1018: "Good Cop, Dadaist Cop"

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Kit.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Kit. » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:07 am UTC

Kleptonis wrote:DEBATE: Is an impossible-to-translate language even possible?

42

Mostlynormal
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Mostlynormal » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:21 am UTC

Kit. wrote:
Kleptonis wrote:DEBATE: Is an impossible-to-translate language even possible?

42


But is that a language? A language is something that carries meaning, so you can't post arbitrary strings of characters and call it an untranslatable language. In fact, I think I can translate from your particular language:

"Yep. I hereby declare the string of characters "42" to be a word in my untranslatable language. So there."

And if one were to spout truly meaningless strings of characters, it couldn't really be called a language. And if one were to give arbitrary meanings (somewhat of a contradiction, but whatever) to a string of characters, then by the fact that you have meanings attached, they can be translated.

Basically a language has to carry meaning, and anything that carries meaning could theoretically be translated into English, given enough time to build up new definitions. It could be possible to argue the hypothetical existence of a language (created by beings from another Universe with different laws of physics, maybe) that carries meaning so alien to anything we can conceive of in our reality that no amount of description and definition would make it translatable, but I think that even then if the priniciples of mathematics and logic are universal (something that seems likely but I haven't had time to think through), we could eventually translate that language.

Maybe we could make the argument that even if we were to "translate" a language from a place with radically different laws of physics, the meaning would be lost in reductionism. Just as we would find a description of most phenomena (such as an advertising campaign or a jail term) using subatomic particles meaningless (not to mention prohibitively long), we would be unable to truly "understand" phenomena in this hypothetical world. That's something to consider. But I think that even then no human could create an untranslatable language because any meaning that that human attached to its words could in principle be conveyed to another human.

bigjeff5
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby bigjeff5 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:23 am UTC

Mostlynormal wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Kleptonis wrote:DEBATE: Is an impossible-to-translate language even possible?

42


But is that a language? A language is something that carries meaning, so you can't post arbitrary strings of characters and call it an untranslatable language. In fact, I think I can translate from your particular language:

"Yep. I hereby declare the string of characters "42" to be a word in my untranslatable language. So there."

And if one were to spout truly meaningless strings of characters, it couldn't really be called a language. And if one were to give arbitrary meanings (somewhat of a contradiction, but whatever) to a string of characters, then by the fact that you have meanings attached, they can be translated.

Basically a language has to carry meaning, and anything that carries meaning could theoretically be translated into English, given enough time to build up new definitions. It could be possible to argue the hypothetical existence of a language (created by beings from another Universe with different laws of physics, maybe) that carries meaning so alien to anything we can conceive of in our reality that no amount of description and definition would make it translatable, but I think that even then if the priniciples of mathematics and logic are universal (something that seems likely but I haven't had time to think through), we could eventually translate that language.

Maybe we could make the argument that even if we were to "translate" a language from a place with radically different laws of physics, the meaning would be lost in reductionism. Just as we would find a description of most phenomena (such as an advertising campaign or a jail term) using subatomic particles meaningless (not to mention prohibitively long), we would be unable to truly "understand" phenomena in this hypothetical world. That's something to consider. But I think that even then no human could create an untranslatable language because any meaning that that human attached to its words could in principle be conveyed to another human.


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say "Whoosh!"

Unless of course you are intentionally ignoring the joke, in which case I'd find your whole spiel to be pretty disingenuous.

That said, 42 doesn't seem like it applies at all here, jokingly or otherwise. The answer to the actual question behind the question of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything doesn't seem to add anything sensible to the question of whether or not a language that is impossible to translate can possibly exist.

Mostlynormal
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Mostlynormal » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:03 am UTC

bigjeff5 wrote:I'm going to go out on a limb here and say "Whoosh!"

Whoops, yeah it went right over my head. I mean I know the whole significance of 42 thing from secondhand sources, but I figured the person was using it as a "nonsense language." Like you said:
bigjeff5 wrote:That said, 42 doesn't seem like it applies at all here, jokingly or otherwise. The answer to the actual question behind the question of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything doesn't seem to add anything sensible to the question of whether or not a language that is impossible to translate can possibly exist.

Kit.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Kit. » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:23 am UTC

Mostlynormal wrote:but I think that even then if the priniciples of mathematics and logic are universal (something that seems likely but I haven't had time to think through), we could eventually translate that language.

I hate it when I need to explain my jokes. Let me just say that the HHGTTG's 42 is a nice illustration to the common methods of proving Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

I hope you will get the rest on your own.

