I'm glad someone has started on idea on this topic. There is a lot to say.
However, the article right now seems to be written as if NS is presenting the ideas about a polycosmos and the HTW as a real cosmological theory. I haven't asked him, obviously, but I strongly suspect these are meant to be fictional extensions of real ideas. (In a similar vein, he has said that the Teglon as described in the novel may not work in actual mathematics - he has extended a real thing, aperiod tiling, into a fictional construct.)
Having said that, I think there should also be a mention of the clear connection between the (fictional) polycosmos and the (real) multi-world interpretation of quantum mechanics. The mentions of probabilities fit into this very neatly. So, with this, I am not sure what is meant by a "mechanistic" universe.
In the book the HTW is presented in a very Platonic way, with the HTW being more "perfect," but, if I recall correctly, the notions mentioned later such as the "wick" where there are numerous cosmi, de-emphasizes the idea of "perfection."
But, this is all off the top of my head. I need to look at it more carefully before tackling the actual article.
Anteriorlobe 22:01, 28 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure there is an "ideal" probable waveform. An important Dialog takes place between Erasmas and Fraa Orolo just before the arrival of the alien spacecraft. Orolo postulates that the brain has the ability to observe multiple probable waveforms at will. Whether a waveform is "ideal" or not depends on what that particular brain wants.
This is right on the boundary between Rhetors and Incanters; Procians and Halikaarnians. It also sets us up for the concept of Polycosmic Manupulation. If a brain can percieve multiple probability waveforms, why shouldn't it be able to traverse them?