Mucking About

Reprocessing and revising material and finding new stuff (e.g. David Miall at U of Alberta presenting notes about and excerpts from Kristeva on the semiotic and the abject for a course on the Gothic).

Dig this quotation provided by Miall from Madan Sarup, An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism, 2nd Ed. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1993).

If the semiotic is pre-Oedipal, based on primary processes and is maternally oriented, by contrast the symbolic is an Oedipalized system, regulated by secondary processes and the Law of the Father. The symbolic is the domain of positions and propositions. The symbolic is an order superimposed on the semiotic. The symbolic control of the various semiotic processes is, however, tenuous and liable to break down or lapse at certain historically, linguistically and psychically significant moments. It results in an upheaval in the norms of the smooth, understandable text. The semiotic overflows its boundaries in those privileged 'moments' Kristeva specifies in her triad of subversive forces: madness, holiness and poetry. (p. 124)
And now to jump to a consideration how one gets from madness and poetry to the prose of sanity, the prose of propositions and positions (a hiatus to the flux).

A certain hypothesis: scientific skepticism (the readiness to question and test) is akin to the thought patterns at work in some forms of acute psychosis [playing on the border of what is and could be]. I venture to speculate it is this very set of thought patterns and habits of reality testing that both trigger an episode and assist in the return from the manic state.

Let me recall the classic thought experiment of the imitation game and present this found example of a machine that can "do" madness. Dan Lloyd in Radiant Cool: A Novel Theory of Consciousness concludes the fiction with a realist description of ... well, let me quote one of the characters:
His eyes searched all over the room, trying to lock onto us. I realized what a simple thing it was, to meet the gaze of another, to recognize. I realized that in the exchange of glances, that in one look back and forth you could see the unreeling of life stories, distilled into a single frank gaze, or an averting of eyes. I noticed all that because his look had none of it, because his look did not find us, did not find the wall behind us, did not find the empty space in which we stood. He was without eyes, without face, without mind. We were standing on the edge of a vast devastation.
The pathos is touching. Particularly touching since the narration holds the reader enthralled because of the depiction of a continuing search, an attempt to lock on, to orient a way to connection. That search and attempt is as much a projection of textual desire to make sense of the poesis under observation (that of the mad subject) as it is an observation of the mad subject's desire.

What has this to do with computing machines, you may ask. Dan Lloyd describes in a note how the chapter was composed.
Max Grue's most jumbled ravings are derived from his less jumbled speeches using text-morphing software found in the McPoet Dadaist software package, written by the multitalented Chris Westbury. [...] The text-morphing process takes each word in an actual text and calculates which words from that text are most likely to follow. Morphing then generates a new text preserving the same word-to-word probabilities, but random otherwise. Such texts are enjoyable nonsense, but seem strangely haunted by the style and logic of the original.
In its later incarnations, McPoet is known as JanusNode — a name that I like to think of looking both ways in the language game: to the ocean of linguistic materiality and the islands of rational discourse.

To muck about: To do random unplanned work or spend time idly; To do something with a piece of equipment when you do not understand how it works; To be playful; full of fun and high spirits. It's intransitive: takes no objects. Hence no positions or propositions.

And so for day 1258