[Humanist] 31.76 automated musicianship; perfect freedom

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Jun 2 06:26:46 CEST 2017

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 76.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Martin Wynne <martin.wynne at bodleian.ox.ac.uk>             (36)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] author?

  [2]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>                      (16)
        Subject: Re:  31.71 automated musicianship

  [3]   From:    "Patricia O'Neill" <poneill at hamilton.edu>                 (46)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 31.75 author?

        Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2017 11:15:18 +0100
        From: Martin Wynne <martin.wynne at bodleian.ox.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] author?
        In-Reply-To: <20170601050801.E83F41BAB at digitalhumanities.org>

Was it Edward Johnston? As you are probably aware, it's a question 
you've asked before - see 
http://dhhumanist.org/Archives/Virginia/v16/0073.html ! There is no 
forgetting on the internet.


On 01/06/17 06:08, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>                    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 75.
>              Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                         www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                  Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>          Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2017 05:56:21 +0100
>          From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>          Subject: author?
> Once again I am looking for the person who wrote, "Within the limits of
> my craft I have perfect freedom." I am fairly certain it was one of
> those in the Arts and Crafts movement, probably British rather than,
> say, translated from something Rudolf Koch said. I don't think it's
> Ruskin, though his chapter on "The Lamp of Obedience" in the Seven Lamps
> of Architecture gets close.
> All help much appreciated.
> Yours,
> WM

Oxford Text Archive,
Bodleian Libraries,
University of Oxford
Tel: +44 1865 283813
martin.wynne at bodleian.ox.ac.uk

** Please note new email address and telephone number above (from November 2016) **

        Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2017 07:11:54 -0500
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  31.71 automated musicianship
        In-Reply-To: <20170601045906.ECEDE1879 at digitalhumanities.org>

Creativity in the arts is an intentional expression of emotion. Technique is developed after the fact -- it is subservient to that goal. Munch's The Scream is a case in point, I think. His distortion of line and use of color all seem directed toward the goal of the most intense expression of a single emotion.

As a result, I think it's fruitless to talk about machine creativity in any way parallel to human creativity until machines feel in some way analogous to human feeling. I think the problem is exacerbated when we consider how much human feeling proceeds from our organic biology. I think it is safe to say that creativity is a function of organic biology to the extent that emotion is a function of human biology.

Machine creativity operates only on the level of technique for that reason. Machines don't think in a way directed or motivated by will and feeling. What's worse, too often their developers think that is a virtue, as if valueless thought was even possible, or as if their own ways of thinking about their own machines were not also expressions of feeling.

I think if we were to think about machine creativity -- so long as machines remain non-biological -- we might begin by thinking that since machines operate on the level of technique, their most creative expressions might be ways of working out technical problems. The next step in our understanding of machine creativity, then, is understanding what it identifies as a problem and why. 

I would guess desirable features to it might reflect its own programming, which is an idea extensible to human creativity to an extent. I think human programming differs, however, in that our programming is more slipshod, unpredictable, and conflicting, and is influenced by an external biological matrix that inescapably interacts with our internal biological matrix at all times. We are features of our own environment. That can make people either very annoying or very fun. Either way, as a result, choice and motivation is required for human action. Machine programming, on the other hand, couldn't function under those conditions.

I would recommend to anyone to try creating something within the arts to really understand these components of human creativity. Try writing a poem, short story, or novel, or try painting something. I do of course recognize that human creativity expresses itself in other ways. My father was an electrical engineer and enjoyed design for that reason -- it gave him a creative outlet. 

But I think that was human creativity in a different mode. He had to create something that functioned to serve a specific purpose within specific space and energy limitations. This kind of creativity is more like working on a puzzle. Painting a painting is like working on a puzzle, as is writing a poem, but those creative expressions have the added elements of an -emphasis- on design motivated by emotion. I could see machines working out the first kind of creativity but not yet the second.

Jim R

Dr. James Rovira
Chair and Associate Prof. of English
Mississippi College 
200 S. Capitol St.
Clinton, MS 39056
jjrovira at mc.edu
Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety

        Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2017 08:34:13 -0700
        From: "Patricia O'Neill" <poneill at hamilton.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 31.75 author?
        In-Reply-To: <20170601050801.E83F41BAB at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Willard

Thanks to Project Gutenberg and ibooks which has a search function, I
think your quote is from Edward Johnston's work: Writing and
Illuminating and Lettering (1906). But the phrasing is importantly
different. Here is the full sentence:

Within the limits of our craft we cannot have too much freedom; for
too much fitting and planning makes the work lifeless and it is
conceivable that in the finest work the Rules are concealed and that,
for example, a MS might be most beautiful without ruled lines and
methodical arrangement.

The word "freedom" comes up 61 times in this text and is one of
Johnston's main criteria for the aesthetic value of his craft.

Patricia O'Neill
Emeritus Professor of English
Hamilton College

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