15.189 SirCam, bookworms &al.

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Tue Aug 21 2001 - 04:03:28 EDT

  • Next message: by way of Willard McCarty: "15.190 NEH Summer Stipends (U.S.)"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 189.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk> (28)
             Subject: worms and bookworms

       [2] From: Michael Hart <hart@beryl.ils.unc.edu> (21)
             Subject: Re: 15.185 SirCam: why Milton might have thought

             Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 08:58:55 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: worms and bookworms

    Julia Flanders' imagining, about a SirCam-like worm eating bits of Paradise
    Lost, reminds me of the plot of a Kung-fu movie I saw once. In it an evil
    landlord provokes the father of a young family into a fight-to-the-death.
    The landlord', with superior kung-fu, kills the father, who leaves to his
    young son his only valuable possession, a kung-fu manual showing the moves
    of his form. Years pass, the son grows up, nurturing deadly hatred for the
    landlord (who curiously seems not to age at all). When he has reached an
    age to begin his preparations for the fight obviously to come, he opens up
    the chest of his father's possessions, takes out the manual -- only to
    discover that a worm has eaten large sections of the book, completely
    obliterating some moves. Undeterred, the young man invents new moves to
    supply the missing ones. In the great fight at the end of the movie, what
    allows the youth to win over the landlord, a clearly superior opponent, is
    the fact that the landlord cannot tell what move is coming next. He thinks
    at various points in the fight he has understood the youth's form when POW!
    he is hit by an unexpected blow in an unexpected way. (BTW, I have heard it
    alleged that the Taiwanese secret service trains its people in a top-secret
    form of kung-fu for precisely this reason....)

    In reply to Julia, I suppose the question is whether we as readers could do
    as well as the youth in the story. Surely an application for hypertext
    poetry -- invent your own 17th-C dialogue between angel and man.


    Dr Willard McCarty / Senior Lecturer /
    Centre for Computing in the Humanities / King's College London /
    Strand / London WC2R 2LS / U.K. /
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784 / ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/

             Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 08:59:16 +0100
             From: Michael Hart <hart@beryl.ils.unc.edu>
             Subject: Re: 15.185 SirCam: why Milton might have thought differently

    On Sat, 18 Aug 2001, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
    > One of the nice things about unlicensed printing of *books* is that they
    > stay where you put them; if 17th-century pamphlets had had the capacity to
    > reproduce themselves and crawl into your copy of Paradise Lost (and perhaps
    > eat away the bit where Adam and the angel have dinner) perhaps Milton might
    > have felt differently.

    > Julia Flanders

    Of course, even 16th-century pamphlets "had had the capacity to reproduce
    themselves and crawl". . . .

    Otherwise we would never have even heard of Martin Luther's 95 thesese,
    which basically proliferated in the same manner, totally unbeknownst to
    Luther. . .thanks to that invidious invention by Johannes Gutenberg. . .
    which started the first "Information Age."


    So nice to hear from you!

    Michael S. Hart
    Project Gutenberg
    "Ask Dr. Internet"
    Executive Director
    Internet User ~#100

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Aug 21 2001 - 04:14:12 EDT