When I was a kid the family told a story about my Uncle Charlie, when asked if he could play the violin, replying, “I don’t know, I’ve never tried.”
I understood that it was supposed to be funny: a funny story about my uncle, my favorite adult relative other than my mother herself. It was only years later that I came, gradually, and increasingly, to see that the story had more than one face.
Information is dependent on difference: the datum is a 1, not a 0; the baby is a girl, not a boy … Macroinformation, my term for complex, emergent information, multi-dimensional information as it were, is dependent on meta-differences: differences among the differences.
So: I have a nested series of memories of that story: that story as I understood it age five, that story as I understood it age fifteen, that story as I understood it age thirty … There: I’ve told the story. You may understand it however you wish. I’ll comment, at my leisure, on how I layer my nest of related mrmories.
First understanding: I think I understood the story to be a joke on my uncle. I understood my family to be “saying” that Charlie was so naive, so young, so shallow, that he didn’t realize that the violin was a difficult instrument to play. No sensible person could not know whether or not he knew how to play the violin, inexperience of violin playing was irrelevant.
Early other layer: What if Charlie was making a rational joke about experience? It wounded silly, but it may actually have been wise: how would he know what he could or couldtn’t do until he had tried it? I have subsequently make related jokes myself: how do I know I’m mortal, I haven’t died yet? Generalizations based on others’ experience is OK as a shortcut, but it’s not proof.
Actually, now that I’m writing “reasons,” I can sum the balance up in one package: Charlie was being a commedian, he was making himself the bu8t of a joke. There was a persona involved, Uncle Charlie’s pretend Charlie. Such a Charlie can not be taken literally; or it’s the taker who’s the fool.