Author Topic: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?  (Read 14353 times)

Jenne

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #75 on: May 30, 2009, 04:47:21 pm »
True, burns, most of the "nonsense" in the poem isn't actual semantically empty nonsense words but reappropriations (misappropriations?) of existing words. (Not only through portmanteaus, also some words being used in the wrong category, like a noun being turned into an adverb... Too lazy to check for precise examples atm.)

Made up hybrids of known words--they actually use Jabberwocky in basic ling classes (or did in the 90's) to show how pidgins can be created.  Even though a pidgin is a hybrid of two langauges, this poem is a simple way to introduce that concept to those who don't know a pidgin or (as is common, unfortunately in American education) another language.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 04:51:04 pm by Jenne »

Jenne

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #76 on: May 30, 2009, 04:50:17 pm »
i want to add that i think what might make nonsense of the annoying kind different from the more creative kind is that, like the portmanteau, there is a puzzle to try and decipher what is going on. 

Another example being the Codex Seraphinianus.  People have been trying to 'decipher' it forever but can't figure it out. (apparantly.)  I'm taking the easy way out and interpreting the whole bit as nonsense portrayed as if it's NOT nonsense.  This would be an example of people scrambling for meaning which might not even be there in the first place.  (i could be wrong about that though).

If I understand this correctly, you are saying that you look upon the whole as something that's not intended to be what is actually is--rather uninterpretable--and instead you look at it as having direct cognitive meaning to you.  How do you do this if it has no relevant, recognizable pattern that you can place it into?  I guess I'd have to look at what it is you are talking about to really understand it.

Jenne

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #77 on: May 30, 2009, 04:52:45 pm »
The dadaists. Absurdism. Nonsense.

It is common to think of these things as meaningless, effete gestures at the rational order. Random nonsense is often decried as a masturbatory means of expression, satisfying the communicator but boring the communicatee. Many people have a similar distaste for "modern" art. "Anyone can draw a single dot on a canvas, how is that art?" In part, they are reacting with frustration at their inability to grasp the expression with their rational mind. In this essay I hope to illustrate the intent of much "meaningless" expression.

I don't think that you should lump "modern art" and dadaism together in that manner. Modern art generally takes little or no real effort to produce, whereas Dadaism, (as I understand it), entails a concerted effort to be as bad as possible.

You need to define "bad" here, I believe.  Bad is too prejorative a term and also too simple at the same time.  It suggests a qualitative overextension that makes no real sense when you are talking about the whole of the movement for Dadaism.

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #78 on: May 30, 2009, 07:00:44 pm »
i want to add that i think what might make nonsense of the annoying kind different from the more creative kind is that, like the portmanteau, there is a puzzle to try and decipher what is going on. 

Another example being the Codex Seraphinianus.  People have been trying to 'decipher' it forever but can't figure it out. (apparantly.)  I'm taking the easy way out and interpreting the whole bit as nonsense portrayed as if it's NOT nonsense.  This would be an example of people scrambling for meaning which might not even be there in the first place.  (i could be wrong about that though).

If I understand this correctly, you are saying that you look upon the whole as something that's not intended to be what is actually is--rather uninterpretable--and instead you look at it as having direct cognitive meaning to you.  How do you do this if it has no relevant, recognizable pattern that you can place it into?  I guess I'd have to look at what it is you are talking about to really understand it.

I guess you can relate it to a rorschach blot. The Codex appears to have meaning or significance but there's always that lingering possibility that it's meaningless.  The reader can project upon it what he or she wishes and over analyze it until they're blue but, like alan watts was saying in the link i posted above...perhaps it's really only significant of itself.

The book in question can be found here.  (Props to cptmarginal)

Jenne

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #79 on: May 30, 2009, 07:31:50 pm »
i want to add that i think what might make nonsense of the annoying kind different from the more creative kind is that, like the portmanteau, there is a puzzle to try and decipher what is going on. 

Another example being the Codex Seraphinianus.  People have been trying to 'decipher' it forever but can't figure it out. (apparantly.)  I'm taking the easy way out and interpreting the whole bit as nonsense portrayed as if it's NOT nonsense.  This would be an example of people scrambling for meaning which might not even be there in the first place.  (i could be wrong about that though).

If I understand this correctly, you are saying that you look upon the whole as something that's not intended to be what is actually is--rather uninterpretable--and instead you look at it as having direct cognitive meaning to you.  How do you do this if it has no relevant, recognizable pattern that you can place it into?  I guess I'd have to look at what it is you are talking about to really understand it.

