From With Towards
There is in the book On the Origin of Objects by
Smith a passage that fascinates
World-directedness takes many forms. [...] subjects
(their experiences, representations, documents, intentions,
thoughts, etc.) point or are directed towards the
transcendent-but-immanent world that surrounds them. A
symmetrically realist account per se supplies two of the
requisite ingredients in this pointing: (i) the
subjects are in an enveloping world,
which gives them a place to point from;
and (ii) the fact that they are made of
that same enveloping world, which gives them the wherewithal
to point with. What a theory of
intentionality needs to add is the far-from-obvious third
ingredient: (iii) a way for subjects to orient towards that enveloping world, the world
of which they are constituted and in which they live.
What fascinates me is the way in which "from" is paired with
"in" and "with" is paired with "made" and that "towards"
The trio of prepositions reminds me of the experience of
modeling content or a way of writing in/with structured forms
such as those offered by the Text Encoding
Initiative Guidelines. Marking from.... marking with...
marking towards. In a very fundamental fashion, writing is
about how to segment and how to align. Pick a point. From that
point there stem a before and an after. Pick another point and
observe that part of one point's after is part of another
point's before and observe a between that emerges with its own
before and its own after.
Place a mark in a given space and with the given mark, place another mark
[erasing is a type of marking] or stop.
Now I see "towards" in Smith's phrase
"orient towards" could be read sous
rature. Peeking out of those italics is the phrase "a way
for subjects to orient [...] that enveloping world" which gives
a hint of agency to acts of world-directed intentionality. And
so I read again carefully and note a progression from the
indefinite "an enveloping" towards a singularly demonstrative
"that" through an attestation of "the same enveloping". This
rereading helps me better understand the medial position of the
"with" between the "in" and the "towards". It helps me
comprehend that the connectedness of the made in and of the
world might pass through an orientation for the world. Indeed
the apperception of being in and of the world might depend upon
the declaration of the thatness of the world. (Note, I am not
arguing that the world depends upon either the apperception or
What fascinates me is the involutive relation to the actual. It
is a relation that is not tautological. I am here because here
I am. Contrast this with absolute circular assurance of the
Smith does not extensively treat the
ontological status of the hypothetical, the counterfactual, the
fictional. Yet the trio of ingredients in the theory of
intentionality he sketches can offer a topological insight into
the relations between the actual and possible worlds. And
allows us to nuance his assertion that
You can hardly
cook for dinner something that is fictional [...]
the indication that with every cook hovers a hallucinatory
You cannot eat a story but a story can within limits alleviate
the pangs of hunger. You cannot drink a sonorous sequence but
within limits a sonorous sequence can quench thirst. You cannot
but imagine and that is different from and not the same as the
list of things you can do with fictional things that is offered
by Smith: "refer to it, wonder about
it, or entertain it in a hypothetical". To be fair, one
can hardly imagine without reference, wonder or entertainment.
After participating in an exchange through the Text Encoding Initiative discussion list, I have decided that
is now to be encoded using
. Although the Document Type
Definition (DTD) allows for the use of the element
<label> outside of a list setting, the Guidelines and the
examples offered in the guidelines restrict its use.
It is a situation that reminds me that in some legal
traditions both code and customn contribute to the construction
of law. The letter of the law. A history of its
In other contexts I have resisted reading examples set forth
by a given text as prescriptive [See my interchange with Nick
Monfort in the comments to a blog entry by Matt Kirschenbaum on
Douglas R. Hofstadter's MU/MI game from Gödel,
Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid]. Examples can be
read as displaying what could be and not necessarily what
should be. As one reads from the rule to the example, one is
sensitive to the fidelity of the example, how it fits the
rule. When one reads from the example to the rule, one is
inclined, perhaps, to reach an understanding of the example
as restricting the application of the rule. The clever sort
of folk are likely to be opportunistic in their reading and
shuttle between modes of approach to rule-example or
Clever or not. What intrigues me is that the subject positions
involved in the reading of such pairings (hypertext in nuce) figure a governance structure that
recall executive, legislative and the adjudicative
functions. To act, to judge and to guide judgment and
action. To deprecate.
Accessions to Calendarise
Blog entries are often time stamped and dated. It is assumed by
many readers that the displayed time stamp corresponds to event
of composition. However the resourceful author could be
publishing from a store of pre-written texts. As well, time
stamps can be fudged for a variety of purposes.
In modeling a blog with XML markup conforming to the Text Encoding Inititative Guidelines, I
have opted for accession numbers (e.g. <num
type="accession">111<num>). Accession numbers are used
by museums and libraries for additions to the collections. I
like the idea that a blog is a window on a collection.
