Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

It would mean something to me if you cranked up the volume and listened to the songs that I've posted below. I'm not feeling great right now, and it would make for some kind of therapy-like thing. Maybe.

I'm not sure about perfection. If asked, most people would say that perfection is inherently good. Perfect is all the good right? I don't think that's really true though. Imagine a perfect circle for example. It's perfect in the sense that it is the archetype for a circle, but that doesn't necessarily make it better. In fact, it's a pretty limited thing. OK, I grant that you can have perfect circles of varying radii, but beyond that perfect circles are constrained and are only useful in a small handful of circumstances...and even then, an imperfect circle will almost always do the job just as well. Perfect circles also don't contribute any information: If you were to actually make a perfect physical circle it wouldn't tell us anything than the simple mathematics that defining it don't. My point is that perfection is constrained and rarely useful. I'm going to play a song for you now. I think that I'm going somewhere with this.

OK, so was that perfect? No, of course not, that's a ridiculous question. Music cannot be perfect. It's subjective right?

I don't think so.

Perfection is shockingly easy to define in music: chip-tunes played in normal time signatures without any dissonance are perfect. Assuming that the chips in question were made properly and the speakers are sufficiently faithful, music of this sort is technically perfect. Well OK, that is a very mathematical approach to the universe, but any reasonable definition of perfection should be in some way mathematical, or at least have a proof condition in a defined logical system.

I don't think that chiptunes are the only example though. There are songs in which every note has been carefully placed to be perfect. Sometimes this is done by musicians, a practice which I am given to understand ruined A Guns and Roses album. Other times it is done by a pitch corrector or other computer. While that can be done artistically, often it is just a process to make things more perfect.

So, going back to the song, it's not perfect. It certainly contains dissonance and the melody (if you could call it that) doesn't stay consistently on or anywhere near the beat. Subjectively, it isn't even to everyone's taste. BUT...I wouldn't change a single thing about it. I don't have any external emotional attachment to the song, it resonates with me in and of itself. As far as I am concerned, if you were to change anything about it the most you could hope for is not making it worse. The last thing that I want is for somebody to make it "more perfect". That would be terrible. Here is another song.

I lied. It's the same song. A rare (aside from being on the internet) version of the same song as it happens. It is also not perfect. The notes don't float in and out in a regular way, and the other bits layered on top are pretty sporadic and seem to be improvised. I don't think that this version is worse than the original. I think it's also as good as a song can be.

So both of these are as good as a song can be. They are both similar, but also clearly distinct. And yeah, it is possible for other songs to also be as good as a song can be. Completely different songs. Dear Prudence, there is one. Moonlight Sonata for another. And my point, through all of this is that none of those things are perfect. If they didn't have their flaws, they wouldn't be nearly so interesting.

And that makes me kind of sad.

Those skimming, you may wish to read the last paragraph at least

For a long time human societies had reference points. We would point at things and say "That is perfect. All things are judged by this. If you want to make your thing better, follow this more closely." Ironically, Plato is the archetypal example. Confused about something? Go see what Plato said about it (or possibly J.S. Mill). As I've just demonstrated, that is really a ridiculous thing to do...but it is also very freeing. When you have gold standards and "correct" ways of doing things, then you can also have certainty. We don't have that anymore. If you are working on something, how do you tell if it is as good as it can be? How do you tell if YOU are as good as you can be? You can't. Instead you must simply polish until you can no longer stand, then again until you can no longer kneel, and then desperately call for someone to judge your projects in the hopes that you only imagined those blemishes which seemingly escaped your reach.

TLDR: Without perfection we lack archetypes. Without archetypes we lack certainty. Without certainty we lack rest. Else we accept that we must fail and achieve nothing.

#1 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

It would mean something to me if you cranked up the volume and listened to the songs that I've posted below. I'm not feeling great right now, and it would make for some kind of therapy-like thing. Maybe.

