We spend far too much time on content, and not enough time on form

[ by Charles Cameron — recursion as form — this one’s for analysts: poets should know it already ]

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We spend far too much time on content, and not enough time on form.

We spend far too much time on the data, and not enough time on relationships. It is pattern that connects the dots with accuracy, not more dots – quality of insight, not quantity of information.

And pattern is underlying form.

Haiku is a form. The sonnet is a form, the sonata is a form. And just to juxtapose sonnet and sonata is to recognize the formal relationship between them.

1.

Recursion is the form that Doug Hofstadter explores in his book, Godel Escher Bach, and you’ll find it every time one mirror reflects another mirror (what color does a chameleon turn when placed on a mirror?), every time there’s a doll inside a doll inside a Matrioshka doll, often in the form of a paradox (“this sentence is meaningless”) – and when people take photos of themselves holding photos of themselves…

as in the pic of Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle and (in case your politics doesn’t agree so much with Chomsky) the one below them of Jacob Appelbaum and Donald Knuth in my “specs” image at the top of this post.

2.

Content can be powerful, but form really doubles up on the power. Here’s one way of thinking about it: form is what tightens information into meaning.

A couple of news reports in the last couple of days have caught my attention because of their form:

Charter of Open Source Org is Classified, CIA Says

Open Source Works, which is the CIA’s in-house open source analysis component, is devoted to intelligence analysis of unclassified, open source information. Oddly, however, the directive that established Open Source Works is classified, as is the charter of the organization. In fact, CIA says the very existence of any such records is a classified fact.

“The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request,” wrote Susan Viscuso, CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, in a November 29 response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Jeffrey Richelson of the National Security Archive for the Open Source Works directive and charter.

“The fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is currently and properly classified and is intelligence sources and methods information that is protected from disclosure,” Dr. Viscuso wrote.

This is a surprising development since Open Source Works — by definition — does not engage in clandestine collection of intelligence. Rather, it performs analysis based on unclassified, open source materials.

That’s hilarious, it’s so misguided: I don’t know whether to laugh or barf (not a word I ever expected to use in my writings, but there you go).

3.

That’s sad, this one’s just plain tragic:

Protesters calling for religious tolerance attacked with stones, threatened with death

Police are investigating a violent attack on a ‘silent protest’ calling for religious tolerance, held at the Artificial Beach to mark Human Rights Day.

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