TABLE OF CONTENTS

A THEORY OF EVERYTHING: MEDITATIONS ON TOTAL CHAOS

Essence is infinity as the supersession of all distinctions, the pure movement of axial rotation, its self-repose being an absolutely restless infinity.

—G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, 1807

Everything is similar if you’re willing to look that far out of focus. I’d watch that. Then you’ll find that black is white. Look for differences! You’re looking for similarities again. That way lies mind rot.

Marvin Minsky, The Media Lab, 1987

IN RECENT YEARS, CHAOS theory—that new science of nonlinear dynamic systems—has captured the popular imagination. Its computer-graphic representations appeal not only to mathematicians and natural scientists but also to visual artists and a broad segment of the lay public. Its widespread allure, I believe, seems closely related to its figuration of new, uniquely electronic modes of “being-in-the-world,” and to its particular responsiveness to the

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