The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


Might be of interest here - Alan

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 16:03:28 -0400
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim@PANIX.COM>
Reply-To: UB Poetics discussion group <POETICS@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU>
To: POETICS@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Re: The Meaninglessness of Meaninglessness

One thing of interest here - at least for me it touches on the methodology
I'll employ at times - is Eliza and the ability to rework Eliza. Eliza is
available in emacs (under 'doctor'), and it's possible to go into the
doctor program itself, and alter things - I rewrote it as a Nikuko text -
which I then used as a catalyst for producing work and answers in relation
to a litany of seduction that was the final result. Chance operations,
expert programs, are there for the modification/transformation - a MOO is
of course the best-known example of that. And all of this is tremendously
exciting - the ability to take a world and remake it, to create a
dialectic between one's own desires and interests, and what the machinic
is bringing to life. The conflict or coherence that results becomes part
and parcel of the content; it's neither one way nor another.

The same goes for chance operations - the julu/julua/parent/etc. perl
scripts I use as catalysts for writing on occasion all have vocabulary
which I can change - even create a work within the vocabulary itself. This
modification leads to a similar dialectic. Even awk scripts can be used in
this way - I can write a text in which each line is a letter or dipthong
substitute, for example, then begin with a shorter ur-text that organizes
the other.

None of this means that the result has to be final, unless there is a
reason, aesthetic or philosophical, to give the result up to the machine.
But it provides a way to see in/through/ structure, to accommodate and
critique structure, to even create a political economy of structure (as
the 'character essay' pieces I make, do - since each word + its punctua-
tion is used only once).

The world is violent, extraordinary, filled with wonder, noisy, ahd
chaotic (both in the strict senses of the terms); working with these
elements is, in part, an attempt to make, proclaim, enunciate, meaning and
a sememe within forces that are somewhat beyond our control.

To answer another question - the philosophy of publishing daily - this is
a philosophy of distribution; the writing is done online, using online
programs that I write or modify; I write in a shell account, which means
there are up to a hundred other users on the same machine - I can see what
they're doing - and the distribution, like the production, is naturally
electronic. Rightly or wrongly, I also see my work as central to the
subject - Poetics - of this list; for example, the MOO piece sent out the
day before yesterday with the result of interacting with three MOOs in
turn - on two of them, I was Nikuko, and on one, Alan - and so the dialog
spread across domains and worlds. And in the other piece, the same day,
the one dealing with mutilation - I did a series of "greps" on my entire
body of work - all of the online texts I've written since 1994 - and
pulled out the lines with "mutilat" in them; these lines were then
arranged and modified in accordance with current politics, which are a
horror that must be stopped at any cost. And this way of working - harves-
ting previous work, looking for patterns, etc. - is similar to a kind of
dream interpretation - reading through a huge mind-storm of material,
finding the thinking-structures, topic-based, analyzing them, working with
them, opening them up once again. This harvesting is entirely computer-
dependent; what I did would take a week to do manually, for example.

All of this - moving among virtual worlds, distributing on the fly,
harvesting the work of previous writing - seems to me highly germane to
the topics of this list - collusions among distribution systems,
protocols, computers, programs, routers, bodies of previously-written
work, online virtual worlds, etc. -

- Alan, wandering

Work at http://www.anu.edu.au/english/internet_txt
Older at http://lists.village.virginia.edu/~spoons/internet_txt.html
Trace Projects at http://trace.ntu.ac.uk/writers/sondheim/index.htm
CDROM of collected work 1994-2002 available: write sondheim@panix.com

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