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The perfect cage

Yesterday morning when I was having lunch I opened the refrigerator door and a moth that had somehow managed to get inside began flying furiously around the interior of the refrigerator.

The moth was attracted to the refrigerator light. Every time I opened the door, the refrigerator light came on, and the moth loved it and hovered about. Every time I closed the door it got dark and cold inside and of course unattractive to the moth, but since the door was closed it couldn’t get out.

Finally, I realized what to do. I opened the refrigerator door, and then held down the spring-loaded button in the hinge that was triggered by the closing door. The refrigerator light went off with the door open, and the moth immediately headed out for the relative brightness of the kitchen.

It was a fiendish cage designed just for moths, who were free to leave whenever the cage door opened, but couldn’t because of their character/constitution.

This is a parable for something, but I’m not sure what. Maybe:

Moth = humanity, refrigerator = the mortal coil, refrigerator light = love, me = God? I don’t know.

Reminds me of the Bunuel movie called The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, where people invited to a dinner somehow cannot leave. Also reminds me of a device I built as a kid, a make-and-break circuit in which you wrap electrical wire around a nail and connect it to a battery through a springy piece of metal (a corset stay in the old days). When the DC current runs, it magnetizes the nail which attracts the spring which then breaks the circuit, so the current stops, and the spring jumps back to make contact and the current starts again and …. You can generate a high frequency AC current from a 1.5V battery that gives you a nice shock.


Related to pragmamorphism in the previous entry: Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes to say that appropriate words for the concept are ‘reification’ and ‘hyperstatization.’ The latter I don’t recognize; and the former, reification, doesn’t seem to me to quite catch the meaning. It means making a thing out of something, res=thing in Latin, facere = to make. But pragmamorphism mean giving the properties of things (to people).

Steve Murray says he uses the word ‘pessimal.’ And he adds “I like the idea that human action does not logically derive from some original stela or scale of values against which outcomes are weighed…. At the most basic level, you can never say that a man who baked and ate a bagel, when he could have baked and eaten a doughnut, chose the more efficient path.” Sounds right to me.

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