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 Post subject: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:02 am 
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Let's talk about the actual trek to the Fountain of Youth. What was your impression of their journey and experience there?



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:46 pm 
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Certainly strange with all the spirits following them and having to use the smoke to fend them off. (Heaven forbid they all end up infested like Blackbeard). The entwining plants sort of grossed me out. I have been in the Everglades (air boat rides) and can understand the feeling of being in foliage so overgrown that you feel tangled in it. I was always perplexed by people in swamps who always carry large swords to hack back the underbrush. It seems Tim has been in some of those places to describe the plants overtaking everything even the living. It is sort of how nature reclaims things, the foliage takes it back if its left alone for a time.
So much for their surroundings, I have to ponder a bit on the ritual.



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:27 pm 
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Thanks for starting us off gemini. I found the plants and the whispering unnerving.



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:22 pm 
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Unnerving to be sure but it certainly set the mood. I thought the whole passage was really well written. I like that it was not necessarily a "geographical" place in the truest sense. It was more like a mystical, alternate plane experience. I found the whole experience to be exciting and suspenseful, quite the page turner! :cool:



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:41 pm 
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My impression? An incredible amount of stuff going on, and some of it, dang, went flying right by my head! To give this question its due I decided I should read over the whole journey again so my impressions could be fresh and what I am able to share grounded in words from the text itself. I find four parts: the approach through the weirdly alive swamp, the wide open place where all the laws that govern our physical world seem to bend, the time by the Fountain and the return. There's lots of symbolism, many references to Dante's Inferno and Newton, to the laws of matter and motion. I don't know that it felt like a journey to hell and back, but perhaps a journey into death and back. What follows is impressions.

I am completely drawn to the center which for me isn't the fountain but that vast open place they find themselves in. "The jungle was gone. In front of them a flat plain stretched away under the unobscured moon, and a couple hundred of yards ahead was the knee-high coping wall of a circular pool that looked wider than the Roman Coliseum. What out over the center of the pool hung a vast luminosity that might have been fire or spray, and the dimly glowing masses of it rose and feel as slowly as opals in honey. Staring at the shifting lights, Shandy realized with a chill that he had no idea how far away they were..." The remainder of this exquisite description goes on to detail how in one moment these glowing masses have a touchable closeness while in the next, they might as well be galaxies whirling quietly in an infinite Space. I thought of the Surrealist artist DeChirico and also, Fellini the filmmaker.

So there they are, shooting mathematical references at each of: "Have you studied Pythagoras in depth?...but here the square root of two is not an irrational number" while intermittently being assailed by phantasmagoric visions of the Past, everyone's past. Hurwood's intense re-creation of his wedded bliss, the young Blackbeard first encounter with the powerful loa Gede, Shandy and his father crawling half lifeless away from their attackers. This whole section captures, exactly, what I imagine it would be to journey beyond the edge of Life past Death into Infinity.

The Fountain. Symbolism: seven companions. Like seven days, seven sins, seven sacraments, seven wonders of the world, seven hills of Rome. I didn't notice the seven until the second time round. This is when the numbers of participants keeps changing. Seven for completion?

And motion. Oh my goodness, I never took Physics! This particular passage “That was it, Shandy realized ---- that was what had been bothering him. This place gave one no sensation of motion. He’d never thought of a place on solid land could seem to be moving, except during the earthquakes; before today he’s have laughed at anyone who claimed to be able to feel the motion through space of the planet Earth. Now, though, it seemed to him that he had always been fundamentally aware of that motion, albeit as unthinkingly as the way a fish is aware of water. Copernicus and Galileo and Newton, he thought, would find this place even more disturbing that I do.”

I wish I understood the significance of the focus on MOTION in this story. It is all over the book. And please Tim, who is Harry Stottle??



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:31 am 
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Hello, Firefly --

Harry Stottle is a pirate's misunderstanding when somebody referred to Aristotle!


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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:08 am 
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TimPowers wrote:
Hello, Firefly --

Harry Stottle is a pirate's misunderstanding when somebody referred to Aristotle!

:biglaugh:
Thanks, Tim!