I guess you can relate it to a rorschach blot. The Codex appears to have meaning or significance but there's always that lingering possibility that it's meaningless.  The reader can project upon it what he or she wishes and over analyze it until they're blue but, like alan watts was saying in the link i posted above...perhaps it's really only significant of itself.

The book in question can be found here.  (Props to cptmarginal)

"Meaning" is such a complicated concept...esp in regards to language.  You can link, reference and signify many things about something even through their apparent lack of meaning.

I'll take a look at the Codex when I'm off the clock--thanks, Burnsie!

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #80 on: May 30, 2009, 11:06:11 pm »
Great topic & great comments - thought provoking too.  Can't add too much atm - gotta go in a few.  I'm gonna take a look at some stuff.  Jenne's last comment, "Meaning" is such a complicated concept...esp in regards to language," took me back to my childhood & Humpty Dumpty.

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"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.  "They've a temper, some of them - particularly verbs, they're the proudest - adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs - however, I can manage the whole lot!  Impenetrability!  That's what I say!"

"Would you tell me, please," said Alice, "what that means?"

"Now you talk like a reasonable child," said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased.  "I meant by 'impenetrability' that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you meant to do next, as I suppose you don't intend to stop here all the rest of your life."

"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

"When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

"Oh!" said Alice.  She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.    . . . "
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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #81 on: May 31, 2009, 12:35:09 am »
Damn, this thread has gotten brilliant in the last 4 pages. Some comments:

As Information gets defined as entropy*-1 when analyzing a signal, we can say that messages which have points of high uncertainty (i.e., the message presents something that our mind couldn't have predicted) contain more information than messages which our mind can predict 2 or 3 steps ahead of the message.

Remember the whole neurochemical-reward for your brain remembering the next line of a song on the radio, being 2 steps ahead of the message. The same thing ads use with repeated branding (for example the bars in the AT&T commercials).

Well, we also have a neurochemical reward system for recognizing the wildly improbable as importantly improbable. Recognition of contextual nonsense not only gets rewarded, but also gets presented to the mind as a puzzle to crack.

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Sugar is Sweet,
And so are You.

classic example of pre-floading, or pre-loading a semantic sequence that most of the audience should be familiar with... next we have:

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
You think this will Rhyme,
But it 'Aint Gonna.



We can even say that the reading of the 2nd version of the poem would contain more Information for some-one who has not obsessively read RAWilson books than for some-one familiar with the reference (or for those of you here on the second read-through, those re-reading a signal).

If I had just repeated the original poem twice, by the second time into the second line the semantic Information in the poem would have dropped to near zero and audience mind(s) would get bored. Our brain knew there was a difference while reading the 2nd line of the 'non-sense' poem, because it digests semantics on multiple levels, and the simple shape of the characters and length of line 3 told the mind it had new information, and it had to just read through to get to it.

Read the 2 poems above a second time in order, and see if you can catch the mind in the process, in the 'trick' of it.

Then go read Jabberwocky again.
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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #82 on: May 31, 2009, 08:16:59 am »
In relation to this, I just wanted to point out that in my own experiments with random generation of .. stuff (art of some medium or other), I found there is some kind of meaningful / complexity / variety -producing "sweet spot" somewhere between order (strict rules adherence) and disorder (pure random white noise).

i give two examples.

one, algorithmic music generation, you generate musical notes (to be played by a piano or synth or such) according to some rules. if you have really strict rules, the program creates C C C C C C ... or perhaps C C D C C D C C D .. or some other really repetitive pattern. in other words, what you get always sounds the same.
but if you go the other way, and generate a pure random sequence of notes, you get a completely different sequence every time, but because it has no structure at all, it pretty much sounds the same every time too!
but when you go in between, and use a ruleset that uses both randomness and rules, you get things with patterns in them, that are "innovative" in a way. i'm not saying it will be brilliant music, but a pretty large amount of the tunes it generates will have enough "interestingness" in them to take them as inspiration and manually compose further from there (some Jazz MIDI software packages offer functionality like this, and experimental electronic artists such as Autechre use these techniques too)

second example. generated writing. if you look at the real boring static end of the spectrum, I'm gonna go with an unoriginal type of cut up that just takes the first half of one text and the second half of another. Not very interesting and the same results every time. on the disorderly end of the spectrum you have random words, or even random letters (the uninteresting stuff we've been talking about here)
if you go in between, you get structures such as Markov chains, chatterbots and such. that all can express pretty interesting behaviour.


