Pages

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Bed of Procrustes



Part I

Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, who is perhaps best known as the slayer of the Minotaur. He was raised with his mother in Troezen, apart from both his mortal (Aegus - one of the primordial kings of Athens) and immortal (Poseidon - god of the sea) fathers - it is a popular feature of Greek mythological heroes to have both mortal and immortal parentage. Prior to his returning to Athens, Aegus left instructions for Theseus to also travel to Athens to claim his birthright once he became man enough. 

It was Theseus' 'journey of labours' from Troezen to Athens, that is most interesting. 

During his travels, Theseus encountered six dangerous adventures, where he had to defeat six different guardians to the entrance of the underworld. After defeating the first five adversaries, Theseus came across Procrustes - another son of Poseidon - who owned a small estate in Attica, where he offered travelers a meal and a 'magic' bed in which to spend the night.

Now, Procrustes is a really interesting character. His promise of a ‘magic’, perfect-sized bed for travelers came with a caveat. The manner in which the bed became perfect was not too agreeable to his visitors, I would suspect. The myth explains that Procrustes - after inviting guests in and feeding them, would offer a bed to each that was purposely - and unknowingly - ill-fitted (he kept both a large and a small bed). He would then proceed to stretch those who were too short for the large bed, and cut off the feet of those who were too tall for the small bed, in order to make them fit into this 'perfect-fitting bed'.

Procrustes, who's name means "he who stretches", continued his reign of terror until he was captured by Theseus on his last battle during his journey, who duly punished Procrustes by fatally adjusting him - by be-heading and amputating him - to fit his own bed.
The myth of Procrustes, and the unique manner in which he treated his guests, is now used in many contemporary forms. Procrustes analysis, Procrustes transformation and Procrustes solution are all mathematical constructs, while a Procrustean string is a computer science concept. 

A "Bed of Procrustes" is defined as any arbitrary standard to which conformity is forced, and is also the title of a book of aphorisms by acclaimed author - best known for his best-selling book "The Black Swan" - Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Most of Taleb's writing focuses on problems of randomness and probability, whilst his most recent work's thesis states "we humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas ...". 

In essence, he is saying that the metaphor of the bed of Procrustes is about the inverse operation of changing the wrong variable - in this case, the bed instead of the person.  Taleb gives many and various examples through the aphorisms in his book, including the perception of pharmaceutical companies “inventing diseases that match existing drugs, rather than inventing drugs to match existing diseases”.  He writes that “because our minds need to reduce information, we are more likely to try to squeeze a phenomenon into the Procrustean bed...rather than suspend categorization, and make it tangible”.
It is easy to see how the bed of Procrustes can be applied to sport; and in particular, training and program design.  All coaches have their philosophies, and all coaches fit their athletes into these philosophies, no matter how much we profess to ‘individualization’.  The question is not IF we are guilty of compartmentalizing - as our very nature is reductive - but to what depth.  We exist in a constant battle between rationalism and empiricism: we make the error of one, while being bound by the other.  
So how can coaches make like Theseus and defeat our beds of Procrustes?

to be continued...

31 comments:

  1. First off, a hearty thanks to you.
    Your blog is awesome and completely knowledgeable and I completely satisfied with the reading. Keep your work spread till long after. For more Pillow For Back Pain related information visit Eliterest.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Besides, it is a significant factor in the general solace of your home. They are intended to be utilized in a wide range of ways. Simultaneously, the mattresses are produced using various sorts of materials. memory foam mattress india

    ReplyDelete
  3. As you lay on the adaptable foam, the mattress itself complies with you. foldable mattress online India

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice Explanation Interesting read very helpful for me keep posting like this thanks !!
    Get Amazon Bus Booking Quiz

    ReplyDelete
  5. Occupied by a sales rep. In this manner, you can settle on an increasingly educated choice on the sleeping cushion you need. bamboo mattress

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you very much for this useful article. I like it. quilted mattress cover

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very informative post ! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign ! pay weekly sofas

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think that thanks for the valuabe information and insights you have so provided here. Bondage

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes i am totally agreed with this article and i just want say that this article is very nice and very informative article.I will make sure to be reading your blog more. You made a good point but I can't help but wonder, what about the other side? !!!!!!Thanks Colchon 135x190

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bunk beds for kids are certainly more popular today than they were even just a few years ago. floor bed

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nice to be visiting your blog again, it has been months for me. Well this article that i've been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share. "

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just loved your article
    Do visit Best Product Reviews for more nail biting aproduct reviews

    ReplyDelete
  13. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. silk pillowcase

    ReplyDelete
  14. The more rigid and cheap slats are further apart but the gap should not exceed 10cm. In addition, the wider the space between the slats, the more likely your mattress will be to wear out. best truck mattress

    ReplyDelete
  15. Single mattress types can span the full range of mattresses and some considerations are required if an individual has sleep difficulties, injuries or just wants a better night's sleep. best truck mattress

    ReplyDelete
  16. Grow nursing pillow was formulated by the founder of Grow while her youngest son was in the post-natal unit. It is compact and very helpful; this pillow has earned good reputation from the rave breastfeeding consultants, as it assists mothers with children to latch properly. pop over here

    ReplyDelete
  17. For the best arrangements on new hassock beds, couch beds, stowaway beds and sleeping pads at the least expensive costs online visit KD Beds. mulberry silk sheets

    ReplyDelete
  18. Cushions, covers and area rugs that have red, white and blue assistance add to the nautical feel in the space. Add shell assortments, driftwood, sand-dollars and driftwood.coastal ceiling lights

    ReplyDelete
  19. KD Beds are top bed and bedding sellers for Health Beds, Sealy, Silentnight, Slumberland, Rest Assured, Simmons, Dunlopillo, Myers and all the main bed and sleeping pad producers. https://opbergboxspring.online

    ReplyDelete
  20. During times when you are not utilizing your launderable silk bedding you should keep it put away in a protected spot. Pure silk bedding

    ReplyDelete
  21. it is practically difficult to beat high quality American furniture for strength and looks.

    silk bed sheets

    ReplyDelete
  22. It has all the capacity to fill in as an ideal bed sheets for your motivations. luxury silk bedding

    ReplyDelete
  23. Just as being a 3ft single visitor bed, this imaginative Health bed additionally has one more regular 3ft single bed put away under the base, which is great for visitors as it will make a twofold visitor bed or two single visitor beds. luxury silk bedding

    ReplyDelete
  24. Space saving beds, for example, stowaway beds, couch beds and stool beds are fundamental augmentations to your home in case you are lacking in space as they can significantly change the manner in which you utilize your home and increment the room accessible.

    ReplyDelete
  25. On the off chance that you have a huge spending plan for your new bed, entertain yourself with this bed with a Memory Comfort sleeping cushion.silk sheets king

    ReplyDelete
  26. Footstool beds are ideally suited for making additional extra room in more modest rooms, for example, visitor bedrooms and kids' bedrooms. Footstool beds are planned so the foundation of the bed lifts up totally so things can be put away in the base. opbergboxspring online

    ReplyDelete
  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  28. KD Beds have the best determination online of Mattresses, Metal Beds, Wooden Bedsteads, Pine Beds, Divan Beds, Leather Beds, Adjustable Beds, Ottoman Beds and Sofabeds all at the least expensive costs on the web, Guaranteed! air mattress swell

    ReplyDelete