Maybe “Recursive” isn’t a bad word after all

So I nearly wrote an entry last week wondering whether recursive worked relative to anything at all other than tricks on the order of animated gifs. Because, really, does anything ever really coincide with itself like that? Whenever you get back to where you started, neither you nor the start are the same. A bit like Heraclitus (you can’t step in the same river twice, he said, supposedly).

But then when we were asked to come up with a Metaphor of our Own (you’ve read that Forster novel, right?), mine was Dream Machine. It was an immedia machine which means that there would be no media mediating between brainwave and Dream Machine (DM) simulation of the brilliant poem, scherzo, or water color in my head. So a species of immediatism, just in case you’re a fan of early Hakim Bey. Unlike the dynabook and the iPad where you’re always putzing around with some plastic and glass and software algorithms to translate your conception into their midwifed birthing of a not-quite-your-conception.

Which means I recursed upon our earlier reading by Ted Nelson by coinciding (ok, well, stealing) with his book title. Though I was dreaming something different than his Xanadu of parallel textfaces. So while not recursion, exactly, or is that properly, perhaps it was a recursing of the perennial human tendency to project our frustrations onto a machine that would relieve them by fulfilling their thwarted desires.

Which would suggest that our fascination for what’s normally meant by "recursion" may be in fact an attempt to coincide with ourselves rather than drift forever in Heraclitian, Derridean self-difference. File under fool’s errands.

Truth is, I don’t want my kind of Dream Machine. It would be too much like a hypercompetitive parent or older brother who did all your ideas better than you could. Who needs that kind of grief, especially at my age?

Give me a pretty interface and a program that doesn’t crash and does maybe 60% of what I want it to. That’s about right for a midweek evening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *