Okay, I should be asleep by now - big trip tomorrow - but no, Dead Beat is still awake and worried about your writing.
Thing is, he still thinks that you most probably think he is distracted by science. Truth is he is distracted by nature.
Listen up to my pal David Quammen: "Let's broaden our thoughts by construing "nature" more carefully and inclusively. A volcanic eruption on Mars is nature. A black hole is nature. The atomic reactions occurring within the stars Mizar and Alkaid are nature. Dark matter is nature...By seeing nature big, seeing it as the realm within in which human enterprises such as science,m religion, and historiography occur, we may free ourselves from most of the old expectations and biases, positive and negative associated with what has commonly been understood by the term "nature writing."...Although nature writing in the traditional sense does include some clarion acts of literature (by Thoreau, Muir, and Leopold, for instance) and many other fine, steady, attentive works of observation and reflection, there has also been quite a lot of ethereal tripe. There have been too many purple effusions by one writer or another standing out in a forest or a meadow, misted by rain or spring pollen or pheromones and transfixed by the spectacle of his or her own sensitivity..."
SHARON BUTULA ARE YOU LISTENING?
Sorry folks but this is where this blog site came in, is it not?
She claims to dislike psychobabble and then engages in it ... much of her 'spiritual' intuition is a well understood cognitive process which she clearly does not understand. Don't get me wrong, she can write well, but there is no room for 'ethereal tripe'. As Quammen warns us "For the good of all concerned, we need the urban and trenchantly disposed to remain receptive to the subject of nature, in both its broad physical sense and its narrow biological senses, and we need the self-identified lovers of nature to maintain an edge of critical intelligence."
Otherwise the subtitle "An Apprenticeship in Nature" translates directly into "A Pretentiousness in Nature."
Quammen has his finger on the pulse. Too much tripe out there. Our job is to go deeper than that. I use Sharon Butula as a metaphor, but if even she cannot hack it (and she can't - she brings hysteria instead and contributes to our misunderstanding of 'nature'), then we have all a long way to go.
Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Okay, I should be asleep by now - big trip tomorrow - but no, Dead Beat is still awake and worried about your writing.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
So Hudson does a little research on this whole quarantine thing.
"I knew you were lying," he growls biting hard on his cigar glaring at the world wide web..
"Those quarantine laws went out years ago."
"I didn't know Hudson. I swear. We've been away a long time. That's what this trip is all about."
"Look here, Dad Beat."
He shows me the site - The Department of Agriculture and Food.
"All I have to do is answer yes to all of the following questions, and they'll let me in."
"Sounds easy. Let's have a look:
To be able to travel into Ireland with your pet you must be in a position to answer 'yes' to all of the following questions:
1. Are you travelling directly from an eligible country?
Click here for a list of the qualifying countries
If you are travelling from a country, which is not eligible for the passport system your pet must undergo six months quarantine in Ireland. You should contact this Department to arrange an import licence.
2. Are you travelling with an approved carrier?
Click here for a list of approved carriers
Click here for information about un-approved carriers
3. Is your pet over three months old?
The system does not apply to pets under the age of three months.
4. Will your pet be accompanied?
The system does not apply to pets travelling unaccompanied. Pets travelling under this system must be accompanied either by the owner or by a person responsible for the pet on behalf of the owner.
5. Has your pet been micro-chipped?
All pets must be identified by means of a micro-chip. No other form of identification is acceptable. The micro-chip should comply with ISO standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO standard 11785 - if this is not the case you must carry your own scanner.
6. Has your pet, following micro-chipping, been vaccinated against rabies?
Subsequent to micro-chipping, your pet must have been vaccinated against rabies with an inactivated vaccine of at least one antigenic unit per dose (WHO standard) in a manner in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. This vaccination must have been carried out in an eligible country.
