[Humanist] 29.748 analogical; ontological

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Feb 28 09:17:31 CET 2016


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 748.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Catharine Mason <cmason.nc at gmail.com>                    (196)
        Subject: Re:  29.744 analogical

  [2]   From:    Øyvind Eide <lister at oeide.no>                           (162)
        Subject: Re:  29.744 analogical

  [3]   From:    "Lawrence, Faith" <faith.lawrence at kcl.ac.uk>              (81)
        Subject: Re:  29.747 ontologies and ontology?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2016 13:18:18 +0100
        From: Catharine Mason <cmason.nc at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  29.744 analogical
        In-Reply-To: <20160227062331.9926CCD4 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard, Tim, and Friends,

Many thanks for these fascinating references to questions of
representations.  I am pleasantly confused by it all and have put in an
order for Silverman's book.  I love your poetic stance, Tim, but must ask
one question.  Without representation (verbal, visual, logical,
mathematical, etc.), how does one share what one seeks to understand of the
world?  And is there any seeking or understanding at all without images and
morphemes and numbers? Aren't we "just" bathing in the flux?

Not that I have anything against meditative appreciation of the tides of
the universe. But as a humanist, the only traces of humanity that have
advanced my own understanding of the (human) world are representations (and
activities of representing) that necessarily lie between us humans and the
world.

Forgive me if I am hors sujet!  And thanks again for your stimulating
thoughts.

Catharine

On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 7:23 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 744.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2016 11:32:08 +0100
>         From: Tim Smithers <tim.smithers at cantab.net>
>         Subject: Re:  29.743 analogical?
>         In-Reply-To: <20160226081209.DD54CC4B at digitalhumanities.org>
>
>
> Dear Willard,
>
> Oliver Wendell Holmes, as recounted by Kaja Silverman here,
> needs a rebuttal in a form I don't usually use ...  I believe
> this, but it seems to contradict what we usually think we
> believe.
>
> A photograph can never represent reality.  It can never be a
> picture of reality.  It may only tell you something about
> reality.  (Similarly, a model can never be a representation of
> reality, but it may help us understand something about some
> part of reality, past, present, future, or possible.)
>
> The evidence for this is easy to come by, for all of us.
>
> For example, my walk to and from work takes me past the bay of
> Donostia / San Sebastián, with its island in the middle and
> the open sea of the Bay of Biscay beyond.  Every time I go
> past this scene it's different, despite it being at about the
> same times of day--different weather, light, season, state of
> the tide, strength of the sea, etc.  I have plenty of
> photographs that show its always different.
>
> If you attempted to capture the variability and variety of
> this reality you'd need to set a camera to continuously take
> photographs every few seconds, or less.  But then, viewing
> this representation would take as long as looking at the
> reality, and still not give you all the variety that the
> reality really displayed.  And, of course, the next day would
> be different, and the one after that, then the month, the
> year, the century ...
>
> All realities are like this, endlessly variable and variety
> laden.  This essence cannot be made to inhere in any number of
> photographs, such that they may be used instead of the
> reality; so that the reality can be disposed of, as Wendell
> Holmes suggests.
>
> I'm reminded here of "On Exactitude in Science" ["Del rigor en
> la ciencia"] by Jorge Luis Borges.  It was the map that was
> thrown away!  And of Lewis Carroll's "Sylvie and Bruno" in
> which a map was made with a "scale of a mile to the mile," but
> which presented some practical difficulties, leading one of
> those who made it to remark that "we now use the country
> itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as
> well."  And of Rod Brooks--pioneer of Behaviour Based
> robotics, and a co-founder of iRobot, maker of the Roomba--who
> said, in reaction to classical representation-based approaches
> in Artificial Intelligence, that "the world is its own best
> representation."  And of Philip Metres' "Yuri Gagarin's
> Spaceship," which starts
>
>   No detailed pictures of Soviet space
>   ships were ever released: thus, this artist's
>
>   conception on the Jell-O box is pure
>   conjecture: it looks like a telescope,
>
>   half-collapsed, eye-windowed, just a soup can
>   nesting inside a soup can, Warhol
>
>   meets Matryoshka Doll. It's alright, Mama,
>   I'm only flying in my umwelt, outside
>
>   of which there is no breathing. The world
>   is its own best representation: . . .
>
> You must keep throwing away the photographs if you want to
> keep seeing the realities of being in the world.  Throwing
> away the world makes fictions of the photographs.
>
> You must never let your representations get between you and
> the world you seek to understand.  (They will often try hard
> to do this!)
>
> Best regards,
>
> Tim
>
> > On 26 Feb 2016, at 09:12, Humanist Discussion Group <
> willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
> >
> >                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 743.
> >            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
> >                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
> >                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> >
> >
> >
> >        Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2016 06:54:00 +0000
> >        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
> >        Subject: the analogical world
> >
> >
> > At the beginning of The Miracle of Analogy: A History of Photography,
> > vol. 1 (Stanford, 2015), Kaja Silverman addresses ideas of
> representation:
> >
> >> In a chilling passage in his 1859 essay "The Stereoscope and the
> >> Stereograph,"  Oliver Wendell Holmes not only characterizes the world
> >> as a picture, whose essence inheres in its photographic
> >> representability, but suggests that once this essence has been
> >> extracted, the world itself can be thrown away. “Form is henceforth
> >> divorced from matter,† this passage reads. “In fact matter as a
> >> visible object is of no great use any longer . . . Give us a few
> >> negatives of a thing worth seeing, taken from different points of
> >> view, and that is all we want of it. Pull it down or burn it up, if
> >> you please.
> >
> > Does this not sound familiar, if a bit bolder than many utterances or
> > implied notions along this line? Against it and related ideas, she argues
> > for a different idea of photography, and so, I think, for what we do with
> > our beloved machine:
> >
> >> photography isn't a medium that was invented by three or four men in
> >> the 1820s and 1830s, that was improved in numerous ways over the
> >> following century, and that has now been replaced by computational
> >> images. It is, rather, the world's primary way of revealing itself to
> >> us—of demonstrating that it exists, and that it will forever exceed
> >> us. Photography is also an ontological calling card: it helps us to
> >> see that each of us is a node in a vast constellation of analogies.
> >> When I say 'œanalogy,'  I do not mean sameness, symbolic equivalence,
> >> logical adequation, or even a rhetorical relationship—like a metaphor
> >> or a simile—in which one term functions as the provisional
> >> placeholder for another. I am talking about the authorless and
> >> untranscendable similarities that structure Being, or what I will be
> >> calling “the world,† and that give everything the same ontological
> >> weight.
> >
> > Comments?
> >
> > Read it tonight!
> >
> > 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


