History and aesthetic of computer animation and virtual reality. Notes on Los Angeles in the 1980s and the computer animation community of that time. Miscellaneous commentary on the archaeology of the cold war, as well as notes on the esoteric knowledge as it manifests in popular culture, cinematic theory, the hollow earth, espionage, corruption in civic governance, the aesthetics of conspiracy theories, the failure of the cultural myth and other related topics.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
From hope to despair, then to hope,
then to despair again, is that the fate of all civilizations? To
give in to sloth and decay, their monuments to reason covered with the
slime of intellectual and moral weakness? To sink again and again
into corruption, incompetence, venality and death ? Is hope for
progress mere pablum for the weak minded to keep them enthusiastically at
their tasks until it is too late and their fate is sealed?
Something has been revealed to me
recently that would make me think so.
A computer language is many things but
one of them is a (usually formal) specification of a grammar and a syntax that
is useful to the bipeds in expressing their ways of doing things,
what are sometimes called algorithms, named for the jazz trio of
Johnny von Neumann, Alan Turing and Alonzo Church whose band, The
Algorithms, dominated avant garde jazz in the 1930s up into the
1950s and whose influence is still heard today. Although writing
computer algorithms is a very personal and idiosyncratic form of
expression, the notation that the individual artists (and groups of artists) use to
express themselves will subtly affect the elegance of the algorithm and can by its nature guide and channel what can be expressed.
They may all be Turing equivalent at some theoretical level but they
"feel" very different.
There is no one such formal language,
there are many, and there will be many in the future. Like music and
music notation, they will evolve and some will be appreciated by an
elite, and some will be used by the masses. Some, like SNOBOL are
esteemed but not in current usage. Others like C++ (pronounced "C
Double Cross") are as common as flies on shit and just as
As in all things there is the matter of
taste and the issues of elite style vs common style. The avant
garde must by its very definition be avant, changing and moving forward.
Even so, we can look on in horror or at least puzzlement when
something that is fundamentally flawed, something that we know is
just not going to be good, becomes established and then through the
vicissitudes of the uncaring fates explodes onto a hundred million
computer screens to become encrusted into just as many computer
programs and taught to our children and then to their children in
I have just looked more closely at HTML
5 which is already everywhere and soon will be truly everywhere.
One day there will be an HTML 6 no doubt but until then it is HTML 5
that will be used to mark up what our civilization has to say about
integrated into the very essence of HTML 5. There can not be one
realize that Satan and the Illuminati, another band from the 1930s,
must be chortling with glee at the little joke they have played on
column B and column C and Java and Scheme and C and blows smoke in our face. It is a tale
told by a billionaire, Mark Andresson, who was in a hurry at the time
and would we have done any better if we were in his shoes? I would
hope that we would, but it is very hard to know until we are tested,
and we probably never will have that opportunity. It is what it is, however.