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Humanist Archives: Dec. 11, 2019, 8:47 a.m. Humanist 33.477 - error-handling, failure & simplification

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 477.
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    [1]    From: Dr. Herbert Wender 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.474: error-handling (57)

    [2]    From: Bill Benzon 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.472: failure & simplification (60)

        Date: 2019-12-10 22:58:20+00:00
        From: Dr. Herbert Wender 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.474: error-handling

Thanks for adding further examples, especially the musical ones. I think on such
'noise' in 'Revolution number nine'; Wikipedia explains this play with media
technique as follows:

"Backmasking is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded
backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. Backmasking is a
deliberate process, whereas a message found through phonetic reversal may be

The divide intentional / unintentional - with the complication of
the Beckett/Joyce case when an unintended change is remarked and ex post accepted
- is leading me back to my thought about editorial decision theory. And trying to
span a bridge to the initial thread on right /wrong: My assumption is that in
editorial practice we could qualify decisions as right or wrong only in such
cases where undoubtable evidence would qualify a statement about intentionality
resp. acceptance as true or false. The most interesting cases surely are those
qualifiying 'undecidable'. Then it seems to be a question of taste whether you
will follow the reasoning of one or another editor.

For those involved in german language studies:

Cf.R. Nutt-Kofoth: 'Leid' oder 'Lied' oder Was ist Goethes 'Faust'?
Zum Verhältnis von Textkritik und Interpretation aus Anlass
jüngerer Faust Ausgaben. In: JbFDH 2009, p. 147-158.

-----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung-----
Verschickt: Di, 10. Dez 2019 10:26
Betreff: [Humanist] 33.474: error-handling

  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 474.

  Date: 2019-12-09 13:38:13+00:00
  From: Francois Lachance 
  Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.469: error-handling

With the added examples, one can think of a typology of sorts and
re-orient the approach to the phenomena in terms of the practice of
introducing noise.

Aleatory: the example of Beckett transcribing Joyce and including the
extra-textual aside

Planned: the case of Maged Zaher's "un-translation" in _the consequences
of my body_ ; Kurt Schwitters _Ur Sonnate_ (?)

Aleatory-Planned: the work of the American poet Jackson Mac Low ; some of
the compositions, both musical and verbal, of John Cage; others in other

These can be considered as a vectors for the introduction of noise. Of
course "noise" itself is a contested term in the arts.

        Date: 2019-12-09 15:12:37+00:00
        From: Bill Benzon 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.472: failure & simplification

Comments below.

>        Date: 2019-12-09 01:08:20+00:00
>        From: Jim Rovira 
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.467: failure & simplification
> I think Willard's genius consists in asking the best questions. C. M.
> Sperberg-McQueen's recent response to Willard's question about
> simplification has led my own thinking along these lines:


> My own belief is that the reality of most matters is infinitely complex,
> especially naturally occurring matters, so all levels of pattern
> recognition are simplifications. They only become "oversimplifications"
> when the kind of pattern recognition that we engage in leaves out
> significant meaningful detail *for our current purposes*. In other words,
> the question about simplification only applies to specific tasks or queries
> performed on the matter at hand. Are we oversimplifying *for the kind of
> information we want? *

Yes. The simplification starts, if you will, with our sensory systems. Vision is
limited to a certain range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Other animals have
access to different frequency bands. Same with hearing, and so forth. The
sensorium has of course been tuned though 10s of millions of years of evolution
to be sensitive to a sufficiently useful range of stimuli. And so it goes with
upstream processing of those stimuli. We construct our world, but not in an
arbitrary and haphazard manner.

> Now let me explore another avenue too briefly: suppose would could
> completely replicate a natural system in all of its complexity at all
> levels: say, completely manufacture a blade of grass from the subatomic
> level up? What would we have gained? I think that exercise would only
> demonstrate our mastery of the knowledge that we've already attained. Our
> real learning would take place over the course of numerous failed attempts.
> That's where I see the attempts to replicate a human brain going: we will
> never succeed. It is I think ridiculous to think we ever could. But I think
> what we learn through our failures might be instructive. And who knows? We
> may produce something useful in the end. It won't be a human brain, or even
> anything approaching one, but it might be something else we hadn't
> considered until we tried.

Yes. There's been a whole range of efforts since the 1950s to model the mind
by computational means, whether through the construction of computer systems of
one kind or another, or through the creation of mathematical and quasi-
mathematical models that are tested against experimental observation. Much/most
of that is garbage, but some is not. Of course, there is little agreement on
just what is not.

Bill Benzon



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