[NetBehaviour] Code Is Not Literature

Pall Thayer pallthay at gmail.com
Mon Jan 27 08:02:22 CET 2014


Bishop... what code are you referring to? What mathematics are you
referring to? I get the feeling that you might be constructing a field of
understanding that already exists in the field that your appealing to. Can
you elaborate?


On Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 1:30 AM, Bishop Zareh <xchicago at gmail.com> wrote:

> If the code read as well as Shakespeare then there would be no question
> that it is literature; I think their question is: is it likely that
> mathematics can be so eloquently conveyed as to warrant literary analysis.
>
> Bz
>
> ••• Sent Mobile •••
>
> On Jan 26, 2014, at 9:07 PM, Pall Thayer <pallthay at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Don't get me wrong, Alan, I value your opinion and always feel that you
> give very interesting input into these sorts of discussions. True, we don't
> know Emily Dickinson's intent but we do know that she presented herself as
> a literary figure and can assume her intent from there. Likewise, we know
> what Duchamp presented himself as before the urinal and can view that work
> within that context. Should we not do the same with code? If a coder has
> not presented in a way that the code is worth reading, then we assume that
> it's not worth reading. However, if they have... then it should be
> essential reading, no? Anything else would be like a painter saying, "Look
> at my use of color..." and then regarding black and white photos of his
> paintings. No?
>
>
>
> On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 9:51 PM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:
>
>>
>> If you find it absurd, actually there's no way to argue with that.
>>
>> Ok, it's absurd. As I keep saying, it's a family of usages, everyone has
>> different opinions; you and I aren't going to come to an agreement, again
>> by a long shot! :-)
>>
>> - Alan
>>
>>
>> On Sun, 26 Jan 2014, Pall Thayer wrote:
>>
>>  #!/usr/bin/perl
>>> package absurd;
>>> sub new {
>>>     $this = new absurd();
>>> }
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 9:11 PM, Pall Thayer <pallthay at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>       A lot of this makes no sense to me. It sounds like people are
>>>       taking things at face value without considering the multitude of
>>>       scenarios. Paintbrushes, staples or nails are as likely to
>>>       become significant elements of a work of art as a urinal(!),
>>>       depending on the artist's intent. Trying to comment on any of
>>>       these in a single sentence or even paragraph is absurd. As is
>>>       the attempt to analyze whether or not code is literature or not.
>>>       The fact that it's code does not make it literature. The fact
>>>       that words are contained within a book does not make it
>>>       literature. It depends on the intent. We could produce a book
>>>       that contains an alphabetical listing of all known brand names
>>>       in the world and release it under different contexts. One could
>>>       be issued as a reference manual, the other could be released as
>>>       a poem. These would be viewed very differently. Likewise, we
>>>       could take a photo of a bicycle and publish the same photo in
>>>       several different ways. One could warn of the dangers of
>>>       cycling. Another could promote the benefits of cycling. A third
>>>       could be devoted to the aesthetics of the bicycle itself.
>>> Some code is intended to be read. And that doesn't necessarily draw
>>> from its performance. It may be that a reading of the code provides
>>> one message while the running of it provides another. Perhaps
>>> experiencing both will better inform the work. I don't know. It
>>> doesn't really matter.
>>>
>>> My primary message is that wondering whether code is literature or not
>>> is absurd. It may or may not be. But to attempt to present any
>>> argument that may indicate that you feel it might not be, is absurd.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 8:05 PM, Rob Myers <rob at robmyers.org> wrote:
>>>       On 26/01/14 03:14 PM, Alan Sondheim wrote:
>>>       > On Sun, 26 Jan 2014, Rob Myers wrote:
