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Anatman, Pumpkin Seed, Algorithm

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the not-your-ordinary-next-door-neighbor dept.

Books 124

Dylan Harris writes "I love writing software, and I enjoy reading other people's source -- how they've expressed instructions, the subtle differences when two good programmers use the same language for the same task. Then there's the pleasure of working through a new computer language: how its structure, its form, changes the way a problem is approached, a solution is expressed. Strange as it may seem, I get the same pleasure from reading poetry, but more so. Seeing a poem written in an old familiar form, say a sonnet, is like meeting someone else's code in a language I know. New poems in new forms are new programs in new languages; exciting ideas renewed, refreshed, expressed in different ways." Read on for Dylan's review of a collection from Loss Pequeno Glazier which combines these worlds of expression.

I can get put off by a lot of avant-garde poetry's excess use of strange words. Take Glazier's newly published first collection Anatman, Pumpkin Seed, Algorithm. He's succumbed to the usual academic habit of filling his poems with obscure incomprehensibility, like http, chmod, EMACS ... hang on a second, I know these words. They're not literary jargon, they're software babble, the words I work with. If there isn't a schadenfreude sense of humour behind this chap's use of computer terminology in his poetry, there damn well ought to be. I love the image I get of poetry literati, finding poems stuffed with precision from a different kind of language professional, muttering "what the &hellip?"

Look, don't get me wrong, this collection isn't easy. The poems, mostly prose poems, are impressions, sequences of events, themed associations, riddled with puns (sharper than that), observation and humour. Imagine yourself a tourist, walking down a Mexican / Cuban / Texan / Costa Rican town's main street, staring at the activity, the buildings, the air, everything a slap of newness. Now realise I was snug in an English pub on a cold November night drinking some rather good warm beer, reading "Semilla de Calabaza (Pumpkin Seed)," the central sequence of this collection. I'm guided by Glazier, I'm the gawping tourist, I'm hit by his local knowledge, I'm a stranger but I know this town, I'm the visitor and I've lived here forever.

I'd better give you some samples of his work. It's not so easy, each poem is a long whole; chopping bits out destroys the context, much of the expression. Remember, too, I enjoy new ways of saying old things. Perhaps you'll see this collection's appeal to me from this chunk of the fifth "White-Faced Bromeliards on 20 Hectares (An Iteration)":

Finding a pumpkin seed in your vocabulary. A dead tree becomes

a bromeliad alter. Policia Rural. Brahmin cattle. Los Angeles,
Costa Rica's fresh furrows against smoky ridge. Banana chips on
the bus. Una casada, comida tipica lava gushing glowing twilight
plumes & sputters. Before sunset, bathing in a river heated by
lava's flow.

So why on earth am I reviewing a collection of poetry for /. ? As you've probably already sussed, Glazier's a computer chap. He's professor and Director of The Electronic Poetry Center at New York, Buffalo. He knows our not-Unix / Windows wars; they're here in the poetic armoury. It's like having your own private antagonism codified into opera, suddenly there's an aria about DLLs, or caches, and the damn thing works a treat and it damn well shouldn't. It's still his flow of impressions, but now he's taking tourists around our home town, our systems, our neighbourly rows, our familiar world is slapping them with strangeness, they're asking tourist questions, they're got tourist awe, tourist doubts.

From "One Server, One Tablet, and a Diskless Sun":

And what

kind of bugs? Lorca's mystical crickets?
H.D.'s butterflies? Though I think they
must--if the mind does have an eye--be
cockroaches fat, brightly lit, and mightily
glowing. Flying through the mind shaft to
assault any mental indiscretion. Perhaps a
relative of Burroughs introduced this
term. (Stick that in your machine and
add it up!) What vision of mainframe!
What robust modems! What processor
speed!

Some of my worst bugs have embarrassingly been "cockroaches fat, brightly lit, and mightily glowing." I'd better change the subject. It's probably obvious I believe poetry and programming share something vital. As Glazier says, in "Windows 95" (Ironic? You tell me.):

"In a sense code

resembles classical poetry. The requirements of meter (poetry)
and syntax (code) pose both limitations and challenges for the
good poet / programmer to adhere to and overcome in the
process of writing a great poem / program."

The one weakness of this collection, perhaps, cannot be avoided; Glazier's an electronic poet, a web poet; for all his care, the hyperlinks feel like they're still there, hidden and used; the slide-show web pages are unflowing still on paper. Don't get me wrong; these poems work well, but I just get the feeling, which I cannot properly justify, that they're butterflies killed, pinned and collected, fascinating, very beautiful, but their essence is the flittering movement you can never see in a book. But that's not such a problem; you could always browse The Electronic Poetry Center for Glazier's pages.

I didn't know Glazier's work when I bought this collection. It's published by the print-on-demand Australian/UK publisher Salt. I tend to buy their collections simply because they publish them; they seem to have developed the habit of excellence.


You can also purchase Anatman, Pumpkin Seed, Algorithm from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to submit a review for consideration, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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124 comments

yikes (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755361)


I love writing software, and I enjoy reading other people's source

You need to get out more.

