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Out of Action

June 11, 2010

I’ve been out of action for a time, sprinting to finish my doctorate (it is accomplished) and so can return to funner things like Gnoetry and all the electronica-poetica here.  I did sneak a peak at a post from a couple of weeks ago that wondered if someone had paralleled reading Gnoetry with looking at a  Rorschach inkblot.  Interestingly, the inkblot idea began as a poetic exercise for children (Klecksography:  Rorschach used these inkblot “texts” as a child–see here for historical data:

and examples:

The comparison is useful and works–the idea that Gnoems (and other electronically derived texts) are open fields of signification.  I’ve used the idea of the enigmatic signifier–expanding that idea out of the original psychoanalytical concept coined by Laplanche) to explain what can happen in Gnoems.  The language wears the markers of meaning, and so must mean something, but that meaning remains unstable until the reader supplies meaning.

The human mind is pattern mad, and inkblots and gnoems can trick the mind into meaningful shape and linguistic idea.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2010 2:09 pm

    So, two things:

    – Congratulations on the successful sprint! A doctor is you! (soon?)

    – Is a gnoem with a human in the loop less of a linguistic inkblot than entirely generated text with no particular intention in it? The gnoetic process has some human editorial control at least, able to say “yes, I like these words” — why? Perhaps because they suggest some interesting meaning that the human finds appealing?

    • Eric Elshtain permalink
      June 13, 2010 4:43 pm

      Thanks for the congrats.

      Just so I am clear, what might be the difference b/t “linguistic inkblot” and “generated text with no particular intention?” An inkblot is made by human hands with at least the intention of someone else seeing the inkblot and perhaps finding a meaningful pattern–a gnoem is similar, I think, esp. if the result is left unedited (that is, the end-user does not use the powers of regenerating text and instead stops at the first poetic solution the software pours forth). There is a kind of intent at work, but not the usual kind of poetic intent, the same with an inkblot, in that an inkblot does not have the same kind of aesthetic or painterly intent we might assume for a more formal painting (even an abstract painting). The more and more the human end-user fusses with the text, even within the confines of the software, perhaps the less and less inkblotish the gnoem becomes as more and more intent is injected into the text. (For some readers, however, the mere fact that a computer is involved in the poetic process makes the text a meaningless blob…) So, yes, the human end user can load the meaning dice, so to speak, driving for, say, a more narratival gnoem, mitigating the random, disjuncted quality of other gnoetries, making a gnoem that focusses meaning, rather than disperses it.

      So Gnoetry, and other forms of computational poetry and verse, can be as inkblot-like as the end-user will allow. But a parenthetical point I made above begs the question: if a computer is involved in the poetic process, is there always something of the inkblot in the result?

  2. eddeaddad permalink*
    June 13, 2010 4:48 am

    > sprinting to finish my doctorate (it is accomplished)

    dude, congratulations!

    First, some bad news: they might call you doctor, but it turns out you can’t write yourself prescriptions. I found that out the hard way, and wanted to spare ya, lol.

    Second, we got to have a nice long thread about meaning sometime. Let me know when you’re up for it and back in action.

    • Eric Elshtain permalink
      June 13, 2010 4:48 pm

      Thanks for the kudos. I may not be able to write myself prescriptions, but when I say “Doctor” on the phone to make a reservation, I certainly get taken more seriously than when I said “Master…”

      See my above response to Mr Rudnick for the beginnings of a thread on meaning, perhaps? I have a lengthy piece in a back issue of P-Queue on the subject.

      If you like, I can email you the piece.

      • eddeaddad permalink*
        June 13, 2010 8:49 pm

        > I have a lengthy piece in a back
        > issue of P-Queue on the subject.
        > If you like, I can email you the piece.

        Why don’t you just post it here? For most of my publications I only gave up the right of first publication, i.e. I kept the right to later distribute it myself. (Occasionally these re-publications contractually require some kind of reference to the first place of publication when re-distributing – check your contract if you signed one.)

        If you gave up all rights to future publication, you could distribute a pre-print or a post-print, i.e. an earlier draft, or a version of the text that you developed further.

        Anyway, I doubt that the SUNY English department is gonna sue you for pasting the text of your own essay here with the intention of further developing your ideas.

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