From the noun project via wikidata:

Object Ethics and ML Continued

poetry, the-tower

Last year at Recurse I trained a model on mala beads and rosary beads. I am sure the post is somewhere here. So there are a lot of problems with this, and with ML in general. In that these are ritual objects imbued with sacred meaning and I am stripping that away (their use value from their information value – this is a new concept introduced here folks – I just thought of it) and using the information. I am using it as pixels and a tag.

There are a ton of ethical questions. What is the proper way to interact with these objects. Do objects have ethics? What does this mean? Objects can have ethics related to their interaction with humans who definitely do have ethics. What makes a human subject to an ethical system – humans act -they are performative.  Ethics is the study of oughts and acts. How we ought to act. That perhaps means that anything that can act is subject to an ethical system. So, obviously, technology, which is performative – like code. But also legal systems – like I now pronounce you man and wife – that is performative -I am referring to the line of though that comes from Searle and Speech Acts.  Ritual objects do things for certain people.  If I interact with a ritual object, what are my ethics?

How do you create an ethical machine learning system that works with ritual objects?

Moving on, I am working on my poetry project – the Tower, and yesterday I thought I should compile a list of towers and meditate on them: the tower of babel, Bollingen Tower, the leaning tower of piza, the twin towers, the freedom tower, you get the idea, the inverted tower in Annihilation. What is an underground tower? A tunnel?

I then thought, perhaps in anticipation of the ML event I was later to attend, that I should create some sort of machine learning algorithm to determine towers or to determine feature sets of towers (e.g., what are the salient features of towers). Maybe I could new towers, or perhaps co-create new towers along with my poem.  I just need some free GPUs to train my model.  Imagine creating new poems or chapbooks based on different conceptions of towers, or users could upload their own tower and perhaps alternate the feature set. This is an example from wiki data when I put in tower.

There was a fantastic tool created by the Met that situated an artwork within its various relations and included a network graph simulation that allowed you navigate the various connections.  I want to use this to understand how all the towers I am looking at contribute to my poetic experience of what the tower means.

Side note:

As I mentioned in other blog posts, fantasy (the unconscious) does things, language does things, computers do things. These all act, or in some cause action. This is a distinction. There is a difference between an impetus for action and an action itself (or is there? maybe not).


distribution of words

The Tower – v2


I am starting to write some tools to examine a draft of the tower.  That photo is an example of the  frequency distribution of words.  What does that picture look like for different poems? Good question.

Here are some common words in v2 of the tower.  N.B. I had to turn all the words into lower case to make this work. [(‘the’, 261), (‘i’, 221), (‘and’, 203), (‘a’, 142), (‘my’, 130), (‘to’, 124), (‘of’, 101), (‘her’, 100), (‘you’, 87), (‘in’, 85), (‘me’, 76), (‘is’, 75), (‘she’, 62), (‘your’, 56), (‘it’, 54), (‘?’, 54), (‘not’, 45), (‘what’, 43), (‘love’, 38), (‘with’, 37), (‘on’, 36), (‘we’, 35), (‘but’, 34), (‘are’, 32), (‘for’, 32), (‘that’, 32), (‘have’, 31), (‘or’, 29)]

Here are some uncommon words – ‘nice’: 1, ‘lore’: 1, ‘echos’: 1, ‘chorus’: 1, ‘chora’: 1, ‘corpus’: 1, ‘complement’: 1, ‘polyphonic’: 1, ‘syncopation’: 1, ‘melodic’: 1, ‘measure’: 1, ‘joined’: 1, ‘gregorian’: 1, ‘chat’: 1, ‘created’: 1, ‘chippewas’: 1, ‘yume’: 1, ‘indian’: 1, ‘warberler’: 1, ‘warbler’: 1, ‘skeleton’: 1, ‘scrum’: 1}

There are 1165 words used once. there are 1772 distinct words there are 5860 words total. Some of these uncommon words are banal (nice), most of the frequent words are copulas. I may run some other poems of similar length through this and see what pops up.

This stuff is pretty basic – but thought provoking and useful in editing. I am going to go through now and perhaps delete many if not all the most common words. I am going to look at the least common words and think about what sort of world they build. It is what I want.

I am thinking my next code jig will involve meter and rhythm.

I have posted the code on

The Tower

poetry, the-tower

Months ago I consulted the Tarot to help me determine what my next writing project ought to be.  I pulled the Tower. This is a frightening card.  It is a card of rupture and disruption. The interpretation that resonated with me, was that I should write about something that will forever change my life -that will provide a rupture. So I started working on a chapbook on eros and as it manifested in a particular period of my life.

I have transcribed all my journals, poems, and notecards related to this project into a Scrivner document and I’m now editing.

I feel like a painter and having just laid down the underwash of ultramarine blue I am now ready to mix my paints.

I have a few aesthetic goals here. First my experience of poetry is as world building, it is the rupture that creates or elucidates a new experience that other people can share and inhabit.  What do I value in poetry, and in my particular project on eros?

I identified

rhythm to create the topology of the world

metaphor as a method of creating new contexts and perspectives

language as a way to introduce surprise and to create new languages

lineage (not the perfect term) as a way to situate this piece as a dialogue with other creative works

There are many other things I could include here such as ideas, inventiveness, multimedia, and so forth but these 4 items are what I am focusing on. Truly focus on 1 would be enough.

As I am working through my material I am coming up with different processes (the scaffolding, jigs or apparatus) to help refine the work in each of these areas. This is coming in the form of traditional writing exercises, but also in the guise of creating computer program, and musical pieces. What other scaffolding can I use? Perhaps games or dance!  Part of my experience in writing this chap book is the process through which I am refining the material into a finished piece and what that means.  This is alchemy, a personal process as well as an external process.

Aside from the scaffolding, I am also reading a ton of poetry with an eye for these 4 aspects: rhythm, metaphor, language, lineage.   The first poet I took a deep dive was Lisa Roberson and I will probably write more about her in a future post.