Re:yikes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755443)

Keep unnecessary conversation and noises out of the play area Try not to have regular conversations where people playing can hear you. Also, if you are a screaming or make loud noises during play, this may disturb other guests. Some people enjoy the loud moans and groans but many find it disturbing.

Re:yikes (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755560)

No, he needs to get laid.

Re:yikes (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755957)

Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

I have a better chance of being the starting center for the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

Re:yikes (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7756395)

And what the hell are you doing on /.? This is a nerd site, get lost.

Re:yikes (4, Funny)

BornInASmallTown (235371) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756720)

I love writing software, and I enjoy reading other people's source

No, this is just another way of saying he doesn't use Perl. :-)

GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755365)

i have teh gay nigger seed

weeee (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755371)

weeeeeee

FIRST JEWISH POST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755380)

i am a filthy jew

Tacosex (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755381)

Whether you are attending a private sex party or a public club, there are some good manners that should be followed. Obviously these rules will vary for different parties, but here are a few good rules to follow so that you don't become an unwanted guest and never get invited back again.
  • Don't be a sling lizard - In other words, don't get into a sling unless you have a play partner. And if slings are limited, give other people a change to use the sling.
  • Lay down paper towels on the floor before playing to collect any spilled lubrication. You may also want to place a paper towel under the bottoms butt. Wipe off the play area and the bottom completely before leaving the play area. It is the tops responsibility to make sure the lube is wiped off the bottoms butt and that the floor and sling or table is wiped off and clean for the next person.
  • Ask your host what the house rules are This includes where you are allowed to play and what supplies you should bring (I always bring my own lube, beverage, paper towels and other party supplies to private parties). At THE SLING you can bring your own lube or we sell it there. Bring your own beer if desired, we provide sodas, paper towels, gloves, condoms and shower. For all parties it's polite to bring your own towel in case you want to shower
  • Don't just walk up to a play session and join in It's best to try to get some eye contact to see if they want you to join in. It can be very distracting to be in a scene and have somebody just join in especially if you don't want them there.
  • Keep unnecessary conversation and noises out of the play area Try not to have regular conversations where people playing can hear you. Also, if you are a screaming or make loud noises during play, this may disturb other guests. Some people enjoy the loud moans and groans but many find it disturbing.
  • If you move any equipment around return it to the original spot when done For example, if you raise or lower the sling, return it to where it was when you got there. Or if you move a table or chair, return it.
  • Do not share lube. This can lead to the transmission of HIV and other diseases. The cans can become contaminated while playing so it's good to write you name on the jar of crisco or lube.
  • Wash off hands and arms and dick when done playing Preferrably with an antibacterial soap.
  • Don't walk around the party in street clothes or be a gawkerAt most play parties the guys are usually in jocks or chaps so that their butts are exposed
Proper Fisting Technique Photograph [nero-online.org]

Gayest. Slashdot Story. Ever. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755389)

That's right.

Book title in the form of a Slashback headline (5, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755396)

The title of this book is in the form of a Slashback headline. I was confused for a moment.

Do you like taco's ass in a sling? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755413)

Whether you are attending a private sex party or a public club, there are some good manners that should be followed. Obviously these rules will vary for different parties, but here are a few good rules to follow so that you don't become an unwanted guest and never get invited back again.
  • Don't be a sling lizard - In other words, don't get into a sling unless you have a play partner. And if slings are limited, give other people a change to use the sling.
  • Lay down paper towels on the floor before playing to collect any spilled lubrication. You may also want to place a paper towel under the bottoms butt. Wipe off the play area and the bottom completely before leaving the play area. It is the tops responsibility to make sure the lube is wiped off the bottoms butt and that the floor and sling or table is wiped off and clean for the next person.
  • Ask your host what the house rules are This includes where you are allowed to play and what supplies you should bring (I always bring my own lube, beverage, paper towels and other party supplies to private parties). At THE SLING you can bring your own lube or we sell it there. Bring your own beer if desired, we provide sodas, paper towels, gloves, condoms and shower. For all parties it's polite to bring your own towel in case you want to shower
  • Don't just walk up to a play session and join in It's best to try to get some eye contact to see if they want you to join in. It can be very distracting to be in a scene and have somebody just join in especially if you don't want them there.
  • Keep unnecessary conversation and noises out of the play area Try not to have regular conversations where people playing can hear you. Also, if you are a screaming or make loud noises during play, this may disturb other guests. Some people enjoy the loud moans and groans but many find it disturbing.
  • If you move any equipment around return it to the original spot when done For example, if you raise or lower the sling, return it to where it was when you got there. Or if you move a table or chair, return it.
  • Do not share lube. This can lead to the transmission of HIV and other diseases. The cans can become contaminated while playing so it's good to write you name on the jar of crisco or lube.
  • Wash off hands and arms and dick when done playing Preferrably with an antibacterial soap.
  • Don't walk around the party in street clothes or be a gawkerAt most play parties the guys are usually in jocks or chaps so that their butts are exposed
Proper Fisting Technique Photograph [nero-online.org]

Anatman? Sounds like Pittsburghese (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755414)

The local radio station had a super hero named: Anatman

People around here sometimes say: Anat at the end of their sentences, short for and that. Which is the same as: and stuff.

Whatcha do?

I went down to Primani Bros, Ride Aid, anat.

Yinz definately need to learn a new language if you come in our neck of the woods.

Re:Anatman? Sounds like Pittsburghese (4, Insightful)

vandemar (82106) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755599)

Actually, it's the Sanskrit name for the Buddhist doctrine of no-self or no-soul. Atman is the self/soul, and An is the negation of that.

Disclaimer: IANAB (I am not a Buddhist).

That's right (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755991)

Disclaimer: IANAB (I am not a Buddhist).

That's 100% correct. YAADB (you are a Douchebag).

Re:Anatman? Sounds like Pittsburghese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7756032)

Oh the memories from college. You ever go to Chiodos? It's a bar a couple miles east of southside. Hardcore Yinzer bar. I enjoyed myself there, nothing bad ever happend but on more than a couple occasions I ran in to people I couldn't understand.

Re:Anatman? Sounds like Pittsburghese (1)

Raffaello (230287) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756571)

Not prononunced the same.

The "at" in "anat" is pronouced to rhyme with "hat," for example.

The "at" in "anatman" is pronounced to rhyme with the "ot" in "hot." - ahn-OT-mahn

Re:Anatman? Sounds like Pittsburghese (1)

niteware (733910) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756795)

Ahhhhh, Now I really miss Primani Bros. Would go there two/three/four/+ times a week for a grinder. FedX me one

Re:Anatman? Sounds like Pittsburghese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7757113)

Anatman? Damn that's friggen hilarious.

How about Yaknowman?

April 1st is a few months away.... (0, Offtopic)

FraggleMI (117868) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755418)

*ahem*

Re:April 1st is a few months away.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755497)

Ask your host what the house rules are This includes where you are allowed to play and what supplies you should bring (I always bring my own lube, beverage, paper towels and other party supplies to private parties). At THE SLING you can bring your own lube or we sell it there. Bring your own beer if desired, we provide sodas, paper towels, gloves, condoms and shower. For all parties it's polite to bring your own towel in case you want to shower

While I can relate to the topic ... (3, Funny)

dk.r*nger (460754) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755420)

.. This is going to be hard to explain to a cute, blonde Litterature Art student in a bar.

Re:While I can relate to the topic ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755462)

Lay down paper towels on the floor before playing to collect any spilled lubrication. You may also want to place a paper towel under the bottoms butt. Wipe off the play area and the bottom completely before leaving the play area. It is the tops responsibility to make sure the lube is wiped off the bottoms butt and that the floor and sling or table is wiped off and clean for the next person.

Re:While I can relate to the topic ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755529)

Litterature Art student

Is this a branch of sanitation engineering?

There once was a man from Nantucket... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755426)

...and the only thing long about him was his bullshit certification and his spaghetti code.

With apologies to Ogden Nash (5, Funny)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755450)

I think I shall never see
A program as lovely as a tree.
In fact, without a program call
I'll never see a tree at all.

Wrong apologee... (3, Informative)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755496)

You'll want to be sending that apology to Alfred Joyce Kilmer, not Ogden Nash.

Re:Wrong apologee... (1)

JamesOfTheDesert (188356) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755930)

You'll want to be boning up on your irony and meta-cultural references.

Re:Wrong apologee... (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756086)

I must have missed the moment when missattribution became ironic. Damn -- I need to get back to grad school, cause life's jus' a-passin me by...

Re:Wrong apologee... (1)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756203)

Trees by Alfred Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks to God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Ogden Nash, Song of the Open Road:

"I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all."

Yes, it was a parody of the earlier work. No, I do no believe I am guilty of misattribution.

Re:Wrong apologee... (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756302)

Ah -- but my original reply was intended to be ironic. As was my subsequent misspelling of "misattribution". As were my extensive investments in NASDAQ futures in the late 90s...

new order (0)

oldwarrior (463580) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756100)

The author did not get the memo that states everyone must use one language (Java) on one OS (Linux) and use one set of clearly defined designs (patterns). Oh yeah, and it must only come in Black.

What makes UNIX users are so smart (5, Interesting)

SteelX (32194) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755476)

This kind of reminds me of an essay I read many years ago, about UNIX people, literature, and the command-line. Here's a link if you're interested:

The Elements Of Style: UNIX As Literature
by Thomas Scoville
http://www.insecure.org/stf/scoville_unix_as_liter ature.txt [insecure.org]

Re:What makes UNIX users are so smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755659)

SCOville??!!! lets not go there

Re:What makes UNIX users are so smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755684)

IYou say the UNIX hacks are so very good at wordsmything. Why in the hell can't they document their software coherently, completely, and correctly? That way ordinary mortals could understand what they are saying. But no, they start with the assumption that the reader understands all they understand except for the cute little variation on some absurdly named utility they have created. There goal is not to communicate, its to gross out the noncomunicative hacker down the hall.

