I don’t know much about Lévy flights, and I don’t know much about Artie Shaw.  While I don’t have any Artie Shaw recordings (yet) he is a little bit of a hero of mine.

The standard biographical narrative of Shaw was that his performing career — which experienced some of the highest peaks in 20th century commercial musical achievement — was punctuated by periods of creative and physical exhaustion, including revulsion toward his popular success.  So, not many similarities to the Knackered Hack’s experience, except the downside elements, I admit.

In one of his later periods of retreat, it seems that Shaw was preoccupied with studying high-level mathematics.  I wonder if his creativity could perhaps be defined by the concept of Lévy flights?  Now, if you think I’m talking Jackson Pollocks here, you might indeed be right. For the distribution of paint by the very same may have been following some form of fractal pattern:-

There are two revolutionary aspects to Pollock’s application of paint and both have potential to introduce chaos. The first is his motion around the canvas. In contrast to traditional brush-canvas contact techniques, where the artist’s motions are limited to hand and arm movements, Pollock used his whole body to introduce a wide range of length scales into his painting motion. In doing so, Pollock’s dashes around the canvas possibly followed Levy flights: a special distribution of movements, first investigated by Paul Levy in 1936, which has recently been used to describe the statistics of chaotic systems.

I understand there is a risk of seeing heavy-tailed distributions everywhere, particularly to my untrained eye.  But with the creative arts — the clustering of success — it does seem to follow.

I wonder too if it explains, at a very banal level, the frequency of my blog posting, about which I know a few of you are concerned.  To illustrate the two extremes of recent Knackered Hack experience, some Artie Shaw to entertain you.  In the meantime, I will be trying to produce a cluster of posts.  Shaw fans can correct me, but the first piece below reflected the essence of the man, while the second was what people liked him for.  The titles will amuse Mandelbrotian students of markets.  And Shaw’s exuberant swing music flourished in the depression.

At the end of this one, Artie Shaw and sidekicks explore bounded rationality and sum up the perennial challenge for all businesses.

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5 Responses to “everything is jumpin’”  

  1. 1 Thomas

    nice to see you back. Using mathematics. art and music as excuses for not blogging is really overdoing it. Pick one good excuse and stick to it.

  2. 2 knackeredhack

    Thomas,

    You’re starting to sound like Gerd Gigerenzer!

    My next post will, I hope, juxtapose a simple policy measure with the complexity of human behaviour in a way much more to your liking ;-) .

    Tim

  3. 3 Thomas

    I’m glad there will be a next post. Swans willing.

  4. 4 Ken Smith

    I had wondered if I had been deleted from your e-mailings it has been a while. I am glad you are highlighting Shaw…as heroes are hard to come by….they always seem to have at least one fatal flaw of expecting more than is humanely possible. The other fatal certain dead end hero flaw is simply being human. That being said……I wonder if that logic flaw is why most unbounded artists are irrational, and most bounded people are’t able to make any art worth a damn.

  5. 5 knackeredhack

    Ken,

    I suspect it is a curse, not least because of the envy of those others…

    Tim


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