Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Constructive: Jim and David, and date of survey

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 23, 2005, 7:40
I'm going to respond to a couple here.  Starting with Sally:

Remind me of that episode.

In the episode of The Prisoner called "The General" (my girlfriend
got me the *whole* series on DVD!  I've been loving every minute
of it!), "lectures" were given via television in the space of three
minutes.  All you did was stare at the screen at a picture of some
weird looking guy while eerie, hypnotic 60's music played.  At the
end of the three minutes, you'd know everything about a given
topic.  In the show, it was European history from something like
the 1200's until Napoleon.  As the episode goes on, though, what
everyone learns, in effect, are rote responses to specific questions.
So if someone asked a question like, "Who was such and such?",
everyone would respond with *exactly* the same answer, word-
for-word.  Further, they had an almost unnatural compulsion to
respond.  The implication, of course, is that whoever controls the
knowledge (the file, the chip, the pill, whatever) controls those
who obtain the knowledge.  A good episode.  You get a chance
to see a "super computer", as they envisioned it back then.

My other fantasy
was that the chips would be disappointingly plebian:  You would hear
say something in, say, Swedish, and it would be spelled out for you in
visual range in English like subtitles.  Then, you would subvocalize,
the translation into Swedish would be written out in your visual range
phonetically and you'd just read it.  And it would be hilariously
obvious to
your speaking partner that you had a chip implanted!

Ha!  "Wie geht's?"  "Uhhh...ace--no, no: ess...get?  No,

Oh, she can be impenetrable.  _To the Lighthouse_?  The "point" is to be
able to pour over her complexities, philosophies, and subtleties and
sociopolitical relevances.

I believe we were working with different definitions of "impenetrable".
I read _To the Lighthouse_, and found it tremendously readable.  One
of the best books I've ever read, *and* one of the most enjoyable to
read.  Does this mean that the second I read the last sentence I said,
I get it" and set it down without a further thought?  No, no.  There are
still things that are unclear in my mind, and probably other things that
I didn't even notice.  It's a book that repays revisiting.  But I would
*forward* to that.  I would NEVER look forward to reading Beckett's
_Malone_ trilogy again.  Especially the last one, which is a 100 page
paragraph.  My English professor for my Beckett seminar put forth
the theory that Beckett wished to torture his reader, and, quite
I don't know if that's far off.  Of course, at least Beckett wrote in
and put spaces in between words and used capital letters where
I wouldn't put it past a new "high art" novelist to write a novel that
one sentence long with no punctuation and no spaces between words.
That, to me, is impenetrable, and I have no interest in reading it.  And
the same can almost be said of something like Finnegans Wake.  I will
eventually read it, though.  I have to get past page 1!

You mentioned Milton.  Milton thought that what he was doing was utterly
unconventional.  Cast the biblical story of the Fall in terms of a
Homeric, "epic poem"?  Also, this is relative.  We consider Shakespeare
great art, but as Jim pointed out, his plays were his "hack" writing,
so to
speak, in his day.  And Dickens?  He was a serial novel writer.
from an era lends that era's art a certain dignity.  Aristophanes _The
Birds_, with all those ridiculous birdcalls in it was intended to poke
at the serious, prescriptively minded Plato and his language theories.

Here again, I think we were working with two separate definitions of
"conventional".  So I wasn't talking "conventional" in the "usual"
like writing about dragons and wizards vs. explaining the ways of God
to men.
I was talking about writing conventions, e.g., first person narrative,
in unrhymed heroic couplets, using alliteration regularly, etc.  So I
talking about the form.  To write in unrhymed heroic couplets is a
To write about how Satan was cast out of heaven and how he caused
Adam and Eve to lose paradise is out of the ordinary in any day and age.
Shakespeare's plays also had a particular form they followed, and he
even lifted most (read: all) his stories from other sources.  But how he
used them, and to what end, was certainly unconventional.  Dickens is...
neat.  And, believe it or not, I don't think I've read anything by
That can't be right...  Oh well: More to add to the pile!

Anyway, what I meant to say was that the further back you go, in general
the more conventions you find, probably because a lot of what's really
is poetry, and poetry itself (as it was) relied heavily on form.  I
didn't mean
to imply anything about the typicality of the subject matter of any

OT:  I can't wait to watch "House M.D." tonight!!!  Is anyone else a
fan?  I
love Hugh Lawrie!  And even more for the fact that he's British and
fakes a
pretty good Eastern Seaboard American accent.  And after all those comic

Haven't seen it.  Is it any good?  I *LOVED* Wooster and Jeeves!  (Well,
except for the last season, which got a bit...odd.)

Now responding to Jim (note, this is going to be a long quote):

Here's another example that shows more non-subject pronouns...

subject pronoun = ce'
3rd person animate singular non-subject pronoun = raef'
3rd person instrumental singular non-subject pronoun = beaj
3rd person inanimate singular non-subject pronoun = naet

(2)	Dave ordered Mike to take a shovel and bury the rock, but raef'
ce' to eat beaj' and naet'.

i.e. 	Dave ordered Mike to take a shovel and bury the rock, but Mike
Dave to eat the shovel and the rock.

Now I see.  That's cool.  Now change the verb to "promise".  So, "Dave
promised Mike to take a shovel and bury the rock, but raef' (Mike?) told
ce' (Dave?) to eat beaj' and naet'."

With the way that the pronouns work, the associations with the question
marks would be forced, but the one who's taking the shovel has changed.
Actually, let me rewrite this with pronouns:

Dave (ordered/promised) Mike to take a shovel and bury the rock, but he
told him to eat the shovel and the rock.

Actually, no matter which way I read it, "he" is always associated with
"Mike" and "him" is always associated with "David"...  Probably because
of the word "but" and the nature of the matrix clause.  Let me see if I
can think of another.

Dave ordered Mike to talk to himself.
Dave promised Mike to talk to himself.

Okay, now I see.  Your system takes the pressure off the verb.  In other
words, the verb tells you to what argument "himself" refers in the
above.  Under your system, the pronoun would.  That's neat!  I wonder
what implications this has for binding theory...  Well, this one's
a problem:

Dave liked Mike's picture of himself.

With your pronouns, there's no question to what "himself" refers.  I
guess the next question is where can and can't ce' appear.  If it can
appear everywhere, contrary to binding theory, and we, as humans,
can understand it...right on!  But I need to look up some stuff, because
I'm only half-remembering half-learned facts.