PS: I started using UNIX in 1983 and learned to make it do what I wanted. I hated every nanosecond of the experience. It had a kernel of a good idea and went steeply down hill from there.

I can make Windows do things with ease that UNIX hackers don't even dream of being able to do.
I make programs that ordinary people can understand, use, and are willing to pay for.

Re:What makes UNIX users are so smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7756205)

If your software is as bad as your English prose I can only hope that I'm not one of your customers.

Re:What makes UNIX users are so smart (1)

wasabii (693236) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756398)

Name one of those things you can do with NT that you can't do with Unix.

Re:What makes UNIX users are so smart (0)

Big_Ass_Spork (446856) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756689)

hmmmm, how about: run Windows apps native?

Re:What makes UNIX users are so smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7757160)

Windows NT can't run UNIX apps native either.

Re:What makes UNIX users are so smart (1)

SteelX (32194) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757519)

Not only are "UNIX hacks" so good at wordsmithing, they're excellent at editing too! For example:

"IYou" ---> "You"

"wordsmything" ---> "wordsmithing" (actually "wordsmithing" isn't really a word).

"Why in the hell" ---> "Why the hell" or "Why in hell"

"There goal" ---> "Their goal"

"its to" ---> "it's to"

"noncomunicative" ---> "non-communicative"

Wow (5, Insightful)

jdifool (678774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755480)

Hi,

I guess the submitter coded too much in his life, because now he is mixing things up.

Coding is about structuring, and poetry too has structures, indeed. This is a shallow comparison. For the whole thing, pardoxically, in poetry, is to give the reader enough freedom to free him(her)self of the structure.

In poetry, structure is a mean, an assurance you take to get free quicker ; in computing, structure is *everything*. Poetry and computing are so different. Computing looks like more architectural works. Definitely coders are not poets ; in that case, they *would* be poets.

Regards,
jdif

Commercial interests limit poetry in code (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755609)

I think your code vs. poetry point is valid, but it doesn't come from some inherent difference in coding, it comes from the marketplace. Most coding is funded. Commercial interests aren't paying for high art. They are paying for pedestrian pragmatism. Easy to understand and maintain, not layered with simile and metaphor. Poets are free to go unread and not understood. Coders won't last long with similar outcomes. When I look at some of those code obfuscation contests, I see more of the branch of coding that produces the pure art of poetry.

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

tomboy17 (696672) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755648)

No no no, poetry has nothing to do with freedom. Poetry predates free verse, and even free verse is not about freedom as much as it is about a newer, more flexible use of older forms (in this sense, free verse is not unlike python).

What makes poetry different from prose is precisely the degree to which structure matters. In poetry, we appreciate accidental bits of syntactic elegance as well as large scale architecture. Loving poetry is precisely about loving the nuance of structure -- loving the way a sonnet fulfills its form, whether by pioneering a totally new approach or simply by implementing an old approach particularly elegantly.

The idea that poetry should give you freedom just doesn't make any sense. Just because there have been radical poets who wrote about freedom does not mean that poetry has an innate capacity to free you any more than code has an innate capacity to help you buy stuff. We just happen to associate poetry with free thinkers at this historical moment (and computers with popup ads).

In either case, an aficionado appreciates the subtleties of form, regardless of whether a poem (or piece of code) is selling hotdogs or making an elaborate fart joke or even helping to "free" you (whatever that means).

tmh

I guess we don't read the same poetry (2, Insightful)

jdifool (678774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755851)

Hi,

this is fun that you are speaking of poetry as represented by the sonnet, because the sonnet was used at a very precise time in history (mainly during the 16th century, with the European Baroques), and then criticizing my post because it is historicized.

I guess that we really didn't understand each other. I'm not saying structure doesn't matter in a poem, but at the contrary, this is useful to get rid of it. Have you ever try to read some kind of experimental poetry, sublime in the words, but lacking even the minimal structure ? This is unreadable. Because we humans need a little structure.

And you will have noticed that poetry progressively relinquished the structure that was before necessary to make humans read it without getting too confused.

I maintain my point, poetry is about freeing you, getting your mind outside the mental structure on which your daily life is based. Speaking of sonnet, I advise you to notice by reading it how much Du Bellay or Agrippa d'Aubigne sonnets will free your mind if you stop focusing on the very structure. Enjoy !

Regards,
jdif

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

Bazzargh (39195) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755763)

Coding is about structuring, and poetry too has structures, indeed.

Now if he'd actually said that, he would have been making a shallow comparison. What he said was, he gets similar pleasure from reading code and poetry. Well, each to his own.

As for your own notions: For the whole thing, pardoxically, in poetry, is to give the reader enough freedom to free him(her)self of the structure.

Well, implying that you know the intent of all poets is a shallow comment too, is it not? Laying aside for a moment that artists are often intent on their art being so nebulous as to avoid trite definitions like the one above, plenty of poems do have structure; some even have metre. If the structure doesn't matter, then why use structure at all? Do changes of metre within a poem mean nothing? Would the poem be changed by expressing it with a different metre?