I'm not sure about perfection. If asked, most people would say that perfection is inherently good. Perfect is all the good right? I don't think that's really true though. Imagine a perfect circle for example. It's perfect in the sense that it is the archetype for a circle, but that doesn't necessarily make it better. In fact, it's a pretty limited thing. OK, I grant that you can have perfect circles of varying radii, but beyond that perfect circles are constrained and are only useful in a small handful of circumstances...and even then, an imperfect circle will almost always do the job just as well. Perfect circles also don't contribute any information: If you were to actually make a perfect physical circle it wouldn't tell us anything than the simple mathematics that defining it don't. My point is that perfection is constrained and rarely useful. I'm going to play a song for you now. I think that I'm going somewhere with this.

OK, so was that perfect? No, of course not, that's a ridiculous question. Music cannot be perfect. It's subjective right?

I don't think so.

Perfection is shockingly easy to define in music: chip-tunes played in normal time signatures without any dissonance are perfect. Assuming that the chips in question were made properly and the speakers are sufficiently faithful, music of this sort is technically perfect. Well OK, that is a very mathematical approach to the universe, but any reasonable definition of perfection should be in some way mathematical, or at least have a proof condition in a defined logical system.

I don't think that chiptunes are the only example though. There are songs in which every note has been carefully placed to be perfect. Sometimes this is done by musicians, a practice which I am given to understand ruined A Guns and Roses album. Other times it is done by a pitch corrector or other computer. While that can be done artistically, often it is just a process to make things more perfect.

So, going back to the song, it's not perfect. It certainly contains dissonance and the melody (if you could call it that) doesn't stay consistently on or anywhere near the beat. Subjectively, it isn't even to everyone's taste. BUT...I wouldn't change a single thing about it. I don't have any external emotional attachment to the song, it resonates with me in and of itself. As far as I am concerned, if you were to change anything about it the most you could hope for is not making it worse. The last thing that I want is for somebody to make it "more perfect". That would be terrible. Here is another song.

I lied. It's the same song. A rare (aside from being on the internet) version of the same song as it happens. It is also not perfect. The notes don't float in and out in a regular way, and the other bits layered on top are pretty sporadic and seem to be improvised. I don't think that this version is worse than the original. I think it's also as good as a song can be.

So both of these are as good as a song can be. They are both similar, but also clearly distinct. And yeah, it is possible for other songs to also be as good as a song can be. Completely different songs. Dear Prudence, there is one. Moonlight Sonata for another. And my point, through all of this is that none of those things are perfect. If they didn't have their flaws, they wouldn't be nearly so interesting.

And that makes me kind of sad.

Those skimming, you may wish to read the last paragraph at least

For a long time human societies had reference points. We would point at things and say "That is perfect. All things are judged by this. If you want to make your thing better, follow this more closely." Ironically, Plato is the archetypal example. Confused about something? Go see what Plato said about it (or possibly J.S. Mill). As I've just demonstrated, that is really a ridiculous thing to do...but it is also very freeing. When you have gold standards and "correct" ways of doing things, then you can also have certainty. We don't have that anymore. If you are working on something, how do you tell if it is as good as it can be? How do you tell if YOU are as good as you can be? You can't. Instead you must simply polish until you can no longer stand, then again until you can no longer kneel, and then desperately call for someone to judge your projects in the hopes that you only imagined those blemishes which seemingly escaped your reach.

TLDR: Without perfection we lack archetypes. Without archetypes we lack certainty. Without certainty we lack rest. Else we accept that we must fail and achieve nothing.

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@nintendoeats said:

Imagine a perfect circle for example.

I can't.

#3 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@nintendoeats said:

Imagine a perfect circle for example.

I can't.

Yes, you can imagine one.

Making one is a different story.

#4 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@nintendoeats:

But to imagine one is to make one, but only within one's mind. One can easily imagine that there is a concept of a perfect circle, but imagining what said circle may look like is impossible, and will only result in approximations.

