Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The sandbox world.

This came to mind today when I was reading over some Rimbaud. Poet/Songwriter extraordinaire, Bob Dylan was deeply influenced by his work. Dylan also was on a journey to transcend the limitations of expression and defy convention. In the recent documentary on Dylan, No Direction Home, the late great Allen Ginsberg recounts the story of how he wept the first time he heard Dylan play the song Hard Rain, realizing that the torch had been passed to the great poet/seer of the next generation. I tried to find the clip, but to no avail. If you have the time to listen to Hard Rain, I would highly encourage it.
The link that I am including will lead you to Dylan reciting the prose-poem, Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie. To say much in preface would be to diminish its power, but I would be interested in any observations or feelings about it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Flattened Layers

This is the corrected version


In twilight, I saw your shadows
manifold and manifest
apart as all robust aching, mine
and began
to light so that nothing could see
as I felt around the edges of my being
not the shape my eyes know but
literal and innocent
a strangeness of relevance protruding
as if
and still, trepidatious fingers molding
every sidelong glance as though
having just met
were prior to every arrival.

chc 10.24.10

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mallarme in Crisis

I was reading in a book and I came across an amazing quote by Mallarme from his Crisis in Verse. The quote is a really good description of the problem of language:

"Languages are imperfect because multiple; the supreme language is missing. Inasmuch as thought consists of writing without pen and paper, without whispering even, without the sound of the immortal World, the diversity of languages on earth means that no one can utter words which would bear the miraculous stamp of Truth Herself Incarnate... But esthetically, I am disappointed when I consider how impossible it is for language to express things by means of certain keys which would reproduce their brilliance and aura...We dream of words brilliant at once in meaning and sound, or darkening in meaning and so in sound, luminously and elementally self-succeeding. But let us remember that if our dream were fulfilled, verse would not exist - verse which, in all its wisdom, atones for the sins of languages, comes nobly to their aid."

I thought Mallarme did a beautiful job of illustrating the double edged sword that is language. Everyone we have read about has drawn attention to this problem - we need a language that gets beyond language itself. However if we arrive at that place we have also lost something. Werther arrived at that place only by death and Bloch arrived at that place by killing someone else. The works of art we have studied, or anything we have studied for that matter, are all desperate attempts to arrive at somewhere real without leaving our own reality. The problem is we cannot arrive at the real without the aid/hinderance of our actual reality - language.


Just when you thought you knew Dr. Suess...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Coffee and Cigarettes: Jim Jarmusch

Coffee and Cigarettes Poster

What poetic term describes living your life while accepting that it is filled with uncertainty?

The thoughts in the link below about John Keats stand out to me in light of our class conversations. I am imagining Mallarme's ability within himself to walk through the extreme misery of his up-endedness, his unknown, that place without meaning where even the ego cannot comfort us. Rather than create meaning, it seems at least from the author's perspective below that Keats received into being, what was. The Taoists see receptivity as the complement to creativity--that when heaven moves into the earth, when creative force meets receptive devotion, the 10,000 things come into being. "To let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thought" causes me to think of Alex's shaking invisible dice on Friday and winding up in Virgil, then Walser, then Seurat, then Goethe... Arriving unintendedly (yes I meant that word) where one means to be.

"In recent years critical attention has focused on Keats's
philosophy,which involves not abstract thought
but rather absolute receptivity to experience.
This attitude is indicated in his celebrated term
"negative capability"—"to let the mind be a
thoroughfare for all thought.""|utmccn=(referral)|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/browse/figurative&__utmv=-&__utmk=255882507

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mallarme's "A Throw of the Dice

[click on each page for a larger version]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

infrathin gap between light and dark,

I know I missed class today but I thought these pictures in this article were a great example of what we talked about Monday and I wanted to share them.

click HERE

Monday, October 18, 2010

How Google understands language like a 10-year-old

by James Temple, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, October 18, 2010

Language has long been one of the most difficult challenges in artificial intelligence research, mainly because programs are based on rules, while native tongues cobbled together over hundreds of years tend to flout them.

Researchers only began to make major strides in the last 15 years or so, once they began supplementing rules with a so-called statistical approach.

Put very simply: By analyzing huge quantities of human text, initially labeled and dissected in much the manner of English class sentence diagramming, machines eventually begin to detect the patterns that define the use of language. After a certain stage of development, the algorithms can be unleashed onto raw or unstructured data, and continue to refine their understanding.

The same process has led to similarly momentous advances in language translation tools, and machine perception technologies like facial and voice recognition.

The success of this approach has been further propelled by two key developments: The sudden availability of massive amounts of digital text in the way of the Internet, and the enormous computing power available to researchers through server farms strung together across the planet.

Now when Google's computers confront a word with multiple meanings, they can rely on the same clues that humans use to understand the meaning.

