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Class 7 Notes

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 2 years, 5 months ago


Preliminary Class Business



Readings for Today's Class




0. Introduction to Class:
    From Grammatology to Graphesis (and back)


Epigraphs for today's class -- fresh off the press:



Horace, Ars Poetica:

"ut pictura poesis"

(""as is painting so is poetry")





Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry







Cover of J. Hillis Miller's book, Illustration
 Turner painting






           Collage of images from Franco Moretti










  1. Picture This . . .

Albert Borgmann, Holding On to Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium (1999) - Introduction 

"Information about reality exhibits its pristine form in a natural
setting. An expanse of smooth gravel is a sign that you are
close to a river. Cottonwoods tell you where the river bank
is. An assembly of twigs in a tree points to osprey. The
presence of osprey shows that there are trout in the river. In
the original economy of signs, one thing refers to another in
a settled order of reference and presence. A gravel bar
seen from a distance refers you to the river. It is a sign.
When you have reached and begun to walk on the smooth
and colored stones, the gravel has become present in its
own right. It is a thing. And so with the trees, the nest, the
raptor, and the fish."


France Moretti, "'Operationalizing': Or, The Function of Measurement in Modern Literary Theory" [PDF]
(Stanford Lit Lab Pamphlet #6, 2013)

"P.W. Bridgman devoted the opening of his Logic of modern physics to “the operational point of view”. Here are the key passages:

'We may illustrate [the meaning of the term] by considering the concept of
length: what do we mean by the length of an object? [...] To find the length
of an object we have to perform certain physical operations. The concept of
length is therefore fixed when the operations by which length is fixed are fixed:
that is, the concept of length involves as much and nothing more than the set of
operations by which length is determined. In general, we mean by any concept
nothing more than a set of operations; the concept is synonymous with the
corresponding set of operations [...] the proper definition of a concept is not in
terms of its properties but in terms of actual operations.'

. . . Operationalizing means building a bridge from concepts to measurement,
and then to the world. In our case: from the concepts of literary theory, through some
form of quantification, to literary texts."


John Bender and Michael Marrinan, The Culture of Diagram (2010), Chap. 1

"A surgeon enters the bright, even light of an operating room where the
patient, prepared for surgery, occupies a table surrounded by the expected
array of monitors, respirators, and sterilized tools. But rather
than taking his usual place near the patient, the surgeon seats himself at
a nearby console where an assistant places over his head a helmet that
completely covers his eyes and most of his face. The helmet is plugged
into a computer and the doctor grasps two wands shaped to resemble
microsurgical scalpels. He signals to a technician at a computer terminal
that he is ready: a delicate surgical procedure on one of the patient’s eyes
is about to begin.
        What is happening here? Without ever physically touching the patient,
nor even seeing him directly, the doctor is directing a delicate procedure
inside the eye itself....

... Underlying this unusual meeting of surgeon and patient, mediated almost exclusively
by mechanical sensors, digital sampling, and algorithmic instruction sets,
is an implicit confidence in the information delivered to the surgeon, in
his ability to form a clear and accurate idea of the physical corrections
to be made to the affected eye...."



What is the relation between walking to a river (what Øyvind Eide calls "wayfinding") and an "operation" ("operationalization")?











John Bender and Michael Marrinan, The Culture of Diagram (2010), Chap. 1

"... the digital data-stream is not a description of the eye
but a diagram. A diagram is a proliferation of manifestly selective
packets of dissimilar data correlated in an explicitly process-oriented
array that has some of the attributes of a representation but is situated in
the world like an object. Diagrams are closer in kind to a Jackson Pollock
than to a Rembrandt....

... The proliferation of discrete packets of dissimilar data,
which characterizes diagrams, allows them to be apprehended in series
or, paradoxically, from several vantage points. Their disunified field of
presentation—ruptured by shifts in scale, focus, or resolution—provokes
seriated cognitive processes demanding an active correlation of information.....

