Tuesday, 19 March 2013


My area is the taxonomy of The Sick Land. It's an umbrella field, poorly regarded in the community; viewed as something of a hodgepodge.

It's easy to explain the central aim of our program, and its central problem. We want to organise all aspects of the mal. The problem is that The Sick Land doesn't, as far as we can see now, follow any rules.

The grounding assumption of science is that nature is reliable. You may not understand it now, but you assume there are principles behind the apparent randomness. Chomsky gestured toward it with his problem/mystery distinction. A problem is something that can be solved; a mystery is forever resistant to human inquiry. Obviously, you can't ever know whether something's a mystery or merely an unsolved problem.

We mal taxonomists work on the assumption that The Sick Land is a problem, governed by laws that are comprehensible to humans. In that sense, we're like all other mal researchers. However, they only make claims about small, local domains. Bob might say, for example, that a given problem to do with mitosis in a certain type of mal structure can be solved. We taxonomists claim that the global problem can be solved: The Sick Land is tractable to human intelligence. We've had little in the way of results. I'm the first taxonomist to get a research post for years. I'm hoping I can make a difference.

We're heading out again tomorrow, and farther.

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