The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

February 9, 2004

A few notes on codework for an upcoming
talk -

A difficulty I have with codework discussions - codework is usually taken
as pseudo-code or broken or dysfunctional code somehow pasted onto or into
a work - as if that would give the work credence, legitimize the text as
literature etc. But nothing is farther from the truth. (Mez for example
isn't broken code but displacement/insertion techniques - shifters,
slippages, of language that are semantically marked.)

In general -

please note it is not the code that is broken - but the interiorities of
more or less traditional semantic worlds - sememes as well (in other
words, distortions of world-making).

what is code in the first place ? - obviously it can either be a PROGRAM
which PRODUCES a residue - or it can be a CARRIER of meaning. this depends
on the semiotic encodings as well as the PERFORMATIVITIES at work. a code
may or may perform - in the sense that it may or may not create a result
that one might characterize ontologically and/or epistemologically as AN

again - think of code - in the sense of morse code - as a _mapping_
between two or more strata. think of code - in the sense of programming -
as a _performative_ between one stratum (that of base more or less
sequentially accessed) and another (that of residue or results which may
or may not appear dynamic or interactive). (see Eco, Theory of Semiotics.)

the POLITICAL economy of a text, performative, or performance in relation
to the OTHER that appears.


0 Texts which problematize the relationships among language, subjectivity,
symbol, meaning, body, organism - texts which take nothing for granted.

1 Texts which are literally performative.

2 Texts which are program output. Here we might distinguish between texts
which are sutured in relation to the _standard text_ - and texts whose
content and form clearly reflects both programming and program

3 Texts which in part present the programs or controls that have created
the remainder - for example a text which might include k:1 banner as part
of the content - an ascii banner.

4 Texts which are clearly modified in their entirety - for example vowel
substitutions, formations using awk, grep, sed, tr, etc.

5 Texts which present a _history_ or series of operations - texts which
appear to require reconstitution or recuperation - these may or may not be
accompanied by their _history of transformations._

6 Likewise texts which are incapable of such reconstitution or

7 Texts with content 'picked up' and placed against other content (for
example spam text interspersed with other text) in order to expand or
render a sememe problematic.

8 Texts which rely on and relay through distributivities such as SMS,
email lists, IRC, etc., as a means of dispersion, engagement,
intervention, political or other action, etc. And texts which report back
on these texts.

9 Texts working from MOOs, MOO language, MUDs, and so forth - texts
generated in chatrooms with one, some, or all characters under the control
of the 'author' or 'author-collaborators.'

10 Texts which are reportage from commands, such as traceroute or dig or
@lastlog or Kismet output - texts which examine the network and its

11 Traditional texts, traditionally-written texts which report on other
texts, other codeworks, which mimic codeworks, and so forth.

12 Not to mention all those aleatoric texts, stochastic or chaotic texts
or imagery, multi-media codeworks, generative works, generative works fed
into themselves (resonance-work), specialized editors which refuse the


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