The answer is obviously yes. And that's what the poster says: New poems in new forms are new programs in new languages; exciting ideas renewed, refreshed, expressed in different ways.. I'm guessing this is what you're referring to when you assume he asserts that all poems are about structure, when all I see is an interest in the structure - or lack of it - in poems.

-Baz

Re:Wow (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755801)

> Coding is about structuring, and poetry too has
> structures, indeed. This is a shallow comparison.

No, it's a shallow analysis. Code has structure and is designed as a structured form of language intended and designed for a certain spectra of expression. Poetry has structure and was developed as a structured form of language intended for a somewhat wider range of expression.

> For the whole thing, pardoxically, in poetry, is
> to give the reader enough freedom to free
> him(her)self of the structure.

Please do not pretend to be a literature Ph.D. when posting on slashdot; that is to say, do not presume to tell us the goals or aims of poetry, especially given that poetry has no agency but that supplied by the poet.

> In poetry, structure is a mean, an assurance you
> take to get free quicker ;

No, in poetry structure is. That's the closest to a true sentance of that form your going to get.

> in computing, structure is *everything*.

Clearly you haven't coded in PERL.

> Poetry and computing are so different.

Perhaps to some people. It depends on ones approach.

> Computing looks like more architectural works.

What a biased statement. Let me guess, you like architecture more than poetry?

> Definitely coders are not poets ; in that case,
> they *would* be poets.

Do not presume to tell us what coders are and are not. You seem to be very fond of pidgeonholing things in order to elaborate on a point that is both incorrect and uninteresting.

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

dilettante (91064) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755895)

I disagree. I think there are clear parallels between poetry and coding (and more tenuously between literature and software systems). I have two arguments for this opinion. The first is that two pieces of code can accomplish the same task, but one may be judged more elegant or beautiful by another coder. This suggests to me that there is a sense of style in code that is in part subjective.


The second argument is that i think both code and poetry more directly reflect the thought of the creator than other forms of language. Shelley said that poetry is "imagining that which we know". Writing code is creating language, but it's also imagining what will happen when that code executes. Basically, i'd say that both poetry and code are very close to thought.

Re:Wow (1)

jdifool (678774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756038)

Hi,

even if we disagree, I thank you for presenting arguments instead of insults.

However, let me discuss your two arguments. First, programming is far less extensible than poetry. With poetry you dont have to put that ; that at each end of your line. With computing you can't do what I just did with words (so crappy, whatever) in my last sentence.

I agree with your second argument. Code obviously reflects the personnality of the one who wrote it. But still this is not enough, in my opinion. Have you ever tried to make programs like that [classes.bnf.fr] ?

Regards,
jdif

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

CTachyon (412849) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756390)

C is heroic couplets. Java is blank verse. Perl is rhymed couplets. LISP is a haiku. Assembly is free verse. COBOL, of course, is a disaster.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7756474)

I agree with your second argument. Code obviously reflects the personnality of the one who wrote it. But still this is not enough, in my opinion. Have you ever tried to make programs like that ? Not to counter your argument, but you'll have to be a bit more specific to make your point than that. Check out the International Obfuscated C Contest results [ioccc.org] to see some interesting things people do with their code. Some are more visual than others; but I'm sure if you'll browse around a bit, you'll see the problems with your example.

similar, not analogous (1)

rodentia (102779) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757154)

jdifool,

The poster remarked the similarity of poetry to code, particularly that both are formalisms. New forms of poetry are akin to new languages, new works in old forms are like new ideas in familiar contexts.

The distinctions rely on differing relationships to syntactic rigor. What you unfortunately term *extensible* is really a matter of greater freedom: the only interpreter a poem will face is the reader; your code must pass muster with an interpreter whose concern for syntactic and structural detail is unsurpassed. For example, a modernist poet, Marianne Moore, I believe, has adopted a personal convention of declaring simile with the *::* syntax of PERL, long before the first bit was ever flipped. But this idiom does not have the same value, indeed, typically does not occur at all in the work of other poets. It is a personal signifier, rather than a syntactic contract.

It is possible to write a compiler or interpreter to handle any degree of syntactic or structural freedom, but its practical use would be nil. It might make an interesting art project, nevertheless, not unlike the free play of formal requirements Appolinaire exhibits in his picture/poems.

That said, the parallels are real and offer valuable insight, as Glazier's work has demonstrated for some years. But more interesting, perhaps than technical referentiality or verse rigidly structured like code, is the intersection of code and poetry in programs which are haiku generators and the like. In this case, the code embodies some of the requirements of the art form in unique ways. Features are highlighted and made manifest in code which are otherwise merely suggested in the collected body of work in that form.

Ugh, poetry (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755980)

What's the point of a form of communication that has no well defined meaning? If people can debate for years over the meaning of your writing, you're not communicating very effectively. If you have something to say, just say it and don't make me hunt for hidden meanings.

Re:Ugh, poetry (2, Funny)

jdifool (678774) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756283)

At least you make your point clear : you really *are* a programmer :)

Which I'm not (still self-learning,ouch).

Regards,
jdif

Re:Ugh, poetry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7756572)

Hear hear! Not enough explosions or boobies in poetry! For the love of God, don't make me interpret anything for myself!

