Subjectivity / Objectivity In Data … Macroinformation … Information
2004 02 01
This file was first created as a module: now it’s cloned both here and in the folder on Movies. As I find time to edit, the clone pair will individuate, separate, specialize.
I had left my current jottings of quality and quantity with this statement: “There are limits to how objective we can be about data: the limits are both more severe with regard to macroinformation: and of a different kind. We’ll have to consider, self-skeptically I hope, the degree to which consensus may aid our search. The inevitability of problems should not deter us. …”
Yesterday I started to scratch a module on Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock which featured considerations both of informational quantity/quality and infomational objectivity/subjectivity. Ah, but the concepts should come in a basic module first, then appear as deemed appropriate by the author in relations to selected artifacts. First I just read in yesterday’s file below, then I’ll renovate while I continue to suit it to this higher eschelon directory.
I choose this artifact first to illustrate and relate two macroinformational relationals:
Additional relationals may then also be linked and explored.
The more complex the information the more interpretive its nature:
Only the simplest data bears a close relation to objectivity
In analogic data, quantity may be directly related to meaning: I hold my arms wide while saying something was “big.” In digital data however, quantity and meaning are not automatically related: the word “little” has more data than the word “big”: but that fact is “irrelevant.” In contrast, I maintain that in Macroinformation, quantity of macroinformation “is” directly proportional to quality of information: the more, the better. Once macroinformation becomes reliably quantifiable, accepted by a group of scholars, then it should not surprise us to assess more macroinformation in a sonnet of Shakespeare’s than we do from three days of filibustering in the Senate. The sonnet contains fourteen times ten syllables; the filibusterer may have read from the Times, from Gibbon, from the phone book … (Any macroinformation in Gibbon will be incidental to the filibuster: not its point; whereas the macroinformation in the sonnet is its essence.)
Simultaneously: data seems to be objectively related to the universe of things, to Pleroma: matter and energy. The “C” painted on the rock on the Harlem River across from the Columbia boat house is a C; not a Z, not a B … Even eroded, even needing repainting, most will see a C; few will think it’s a D or an O. If we regard perfect objectivity as unity and imperfect objectivity as a decimal fraction, a datum may never be a one, compromised as it must be by noise, by erosion, by other uncertainties, but it may be a high enough decimal fraction to be almost one. Dammit! that’s a C!
I viewed Picnic at Hanging Rock for the first time last night. Immediately afterward I emailed bkMarcus to report that I was mesmerized, that macroinformation gushed from the artifact: the cascade was nearly continuous. Next I visited imdb.com and encountered a user-review that reported great boredom: uniform relief among his friends as the credits rolled. I quote another dismissal:
This is, hands-down, the absolute WORST movie I have ever seen in my life. It is not “beautiful” or “artsy” or even unintentionally funny. Although the actors make a valiant effort to portray themselves as realistic humans, the script is horrific and the film ends in such a way that makes it obvious that there never was an ending to begin with. This movie made me want to shake Peter Weir and ask him simply: “WHY!?!?!?” There is a special room in hell where the greatest sinners of us all are condemned to view this travesty, $agrave; la Clockwork Orange, for all eternity.
Clearly these groups were NOT washed by cascades of macroinformation: they experienced a paucity of information. Days latter [02 04 2004] I’m still being laved by the abundance of information. Did we see the “same” movie. No. Not at all. We experience the same data; not at all the same information, not the same macroinformation.
When I started the above I knew how I was going to continue. Last night’s reading however offers another wedge to drive into the chop I’m making:
Lying is scarcely necessary where no conversation means what it seems to say.
|Maria realized that she had considered English novels dull because she had never understood the nuances of well-bred English speech. Those novels might be what she had been told they were — very witty, once you comprehended that the characters were never saying what they really meant.
Robert Anton Wilson, The Earth Will Shake
I am accustomed to English manners in English literature; perhaps our online reviewers were not. As freshmen we were all reading Don Quixote: Nick was the only one reading it in (his native) Spanish: Nick was the only one laughing — and Nick was laughing almost uncontrolably. Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian film: read “British.” It’s period is 1900: read very “British.” Yet an illustration of macroinformation I’d been planning to mention reminds me of effects I’ve seen in films from around the world. Indeed one example has long been cited at Macroinformation from Fellini’s 8 1/2: Italian. Indeed it relates to a Hollywood example given repeatedly among the top files here:
One character, the perpetually whinning fat girl, remarks that the Hanging Rock picnic grounds makes her believe that they, the school group, are the first living creatures ever to be there. The speaker is lying back, not looking at anything. Immediately, the footage cuts to ants devouring the picnic supplies, to other insects … flocks of birds, lizards …
These Australian characters are very British. She may be saying what she means: but few in the group see what’s actually there. Existence is dismissed as of slight importance to them. They have invaded an alien land and are blind to the alien ecology. The screen contracdicts the sound track.
