[NetBehaviour] Reality Structures

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Mon Jun 14 18:45:56 CEST 2021

Hi all,

I wrote the below yesterday and made a few minor edits this morning.  It's almost completely silly and foolish doggerel so please do not take it seriously as verse!  I tried to mention some points of possible conceptual interest regarding Dante's potential relevance to contemporary contexts surrounding imagination, but they appear only very vaguely like a rough draft of a rough draft of a rough draft.

All best and happy Monday,



On Canto 9

Today I thought I might compose in rhyme.
A hollow gesture, which I have not done
Enough to make it worth the reader's time

To spend the work assessing if it's one
That meets poetic codes of quality
And isn't just generic idle fun.

It's reading Dante that has shaped to me
The simple form of da, da-dah, da-dah
Which is a mix of hear, and read, and see.

The terza even is an algebra,
Triangular, which Dante hoped to make
Into a rubric or funicula

Which using both a cable pull and brake
Could carry allegory as with gears
Both up the mountain and back to the lake.

Yet that is of no purpose. It's the fears
I think, of art and science as they dawned
Or hoped to dawn, ago five hundred years

Or seven, far away across the pond,
Which Dante hoped to dull if not assuage
By crossing as the SF bay by bond

Our sight of hell before the Golden Age.
Inventing Purgatorio, a place
Not in the other books, he adds a page

Akin to those instructions that we face
Inside a box with something that we bought
But cannot use; so haltingly we trace

The A-B-C's along the hill we ought
To use in art and science if we hope
To make a difference in the world we've wrought

By choices, acts, and messages like rope
That tie us to the past with twisted force.
In Canto 9 he shows us how to ope

The Golden Gate (a bridge or transit course)
To places where imagination works.
Adiabatic walls are real, the horse

Or horses pulling cars.  The engine lurks
Sometimes revolving all the same,
Yet too much cuteness never helps: it irks.

The middle book is thus a middle game.
It speaks of moves and likenesses in flux
Where water strikes the city's banks, or flame

Warps metal, melts the sand, and just inducts
The perfect energy to shift the form.
In 9 -- three threes, so called -- Alighieri plucks

Some nifty threads to add into the norm.
A dozen modern poems, short and sweet,
With Imagist or Piet-like lines can warm

This canto to you if you hear the beat
And meter of the sound reflecting what
The Sweet New Style of all those dancing feet

We call the Renaissance, the modern cut
Away from less development to more,
Proposed could stasis naturally rebut.

But either way, if cantos aren't the shore
Your boat is floating to or sailing off --
All goodness knows they're not my chosen oar --

We can our strict adherence habit doff
And look at canto 9 like shattered bits
Of pottery, around a hearth a toff

In antique days still sits around and knits
The map of family ways and royal roads.
The pavement can be caved, it never permits

Our vehicles to travel it with loads
Of what we like or do.  We walk a while
Amid the weeds and bramble. Though it goads

Us with its perfect-mirrored, certain smile
We do not have to be all it describes,
Though we can listen for a scenic mile.

Of interest or of none, object of jibes
And taunts, a place to walk and simply look,
We get as visitors to choose.  The scribes

Of laws are not omnipotent; they took
In almost every case material
To scriven from a ruler's inner book

Which often was a mess.  So all in all,
I'd never want to say we can go back
To bitter olden days.  The rain does fall

However, thus returning to a track
It flowed before.  The memory must return
At least in flashing glimpses to the wrack

And ruin all around so it can learn
Or help with its supply of patterning
The something it is not to grow that fern.

A PhD'd be nice I often sing
Myself to sleep in moving clouds of thought
But that's been traded for a different thing

I cannot even partly say I've got
The skinny on canto 9.  It's very dense
And rich in allegory, with concept fraught,

Like why's the silver key design-intense
Despite the golden one, a duo lifted
Whole cloth from other place, intent, and sense?

Some later day my oat may find it gifted
To parse it out.  Today is not that day;
My whirling words have truly badly shifted

Far too much to continue in this way.
One thing that every brain does have to purge
Is fear.  It locks and freezes, stunting every ray

Of everything beyond the whelming surge
Survival instinct reflex locks us to.
It's safe there in those bounds, but we emerge

As soon as chance permits so we can do
The image-making that makes better maps
Of where to set our feet.  A deadly glue

Like flesh engrained with rusted chain enwraps
All future days and ways until we don't
Have automated pattern run our laps.

Our cities' roads and walls have surely grownt
To higher distances.  One choice perhaps we face
Like 9 is that we can't look back or won't

Like Lot get where we're going, but in place
To salt -- a useful thing at times, or no --
We change.  Far be it from me to know the space

Deciding this.  Each individual can know
Or learn to know the water tension of
This membrane in their mind.  We should allow

Ourselves and others all the calm above
And during living that we can achieve.
La Vita Nuova listened first to Love.