7. Has your pet been successfully blood-tested?
Subsequent to the first rabies vaccination (usually about a month later but your veterinarian will advise) your pet must be blood tested to confirm a neutralising antibody titration at least equal to 0.5 IU/ml. The test must be carried out in a laboratory approved for this purpose - Click here for a list of approved laboratories. If you keep your rabies vaccinations up to date you will only have to do this blood-test once. However if there is any break in vaccination the test must be repeated. Blood sampling must have been carried out in an eligible country.
8. Have you a passport/certificate completed by a veterinarian certifying to identification (section III), vaccination (section IV) and blood-test (section V)?
If you are travelling from a European Union country, you must have an EU passport for your pet, fully completed, signed and stamped by a registered veterinarian. If you are travelling from an eligible country outside of the European Union you must have the 'Veterinary Certificate for Domestic Dogs, Cats and Ferrets entering the European Community'. This Veterinary Certificate is available from your own Competent Authority or from the European Union website. However if you are travelling from a Non-EU European country/territory it may be possible to use the EU passport instead of the certificate. For details please phone the help-line, details below.
9. Has at least six months expired since a successful blood-test?
10. Has your pet been only in an eligible country during this six months?
Your pet may enter Ireland only when at least six months has expired since a successful blood-test. This provision is to ensure that your pet is not incubating rabies.
If your pet has had a break in its vaccinations and has had to repeat the blood-test, six months must pass from the date of the most recent test before your pet can enter Ireland.
If your pet has spent any time in a country that is ineligible for this system, please consult us (contact details below) about the conditions that will apply.
11. Has your pet been treated for tick and tapeworm between 24 and 48 hours before check-in at ferry terminal or airport?
Between 24 and 48 hours before you check-in for travel you must bring your pet to a registered veterinarian to be treated against tick and tapeworm. This is to prevent a risk of potentially serious disease entering Ireland. The tick treatment must be other than by a collar impregnated with acaricide. The tapeworm (echinococcus multilocularis) treatment must contain praziquantal as an active ingredient.
The veterinarian must complete the relevant sections of the passport/certificate, i.e section VI (tick) and section VII (echinococcus), noting down the time of treatment as well as the date.
If you are able to answer 'yes' to all eleven questions above, your pet may enter Ireland without undergoing quarantine."
"Pour me another port," Hudson growls. "I got lost back there somewhere around eligible country."
"You see Hudson. I was only thinking of you."
"You didn't want to fill out the forms, did you Dad?"
"I already had the taxes Hudson. It's a lot of paperwork. I'm not good at this sort of thing."
"You don't deserve me. You truly don't."
"What do you mean I am not going to Ireland with you?" He puts his port glass down harshly on the study.
"Well, Hud, you see old pal, it's this quarantine thing."
"Dogs... well pets in general..."
"They have to... you know....cages and all that."
"Well not exactly."
"What do you mean, not exactly? Do I get access to a lawyer? Is water boarding outlawed?"
"Hudson it's this whole infection thing."
"Oh no, Dad, not more virus nonsense."
"No, Hudson. I'm talking rabies that sort of thing."
"They infect you with rabies...?"
"No Hudson, they are afraid you might infect them!"
"You Irish are weird, right? I've had my rabies shots, I've had every possible vaccination known to dog kind, I've even had my testic....."
"No, no, no, no. Don't go there Hudson. Don't go there."
"The wee Irish collie-eens are safe is what I'm saying."
He died, and I admired
the crisp vehemence
of a lifetime reduced to
half a foot of shelf space.
But others came to me saying,
we too loved him, let us take you
to the place of our love.
So they showed me
-- a cliff of notebooks
with every draft and erasure
of every poem he
published or rejected,
with webs of annotation.
I went in further and saw
a hill of matchcovers
from every bar or restaurant
he'd ever entered. Trucks
backed up constantly,
piled with papers, and awaited
by archivists with shovels;
forklifts bumped through
trough and valley
to adjust the spillage.
Here odors of rubbery sweat
intruded on the pervasive
smell of stale paper,
no doubt from the mound
of his collected sneakers.
I clambered up the highest
pile and found myself
looking across not history
but the vistas of a steaming
range of garbage
reaching to the coast itself. Then
I lost my footing! and was c
arried down on a soft
avalanche of letters, paid bills,
sexual polaroids, and notes
refusing invitations, thanking
fans, resisting scholars.
In nightmare I slid,
no ground to stop me,
until I woke at last
where I had napped beside
the precious half foot. Beyond that,
nothing, nothing at all.
Mr Pierce the butcher
Monday, March 19, 2007
Dead Beaters, if you are going to create art, the least you can do is figure out what it really is.
So we were talking about Tolstoy. In his What is Art? he theorises that art is the contagion of feeling. Are we talking viruses by any chance? He infects the audience with the feelings he himself experiences. Indeed he wants to use this theory as a criterion for the evaluation of art. Well my old friend Anne Sheppard would tell us that, “much of Tolstoy’s condemnation of art derives from his moral outlook and he fails, or refuses, to make any distinction between the moral and the aesthetic.”
So up yours, Leo!
“She goes on to say, “It is often claimed that a characteristic feature of aesthetic experience is a certain emotional detachment, that in true art emotions are not directly aroused, we are not moved to immediate action but remain in a state of contemplative appreciation.”
Douglas Adams, Tolstoy, viruses, Art. Old Hof would be proud of.
Anyway think about it. Your words depend on this.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
"You speak of creativity and analogy."
me almost as worthy of wonder as those matters in themselves ."
Here it is a question not only of leading the reader to an understanding of the subject matter in the easiest way, but also, chiefly, of the arguments, meanderings, or even chance occurrences by which I the author first came upon that understanding . Thus, in telling of Christopher Columbus, Magellan, and of the Portuguese, we do not simply ignore the errors by which the first opened up America, the second, the China Sea, and the last, the coast of Africa ; rather, we would not wish them omitted, which would indeed be to deprive ourselves of an enormous pleasure in reading ."
"I therefore display these occasions [errors and meanderings] scrupulously, with, no doubt, some attendant difficulty for the reader. Nevertheless, that victory is sweeter that was born in danger, and the sun emerges from the clouds with redoubled splendour."
"I enjoy recognizing my errors, Dead Beat, because they tell me by what meanders, and by feeling along what walls through the darkness of ignorance,
I have reached the shining gateway of truth."
“Boy, this year sure went by fast!” is so tempting to say because each year is perceived in terms of chunks at a higher, grander, larger level than any year preceding it, and therefore each passing year contains fewer top-level chunks than any year preceding it, and so, psychologically, each year seems sparser than any of its predecessors. One might, somewhat facetiously, symbolize the ever-rapider passage of time by citing the famous harmonic series:
1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 + 1/5 + 1/6 + 1/7 + 1/8 +...
by which I mean to suggest that one’s nth year feels subjectively n times as short as one’s first year, or n/5 times as short as one’s fifth year, and so on. Thus when one is an adult, the years seem to go by about at roughly a constant rate, because — for instance — (1/35)/(1/36) is very nearly 1. Nonetheless, according to this theory, year 70 would still shoot by twice as fast as year 35 did, and seven times as fast as year 10 did.
But the exact numerical values shown above are not what matter; I just put them in for entertainment value (who else but Hof and D.B. would throw in harmonic series for light relief?). The more central and more serious idea is simply that relentless mental chunking makes life seem to pass ever faster as one ages, and there is nothing one can do about it."
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
No, not that wholesome American tart thing...
But the greatest number in the mathematical lexicon.
"Whatever happened to Infinity, Dad?"
"Shut up, Hudson!"
Pi, the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi is an irrational number meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating. The symbol for pi, , was first used in 1737 by William Jones, but was popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737. It is approximately 22/7 which approximately equals 3.14. But remember it goes on infinitely (there Hudson, serves you right, you mongrel!)