my point is, if you go along the spectrum from strict order to strict disorder, your novelty, interestingness, complexity or how you want to call it, goes from boring to interesting back to boring.
this sweet spot is sometimes called "the edge of chaos", and it is this place where stuff such as emergence, life and/or creativity happen.
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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #83 on: May 31, 2009, 12:20:02 pm »
:mittens:
This also ties in very nicely with this interesting thing about natural language. A natural language is basically a mixture of rules/constraints which limit which expressions can be part of that particular language, and arbitrary pairings of abstract entities with abstract meanings. The thing is that the constraints aren't simply arbitrary, they are (theoretically) universal to all humans, generally have a pretty good reason to exist, and are simply ranked differently in each language*. But the meanings of structures (rules) and patterns ("words") are almost entirely arbitrary and can essentially be viewed as random**. The cool thing is that both of these sides are necessary for the infinite expressive ability of language. If you didn't have the random part (arbitrary meanings of arbitrary streams of sounds/signs) you would either have to construct meaning in a regular, rule-based manner, which would either be limited or too complicated for a normal human to handle; if you don't do that and don't use arbitrary/random lexical entries, you have no way to transmit any meaning. And if you go the other way, relying only on arbitrary or random streams of sound without any rules/constraints, you again severely impare language's ability to transmit information: either you have a huge number of arbitrary sentence-words that each conveys a specific proposition ("let us gather food" or "danger is coming" or "a tiger is coming" or "a lion is coming" would each have their own 'word') - which is again more than a human can handle computationally, or you are basically fucked and can't transmit *any* meaning.

To give a concrete example, let us take the sentence "He gave Jonathan a murderous monster." There is a rule in English which roughly dictates that you can't put the direct object (the "gift") of a ditransitive verb (like "give") before the indirect object (the "recipient") without a preposition ("to"). Drop that rule, and a completely unambiguous sentence gets two intepretations:
1. "He gave a murderous monster to Jonathan"
2. "He gave Jonathan to a murderous monster"
Simply removing that one rule suddenly made that sentence twice as difficult to interpret, making the information twice as hard to get to. In terms of entropy vs. information, it increases entropy slightly (making two parts freely interchangable) and thereby reduces information. If we also ignore the rule that says you have to have two objects in a sentence with a ditransitive verb, you get a reading that says "He gave Jonathan, a murderous monster, to X". The less rules you have, the more ambiguous things get, and pretty quickly a simple sentence hardly carries any information anymore because there's no way to clearly interpret it.


*This view is the radical version of Optimality Theory, a relatively young (born 1993) constraint-based approach to theoretical linguistics which was originally applied to phonology (sound patterns in language) but is progressively being used to explain all other areas of language as well. It's much more in-sync with the point I am making than traditional approaches to linguistics, but they don't contradict the point either.

**Of course only in the sense that each language's assignment of meaning to a lexical item is as good as random - the usage of a lexical item within a given language arbitrarily conforms to the language's good-as-random decision. It's not about speakers making up random words, which happens, but only rarely.

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #84 on: May 31, 2009, 03:53:34 pm »
The dadaists. Absurdism. Nonsense.

It is common to think of these things as meaningless, effete gestures at the rational order. Random nonsense is often decried as a masturbatory means of expression, satisfying the communicator but boring the communicatee. Many people have a similar distaste for "modern" art. "Anyone can draw a single dot on a canvas, how is that art?" In part, they are reacting with frustration at their inability to grasp the expression with their rational mind. In this essay I hope to illustrate the intent of much "meaningless" expression.

I don't think that you should lump "modern art" and dadaism together in that manner. Modern art generally takes little or no real effort to produce, whereas Dadaism, (as I understand it), entails a concerted effort to be as bad as possible.

You need to define "bad" here, I believe.  Bad is too prejorative a term and also too simple at the same time.  It suggests a qualitative overextension that makes no real sense when you are talking about the whole of the movement for Dadaism.

If art elicits a response, either good or bad then it has achieved it's primary objective.