Point A - Communication only works by convention. Just because you can't understand what people are saying because they're speaking French, doesn't mean they're not communicating effectively. It means you need to shut the fuck up and learn French.

Point B - If people can debate for years over the meaning of a piece of writing, then clearly its meaning is interesting and relevant to those people. Whether or not the meaning is what the author intended is entirely irrelevant; it exists because it can be interpreted in that manner.

Point C - Contrary to what you may think, poets don't sit around saying, "I'm going to make a simple point in the most obfuscated way possible." It's basically the exact opposite, in fact.

Example of a Hatta-approved poem:
War is bad, man.

You'll notice that it might be a bit more effective to make that point if you can evoke some sort of emotion or feeling in the reader.

What actually pisses you off is the fact that poetry uses different conventions than conversational English, and therefore you have to learn something about these conventions to appreciate poetry. Which I don't begrudge you. Just don't bitch to me about "forms of communication" unless you actually understand the problem.

Re:Ugh, poetry (1)

pjack76 (682382) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757105)

What's the point of a form of communication that has no well defined meaning? If people can debate for years over the meaning of your writing, you're not communicating very effectively. If you have something to say, just say it and don't make me hunt for hidden meanings.

It can be helpful or even useful to communicate something that has no well defined meaning. Human emotions tend to fall into that category. Love means different things to different people; my love poem is going to seem vague and abstract to you, but to me it makes perfect sense. And hopefully it will make sense to the person I give it to.

Haven't you ever done something without knowing why you did it? That's the sort of thing that poetry can capture in a way ordinary language can't.

Re:Wow (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756278)

My experience with poetry has led me to believe that the purpose of poetry is to muddle things that one understands by explaining them a different way in order to see them in a new light.

Coding, on the other hand, appears to be trying to express complicated things in a simplified (universally structured and explained using a small set of concepts) way in order to have them understood even by automatons.

Clarity is sought in coding while confusion is sought with poetry. I would almost say that coding and poetry are opposites.

Re:Wow (1)

r (13067) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756314)

It's curious that no one mentioned the problems of imagery and ambiguity. This is the stuff that feeds poetry; but it poisons programming.

What I mean is - good poetry strives on association, connotation, and ambiguity. First, with linguistic surface features. We can bring about feeling or imagery by only hinting at it. Sometimes we don't even need to hint, but merely picking the right sounds. [1] And this requires an extraordinary amount of intuition about how we read.

And then there are higher-level ambiguities, such as when by deliberately masking elements of the situational frame (who is speaking? to whom are they speaking? what are they speaking about?) we can achieve multiple meanings, which will lead to completely different interpretations of the entire piece.

But this goes completely against the rules governing computers, which require their commands to have absolutely clear semantics. You just can't give the computer ambiguous code; indeed, ambiguous code doesn't exist (except when the ambiguity is in the inexperienced programmer's head; the computer always knows exactly what it means).

--

1. And I don't mean just onomatopoeia. E.g. Ginsberg's "boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow" [216.239.41.104].

Re:Wow (1)

CTachyon (412849) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756440)

I would argue that abstraction is coding's answer to poetic metaphor and ambiguity. By choosing the right abstractions, you can have a large and complex program suddenly snap into place as a smaller, more understandable, and sometimes faster (due to cache locality) replacement. It's like prose becoming poetry by finding the right metaphor.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7756543)

Coding is about structuring

Coding is about clearly describing an algorithm. We typically use structure so that this description is easier to make and less cluttered.

Poetry is about beautiful use of the underlying language. (noting that people can have vastly different definitions of "beautiful") Usually there is some emotion woven in, but that's not critical to the medium. Structure is used here for exactly the same reason, but sometimes also to pry emotions from the brains pattern-expecting habits.

Beautiful code can very well be poetry. Not terribly arousing poetry, but still...

Re:Wow (1)

pjack76 (682382) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756943)

Definitely coders are not poets ; in that case, they *would* be poets.

Some of us are poets, in the literary sense, even. I write both code and poems, and there really are similarities.

First and foremost, all computer programs require metaphor and imagery. We call them "files" -- the word now has a new meaning because of decades of our usage, but somebody, somewhere, originally sat down and thought "How should I organize all of these bits?" and the answer came as a metaphor -- "Oh I'll store them in files, and store the files in directories..."

I can't speak for everyone, but for me, certainly, when I'm messing around with, say, a dictionary object, there is something visual going on in my mind. The word dictionary implies a whole host of associations that make it easier to grasp what the thing does. This is especially true at higher levels of abstraction (especially when get to the "Desktop" level, where visual cues become important goals in themselves).

Moreover, finding the right balance of reuse vs readability, deciding where to put the comments to clarify what's going on, deciding how to indent that long line -- these are all skills the poet uses as well.

Both code and poetry are ways to express things. It's just that the things you're expressing are obviously going to be different in the two mediums.

The major difference IMHO is that a computer programmer doesn't worry about the way the code sounds. Poets have to bother with the aural element too.

