Most recent email: 27 July 2020 at 2:31 PM
Dear Prof. Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust:
In 1965 I left Boston for Spartanburg, SC with a goal of getting a degree while “doing voter registration in the South.” By the skin of my teeth, I graduated in 1969. My just-out-of college work included full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal and NYT to end the war in Vietnam.
I suspect you have not given much consideration to things like quantum fluctuations and the big bang theory, notwithstanding, I am searching your work for statements about infinity, death, and the essence of a worldview. I began by looking to see how you treat the concepts of space, time, and the finite-infinite relation.
In your 2011 NEH Jefferson Lecture, David Blight’s Appreciation has a helpful summary about history’s hierarchical, biblical worldview and how in your hands the theories of history and human nature become comprehensible as rational thought. Yet, can we go deeper?
For example, might we get beyond Newton’s simple understanding of absolute time and space? Is there a profoundly relational model of the universe that could give us deeper footings for more gracious and loving biblical passages so these might have a bit more credibility on our streets today? We know that we are missing key intellectual links. What are they? I am stretching.
Perhaps maybe you might not object if I stretch three of your conclusions within the January 2019 Forbes article:
1) Perhaps “Do It For The Right Reasons” could be restated as “Always ask deeper, tougher, more-engaging questions.” Of course, I could be reading too much into your words, “I realized I was energized by working through and with others in pursuit of a common goal” and “It isn’t about power; it is about purpose.” The academic world is wall-to-wall with unexamined concepts about space, time, death, life, light, love, mass, energy, and so much more.
2) Perhaps “Don’t Be Afraid To Take The Leap” could become “Even if there is only a 1% chance that your new insight is right, if you believe it is on the right path, keep talking. Keep pushing on it until you are convinced that it is not robust enough.
5) Understand That True Leadership Happens In The “Grey Space.”New insights and ideas have to be colored up, dressed up, fired up, and then sold. Simplicity that easily imbibes complexity is a fair working principle. Where worldviews can become overly complex, our little model begins most simply and accommodates most complexity that is thrown at it along its way.
I’ll continue working on it, but I thought you might find what I have found to be of some interest. Thanks.
Second email: Saturday, July 28, 2018, 2:09 PM
“Drew Gilpin Faust was the president of Harvard University when I sent an email introduction about this project. Followed by many people around the world as a foremost historian and for her leadership of Harvard, her insights into this model or framework for the universe would be highly regarded because this model necessarily reinterprets the very nature of history — here it is totally dynamic and a key to our unfolding.” https://81018.com/attitudes/#AST
Dear Prof. Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust:
Congratulations on a brilliant career; may it become ever more brilliant.
We are all entering a new phase of our life. My wife, Hattie Bryant, has written a book about it, I’ll Have It My Way: Taking Control of End-of-life Decisions. Once we have made those decisions, we can live a bit more freely.
On my homepage today, there is a link to an email that was sent to you last year. It is slightly updated in its current iteration on the web today. I suspect you never saw it given the volumes you received and continue to receive.
It is obvious that I am pushing the boundaries. In part I learned to do that at Harvard with Arthur McGill (1975, HDS) and Arthur Loeb (as a member of his Philomorphs, 1971-1975) and with Hillary Putnam and WVO Quine. Harvard is a place to challenge commonsense, common wisdom and especially commonly-accepted ideas! Thank you.
First email: March 9, 2017
Prof. Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust
President of Harvard University
Lincoln Professor of History
Cambridge, MA 02138
Dear President Faust:
Congratulations on all that you are doing… an amazing career. I just read your address for the 2013 Harvard Campaign to seize the future. Yet to seize the future, we need to understand much more deeply the derivative nature of space and time and the currency of history.
Today’s hyper-connected world brought me to Harvard through an online article (2009) wherein you and Wayne Carbone were widely quoted regarding sustainability and composting (two issues that I often feel in my aching muscles). That opened the door to read your address, To Seize an Impatient Future (Sept. 2013). I am confident by the way you shape concepts that as an historian you have experienced the relative nature of time… how a moment in the past comes so alive, it is the now.
Back in 1970, I was quite active with Arthur Loeb in his casual group called the Philomorphs. We met in the attic of Sever Hall where geometrics of every kind were in process of being constructed. Bucky Fuller was our hero and a reverential associate. We were attempting “…to re-imagine how we teach and learn” (your words). We were attempting to spark a real revolution in pedagogy by trying to “go under” the foundations of being, knowing, and envisioning. What is space? How does it create time? Unfortunately, all of our learning theories de facto adopt Newton’s commonsense worldview whereby everything is contained within space and time.
Worldviews hold us all back; we needed an integrated, highly-ordered, and evolving Universe View. In 2011, we unwittingly backed into one within a high school math project studying nested geometries. With a few months, we discovered the work of Kees Boeke, a Dutch high school teacher. In 1957 he wrote A Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps. It was Universe View-lite, a first step. Though he did not start small small enough or go large enough, it was brilliant for his day. Physicist Arthur Compton wrote an introduction. Today, it is an IMAX presentation at the Smithsonian.
Boeke used base-10 exponential notation. We used base-2 which is 3.333 times more granular and it encapsulates natural biological and chemical processes. It is also quite manageable. From the Planck Length to the edges of the known universe (using the Hubble’s 2012 measurements) gave us a range. Then, by using the highly-informed estimates of the age of the universe, starting at Planck Time, we confirmed that there are just over 200 notations. I created such a chart for our high school geometry classes. I was hoping to find it on the web and at that time assumed it was out there somewhere.
It wasn’t. And, that is an academic oversight with huge implications. The first 65 notations from the Planck Length/ Planck Time provide a place for Alfred North Whitehead’s pointfree geometries (mereotopology), as well as finite-infinite studies, brain-mind studies, combinatorics, Langlands programs, computer automaton, and all those disciplines that have never had a place on the grid. Here, at last, we find the heart of self-replicating systems.
Though I have learned from select Harvard professors over the years, today’s tools provide instant access, virtual meetings of the mind, with the best of your best. Yet, the big impact waiting to be manifest is when the world finally moves from limited worldviews to an integrated Universe View.
Might we further discuss how we all re-envision education?
PS. I just love this statement:
By the way, my first time at Harvard was as a baby; my father worked for Harvard. He was a sheet metal worker who was among the workers who installed the building’s cooling systems in the place for the Mark I and Mark II. My grandparents were the grounds and custodial care folks for Episcopal Theological School at that time.