Accession numbers can indicate to a user that any given exhibit
represents only a portion of the collection. Accession numbers
can be used to calculate the distance between entries.
Of course, one can develop a content model that encodes a date
and time format with every entry. Thus, permitting the user to
retrieve all the entries bearing a 03:00 hours time stamp and
comparing them with those that bear a 15:00 hours time stamp.
Or gather and compare all the Monday entries. But there is not
really a way of indicating in a such a succession of dates and
times a suppressed entry (an entry written but not accessible
to the user from the current display -- an entry that may make
its way into the public record later [or never]).
There is a term in accounting that means to divide some fiscal
activity into equal units of time, usually months, within a
year. The term is "to calendarize." One can calendarize
payments. Some blog authors calendarize their writing either by
not publishing more than one entry a day or not skipping a day
in a chain of publication. Some blog authors reserve specific
days of the week for certain types of writing ( a bit of Friday
verse, a Wednesday film review, a Saturday recipe). Some blog
authors contract among themselves to write/draw upon a given
topic on a given day.
If accounting is to telling, could collecting be to accessing?
In a sense blogging is a redistributive activity. By playing
with the partitions, the user, be they writer, reader or
viewer, affect the nature of redistributive activity.
Consider time capsule blogging. Archival: combing the records
(and those search engine caches) to read/view that Author X was
blogging about Topic Z before blogging about Topic W.
Future-oriented: sealing an entry with encryption and tying
release to a calendar date or to some other conditions.
Imagine that a requiste number of accessions attained in a
friend's blog triggers the release of encomia and a treasure
map (both encoded in TEI of course).
Gives new expression to the phrase "blogging on borrowed time."
Counting to Five
Counting to five. Counting five. Nuance.
If I recall correctly as a child I learnt how to count on the
fingers of one hand close to the same time that I learnt how to
trace the outline of a hand. Two different ways of counting. A
discontinuous numbering associated with the tips of the fingers
and the thumb. A route through the peaks and valleys giving the
numbering a durative character. When is one one? When two has
Years later I find myself enjoying the sweep of second hands
and the cycle of hours portrayed in round clock face. Years
later I find myself playing with the pulse of the time
separator and the chimes to punctuate my time at a keyboard, my
sessions in front of a screen. Sometimes I find myself
controlling a cursor with a rhythmic movement of the mouse:
feeding a beat back to myself as I deliberate. Other times I
feed on the click of the keys. Or, for a pause, foreground for
myself the staple sound of the fan motor.
And now I return to the hand. I compare ways of counting up to
five. Begin with thumb and wind through the fingers. Begin with
index finger and save the thumb for last. What is counting
down from five like. It feels different. Counting down in
American Sign Language (ASL) is a stretch treat for a tendon
that runs along the ridge the middle finger: five digits spread
out, thumb in and four fingers out, thumb back out and two
fingers out, thumb in and the index and middle finger out, the
index alone. That wonderful distinction between the three
fingers representing the letter form "W" and the thumb with two
fingers representing the number or the numeral "3".
There are many lessons here for how memory works. I've lost
Kraus's blog entry under a
rubric which highlights the term pixel driving launched me on a
meditation that gave me the notion of exploring the mimetic and
mnemonic through hyperspace and metadiscourse.
Kari's blog is called accidentals and substantives. A search
string with Kari's name plus the term "pixel driving" will turn
up a path to the November 2003 entry in question.
In the spirit of paying attention to detail, Kari's pixel and
accidental musings inspired me to develop a content model that
allows play with a single character. A hyphen taken as a minus
sign leads one to contemplate the possibility of a plus.
For the technically-inclined: here is the XML conforming to
the Text Encoding Initiative
The XSLT files that handles the output to HTML use a modular
approach. A top-level xsl:include element is used to select the
template generating the output of one or the other character in
a given version. Both templates could be called in a given XSLT
file to generate, for example, a header and footer which differ
only by a dash or a plus, or a header with both versions one
above the other (a plus followed by a dash or a dash followed
by a plus) or a square formed by some combo (+, -) and (-,+). A
giddy multiplication of a Cartesian take on a Johari Window.
Suffice it for now to mention that the exclude attribute in
TEI takes a value that is of type
IDREF. A value of type IDREF references a value of type ID.
Values of attributes of type ID are unique in a given document
Now I find myself asking how it is that humans create unique
identifiers on the fly to help with memory work. The third
house on the block before the fire last May... I find myself
asking what sequencing might have to do before, after and
across in reading and authoring blogs. The URL to
Kari's blog is http://karik.wordherders.net/.
Beginning with Beta
There is an unfolding about.