The writer in 8 1/2 grouses about everything. “Why makes films?” he asks. The screen shows Claudia Cardinale walking on a beach at night.
No: pix where she’s in white, the sea in the background
!!! Why indeed?
Captain Renault says he is shocked to discover gambling at Rick’s: the cashier delivers his roulette payola to him at that moment.
2004 02 18 Note: this module has been much interrupted: both by other art experiences (by other exigencies of life) and by my apprehension that I must once again revise my much halted modules. But this time I think I’ve crossed an important threshold. Get my informational spectra clear in the early modules, then relax with the concrete illustrations.
Re: Picnic, I add some reminders to myself that the alert visitor may understand even before I’ve fleshed them. The movie begins with girls, girls, girls: WASP upon WASP. The movie begins with marked contrasts: privileged girls vs. the school’s token orphan. That same contrast is mirrored at Hanging Rock Picnic Grounds between the Colonel’s nephew and the man servant: also, we learn, an orphan. And, like the characters, the territory also contrasts. All WASP girls on the one hand: primordal Australia on the other. The school silently shouts This is not normal life!; the territory shouts This is not England!
Abundant information, macroinformation, emerges from the contradictions among the many sets of data. The information gushes not just “between the lines” but among the senses: sight, sound …
Among these artifacts, so long as the data is intact (the page didn’t smudge, the film didn’t disintegrate in the can …), the data approches objectivity. The negative reviewers would have heard very much what I heard the school girl say at the picnic grounds.
The macroinformation however is very far from objective: they experienced little to none of it. (The other night I watched part of a movie in Farsi: with the sound track off and no sub-titles. I still received macroinformation from the images alone, but no doubt vastly less than I will expect once I watch again with the music, with the dialogue … and picking up Afghan refugee culture the best I can. A deaf person who also can’t read music will experience little from the Goldberg Variations even if they’re holding the score. I wouldn’t expect to laugh much at a Bantu gag writers’ meeting. The information in the data is the least part of it.
I’ll return to what I was originally going to say about Picnic at Hanging Rock.
2004 02 23 Days are slipping by, as they tend to do, and I still don’t feel I’m at first base with what I originally meant to do here. And of course what I’ve wanted to do here since my first session has grown considerably. I’ll have to start over. Meantime, I share a
Subjective / Objective Scratch Pad
Baraka: subj, obj: how much macroinformation emerges from your viewing of exhibits such as The Family of Man, the Pollock show, of Baraka … will depend entirely on how much information is accessible by your system during the experience. Just reviewing Baraka I am reminded not only of how helpful familiarity with Gamelon music, of Chilean waynos … is, of magic, of religions major and minor, but also some acquaintance with theomodynamics, astronomy, astronomy … [Add] Another viewer of the film with a different set of interests and expertise will generate different macroinformation. If I learn more of any subjects, who knows which, and see it again, it will not surprise me to find the film showing relevance to those very disciplines however unconscious I am of them now.
In contrast: semiotics alarm clock round neck
2013 04 08 Apropos of my use of Eco’s example of the chieftain and the alarm clock worn as a pendant: I’m watching The Eagle: Roman legion loses its eagle standard to the Celtic Highlanders north of Hadrian’s Wall, 2nd century. We civilized people are culturally descended from the Romans, not the Celts. We see that the eagle means to them what the American flag means to the patriots I dance with at the American Legion: it mean the country itself, it means honor: honor itself. It’s a bedlam of map-territory confusions in its multiplicity of meanings, all emotional, none rational, all very human.
So: we track the lost eagle, to the Seal People, and there, they’re using this very Roman symbol
[2011 01 28 I notice today typos here that I’m not sure how to edit: maybe another time]
One circle of faith glimpses another and accuses them of idolatry, presuming that the rivals are worshipping a stone. I imagine a non-literate circle mis-imagining the behavior of readers of scripture, a circle which uses no beads mis-imagining the use of a rosary, a prayer wheel …
I don’t know of course because I don’t know enough, but I suspect, I extrapolate from patterns I do see, the if we only knew enough, accessed enough information, then no matter what we experienced: torture, a cholera infected sewer, a billion years of blue-green algae, we would find it infinitely interesting.
And a note to myself, not immediately subjective/objective related: Deal with academia’s long-standing reluctance to deal with value in meaning. Odgen and Richards just reminding me.
a lot of editing needed