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Re:CFP: Biological Constraints on the Literary Imagination

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  • Mike Tintner
    Proposed articles should consider the following questions: ...- How are textual features and adaptive cognitive algorithms (the evolved architecture of the
    Message 1 of 8 , Jul 13, 2008
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      "Proposed articles should consider the following questions:

      ...- How are textual features and adaptive cognitive algorithms (the
      evolved architecture of the human brain) related?"
       
      I hope they'll also consider the truth that all the arts exist to *break* patterns and algorithms and create novelties - that pop songs, for example, are there not only to fit within certain genres, but continually to produce surprising variations on them ; that it is fundamental to new literature and dramas, that characters behave in surprising ways - that there are twists and turns in the plot; that all the dramatic arts stand for humans' potential for "redemption" - to radically change their characters.
       
      It's also worth noting that the algorithmic approach of AI has completely failed - and I am quite sure, always will fail - to produce Artificial *General* Intelligence, as opposed to the dedicated kind - intelligence that is truly adaptive, as humans are. AI, for example, has been unable to produce metaphors and analogies, or indeed any form of creativity, (other than hack variations on formulae). Computers currently are the embodiment of rationality. And rational systems, (logico-mathematical and, to some extent linguistic), have always eschewed and been opposed to imagination and the image-inative systems of the arts. Rational systems expressly forbid thinking outside the box -  2+2 must always equal 4.The imaginative systems of the arts insist on thinking outside the box - otherwise life would be too-too boring. (And the human need for novelty is extremely biological but, by definition and in reality, not algorithmic).
       
      There are more things in heaven, earth and the arts, than a few-decades-old algorithms can account for.

    • Stephen Berer
      Mike Tintner sagely says; ... I would paraphrase Mike this way: art is not only a product of evolution, it is the evolutionary process itself, in operation.
      Message 2 of 8 , Jul 13, 2008
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        Mike Tintner sagely says;

        I hope they'll also consider the truth that all the arts exist to *break* patterns and algorithms and create novelties - that pop songs, for example, are there not only to fit within certain genres, but continually to produce surprising variations on them ; that it is fundamental to new literature and dramas, that characters behave in surprising ways - that there are twists and turns in the plot; that all the dramatic arts stand for humans' potential for "redemption" - to radically change their characters....

        I would paraphrase Mike this way: art is not only a product of evolution, it is the evolutionary process itself, in operation. And I would further say that art is one of the means whereby consciousness accelerates physical evolution, adding human intention to a biological process that is generally thought to be random.
                 Steve Berer
                 ...Night by night I go hunting for this key. I know the hour of waking is approaching and my dreams turn troubled. Am I awake or am I sleeping? I test myself. In the world of dreams impossible things happen. Reason has no hold. I say to myself, "if this is a dream, then let this river run backwards!" It begins to run backwards and I know I am dreaming, so I wake myself. "Do not wake yourself the next time," I think....
                         from Skechez for a Therd Tempel (work in progress)
                         http://www.shivvetee.com
                         http://shivvetee.blogspot.com/
      • Mike Tintner
        Stephen Berer:I would paraphrase Mike this way: art is not only a product of evolution, it is the evolutionary process itself, in operation. And I would
        Message 3 of 8 , Jul 17, 2008
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          Stephen Berer:I would paraphrase Mike this way: art is not only a product of evolution,
          it is the evolutionary process itself, in operation. And I would further
          say that art is one of the means whereby consciousness accelerates physical
          evolution, adding human intention to a biological process that is generally
          thought to be random.
          I'm not sure that I would quite agree. Artistic and technological "evolution" are different from natural species' evolution.
           
          But I'm replying here mainly - & briefly - to recommend Stuart Kauffman's latest book Reinventing the Sacred. He v. explicitly is seeking a new mechanistic worldview, which sees the evolutionary process as fundamentally creative. As part of that view, he also v. explicitly repudiates the algorithmic view of the human mind - arguing (quite rightly) that the mind's creative thinking (of which the arts are a major example) cannot be produced by algorithms. [There are and were no algorithms that could produce, say, Hamlet - anyone here (JC?) disagree?] The mind is a machine that continually sets up algorithms in the form of routines, but is creative in its activities overall. He also is keen to heal the breach between sciences and arts. [I too believe in that, and see it as one of the next great cultural revolutions].
           
          I'm still reading it, and don't see it as a fully worked out set of ideas, but I do think it is a harbinger of exciting changes around the corner, and would be interested if anyone knows of works in a similar spirit.
           
          P.S. Maybe he should be invited to this conference or similar.
           
        • Stephen Berer
          Mike ... I m not sure I was clear. I m not talking about the kind of artistic evolution whereby Rothko, for example, rethinks abstract expressionism, or the
          Message 4 of 8 , Jul 25, 2008
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            Mike

            Stephen Berer wrote: I would paraphrase Mike this way: art is not only a product of evolution,
            it is the evolutionary process itself, in operation. And I would further say that art is one
            of the means whereby consciousness accelerates physical evolution, adding
            human intention to a biological process that is generally thought to be random.

            Mik
            e Tintner responds:
            I'm not sure that I would quite agree. Artistic and technological "evolution" are different from natural species' evolution.
            I'm not sure I was clear. I'm not talking about the kind of artistic evolution whereby Rothko, for example, rethinks abstract expressionism, or the technological evolutions of say, a GM that is marvelously able to improve gas mileage from 15 to 18 mpg. <gasp>. I'm talking about species wide evolution, the kind that has been measured by the movement from homo erectus to homo sapiens. This, I am suggesting, is accelerated, and given direction, by creative endeavor. I realize my suggestion may be a childishly romantic notion, but it's one that informs my own work.

            But I'm replying here mainly - & briefly - to recommend Stuart Kauffman's latest book Reinventing the Sacred. He v. explicitly is seeking a new mechanistic worldview, which sees the evolutionary process as fundamentally creative. ...
            He also is keen to heal the breach between sciences and arts. [I too believe in that, and see it as one of the next great cultural revolutions]. I'm still reading it, and don't see it as a fully worked out set of ideas, but I do think it is a harbinger of exciting changes around the corner, and would be interested if anyone knows of works in a similar spirit.
                     This breach between science and art is a popular belief, that perhaps might be dated from some time around Newton, I would guess. Correct me if I'm wrong. However, there has been a continuous line of thinkers that has rejected this division right down to the present day. Those interested in this historical counter culture might want to look at the history of alchemy, or theosophy, among other places. Jung was an important proponent of this belief, building his psychoanalysis on a foundation of art, philosophy, religion, and detailed observation. D'arcy Thompson is also very interesting in this regard, having wittingly or unwittingly spawned a whole genre of work that might be classified "art forms in nature."
                     What is happening now is that, perhaps we are becoming ready, in a more public and popular sense, to reject this "division." But as is so often the problem, people on opposite sides of the divide have difficulty talking to each other. I recently attended a lecture about Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, taught by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh. R. Ginsburgh is a strictly observant Jew. However, he is also totally committed to a religion-science fusion. Required reading to attend his lecture was The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene. The problem is, he talks about this subject from a position grounded in Bible and Talmud. In other words, he builds his comparisons and metaphors from his canonical religious texts. Most likely, most members of this discussion group would build their comparisons and metaphors from the canonical texts of biology and perhaps quantum mechanics.
                     In sum, besides the issues of popular resistance to the idea of merging science, art, and religion, there is the issue of extreme differences in "language" by those who are, and who have long been pursuing this work.

            -- Steve Berer
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