Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

when you look into the machine it already looked into you

Reading more for rwet, some of the Gnoetry work:

He wasn’t rich enough or something.
Everything belonged to him. He was just
robbery with violence,
and sorrow, dishonor, and varnished boots.
So he comes here, you know, to the profound
darkness of his heart. The flies buzzed in a lofty
portico. I was only
a thing. He thumbed the messenger, invited
me over. “It’s really profitable, and
rather less pretty in shape, but you never
forget the uncle.” Afterwards I came
upon him alone. A continuous noise of the drum,
regular and muffled like the closed door
of darkness, claimed him forever.

Eric Scovel, A Light Heart, Its Black Thoughts, 2009

From the first poem I found on the Internet:

The stones make you great.
The stones greet you in mosaics on the hillocks.
They seem to face me so that we can speak each to the other.
The wind breathes inconsequentially over the grass.
But it is your voice temperate with original breath
that I can almost hear it amidst the false speech of this age.
Between the wars we were lost to each other,
but now there is a transformation— a consolation.
What voice would you bring into the 21st century
now that we are of the same age—
mine and yours bound together by thistle?

Stones by Marc Weidershein, 2009

Clearly that’s a far cry from this:

The leader of the troop unlocked his word-hoard;
the distinguished one delivered this answer:
“We belong by birth to the Great people
and owe allegiance to Lord Hygelac.
In his day, my father was a famous man,
a noble warrior-lord named Ecgtheow.

–Beowulf, 900 AD(?) trans. Seamus Heaney

Of course, that’s kind of a cheap shot, but what about this:

Angel of beach houses and picnics, do you know solitaire?
Fifty-two reds and blacks and only myself to blame.
My blood buzzes like a hornet’s nest. I sit in a kitchen chair
at a table set for one. The silverware is the same
and the glass and the sugar bowl. I hear my lungs fill and
expel
as in an operation. But I have no one left to tell.

–6. Angel of Beach Houses and Picnics by Anne Sexton, 1972

So what came first, electronic text or the contemporary text? Electronic thought or the current thought? I think it’s clear that electronic text engages and pleases some because they’re already set up for it by the circumstances of contemporary life.

On the other hand that ignores some notable movements and artists.

How far back can you go?

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reading the dictionary

for Valentine’s day

maybe this is too dumb? Oh well.

egrep ‘ing.$’ sonnets.txt

O! how thy worth with manners may I sing,
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thy self thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking;
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgement making.
From you have I been absent in the spring,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
My love is strengthen’d, though more weak in seeming;
That love is merchandiz’d, whose rich esteeming,
Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
As Philomel in summer’s front doth sing,
Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
O! ’tis the first, ’tis flattery in my seeing,
To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding;
To be diseas’d, ere that there was true needing.

Egrep for linguists.

Shakespearean sonnets.

corresponding course (#1)

One of the authors of the IFComp 2009 game Earl Grey also teaches some cool classes in NYC, some of which happen to be on elit using Python.

The Spring class started recently. Though I make it a habit to browse the UW and Hugo House class schedules for any similar kind of course (on the craft and practice of elit), I’ve never found one, so though I’m a little behind I’ve decided to follow along with this one as best I can. There’s some great material in the syllabus and the class notes. From the first class:

Suggested exercises

This is just to grep. Use a combination of the UNIX commands discussed in class (along with any other commands that you discover) to compose a text. Your “source code” for this exercise will simply consist of what you executed on the command line. Indicate what kind of source text the “program” expects, and give an example of what text it generates. Use man to discover command line options that you might not have known about (grep -i is a good one).

[matingball ~/rwet]$ grep you | tr . \\n | sort
This is just to grep. Use a combination of the UNIX commands discussed in class (along with any other commands that you discover) to compose a text. Your “source code” for this exercise will simply consist of what you executed on the command line. Indicate what kind of source text the “program” expects, and give an example of what text it generates. Use man to discover command line options that you might not have known about (grep -i is a good one).
^D
 Indicate what kind of source text the “program” expects, and give an example of what text it generates
 Use a combination of the UNIX commands discussed in class (along with any other commands that you discover) to compose a text
 Use man to discover command line options that you might not have known about (grep -i is a good one)
 Your “source code” for this exercise will simply consist of what you executed on the command line
This is just to grep
[matingball ~/rwet]$

