The Mule

A mathematical existential experiment for stage

F:You don‘t think your allegation, that Trantor will fall to pieces within the next 500 years, to be a disloyal one?
A:No. Scientific truth stands beyond loyalty and disloyalty?
F:You are sure, that your allegation is a scientific truth?
A:Yes, I am.
F:Can you proof that this mathematics is valid?
A:Just for another mathematician.
F:But by that, you are saying that your truth is of such esoteric nature, that it goes beyond the comprehension of any simple person? In my opinion a truth should be more clear, less mysterious, more easily to grasp.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation-Trilogy

Like many high cultures in the past of mankind, the galactic empire stands shortly before its collapse. But the scientist Hari Seldon once devised a plan that would lead human race quickly through the followed 'dark ages'. Seldons mathematical calculations of the mass of people and their behaviour would suggest a very clear prediction of the future. Against any destructive tendency Seldon's Plan has a solution. Ready for the actual crisis, Seldon appears after nearly a 100 years in his time vault to tell the humans in what psycho-historic dilemma they are at the time. But since 'the individual' is not included as it falls through the net of mass calculation and therefore jeopardizes the plan, its dangerous. But did Seldon include this fact too? Is there a prediction for the unpredictable?

Can we predict the collapse of societies and historical events with mathematics? Or is in the end everything in the universe unpredictable? Can a piece of art in its simulation be a warning and save mankind from catastrophe? Or is the human race too imperfect for its theories and sciences? Even with warnings, we are running into bad fate, just like in the greek tragedy; the more we know about them and the more we want to escape bad situations, the more we run into catastrophe.

Using the format of theatre we want to make the above our subject of discussion. As a base serves us recent research from different fields of the human-, and cultural sciences. Further more we are inspired by the novel Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov, which combines in a very special way social behaviour with mathematics, searching for social patterns, which can be found in the mass of people.

Mathematics as an instrument helps us to describe processes within society, explain the structures we live in, to learn more about the ordering system of our environment to finally solve upcoming problems. Methods of modern mathematics can make these problems reachable as a model, when economics and social scientists formulate their questions precisely. The functions of nature are hidden, but historic analysis give starting points to approximize these functions. Very often centuries are passing between realizing, naming and solving a problem. Mostly to the disadvantage of whole societies. What the natural sciences in the end can do for us, has to be first of all handled by the social-, and cultural sciences. Questions remain: What is the individual if not only a part of the mass? How can we better understand theories that try to explain our every day life? And how can they help us to better understand ourselves?

Theatre here, works as a medium in which these theories of possible realities can be played through, yet accepting their possible failure. Like in a flying simulator or in a computer game a catastrophe has in the end no effect on reality.

Stage reading participants

For the reading Csenge Kolozsváris installation HOLONS was part of the set. The word Holon was coined by Arthur Koestler and means something that is simultaneously a whole as well as a part. “We must learn that our life is entangled in many ways and connected to different things. We live in constant dependencies and under the constant influence of others. That leads to a great responsibility that humans have, as our actions and intentions change our environment and our destiny. We must be aware of the fact that our action has concrete effects. This holar structure is the base of this installation. The interaction is an important element of this installation. Because its basic function will be the motor of how the installation sounds and works. The people are the receptive soul of the system and without them the installation will not live. The Installation consists partly of human voices, searching the human ground voice. The pattern is worked out with the so called FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) -Analyses of the tones. Because we can get a graphic picture of the tone. The program cuts the tone into different dimensions. These seemingly individual metal globes are connected to each other through their, pattern, light and sound. So due to their physical nature, that are not reachable but visible.“

A The@rt Production in collaboration with Büchner Bühne, Riedstadt.


Sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research within the Year of Mathematics 2008.


Stage reading premieres

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