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #85 on: May 31, 2009, 04:07:34 pm »
To refine my above post and bring it closer to the point, here's another thought or two.
The only place where natural languages really allow creation of components is the creation of new words. Some languages are more open to neologism than others (English is extremely open, for instance), but it's universally more acceptable to make up a word that "sounds right" than to, say, make up a new word order. (Even do that, you may, but be easily understood, you will not.) The thing is there are classes of words that are open and classes that are closed. Particles like "he" and "the" and "to" are generally parts of very closed classes, where the closes you can come to neologism is an accent or using the wrong version of a particle (like "him" instead of "he"), and still these are changes that are generally part of a dialect. The thing is that these "words" are more structure than they are content. Even these are an arbitrary conjunction of form and meaning (after all, "he" carries precisely the same meaning as German er, Russian on and Hebrew hu) but one may imagine a language where there are no open classes of words; a language where you have a very large closed class of forms bound to abstract meanings, and the only way to express meanings not already bound to an existing item is to put  together existing items in a way that creates the meaning you want. If this language has extremely intricate rules for how you put together items to create new meanings, what you have is essentially a language of pure structure, only rules, with no incoming chaos. But such a language would inevitable be severely limited in transmitting information, because the number of possible propositions would be something like (number of items) to the power of (number of possible ways to conjoin items), and there is a limit for how much the human brain can take of one or the other.
Taken to an absolute extreme, where no meaning is arbitrary, you would have a tiny class of onomatopoeia (or iconic hand signs) which can only express a very very limited range of possible messages. On the other end of the spectrum we have the context-free nonsense where there are no closed classes of lexical items and there are no rules on how to put items together, so you're always inventing a new stream of sounds to express the specific meaning you want to transmit. Both ends of this spectrum are severely limited for the transfer of information. What you get in natural languages is a balance, where there is a lot of arbitrarily assigned meaning, a fair amount of space for random creation of new content (neologism, idioms), and a restrictive but not asphyxiating amount of constraints that tell you how to interpret the juxtaposition of elements. As far as expressive power, tipping the scale slightly towards creativity, as is common in poetry, gives you more expression (but less precision) and tipping it slightly the other way, as in legalese, gives you a far narrower range of expression, but maximum precision (=minimum ambiguity).
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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #86 on: June 01, 2009, 02:13:40 am »
If I could, I'd like to add a bit to the idea of holistic nonsense:

I would argue that the key to holistic nonsense is that it gets parsed as sense and isn't recognizable as nonsense until after it has already been parsed. Even random words, in the right context, will get parsed and meaning assigned to them. If you saw the following, would you consider it to be nonsense?

Quote
Ha! ha! quod he, for cristes passion, his millere hadde a sharp conclusion Upon his argument of herbergage!

Consider now that it is actually part of Chaucer's prologue to 'The Man of Law'. Reread it, and the meaning should be obvious.

Most of the time, it's probably easiest to make the nonsense look like sense in a number of ways, ranging from having spaces in text to conjugating nonsense words so that there seem to be verbs to having nonsense words slipped into an otherwise make-sense passage to simply having a passage that contradicts itself or whose meaning seems to exist but be hard to follow (as in Cram's game). Breaching doesn't really work if it's obvious from the start that your intent is to breach -- as with the 'capsid' idea from Art of Memetics, you have to let yourself be systemized enough to get into the system you wish to breach or else you will never get far enough to insert the information.

The upside of nonsense, though, is that when people treat it as sense and never actually question whether or not it is nonsense, they tend to project their own meaning upon it. If I can use an example from today:
Quote
I feel sorry for you. You clearly don't give a fuck. So please for the love of Linus stop spreading COCK.

They are willing to pay oodles of money for that stuff. All those little bits of frustration and anger that get built up everytime someone sends you a word document or god forbid a powerpoint with animations and video. They are willing to pay oodles of money for that stuff. It all gets piled up and unleashed on a poor me too attempt. The only place where boot time hasn't mattered to most of the world s computer population in a long time, everytime someone sends you a word document or god forbid a powerpoint with animations and video. Found a bug expect a high probability of being responded to with Fuck you: They are willing to pay oodles of money for that stuff. You don't want to see your douchebag face for 30 minutes; They are willing to pay oodles of money for that stuff. Found a bug expect a high probability of being responded to with: "Fuck you, do it without wasting 30 minutes of peoples time by making them watch your inability to deal with xrandr. I feel sorry for you. You clearly don't give a fuck."

Actually I'd just like to take their class and learn what they want to care. They want to care. You clearly don't give a fuck. I feel sorry for you. You clearly are willing to pay oodles of money for that stuff. So please for the love of money stop spreading COCK.

Here, I took someone's blog post rant, ran it through a first order markov chain, and copy-pasted chunks of the output so that it seems to make sense, it seems to be a rant, and it seems to say *something*. Then, I posted it as a response to the original. Whether or not the response is in agreement or refutation with the original is probably something that depends upon whether or not the person who is reading it agreed with the original.

