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Yellow Goop from a Clear Sky

September 14, 2011
by

every PROCESSION is real
pseudo-attention universal
a succession of senses
whatever cardinals the universal
a profound approximation
hero embryo intellectual PROCESSION

vibrations Equilibrium PROCESSION
Harmony — data PROCESSION
wrote cheese Because
those underlying species
are especially irreconcilable
quasi-existence observable
in an observable aspect
imaginings a quasi-organization
with continuity appeal
regularity seeming
pedantic premise them
in A PROCESSION
interchangeable
question shall
mean not to mean

 

The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort is a strangely intense critique of science, featuring a “procession” of “anomalies” which have been “damned”/excluded by scientific theories. So the damned are really a procession of occurrences which science can’t explain and therefore excludes. I liked this text so much I named my own book after it. This is an homage to the man who named my book. It was n-grammed by Infinite Monkeys, feeder text, obviously, Charles Fort’s Book of the Damned.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2011 11:36 pm

    Pretty intense. The “PROCESSION” repetitions work well.

    On your last post you mentioned that the template approach felt more intimate than n-gram generation such as this poem. Could you say a bit more: what about it felt more intimate?

    I ask because when I did my recent template-based JanusNode poems (Socratic Dialogues and Gil Scott-Herron tribute) they felt more “conceptual” for lack of a better word… The first was built to work with dialogue lines, the second was built to produce sentences looking like “Revolution will not be Televised.” I guess it was intimate in terms of the control I exerted over the output, but they weren’t really expressive in the way I think you mean, and I wonder how I could make them more so.

  2. September 20, 2011 10:57 am

    Well, for me, with n-gram approach, I cut, paste, click, click, new poem. “I” am really incidental beyond the choice of text. With my template generator (I can’t speak for Janus Node) I wanted to bring out end-user creativity as opposed to algorithmic mastery. In the act of translating a poem proper into its template/script and then randomly patterning words on top of it, I gleaned a more intimate connection with grammar and especially its corollary super-methodology of parallelism. I would hate to link control with intimacy, but yes, control. You have to do more to get something out of it. There are more choices to make, less is given to you. The system itself is capable of reproducing any poem, but is not itself a creative system, it’s a representational system. I think in following through the steps and creating a script from scratch, you get a more intimate connection with the poem. The downside is that there’s a leaning curve and a new (though intuitive) language to master, and I think this is true of both Janus Node and Infinite Monkeys.

    Expressiveness on the machine end is for me an impossible task. Given a machine which experiences life in someway, and can interact with an external environment and shares the same reality as I (though its perception is of course different), I think expressing machines could be achieved, but lacking experience, expressiveness is all on you. I think I meant that the act of using template based generation, with the investment of time you put into it, is more intimate than a couple of clicks, FWIW.

  3. September 21, 2011 5:25 pm

    Well, for me, with n-gram approach, I cut, paste, click, click, new poem. “I” am really incidental beyond the choice of text. With my template generator (I can’t speak for Janus Node) I wanted to bring out end-user creativity as opposed to algorithmic mastery.

    I would hate to link control with intimacy, but yes, control. You have to do more to get something out of it. There are more choices to make, less is given to you.

    I think in following through the steps and creating a script from scratch, you get a more intimate connection with the poem.

    I think that’s right… when we program a poetry generator, we’re making a tool that generates a set of poems that we in specific want. I think that’s why most generators are so idiosyncratic, because they’re usually tailored to a specific poet’s needs.

    I’m guessing the important distinction is between writing a generator for your own use, vs using a “basic” generator (like Dissociated Press or Mchain, which have few parameters and no interactive interface) or a generator someone else wrote. But even with a basic generator you can get creative. i.e. once I’d coded ePoGeeS, I started thinking of ways to use it besides just picking text from a stream of output (which in itself is an important authoring task.) So I started thinking of constraining how much text I could accept or reject or what types of edits I could make, as a way of letting the weight of the text fall on the generator vs my own authoring decisions.

    Expressiveness on the machine end is for me an impossible task. Given a machine which experiences life in someway, and can interact with an external environment and shares the same reality as I (though its perception is of course different), I think expressing machines could be achieved, but lacking experience, expressiveness is all on you.

    In an earlier Imaginary Machines post I talked a bit about the sort of things that current research suggests may be needed for meaningful language use (e.g. relational agency, object grounding, societal coordination.) I don’t think it’s an impossible task, but definitely something still a long way in the future: we don’t have computational models of a lot of things we need. I think what poetry generators do is give us tools for extracting potentially expressive language from existing resources. It’s still up to us to edit and contextualize.

  4. September 21, 2011 7:53 pm

    Also, what I like about Janus Node and Infinite Monkeys is that the end-user can create a poem which can create another poem. More in a bit. The X-Factor is going to start in a couple minutes.

  5. September 21, 2011 10:56 pm

    Oh yeah. Simon Cowellgasm. I mean, most of us get into this because we know both languages, programming and poetry. The pitfall is that we become dependent on our technology. Mass production has never been a hallmark of craftsmanship. I mean, I can create a poem in a few minutes. But it takes years to build the architecture around which a book can be fashioned. The interlocking poems make or break a text, the flow, the feel. Things that are not reducible to mechanics. And that’s where the beauty and humanity shine through. For all our mechanical genius, at least half of what constitutes brilliance is pure intuition, even empathy, the ability to see from the vantage of …

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