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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby J Thomas » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:43 am UTC

Kit. wrote:
Mostlynormal wrote:but I think that even then if the priniciples of mathematics and logic are universal (something that seems likely but I haven't had time to think through), we could eventually translate that language.

I hate it when I need to explain my jokes. Let me just say that the HHGTTG's 42 is a nice illustration to the common methods of proving Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

I hope you will get the rest on your own.


I thought it was a good comment though I don't exactly get the Godel reference.

Say you tell a joke.

Finn is talking to his good friend Michael, and he says, "See, I have this bottle of nitroglycerine in my back pocket."
Michael asks him, "Finn," he asks, "Why do you have a bottle of nitroglycerine in your back pocket?"
And Finn says, "Michael, you know how Paddy always comes up and slaps me on the ass when he knows I don't like it. Well, if he does that one more time he's going to blow his hand off."

And you find yourself talking to a porpoise who knows pretty much english, and he wants to get the joke. He probably already has the concept "pocket". He can probably get the concept "slaps me on the ass", porpoises probably do something similar. You can explain about nitroglycerine. And you can probably explain enough about northern Ireland for him to see the connection. Does all this explanation translate into a translation of the joke? Can he really get it like that?

Perhaps a better translation might go something like this:

This pretty young cow was talking to me, and she said, "You know that place we call blub-blub, where there are always around 50 big sharks hanging around and it's certain death to go there?"
And I said, "Yeah."
She said, "And you know those three bucks who always follow me around, hoping they can chase me somewhere they can rape me?"
And I said, "Yeah."
She said, "Well, the next time they get all excited chasing me, I'm going to lead them straight to blub-blub, and I'll bite my tongue hard and get blood in the water, and they'll all die!"

Of course, since I don't actually talk to porpoises it might easily turn out that isn't funny at all.

It should be clear that perfect translation is probably not possible, ever. But some degree of translation is often possible, and there's the question which parts are more important. It's an art. People might often have untranslateable ideas, but it's unlikely anybody has *only* untranslateable ideas.

And now I've done a longwinded attempt at explaining your joke, and I probably got it all wrong.
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby The Moomin » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:59 am UTC

TheKhakinator wrote:Does this remind anyone else of a certain Black Books episode?

"I'm not a policeman!"


It reminds me of the 80s, where one cop would act unhinged and "on the edge" to unnerve a suspect to gain a confession. It was also recently used in Cop-out which was an entertaining film.
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Dischord
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Dischord » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:22 pm UTC

Okay, so I have a couple of points to make re: DADA.

1) Scholars tend to prefer not to use either the term dadaism or dadaist, since according to the originators of the movement they do not exist, everything is DADA (capslock and all). Sorry if that's visually or logically annoying to you. I think it was intended to be.

2) DADA could very much be said to be a product of its time and place, something that can never happen again (hence why neo-Dadaists kinda come across as wannabes who don't quite get it). The tenets (such as there were) of the DADA movement were too radical to have much longevity, and the movement got subsumed into Surrealism after a few years, probably because Surrealism has more structure and a more classical, recognisable aesthetic. Anyway, the reason why DADA was considered anti-war is largely because of the conditions for its inception. For brevity's sake allow me to quote from an essay I wrote on DADA a few years ago:

"DADA specifically is usually cited to have started in 1916. Two years into the First World War many people had fled to neutral or safer countries, noted among them Switzerland. Poets, painters, sculptors, writers, dancers, playwrights, musicians, philosophers and other thinkers and artists fled the war and many congregated in Zurich and started meeting in the Café des Westerns. On the 2nd February 1916, Zurich newspapers printed the famous advertisement:

“Cabaret Voltaire. Under this name a group of young artists and writers have formed with the object of becoming a centre for artistic entertainment. The Cabaret Voltaire will be run on the principle of daily meetings where visiting artists will perform their music and poetry. The young artists of Zurich are invited to bring along ideas and contributions.”

(Quoted from 'DADA')

The Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich became a hothouse for artistic experimentation just as other major cities in Europe and America were home to similar revolutionary artistic groups that gave rise to movements such as Tonalism in the USA, Cubism in Paris, Futurism in Italy, Impressionism in France, Kandinsky’s Abstractionist work in Russia which led to Rayonism in Moscow, Constructivism in St. Petersburg, De Stijl in the Netherlands, Bauhaus in Munich and Der Blaue Reiter and Die Bruecke groups’ Expressionism in Germany in Munich and Dresden respectively."

So DADA was formed by a very disparate group of people from all over Europe who had been displaced by war. Any surprise they were not wildly for the changes they were seeing take place in their time?

