[Humanist] 31.373 not as 'text' but as marks on pages?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Oct 21 09:06:03 CEST 2017

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 373.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 07:23:44 -0400
        From: "William L. Benzon" <bbenzon at mindspring.com>
        Subject: Texts and the library of Babel

Hi Willard,

I’ve got two recent posts that might be of interest to the seminar.

Can you learn anything worthwhile about a text if you treat it, not as a TEXT, but as a string of marks on pages? [#DH] <https://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2017/10/can-you-learn-anything-worthwhile-about.html>: 

I talk about the difference between “text” as literary critics have come to (mis)use the term, and “text” as it is the object of examination in computational criticism. While literary critics occasionally mean either the codex or the graphic marks within when they talk of the text, critics mostly have something grander and more diffuse in mind, something that’s tethered to the physical symbols, but that’s more than those symbols. That something may be more or less the world or something that happens in the mind of a reader, but it’s not (merely) the symbols. Computational critics, on the other hand, have nothing but those symbols to work from. The conventional critic, then, is utterly baffled that computational critics can manage to discover anything at all in a mere pile of graphic marks.

Borges redux: Computing Babel – Is that what’s going on with these abstract spaces of high dimensionality? [#DH] <https://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2017/10/borges-redux-computing-babel-is-that.html>:

I use Borges’s “The Literary of Babel” as a way of approaching the philosophical implications of machine learning and such.

Bill Benzon
bbenzon at mindspring.com


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