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The Exhaustion of the Interaction of Words: Brainstorming with the ParaMind Brainstorming Program


2. The History of Meaningful Word-interaction Exhaustion

A working definition of meaningful word-interaction exhaustion is any literature composed for a purpose but is created by means that are partly or wholly beyond the limitations of a human mind. Thus, meaningful word-interaction exhaustion is the literature which proceeds in an alternative way to the progression which is kept under control and limitations by humanity's intellect. An idea of this scope must have a history outside its relationship to the current time in which it was coined. It is the purpose of this section to discover the history of literature produced by alternative methods. I have to say for fairness when I started thinking of the idea, that I had never heard the expression "the exhaustion of the interaction of words" nor the idea represented in any of the thinkers I will now describe. My inspiration at that time was more the basic "cosmic consciousness" type philosophy and my father's scientific optimism that would often show itself when we watched science-fiction movies together. At the time, I had also been exposed to ideas about "cut-ups" -- cutting words out of text with scissors and then reassembling them.

Ramon Lull (1232-1315) created a system of "thinking" outside of the limitations of human thought in 1275. He invented a type of logical machine by creating a small set of words that could be combined together in specific fashions. He did this for a purpose, since he was trying to get people to combine elements of new thinking, in this case, trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. Lull's machine allows the words to be combined together and show all the possible statements, in his limited set, on the subject.

Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) was called the last Renaissance man and compared to Leonardo da Vinci. He wrote works on optics, geography, astronomy, hieroglyphs, alchemy and music, and invented a magnetic clock, an automatic organ, and a "magic lantern." Kircher wrote "Ars Magna Sciendi," the Great Art of Science, in 1669, which names Lull and describes a system similar to the Lullian art. Kircher thought the art of combination was a secret matter only for those that God enlightens.

Another German philosopher who used the Lullian method of combination was Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Leibniz published "Dissertatio de Arte Combinatoria" in 1666, which describes an "alphabet of human thought." He thought of all ideas as only combinations of a small number of simple concepts. Like the meaningful word interaction exhaustion theory of the value of exploring sentences by expanding upon them, Leibniz thought that since all sentences are composed of a subject and a predicate, one might find new sentences by finding all the predicates appropriate to the sentence in a given subject. He also thought one could find all the subjects that are related to a given predicate. He went into much detail in this work that should be explored for possible inspiration in meaningful word interaction exhaustion.

Descartes (1596 - 1650) was a philosopher who also discussed ideas regarding a break-down of human thought into smaller components. Leibniz was influenced by Descartes so it is important to give him a passing mention.

Contained in the work of Jonathan Swift's (1667 -1745) "Gulliver's Travels" there is a reference to a machine which is designed in such a way to compose juxtapositions by the turning of handles on which there is structure of symbols. There would be people employed to work on this machine, turning the handles and writing down the results of the juxtapositions. Hopefully, according to the story, there would be several more machines built so that ideas could come about easier. It is impossible for us to know if Swift was serious in any way in his short discussion of his idea, but contained within this reference is a small bit of the meaningful word-interaction exhaustion philosophy.

Novalis (1772 - 1801) provides another predecessor to the meaningful word-interaction exhaustion ideas. There are currently no full translations into English from the German of Novalis' Broullion, an encyclopedia project that was never completed. Contained within Broullion is a scheme for creating a "calculus of ideas," "a loom of ideas" using a "magic wand of analogy" (Neubauer, 1980). These phrases represent a linkage of ideas with meaningful word-interaction exhaustion since as a discipline it aims to meaningfully exhaust the interactions of words available to us (thus exhausting logical thoughts/inventions/etc.). It was by Novalis' study of "encyclopedia theory" that he came upon the work of Leibniz, the German philosopher who worked on a science of analogies.

Tristan Tzara (1896 -1963) was the first recorded person to use "cut-ups," a writing style using scissors and pre-written sentences. The text is cut into sections which are then reassembled into new text. This poet's invention became popular among some writers in modern times. He provides a good example of the thinker who tries to introduce elements of chance into the thinking process.

My history with the idea was briefly explained but I will go into more detail here. In early May of 1985, I conjured up an idea for this computer/human technique which I think could increase knowledge in general. I call this technique meaningful word-interaction exhaustion. By design, it tries to exhaust the meaningful interactions of words in a certain subject, and therefore constitutes a type of ultra-literature.

To understand my confidence in playing around with this idea, it is necessary to understand my influences. My father was born in 1921 and he had the kind of scientific optimism that many had in that generation. They saw the future as wondrous because of all the incredible things that science would bring to us. I was an artistically-minded child who also loved science with the same kind of optimism my father had. Through various artists, I also learned to incorporate the love of philosophy and spirituality into scientific thinking. Some of these philosophers pointed towards "cosmic consciousness" ideas. The idea that one could find out more about the universe by tapping into spirituality was fascinating to me.

Other influences were the art movements which occurred primarily from 1916 to around 1940. These groups contained young people who had contempt for that which was considered proper and academic. This alone would not have impressed me so much, but they substituted things which were competent academically -- they didn't just complain. From them I learned to have confidence in my own ideas. They viewed institutionalized learning as something that wasn't always representing the only view of things and the last word on intelligence. They saw it was moldable, and often changed by young minds or "outcasts" who are disregarded in their times. This kind of philosophy empowers young thinkers. During the same time that meaningful word-interaction exhaustion occurred to me, I was concerned with the idea of expanding artistic and futuristic ideas by use of the "cut-up" writing technique. The cut-up technique of writing is a technique invented by the poet Tristan Tzara in the late 1910's. With a pair of scissors, one cuts up some text into either individual words or groups of words, and then jumbles the pieces together in a chance fashion. The reorganization of the words is the new piece of "information," the power and potential of which is not limited by the person's mind at all. As one can imagine, a lot of gibberish is produced by this technique. Occasionally, breathtaking combinations of words are found.

During 1985-1987, I wrote about the idea in various college papers and finally in 1992 I started a company to create a software product based on the idea. There were already a few brainstorming-type programs on the market but none of them were very sophisticated in the direction that I wanted to go in.


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