In our second A House with Many Rooms interview, we discuss the intersections between AI and magic with machine learning engineer Karin Valis. Come for the divination, ensouled statues, golems, homonculi, and alphanumeric cosmology, stay for the techno-magical intervention at the end.
Oddcast Episodes Themed "Alphanumeric Speculation"
We discuss arguably the greatest magical book of the Islamicate tradition, the Shams al-maʿārif al-kubrā or Great Sun of Knowledge. Turns out it isn't by al-Būnī as everyone thought, though there is some Būnī in there; but it has so much to tell us about Islamicate culture, Sufism, and the ‘project of forgetting’ of esoteric Islām among both Muslims and scholars.
We introduce Aḥmad al-Būnī, master sūfī and alphanumeric speculator, but most famous in the Islamicate world as an authority on magic. We sift the wheat from the chaff and get to the bottom of who al-Būnī was, what he really wrote, and what kind of reception he has had, both within and outside of Islam.
We discuss the extraordinary reception-history of the extraordinary text known as Sefer Yetsirah, the ‘Book of Formation‘. The Sefer Yetsirah would eventually become a foundational text for the Kabbalist movements of the high middle ages, but it was (and is) much more than that. Professor Langermann lays out the evolutions in reading this text from Sa‘adia Gaon to Aryeh Kaplan.
Our conversation with Doctor Acevedo evolves into a long and, some might say, esoteric hermeneutical tour of linguistic theory and western ontology illuminated by the riddling wisdom of Heraclitus.
One of the most fundamental and intriguing questions in the philosophy of language is that of the relation between signs and the realities they signify. But what if the signs are letters and numbers simultaneously? And what if these are in fact the constitutive elements of reality itself? Juan Acevedo is our guide in an overview of the history and dynamics of alphanumeric cosmology in the western tradition.