Tag Archives: algorithms

Links on poetry and why publishing seems special

1. Tim Parks on how writers still get respect & authority in society — once they’re published:

The question remains, why do people have such a high regard for authors, even when they don’t read? Why do they flock to literary festivals, while sales of books fall? Perhaps it is simply because reverence and admiration are attractive emotions; we love to feel them, but in an agnostic world of ruthless individualism it gets harder and harder to find people you can bow down to without feeling a little silly. Politicians and military men no longer fit the bill. Sportsmen are just too lightweight, their careers so short-lived. In this sense it is a relief for the reader and even the non-reader to have a literary hero, at once talented and noble, perhaps even longsuffering, somebody who doesn’t seem chiefly concerned with being more successful than us. Alice Munro, with her endless, quietly sad accounts of people who fail to achieve their goals, gets it just right here. Exploring that sense of failure so many feel in a competitive world, she wins the biggest prize of all.

2. Writing by algorithm. Making metaphor mechanically — these metaphors can be surprising, but then, all metaphor is comparison, and comparison is arbitrary bullshit.

3. Poems by robots. I like some of these lines. I like poetry that finds surprises, that goes beyond first-person lyrical narratives, which these samples seem to.

Links: 5 March 2013

1. R. Crumb background.

2. Ginsberg reads “Howl.”

3. Bukowski: “So you want to be a writer” poem. More Bukowski here.

4. Fractal electricity demo in plywood (video). See fractals as metaphor for writing here.

5. Biological reaction to arguing.

6. Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a point about being alienated from those who protested the Iraq War.

7. Wittgenstein’s reputation and the limits of philosophy.

8. Floor plans of TV show settings. I’m not sure the Simpsons’ house plan is correct — where’s Maggie’s room?

9. A flow chart for winning global-warming arguments.

10. An interesting description of the value of diversity: multiple viewpoints and context:

People often fail to understand the importance of diversity. They assume it’s all about quotas and political correction but it is about so much more. Diversity (and we’re talking race, class, gender, sexuality, political affiliation, religion, all of it) is about putting multiple points of view into a conversation. It’s about ensuring that no one is operating in the kind of cultural vacuum where they don’t stop to consider context. It’s why certain people and shows and publications keep running into the same brick wall of public outcry about diversity—because these people consistently demonstrate a callous and willful ignorance of context. They see these lines that shouldn’t be crossed and cross them anyway because they are blissfully unencumbered by context.

11. Beyond boredom, bliss.

12. Barbarity of early U.S. history.

13. Hobbes challenged religion as well as government.

14. Another take on Kerouac.

15. The value of rereading in later life the books one was assigned to read in high school. I had this experience with “The Great Gatsby”: I did not like how my high school teacher wanted to explicate every symbol — “the green light means money!” — but when I read it in my 30s (after first overcoming the resistance to rereading), I could appreciate the value of the book. It still isn’t my favorite, but at least I gave it a real chance. Now that I’m a high school teacher, I try to show my students why certain works are interesting without also turning them off to same.

16. Watching deleted scenes and how that affects one.

17. The first word-processed book.

18. How “big-data” algorithms will affect commercial art (if not exactly killing creativity, as the article is titled).

19. AVClub staffers pick their favorite poems.

20. Why one person left teaching.

21. Syllabi for classes taught by famous writers.

22. A daughter talks about her father’s (Wolfgang Nehring’s) sudden death and his approach to life.

23. A meta-study on sugar’s role in diabetes.

24. Toddlers are fussy because their brains are growing and they’re trying to live in the world.

25. History of the c-word.