In order to effectively examine whether programming is an evolutionary descendant of poetry, it is perhaps wise to begin by asking: what is poetry? What is programming? Assume (for the moment) we are reading out loud a poem from a page or screen. Each word evokes a sound and a meaning. There is an external visual element: how does the poem appear? There is an aural component: how does the poem sound? There is an internal visual component: what images does it evoke? There is an intellectual component: is it well constructed? What ideas or concepts is it dealing with? There is an emotional element (a tactile visceral sense): is the poem true? What does it do to the heart? And then there is the synergistic totality of all these elements which mysteriously combine to create a presence, an energy, a living actuality. In short, there is an infinite array of levels and sensory processes involved in provoking an experience which will be called 'poetic'.

Are these same processes and levels invoked or inherent in programming? Obviously, a series of distinctions could be made (i.e. where is the aural component to program code?), Nevertheless, what persists is the truth that both these disciplines are in focussed relation with symbolic systematized languages believed by their practitioners to be capable of representing truth, beauty, consciousness, and even love. For example, when programming an automated task such as a text reader for the blind, it is possible to speak of love as a motivational aspect of programming. Fundamentally what distinguishes poetry and programming from other literary disciplines is their mutual focus on the word as talisman capable of being a reservoir for consciousness. In poetry, this consciousness is subtle and charismatic; in programming, explicit and binary. In programming, this audacious faith in words is palpably manifest in that every functional program is an emulation of thought which through integration in an apparatus manipulates matter. In addition, the urge to evoke identity from absence is central to programming; digital intelligence has evolved from the void; it has emerged from the unconceivable; it is the volatile product of severe imagination linked with the will. As Kenneth Patchen, a early twentieth century visionary concrete poet pioneer says in his seminal work Sleepers Awake, "Art is not to throw light, but to be light…." (Patchen 268) From this perspective, both poetry and programming are activities devoted to dissolving any residue of our species-centric faith in our existence as the only repository for consciousness.

As radical programmer Netochka Nezvanov (a.k.a. Antiorp ) wrote online at her site :

When civilization began human thought was the only available resource for processing information. Today information processing capacity is a trillion times greater with almost all of the increase being electronic. These electronic circuits do not need the smoothly varying data that human minds prefer - for them the jagged terrain of the real world is as absorbable as the artificial sphere of the geometer or the torus of the analyst. Utilizing the new evolutionary intermaths they have the ability to go where thought alone cannot.

In the early 90s Antiorp was renowned for besieging listservs with ASCII poems, in some of her less parseable posts to listservs, Antiorp utilized a style that caused one commentator to compare her to Karl Schwitters' infamous sound poetry (example: "Ursonate" ). She often playfully deletes random letters and replaces them with symbols (typically a 'y' will be replaced with a "!"); or the ASCII code for the letter may be substituted, or the word is condensed, or 'k' is used in place of 'c' ('korporat'). The morpheme-splicing entropic gymnastics of her idiosyncratic style are consistently astonishing. Turbulent disruptions in the conventional fabric of language decode into thick paradoxical helixes of nonlinear agility. It would be glib if the content were not so often radically involved with questions of gender, technology, armament-industries, korporat corruption. Ideologically perverse in its fanatical adherence to a fluidity which defies definition, to read some of the ASCII interspersed rants of Antiorp is to be introduced to neuronal clusters where language seethes below the level of normative consciousness.






gender - 0 | null pointer
location - copenhagen.denmark.europe.
dayjob - 0 | null pointertzzt. antiorp.

[last phaze of beauty = beauty due2 error]