Christmas preparations are already getting in the way of work. But it’s all food related, so at least it is stuff I enjoy. But that means I haven’t posted anything today for my many bored fans. And this birthday post ain’t gonna be great either. It’s just not a great day for birthdays, although there are some pretty interesting (And yes, Andrea: great!) people. But I don’t have a whole lot to say.
The great physicist David Bohm was born on this day in 1917. He made important contributions to quantum theory. He is best remembered today for his ontological beliefs. He believed that because of quantum effects, thinking was not localized in the brain. That may sound bizarre to you, but if you accept Richard Feynman’s work, you really can’t deny it. As we burrow down into the reality at its extremes (small, fast, high energy), we see more and more that reality is not what we think of as reality. And why would it be? It all leads me back to Schopenhauer and the idea that consciousness is just a trick. But I don’t see it as a trick that the Will plays on us, but rather a trick that we play on ourselves. But I’m not sure Schopenhauer would actually disagree with that. One could take a pantheistic approach to the Will and say it is just the sum total of all of us. Regardless, Bohm understood this kind of stuff. I would have loved to have known him. (Note, however: I get pretty tired of spiritual types talking to me about quantum mechanics. They pretty much never understand it. And they make the mistake of thinking that quantum mechanics defines some reality. It doesn’t. It’s just a bunch of tools. Philosophers have been trying to figure out what quantum mechanics “means” to the nature of the universe for a hundred years. As I note all the time: there are no answers to those questions—just better questions. God was once a clock maker based on Newton. Now “the eternal spirit” exists because of quantum mechanics. It’s all hogwash. The best you ever get is a great big existential, “Wow!”)
The great film director of my youth, George Roy Hill was born in 1921. He directed a number of films I enjoy to this day: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and (Keep your comments to yourself!) A Little Romance. All of his films are quite watchable. He comes from a tradition where directors just did their jobs—think of people like Edward Dmytryk. There was no buzz that he was some kind of creative genius. He was just great at his job, and a big part of that was working with a lot of other people who were great that their jobs.
Other birthdays: the great Dutch Golden Age painter Pieter de Hooch (1629); cricketer with unfortunate name Bill O’Reilly (1905); lyricists Paul Francis Webster (1907); actor John Hillerman (81); magician Uri Geller (67); and one of my favorite character actors Michael Badalucco (59).
The day, however, belongs to musician Mike Watt who is 56 today. He was more or less the leader of one of my very favorite bands, Minutemen. Since then, he’s gone one to do a lot of fine work, most notably with Minutemen drummer George Hurley in Firehose. But the death of D Boon, really did end a great thing. Here they are at their peak, doing “The Glory of Man” from Double Nickels on the Dime, probably my favorite of their albums:
Happy birthday Mike Watt!