>>> >> Reading Mezangelle is like running code to debug it -
>>> watching call
>>> >> stack frames being pushed and popped and data being created
>>> and operated
>>> >> on. You have to keep track of nested contexts and back
>>> references. Each
>>> >> new word fragment or piece of punctuation can operate on and
>>> transform
>>> >> the previously read elements. Even when you've parsed
>>> Mezangelle it's
>>> >> unstable and active, whether it reduces to a singular meaning
>>> or is more
>>> >> ambiguous. This is different from 1337-style encoding.
>>> >>
>>> > True, but it's not that different from the waves that occurs
>>> in more
>>> > traditional poetry. You're not debugging Mezangelle and you're
>>> not
>>> > running it; you're interpreting it and one person's
>>> interpretation is
>>> > different from anothers (which is also true btw of antiorp and
>>> poetry).
>>> > Also you're assuming a stability in 1337 which might not be
>>> there.
>>>
>>> I agree that traditional poetry obviously has structure and
>>> flow, and
>>> can transform meaning over the course of being read with great
>>> subtlety
>>> or degree. I do think that the nature of the re-reading and
>>> re-thinking
>>> that Mezangelle requires and affords via its syntax is more
>>> compact than
>>> plain language poetry. And that this compactness of notation is
>>> a
>>> quality of some kinds of code.
>>>
>>> Some programming languages are interpreted and it's obviously
>>> possible
>>> for two runs of a program to give different output. In this
>>> sense there
>>> are different interpretations of the same text when interpreted
>>> by
>>> computer, as there are when interpreted by a human being. I'm
>>> certainly
>>> not arguing that Mezangelle is Meme RNA, but I think these
>>> comparisons
>>> are useful.
>>>
>>> I can't speak to antiorp. :-( I shall investigate, thank you.
>>>
>>> 1337 is inherently ironic but it's also very much a shared joke
>>> and
>>> shibboleth for cliques. It involves much play but is more
>>> instrumental.
>>>
>>> >> Regarding Seibel's comments on code as literature, James
>>> makes a good
>>> >> point about paintbrushes. We don't read shopping lists or
>>> meeting notes
>>> >> as literature, yet they are written. Code does not tend to be
>>> written as
>>> >> literature. It's possible to read code for pleasure and to
>>> find its
>>> >> formatting and data structures, its *form*, aesthetically
>>> satisfying.
>>> >> Code is mathematics, so this is similar to enjoying a
>>> mathematical proof.
>>> >
>>> > Here I do disagree with you; reading-as is something that at
>>> least I,
>>> > and I assume many others do (just as such lists were read by
>>> Braudel as-
>>> > history). Example - I'm currently reading Walsh's Mercantile
>>> Aritmetic,
>>> > published in Newbury, Mass, in 1800 - which is just what the
>>> title says,
>>> > but which reads like a fantastic epic, especially the sections
>>> dealing
>>> > with monetary exchange (I might quote later, because the
>>> writing is
>>> > amazing).
>>>
>>> Reading-as is closer to Siebel's concern. I greatly enjoy the
>>> lists in
>>> (for example) the Cornelius Quartet, "The Sale Of The Late
>>> King's Goods"
>>> or "JPod". And there may be a program listing out there waiting
>>> to be
>>> discovered as literature. But I'm doubtful of this for reasons
>>> of what I
>>> guess are "family resemblance".
>>>
>>> We could go Situationist and simply nominate a particular
>>> listing as a
>>> novel, but this would I think be different from what we are
>>> discussing here.
>>>
>>> > I also am not sure that "Code is mathematics" just because
>>> it's exact;
>>> > certainly at the level of machine language, it follows strict
>>> protocols.
>>>
>>> "Software is math" is a core argument in the non-patentability
>>> of software:
>>>
>>> "When people say that software is math, they mean that in the
>>> most
>>> direct, literal sense." -
>>>
>>> http://www.forbes.com/sites/timothylee/2011/08/11/
>>> software-is-just-math-rea
>>> lly/
>>>
>>> > Mathematical proofs and proof theory are complicated - look
>>> atthe
>>> > 4-color theorem - and I find code-reading very different. But
>>> then I'm
>>> > neither an astute mathematician or programmer.
>>>
>>> Code can be very complex as well, I've never read the whole of
>>> the Linux
