[-empyre-] riddle and enigma
hi joel, eugenie, alan, all,
alan asked how i would model the semantics of a poem. meaning is constructed
and invented, isn't it. boring to read stuff that 'cannot be misunderstood'.
and impossible. we can show more than tell. telling presupposes an
unequivocal meaning but meaning is constructed not so much like putting
together a jig saw puzzle (unique construction) but a poem (multiply
interpretable). should writing engage our own inventive faculties intensely,
we enjoy it. our spark jumps the gaps. we enjoy putting things together, are
intensely inferential. of necessity. perception is discrete/nerves must
fire, but we infer continuity. writing is broken into pieces but we infer
the processses by which we parse text and construct meaning are probably not
different in kind from the processes by which we interpret other perceptions
of the poemy universe.
there's riddle and there's enigma. from moment to moment we interpret
enigma. and riddle. enigmatically, apparently. i saw a book of poems titled
'Interpreting Silence'. Great title. The book was OK. Hard to live up to
such a title, I guess.
language and the theory of computation. language and theories of perception.
language and theories of mind. i started out studying lit and math. some
years later i went back to school to study computer science and math. much
of the computing stuff was kinda dull, but there was one course, called
'language and the theory of computation' that tingled my nerves. to see how
central the study of language is to the study of computing was pretty
inspiring, and to see how study of language has figured in some of the
outstanding mathematics of the last century changed my outlook on the
relations between math and language. enigma: 'in the beginning was the
word'... youda thunk in the beginning was the thing itself...or
whatever...in any case, the relations between language and creation are deep
and near the source of creation.
wouldn't it be interesting if the mechanisms of our perception and
meaning-construction use a type of language that is fundamentally richer
than 'natural language'? if this is possible. intuition says it isn't but
there's the countably infinite and the uncountably infinite, the 'rational'
and the 'irrational' (and beyond both) and whoda thunk it? So that we could
aspire to 'speak the body electric'.
tamara spoke of creating work that 'juggles' different media. our processing
of sensory data does this routinely. we 'read' it from moment to moment. but
we do not 'write' it routinely, except in reverie and dream, ie, to
ourselves. yet we don't have to 'write' to the complete sensorium of others
in order to engage them in the construction of a world; they do it anyway;
we have 'merely' to engage their imaginations. so less can be more, if the
goal is invention, creation, and discovery. and communication, if meaning is
constructed rather than 'ready made', if communication is a kind of
gift-giving where some assembly is required, the instructions are largely
implicit, and the intent is not so much like a jig saw puzzle as a poem.
still, however flexible and non-determinative the construction of meaning,
that doesn't necessarily imply that it is non-algorithmic. Also, however
mysterious and complex the ways in which the body and mind code the data of
the sensorium and the subsequent processed version of it, I don't see any
way around the notion that they are indeed coded some way in the body,
unless our memories are not stored in the body but are elsewhere. This is i
suppose possible but it doesn't seem likely to me.
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