Wednesday, February 08, 2006


With this post I would like to start a series of discussions on some philosophical/literary/scientific/social/musical subjects.. The goal would be to have people post their opinions on the subject, so that in the end we have a sort of 'conference' on the chosen topic, which hopefully will be interesting for us and other people to read.

Feel free to post either in Italian or in English. The discussion will develop through the 'comments' section, at least at the beginning. If I see that it becomes too messy, I'll summarize the comments in some posts, and I'll translate at least parts of the Italian ones into English, so that all the people can understand.

Ok, so, the first topic came to my mind thanks to an email that my dad sent me recently. He was discussing about the similarities between chemistry and mathematics, and in particular, how both sciences deal with transformation: chemistry transforms elements, matter, into other matter - and mathematics transforms theorems into theorems. So, he went on with the theme of transformation in general..
Well, also in my opinion, this is quite an interesting theme.

I've always loved to see how things transform. Cooking is a good example: isn't it unbelievable that starting from some flour, yeast, and water, one can produce a dough, and this can raise just under the action of the heat in the oven? And depending on how you work the dough, how much water/flour you put, you obtain completely different things.. I still remember when I first tried to make the ciabatta bread according to the recipe found on Comida's blog.. I was really amazed that I actually obtained something so crunchy outside and soft inside. I would have never thought it would happen.. Usually, I had always obtained a soft crust..
This is just a tiny example. Heat, kneeding, yeast, produces something so different from the starting ingredients.

Transformation is the object of many myths (Zeus transforming into all sorts of animals, girls transforming into statues of salt, or into stars..) and modern stories (did you watch the cartoon 'Spirited away'? It was really good). It has always fascinated humans.

It's a fundamental concept in many religious themes, and since I'm Christian, I will mention a few from the Bible: according to John, the first of Jesus' miracles was the transformation of water into wine.. somewhere else, God tells Israelites: I will transform your heart made of rock into a heart made of flesh.

We are transformed into something different every moment that passes by, and it's impossible for us to identify ourselves in a specific self of the past. We also desire to transform ourselves into something better than what we are now.

So.. the subject of this discussion is transformation in all its possible meanings. Is there any aspect of it that you would like to meditate together? Any particular example that you would like to share, taken from any field that you're interested in? Any episode from your life that shows how you or someone has been transformed?

On NPR (National Public Radio, the only good source of information that I've found here in the US), they have a weekly show called 'This American Life', where they choose a theme, and they tell three true stories related to the theme.
This discussion could be something similar, just, we can have much more than three stories, and we can mix together facts and ideas, reality and thoughts. :)

I hope you'll join me.. or you can also suggest some other themes for the future, if this doesn't appeal your imagination.

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