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The Enigma as Interactive Farce

Feedback is the answer.  
"In control and communication we are always fighting nature's tendency to degrade the organized and to destroy the meaningful; the tendency,... for entropy to increase."
-Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics and Society

"There is no problem so complicated that you can't find a very simple answer to it if you look at it the right way."
-Douglas Adams, Frank the Vandal

Any working explanation of the so known enigma should involve an analysis of the messages. The following expressions are all implications of the cybernetic paradigm envisioned by Norbert Wiener - not arbitrary, disparate, and fuzzy ideas, but coherent and consistent facts - funny as they may seem. If you're confused or unconvinced by this information you can verify it online at

The word cybernetics is derived from the Greek word for "steersman" after the person who steers the ship based on the performance of the ship. The steersman guides the ship to a particular destination (progresses to the goal) against the forces of chaos, uncertainty, and randomness by constantly adjusting the path of the vessel by, what can be reduced to, incremental right or left (one bit) adjustments. (keywords: beacon, course, steer, landmark) The effective transmission of a message involves an analogous process (as in analogy), so cybernetics was generally defined by Norbert Wiener as the science of communication and control in the animal and the machine. (more on that further on) The essence of control in all cybernetic systems (animal, automaton, organization, live concert, etc.) is the prinicple of feedback--implied by such keywords as, and/or including: interaction, participation, reciprocal communication, exchanging information, working in concert, discussion, discourse, debate, negotiation, applause, flames (and arrows), jeers, battle, advice, positive response (or "re"-anything for that matter), agreement, congratulation, connecting relationships, answers (feedback parameters defined by questions, sentences usually ending with a "?" sign), guitar howlround, and control. Control is made possible through feedback and is connoted by words such as monitoring, directing, leading, instructing, supervising, watching, steering, guiding, and governing.

[With the establishment of information theory by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver in the seminal article ... published in 1948, it became apparent that the mathematical formulation of the amount of information (keyword: information) in a message, (keyword: message, THE MESSAGE) expressed as a measure of uncertainty in bits [keywords: one (1 - 0), true (true - false), truly (with certainty - probability of 1), truthfulness, choose your leaders (vote), yes, nay-sayers (yeah - nay), right (right - wrong, right - left)] given a set of possible messages, was identical to the formula for physical entropy. The universal cybernetic paradigm envisioned by Norbert Wiener expands upon the realization of a relationship between thermodynamics and information theory. According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy is neither created nor destroyed within a closed system. According to the second law, also known as the law of entropy, the energy within a closed system will tend to move from an organized and differentiated state to a randomly ordered, homogenous, and highly probable state, through time. (or some such) The second law is given expression by such phenomena as the cooling of hot kettle of water to the temperature prevailing in the enviroment.]

"In physics, the idea of progress opposes that of entropy,..."
-Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics and Society

Progress is being made.  
Progress (another manifestation of control, and thus feedback) in a system is an antientropic process, whereby an increase in organization (keywords: organize, organized, organization, arrange) is accomplished through time (keyword: time). Obtaining information to reduce entropy through feedback (move forward, add order, arrange the 1's and 0's) involves work (keyword: work), which involves expending energy and adding entropy to the system, assuming that the system is closed. The existence and very beginning of life on earth (the evolution of which has been driven by feedback) might seem at first to defy the second law of thermodynamics. Persisting human beings, communities, civilizations, and the earth (receiving energy from the sun), are not closed, but open sytems, though.

["The earth is not a closed system but a living thing - a highly complex self-regulating cybernetic system - a vast active living information system. We'll bite it (die off) before She does. She will take it back."]

"Organism is opposed to chaos, to disintegration, to death, as message is to noise."
"We are but whirlpools in a river of ever-flowing water."
-Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics and Society

A bit-mapped display on a bit-mapped display. (of communication)  
The brain is the control center of the human being. In a way analogous to the way a steersman steers a ship, we continuously steer ourselves based on information about our actions. ("As your thoughts will steer you") For example, we aren't constantly banging into walls or falling down stairs, because we're able to monitor and adjust our behavior based on information in the form of messages (keywords: message, THE MESSAGE) that we receive about our actions. Thereby, we're able to make it to the pub on Friday night, in a way analogous to the way a ship might journey from the Greek isles to the North African coast, or whatever/wherever. (though our guidance systems might be a bit impaired on the way home) Every step that we're successfully able to make in our pursuit of the pub decreases the uncertainty of the situation and increases the probability that we'll eventually make it there. In a sense, we direct ourselves with communication - continuous (or sufficiently frequent) feedback about our own performance. [the effective communication of a message, the acquisition or transmission of information, involves an analogous (here meant as in analogy) process] Norbert Wiener proposed a metaphor according to which an organism (which we might interpret to mean a cybernetic body, living system, or communicative being) can be thought of as message. For living things, entropy (noise in the communication process) means disorganization, disorder, death, the passage of time. As living animals we take in information, as well as water and food (physical energy), to fend off the forces of entropy. In that light, it seems reasonable to say that we might "digest" a "morsel" (incidently, morse code is essentially binary representation) of information. As information processing systems, our identities (keyword: identity) are bound not by flesh, but by the flow of information. (lookup: cybernetic organism, cyborg)

["About 85% of my 'thinking' time was actually spent getting into a position to think, to make a decision, to learn something I needed to know. Much more time went into finding or obtaining information than into digesting it."
-J.C.R. Licklider, Man-Machine Symbiosis]

Creativity, if anything, implies a "new way" of doing something, which is not arrived at entirely by a rationally calculated process, the ends of which were foreseen in advance, but discovered. Creativity implies risk, and willingness to try something new, which may or may not bear fruit. In other words, creativity implies a trial and error feedback process either within the mind of the individual or within a creative system.

