“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Eco-Weakness 2: Objects Make Things Weak

English is not full of inconsistency and paradox because it's strong and rich, but because it's weak and flexible.

Inconsistencies such as the Liar (“This sentence is false”) are archaeological evidence of a fundamental inconsistency in objects: the irreducible gap between real and sensual objects.

It's a real sentence. Yet it's telling you that it's false.

The irreducible gap Lacan discovers between the subject of the enunciated and the subject of enunciation is made clear in the Liar. There is the I who is saying the sentence and the I about whom the sentence is said. This gap is exploited by novelists, who know full well that all first-person narratives are intrinsically untrustworthy. If you want to play with irony and paradox, write in an autobiographical mode. Why else is Frankenstein written that way?

But I think that this gap is only one gap among trillions.

Gödel argues that because of the inherent inconsistency of all theories, you need another theory to explain the semantics of one theory. Each theory requires 1+n others.

Doesn't this sound awfully like the OOO theory of translation? That is, objects are apprehended in an interobjective space that consists of 1+n objects. You never hear the wind in itself, you hear the wind in the chimney (Heidegger).

There are more interesting parallels, having to do with the granddaddy of metalanguage, Tarski, who tried to tamp down the paradoxes of language one and for all.

I'll post some more on this very soon. In particular, I part company with most computational linguists, who hold that computational languages are less expressive than English. I think this is not the problem. I think that computational languages are more explicit and therefore more rigid. English has the advantage of being weak, because it evolved to be spoken by flesh and blood objects who were trying to keep on keeping on.

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