[Humanist] 23.59 world-making and markup
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun May 31 08:49:46 CEST 2009
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 59.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Sat, 30 May 2009 19:04:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: Francois Lachance <lachance at chass.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.53 world-making and markup
In-Reply-To: <20090529084043.5DB5C917C at woodward.joyent.us> from "Humanist
Of a Friday, you invited us to consider mark-up as a kind of world making (or rather markup as world-making).
I am more tempted by an analogy of travel. Mark-up is way of traversing a world. I have in mind the now familiar adage that map is not territory.
Of course, I am drawn to this via the distinction made in semantics between possible and actual worlds. And so I come back to the question you raise and mark it out for consideration:
How many of us keep our world-making in mind, I wonder? How many of us
who mark-up texts as scholars, rather than as people who work for
scholars, do not think on some level that we're identifying *the*
structure of it, *the* essence of what it has to say? How slippery is
the slope from the fashionably plural but reified "ontologies" to the
singular name of the *study* of what is (NOT the list)?
Is this another way of asking the perhaps more technical question: can a given textual instance give rise to more than one possible world?
And how am I to markup the parenthetical "NOT the list"? Is it to be read in apposition to the reified "ontologies" i.e. as a phrase synonymous? In which case, is this (contrasting a "what is" with a set of "maybes") a bit like the game of asking how many children had Lady Macbeth?
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Reading the evidence of what is not there is being sensitive not to the unsaid but to the what is shown. For example, a form of mark-up links the emphasized _the_ (2x) in the paragraph cited above (localized to the one sentence) with the _study_ (to be found in the next sentence) and both exert a pressure on the seemingly unmarked *the* in the shout-like "NOT _the_ list" (our emphasis on the _the_).
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The slope may be slippery and its sliding may very well be in its designation as _the_ slope.
<!-- To use mark-up is to perform a reading. To render marked-up text is to initiate a re-reading -->
Trust a machine to read all the mark-up and you might miss what is not rendered in the enclosures. It is what is missed by machine translation (rendering) that makes rereading entertaining -- even of born-digital texts. To markup is an activity akin to re-reading and it produces mark-up that is the traces that bridge (hyphenate) spaces in a given world. Mark-up is inherently vectorial. To markup is to query magnitude and
direction. The thing and the activity are potentially tied up in recursive loops.
Which leads me to my question: are recursive structures necessary for world-making?
Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
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