I found the idea that you couldn't just walk straight to the Fountain a bit scary. Walking for days and getting nowhere, yet seeing where you needed to go is like trying to get to Disney World while driving on I-4 during "rush hour". ;-)
The talking mushrooms were a nice spooky touch. I could imagine the awful smell the "herbs" in the torches as being overwhelming. Also that they had to keep them going, like when Leo Friend threw a huge handful on his, almost causing it to go out. Whatever that "presence" that was watching them could have been anyone or anything. I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be. Human or spirit? A guardian of the Fountain?

Great stuff, by the way. :cool:



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:38 am 
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The part through the swamp reminded me of the group going to visit Tia Dahlma. And then the vast expanse, a bit of Davey Jones' locker.


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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:09 am 
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Thanks for the clarification, Tim. :lol:

Firefly, WOW! I wish I had gone back and re-read it. The number 7 went right over my head.

I’ve been thinking about the whole time/motion issue. And I think that maybe that the point was to give us a sense of what the fountain of youth does…..it stops time. In other words, if you aren’t getting any older then time is stopping for you.

I personally think that the journey was more interesting than reaching the destination. I found the fountain to be almost anti-climactic.

Nebraska, you are so right. That would be another comparison to the POTC movies. I need to go back and add some more comparisons to that question.



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:46 pm 
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TimPowers wrote:
Hello, Firefly --

Harry Stottle is a pirate's misunderstanding when somebody referred to Aristotle!
This is what comes from looking under things rather than directly at them. :harhar:

And thank you Tim!


Last edited by fireflydances on Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:17 pm 
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Liz wrote:
Thanks for the clarification, Tim. :lol:

Firefly, WOW! I wish I had gone back and re-read it. The number 7 went right over my head.

I’ve been thinking about the whole time/motion issue. And I think that maybe that the point was to give us a sense of what the fountain of youth does…..it stops time. In other words, if you aren’t getting any older then time is stopping for you.

I personally think that the journey was more interesting then reaching the destination. I found the fountain to be almost anti-climactic.

Nebraska, you are so right. That would be another comparison to the POTC movies. I need to go back and add some more comparisons to that question.


Didn't CJS say exactly that in one of the trailers?



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:24 pm 
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Well, I am still onto this thing about 'motion.' That silly first observation by Beth concerning her father to Jack "with papers and pendulums and tuning forks." Levitation: Beth and her father at different points in the story. Travel from A to B to C and back. The underlining thread of this book is motion: movement to find something, to rescue something, to change something. Laws of Motion then. I tried to translate the concepts as basically as possible, I hope I got them right.

Law 1: An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless something, some force, stops it.
Law 2: Very basically, something pushed accelerates in the same direction as the push, and heavier things fall faster than lighter things. (It's a lot more technical than this, but this catches the drift I hope)
Law 3: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

From OST: "Newton's laws of mechanics are useful in describing the world we know -- for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction, and a uniformly moving object will continue to move uniformly unless acted upon by some force -- but if you get very particular about very smallscale events, if you deal with them in such specific, needlessly obsessive detail as to almost qualify you for a lunatic asylum...you find that Newton's mechanical description of reality is only mostly correct. In tiny extents of space or time there's an element of indecisiveness, postponement of definition, and you can catch truth as loose as an underdone egg..........(referring to the fountain)There is no elasticity in this ground, no uncertainty, and so there's a lot out here in the air."

Perhaps what Hurwood says is in fact true here, in this world--quantum physics and beyond that? I really don't know a thing about this stuff, but the focus is so on the laws of motion. Newton is brought up repeatedly.

And then, I can't help but wonder about magic. How magic changes laws. But also, how magic works within the confines of laws. Think in particularly about Law #3, every action having a reaction.