-- 
Associate Professor of English and Linguistic Ethnography
Université de Caen-Basse Normandie
Maison de la recherche en sciences humaines
Esplanade de la Paix
14032 CAEN- Cedex
France

President of VOVA, Inc.
www.vovarts.org
1924 6th Street
Victoria, VA 23974
USA



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2016 18:54:37 +0100
        From: Øyvind Eide <lister at oeide.no>
        Subject: Re:  29.744 analogical
        In-Reply-To: <20160227062331.9926CCD4 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Tim,

A question from someone continuously struggling with this foreign language called English: how do you define representation? And do you use the same meaning in the start:

“A photograph can never represent reality.”

as you do in the end:

“You must never let your representations get between you and
the world you seek to understand.”

?

Kind and curious regards,

Øyvind
 



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2016 19:10:50 +0000
        From: "Lawrence, Faith" <faith.lawrence at kcl.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re:  29.747 ontologies and ontology?
        In-Reply-To: <20160227085741.4CDE2CD6 at digitalhumanities.org>

I'm not sure if it is completely addressing Willard's question but the
OntoMedia Ontology was specifically developed to describe narratives
within fictional settings. Our particular target was science-fiction and
fantasy because we felt that if we could reasonable describe those
settings then we could describe pretty much anything else.

The ontology deals with the unreal by allowing an area of shared truth to
be proscribed - in OntoMedia called a 'Context' - and all things within it
are perceived as having a shared level of reality, whether the Context
describes a fictional universe, a dream state, a hypothesis of events or a
construct describing a future ideal etc. In this way linkage of things, be
they events - for example the same event across multiple universes - or
objects, as well as travel between entirely separate universes with
different levels of reality - Alice visiting Wonderland for example - is
also possible. The ontology's primary goal is to describe these imaginary
worlds and while that description can be tied back to the media through
which the ideas are expressed be they book, movie or whathaveyou that is
of secondary importance and the things being described may not even have
that much tie to things which we, in our reality, think of as existing.

Of course, the ontology could also be used to describe 'reality' (indeed
there is a reserved conceptual space for the description of things that
fall into that realm) but other ontologies had that covered in much more
depth while at the same time had a bit more of an issue with things that
didn't necessarily follow a consistent logic or contained many 'impossible
objects' so we prefer to leave reality to them and stick with the
impossible and the fantastical.

OntoMedia also has a stepchild the Stories ontology which is also aimed at
describing fiction and interpretations thereof but in a much more
lightweight manner. Both can be found at http://contextus.net/

Additionally there are a number of ontologies aimed at describing
fairytale narratives and similar which draw from various parts of
narrative theory. The Fairytale Markup Language and the extended version
thereof are fairly popular. I would draw people attention for the workshop
on computational narratology that is running before DH2016, and there
previous events for more examples.

Best,

Faith

On 27/02/2016 08:57, "Humanist Discussion Group"
<willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 747.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>        Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2016 08:42:45 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: ontologies and ontology?
>
>
>Here is a question. Presumably most of us already know that the plural of
>the philosophical term "ontology" (that which exists) is commonplace in
>computing. We speak "ontologies" to refer models of that which is defined
>to
>exist within particular contexts or artificial worlds. What I would like
>to
>know is how often (and some examples of where, if possible) "ontology" is
>used in the artificial context explicitly, consciously to refer to an
>imaginary or hypothetical world, not the real one -- in which there is no
>intention to approximate that which exists.
>
>Many thanks for pointers.
>
>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






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