13.0188 simulation and interactivity

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 14 Sep 1999 06:57:04 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 188.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 06:52:42 +0100
From: Francois Lachance <lachance@chass.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Simulation and Interactivity


In a relatively recent posting


there is a turn of phrase you used in your moderator-provacteur role
which caught my eye being placed in the final position of a concluding
paragraph. And having been noted, the phrase replayed its metaphoric
echoes when there was to be found only one WWW occurence of the
literal string "inert simulation".

I was inclined to search out a typology of simulations and attempt
to map the various kinds of simulations onto the activities of document
production/reception or semiotic manipulation in general. Not a
superfluoous exercise for those concerned with epistemological
questions as to whether to model text as event, object or environment.

To me the answer matters very little since objects so easily launch
events which are in turn reified, fetishized, liquidated, translated.
Indeed the one 2D depiction of an "inert simulation" (found through the
use of several search engines) bears an uncanny resemblance to a
hybridization of a Walbiri graphic design and an Adrinka stamped
textile. This view of an inert simulation gives the impression of
topographic eleveations coupled with representations of tiny
vectorized particles. Quite apart from my clumsy ekphrakis which tends
to metaphoric allusion, the intertextuality set up between the use of
the key phrase "inert simulation" in a Humanist posting and its use in
an other document arises from interactivity. [And the non-citation
here of the URL ofthat other document sets up other interactive

Now this sense of interactivity is not the haptic-privileging
interactivity of the Pygmalian sort reported in the McCarty precis of
the Hall review of the ABRACADABRA exhibit. No, it is a far more
magical interactivity than mimesis a la 3D. For to take Lippman's
dialogue-based definition of interactivity from Stewart Brand's
book _The Media Lab_ and transpose it slightly is to arrive at an
understanding of interactivity as the creation or the discovery of
intratextual portals to intertextuality. Now that's a leap to decode
[I've made a note to check the Humanist archive for references to

Portals for mortals... interesting that Abracadabra is explained in
certain quarters as a palindromic corruption of "open cadaver"
....stimulating the inert.

Interactivity requires memory --- holding two sides of a portal in
some mental dimension that is neither the before there or the here
after. It is fortuitous that I choose to remember that the phrase
"inert simulation" was modified in your posting by a possessive
pronoun "its" with as antecedent "living intelligence" if the
arrangement were to be abstracted it would translate your question of
what is to be done into a very Ovidian issue concerning the relation
between possessor and possessed. And as you know the "gap between"
permits others to pass with prepossession.

Ever intrigued by moderately blocked provocative gaps,


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