As for DADA art itself, the group eschewed art for monetary gain (in one of the principal founders, Tristan Tzara's words: “We don’t accept theories. Do we make art in order to earn money and keep the dear bourgeoisie happy?”). The best summary I have ever found for what DADA is is this:

“DADA aspires to escape from everything that is common or ordinary or sensible. DADA does not recognise any tradition, any influence, or indeed any limits. DADA is a spontaneous product of life: a sort of cerebral mushroom which can appear and grow in every soil. DADA cannot be defined: it reveals itself.”
(Gabrielle Buffet)

So in Buffet’s words DADA is a type of artistic anarchism, severed from the past in the fashion of the Futurists but rooted in a more organic, electric energy born of collaboration and a shared aversion to rather than the attraction to and enthusiasm for war the Futurists expressed.
In the words of Breton (another founder):

“DADA is a state of mind. DADA is artistic freethinking. DADA devotes itself to nothing, neither to love nor to work. It is inadmissible that man should leave a trace of his passage upon this earth. DADA, only recognising instinct, condemns explanations a priori. According to DADA we can keep no control over ourselves. We must cease to think about these dogmas: morality and taste.”
(Andre Breton)

Now, the problem with DADA is that they absolutely insist on contradicting everything, even themselves:

“Careful! The moment has come when I should tell you I’ve been lying. If there is a system in the lack of system I never applied it.
In other words I lie. I lie when I apply it, I lie when I don’t apply it, I lie that I write that I lie because I do not lie.”

(Tristan Tzara)

I could continue for some time because I find these contradictions interesting, but I imagine all this is tl;dr already.

    Tzara, Tristan (1984), Seven DADA Manifestos And Lampisteries, Riverrun Press Inc., translated by Barbara Wright
    Coutts-Smith, Kenneth (1970), DADA, Studio Vista Ltd.

As a side note, I don't think Randall quite 'got' DADA when he made this comic. It does seem closer to that Alice In Wonderland interrogation technique someone else was talking about. Wikipedia isn't a great source for information on DADA. I highly, HIGHLY recommend the Tzara book both as the ultimate attempt by a founding DADA artist to express DADA in a semi(!)-coherent fashion, and also as possibly the best piece of DADA artwork of the movement (the art was usually pretty shitty. The poetry and performance stuff was generally better.)

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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby SirMustapha » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:43 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
Mostlynormal wrote:but I think that even then if the priniciples of mathematics and logic are universal (something that seems likely but I haven't had time to think through), we could eventually translate that language.

I hate it when I need to explain my jokes. Let me just say that the HHGTTG's 42 is a nice illustration to the common methods of proving Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

I hope you will get the rest on your own.


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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Fire Brns » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:04 pm UTC

Kleptonis wrote:DEBATE: Is an impossible-to-translate language even possible?

http://xkcd.com/593/
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby bigjeff5 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:03 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
Mostlynormal wrote:but I think that even then if the priniciples of mathematics and logic are universal (something that seems likely but I haven't had time to think through), we could eventually translate that language.

I hate it when I need to explain my jokes. Let me just say that the HHGTTG's 42 is a nice illustration to the common methods of proving Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

I hope you will get the rest on your own.


Well, the initial structure of the joke, maybe.

But 42 actually had a specific meaning in HHGTTG, it wasn't just a nesting joke. It took 6 books to get there, and frankly I was a bit let down with the punchline, but the joke is not that Deep Think had to create an even bigger computer to compute the question to the answer it had computed (though I definitely see where you're coming from, Godel's Incompleteness Theorem may have even influenced that part of it).

Also, I think that's basically what SirMustapha is saying above me.

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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:43 pm UTC

I always thought the point of the 42 joke was that the mice asked a nonsense question (like so many poorly-formulated "deep" and "important" questions) and so got a useless answer. The more important thing to understand is the question. Only when you know what question you're asking will any answers to it be useful.

Of course, then it turns out that even knowing the question, the answer is impossible nonsense (unless God thinks in base 13 maybe, but Word of God is that He does not), yet nevertheless true. Much like life, the universe, and pretty much everything. Thus we are enlightened in recognizing the absurdity.

That reminds me of a "Zen Slap" I read once, here, which I will shamelessly quote below:

Once there was a goat who was walking to town to eat with his friend the llama. As the goat was walking, he came upon a man who was looking like he was either about to scream or cry. The goat asked the man, "what's wrong?" The man replied that his wife had just left him. The goat said, "well, that's nice, gotta go," but the man said, "wait! I sense that you are an enlightened master who has come to teach me the way to enlightenment in my time of need. Please teach me all that you have to know." The goat reluctantly agreed, and took the man on as a student.

