[Humanist] 29.697 big vs small

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Feb 9 07:07:57 CET 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 697.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Oliver Streiter <oliverstreiter at gmail.com>               (143)
        Subject: Re:  29.696 big vs small

  [2]   From:    David Zeitlyn <david.zeitlyn at anthro.ox.ac.uk>             (25)
        Subject: local detail and global structure

  [3]   From:    Charles Faulhaber <cbf at berkeley.edu>                       (6)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 29.696 big vs small


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2016 16:58:24 +0800
        From: Oliver Streiter <oliverstreiter at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  29.696 big vs small
        In-Reply-To: <20160208063429.9C8727FC6 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Humanists,

Based on my own work on the genesis, transformation and interpretation of
epigraphic practices (on graveyards (on islands (as part of an archipelago
(in relation to the motherland)))) the relation of small and big seems to
me less mystical than in the above citation.

When looking at the object of our study at different levels, i.e. at
different scales,  there is of course a certain degree of self-similarity,
similarity at different levels, but it would be foolish to believe that we
will ever see a perfect self-similarity. For this you need a Mandelbrot
set, not a man-made structure like power, language, music etc.

When thinking in terms of a model that explains our object, we might
identify a number of influential parameters: A, B, C, D etc. Of these A and
B might not be found active/meaningful at the highest level, C and D not at
the lowest level. We might think of their values as set to zero. Paper
quality or available stone types might be local parameters, the spreading
of religions a global parameter. Task of the researcher is to find which
are the parameters active at a given level and, maybe, why or why not. A
second question is to identify how the parameters interact at specific
levels and third, how values of one parameter at level L2 propagates to
level L3.

No matter whether you look at literature or epigraphic practices, dynamics
arise from changes at all possible levels. In my research, the lowest level
shows almost random variations. At the highest level we have the world
history with its religions, nationalisms and ideologies passing by. At an
intermediate level we find the professionals, carvers (poets, writers), who
absorb the different dynamics and bake them into digestible practices.

The propagation of these invented practices goes from the center to the
periphery, from the main island to the outlying islands, from the village
near the harbor to the village on the other side of the island, as long as
the parameters center and periphery apply. At the lowest level, a specific
graveyard, these notions of center and periphery are meaningless and the
star-like propagation we observe at higher levels turns into a random
pattern of propagation.

I don't want to claim to have invented another wheel or to have developed a
super-model of whatever. I just want to claim that it is worthwhile to
study the objects of our study in their integrity, their parts and their
contexts. The big and the small are part of the same world.

Oliver Streiter

Associate Professor                           Associated Researcher
Department of Western Languages   Asia-Pacific SpatioTemporal,
and Literatue (DOWELL),                   Institute (ApSTi)
National University of Kaohsiung,      National Cheng-chi University,
Kaohsiung, Taiwan                             Taipei, Taiwan
http://dowell.nuk.edu.tw                      http://apsti.nccu.edu.tw

Chercheur Associé
Centre d'études français sur la
Chine Contemporaine (CEFC),
Antenne de Taipei, Taiwan
http://www.cefc.com.hk/centre/taipei