So here's a treat for all you Pi lovers:
3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679 214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745028410270193852110555964462294895493038196 428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273 7245870066063155881748815209209628292540917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841469519415116094 3305727036575959195309218611738193261179310511854807446237996274956735188575272489122793818301194912 9833673362440656643086021394946395224737190702179860943702770539217176293176752384674818467669405132 0005681271452635608277857713427577896091736371787214684409012249534301465495853710507922796892589235 4201995611212902196086403441815981362977477130996051870721134999999837297804995105973173281609631859 5024459455346908302642522308253344685035261931188171010003137838752886587533208381420617177669147303 5982534904287554687311595628638823537875937519577818577805321712268066130019278766111959092164201989 3809525720106548586327886593615338182796823030195203530185296899577362259941389124972177528347913151 5574857242454150695950829533116861727855889075098381754637464939319255060400927701671139009848824012 8583616035637076601047101819429555961989467678374494482553797747268471040475346462080466842590694912 9331367702898915210475216205696602405803815019351125338243003558764024749647326391419927260426992279 6782354781636009341721641219924586315030286182974555706749838505494588586926995690927210797509302955 3211653449872027559602364806654991198818347977535663698074265425278625518184175746728909777727938000 8164706001614524919217321721477235014144197356854816136115735255213347574184946843852332390739414333 4547762416862518983569485562099219222184272550254256887671790494601653466804988627232791786085784383 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Posted by Gerard Beirne at 9:32 pm
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Hof has two riddles for us. Well you know Dead Beat, he has a sense of humour. He likes riddles. So Hofs, sock it to us.
We begin with a couple of simple queries about familiar phenomena: “Why do babies not remember events that happen to them?” and “Why does each new year seem to pass faster than the one before?”
I wouldn’t swear that I have the final answer to either one of these queries, but I do have a hunch, and I will here speculate on the basis of that hunch. And thus: the answer to both is basically the same, I would argue, and it has to do with the relentless, lifelong process of chunking — taking “small” concepts and putting them together into bigger and bigger ones, thus recursively building up a giant repertoire of concepts in the mind.
How, then, might chunking provide the clue to these riddles? Well, babies’ concepts are simply too small. They have no way of framing entire events whatsoever in terms of their novice concepts. It is as if babies were looking at life through a randomly drifting keyhole, and at each moment could make out only the most local aspects of scenes before them. It would be hopeless to try to figure out how a whole room is organized, for instance, given just a keyhole view, even a randomly drifting keyhole view.
Or, to trot out another analogy, life is like a chess game, and babies are like beginners looking at a complex scene on a board, not having the faintest idea how to organize it into higher-level structures. As has been well known for decades, experienced chess players chunk the setup of pieces on the board nearly instantaneously into small dynamic groupings defined by their strategic meanings, and thanks to this automatic, intuitive chunking, they can make good moves nearly instantaneously and also can remember complex chess situations for very long times. Much the same holds for bridge players, who effortlessly remember every bid and every play in a game, and months later can still recite entire games at the drop of a hat.
All of this is due to chunking, and I speculate that babies are to life as novice players are to the games they are learning."
Now folks, I think we will leave the next riddle until another time since that has you rolling in the aisles. Seriously, stay with Dead Beat. Think about what Hof is revealing to us.
Complex chess moves, complex writing techniques. Chess masters, word masters. We have a 'giant repertoire of concepts in our minds' which we can utilize in the pulling together of the vast array of formal techniques available to us. Automatic intuitive chunking. We do it all the time. Let us learn to do it even better.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Eavan has been back onto Dead Beat.
"Not many daughters in poetry, you know."
"Hadn't thought about it before," I tell her.
"Of course you haven't, you're a man. Took Yeats until he was in his sixties. So print it."
"Yes Ma'am," Dead Beat kow-tows.
A Prayer For My Daughter
by W.B. Yeats
Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory's wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.