Take the word "can." It might be a noun (a metal container), a verb (to put something into such a container) or a modal verb (to be able to do so). You can can something in a can.

Based on the billions of examples its algorithm has analyzed, Google knows it's highly likely that if "can" is preceded by a pronoun ("you") it's most likely the modal verb. If it's followed by an object ("something") it's most likely a verb. If it comes after an article ("a") it's most likely a metal container. (And in just about every case other than the one in the preceding paragraph, two cans in a row would probably denote a dance.)

The search engine has also begun to understand which words are synonyms for others. That's why today Google knows that a user typing the query "change memory in my laptop" would probably be interested in a string of text online that reads "install laptop RAM," even though only one word is the same. Google was incapable of a match like that as recently as three years ago.

These improvements have allowed users to increasingly express their queries using natural language, instead of breaking down their wants into three-word Boolean expressions. As consumers have caught on to this, the length of average queries has steadily grown.

Artificial intelligence isn't a silver bullet to online search, however. Google is continually tweaking its algorithms to address shortcomings, but some problems can be quite difficult to solve.

For instance, "pain killers that don't upset stomach," a fairly common query, trips up the engine because it's not great at negation. Typically, the words in a query represent things people do - not "don't" - want to find.

And sometimes probability works against the search engine: Google tends to think that Dell and Lenovo are the same thing because so many similar words show up around the names of the two computer manufacturers.

The algorithm's understanding of language "has moved from a 2-year-old infant to something close to an 8 or 10-year-old child," said Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow, an honorific reserved for the company's top engineers. "They're still not approaching the conversations you'd have as a teenager."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

the language of love

From Jonathan Raban's review of Lydia Davis' new translation of Flaubert's "Madame Bovary":

"The cracked-kettle paragraph follows a speech by Emma to Rodolphe in which she declares her feelings for him in a string of amorous cliches: 'I'm your servant and your concubine! You're my king, my idol! You're good! You're handsome! You're intelligent! You're strong!' Here's how Davis renders what follows:

He had heard these things said to him so often that for him there was nothing original about them. Emma was like all other mistresses; and the charm of novelty, slipping off gradually like a piece of clothing, revealed in its nakedness the eternal monotony of passion, which always assumes the same forms and uses the same language. He could not perceive -- this man of such broad experience -- the difference in feelings that might underlie similarities of expression. Because licentious or venal lips had murmured the same words to him, he had little faith in their truthfulness; one had to discount, he thought, exaggerated speeches that concealed mediocre affections; as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow in the emptiest of metaphors, since none of us can ever express the exact measure of our needs, or our ideas, or our sorrows, and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when we long to move the stars to pity.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

how come if someone can post a perfect post as "blankness" (since it was not meant to be named i only describe it) and we can't turn in a blank unnamed paper.

after all, john cage wrote music that was made up entirely of rests.

i should be able to write a paper made up entirely of spaces. i will actually hit the spacebar however many times it takes to occupy the entire length of it.

expect to be amazed by what you read :)

Falling Out

Here's an interesting article I found the other day- I had no idea that almost every two weeks one of the 7,000 recorded languages goes extinct. Also pay careful attention to the language, within the first couple of lines he says, "many of them unwritten and in danger of falling out of use." The term 'falling out of use' especially caught my attention because we have seen this time and time again in our readings especially in Werther and Lord Chandos were they phrase it "falling out of language." Even in our discussions in class, I have never heard of anyone falling out of language before and I thought that it was just something Scott would say, meh, who knew it's not. Although I am still not sure exactly what it means to fall out of language and I feel that I have never experienced it to same degree as Bloch, Werther or others but I am starting to understand that even having that feeling of being at a loss of words is a minimal example of 'falling out of language.'

Hunting One Language, Stumbling Upon Another

Chris Rainier

DOCUMENTING AND PRESERVING Gregory Anderson interviewed Kachim, a Koro-speaking woman, for a National Geographic project.

Two years ago, a team of linguists plunged into the remote hill country of northeastern India to study little-known languages, many of them unwritten and in danger of falling out of use.

Chris Rainier

A Koro-speaking woman and her baby in Kichang village in Arunachal Pradesh, India.

On average, every two weeks one of the world’s recorded 7,000 languages becomes extinct, and the expedition was seeking to document and help preserve the endangered ones in these isolated villages.

At a rushing mountain river, the linguists crossed on a bamboo raft and entered the tiny village of Kichang. They expected to hear the people speaking Aka, a fairly common tongue in that district. Instead, they heard a language, the linguists said, that sounded as different from Aka as English does from Japanese.

After further investigation, leaders of the research announced last week the discovery of a “hidden” language, known locally as Koro, completely new to the world outside these rural communities. While the number of spoken languages continues to decline, at least one new one has been added to the inventory, though Koro too is on the brink of extinction.

