October 21, 2008

“Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives."

I'm just watching this video after watching "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives" on "Nova":



As one of the commenters over at YouTube says "Can we all agree that that is the BEST performance ever from a carrot in a music video?"

Here's a review of the documentary:
MARK OLIVER EVERETT does not deal in reassuring platitudes, whether writing bruised and barbed confessionals as the frontman for his cult rock band, Eels, or discussing the suburban Virginia upbringing that sometimes informs them. “My father was always there,” Mr. Everett said, “in the way that the furniture was always there.”

His father, Hugh Everett III, was a quantum physicist who, as a graduate student at Princeton in the ’50s, pioneered the many-worlds theory, an interpretation of quantum mechanics that proposed the existence of parallel universes. But to the younger Mr. Everett, the rock singer known to fans and friends simply as E, his father was a shirt-and-tie-clad fixture at the dining room table, an inscrutable figure who preferred chain-smoking Kents to conversation, and scrawling calculations on yellow legal pads to parenting.

“I didn’t really know he was a famous quantum physicist,” Mr. Everett, 45, said.... “It wasn’t something anyone talked about around the house. He barely spoke at all.”
I guess it's not so cool to have a genius dad. The younger Everett, we learn, couldn't understand math at all and flunked basic algebra.

IN THE COMMENTS: ElcubanitoKC said...
I really wanted to kill this whiney idiot. He can't speak in plain English ("behold my metaphor!" again), and he obviously didn't care about his father. He has no idea about science, in fact he very obviously rejected it all "because daddy didn't hug me!"...ugh. I wanted to refresh my quantum mechanics and the history of it, but this bearded fool was in the middle of it, and irritated me to no end. I had to turn the TV off.
Yes, I started watching thinking I could gain some appreciation for a theory that has always only seemed perfectly insane to me, but it turned out to be much more of a personal interest story about a mopey alternative rocker. The science part of it was therefore slow-moving. At one point, I thought the story was aimed at children. Then, I adapted and started thinking of it as a more creative documentary along the lines of "Crumb" and "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" -- two of my favorite movies -- and I thought it was kind of cool. Are you supposed to like Mark Oliver Everett -- was his father a secret 3 Stooges fan? -- or was he more of a Charles Crumb sort of character who inspires pity, mild loathing, and fearsome recognition?

29 comments:

chuck b. said...

My dad was a moody, inscrutable artist and I became a physical scientist. I can talk about art if I have to tho'.

Ann Althouse said...

I guess the generations swing from one extreme to the other (if you've got a family that deals in extremes).

Awesome said...

Sounds like a great Dad if you ask me. Quit complaining!

chuck b. said...

I guess we sort of do. My father's father was a MD who had advanced degrees in physics and chemistry. By all accounts, as a physician he was very good with the human element tho' too.

Swinging between extremes fascinates me. The swinging of the pendulum, the back and forth. I could ponder that for hours.

Chip Ahoy said...

Music is very mathematical.

Jana said...

This album was made after E.'s sister committed suicide and his mother died of cancer. His father previously died of a heart attack, E. finding the body. It's a very sad, sad album.

Boaz said...

awesome music, fascinating dude

Daisies of the Galaxy and Electroshock blues are great albums

he puts on a good show too

John Lynch said...

Smart people are weird! Ok?

How can one act normal if you're not seeing the same reality as most people? I think that scarily high intelligence changes the nature of the world as it's experienced.

Music and drugs do the same thing.

ChinoMono said...

What a post a comment this would be. I have nothing ... Althouse wins with her "generation extreme" It's fall now, so we should all be ashamed ... given the likilyhod we find ourselves "pressing" the steroetypes of our adventure... lets make sure that our feinds don't think we see them in vain. ....

Donn said...

JL,

Interesting comments.

ricpic said...

It's all about the grief the dad gave the son, eh?

What about the reverse?

sydney said...

“I didn’t really know he was a famous quantum physicist,” Mr. Everett, 45, said.... “It wasn’t something anyone talked about around the house. He barely spoke at all.”

Sounds like an all around disengaged type of family. How many kids don't know what their parents do for a living?

Pogo said...

It's nice he wanted to connect with his father, even after death. That's the central idea in the movies Elizabethtown and Field of Dreams.

Sons and their fathers, who seem as absent in life as in death.