Physical therapy. Take a text on paper–a newspaper, a restaurant menu, a book, whatever–and perform a transformation on it equivalent to the way one of the UNIX text commands we discussed transforms digital text. For example, to grep a book, you might highlight or cut out all of the lines in the book that match a particular string.

art review:

Neal Stephenson at University Temple United Methodist

So last night I heard Neal Stephenson read up by the University. I didn’t really know what to expect — actually it’s better to say I deliberately had set no expectations, because I like Stephenson’s writing a lot and was a little worried I would be disappointed by him personally. Maybe this shouldn’t be a problem for me but I’ve never been able to fully extricate my opinion of an artist from my appreciation of their work. It’s not like I’m a hardcore fan or anything, I’ve read only a few of his books. Snow Crash of course made a big impression on me when I was a skateboard riding hacker punk [some details may have been changed to protect the innocent – ed.] many moons ago.

Anyway, it turned out I had nothing to worry about, because Stephenson was pretty cool, refreshingly free of any bullshit. The recording below is full of echoes unfortunately (the reading was in a church) but I didn’t want to put too much into editing. I think I could clean it up with postfish but I need to check that out, I’ve never used it. Don’t worry, there’s still some good stuff in there.

Reading from Anathem

Q&A

I was….eviscerated

From the mind of Pacian, author of Gun Mute among other games: Into the Mind of the Sky Spiders.

“It was five years ago,” she began. “At the start of all these troubles. There was turmoil and danger of a less pernicious but more overt kind than you’ll find today, even in Circhester. It would be several years before Kirkham would unite Fortress City; armies were still abroad, fighting as best they could, or just looting. And, of course, there were the Sky Spiders too. In any case, without going into specifics…”

“Yes?”

“There was an occurrence, and, for want of a better word, I was…” She cleared her throat. “Eviscerated.”

“But you survived?”

“After a fashion. My uncle was close to hand. I’m sure you know already, but he was – still is, indubitably – the world’s foremost designer of mechanised war machines. Faced with my broken body, he repaired it. The only way he knew how.”

She placed both hands either side of her, revealing the ragged hole in her bodice. Behind it, her stomach was of smooth and polished metal. “So now,” she said, “I’m half woman, half tank.”

“And the way you move?” I asked, carefully.

She pinched the sides of her hoop skirt and lifted the hem of her dress so that I could see. “Caterpillar tracks,” she explained.

I stumbled onto this serial and it’s quite entertaining, check it out.

looking at a birkensnake

Guy Debord’s Kriegspiel

This is pretty brilliant. Thanks to falling down the rabbit hole at Pacian’s cantina and ending up at A Slime Appears I found Guy Debord’s game Kriegspiel. Yeah, that Guy Debord.

He wrote a wargame in the late 70s, and after a couple of editions through the years, it’s now been reproduced as a free digital game by R-S-G. Wow!

the social space of muds

is an oxymoron, right? Maybe I should call this the social space of text games, but…I don’t know.

I’m bringing this up after reading a Matthew Stadler essay at the new Rosa B. (thanks to if:book for the link), a French/English magazine whose layout seems at first quite psychotic — no, perhaps psychedelic, but I grew to like it.

Later in the night after reading the Stadler I read Ursula K. LeGuin’s recent piece in Harper’s. Both this interview of Stadler and LeGuin’s essay rest in part on the social space of art — reading, and discussion.

Looking at muds, here you have a somewhat unique phenomena — people reading collectively, synchronously. And talking about it, maybe not directly, but around it, through it. The pre-existing text is not a novel or a single story, it is a series of points on this graph of experience. Why call it a narrative? For that matter why call it an experience? Is this a fundamental difference between text muds and graphical muds — the social space of reading occurs simultaneously with the text itself. How is this different from the social space of play occurring simultaneously with play in WoW? Is someone who plays WoW out there?

Digressing a bit, I am constantly amazed to discover these new continents of text gaming — does Jove, Digichat, or SEAchat ring a bell for anyone? They didn’t for me until a day ago. And the constant refrain in the mudding community — are text games dead? How can you tell if you never knew who were the living?.

digital propp

Courtesy of a link at Fair Game, a simple Proppian fairytale generator. I’ve been thinking about joining things like this, the Abulafia generator, and IF in some way.

Propp fairy tale generator