Archive | February, 2009

Text Mining Borge’s Library of Babel to discover The Quixote

I have been driving my wife crazy for years thinking about Borge’s “The Library of Babel.” The fact is, it is not infinite. Infinity seems like a binary thing. There is infinite, and there finite. And if it is finite, isn’t it knoweable?

The Library of Babel

The Library of Babel

Borges writes: There are five shelves for each of the hexagon’s walls; each shelf contains thirty-five books of uniform format; each book is of four hundred and ten pages; each page, of forty lines, each line, of some eighty letters which are black in color. There are also letters on the spine of each book; these letters do not indicate or prefigure what the pages will say. I know that this incoherence at one time seemed mysterious. Before summarizing the solution (whose discovery, in spite of its tragic projections, is perhaps the capital fact in history) I wish to recall a few axioms. [The image is from hyperdiscordia that also has the story.]

I finally realized it might already be online, and here it is. Now to begin text mining the Library of Babel to discover The Quixote.

Update: Here is a search engine in The Library of Babel (in English and French)

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Fur and People

I wanted to describe two random images. I don’t know the story about them, but they came from a widget that grabs images from The Bible. A long time ago when studied art history, I kind of knew these stories because all of these painters and drawers painted the same stories from the Bible over and over again.

Giotto (top) and Durer (bottom)

Giotto (top) and Durer (bottom)

The Last Judgment (Detail of Hell 2) : Giotto : Three blue-fur covered creatures with goat fur or greasy feathers, furry bird legs, and the feet of doves circle two flesh-colored figures, a man and a woman. Perhaps it is the fabric in the man’s hand, the contrast of cloth to skin? These are not Adam and Eave, I think. They seem very much to understand they are naked. The man appears old, with streaks of grey in his hair. He is shaved, naked, his skin nude of even hair. He has a barrel chest and oddly skinny arms bent into triangles. He holds a pink satchel that appears that it could function as a purse, but given that neither he nor the woman wears any clothes the bag is more of a symbol really than even a purse. That is the symbols in the picture seem more meaningful than the actual objects the represent. The man for instance is a human male figure warped into the figure of a triangle – despite the damage to this triangle does to his arms and the angles of his arms and the general naturalistic structure of his body. His figure is made into interlocking triangles despite the resistance, the reality, of tendons and bone. One of the furry men holds a brush, but instead of fibers coming out of the top of the brush four long nails come out of the brush. The furry man is pushing the brush into the back of the naked male figure as if he were brushing his back, or scratching his back, so that the nails go into the man’s back. There isn’t any blood on the naked man. Although streaks do cover his back. They don’t look like streaks of blood. I do not know what substance they are represent. The man is also not howling. His expression is of a person having his back brushed. He is staring into the mid-distance, holding his pink bag, while the furry creature sticks the brush of needles into his back. Maybe it is a kind of acupuncture? The figure of the woman is that of a man. It isn’t a woman at all. It isn’t even a very good man in painterly drag. The figure of the woman is the same as the man – oddly distorted and skinny legs and arms. She has slightly more volume in her legs. She has a pelvic mound that buried in fur (most likely to conceal her penis). She has a round, fully packed stomach. Perhaps her stomach is intended to signify a pregnant stomach? Instead it looks like a man’s stomach who drank a lot of beer and the beer is still currently in the stomach. She has two pointy male-style breasts. They are breasts, though, with defined nipples in their down hanging line. I saw a documentary about weight lifters. Male weight lifters who take steroids sometimes develop breasts. These male breasts are mostly muscle with a tiny, jiggling terminal of fat. In the weight room, this documentary said, these are called bitch tits. They are a sign that the weight lifter is on roids. This male figure, who is supposed to be a woman, has these weight lifter roid breasts as well. The other signifier that she is a woman is that her very male face is paler than her other nude partner, and her long hair a uniform golden color is neatly combed. The man’s hair, in contrast, is wild and grey. A strange green dragon nearly the same height as the supposedly female figure clings to her. She has a bloody spot on her check. The dragon thing is green and articulated and has the head of a ferret. How it manages to hold onto the woman’s body is a mystery. Perhaps it is sticky feet or the figures are made of metal and a magnet holds it to her?
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My Poor Handwriting Is a Nice Font

I used this great, free program online, YourFonts, to convert my handwriting into a true-type typeface. I spent a long time saving up for a copy of Fontographer — it cost about three hundred bucks — and drawing matrices with its crude vector editor in 1998. It took me months to come up with something that looked twice as cracked as the typeface I made in about six minutes using YourFonts‘ free Web site.  All I had to do was print out their template, write my handwriting, scan my template, and upload it, download the font, and install it. It’s amazing. I have no idea why they are doing this unless they are collecting some kind of massive compendium of folk typefaces for a writing recognition program or something. But it is well worth the ten minutes to create a typeface.

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“Trap” from The End is the Beginning

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Same Blog, New Place

Notice on Seed Cake in 2000. Still up in 2001.

Notice on Seed Cake in 2000. Still up in 2001.

My blog is moving to this location from seedcake.com. I sold the domain for modest sum to a business that sells bird seed and supports a social networking community for bird house builders. It seems a good use for the domain name. So my blog is now here. I have sold my slice of virtual real eastate. Although I’ve only really recovered my expenses making Seed Cake more of a saving account for me. I trust the business-savvy owners of the new site will stimulate the Seed Cake economy.

This location has several advantages. The main being, as a hosted space, I can now accept comments. I have tried over the years running Moveable Type to allow comments, but I’ve always been pounded by spammers. I hope this works out better.

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