An ode to Glazier (3, Interesting)

agslashdot (574098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755506)

My brain's hard drive spins on its axis,
anti clock wise.
Penetrating poetry pokes my peripheral vision
like a fully charged capacitor on a hot summer day
My eyes glaze over Glazier's prose
His profound instructions verbose
in machine language, almost
optimized for O(1) execution on a fast Althon
crippled by the superslow multitasking windows OS,
Yet, continue to register their keys,
in my hashtable of memories.

Smooth Jive, Daddio (5, Funny)

illuminata (668963) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755528)

Bah, this poetry stuff isn't hard. I'll give you one.

Programmer's Solitude
by illuminata

Cold, snow
winter breeze blow
at home desk, sorrow.

No love comes to the programmer
no matter how good his code.
Internally crumbling
about to implode.

Couples happy
streets alive.
Not the programmer
dead inside.

The right hand is warm
but dangerous.
For that hand prevents love.
But in return, gives instant gratification.

Why not?
Never very attractive
no female attention
only apprehension.

On a lonely winter's day
do not approach the programmer.
You know where that hand has been.
And the programmer never works all day.

Helpful, if circular ratings=helpful, if circular (2, Insightful)

OgdEnigmaX (535667) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755540)

rating: bloody good if you like the stuff


So your evaluation is "only you can evaluate it?" My enjoyment of the book will be proportional to my enjoyment of the book! Thanks!

Re:Helpful, if circular ratings=helpful, if circul (1)

MichiganDan (720608) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756116)

No. What he said was

If Like_this_genre=TRUE
Then
Like_this_book:=TRUE
Else
Like_this_book:=FALSE

Not

If Like_this_book=TRUE
Then
Like_this_book:=TRUE
E lse
End

"The stuff" is used as a colloquialism in place of "the genre." It was not used to mean "this book."

Re:Helpful, if circular ratings=helpful, if circul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7756507)


Can't parse.

What language is that?

If interpreted, please provide name of interpretor excetuable on the first line preceded by a `#'.

Thank you.

Interesting title... (1)

Bagels (676159) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755579)

The three-item format of the title reminds me strongly of the format used by Haruki Murakami in "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" - every other chapter, the chapter's title would have a three-phrase structure - some examples would be "Elevator, Silence, Overweight," and "Appetite, Disappointment, Leningrad."

Vogon vibe (3, Interesting)

OgdEnigmaX (535667) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755588)

While I do like poetry and such, I'm getting a uncomfortably Vogon vibe from this guy's stuff. For the unwashed heathens among us, the following is taken from Douglas Adams' _The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy_:

Oh freddled gruntbuggly
Thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,
See if I don't!


Honestly, if you, in the spirit of semirandom recombination that seems to characterize a good deal of Glazier's work, take the nonsense words and add in random techno-jargon, you'd get a very Glazier-y and equally unsatisfying verse. Jargon-wielding for what appears to be its own sake doesn't make for nerd-digestible poetry. So yes, while I applaud the experimental nature of some of his stuff, I don't much like it.

right (1)

rodentia (102779) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757304)

I don't much care for Glazier either, for similar complaints. But DAdams is ripping a familiar form in English, the parody of poetic forms using neologisms, invented words.

Lewis Carroll:

Jabberwocky

' Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jub-jub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch.

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxsome foe he sought -
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack.
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms my beamish boy
Oh frabjous day! Calooh! Calley!
He chortled in his joy

' Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Eh? (1)

transient (232842) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755656)

Can someone please explain to me where this comparison between code and poetry began? It makes absolutely no sense to me. I've never understood the notion that code is art. Creative, sure... but art?

Ahhh, home!! (3, Interesting)

CharAznable (702598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755675)

Finding a pumpkin seed in your vocabulary. A dead tree becomes a bromeliad alter. Policia Rural. Brahmin cattle. Los Angeles, Costa Rica's fresh furrows against smoky ridge. Banana chips on the bus. Una casada, comida tipica lava gushing glowing twilight plumes & sputters. Before sunset, bathing in a river heated by lava's flow. Ahhh, home!! Can't wait to have some casado and banana chips..

hmm... (0)

ryen (684684) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755691)

I love writing software, and I enjoy reading other people's source
You must work for SCO.

Ode to SCO (5, Funny)

Coyote (9900) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756083)



main(once, was)
{
a = unix_owner;
who(pulled, a, PR_BONER) {
they->staked_out[some_claims && called(ppl_names)];
}
but_everyone_knew(darl, was, a, stoner);
}

/* all rights reserved, SCO Software, Poetry, Music and Literary Group */

/* method of using black text on white background is trade secret, patent pending */

A Good Analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755735)

Poetry is to code as prose is to hippopotamus.

To all that think this articles poop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755737)

...at least it's not a fucking dupe.

I'm sorry, but (0)

Throat constant (727976) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755767)

I'll stick to Lorca.


"Careful! Be careful! Be careful!

The men who still have marks of the claw and thunderstorm,

and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention

of the bridge,"

-Federico Garcia Lorca. Excerpt from the City That Does Not Sleep as translated by Robert Bly.

