Friday, June 17, 2011

PROBE : Infinity

Aristotle said that nature avoids the infinite, because the infinite lacks purposeful completion, but that is just what nature seeks. McLuhan restates the same thing, in a quote from the inventor of the laser Dennis Gabor :
Exponential curves grow to infinity only in mathematics. In the physical world they either turn around and saturate, or they break down catastrophically.
Change cannot be interpreted merely in quantitative terms. If a process is accelerated, in the real world there will come a point where one form will change into another. McLuhan's reception of Gabor's remark seems to echo the element of the tetrad called reversal or flipping: if a process is pushed to its limits it will flip or reverse into its opposite or complement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This quote can be found in "Take Today: The Executive as Dropout" (p. 110) and is used as a charge against cybernetics, exponential curves, two-bit witticism and other matchers doom sayers (Club of Rome, Herman Khan & Co.), though McLuhan & Nevitt do seem to take Gabor's quote with some irony, noting that "Gabor would imply that there is no change possible except in quantity. It is like saying that traveling by jet is no different than traveling by donkey, provided you make your connections. Mere speed of travel makes no physical difference!". The underlying theme of "Take Today" is the reversal of the environment, not in quantities, but in qualities, connections are gone, interplay rules the day.