... The unfolding of the culture of the diagram ... hinges upon the emergence
of mathematics as the single most powerful tool for the correlation of
dissimilar forms of data.
         Correlation is a search for relationships among variables, and its
success is measured when a convergence of data is recognized. Such a
convergence might be actual, as when pressing a doorbell brings your
friend to a third-floor window and elicits a cry of salutation. It might be
graphical, as when the curve of measured humidity crosses the plot of
ambient temperature. It might be purely mathematical, as when several
equations intersect to define a set of shared variables, or practical, as
when an architect uses a CAD program to define the possible undulations
of a load-bearing wall.  Today, correlations can also be virtual, as
when computer-driven systems of imaging, data collection, and mathematically
drawn vectors plot digitally a non-existent space to create the
experience of flying an airplane or performing eye surgery."



What is the relation between an "operation" and a "diagram"?














 Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees (Verso, 2005), pp. 35-64

"And patterns are indeed what I have been discussing throughout this
chapter. But are they also the proper object of geographical study? In
an intelligent critique of the Atlas of the European Novel, the Italian
geographer Claudio Cerreti has questioned this assumption, pointing
out how patterns entail a Cartesian reduction of space to extension,
where 'objects are analysed in terms of reciprocal positions and distances
. . . whether they are dose or far from each other or from
something else'. This however is not really geography, Cerreti goes
on, but rather geometry; and the figures of the Atlas, for their part,
are not really maps, but diagrams. The diagrams look like maps, yes,
because they have been 'superimposed on a cartographic plane':
but their true nature emerges unmistakably from the way I analyse
them, which disregards the specificity of the various locations, to
focus almost entirely on their mutual relations; which is indeed the
way to read diagrams, but certainly not maps." (p. 54)

"But if the Atlas is full of diagrams--
and, in fact, so is this chapter: where I decided not even to
'superimpose' them onto geographic maps to make the point absolutely
clear--if I keep making diagrams, then, it is because for me
geometry 'signifies' more than geography.  More, in the sense that a
geometrical pattern is too orderly a shape to be the product of chance.
It is a sign that something is at work here-that something has made
the pattern the way it is." (p. 56)


Michel Foucault, "Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias"

"The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch
of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far,
of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment, I believe, when our
experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than
that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein....

... Today the site has been substituted for extension which itself had
replaced emplacement. The site is defined by relations of proximity between
points or elements; formally, we can describe these relations as series, trees, or
grids.  Moreover, the importance of the site as a problem in contemporary
technical work is well known: the storage of data or of the intermediate results of
a calculation in the memory of a machine, the circulation of discrete elements
with a random output (automobile traffic is a simple case, or indeed the sounds
on a telephone line); the identification of marked or coded elements inside a set
that may be randomly distributed, or may be arranged according to single or to
multiple classifications."



What is the relation between a "diagram" and a "map"?
















Welcome to the Matrix!

Data Viz
Mapping and GIS
(examples, bracketed by theoretical influences/complements)



What do you think?
















Michel Foucault, "Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias"

"Now, despite all the techniques for appropriating space, despite the
whole network of knowledge that enables us to delimit or to formalize it,
contemporary space is perhaps still not entirely desanctified....

In the so-called primitive societies, there is a certain form of heterotopia
that I would call crisis heterotopias, i.e., there are privileged or sacred or
forbidden places, reserved for individuals who are, in relation to society and to
the human environment in which they live, in a state of crisis: adolescents,
menstruating women, pregnant women, the elderly, etc."


Terrigal High School, New South Wales, Australia, "Introduction to Aboriginal Art" [slideshow, PPT]


Images from Native American Ritual Stone Structures, YouTube video by QuietBuck (2008)



Is there a place, or a space, for the sacred in our contemporary world of data viz and GIS mapping?  (Related question: is there a place for the "human"?)

















What is the relation between text and viz/map today? >> Which is more sacred?

















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