A poet said once, amid a network weave
That human imaging should flood AI.
If rivers never inundate we grieve

The vegetative loss of silt and high
Begotten stalks of grain that turn the mill.
The city rulers rue the loss and sigh

“What can be done?”  To this the singers still
Return us best to Nature’s steady ways.
Somehow the picture changes with the rill

And ice-clear spring the oldest poet says
The Muses water from in every land.
AI can map the human with its rays.

“Robot” means work, which humans do by hand,
So let the poet be heard aright.  We send
The love of verse we find but don’t demand

A share but get one still, sage Dante penned
Of freed Statius all those years ago
To show that sharing doesn’t having end --

It multiplies what all who have it know.
Thus artifacts the rivers we are bridge
And clothe, but human hands create and show

This other mirror-river like a ridge
Transversal over valleys makes a path.
When art and science conscience thus pay liege

Homage fears fade in calm, subtractive math.



  1.  "Flooding AI" and "bot" as hand are references to Alan's post below.
  2.  The printing press and use of vernacular (as by Dante) were in some ways kind of like an early internet.
  3.  Canto 9 ends with the image of hearing music and sometimes registering the words, sometimes not.
  4.  There's a theme of being assisted with continuing forward in Canto 9.
  5.  An AR work based in part on Dante's Inferno is now online called "VOIDOPOLIS" by K. Mustatea.
  6.  A good article on dream in Purgatorio 9 by M. Marmor is "'Par che sia mio destino': The Prophetic Dream in Leonardo and in Dante."
  7.  Gödelian uncertainty, flux, and unprocessability of image data in Dante, and their impact on post-medieval painting, has been written about by Martin Kemp in his 2021 book Visions of Heaven: Dante and the Art of Divine Light.
  8.  A good article about allegory in Leonardo and Dante by J. Keizer is "Leonardo and Allegory."  The 2019 book by this author (which I just found online after writing the preceding poem, and have ordered but not read) is titled Leonardo’s Paradox: Word and Image in the Making of Renaissance Culture.  Here's a blurb: "In this book, Joost Keizer argues that the comparison between word and image fueled Leonardo’s thought. The paradoxes at the heart of Leonardo’s ideas and practice also defined some of Renaissance culture’s central assumptions about culture and nature: that there is a look to script, that painting offered a path out of culture and back to nature, that the meaning of images emerged in comparison with words, and that the difference between image-making and writing also amounted to a difference in the experience of time."
  9.  Columbia University's "Digital Dante" website has the original Italian, multiple translations, and interesting commentary about the Commedia and other works.

From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
Sent: Friday, June 11, 2021 7:03 PM
To: Max Herman <maxnmherman at hotmail.com>
Cc: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Reality Structures

Hi Max and thanks!

Just to be accurate, not rocks and flora, but rocks and sponges!
They're just shy.. :-)

Best! Alan

On Fri, 11 Jun 2021, Max Herman wrote:

> Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2021 16:45:37 +0000
> From: Max Herman <maxnmherman at hotmail.com>
> To: Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>,
>     NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity
>     <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
> Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Reality Structures
> Feel better Alan!  I am getting lots of aches and twinges after starting to
> move more again after pandemic rigor immobilis.  Time seemed distorted this
> past year, both compressed and elongated, causing odd concretions.
> I like the jpg of water rock and flora.  Just before viewing it just now I
> was weeding the patch of moss in my yard which has as much if not more
> prehistoric botanical power than the other stuff I or others planted on
> purpose.
> I was texting a friend just now about "twistors," which I read about
> yesterday, which are funny shapes somebody figured out to abbreviate the
> calculation of quantum probabilities to much simpler equations compared to
> Feynmann diagrams.  I sometimes feel like images, phrases, tones, or other
> aesthetic forms can do something similar, allowing for approximation of
> incalculable quantities while also running the risk of reductive
> shortcutting.
> Maybe the balance of these is a realm in which human intelligence and
> imagination have tremendous potentials?  I think so!
> ____________________________________________________________________________
> From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf
> of Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
> Sent: Friday, June 11, 2021 2:07 AM
> To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity
> <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
> Subject: [NetBehaviour] Reality Structures
> (thank you everyone. my left side is still 'odd' and I'm going to a doctor
> tomorrow, as well as getting an x-ray; I think everything will be fine
> actually.)
> Reality Structures
> http://www.alansondheim.org/Limassol.jpg
> http://www.alansondheim.org/depths.mp3
> For Watazumi Doso Roshi not that he would care
> Every E-Lit and New Media artist should take noise
> debris dirt body scratch tear blister contusion
> concussion bite hive sore scrape smell cough scream
> whisper cry laughter disease unease exhaustion
> sweat smear canker to heart of other music that
> rusts the empyrean cracks the system speaks the words
> that flood out and drown the AI or on the other bot
> ooze out and suppurate the flesh. I don't mean any
> of this. I listen to it. Assignment: Wear a -32 db
> passive headset. Listen to your self. Breathe your
> first and last. Come and play with us.
> ___
> Mod Two Pieces
> http://www.alansondheim.org/diaryconfusion.jpg
> 2017 diary
> Saturday morning
> Woke up at 9; the club let out around 2 (early!), the
> construction downstairs started around 8:30 (fantastic
> sound!). Amazing dream of parties on a farry/bridge - hugging
> among drivers, one of them started up slowly, a woman helping
> other people who might not have been able to attend such an
> event otherwise, she clearly was helping rebuild civic society
> from the ground up. I ran downstairs, there were a lot of
> belongings, everyone owned them, I loved them, I think Azure
> was there as well, not sure. When I woke, the Palace
> disappeared, just the noise from downstairs. As usual, along
> with the noise, the social science is deafening. Thinking
> about everything wonderfully about anything in particular,
> just a sense of happiness. I got up, put the news on, etc., so
> that I wouldn't wake Azure. Got online. Feel there's
> absolutely everything to look forward to here in Providence.
> (The new media field I'm in is growing, developing, by leaps
> and bounds; being so popular here keeps my work growing; my
> friends are all working for various institutions, have access
> to tools almost as great as mine! The latest is unbelievable
> augmented reality. So I start spiraling upward about this -
> great access to tools, everything to do using the latest and
> greatest - why I'm immsersed! - How wonderful!) the usual
> oldfashioned ones of text/image/video etc.)
> Saturday night
> Will try to sleep, spiraling a bit, feeling I've accomplished
> so much today, delirious I have so many wonderful contacts,
> yes, I have. Today was Yom Kippur, was online and on phone
> helping friends a lot. Too much happiness in my life to feel
> bad about anything!
> October 1st, Sunday morning
> Perfect sleep last night - 5 hours - got up early to avoid
> bald eagles.
> Sunday evening, joyous. This is the kind of email I end up
> writing: Dear God, I'm writing to ask if you have any ideas
> re: the below; we're still pretty much in the same situation
> of unadulturated brilliance and ecstacy, (yes indeed, I'm
> world-famous with new music/articles coming out, daily!). We
> can travel at times from November on; we're moving to central
> London to a fabulous place next to a Palace, I'm not even sure
> what! Thanks greatly, hoping your semester is going well!
> love Alan (another grant just came in: I breathe money!)
> Sunday night
> Azure points out I've done 40-50 barbell exercises today - and
> I'm still not exhausted, brain alert! can't thinking just
> about everything! everything! It's hard to deal with anything
> when I'm so successful! My happiness is out of control and the
> crazed attention adds to it. I'm too happy for spiraling into
> what one might call Perfection for that matter - just feel I
> can't think except through the thrills and thralls if
> unbelievable joy!
> Tuesday morning
> Yesterday napped about 3 times, went out for a walk. Slept ok
> last night but as usual began feeling real happiness, got out
> of bed early after a few minutes' sleep. The diet we're on may
> or may keep me going day and nightD! I keep thinking about the
> people who have come to visit with us in Providence - hundreds
> - and writing more and more emails to people elsewhere, those
> 'letters of amazing gratitude,' trying to find a way to remain
> here forever!
> Tuesday afternoon
> Dying of Happiness and Perfection! Dear God, Thank You!
> __
> Mod 2017 Contusion of Joyce