In that beautiful excerpt, he's obviously talking about people who use h4x0r 5p34k (men) and the typical AOL user (boy).

Poetry is Like Code? (1)

jetkust (596906) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755771)

Yea, but would you want your local nuclear power plant running off some old japanese nantucket haiku jingle? Yea, I didn't think so.

IDEA!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755814)

If you make that kind of comparison, can we patent poem ideas?

More poetry... (4, Interesting)

ZephyrTheBreeze (532880) | more than 10 years ago | (#7755864)

<>!*''#
^@`$$-
*!'$_
%*<>#4
&)../
{~|**SYSTEM HALTED

waka waka bang splat tick tick hash
carat at back-tick dollar dollar dash
splat bang tick dollar underscore
percent splat waka waka number four
ampersand right-paren dot dot slash
curly bracket tilde pipe splat splat crash

Taken from the 1337/poetry [berkeley.edu] section of william wu's site [berkeley.edu]

read it out loud (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755950)

While I'm not familiar with 'Anatman, Pumpkin Seed, Algorithm', I have read much of Glazier's work. His writing can be difficult to parse, but to see/hear Loss read from his own work is quite inspiring.

Often the text he performs will be projected on a screen behind him. In 'Bromeliads' or 'Vis Etudes' for example, where the text modulates mid-sentence, or where there is no established syntax for sequencing each node, the activity of reading becomes obvious - even a little exciting.

It's great to see Glazier get a little attention. If you enjoy the writing even a little bit, try to catch him at a reading.

Poetry==Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7755981)

If you mean that both are an incoherent mess of severely misguided gibberish, then yes, code IS like poetry.

mmm (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756012)

Some of my worst bugs have embarrassingly been "cockroaches fat, brightly lit, and mightily glowing." I'd better change the subject.

Man I could sure go for a fat glowing roach right now.

why is this even here (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7756058)

It is stupid.

Avant-Guard poetry? (1)

WayneConrad (312222) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756072)

Words, related by concepts hidden
Only author knows their meaning:
A shiny toaster, cherry tree,
IBM 360, PIC, my little sister's doll house.
Perhaps too stupid, me.
But perhaps words beyond comprehension,
certainly beyond communication.

Fruitcake (0)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756202)

This guy's description of reading code is just a litte too fruity. Bet he wanders around coin-op laundries sniffing other people's underwear.

code poetry in abundance (1)

wilfriedhoujebek (592002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7756287)

there are lot's of writers/coders interested in merging literature with programming languages. Stuff that usually goes way more extreme then this. or to quote a star of the genre who goes by the name of lo_y:

"[Tr-s]
Hut=0-Ignamb=So\OGSTARY\832T
R-0-r-io= ID
_RSH.wap=Y
[S]ID=10dB=f
Nve Scie=i
E=0,100=,
[01]InfoI=n
MPOn=e
5=Bl=se
= [Yes]ID==2 ,0-DIR=C:\
Ud.t+P=el=
Item4=BO=St-
M.cesIt=Rig
==Pla
D=te"

have a look at this lill' overview of this genre with links to more...

http://socialfiction.org/als_daneng.html

Some favorite technology poems: (1)

wunderhorn1 (114559) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757060)

Charles Bukowski
from You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense, 1986, p 103

16-Bit Intel 8088 Chip

with an Apple Macintosh
you can't run Radio Shack programs
in its disc drive.
nor can a Commodore 64
drive read a file
you have created on an
IBM Personal Computer.
both Kaypro and Osborne computers use
the CP/M operating system
but can't read each other's
handwriting
for they format (write
on) discs in different
ways.
the Tandy 2000 runs MS-DOS but
can't use most programs produced for
the IBM Personal Computer
unless certain
bits and bytes are
altered
but the wind still blows over
Savannah
and in the Spring
the turkey buzzard struts and
flounces before his
hens.

==

Richard Brautigan
from The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, 1968

At the California Institute of Technology

I don't care how God-damn smart
these guys are: I'm bored.

It's been raining like hell all day long
and there's nothing to do.

Written January 24, 1967
while poet-in-residence at
the California Institute of
Technology.

==

Ah, sonnets (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757138)

As The Bard himself put it:

If (Rnd(1) >= 0.5) then

If (thee >= summer's_day) then
thou = (more_lovely AND more_temperate)
Endif
Endif

(...stand by for the code nazis...)

Kurbis Kernol (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757294)

Sorry, thought the USians had come to their senses and had found the superior oil for salads. However I see they still wallow in their ignorance. 'tis a shame....

Writing software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7757467)

Well, I don't enjoy it. But, I'm still better at it than you.

Ode to QuickSort (1)

OoSpaceoO (258972) | more than 10 years ago | (#7757536)

Hey could you write me a beautiful poem about quicksort in c++ and get it to me before 5:00 pm tomorrow?

America needs Private Eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7757598)

I get the same pleasure from reading poetry, but more so. Seeing a poem written in an old familiar form, say a sonnet, is like meeting someone else's code (continued on p94)

This belongs in Pseuds' Corner.
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