["An integral part of solving this enigma is a willingness to imagine and speculate creatively."]

"Moving forward always means making mistakes"
-Douglas Adams, BBC Radio 4

Feedback is the answer.  
Speculation, similarly, implies actions taken when faced with uncertain, unforeseen, ends. We speculate when we don't know for certain yet. Speculation involves trying ones luck (keyword: luck), perhaps with the aid of hints, clues, or other imperfect information, and learning, or discovering (keywords: discover, discovered), in retrospect whether a decision was correct and then proceeding perhaps, which of course, is another expression of feedback at work. Assuming that being right and wrong are equiprobable, a persistent policy of speculation will in general lead to progress if the costs of being wrong are less than the costs of being right, and provided that one perseveres and doesn't become "frustrated" and "discouraged" by choosing wrong sometimes. In practice, without adequate information (at least hints and clues), or if obstacles arise, it is possible to stall or steer off course entirely, resulting in deadlock. (you get my point)





[Is an expression for the feedback process]

Investigation, at least in a scientific sense, involves the establishment of some hypothesis and a process of experimentation, evaluation, analysis, interpretation to determine the merits of the hypothesis, which of course, is another expression of feedback at work. The experiment/search may also verify or validate a previously uncertain assumption or idea, thus making it certain. Resources, hints, and clues might orient the search, or provide guidance or direction, toward more certain knowledge, (proof and evidence - if not the ends, then details, pieces of the puzzle, correct choices at forks in the road) and ultimately the goal. (complete certainty, understanding, knowing, or whatever the goal or purpose was agreed initially to be) "All will be explained upon arrival"
Research, a word comprised of the roots "re" and "search", naturally involves a similar process.

"Communication is about relation, not essence." -Katherine Hayles

["carefully take note of those subtle, connecting relationships..."]

["But, make no mistake, this new information must be considered in relation to all previous clues that have either been discovered by you or provided by me."]

Feedback is the answer.  
Without feedback there is no learning, only programming. Through, what can be reduced to a path of yes or no questions and answers, analogous to the bits defining information, we achieve an enhanced state of order, knowledge, certainty, whether in the living individual, organization, message, process of thought as in understanding etc. The degree of understanding is the amount of information that one has with certainty about a given situation or thing. To be informed, is to truly believe. Skepticism implies doubting and questioning of matters. (you might see where that may or may not lead) For more information about how creativity, investigation, learning, child psychology, etc, relate to information processing and feedback see here:

["Computer scientists talk about computational metaphors in computer languages -- alternative frameworks for thinking about what programming really does. The most widespread and oldest metaphor is that of a recipe, the kind of recipe you create for a very stupid but obedient servant -- a list of definite, step-by-step instructions that could provide a desired result when carried out by a mindless instruction-following mechanism. The sequence of instructions is an accurate but limiting metaphor for how a computer operates."
-Howard Rheingold, The Birth of the Fantasy Amplifier

* A recipe for a solution...

Leading the blind while I stared out the steel in your eyes...]

The digital computer, born with the advent of the cybernetic age, is the quintessential cybernetic system of our time. This digital computer, useful to human beings through a complex of loop algorithms, is essentially a feedback control system. Notice that as you feed input into this device you expect and generally receive a response, meaning that you are communicating - interacting with a computer. Not incidently, this communication here between people (you and I in this instance) is taking place via the computer. The fact that one is trying to solve an enigma should clue one into the completely absurd and paradoxical nature of the endeavor that one has been drawn into. As opposed to a solved problem or puzzle, there is no such thing as a solved enigma. An enigma, when solved, seizes to exist. Appreciating the enigma concept envolves a transformation of sorts where one arrives at the striking realization that it is what it is. (keyword: consciousness) The messages become a reflexive description of the system itself that one, (as yeah/nay-saying cybernetic automaton, as node in the network) receiving messages through the light of this display, is engaging and simultaneously creating. That's really all there is to the enigma. It's an absurd farce, and in that respect, not much unlike other organized,... word-based control/guidance systems involving "faith" and "belief" that people willingly and blindly subject themselves to. There is much to be learned from this display of communication and control.

[Click here to read the messages sent by Publius.]

"Feedback loops are the most powerful process we know of,..."
"One of the most powerful forces in nature is about to come into view in the online medium: the feedback loop..." -Douglas Adams

"It is called The Boatman."  
These highly malleable and dynamic digital information processing devices (which have already begun to reshape the world - lookup: globalization and telecommunications), and the networking and internetworking thereof, could serve human progress if we are able to use them to facilitate the (perhaps spontaneous) control and resolution of problems in our increasingly complex and seemingly chaotic world. Human progress has always been, and will (we should hope) continue to be, the effect of our natural propensity and need to communicate openly. We are now becoming of digital flesh, pioneers - composers - architects of this dreamed of world of informational space. The future is literally what we make of it.

As you might already have begun to suspect, the online enigma phenomenon itself, organized communication as an expression of a cybernetic system and the associated paradigm (a message itself perhaps), functions as a remarkably designed (and integrated) key for appreciating the Division Bell album. (totally reflexive and cybernetically self-aware) Quite a coincidence, eh? The riches (keywords: prize, treasure, bounty) are in the music, ("The Division Bell", the message) communication from Pink Floyd (human beings too, one would like to think), to "You", as a member of the audience at large. As for myself, I'm out the door and off to the pub to raise a glass with friends and neighbours. Keep talking.

"There are of course many problems connected with life, of which some of the most popular are `Why are people born?' `Why do they die?' `Why do they spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?'"
-Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

"Welcome to the world of random noise
Where you simply haven't got a choice"

"And when you see what's been acheived
Is there a feeling that you've been deceived?"

Publius Enigma: The Final Message