Thursday, January 12, 2006

Books, Ancient and Modern

Books, Ancient and Modern

[A note from Dr. Thursday: This poem appears by special permission from the Editor-in-Chief of Something Good To Read.]

They call it "electronics" this gold boom,
The word for amber from the Greeks we get;
And keyboards now weave books upon its loom.
To Manisa of Turkey is our debt
For now their "northbound stone" is our diskette
Whereon a million letters spin and whir;
No dog-eared floppies you have seen, I bet...
Dale says it's tactile books that most prefer.

Though books on disk make certain searches zoom,
They may succeed too well, to your regret,
A tenth of each book with ten words does bloom,
And paraphrase remains a constant threat,
And 'modern' scanned as 'modem' makes one fret,
This soup of letters I would rather stir
And eat - with a detective novelette.
Dale says it's tactile books that most prefer.

No glowing AMBER words lift sleepless gloom,
Though saving scholars loads of time and sweat,
No CRTs are thrown across the room
When readers' expectations are not met,
Or leather-bound, with gold and jewels set
When with the written word one does concur.
The magnet serves, but print is foe or pet...
Dale says it's tactile books that most prefer.

Oh fly caught in the web, trapped in the net,
Just scan a page which line noise cannot blur,
That touch and smell beyond all hardware yet...
Dale says it's tactile books that most prefer.

(April 11, 1999)

(Yes, that "Dale" means Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society. But I also like "tactile" books. Perhaps you do too.)


At 18 January, 2006 13:39, Blogger electroblogster said...

And this is in a million places on the internet but here goes:

Eye have a spelling checker
It came with my Pea Sea
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weight
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two read,
And aides me when aye rime.
Each frays comes posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Be fore a veiling checkers
Hour spelling mite decline,
And it were lacks or have a laps,
We wood be maid to wine.
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
There are know faults with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.
Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped words fare as hear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud.
And wee mussed dew the best wee can
Sew flaws are knot aloud.
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft ware four pea seas,
And why I brake in two averse
By righting want too pleas.

At 18 January, 2006 13:48, Blogger electroblogster said...

We have discussed chinese characters before (through an intermediary) and I know you have an interest in them. A Taiwanese friend just showed me his book about this. I have a feeling you would really like it. Since I cannot put a picture here I must drive you to my own blog (just started and with very low asperations of regular contributions):

Here is the pictureless text of that post -

The book is What's in a Chinese Character by Tan Huay Peng.

This book is amazing! The publisher should really let Amazon show you a couple sample pages - that would tell the story much better than my description. But since they have not - here is my attempt:

The author attempts to trace the lineage and reasons for each of the characters in this book (there are about 100,000 chinese characters - he only shows 2 per page in this 185 page book). In chinese each character is a word. It seems most characters are composits of 2 characters. He looks at the shapes to see if he can make pictographic sense of the characters and radicals. And he draws cartoons of what he sees, and adds explanations and even lists some similar words.

Sometimes his explanations are more of a stretch than others. Sometimes it is very clear and very insightful. By understanding what goes into a language you gain insights into the world and how the people understand it. In this respect it is heavy duty philoosphy. In fact in this case - that is when every character is its own word - the written language is its OWN language - it doesn't really have a natural link to the way it is spoken. I guess this is why the Japanese could so easily borrow the characters to apply to their own language (as they are said to have done). That in itself is a mind-stretcher.

At 18 January, 2006 15:03, Blogger Dr. Thursday said...

Yes, Chinese is a good example of "tactile"...

It is rather interesting in my own world - for the idea of any kind of "search" tool over a graphical "alphabet" raises some very nice points... but I cannot get technical at this time. But it would be fun to know a little more, and I will keep an eye out for this book. (I already have a couple from Dover which satisfy the initial curiosity!)

One of my Christmas presents was a Oriental writing set: ink bar, stone, and two brushes. I look forward to trying it. One of my story lines requires something like that and I want to play.

People do talk about the longevity of Chinese and Egyptian, but the Roman set we are using here is already over 2500 years old, with remarkably few changes - and it permits the formation of quite elegant regular expressions to be recognized by finite machines!

(Oops, I said I was not going to get technical.)

Sorry but now I must go back to work.


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