“We noticed it instantly” as a distinct and unfamiliar language, said Gregory Anderson, director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in Salem, Ore.

Dr. Anderson and K. David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore College, were leaders of the expedition, part of the Enduring Voices Project of the National Geographic Society. Another member of the group was Ganash Murmu, a linguist at Ranchi University in India. A scientific paper will be published by the journal Indian Linguistics.

When the three researchers reached Kichang, they went door to door asking people to speak their native tongue — not a strenuous undertaking in a village of only four bamboo houses set on stilts. The people live by raising pigs and growing oranges, rice and barley. They share a subsistence economy and a culture with others in the region who speak Aka, or Miji, another somewhat common language.

On the veranda at one house, the linguists heard a young woman named Kachim telling her life story in Koro. She was sold as a child bride, was unhappy in her adopted village and had to overcome hardships before eventually making peace with her new life.

Listening, the researchers at first suspected Koro to be a dialect of Aka, but its words, syntax and sounds were entirely different. Few words in Koro were the same as in Aka: mountain in Aka is “phu,” but “nggo” in Koro; pig in Aka is “vo,” but in Koro “lele.” The two languages share only 9 percent of their vocabulary.

The linguists recorded Kachim’s narrative in Koro, and an Indian television crew had her repeat it in Hindi. This not only enabled the researchers to understand her story and her language, but called attention to the cultural pressures threatening the survival of such languages, up against national languages dominant in schools, commerce and mass media.

In “The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages,” published last month by National Geographic Books, Dr. Harrison noted that Koro speakers “are thoroughly mixed in with other local peoples and number perhaps no more than 800.”

Moreover, linguists are not sure how Koro has survived this long as a viable language. Dr. Harrison wrote: “The Koro do not dominate a single village or even an extended family. This leads to curious speech patterns not commonly found in a stable state elsewhere.”

By contrast, the Aka people number about 10,000 living in close relations with Koro speakers in a district of the state of Arunachal Pradesh, where at least 120 languages are spoken. Dr. Anderson said the coexistence of separate languages between two integrated groups that do not acknowledge an ethnic difference between them is highly unusual.

As Dr. Harrison and Dr. Anderson expanded their research, comparing Koro with several hundred languages, they determined that it belonged to the Tibeto-Burman language family, which includes 400 tongues related to widely used Tibetan and Burmese. But Koro had never been recognized in any surveys of the approximately 150 languages spoken in India.

The effort to identify “hot spots of threatened languages,” the linguists said, is critical in making decisions to preserve and enlarge the use of such tongues, which are repositories of a people’s history and culture.

In the case of Koro speakers, Dr. Harrison wrote in his book, “even though they seem to be gradually giving up their language, it remains the most powerful trait that identifies them as a distinct people.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crisis in Language...

This midterm has caused me to have my own crisis of language - I mean that as a positive as well as a negative thing... Hopefully the crisis can be averted by Wednesday. It just seems that everything I am writing is trash, and after each revision I just end up with more trash, only that the trash has now been polished. And when I do have a good idea I can't seem to do it justice once I write about it. However, the ideas are there and I just have to find a way of expressing them correctly. I usually have no problem writing papers but for some odd reason this assignment has been much more difficult than I had anticipated. Just wanted to let everyone know that I am paying the price for my own procrastination and current general lack of well, everything - I suppose I am experiencing my own anxiety at the penalty kick...

I also wanted to thank Andrew for his remarks in class on Friday about guilt. It was a real springboard for my ideas and has helped me salvage a dying paper. Thanks.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lost With Language

Friday, October 8, 2010

Foreign Accent Syndrome

Just as we have been reviewing old texts for the essays it reminded me of this as a unique recognized medical condition. -Jonathan Barrett

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Origin of Language

I was looking back through my notes and scraps and got hung up on some of the things we talked about regarding Rousseau and some of his views and arguments for language. In particular the origin of language and how it has been produced naturally rather than given by God. This article from Cambridge discusses the different "sources" of language and how it could have possibly come about. I personally think it's a combination of the sources in the article. What do you think?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Photographic Experiment 7: Language (NOW UP)!

Click HERE! to see all 10 submitted photos.

Late submissions are welcome.

Pictured below: a submission, which presents a nice example of 'body-language'.

"Found in Translation"

Here is a pretty simple editorial from the New York Times about how every written text is essentially a translation. The author finds particular satisfaction in focusing on readers of his works. I couldn't help but think about the basics of reader response theory as well as many of the discussions we have had in class while reading this article.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

photos of language: deadline extended

Jorgen has extended the deadline for photos of language until this Sunday night.

Could be a wonderful collection, but only if we're creative and actually do it.

Check out the original invitation in an earlier post on this blog.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"f" word