In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Three Poems
  • Steven B. Katz

A Computer File Named Alison

\For My Wife\

I dated a file named Alison, created worlds in her name; but needed more space, new memories to save, new files to live. (After all, although the universe expands at astronomic rates, it’s slowing down, and there is only so much space inside machines.)

“Destroy Alison: Confirm,” the computer responded. But what if she should die? I thought, and asked aloud; what if when I push this button she should really disappear from the disc of the earth, constantly rotated, read in this dark machine drive of the universe?

What if this cold, dumb, personal computer should read and wholly misunderstand, and take me literally, as impersonal as itself, and her atoms be scattered through magnetic fields, dispersed along the wires, and she should vanish mid the glitch and circuitry of starts, drive lights red-

shifting, every trace (of her) erased forever. “Destroy Alison: Confirm,” it repeated, blindly blinking. Destroy Alison? I needed more space, new memories to save, new files to live. But oh I could not confirm it could not confirm it . . . .

After Reading godel Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

(A Pantoum)

So this musical invention can begin: push down into a paradoxical painting: all formal theorems are incomplete: every procedure’s a stranger loop

Push down into a paradoxical painting: decisively shifting ambiguous foregrounds: every procedure’s a stranger loop: but ant colonies are closed systems

Decisively shifting ambiguous foregrounds: all understanding is self-referential: but ant colonies are closed systems: the human mind is a programmed search

All understanding is self-referential: DNA involves recursive translation: the human mind is a programmed search: but meaning is always a random concurrence

DNA involves recursive translation: intelligence is a series of metalevels: but meaning is always a random concurrence: although perception is specifically encoded

Intelligence is a series of metalevels: absolute consciousness a Zen Buddhist koan: although perception is specifically encoded: reality is just one of many possibilities

Absolute consciousness a Zen Buddhist koan: language is the necessary software of thought: reality is just one of many possibilities: knowing involves simply networks of channels

Language is the necessary software of thought: societies are hierarchies of information: knowing involves simply networks of channels: we can crawl only from stratum to stratum

Societies are hierarchies of information: history’s the output at any given moment: we can crawl only from stratum to stratum: this process is surely becoming absurd History’s the output at any given moment: mathematical patterns thus slowly emerge: this process is surely becoming absurd: the mechanism as medium is direct and explicit

Mathematical patterns thus slowly emerge: reproduction results in assembled transcriptions: the mechanism as medium is direct and explicit: the message is “the message is” Reproduction results in assembled transcriptions: bodies are merely so much hardware, support: the message is “the message is”: even numbers can be irrational

Bodies are merely so much hardware, support: so this operation shall now be augmented: even numbers can be irrational: humans are artificial computers at heart

So this operation shall now be augmented: powerful axioms generate universes: humans are artificial computers at heart: this procedure is redundant and infinitely long

Powerful axioms generate universes: for proof jump out of the system: this procedure is redundant and infinitely long: but the human brain must bottom out

For proof jump out of the system: out of the system we pop: but the human brain must bottom out: this musical invention will self-destruct

Out of the picture we pop: these statements are most certainly true: this musical invention will self-destruct: and so now all this nonsense may finally stop

These statements are most certainly true: but there will be harmonic resolution too: and so now all this nonsense may finally stop: these statements are all paradoxically false

In The Beginning

(To justify God’s ways to the 21st century)

#In the beginning was the computer. And God said

:Let there be light!

#You have not signed on yet.

:God.

#Enter user password.

:Omniscient.

#Password Incorrect. Try again!

:Omnipotent.

#Password Incorrect. Try again!

:Technocrat.

#And God signed on 12:01 a.m., Sunday, March 1...

Additional Information

ISSN
1053-1920
Launched on MUSE
1991-01-05
Open Access
No
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