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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: November ::
Re: Politics and Interpretation
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0833.  Thursday, 14 November 1996.

(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 10:13:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation: CORRECTION

(2)     From:   Scott Shepherd <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 13:17:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation

(3)     From:   Paul Lord <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 10:15:05 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation

(4)     From:   David Schalkwyk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 11:49:53 SAST-2
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 10:13:03 -0500
Subject: 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation: CORRECTION
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation: CORRECTION

I wrote:

>Norm Holland disguises this phenomenon in terms of looping.  See, e.g., Norm's
>_The I_, Chapter 6: A Model of Mind.

I should have written: Norm Holland  _discusses_ this phenomenon . . . .

Sorry.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Shepherd <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 13:17:32 -0500
Subject: 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation

>Dances are made of movement and narratives are made of language. But it's not a
>'fact' to rephrase this into the assertion "movements do -in fact- display an
>innate ability to construct dances" if you've defined dances as being made of
>movement. It really is called tautology. Honestly.

Come on now. Speech is made of larynx sounds but plenty of larynx-sound
producers can't speak. For that matter, plenty of motion-capable creatures
don't dance.

>Bishop's "fact" that all human societies
>construct narratives is tautology because we would not call them societies if
>they did not use language and we would not call it language if it couldn't be
>made in narrative.

Bees and ants exhibit social behavior but presumably do not construct
narratives. I suppose "social" here will be waved off as metaphor the way
"language" was with computers.

>Presumably being aphasic is horrible precisely because one
>is cut off from human society by the loss of narrative-making ability.

I don't think everyone will agree that aphasics are outside "society", and this
assertion goes some way toward identifying Egan's definition of that term--and
here old tautology really does rear its head. Since his "society" requires
language and his "language" narrative--by definition--all the examples of
nonnarrative communication we can think of are categorically dismissed as
nonlanguage, and all our nonnarrative communicators excluded from any sort of
society.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Lord <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 10:15:05 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation

Gabriel Egan writes:

>We were making a metaphor. If BASIC was really a language, programming
>computers would be as easy as instructing assistants.

Perhaps I misread your ironical intent, but this statement is at best
confusing.  Programming a computer is MUCH easier than instructing an
assistant, for every case except the most trivial.  When instructing an
assistant, there are two possible active participants in any miscommunication.
Not so for the computer; if the computer fails to properly respond to some
scripted narrative or command, then the flaw must be attributed to authorial
intent or mistake.  Once you have properly instructed a computer, it will not
"forget" that knowledge, nor can it be distracted from a given task by a
particularly compelling episode of "Sienfeld."

Further, with a well-constructed program-narrative, the feedback you get from a
computer can be much more clear and direct than that from a human.  Human
language is woefully equipped for error-handling.  There's no UNDO ("writing
under erasure" notwithstanding).  No way to automate complex narative tasks. No
GOTO, although that's probably a good thing.

So, contrary to your observation, it seems BASIC is a much more effective
language for talking to computers than English is for talking to Humans.
Computers have no perception, no judgment; they only know what you tell them.

Hmm.  I thought I was going to be able to tie this to the larger discussion,
but I'm not.  If I am in fact (case in point) misunderstanding the intent of
your analogy, my apologies.

regards,
paul

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Schalkwyk <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 11:49:53 SAST-2
Subject: 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0825  Re: Politics and Interpretation

Tom Bishop's reluctance to call the way I see my mother's face "interpretation"
has a lot going for it.  Not least Wittgenstein's subtle analysis of "seeing
as" in _Philosophical Investigations_, pp. 193 onwards.  To call everything
interpretation is to lose some useful logical and grammatical distinctions, as
Wittgenstein shows. Heidegger is also useful here.

Incidentally, there has been a lot of argument about whether everything is
ideological, but as far as I know there is hardly any agreement, even within
Marxism, about the concept of ideology itself. Offering a definition won't help
here, because the concept is the product of complex and often antagonistic
theories.  Unlike my impression of my mother's face....

David Schalkwyk
 

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