thinking about this formulation from Ursula K. Le Guin (discussing her aspirations for _The Dispossessed_) and wondering how it applies to procedurally-generated works—which, affording a kind of encounter with the infinite, appear to fit into this rubric. but that encounter w/the infinite happens only in the context of asserting an understanding of it—a program promises to keep doing the same thing forever, which is a kind of reassurance, and the opposite of "a permanent source of renewal"
of course the "closure" of a work of literature (or other art) doesn't inhere solely, or even mostly, in the text itself. still i wonder if procgen works are sort of born closed, leaving their creators the daunting (tactical, interdisciplinary) task of continually busting them open so they can't just be reduced to their algorithms. for that matter, can an algorithm be "open"? (using "closed" and "open" in the senses proposed by lyn hejinian here https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69401/the-rejection-of-closure)
the again, every computer program is also a tiny utopia—if only we can take the world out of context, i can tell you exactly how it works—and maybe it's that *formulation* (not the program that implements it, necessarily, or the artifacts it produces) that remains open, a permanent source of renewal. and in that sense procgen rhetorically operates like any other utopia (which brings us back to _The Dispossessed_ subtitled of course "An Ambiguous Utopia")
relevant, Umberto Eco on Saporta's _Composition No. 1_ (novel published as a set of unordered index cards): "A brief look... was enough to tell me what its mechanism was, and what vision of life (and, obviously, what vision of literature) it proposed, after which I did not feel the slightest desire to read even one of its loose pages.... To me, the book had exhausted all its possible readings in the very enunciation of its constructive idea." [...]
[...] "Some of its pages might have been intensely 'beautiful,' but given the purpose of the book, that would have been a mere accident. Its only validity as an artistic event lay in its construction, its conception as a book that would tell not one but all the stories that could be told, albeit according to the directions (admittedly few) of an author" (quoted in Aarseth's _Cybertext_ pp. 52–53)
@aparrish I would love if you could flesh it out into an essay because this is helping me to articulate why I enjoy algorithms in art. I wrote a bit about the role of agency in computer music performance in my undergrad thesis, but the utopian idea of "open" systems feels like a really fundamental perspective to explore.
Annoying response as a poem.. only read if in the right mood Show more
@aparrish just draft them here, that's what I do.
Even with poetry, just a line or two will do.
For essays your probably want a toot or three
Before you reach the backbone you'll need.
Good luck with your writing, I hope it goes well.
@aparrish would you ever have learned to make computers babble elegantly if you did?
@aparrish 1000x this
> every computer program is also a tiny utopia
> …potentially interesting and challenging reading experiences but are still fundamentally "closed," … there's nothing to return to
i don't know if it's quite a relevant thought, but all this reminds me of thinking about how much i was drawn into computation by the computer as a tiny world within which i could move and operate and shape things.
in that model, the works that seem most "open" to me in this sense are also... (1/2)
@aparrish ...the ones that expand the manifold / combinatory space of the computational world they're part of. (2/2)
@aparrish (be that by way of literally interfacing with other parts of the environment or just by way of expanding how i can _think_ about and experience the environment.)
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