if ('class topics' != 'syllabus')
Labyrinths (Ergodic Literature) (posted 9 February 2004)
Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths” (CP);
I just wanted to post a note underscoring the importance of these next two readings. All readings are important of course, and worthy of your time (or else they wouldn't be on the syllabus) but these are truly foundational.
I hope to be able to post on the readings, but I had to special order the Course Packet on Monday, and will be able to pick it up tomorrow. Sorry.
I just finished reading “the garden of forking paths.” I really enjoyed it. It was very interesting to see how the story came together. Specifically, when Yu Tsun was able to accomplish his goal of communicating with Berlin through learning and understanding his ancestors intentions of the book and labyrinth that were never fully completed. I really enjoyed how this story developed/ how the reader is taken on the adventure of yu Tsun.
I just wanted to make sure I made a comment while this was still fresh in my head. I will comment on the second reading when I have completed it.
I'm doing just the opposite of June, I've just read the introduction of Cybertext and wanted to comment. I appreciated several of Aarseth's insights, particularly his ability to resist arguing on "political" grounds, and instead sticking with speaking about the "functional parts" that contribute to a particular categorization.
However, I find that his comments on computer programs are quite stretched (page 11). First, he seems give the impression that efficiency and clarity are in direct relation to each other. For personal experience it is true that speed and efficiency is likely to be more easily achieved when writing code sloppily, there is no direct implication that by improving one lessens the other. It is possible to have both efficiency and clarity; the task is just very difficult. Therefore, if either efficiency or clarity is sacrificed it is not to improve the other, but happens due to lack of motivation, ability, or resources.
I also have trouble with his comparison of program source code something of a rhetorical sense. I agree that the code is more than just “complex lists of formal instructions” and can also be characterized by similar notions of quality, elegance, and so forth, but in the end the source code is just the means of creating some useful program in executable form. The qualities listed above do have importance in understanding and improving the program, but once the goal of the source is attained (the actual program in binary form) the source doesn't have any value to the program's user, and only possible future value to the developer him/herself.
These are great, detailed comments Tim. Thank you. We'll actually be taking up many of these issues about halfway through the semester, in the classes on Writing and/as Code. In the meantime, you and others might want to look at Donald Knuth (who we'll also be reading shortly) on the subject of "literate programming":
I just read "The Garden of Forking Paths," and all I can say is "whoa." I enjoyed the adventure aspect of this story, but not the last part. I am going to read this story again to understand how it all comes together.