. which he imagined as Fissault's "true"
domicile and headquarters. So here is where fact and fiction begin to
get blurred. (I like to think of facts sort of like hard candy. The more
you suck on them, the sweeter they taste, but the slipperier they become
around the edges, and pretty soon they're gone entirely, only to be
replaced by another of a different color, shape, and flavor.) Anyways, 
Fissault "became the character, Pierce Inverarity, ARPANET became
W.A.S.T.E. and Rockedyne became Yoyodyne.

This may be of interest to you.... I was anonymously forwarded this

Thomas Pynchon wrote:
Hi Myra,
I can't believe I am hearing the name, Yves Fissault again. Apparently
there is some discussion on some art or computer thing on the internet.
My publisher forwarded these messages to me in my hotel room in
Mazatlan, and I wondered, wondered, shuffling back through the
conjurer's deck of my memory, and then the odd reality filtered up to
the surface, relatively clear.

If I remember correctly, Fissault and I had numerous discussions at some
bar we used to hang out at in Venice, no Manhattan Beach, in California,
the OscilloScope I think it was called, Or maybe it was at Cantor's Deli
in West Hollywood, about his work on Third-order Henshaw events and
stochastic events. He was also making these films about ants.... Do you
have any recollection?
Much Love,

Eve Andree Laramee <wander@earthlink.net>
wrote to Duane Griffin <dgriffin@nwu.edu>:
>Could you please elaborate on third-order Henshaw events? I am unfamiliar....

Essentially, Henshaw events are flux points in a complex dynamical
systems. The probability of such an event decreases, and the magnitude
increases, as a power of the order. Third order events are very
low-probability, high magnitude events that we find very difficult to
think about, e.g. in terms of risk assessment. For example, the
probability that your tombstone will read "died of a gunshot wound" are
about the same as that of it reading "killed by an asteroid impact of
the same magnitude as the one that ended the Cretaceous." This seems
incredibly counterintuitive, but it's true. The odds of your dying of
asteroid impact are exceedingly small, but they would affect a great
number of all humans who have ever lived. The opposite is (relatively
speaking) true of gunshot fatalities.

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