Monday, 4 March 2013

About some instances of higher informational density

Wallace is overwhelming. Wordy. One sentence on average is one page. It's crazy, and it makes you feel crazy. But that's not what this post is about.

It's about informational density, and those rare moments when you manage to translate enormous quantities of information with just one sentence.

That is to say...
It’s hard to explain. In logical terms, something expressed in words
will still have the same ‘cardinality’ but no longer the same ‘ordinality.’
in effect contained for me most of the information from the rest of the page:
All the different words are still there, in other words, but it’s no longer
a question of which one comes first. Or you could say it’s no longer the
series of words but now more like some limit toward which the series
converges. It’s hard not to want to put it in logical terms, since they’re
the most abstract and universal. Meaning they have no connotation,
you don’t feel anything about them. Or maybe imagine everything
anybody on earth ever said or even thought to themselves all getting
collapsed and exploding into one large, combined, instantaneous
sound — although instantaneous is a little misleading, since it implies
other instants before and after, and it isn’t really like that. It’s more like
the sudden internal flash when you see or realize something — a sudden
flash or whatever of epiphany or insight. It’s not just that it happens
way faster than you could break the process down and arrange it
into English, but that it happens on a scale in which there isn’t even
time to be aware of any sort of time at all in which it’s happening, the
flash — all you know is that there’s a before and an after, and afterward
you’re different. I don’t know if that makes sense. I’m just trying
to give it to you from several different angles, it’s all the same thing.Or
you could think of it as being more a certain configuration of light
than a word-sum or series of sounds, too, afterward.Which is in fact
true. Or as a theorem’s proof — because if a proof is true then it’s true
everywhere and all the time, not just when you happen to say it. The
thing is that it turns out that logical symbolism really would be the
best way to express it, because logic is totally abstract and outside what
we think of as time. It’s the closest thing to what it’s really like. That’s
why it’s the logical paradoxes that really drive people nuts. A lot of history’s
great logicians have ended up killing themselves, that is a fact.
Anyway, Wallace is charming.

Source: Good Old Neon, from whichever story collection was it. You can google it yourself.

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