> river run, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend
> of bay, brings us by a commodious virus of recirculation back
> to How th Castle and Environs. Sir Marts, viler dames, forever
> the short sea, had passes- core rear rived from North armor on
> this side the craggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielder fight
> his pen isolate war: nor had top sawyer's rocks by the stream
> o cone exaggerated salsa gorge from afire bellow sed mitzvah
> mitzvahs to coughing it out Patty kids cad butt ended a bland
> old Isaacs: not yet, though mall's fair in Vanessa, were Susie
> Ether broth with tone handles. Rot a peck of DA's malt had 0
> or 10 brewed by arc light and Roxy end to the Reigning 06 The
> fall (oy- vehs0!) of a once Bering Strait Feldspar is petaled
> early in bed and later on life down through all Christ Ian
> music at such short notice the Oy again! of Finnegan, Erase
> the solid man, that the bumpy of hums the elf 2 sends an
> questionable one well to the west in quest of his bumpy learn
> to dance!: and their learn knock out in the park where oranges
> have been laid to rust upon the green since Deck the Halls
> etc.- linseed oil, it's Chanukah!!! loved Livy and other Rhode
> Island historians..
> 4 UP
> What clashes here of wills 07 01 gods! Bark Block Catechism
> Creek! 6 Kay Kay! ALU ALU ALU! What on Earth?!!! Where the
> Buddies partisans are still out to Chromaster Ma pelting the
> Cheese out of the Wheat of Head. A Sung Plate! and And
> bouncing Strum!. Sod's brood, be me fear! GEL silly: a toll, a
> toll. What chance Willy, what cashiers aired and ventilated!
> What Ogglation! Spewed by what Altoona- solvers! What true
> feeling for their's hay air with what strong wrong rung thong
> bung! voice of false jitney!! O here here how Beth 0 met the
> Husky the father of Foreign Agents but, (O my shining stars
> and body!) how hath Brain soft advertisement! But was Io? sex
> of Al now they lie in peat yet elms leap where askes lay.
> Arks! Arcangels! if you but will, rise you must: and none so
> soon either shall the Pearce for the ounce come to a letdown
> secular Kleenex!.
>      Brewmistress Finnegan, of the Stuttering Hand, see Red,
> lived in the broadest way mime back for sausages before Gosh!
> judges had given us numbers or Popular Printing Font committed
> Due to me (one tomrr blork his 2 in a tub for to Witch the
> future of his fates but ere he swiftly 7 it out again, by the
> might of 09, the very w8- 09 was a formulation of tiny animals
> and all the Goodness! had met their exodus so that ought to
> show you what a Pentagram! chap he was!) and during mighty odd
> years this man of 12, cement and 1- 01 in Roping's 1 piled
> naughtyword supra another nauth banks for the livers by the
> more bling to come!. He addle 2 roofie! Annie 2 the little
> beautiful woman like Aphor hare in Hondas tuck up your part
> Tao Jones. Oftwhile bases loaded! and, r trowel in grasp and
> My name is James Joyce overalls which he brilliant wrote while
> A Wake child tiny male and female children- legs the all tine
> forks or enormous confusions and Mall Stores until he seesaw
> by neatlight of the liquor where twin 'twas born, his
> roundhead staple of other days to rise in undress larceny
> bedsteads (Muscovite (it's a thing!!)!), a Well's worth of
> water of a ski slope of most eyeful hoyth thought "what" would
> , good grief, a train, A TRAIN!!!, frozn wit waste from
> 5 UP
> next to nothing and lai titiptitoploftical, with a burning
> bush Robert off its Cicada and with Walking through Cheyenne
> on a cold fall night Oscillations of the worst sort 4 up and
> tumbles slump trucks potteries and skydivers- ing down.
>      Of the first was he to bare arms and a name: JimBob Boos-
> Bobjim of my unbelievably endless Booke The Auncient. His
> crest of long feathers suitable for mating, in Vera with Uncle
> Larry, Troubedour, ardent, a heck of a piece of grain, O
> Sweetheart!, horrid, horned. His Spunk*** messed, with archers
> strung, snail-like, of the second. Clutch is for husbandman
> handling his hoe. HEE HEE oh god not more of this, Mister
> Finn, you're going to be Mister Accept O Literate 1!! Comedy
> dorm and, O, you're vine! A smorgasbord of new words to be
> inserted eve and, ah, you're vinegar! Mister Mistress Myne!,
> Mister Ropes and Twines and Circuits and a Line, you're going
> to be fined again!
>      What then silver brought about that tragoady caves! this
> municipal sin business? Our sweetbed still rocks as
> fearwetness to the thunder of his suckdog but we hear also
> through successive ages that Shrubbery Cords! Whips! of
> unbelievable slurps and growlings! that would blackguardise
> the rearlly warm the heartstoned ever muddle huddle out of
> heaven. Stay us wherefore in our search for mighty mess!, O
> SUSANNA! Come to ME!- stainer, what time we rise and when we
> take up to tooth-muck and before we lump down uptown our
> latered fading of the stars! For a nod to the nubble is better
> than wink to the wet se scoobies the jewel and the silky damp
> unders bracken shall decide. Then we'll know if the feast is a
> close your fly!. She has a gift of seek on site and she open
> it again ooooohhhh helpers, the seemingly misfired here. Heed!
> Heed! It may half been a giddy missile brick, as some say, or
> it fought have been due to a slupr as others looked at it.
> (There swollen by now one thou- sand and one stories, all
> told, of the same). But so sore did really swollen no really
> really swollen eerily holy subbles, (what with the wallhall's
> horrors of rolls- rights, carhacks, stonengens, kisstvanes,
> tramtrees, fargobawlers, autokinotons, hippohobbilies,
> streetfleets, tournintaxes, mega- phoggs, circuses and
> wardsmoats and basilikerks and aeropagods and the hoyse and
> the jollybrool and the peeler in the coat and the mecklenburk
> bitch bite at his ear and the merlinburrow bur- rocks and his
> fore old porecourts, the bore the more, and his
> ___
> _______________________________________________
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> NetBehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org
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