Friday, January 07, 2011

A beautiful Mind

No the author is not talking about himself here he is talking about the movie.

I have recently been re-watching the movie, and a few things have struck me about it. I don't intend to do the obvious here, play Lili Marlene's game and attempt to slap a dx of my own on the guy, but there are parts of the Russel Crowe's interpretation of the part that reminded me of myself at Uni as a loner not knowing how to engage people, and fearing that nobody liked him. Well to be honest I have not changed a lot there..

However John Nash  himself is not a part played by a famous movie actor, he is a real person and in person quite different. To some peoples chagrin he might well make a good recruit to so called Neurodiversity's "cabal" given his real views on mental illness, which are somewhat different from the movie portrayal and from which I quote here:
“When there are large populations and behavior of a complex structure, it observably turns out that the individuals of a species can have quite varied forms of behavior and that they may serve the interests of a nest or family or tribe in quite varied fashions,”  
and ...

“It is conceivable that the susceptibility of humans to depression or to bipolar disorder may correlate positively specifically with the composition of poetry,” 
And there's more ...
 “One thing about diversity in natural species that is well understood by evolutionary biologists is that the natural phenomenon of mutations serves to prepare a species for adaptation to changing conditions or for improved adaptation to an existing level of environmental circumstances,” 
 leading to: -
 “So a possible, but perhaps questionable, inference is that humans are notably subject to mental illness because there was a need for diversity in the patterns of human mental functions,”
Ok so I have cherry picked here, the full article can be found elsewhere: -

Nash Suggests Schizophrenia May Serve Adaptive Function.

Thing is, I have met John Nash and conversed with him. We met at the 2005 Warwick University Economics Summit, when I had the good fortune to be a VIP Alumni guest (chosen by lot from ticket applicants) and so had the opportunity to share some time with him and the other speakers.

I can tell you he was a lot more impressive than the majority of autism academics it has been my misfortune to have to correct in the middle of lectures. During his lecture (where he had his back to the audience throughout) one had to submit written questions, and if he thought that the question was rubbish he would say so and go onto the next.

I therefore felt privileged that he accepted my question as a worthy one, where I dared to suggest that his asymptotic ideal money, (The subject of his lecture) was essentially a self referring definition prone to error because of the variables chosen (a concept one gets quite familiar with when one reads the dross that passes for autism research) and to my surprise (because I was aware I was up against a formidable brain  here, that, whose considerable knowledge of mathematics could easily be insulted by my scraping the bottom of the barrel of my undergrad economics and shaky maths), he conceded that I had a point, but that he felt the concept was better than any other in terms of a new "gold standard" (gold standard in the literal sense here, not the metaphorical sense it is used when speaking of diagnostic schedules.

Anyway having asked him a question gave me the opportunity to follow that up in a lengthier conversation later where the subject turned to Post Modernism.

It was there that I realised that although we have the same desire for there to be certainties, I am more comfortable in seeing that no such exist and that even mathematics is a relative subject dependent as much upon human psychology and biology as any real platonic existence. Qv that Bogey of mathematicians  "George Lakoff"

Well we did not talk about "mental illness" at all, as I recall, but is interesting to see in the article I have referenced that he does indeed share similar views about that to mine, especially the notion coming out more and more in research that Schizophrenia and Bipolar are not too nosologically inseparable biologically determined absolutes, but that they live together in a more complex relationship.

Now whilst people can (and do) accuse myself and colleagues of a like mind of romanticising Autism as a 'difference which has it's positive aspects', I do not think anyone can accuse John Nash of the same romanticisation of his condition, and get away with it. For here is a man who has clearly suffered the unfortunate consequences of his own negatively nuanced difference, yet come to terms with it in a particular way, something that exists for all it's confusion and chaotic appearance, in a rational framework.

Apart from anything else, John Nash is relevant to our autism blog world, in another way, in terms of his Game Theory. It is quite clear that there is a middle ground to be found amongst our rival fraternities if we play rationally. Alas we seldom do.


GimpHag said...

The middle ground is easy to find on a two dimensional plane. Three, little more difficult.

Four spatial dimensions, however, taxes the mind of even the brainiest.

Tell me, Agnus Dei, how many dimensions do I have, stuck as I am, as a raisin in the Cake of autism?

And has my cake been yet been baked?

Or are we all, as I suspect, already post-McArthur Park.

The author said...

Well in two dimensional space (if one can even be arrogant enough to call it space,) it is only point scoring, but as we know autism can only be expressed as a phenomenon with a rather large set of n dimensional co-ordinates, enough to make Frankie very unhappé.

Dougie as you will recall was dismissed because he wanted to melt the icing over North Korea with a thermonuclear bomb, dark dealings indeed and thus the whirligigs of time ....

Now Goedel vs Hilbert there is a mathematical mashup for you. Game on ...

Anyway space does not really exist other than as a convenient concept for putting things in, it's a metaphor contingent upon our neurobiological relationship with das ding an sich.

Now if there is one Mathemetician down your way I would like to meet and that is Roger Penrose, enough to twist anyones brain into multi dimensional knots.

GimpHag said...

Penrose is widely ridiculed by the street drinkers of Malmö for his lack of spiritual affect.

Phelps and Dawkins are two sides of the same coin.

Don't fall into their honey-trap. Take the third way. Choose (the sanctity of human) life.

GimpHag said...

Also, at the end of Dawkin's yellow brick road is Sweden.