Art with clocks

2008/05/04

The Dutch artist Christiann Postma has created a clock from 150 clocks that, together, spell the current hour with their hour hands: see the animation on his website.

It appears that the same effect could be produce with fewer clocks by reusing some of the hands in more than one word, especially if the spelled numbers did not have to be in any particular arrangement or orientation, which could be kinda fun. What is the minimal number of clocks that are required to spell every hour of the day at the right times?

Bush’s War

2008/04/18

PBS restores my faith in the American democracy and human decency.  Against the backdrop of  dogmatic punditry of cable TV talk shows and exercises in propaganda techniques by documentary makers, journalistic honesty feels refreshing.  The new PBS Frontline series Bush’s War left me angry and exasperated but, in the short four hours, it doubled my understanding of the dynamics of the Iraq War.  I can imagine that forty years from now, the History channel will be playing snippets of these interviews to try to elucidate the most shameful blunder in the American history. 

why e-prime?

2008/01/14

Why do I write in e-prime? Other than for intellectual amusement, no reason. Since I learned about it last week, the concept has intrigued me by its claim to force one to think more critically and communicate more coherently and honestly.

How can a serious constraint on one’s language improve its expressiveness? Does the taboo verb really carry with it so much deceit and misery?

All right, I will bite. So far, all my entries have conformed to e-prime’s tenets. Has it made me think more critically or communicate more honestly? I don’t know.

Skeptical about e-prime’s claims, my colleague Csaba became agitated trying to come up with a counterexample that would once and for all prove e-prime’s inferiority to regular English. Asks Csaba, How would you say “2×2=5 is a false statement” in e-prime? I admit, it took me a good minute to come up with an answer. How about “2×2=5 contradicts the axioms of arithmetics“, finally came the answer. Once again, e-prime made explicit an implicit framework of determining truth.

I wonder how e-prime would affect other systems of knowledge. I wonder if the world’s theologies and ideologies would survive the translation of their founding works into e-prime.

Language may play a key role in shaping thought (remember newspeak?). Besides e-prime, what other changes to English would make us better thinkers? Does the influence of e-prime wear off as new ways for ambiguity and implicit assumptions creep into the language?

I do miss progressive tenses though. Perhaps, I ought to never speak of unfinished actions–

As long as I continue writing in e-prime, I shall add the label e-prime to every post.