This may not be what we are going for with nonsense. Probably, the most effective way to use nonsense to cause people to question their own ideas would be to have contradictory nonsense, since a reader projecting a meaning would have to question their own projected meaning in order to resolve the conflict.

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #87 on: June 01, 2009, 01:47:51 pm »
The contradiction can also be between what you expect (from context) and what you read. That is an old cornerstone of Discordian bullshit, really.
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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #88 on: June 01, 2009, 02:36:14 pm »
I think there appears to be a general agreement that wit is a necessary aspect of Nonsense. I find this compelling. If we consider Sense, people who can communicate sensibly, people who grok Sense have some form of intelligence... they may be dry or funny or smart or sardonic, but the communicator utilizes their intelligence or wits to create the semantic connection between words and idea in a sensible pattern.

Following the advice of Mal-2, who oddly seems to echo Humpty-Dumpty's view of words... If we can MASTER nonsense, in the way we have already mastered SENSE, then we expose both. As sane (well, relatively) humans, we master Sense though the use of intelligence and wit... AND THEREFORE WOULD DO THE SAME WITH NONSENSE. Sense+INT = Nonsense+Wit.

Consider, the members of Monty Python worked 8 hours a day, in shirt and tie writing, rewriting, editing and rejecting skit after skit for each week's show. I recall an interview with John Cleese, where he was asked about hosting SNL and he was disgusted. He felt that his work had been real work, serious business... yet the SNL crowd apparently tended to party through practice, drink through readings and in Cleeses view, left skits to wander off by themselves, long after it should have been shot and buried.

When you watch Python against SNL, there is a very strong difference between them, the most obvious, seems to be the general level of intelligence or wit involved with the skit. SNL is funny, some of my favorite comedians originated there, but it doesn't have the depth of nonsense and the depth of wit overall that Python had (IMO of course).  If one takes some time and uses intelligence or wit to wrap fnords and 23's and 5's etc into nonsensical form, it seems to be more accepted, even here. Whereas if someone simply spews keyboard gobbledegook, or posts something nonsensical that hasn't been thought out, it tends to get called pinealism or made fun of. It may be the equivalent of comparing The Dead Parrot Sketch to any sketch by MAD TV.  :fnord:

This fits well with "Mastering" nonsense as we have mastered sense. Mastering sense, might be seen as mastering the ability to connect disparate points of information to find a sensible pattern. Mastering Nonsense, then would likely mean mastering the ability to connect disparate points of information to find a nonsensical pattern. Both require work, both require thought. The former requires that you are capable of thinking/finding patterns like "most" people in your tribe/group/society. The latter requires that you are capable of leading people in your tribe/group/society to follow your thinking/pattern making. Even Dada requires the ability to match patterns to 'grok' dada. Of course, its patterns aren't the ones we would naturally think about in an art display... usually we consider the patterns on the canvas. Dada forced us to consider the patterns in society, in the minds of the artists, in the art movement, in past art and on the canvas... only through stringing all those bits of information together would the observer 'see' what the artist wanted them to see (which often had little to do with what was on the canvas itself).

I think this is a great thread and should be the basis of an Intermittens issue.
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M:  Oh!
C:   Oh my back hurts, it's not a very fine day and I'm sick and tired of this office.

 

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Re: Dada Black Sheep: Have You Any Pull?
« Reply #89 on: June 01, 2009, 04:47:37 pm »
The linguistic sense of this subject seems so much more tangible (to me, anyway), than the artistic angle.  You can pretty much pound out of any verbal exchange or expository writing what it is that makes it meaningful or meaningless.  Without any linguistic argot, it's pretty easy to point out as a layperson what about some conversation you overhear or read or what it is about a story or essay or poem that makes sense or no sense to you at all.

The difficulty for me is the placement of art into the sense/nonsense spectrum.  One mand's garbage/vomit/poo is another man's art/expression thereof.  So I have a hard time reconciling a lot of what is said in relation to language, its manipulation, its constructs and what it can be used for when nonsense is used as a way to communicate a meaning that goes beyond the typical usage of that very same construct.

Where does art fit into all this?  I started out meaning to be less specific about the OP because I feel that demonstrable art has, even still, a very real impact on the public, whereas the babbling of nonsense with no grasp on the mind due to its inability to be meaningful in its intended sense seems to have been the main thrust of this thread most recently (not that that's a bad thing, just wondering about the other side of it is all).