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  #11  
Old 04-21-2012, 11:19 PM
Uche Ogbuji Uche Ogbuji is offline
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Originally Posted by W.F. Lantry View Post
Somewhere out there some english major who knows how to code is staring at a screen right now. Her idea of poetry doesn't begin and end with Jabberwocky, a coder favorite. And she doesn't care about the silly pop culture stuff this Bok guy is writing about. She's hard coding for hard lit. And when we see what she's doing, she's going to blow us away with what she can achieve...
I don't care really about all that 20th century whinge, because my attitude is live and let live. People can write all the Dada/Surrealist/whatever crap they like. It's ain't the end of literature or anything because I'm still writing what *I* like, and others are as well.

However, as to your claim above. I call BS. I am a pretty damned good programmer, though I do say so myself. LISP? Sure. I've done AI work in LISP, Smalltalk, Scheme, Prolog, Haskell and more. I've also done a lot of more general-purpose programming in Assembler, C, Objective C, C++, Java, Python, etc. You mention checkers-learning programs. Funny thing. I wrote a program in college to learn how to play checkers using a bit of my own hybrid between genetic algorithms and simulated annealing. You mention what I presume are trigrams and higher nth-order text generators? Yep, I've coded more than my fair share of those as well, and had fun feeding them with text corpora from Prodigy, Usenet, Project Gutenberg, etc. It looks to me as if you've pretty much ticked off the standard list of things that any undergrad with an AI interest has dabbled in. I'd just add Eliza and perhaps a frame-based expert system in a field of the student's interest.

Here's the thing, though: Those are all toys. Computers are nowhere near the slightest glimmer of a prospect of replacing the humanities. Not. Even. Close. Mind you, MacCarthy, Turing, and even taking a step back to von Neumann, all these esteemed and brilliant individuals thought that it was just a matter of a few more MIPS and a bit more core storage here and there before computers would be taking over human creative tasks. They lived to admit just how wrong they were. There is a fundamental quiddity we are missing entirely before such a breakthrough would be possible. I'm not saying it will never happen. We're just cell assembly, and even the most sophisticated assembly can eventually be reverse-engineered. Hey maybe Skynet is indeed on the way. The point, however, is that we're not even close yet, and there is almost certainly no English major with coding skills or Computer scientist with humanities chops sitting at a screen somewhere out there now on the verge of replacing *decent* poets.

Sky ain't falling, so folks should feel free to hate anti-humanistic "writing" as much as they please without being accused of ludditism.
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  #12  
Old 04-22-2012, 12:26 AM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W.F. Lantry View Post

Somewhere out there some english major who knows how to code is staring at a screen right now. Her idea of poetry doesn't begin and end with Jabberwocky, a coder favorite. And she doesn't care about the silly pop culture stuff this Bok guy is writing about. She's hard coding for hard lit. And when we see what she's doing, she's going to blow us away with what she can achieve...
But, hey, why stop there, Bill? With the ability to accomplish what you describe, it would be a cinch to develop related software, aimed at taking over and maximizing the submission and publication process. Set up a data base of all known literary journals and their acceptance tendencies, establish an initial screening system to aim at, say, the easier-to-sell second tier for starters - new Bosnian publications, that kind of thing - possibly even introduce a feedback loop so that editor requests for modifications are automatically satisfied, establish your targeting parameters properly so that the right poems are submitted to the right journals, and you're set! Poems can be automatically generated and submitted, leaving poets free to do the fun stuff, like jabbing at each other on internet Forums. If they wish to. (This note, for example was produced by my new WiseAss Mark IV Geezertronic program. The data base and algorithms are so sophisticated that all I had to do was type in your name and a link to the thread.)
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:28 AM
Vernon Sims Vernon Sims is offline
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Originally Posted by R. Nemo Hill View Post
Still and all, it is an interesting experiment to place the ego only on the receiving end, only as the audience. No one is saying this replaces any other kind of work--it's just another angle of investigation.

Nemo
I agree, however.

; The end result is one of two things

conceptual literature or flattery.
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  #14  
Old 04-22-2012, 02:45 PM
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W.F. Lantry W.F. Lantry is offline
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Uche,

I respect your position. Who can forget the euphoria, and subsequent disappointment, over advances in AI? In spite of those setbacks, I still have an optimistic view. I guess we'll find out. By the way, did you catch the Tupac concert the other night?

