☞ The Mythical vs. the Everyday

File:Pieter Bruegel de Oude - De val van Icarus.jpg

What is this artwork? A seascape with a farmer in the foreground. But look closer, specifically in the water. Check out the water in the foreground of the large ship. See those legs poking out of the sea? That’s Icarus! This is the myth of Icarus, but with its importance almost as an afterthought. As per The Generalist Academy, which highlighted this painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus:

In Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, these hierarchies are flipped around. Icarus is represented by a couple of tiny lonely legs sticking out of the ocean. None of the other figures in the painting notice – they’re all looking in other directions, busy with their own work and ignorant of his fall. In contrast to the Classical tragedy landing in the ocean, the most prominent figure is a common farmer steering a horse and plough.

Humanity continues its regular activities even in the presence of myth.

(also, I highly recommend The Generalist Academy, which is an amazing and eclectic blog. It’s a delight. )

I love how the choices we make for visualizing information affect the models for how we think about our world. A great example can be seen by taking this as literally as possible: how two-dimensional projections affect how we think about the Earth and our place in it. The best statement on this is this clip from West Wing:

But there are so many projections and each one has its positives and its negatives. So back in 1989, the United States Geological Survey released a very large manual for these called An Album of Map Projections. It has a ton of information on specific projections, as well as a “Guide to Selecting Map Projections.”

For example, here is the Peirce quincuncial projection:

Each projection is interesting and weird and mind-expanding. Enjoy this rabbit hole.

Some fun links to explore:

A podcast I recorded awhile back was recently posted, wherein I discuss complexity, the future of technology, and more.

And I am pleased to see that the half-life of facts has penetrated the sports world. From Deadspin:

Within months, memory being the faulty tool it is, he will never have been in Oakland at all, and within a few months after that, neither will the Oakland Raiders. It’s the half-life of facts gone mad.

Such naches.

Until next time. (note: I’m going to aim to send this out approximately monthly)

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