Good discussions across a wide spectrum. I am enjoying it.
There are frustrations, though. I have been noting how frequently we
refer back across time to the 60s--when we were younger, revolution for
the masses was in the air, and our communications technology was
beginning to really accelerate in its development. I see of my old
friend Gregory Corso interacting with his contemporaries in France, as
he was with me and others in New York's Greenwich Village, and of
McLuen, and early computer language. And we reference all those things
now, and we can expand the people those then-current artistic
experiments reached because we can hyperlink them. We can see again the
flash of in-your-face-intrusion and startlingly bright spot of discovery
or at least willingness to talk about things that arose during that
time. I am myself guilty of drawing back into that time in the
arts--from the intellectual visionary images of Auden to the wild lack
of discipline yet still contained within intellectual exuberance of the
Beats to the confessionalism of Plath and Sexton and Williams to Loren
Eisley to the striding through The Night Country
that inhabits science and art.
But it seems to some degree as though each of us has picked up one bone
or another from that period, and has taken it off with us to some corner
where we can gnaw on it and worry it. When the campfires blaze up on
occasion, we drag that bone forward into the light again and in the
shadows we share our treasures. But the bones lie fragmented, gnawed,
chewed, and separated from one another it seems at times. They are the
broken skeleton of the creature ART and the spaces between them are the
spirit of Poems. The fabric is incomplete, and lacks the unifying
force--just as cosmology does. How do these breakthroughs of the 60s
fit into the eons of work before them...and what have we accomplished in
poetry or in any of the arts that compares with the increase in
technological knowledge we have gone through since the 60s? That
technological knowledge has built solidly on the work of thousands of
years of earlier knowledge gleaned and translated from Chinese, Greek,
and other cultures--and our ability to care for the human body has
benefited. Have we done the same with Poetry or Literature in general,
and with what benefit to the advancement of knowledge or to our
understanding of ourselves?
On 12/12/2010 7:35 AM, roger malina wrote:
> Wanted to thank you for your really thoughtful post putting
> some of our discussion in historical context, particuarly the work
> of Margaret Masterman that I wasnt familiar with.
> It makes explicit one of the interesting strands in new technologies
> and poetry which is the excitement in the circles around emerging
> computer technologies, cyrbernetics, systems theory= machine languages.
> You mention that in 1968 computerized literature was a decade old'
> and much of that history is grounding in experimental literature that
> pre dates the computer of course.
> I thought I would bring in another historical strand= two of the founding
> editors of Leonardo Journal were Francois Le Lyonnais and Claude
> Berge, both originally mathematicians= and members of the OULIPO
> group which included Georges Peresc and Italo Calvino. Claude Berge
> also started a groupe called OUPIMPO. which did for painting what
> OULIPO did for literature ( harvard astronomer Whipple published an article in
> Leonardo on 'stochastic painting:influenced by these ideas). Queneau's
> a Hundred Billion poems was published in 1961. There must be a million
> web poems these days that exploit their ideas- and there are automatic
> web poems being
> created as we speak !
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Sat, Dec 11, 2010 at 2:32 AM
> Subject: Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Science, Technology, Art, POETRY
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> I wanted to also say a bit more about Margaret Masterman whose
> Computerised Haiku made with Robin McKinnon was also a great feature
> of the ICA's programme in the 60s when it was shown at Cybernetic
> Serpendipity as has been well- documented. I have a bit of a
> connection to this work as she lived in the house where my sister and
> her family in Cambridge by coincidence now live and indeed I am
> writing this email from a room at the top there.  It was a house
> where she stayed for many decades with her husband Richard Braithwaite
> who was a Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge and they together
> helped form a significant group called the Cambridge Language Research
> laboratory - a constellation around which some vital work was done
> relating to natural and machine language processing which had its base
> further along the same road at No 20. The point I wanted to make in
> relation to our discussion is that Masterman and McKinnon's work did
> something exceptional in 1968 in so f!
> ar as they allowed users to work directly with their programme - to
> cite Wayne Clements thesis mentioned earlier by Paul Brown:
> He says that 'in 1968 computerized literature was just a decade old.
> In 1959 quite separately there were two initiatives Theo Lutz, on the
> one hand and Brion Gysin on the other (with Ian Summerville, a
> Cambridge mathematician) produced what may be the earliest examples of
> computerised literature.
> That both Lutz and Summerville were scientists is significant. So is
> the algorithmic basis of each of their works. Access to computers was
> limited for those of a more purely artistic or literary background.
> Lutz' s work used a random number sequence to treat a text by Kafka,
> whilst Gyss was a permutation of all the combinations of the words of
> the phrase I AM THAT I AM. We will see this overtly mathematical
> option was refused by the programmers of Computerized Haiku'
> In Mastermans' essays which can be downloaded free at
> we see that that some of the territory she was exploring with
> colleagues have curious (or perhaps not so curious echoes) in relation
> to our own debates here not least references to the basis of Western
> thought in Greek origins and to the limitations of languages in terms
> of expression. Even more interestingly Masterman (a student both of
> the Chinese language and Wittgenstein during his period in Cambridge)
> cites the philospher Whitehead as having stated that 'our logic would
> have been better based on the Chinese than on the Greek' and was very
> interesting in the different ways in which oriental and occidental
> languages represent the world and Masterman also showed the influence
> of Wittgenstein comparing his picture-theory-of-truth to the 'nature
> and function of Chinese ideograms' which as a 'fundamental form of
> language'. There's value here in considering the connections between
> the making of poetry by machine and natural language processing which
> was a big part of the Resea!
> ch Unit's work ----the CLRU were formative in terms of later
> developments with respect to the Semantic Web and in a
> neo-Wittgensteinean way (as is brilliantly outlined in a paper by
> Harry Halpin which can be read at:
> The idea of picture language and 'the poetic' and machine working in
> combination together has been explored also very well by John Cayley a
> translator of Chinese poetry and well-known in electronic literature
> circles whose work can be viewed further at:
> Drawing on scientific influences and extending the organic poetry
> field towards autopoiesis from the '50s onwards was A R Ammons who
> 'married organicism and cybernetics' (see 'The Embodied "Autopoietics"
> of Ammons's Long Poems - Jessica Lewis Luck -
> http://www.litsciarts.org/slsa07/slsa07-88.pdf).  A bit later, in
> 1983, he wrote in a poem called The Ridgefarm (1983)
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