Michael, thanks for your kind words. Interesting sidenote: I recently discovered some new categories one can add to one's google news page. There's even one which will give you lots of news concerning poets and poetry. There's also a literature news section, art, contemporary art, too many to list. Let me know if you need some assistance tweaking your settings. That's a nice webpage you put up for your book, by the way...

Best,

Bill
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  #15  
Old 04-22-2012, 05:38 PM
Pedro Poitevin Pedro Poitevin is offline
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I like the guy. Hey, look at this tweet of his, in which he links to a little sonnet I wrote. I posted on the Sphere some time ago, but many here thought it sounded cranky. I'm glad Christian saw the humor in it. It's an homage!

Pedro.

Last edited by Pedro Poitevin; 04-22-2012 at 07:28 PM.
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  #16  
Old 04-22-2012, 06:17 PM
Janice D. Soderling Janice D. Soderling is offline
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That is a real sonnet, Pedro. How can one not like it?
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  #17  
Old 04-23-2012, 09:57 AM
G. M. Palmer G. M. Palmer is offline
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I thought "ego-less surrealism" juxtaposed with Bok was awfully funny.

Uche,

Thanks for your perspective. Perhaps it's just confirmation bias but I enjoy hearing someone else who doesn't think that magic people bots are on the horizon. I don't even think they're in the gravity well.

Bok, et al exist because they've tapped into the money well of poetry--that is, teaching and speaking engagements. They get them because they're good looking, well-dressed, and well-spoken--not because they're great writers. But this is (to an extent) what happens when a group of poets becomes insulated but still retains patronage--introverted, impossible verse.
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  #18  
Old 04-23-2012, 10:22 AM
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Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is online now
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I wonder have many here have actually read Eunoia. It's a fantastic work and definitely formalist -- more constraints than a sonnet, certainly. I've met Bok and he's very nice and told me I had great style, so I suppose I'm biased. Here's an excerpt from Eunoia's A chapter:

Hassan can watch can-can gals cha-cha-cha, as brass bands blat jazz razzmatazz (what a class act). Rapt fans at a bandstand can watch jazzbands that scat a waltz and a samba. Fans clap as a fat-cat jazzman and a bad-ass bassman blab gangsta rap -- a gangland fad that attacks what Brahms and Franck call art: a Balkan czardas, a Tartar tandava (sarabands that can charm a saltant chap at a danza). Bach can craft a Catalan sardana that attracts l'Afghan chantant a l'amant dansant. A sax drawls tantaras (all A-flats and an A-sharp): fa-la-la-la-la.

You'd have to be deaf to not hear all the internal rhymes and shifting rhythms word play. And it's far too ridiculous and funny ("that attacks what Brahms and Franck call art" takes jabs at all the people dismissing Bok's work) to be "introverted, impossible verse" to quote a critic below.
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  #19  
Old 04-23-2012, 10:30 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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No one has to write a sonnet ever again. Those who do it do it because they like it. No one has to read a sonnet ever again. Those who do it do it because they like it. Some enjoy reading conceptual constructs and some enjoy reading sonnets. I don't foresee that changing in the future, but probably the ones who like sonnets are less likely to enjoy conceptual poetry and vice versa. Trying to persuade one side to like its opposite is just counterproductive. I don't rule out that there may be some who can get equal pleasure from both. I just think they are rare.

Susan
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  #20  
Old 04-23-2012, 10:36 AM
G. M. Palmer G. M. Palmer is offline
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And Bok called me a troll in print, so I suppose there's bias there, too.

At any rate,

Hassan can watch can-can gals cha-cha-cha, as brass bands blat jazz razzmatazz (what a class act). Rapt fans at a bandstand can watch jazzbands that scat a waltz and a samba. Fans clap as a fat-cat jazzman and a bad-ass bassman blab gangsta rap -- a gangland fad that attacks what Brahms and Franck call art: a Balkan czardas, a Tartar tandava (sarabands that can charm a saltant chap at a danza). Bach can craft a Catalan sardana that attracts l'Afghan chantant a l'amant dansant. A sax drawls tantaras (all A-flats and an A-sharp): fa-la-la-la-la.

Is nothing not done by Joyce or Stein. The problem with the avant-garde (unlike, say, a sonnet) is that once it's been done then it's instantly boring; everything is derivative. A sonnet you can come back to and make it your own--you can make it new.
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