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focus | 4 quatrains

April 11, 2013
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Between working on The Wordle Bible and, when I can, with[in] the Bible, I’ve been bad at posting here. In the spirit of posting something with a different source text than usual, here’s something using Leo Babauta’s Focus Manifesto (.pdf download). In the spirit of simplicity, that was my only source text, but you can judge for yourself. (I did a bunch of these in different forms on jGnoetry, so maybe I’ll get myself to schedule several posts’ worth, so I seem less absent…)

Anyway, enjoy!

focus | 4 quatrains

breathe. and yet if we might just happen? are you
getting your email or years? rather than constantly
being stuck in spots of detachment — something
that you live without getting rid of things —

do. be. become as often translated
as sleep. on this committee or that,
we lost a particular thing that
truly allows connection.

focus. there isn’t always getting angry. it’s not
hurry, you may simply less frequently
schedule that other person. don’t switch
between creating and the light in your mind.

then. 5 minutes. when you need to switch, you’ll be
free from most. rushing from this to
rule that nothing? well. get an easier way.
implement your life simply, distraction-free.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric Elshtain permalink
    April 13, 2013 8:58 am

    Nice marriage of form and content.

    • April 15, 2013 4:29 pm

      Thanks! With more days between myself and the writing of this, I’m enjoying it more. Now I’m hesitant to look again at the rest from this source, because I’m afraid they won’t be nearly as good!

  2. May 1, 2013 3:18 pm

    Hey man, you should post stuff from the Wordle Bible here once in a while. (it’s visual poetry, built from a language model, right?)

    As far as the Wordle Bible goes, I wonder if you considered doing an introductory Wordle with the entire book (all of 1 Samuel, for example) and then doing Wordles for each chapter with the n most common words of the entire book removed.

    For example, it looks like the 4 most common words in 1 Samuel are: David, Saul, Lord, and God. You’d have 1 Wordle on the entire book, where those words would be most prominent. Then you’d have 1 Wordle for each chapter, where those words are removed, thereby showing the unique character of each chapter.

    (I just say that ’cause it seems like many of the most interesting words per chapter are hidden behind the same frequently-repeated words.)

    • May 1, 2013 3:49 pm

      That’s a seriously great idea. I toyed with it just now on 1 Samuel, just for kicks, though, and seemed to hit a bit of a snag. Removing those four words, for example, seems like it would probably usually end up leaving some random names as the largest words, still kind of obscuring the rest. Removing those names, too, over the course of nearly 1200 chapters, well… I definitely own my laziness, but DANG.

      I kind of like that the major players get top billing, but like you, I do kind of wish the “smaller” words would get a bit more airtime.

      Perhaps with[in] the Bible will function as something of a counterpoint to The Wordle Bible. The big names will obviously necessarily be front and center in the Wordles, but in the land of gnoetry, I seem to tend to weed them out. 6 of 1…? Maybe I’ll end up putting together a huge compilation with both projects in the same place.

      And yeah, maybe I’ll put up some of those Wordles here. If nothing else, “visual poetry built from a language model” really makes it sound much more impressive than it is, but I’ll take it!

    • May 1, 2013 4:08 pm

      Still thinking about your idea (and wishing I’d thought of it, myself!). Perhaps the opposite of what you suggested could serve as a happy medium. Removing the obvious names and such from the Wordles of complete books still yields interesting things…

      Dang it. I may have to make a second pass at this thing.

  3. May 1, 2013 4:34 pm

    Removing those four words, for example, seems like it would probably usually end up leaving some random names as the largest words, still kind of obscuring the rest.

    Well maybe, but those aren’t exactly “random names” left behind; those are names that The Lord has seen fit to have repeatedly mentioned in one particular chapter of His holy text, even if nowhere else. Everyone knows David and Saul, but Keilah and Horesh? (1 Samuel 23) That’s the sort of thing that encourages follow-up reading.

    • May 1, 2013 4:53 pm

      A fair point. Though in tinkering a bit, I find that I actually prefer removing all noticeable names, and even words like “man” in cases like the first couple chapters of Genesis. Removing the actors leaves only the action, which means lots of directives and places and feelings and such, which inspires in me at least as much desire to read the chapter in question as names I don’t recognize.

  4. May 1, 2013 7:29 pm

    Though in tinkering a bit, I find that I actually prefer removing all noticeable names, and even words like “man”

    It’s probably good for your project to have that sort of editing interaction. The approach I’m thinking of could be completely automated using a library like wordcram instead of Wordle. Since you’re not fully-automating, you might as well be adding something by editing.

    • May 1, 2013 10:52 pm

      I’ll have to look into that WordCram. Not now, because I’m tired, but maybe tomorrow. Related: do not be surprised if I ask you to help me figure out the extent of the editing it would enable me to automate, because that sounds pretty excellent.

  5. May 1, 2013 11:47 pm

    Sure, I myself haven’t used WordCram, but the blog has some examples, and it’s used with Processing, so I suspect the hardest part will be figuring out where to put the WordCram folder.

  6. May 2, 2013 4:43 pm

    Welp. I’ve been playing with WordCram today. It really does allow for much more automated exclusion of words, which is very cool.

    The biggest problem I have with it, though, is that I think it’s going to take some work to get a useable set of files. I would normally just use it with the World English Bible site (WordCram, like Wordle, can pull in text from individual web pages), but it pulls in things like the list of books in the Bible and seems to attach the verse numbers to the first word of each verse.

    The only solution I could think of is downloading the .txt file(s) version of the entire World English Bible. I can use Notepad++ to strip it of excess notation, but the files are one per book, and the only way I can see around that is to go through and create a separate .txt file for each chapter. Not exactly my idea of fun, but I’m out of ideas.

    Other than that, I really do enjoy what WordCram can do. I just have to learn all the little tweaks that can be made to alter color schemes and fonts and what have you, and I’ll be all set.

    I can’t say I’m super-excited to start from the beginning again, but live and learn, I guess. And I’ll have to remember to credit you when I’m all done. As I’ve been working on this today, I started to vaguely recall thinking about removing some of the heavily used words way back when I first started, only to dismiss it as too much work. I have you to thank, then, both for bringing the idea back to my mind (and articulating it better than I ever had, I’m sure) and for nudging me just enough to actually do it!

  7. May 3, 2013 12:26 pm

    but it pulls in things like the list of books in the Bible and seems to attach the verse numbers to the first word of each verse.

    the files are one per book, and the only way I can see around that is to go through and create a separate .txt file for each chapter.

    do you have access to a Perl interpreter? sounds like a pretty simple scripting job, maybe a one-liner. send me an email with a file, we can probably figure something out.

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