Front cover image for Chaos imagined : literature, art, science

Chaos imagined : literature, art, science

Martin Meisel (Author)
The stories we tell in our attempt to make sense of the world our myths and religion, literature and philosophy, science and art are the comforting vehicles we use to transmit ideas of order. But beneath the quest for order lies the uneasy dread of fundamental disorder. True chaos is hard to imagine and even harder to represent. In this book, Martin Meisel considers the long effort to conjure, depict, and rationalize extreme disorder, with all the passion, excitement, and compromises the act provokes. Meisel builds a rough history from major social, psychological, and cosmological turning points in the imagining of chaos. He uses examples from literature, philosophy, painting, graphic art, science, linguistics, music, and film, particularly exploring the remarkable shift in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from conceiving of chaos as disruptive to celebrating its liberating and energizing potential. Discussions of Sophocles, Plato, Lucretius, Calderon, Milton, Haydn, Blake, Faraday, Chekhov, Faulkner, Wells, and Beckett, among others, are matched with incisive readings of art by Brueghel, Rubens, Goya, Turner, Dix, Dada, and the futurists. Meisel addresses the revolution in mapping energy and entropy and the manifold effect of thermodynamics. He then uses this chaotic frame to elaborate on purpose, mortality, meaning, and mind.-- Provided by Publisher
Print Book, English, 2016
Columbia University Press, New York, 2016
xvi, 585 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
9780231166324, 023116632X
ebook version :
Uncertainty and Complexity: An Untethered Epilogue: After Entropy
Incompleteness and Incongruity
The Message of the Quantum
Lost Horizons
Chaos Everywhere
Looking Askance
1. Shaping Chaos
2. Nothing and Something: Something out of Nothing?
Nothing in Something
"The Nurse of Becoming"
Saying Nothing
Nothing as Nothing
The Middle of Nowhere
Positive Negation
3. Number: The One and the Many: Division and Multiplication
Sophocles' Thought Experiment
Imagining the Worst
Taking the Measure
One World or Many?
A Glance Into the Abyss
Truth and Poetry
Everything by One and One
4. Carnival: Monstrous Confusion
Going to the Fair
Lords of Misrule
Parody Refram'd
The Wild God
5. War: Representation: Conscripting War
Condition: Soldiers and Peasants: Callot
Goya's Nightmare
Dix and the Chaos Within
Consummation: Managing the Chaos
The Fog of Battle
Armageddon and Apocalypse
6. Energy: Matter in Motion (Inertia, Friction, Noise): Statics and Dynamics
The Homeostatic Universe
Friction and Noise
Nebular Hypotheses
Energy Unbound: Wirrwarr
Petrific Chaos
Energy's Epic
Energy's Image
Postlude: Energy's Acolytes
7. Entropy: Time and Tide: Conservation and Convertibility
Double-Entry Physics
The Death of the Universe
Ancestral Voices
A Question of Time
A Sense of Direction
Second Thoughts
Tristes Entropics: Nature Decay'd
Chekhov's Fiddle
Zola's Fevers
Vox clamantis
Anarchy and Endgame: Resistance and Complementarity
Beckett and the Shape of Chaos
Sights and Sounds
8. Coda, or Da capo al fine