I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.
In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there's no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
That the Science of Cartography Is Limited
—and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom of cypresses,
is what I wish to prove.
When you and I were first in love we drove
to the borders of Connacht
and entered a wood there.
Look down you said: this was once a famine road.
I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass
rough-cast stone had
disappeared into as you told me
in the second winter of their ordeal, in
1847, when the crop had failed twice,
Relief Committees gave
the starving Irish such roads to build.
Where they died, there the road ended
and ends still and when I take down
the map of this island, it is never so
I can say here is
the masterful, the apt rendering of
the spherical as flat, nor
an ingenious design which persuades a curve
into a plane,
but to tell myself again that
the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,
and finds no horizon
will not be there.
(1) natural, naturalistic simulacra: based on image, imitation, and counterfeiting. They are harmonious, optimistic, and aim at the reconstitution, or the ideal institution, of a nature in God's image.
(2) productive, productionist simulacra: based on energy and force, materialized by the machine and the entire system of production. Their aim is Promethean: world-wide application, continuous expansion, liberation of indeterminate energy (desire is part of the utopias belonging to this order of simulacra).
(3) simulation simulacra: based on information, the model, cybernetic play. Their aim is maximum operationality, hyperreality, total control.
Monday, March 05, 2007
"Is that you, Dead Beat?"
"Sorry Kurt before you ask, no I don't have any intelligence to give away, artificial or otherwise."
"We all know that, D.B. It's not that I'm calling about. It's your last post on Creative Computing."
The Cybernetic Poet
So, Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's daughter. Computers. Babbage.
That's where we were. Hofstadter of course looking over our shoulder.
Well there is an old argument concerning Artificial Intelligence and whether computers can ever capture the essence of the mind.
Not so, Ada says, because a computer can never, in and of itself, be creative.
Not so! Old Hofs insists. He claims that the essence of creativity is pursuing a theme through all its possible outcomes and being clever enough to recognize a bright new possibility with the combinations that emerge. Others have similarly argued that creativity can be explained as a process combining exploration and recognition.
Margaret Boden, Cognitive Scientist with all the hoop-la distinguishes three degrees of creativity: 1) The simplest type of creativity occurs when one explores permutations and combinations exhaustively, hoping for an inspired change; 2) The next degree of creativity involves exploring an unknown space, that is, a dimension or variable that has not been used before; 3) The third and highest degree of creativity is again when one explores a space but this is a space that has been transformed in a way that others have not considered.
Can a computer be programmed to pursue these three stages? Why ever not?
And what about us, this vast pool of shoddy writers that we are? Can we pursue these stages more effectively? Or are we going to let our computers write better novels and poems than we do?
Yeah, you're right, most probably.
Friday, March 02, 2007
So Byron? Yeah, I know you guys know everything about him, you're writers after all. He was a Lord right? Lived 1788-1824. Born with a club foot. Inherited the title and estates of his great-uncle, the "wicked" Lord Byron, at age 10. Harrow. Cambridge. Friendships with young boys....
"Dead Beat! Dead Beat! (Horace running out of the tool shed) The gossip is mine. Shake yourself to see whether nature planted your vices in you or, perhaps, your own bad habits did, for it's certain that in neglected fields grow weeds that must be burned...."
.... okay, okay! I'll stick to the details....
"Get to the poems, Dad (Hudson ). You did know he was a poet?"
Alright, The Bride of Abydos, The Siege of Corinth, The Prophecy of Dante and all those other puppies. Thing is, it's not so much Georgie Porgy I am interested in as his daughter, Ada. Lady Byron left with her a year after her birth and never did return.
Anyway all you so called Byron groupies out there, what can you tell me about her, Ada Lovelace? Humh?
Let Dead Beat tell you all about it, how Lady Byron wished her daughter to be unlike her poetical father, and she saw to it that Ada received tutoring in mathematics and music, disciplines which would counter her dangerous poetic tendencies.