#5 Edited by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: I don't think that there is a difference between imagining the concept of a perfect circle and imagining the circle itself. It's not really my area (not that I have one), but I think you will find that if you really break down what you see as images in your mind, they are in fact merely abstract concepts that we can describe as images when we want to.

But yes, if you wish to hold that imagining something means imagining a precise image of it, and that this image is not merely a description of an abstract concept, then you cannot imagine a perfect circle.

EDIT: Now that I think of it, if we take it as true that imagining something is to really make it within your mind, then by the ontological argument you should be able to make God within your mind...but I don't know if the ontological argument as it is usually formulated necessarily holds in that situation.

#6 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Sounds like we could get into an entire conversation about the inner workings of the mind if we wanted to, but there's good reason we shouldn't be poking around there. (Spoilers, if you care about that sort of thing.)

On topic, though, I will say that the reason perfection is overrated (or perhaps the reason it can be seen as overrated) is because it's unrealistic. Nothing in nature is perfect, so if we were to see something that we recognize as perfect, we'd reject the shit out of it. However, I am curious as to what the perception would be of something that perfectly conformed to reality. The irony is astounding!

@nintendoeats said:

Instead you must simply polish until you can no longer stand, then again until you can no longer kneel, and then desperately call for someone to judge your projects in the hopes that you only imagined those blemishes which seemingly escaped your reach.

Oh, and this sounds like dangerous thinking. I may sound belligerent, but when do you leave well enough alone? (Or maybe I'm confusing this with something else where you continually seek improvement like crazy.)

#7 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

I may sound belligerent, but when do you leave well enough alone?

This is precisely my point. When DO you leave well enough alone? Without a reverence for perfection, there is no absolute answer to that question. Completion of every project must necessarily end with the phrase "good enough"

#8 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

Sounds like we could get into an entire conversation about the inner workings of the mind if we wanted to, but there's good reason we shouldn't be poking around there. (Spoilers, if you care about that sort of thing.)

Sounds to me like that guy is pretty silly for not noticing that people have a strong capacity for terribleness.

#9 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@nintendoeats:

To be fair, when he subjected himself to Glass Cage, that's all he could see in people. To him, there was no longer any good in mankind. It was all terribleness, and he still had to live with those fuckers.

#10 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: Fair enough. I would be very curious to see the actual statistics on people's hateful/benevolent thoughts. Though, they might make me jump off a bridge. So it's probably best that such statistics cannot possibly exist.

#11 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

On the cognition front, I'm more interested in how learning occurs and how memories are formed, because what I know so far seems to be rather lacking (it's more just a game of maxing out stats rather than anything perfected to a science).

#12 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: I can't tell if you are talking about video games or real life.

#13 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Given my recent experiences with BIT.TRIP, probably both.

#14 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4605 posts) -

I tried to come up with an intelligent response, but ended up realizing I'm not nearly as familiar with philosophical arguments as I should be to avoid sounding like I'm talking out of my ass, so I'll spare you my attempt.

Cool songs, anyway.

#15 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@MarkWahlberg said:

I tried to come up with an intelligent response, but ended up realizing I'm not nearly as familiar with philosophical arguments as I should be to avoid sounding like I'm talking out of my ass, so I'll spare you my attempt.

Cool songs, anyway.

I completely respect that, for two reasons.

1. Humility is just generally something I respect.

2. It's nice to know that I am actually learning unique skills with this stupid degree.

I'm glad that you like the songs.

#16 Posted by casper_ (903 posts) -

in that first song op those aren't dissonances those are the upper structure of the chord underneath. they already exist in the overtone series produced or inferred by the bass note.

1 3 and 5(ie: C E and G in the key of C for the tonic chord or D F and A for II) are very stable and the upper structure (9,11,13) are less stable but add color. we usually call them tensions or extensions.

#17 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@casper_:Ok, fair enough. Good to know. I'm not sure that actually affects my point too much.

#18 Posted by casper_ (903 posts) -

@nintendoeats: i'm not sure i follow entirely. is this about platonic ideals? the perfect table existing in the aether that drives us to strive to create our own beautiful but flawed tables?

