Thursday, June 08, 2006

Pact with the Devil 2

Cambridge University researcher Mike Bond would rather admit to superstition than trickery.

Following my post yesterday on his paper "Pact with the Devil" (auspiciously numbered 666 and dated 6/6/6), Mike added a comment in which he confirms my analysis, admits (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) to some (internal) superstition, but denies my suggestion that this might have been planned for (external) effect.

In some circles, perhaps particularly in Cambridge, eccentric beliefs are more socially acceptable than vulgar publicity-seeking. Faking the numbers to achieve some worldly purpose would itself count as a Pact with the Devil.

But sometimes the innocent sharing of a joke may be more authentic - and therefore more infectious - than cynical manipulation or conscious planning. An effect may be amplified by an manifest absence of purpose. (Mike's paper deserves to be read, and a bit of light amusement in its publication surely can't do it any harm.)

But absence-of-purpose at one level may be sustained by a deeper purpose. POSIWID helps us to search for a purpose, but doesn't reveal what kind of purpose we might find. (What is the purpose of integrity and character?)

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