A tale told well about that search can make a grown man cry.

Bissage said...

It takes no special intelligence to care about some things more than others.

Pogo said...

True. The intelligence is shown in what arises from that interest.

Some create unparalled music and art, others create parallel worlds.

Others make nothing at all, content to be entertained by watching TV every single day without interruption.

These are not all the same thing.

bleeper said...

Hackneyed, cliched video images. Not impressed. Music - well, there's 3 minutes of my life I won't get back.

Sorry about your upbringing, dude, but if your father gives you intelligence, it is up to you to use it. No whining.

Bob R said...

Whining can be quite profitable.

Tibore said...

""Can we all agree that that is the BEST performance ever from a carrot in a music video?""

Gee, I don't know... there are so many to choose from (*rolls eyes*)...

rhhardin said...

Intersecting universes Barthelme.

ElcubanitoKC said...

I really wanted to kill this whiney idiot. He can't speak in plain English ("behold my metaphor!" again), and he obviously didn't care about his father. He has no idea about science, in fact he very obviously rejected it all "because daddy didn't hug me!"...ugh. I wanted to refresh my quantum mechanics and the history of it, but this bearded fool was in the middle of it, and irritated me to no end. I had to turn the TV off.

Good morning to all

ElcubanitoKC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Sounds like an all around disengaged type of family. How many kids don't know what their parents do for a living?

My dad was a solid-state physicist. He took me to work with him once and I still didn't know what he did. We did put on lead aprons at one point. Then he stopped in to see the computer science guys on his floor and they were playing space invaders. That I understood.

As far as the music goes, it's clever enough. But I really want to give a shout out to Joe M. for linking The National on the pumpkin thread. I was listening to them all afternoon yesterday.

Paul Snively said...

IMHO, the problem is that certain endeavors--the inner reaches of pure mathematics, the crazy-quilt of the quantum mechanics, the maddeningly just-so rules that cannot be violated in order to build a working piece of software--essentially require that one be somewhere on the autism spectrum to master, with the human toll that's described here. I can sympathize with E.--a lot. I'm an adoptee who writes software for a living. I was found by my birth family. Turns out my birth-father's father was an economist at the World Bank. My birth mother suffered from clinical depression. I had a half-brother who was a suicide. There's no question in my mind, whatsoever, that I'm a high-functioning autistic--luckily able to have a good career and even to be married, but that's only because my wife has the patience of several saints.

Georg Cantor (set theory and transfinite arithmetic), Kurt Gödel (the limits of formal logic), John Nash (the Nash equilibrium, "A Beautiful Mind"), Paul Erdös (too much math to count), Alan Turing (the "Turing test," cracking the Enigma cipher with very early computers in WWII), Nikola Tesla (alternating-current power distribution and much more)—all either institutionalized, suicides, or both. The price for their genius was, in some vital way, too high.

Being that close to such deep truths—that close to God, perhaps—distances you from the rest of humanity. Sometimes irrevocably so.

rhhardin said...

Or it might be they were just interested.

Fred4Pres said...

I saw that Nova show too. I thought it interesting. I am glad his dad got some recognition before he died.

What was also interesting is how the family has a history of mental illness and depression that seems (or at least strongly suggests) to be linked to genius. We see this time and time again. There is also statistical evidence to suggest more autistic children are born to those with high IQs.

Is it the brains that cause it or the ambition? Is it a combination of both?

ElcubanitoKC said...

I got my own tag! Weee...!

ElcubanitoKC said...

Thanks for the tag, Professor Althouse.

Paul Snively said...

Dr. Althouse: if you want a non-scientist's introduction to the quantum mechanics, I can mostly recommend Taking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Nonscientists. Fred Alan Wolf gives a reasonable introduction, but ignore the philosophical mumbo-jumbo that he attaches to it--the Many Histories Interpretation of the quantum mechanics doesn't at all imply what some popularizers, Wolf regrettably included, claim that it does. If you're interested in a very scientifically grounded look at what the quantum mechanics as it relates to several other fields implies, I recommend The Physics of Immortality instead.

Henry said...

Paul, have you read The Quark and The Jaguar by Murray Gell-Mann? It clarified a lot of things for me when I first read it, but it was written almost 15 years ago and I've always wondered if has become outdated in any signficant way.