ostreiter at nuk.edu.tw               oliverstreiter at gmail.com

http://thakbong.dyndns.tv         https://nuk.academia.edu/OliverStreiter

2016-02-08 14:34 GMT+08:00 Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 696.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>   [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>   (33)
>         Subject: local detail and global structure
>
>   [2]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
>   (15)
>         Subject: Re:  29.692 big vs small
>
>
>
> --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>         Date: Fri, 5 Feb 2016 08:53:40 +0000
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: local detail and global structure
>
>
> With all the qualifications of methodological blur between big and
> and small I still think, for the literary questions I know about, that
> potentially divergent trajectories of attention and effort are involved.
> My point was, I suppose, actually two points: (1) that both are
> needed for an informed reading at either scale, but that (2) the
> large scale eventually carries you off into a concentration on
> literary history, which is a different kettle of fish from literary
> criticism, related and important but different. For the set of
> interests I was trained to cultivate knowledge of the large is
> the homework you do before getting down to the individual
> text(s).
>
> For combining the two I am particularly fond of Clifford Geertz's
> words on "the characteristic intellectual movement, the inward
> conceptual rhythm" he found in the ethnographer's fieldwork:
>
> > namely, a continuous dialectical tacking between
> > the most local of local detail and the most global of global
> > structure in such a way as to bring them into simultaneous view....
> > Hopping back and forth between the
> > whole conceived through the parts that actualize it and the parts
> > conceived through the whole that motivates them, we seek to turn
> > them, by a sort of intellectual perpetual motion, into explications
> > of one another.
>
> This is found in "'From the Native's Point of View': On the Nature
> of Anthropological Understanding", Local Knowledge, p. 69.
>
> Once again a both/and I would throw against the either/or of current
> faddism. Or, more politely, ask: what is the aim of the work? Or,
> professionally, what discipline is served?
>
> Comments?
>
> Yours,
> WM
>
> --
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
> Group, Western Sydney University
>
>
> --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>         Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2016 11:12:28 -0500
>         From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
>         Subject: Re:  29.692 big vs small
>         In-Reply-To: <20160206083705.C9ABD7F60 at digitalhumanities.org>
>
>
> I think the general question about scale is field-dependent and should be
> considered separately from the specific question about big data vs. close
> reading in textual analysis.
>
> The problem with big data use in literary analysis is that a word is never
> -a- word: it's a cluster or range of meanings produced by dozens of
> interpretive decisions made while reading. I think big data only becomes
> useful when it starts to inform close readings (say, word clouds associated
> with specific authors). Otherwise, unless it can distinguish between
> different meanings or even inferences of the same word (say, "green"), it's
> comparing unlike objects. Is it green grass, a green employee, someone
> green with envy, or a green initiative?
>
> We can tag individual words with a range of context-specific meanings, of
> course, to make our big data more valuable, but then that's only possible
> after a close reading.
>
> Jim R




--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2016 11:08:07 +0000
        From: David Zeitlyn <david.zeitlyn at anthro.ox.ac.uk>
        Subject: local detail and global structure
        In-Reply-To: <471b5a71-ee5c-4bb3-8045-41872d4ef710 at HUB02.ad.oak.ox.ac.uk>

A commentary on  Willard's Geertz quote:
there's a nice ambiguity about "tacking" in this context - it could mean 
either sailing against the wind - zig zagging slowly around a median course
or a temporary joining of two pieces of cloth with a tacking stitch

Both meanings work in this context!

best wishes
davidz

-- 
David Zeitlyn,
Professor of Social Anthropology (research)

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography
51 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PF, UK. Tel: +44 1865 612374 Fax: +44 1865 274630
http://www.isca.ox.ac.uk/about-us/staff/academic/prof-david-zeitlyn/
http://www.mambila.info/ The Virtual Institute of Mambila Studies
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~wolf2728/

Oct 2015 open access paper 'Looking Forward, Looking Back' now online.
Read it at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02757206.2015.1076813

Book written with Roger Just: Excursions in Realist Anthropology. A Merological Approach
Late 2014 ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-6403-9 ISBN-10: 1-4438-6403-X
Sample at http://www.cambridgescholars.com/excursions-in-realist-anthropology

My 5 "unique" identifiers:
Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=lYK4auAAAAAJæ
ORCID 0000-0001-5853-7351; Scopus 6602478625; ISNI: 0000 0001 2433 0782; VIAF ID: 22235364

Launched in February 2015, an open access online journal: Vestiges: Traces of Record
http://www.vestiges-journal.info/



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2016 10:35:12 -0800
        From: Charles Faulhaber <cbf at berkeley.edu>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 29.696 big vs small
        In-Reply-To: <20160208063429.9C8727FC6 at digitalhumanities.org>


This, of course, is Leo Spitzer's "philological circle," the movement from
analysis to synthesis and back again.

Leo Spitzer. _Linguistics and Literary History: Essays in Stylistics_.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948.

Charles Faulhaber
UC Berkeley





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