>>> kernel for example. I don't know the proof for the 4-colour
>>> theorem but
>>> I enjoy the proofs of set theory and find that mathematics, art
>>> and code
>>> have a shared concern with some kind of *form*, and some kind of
>>> *aesthetic* governing it, whatever their other differences.
>>>
>>> >> I think that a piece of software that is a) structured like
>>> Emacs to be
>>> >> self-editing or at least self-revealing of its code and is b)
>>> >> constructed to use this facility essayistically or
>>> discursively or
>>> >> narratively is what would be required for code to be
>>> literature. Char
>>> >> Davies' "Osmose" is a weak example (whatever its other
>>> strengths) of
>>> >> this.
>>> >>
>>> > I really do think there's any sort of "requirement" involved,
>>> maybe
>>> > part-requirements like part-objects, or something along the
>>> line of
>>> > "tendencies"; I'm extremely dubious of requirements in
>>> relation to art
>>> > in general - even the idea that art/literature, etc. _should_
>>> be
>>> > something as opposed to something else. Aesthetics and reading
>>> > behaviors, reception theory and the like, is far more complex
>>> than this.
>>>
>>> Again I don't think it's easy to go further than family
>>> resemblance in
>>> the ontology of art.
>>>
>>> >> But I may be proposing a gentrification of code.art. Or
>>> discussing the
>>> >> equivalent of why nails and staples aren't considered more
>>> important in
>>> >> the social history of painting. ;-)
>>> >
>>> > Well they are important, and there are books that emphasize
>>> things like
>>> > the chemistry of paints etc. - I relate this again to Braudel
>>> and the
>>> > annales school of historiography.
>>>
>>> I've just read "Color, Facture, Art And Design" (highly
>>> recommended)
>>> which is largely a history of grounds and pigments and how they
>>> relate
>>> to the social content of painting. This kind of
>>> technical-conceptual
>>> integration, is what I am arguing for in this discussion.
>>>
>>> I chose staples and nails because their relative volume in the
>>> material
>>> and significant construction of painting supports is generally
>>> low and
>>> contingent. My point was that we have to consider the
>>> possibility that
>>> code, and I say this as someone almost ridiculously invested in
>>> the idea
>>> that art can be made with or of code, may not be strongly
>>> relevant in
>>> the critique art made with it.
>>>
>>> - Rob.
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> NetBehaviour mailing list
>>> NetBehaviour at netbehaviour.org
>>> http://www.netbehaviour.org/mailman/listinfo/netbehaviour
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> *****************************
>>> Pall Thayer
>>> artist
>>> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
>>> *****************************
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> *****************************
>>> Pall Thayer
>>> artist
>>> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
>>> *****************************
>>>
>>>
>>>
>> ==
>> email archive http://sondheim.rupamsunyata.org/
>> web http://www.alansondheim.org / cell 347-383-8552
>> music: http://www.espdisk.com/alansondheim/
>> current text http://www.alansondheim.org/si.txt
>> ==
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> NetBehaviour mailing list
>> NetBehaviour at netbehaviour.org
>> http://www.netbehaviour.org/mailman/listinfo/netbehaviour
>>
>
>
>
> --
> *****************************
> Pall Thayer
> artist
> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
> *****************************
>
> _______________________________________________
> NetBehaviour mailing list
> NetBehaviour at netbehaviour.org
> http://www.netbehaviour.org/mailman/listinfo/netbehaviour
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> NetBehaviour mailing list
> NetBehaviour at netbehaviour.org
> http://www.netbehaviour.org/mailman/listinfo/netbehaviour
>



-- 
*****************************
Pall Thayer
artist
http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
*****************************
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.netbehaviour.org/pipermail/netbehaviour/attachments/20140127/f6a25337/attachment.html>


More information about the NetBehaviour mailing list