July 2nd, 2008

Computer Poetry

Brent’s work is like magic to me. He sits in his office and types into tiny little windows in an ugly throwback font and amazingly the computer listens to him and does what he tells it to do. Mine only works for me if I talk to it nicely and give it the occasional offering. So when I ask him what he is working on, I expect that I won’t really understand the answer if it is anything more complicated than “server stuff.”

The other day, however, he gave me an answer that made perfect sense. He said he spent his day trying to write in a language that doesn’t exist yet.

He’s a poet.

(Um, and being a poet is extremely manly. Only the strongest and most powerful of men can even manage to lift the smallest of limericks. Poets are never forced to eat tanbark as children because the kids who are going to grow up to be professional football players recognize a power greater than theirs. Yeah, that’s how it goes.)

Upon further review (I’m a football player, not a poet…), I think that computer poetry might be like haiku. It’s a concrete sort of poetry, full of active verbs. Its playfulness comes from numbers, like typing 07734 into an old calculator and flipping it upside down so it says hello. The emotion has to be implied, evoked, returned as an output by the wetware.

Apparently Goldilocks and the Three Bears exists in a Fortran version. Whatever the output is, I’m sure it’s just right.