Gee I wish we were all sitting around a table. My head hurts from the half thoughts there. :perplexed:



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:21 am 
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firefly, you've touched on the parts of the book that really resonated with me. The "alternate reality" piece is very intriguing.
I wasn't going to open up this particular can of worms, but now I can't resist. There is a theory that up until very recently people believed that matter arose from mind, as opposed to modern scientific thought which posits that matter existed first, and then beings capable of thought arose. (Very simplified version of an interesting topic). What makes this relevant to the discussion at hand is that the laws of matter, as we think we understand them today, can also be construed as "thoughts", and indeed, that this is the way people living in the time of Ponce de Leon would have actually perceived them.
One of the things I liked particularly about Tim's descriptions in the voyage to the fountain was how deftly he managed to convey this looking-glass mental state. It reminded me of Flatland by E. A. Abbott - well worth reading, by the way.
I like the idea that one of the themes of the book has to do with motion...lots to ponder there.


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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:30 am 
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Lots to ponder indeed. Thanks for your ideas, Buster. This reminds me of some of the discussion during Parallel Worlds.



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 Post subject: Re: On Stranger Tides Question #17 ~ Voyage to The Fountain of Youth
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:08 pm 
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Thank you Buster! Yes, so much here that we are pacing and pacing 'round. Here's a little contribution to expand the mind at bit: all about those 'laws' we are in the habit of seeing as immutable. (Here's the link to the source page:

Physics & Math / String Theory Is the Search for Immutable Laws of Nature a Wild-Goose Chase?
Four iconoclastic thinkers are challenging the assumption of scientists from Newton to Einstein: That there is one set of laws that perfectly describe the universe for all time.

by Adam Frank
If you want to build a star, start with the rules. That is the advice I give to my Ph.D. students at the University of Rochester. Using advanced supercomputers and programming, we simulate the complex interplay of gravity, radiation, and magnetic fields that constitutes the life of stars like the sun. Our goal is to better understand how stars are born, grow old, and die. Fundamentally, we start with the known laws of physics and take them wherever they lead us. The implicit understanding is that nature’s rules are eternal, unbreakable, and all-controlling. As Albert Einstein once said, learning to read the laws of physics is like reading the mind of God.

Such thinking has animated much of the enterprise of physics ever since Isaac Newton formulated his laws of universal gravitation in 1687: one set of laws for both the heavens and the earth. The idea took full root a century ago, when Einstein developed his general theory of relativity. If we work hard enough, he suggested, we will eventually find the elegant and simple rules that undergird the entire universe. Physicists have taken it as an article of faith that the bedrock laws are there to be discovered, if only we are clever enough in looking for them. The dogged pursuit of that ultimate truth has led to many great discoveries, but recently it has begun to seem like a promise unkept.

The problem is that physics appears to be leading us not to resolution but into an Alice in Wonderland world of increasingly bizarre theories, each farther removed than the last from our experience of the everyday world. In recent years cosmologists have posited that our universe is just one among an untold number of universes that bubble up constantly from quantum foam. Theoretical physicists have looked to the exotic mathematics of string theory, which suggests the existence of seven extra dimensions beyond the four we already know about. Experimentalists have built the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider in part to understand why we can observe only a portion of what our theories of matter predict.

If scientists have to dream up dimensions that nobody has ever seen and universes that nobody may ever find, perhaps it is a sign that we are headed down a blind alley. If we are indeed getting closer to knowing nature’s immutable laws, a few renegade physicists are now asking, why does each step we take only seem to send us deeper into the rabbit hole?

The mainstream response is that this is how science works. Each answer is supposed to yield new questions. Most physicists, to be sure, are still holding out for an elegant unifying vision—the long-promised “theory of everything”—and they are prepared to wait the 50 years or so it might take to arrive at one. The dissenters, though, are starting to wonder about this approach. If we have to take so much on faith, aren’t we behaving more like priests than like scientists? Perhaps, argue the rebels, our basic assumptions are leading us astray. Perhaps those immutable laws that we have been pursuing all these years are not so immutable after all. Could it be that we have taken for granted the existence of something fundamental, the way early scientists took for granted the existence of God?

At present, those doubters are few. The four scientists profiled here represent idiosyncratic, minority views. But perhaps it is time to listen to what they have to say. They may very well be wrong—but if they are right, it would usher in the biggest disruption in physics since an apple fell on Newton’s head.



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