TITLE: Recent Connections: Narrative and Computation AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 10, 2010 6:43 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Reader Clint Wrede sent me a link to A Calculus of Writing, Applied to a Classic, another article about author Zachary Mason and his novel The Lost Books of the Odyssey. I mentioned Mason and his book in a recent entry, Diverse Thinking, Narrative, Journalism, and Software, which considered the effect of Mason's CS background on his approach to narrative. In "A Calculus of Writing", makes that connection explicit:
"What I'm interested in scientifically is understanding thought with computational precision," he explained. "I mean, the romantic idea that poetry comes from this deep inarticulable ur-stuff is a nice idea, but I think it is essentially false. I think the mind is articulable and the heart probably knowable. Unless you're a mystic and believe in a soul, which I don't, you really don't have any other conclusion you can reach besides that the mind is literally a computer."
I'm not certain whether the mind is or is not a computer, but I share Mason's interest in "understanding thought with computational precision". Whether poets and novelists create through a computational process or not, building ever-more faithful computational models of what they do interests to people like Mason and me. It also seems potentially valuable as a way to understand what it means to be human, a goal scientists and humanists share. -----