MaxMSP and George Spencer-Brown's Laws of Form?

    May 18 2008 | 6:51 pm
    I'm new to this forum and I'm new to MaxMSP. I am told that MaxMSP might provide a way to code or implement George Spencer-Brown's Laws of Form.
    Did anybody try to do this or even succeeded to to it? Spencer-Brown's Laws of Form provide a calculus of indications which does not compute numbers but distinctions.
    The calculus consists of distinctions oscillating between their two sides, referring to themselves to either confirm or cancel the state they are indicating by producing them.
    Spencer-Brown expressions might be ways to note eigen-values of recursive functions even in cases of complex social systems. MaxMSP might, I am told, provide a way to test which combinations of distinctions re-entering their own space of distinctions end up with chaotic or dynamically stable systems.
    Any ideas on this?
    Best regards
    Dirk Baecker

    • May 19 2008 | 1:52 pm
      Well thats pretty deep stuff. If you are asking does Max
      have the building blocks to do what you want I am not
      sure. Max has limited support for linear algebra but not much
      more than that. It sounds like you would probably have to
      implement most of what you want on a C++ external.
    • May 19 2008 | 2:23 pm
      Just out of curiosity, how do you see the Law of Forms being
      used in a visual or musical context?
    • May 19 2008 | 2:37 pm
    • May 22 2013 | 5:08 am
      Hello everyone.. This is my first post to the forum.  I'm new to Max and my experience thus far has been one of astonishment.  Truly.  This little program just might change my life..  but I probably don't need to explain that to anyone here.
      Anyway, I actually did a forum search for "Spencer Brown" because I was thinking the very same thing as the original poster.  GSB was a student of Russell and Wittgenstein and developed the basis for Laws of Form while designing railway switching systems in the 1960's.  The essence of his work is more or less founded upon the insight that imaginary values are not just limited to numbers.  He asserts that it's possible to make use of imaginary boolean values.  In other words, just as we can talk about the square root of -1 as being neither a positive nor negative integer -  yet still meaningful and useful as i - we should go beyond the convention of true, false and meaningless, and consider the utility of imaginary logic values.
      Consider that x^2 + 1 = 0 can be reduced to x = -1/x which a form of recursion where the value we seek continually re-enters that from which we seek it.  In math we learned to break this loop.  In Max, we learn to redirect it or it gets broken for us and gets called "stack overflow".  ha!   Which is precisely why I began to think about GSB while learning how to use Max.   I'm trying to make dynamic UI objects that both control and display values - so it wasn't long before I began getting these stack overflow errors.  I have since learned to prepend the "re-entry" of certain values to prevent this (to a certain extent) but the problem persists.
      I like the idea of exploring these concepts in a platform like Max.. though I lack the programming skills do that (for now).  So I thought I'd offer this little piece to (perhaps)  inspire someone here to play with these ideas.
      You may find the following useful or at least interesting:
      The link about Box Algebra is a great primer and a quick read.  Bricken's container number page has some great videos for visualizing related processes - including some framed strips that would make a great basis for matrixctrl dial images.  Kauffman's pdf on LoF is an invaluable companion to Spencer-Brown's book... which, in my opinion is one of the most important books of the 20th century.   Bertrand Russell shared my sentiment, saying simply, "Not since Euclid's Elements have we seen anything like it."
    • May 22 2013 | 7:39 am
      while the usefulness of euclid for music is known for long, the usefulness of mister and misses spencer-brown has yet to be proven.
      or wait, was spencer brown the guy from the peanuts family maybe? the one who was playing the piano?
    • May 25 2013 | 8:17 pm
      A fan I see..   Well..  Euclid and Schroeder aside, thanks for the humor (and the reply).  You will forever stand as the first person to welcome me to this forum.
    • Oct 15 2016 | 2:26 am
      George Spencer Brown recently passed away at the age of 93. A true hero. RIP.
    • Oct 15 2016 | 10:43 am
      and i am glad you are still here after 3 years ;)
    • Oct 15 2016 | 10:45 am