If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Tag: douglas hofstadter

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

…It makes me think of the wagging of a dog’s tail. (Could tail-wagging-ese be translated into American slang? “Hey folks–dig! I’m feelin’ groovy!” wagged Spot.)

Advertisements

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

All readings are partial and approximate, and we must content ourselves with whatever joy and insight we can derive from deep ideas rendered clearly in beautiful language, knowing that our derivative response and the author’s original vision will never be perfectly aligned.

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

…the nice thing about having a brain is that one can learn, that ignorance can be supplanted by knowledge, and that small bits of knowledge can gradually pile up into substantial heaps.

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

I could not conclude my anecdotes about dictionary look-up without sharing one special moment of delight, which was when, trying to decode “pad a slang”, I looked up “slang”, found the very promising-seeming meaning of “traveling show”, and noted, with much amusement, that this meaning was classified as, of all things, “archaic slang”.

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

For me, an erstwhile physicist and ever a faithful lover of the beautiful concepts of physics, the word “medium” has a special aura to it. It evokes dozens of rich images, among them these: a wrist-flick pulse snaking its way down the twisty coils of a horizontally suspended Slinky; glittering circular patterns of ripples passing silently through each other on the windless surface of a pond; sound waves emanating from a sharp snap of the fingers and propagating through the air as ever-growing spheres;…

A medium is a vehicle for patterns, a propagator of distortions, a transmitter of disturbances.

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

In any case, the imposition of any reasonably sharp set of constraints will force a writer to explore and discover pathways in semantic space that would otherwise have been left entirely unexplored, and that is a very simple but very deep truth about language and thought.

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

One lesson we can learn from Sagoff’s and Varaldo’s laudable poetic accomplishments is the deceptiveness of the power of selection: If you do a good job in selecting what you need in order to accommodate your self-imposed constraints, you will appear to be in control of your medium, rather than the reverse.

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

…I would simply point out that the field of MT takes for granted a philosophy that seems the antithesis of common sense–indeed, the apotheosis of utter silliness–in the translation of a work such as Perec’s La disparition, where respect for form is clearly just as important as respect for content, and where failing to carry over the lipogrammatic quality from the input text to the output text would be a huge slap in the face to the author–in fact, far more disrespectful than would be the act of inventing from scratch a completely new, plotwise-unrelated novel in the target language, as long as this new novel involved no “e”.

(MT = machine translation)

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

Can you believe the audacity it took to do this? One wolf has become several chipmunks?!

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

Gibson clearly likes Andrault’s stuff–he just doesn’t consider it art. I find this absurd. In a sense I agree that art has to “voice a human intention”, but the act of selection by Andrault is a deep human intention, just as deep as a photographer’s selection of a scene or an event to capture.

(of Jean-Claude Andrault)