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Allison Parrish

page with an excellent history of the "a million monkeys at a million typewriters" meme, stretching back in one form or another to Aeneid which makes me wonder if any dada artists were familiar with Émile Borel's work (specifically the infinite monkey thing), they would have been contemporaneous and in the same place!

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"In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course [...] left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Celebes crested macaques.... [...] Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five total pages largely consisting of the letter S, the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it." this is probably the only poem that has ever been written

all of this turned up sorta peripherally when trying to figure out why Kenner and O'Rourke called their program "Travesty" (the Byte magazine version which is commonly cited as popularizing Markov chain text generation) ("travesty," of course, comes from French _travestir_ "cross-dress"; its cognate is a reclaimed pejorative for trans people in South America; the whole thing brings to mind Turing's gender "imitation game" and I'm wondering if that was intentional)

OED has a specific definition of "travesty" as a "literary composition which aims at exciting laughter by burlesque and ludicrous treatment of a serious work; [...] hence, a grotesque or debased imitation or likeness; a caricature" which seems like the kind of thing that Kenner would have been referencing. but there's definitely something here about how imitation and "genuineness" in the context of computation is often intertwined with gender identity

and by "often" here at this point I guess I mean... "at least once, mayyybe twice"

in conclusion, according to Kenner, Turing, Borges, Borel, Jonathan Swift and Cicero, a million monkeys throwing a million golden letters on the ground in an infinite library will eventually convince you that they're a woman

final note on this for the night: I'm not sure why Kenner and O'Rourke's
"Travesty" article gets so much recognition in literary and computational creativity crowds (sometimes even said to be the *origin* of Markov chain text generation)—their piece references & is written *in response to* Brian Hayes' "Computer Recreations: A progress report on the fine art of turning literature into drivel" which to my eye is the more interesting, erudite and easy-to-read of the two

(actually I *am* sure why, and it's because Hugh Kenner was already an important literary critic, specifically of modernist literature (Pound), which I think provides the link necessary for humanities-ish people to see these kinds of things as "legitimate")

also Hayes proposed using the arithmetic on the n-gram vectors in the model for doing a kind of rudimentary "style transfer," which is definitely one of the the earliest examples of this kind of proposal I've seen (though he doesn't actually get it to work except in the simple "add two models together" example)

This makes me think of the idea of 'hacking' as part of a trickster mentality, as well, since violations of gender roles are strongly associated with general violations of social roles.

To suddenly veer into a different domain entirely: media theorists focusing on anime have alternate genres, & a big one is the 'carnivalesque', in which social roles or their representations are inverted for comedic or horrific effect. Carnival & saturnalia definitely featured cross-dressing.

& indeed, the carnivalesque more often features violations of gender roles than other social roles (& this has led to a market for more serious material about gender roles, since 'gender bender' is seen as a popular media classification).

Gender is often taken as a proxy for social norms as a whole (probably because it's the structure on which so many of them hang!) So trickster characters violate gender roles as a proxy for violating other expectations.

@enkiv2 so bots are essentially coyote/loki/anansi, got it

@aparrish from the first O'Reilly perl book was my introduction (as a teenager) to Markov chains. I guess it was a very influential article.

@aparrish Are you familiar with Jeremy Campbell's "Grammatical Man", ~ 1982?

@dredmorbius I haven't, looks fascinating! maybe the same gist as James Gleick's _The Information_?

@aparrish Quite probably, though a few decades earlier. I've got Gleick's book but have only briefly searched through it.

(I am ... rather overwhelmed with information.)

I'd run across Campbell in the 1980s, quite the formative book.