14.0785 creative interventions

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Sat Apr 07 2001 - 04:34:43 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 785.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2001 09:21:18 +0100
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: electron is to s p a n


    I was pondering the possible ratios that might emerge from your recent
    musings sprung from Ian Hacking's distinctions between theory and
    experiment. I found myself spinning with

            electron : ?
            experiment : theory

    Of course, you asked what types of mental objects in the humanities act in
    a parallel fashion to the electron in science.

    I ask this because I came across a passage in Rawdom Wilson's _In
    Palamedes Shadow: Exploration in Play, Game and Narrative Theory_ which
    leads me to question just how the passage from theory to experiment works
    in the humanities.

    In the absence of conviction with regard to the sufficiency of language to
    represent the world (and both authenticity and reference having been
    demystified), all that remains (though this is already much) is play:
    "Play's autonomy promises, if faintly, the possibility of creating a
    necessary order in the midst of absurd fallennes." (p 112)

    Wilson is quoting from Allen Thiher, _Words in Reflection: Modern Language
    Theory in Postmodern Fiction (1984 p. 156)

    Would it be fair to consider the theorizing of humanists as leading less
    to experiment and more to game? Would those electrons you seek be glass
    beads? Simple counters in a relay of moves? "span" is a set of such
    counters (at least two are needed to mark a span-like container). I sense
    your theme of primitives begins to ressemble the theme of diectics. There
    is something quite akin to physics in the content modeling and
    intertextual mappings that humanists produce on quite the gamut of
    cultural artefacts. Would map creation and content modelling be in the
    category of "experiment" or do they belong to the domain of theory?

    The strength of humanities computing may very well be in its ability to
    engage in collective theorizing via the pragmatic questions of
    producing, circulating and analyzing digital constructions. And preserving
    them too!

    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
           some threads tangle in tassles, others form the weft

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