I first conceived the idea of the new ‘science’ of ‘Eventrics’ some thirty years ago. At the time, I had just come back from a long period abroad and one of the main reasons I returned to civilisation was to study mathematics (via the OU) — even though mathematics was a subject for which I had shown no aptitude at school and had always heartily detested. My aim in following this surprising course of action was to better understand the adversary — rather in the manner of certain Syrian or Persian princes who travelled to Rome to acquire a military education before returning to their countries to start a revolt.
However, the reverse happened : I found myself seduced by the elegance and power of the axiomatic mathematical method and, so to speak, went over to the enemy.  A little later, when I began pondering about events and their interconnections, I automatically started off in the manner of Euclid  by formulating certain  basic axioms and postulates (see earlier post) and tried to draw some conclusions from them. I soon saw that a new symbolic system was required and I did manage to concoct a somewhat cumbersome method of classifying event-chains according to certain criteria. I got more and more involved, not to say obsessed, with these speculations and spent most nights endlessly discussing Eventrics and related topics with the only person I saw anything of at the time, Marion Rouse, a true kindred spirit unfortunately now long deceased.
But the system obstinately refused to ‘take off’.  With hindsight I can now see that certain computer ‘systems’  such as ‘cellular automata’, being developed at this precise moment in America, were the sort of tools I needed and was groping towards — but these developments were still little known in Europe and anyway all this was taking place at a far more exalted scholastic level than mine. So the new science of ‘Eventrics’ never got off the drawing board and, although the idea remained at the back of my mind, it is only very recently that, after browsing through suitcases full of mildewed exercise books and clamp files, that I have finally decided to put some of this strange stuff into the public domain. As an arch-Luddite (by temperament anyway) I originally viewed the Iinternet as a deadly threat to humanity, but once I started using it, I found that the ‘bitty’ format of blogs exactly suited my style.
So far, so good. But nonetheless I still carried on assuming that if Eventrics was ever to come to anything, it would have to be thrown into a rigorous axiomatic mould with appropriate mathematical symbolism and so on and so forth. Two days ago, though, I had a sort of Eureka moment. The material was still refusing to do as it was told and I found myself drifting into a more informal presentation — encouraged by coming across Taleb’s book The Black Swan where the author lauds the merits of working ‘bottom up’ rather than ‘top down’ (1). Now, the key idea of Ultimate Event Theory is discontinuity : the theory completely breaks with the entire mathematic-physical Western tradition of continuity and infinite divisibility which still casts a long shadow over science even in this quantum era.  Surely, I said to myself,  the theory, since it is the study of radical discontinuity, should by rights be developed in a discontinuous manner. So it should ! I resolved to make no further attempt, at this stage in the game anyway, to throw the rapidly accumulating material into a mould where it clearly did not want to go.
What’s the alternative ?  To allow, or rather encourage, a theory to develop ‘organically’ as things do in the natural world : this approach is especially appropriate in this century now that biology has clearly taken over from physics as the leading science. Nature does not bother too much with mathematics — far, far less than mathematicians imagine — it proceeds  by trial and error, fits and starts, threshes around in all directions until something that works turns up (a new species). As a matter of fact most important human developments started off like this as well  : even the mechanical/mathematical revolution which culminated in Newton’s Mechanics evolved painfully over a period of at least three centuries with all sorts of people contributing the odd block to the growing edifice — who, today, has heard of Oresme or Horrocks for example ? The fully fledged Mechanical view of the world, perhaps the most successful intellectual paradigm to date, had to wait for the genius of Newton to gather all these disparate strands together into a mighty synthesis.
It is clear to me, and seemingly to a growing number of other people, that Western society is undergoing a new paradigm shift at the moment : something is painfully emerging from the welter of discordant and scarcely intelligible ideas spawned by the twentieth century. I believe that progress in understanding the world and our place within it will come, not from making the current mathematical and conceptual apparatus even more abstruse, but rather from ‘going back to basics’ and re-examining the basic concepts of physical science. Hopefully, my ideas concerning events and event-chains, naive though they inevitably are at the moment, will bear fruit somewhere sometime in someone’s head. I intend to open up the field, starting with what is inside my head  : I shall no longer try to fit  my ideas into a formal strait-jacket but let them come out pell-mell, though maintaining a certain spasmodic surveillance noentheless.
My strategy at the moment, inasmuch as I have one, is to itemise various snippets that I sense could be important, trusting to Providence that somehow (changing the metaphor) these paths through the scrub and wilderness will eventually converge and an oasis will be there in front of us. One of the basic assumptions of Ultimate Event Theory is that, once certain collections of heterogeneous events have developed cohesion, they will attract other events to themselves, leading to yet larger conglomerations : this is an entirely ‘mechanical’ process, pretty much independent of the people concerned or the precise nature of the events. Eventually (sic) a fully fledged theory will ‘emerge’ without any one person having deliberately created it : the principle being to ‘give events enough rope’,  either to hang themselves, or tie themselves into an elegant seaman’s knot. We will see whether and how soon this happens and who will join me in this venture into the (not entirely) unknown.

 Notes :  

(1) The terms ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’ are Stockmarket trader jargon — Taleb, the author of The Black Swan was (and possibly still is) an options trader. Economists tend to work ‘top down’, i.e. they start with the theories and try to fit the facts to the theory; traders tend to use whatever methods they find work for them and  any ‘theory’ there may be is just a generalisation from actual experience. Western science, stemming as it does from the Greeks and given a strong philosophic impetus by Plato, started off as a largely ‘top down’ affair and, despite the emphasis on experiment and observation, this legacy is still very much with us, particularly in physics which has today become little more than a branch of (very abstruse) applied mathematics.