#19 Posted by TheVeteran13 (1210 posts) -

This may have gone way over my head but I don't think anything can be technically perfect because there should have been a point in time where it was someones subjectivity that deemed it to be "perfect" in the first place.... I'm confused and I don't know if I said that right.

#20 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@casper_: Sort of. I'm saying that we have discarded the notion of "perfect" reference points for both ourselves and our projects. That is closely, but not absolutely related to the notion of forms, though to be honest I don't believe that forms are an adequate way to think about the universe either. That's a separate issue.

#21 Edited by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@TheVeteran13: I can see that you are somewhat out of your depth, but you are pretty close to where I am actually. I agree, we can't have perfection in the subjective...that's rather my difficulty.

Perfection in mathematical things (such as musical theory) often IS definable.

EDIT: That wasn't meant to come off nearly so dickishly. Sorry.

#22 Posted by believer258 (11928 posts) -

@nintendoeats said:

@Video_Game_King: I don't think that there is a difference between imagining the concept of a perfect circle and imagining the circle itself. It's not really my area (not that I have one), but I think you will find that if you really break down what you see as images in your mind, they are in fact merely abstract concepts that we can describe as images when we want to.

But yes, if you wish to hold that imagining something means imagining a precise image of it, and that this image is not merely a description of an abstract concept, then you cannot imagine a perfect circle.

EDIT: Now that I think of it, if we take it as true that imagining something is to really make it within your mind, then by the ontological argument you should be able to make God within your mind...but I don't know if the ontological argument as it is usually formulated necessarily holds in that situation.

But then it would only exist in your mind. I can imagine a beautiful island in the middle of the sea, but that doesn't mean that it really exists.

Yes, I know. But I find Guanilo's argument perfectly reasonable. Imagining the existence of something, even something perfect, doesn't prove its existence. Aquinas's argument against it, that we cannot imagine perfection so we cannot imagine God, also makes plenty of sense to me. I just don't see how the imagining of something can prove its existence, whether it's an actual image in your mind or a description of an abstract concept, other than through a twist of words.

(Also, I'm all for a philosophical argument but here's a disclaimer: I'm not a philosophy major, so I'll hit a wall somewhere.)

Online
#23 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@believer258:

I'd say that imagining something not only proves its existence, but can actually cause it to exist. If it didn't exist, you wouldn't be able to conceive of it in any form. But then the question shifts from "does it exist" to "is it real", so I guess it's at least partly semantics.

(Also, I'm all for a philosophical argument but here's a disclaimer: I'm not a philosophy major, so I'll hit a wall somewhere.)

Same here, and I'm already approaching that wall.

#24 Posted by believer258 (11928 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@believer258:

I'd say that imagining something not only proves its existence, but can actually cause it to exist. If it didn't exist, you wouldn't be able to conceive of it in any form. But then the question shifts from "does it exist" to "is it real", so I guess it's at least partly semantics.

(Also, I'm all for a philosophical argument but here's a disclaimer: I'm not a philosophy major, so I'll hit a wall somewhere.)

Same here, and I'm already approaching that wall.

No, that question pretty much becomes wholly semantic. By your way of thinking, it can exist, but only in your mind, and is not real. Which flirts with solipsism, 'cause then you have to define what is and is not real. Which will of course involve differentiating between existence and reality. Which leads this whole argument around to one big circlejerk. A perfect circlejerk, if you will.

Fuck, it's 1 AM, why can't I ever get into this sort of thing at around 3:30PM on a slow day at work?

Online
#25 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@believer258:

Well, yea. Existence doesn't imply reality. There are tiers to it. Master Shake exists, but he probably isn't real. As for the question of what distinguishes reality and fiction, I'm not entirely qualified to answer that question, maybe because this all exists on a spectrum. I'd say that an element of historical verification could aid this definition, but that doesn't seem to escape the circle jerkery.