The man followed the goat for many days, and tried to talk about spiritual things. Every time he did, the goat would bite him on the arm or leg, whatever was closest. The man realized the wisdom in this, and began to enjoy the journey itself. However, one day, he was feeling unsatisfied with the situation, and pleaded with the goat to teach him something about the nature of the Universe.

The goat reluctantly agreed, and after finding a good place for meditative thought next to a lake, began to instruct the man:

"Tell me, man, can these trees continue to grow if the sun stops shining?"

"No, Master, it cannot. Without the sun, the trees will die."

"And what of the rivers? Can they continue to flow without the rain?"

"No, Master, they cannot. Without the rain, the rivers will dry."

"And what of the teachings that lead to enlightenment? Can enlightenment occur without someone to teach the teachings of enlightenment?"

"No, Master, I do not believe that they can. Without a Master, all of the teachings will disappear, and no one will be able to be enlightened."

"Wrong!" the goat said sharply. "In the case of the sunshine and trees, and in the case of the water and the river, there was always a cause and an effect. For each effect within the world, you can be sure there is a cause, and for each cause, there must, by definition, be an effect. But the teachings of enlightenment do not exist, and therefore have no cause or effect. Why not? Can you tell me why not?"

The man looked confused, and said, "Master, I don't understand. Why do you say that the teachings of enlightenment do not exist?"

The goat breathed deeply, and said, "Okay, let me try my question in another way. You say I am an enlightened Master. How did I get to be an enlightened Master? Take your time and answer me correctly."

The man closed his eyes and thought deeply. Many different answers came through his head, but none of them felt correct. He waited until he thought of an answer that seemed so obvious, he wondered why he had not thought of it. "Through your past lifetimes, Master. You have been practicing for many lifetimes and you were able to overcome all hardships and reach enlightenment."

"Wrong!" the goat said again. "Please, think about the answer and try again."

The man sighed, and again closed his eyes and thought deeply. Again many answers came into his mind, and in fact many of the same answers came again and again. He began to doubt for a moment whether or not his first answer was correct, but he quickly removed all doubt from his mind with an effort of will. He then thought, in order for me to come up with the correct answer, I should stop thinking about anything at all. Then, all of a sudden, an answer came into his head. "Through the power of the Universe. You came to be a Master because of the power of the Universe, which somehow knew that I would need you. Everything works out! Everything has a plan! I understand now, Master!"

"Wrong again!" the goat said in the same tone as before. "This is the last time. Please, think about the answer and try again."

The man began to breathe heavily. He was discouraged and couldn't understand what the answer was supposed to be. He closed his eyes and tried to think deeply again. Something was bothering him, now. He thought that he had found some sort of new understanding, but now his doubt was now back, stronger than before. He tried and tried, but he couldn't ignore it or push it away as before. Then, all of a sudden, it hit him.

"Goats can't talk!"

The goat got up from where he was sitting and bit the man on the arm, and walked away.

The man was enlightened.
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jpk
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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby jpk » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:43 pm UTC

Dischord wrote:Okay, so I have a couple of points to make re: DADA.



Thank you for caring. Lost cause, but it's nice to know that someone is actually paying attention.

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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby mockturtle » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:06 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: There are no rhinoceroses in purgatory.


This reminds me an Italian expression (heard in Tuscany):

Q: Dove vai
A: Son cipolle!

that means

Q: Where are you going?
A: They are onions!

It is used when you say something to someone and he/she replies with something that has nothing to do with what you said...

(Hmm... a bit like this post with the thread? Oh, well... :-)

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Re: 1018: Good Cop, Dadaist Cop

Postby scarletmanuka » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:22 am UTC

Kleptonis wrote:DEBATE: Is an impossible-to-translate language even possible?

There was that bit in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency:
Miss Pearce sighed.
‘It's a lot of meaningless squiggles done in blue felt tip on a piece of typing paper,’ she said. ‘It looks like you did them yourself.’
‘No!’ barked Dirk. ‘Well, yes,’ he admitted, ‘but only because I believe that is the answer to the problem!’
[...]
‘I think,’ said Dirk, ‘you will be impressed. Consider this. An intractable problem. In trying to find the solution to it I was going round and round in little circles in my mind, over and over the same maddening things. Clearly I wasn’t going to be able to think of anything else until I had the answer, but equally clearly I would have to think of something else if I was ever going to get the answer. How to break this circle? Ask me how.’
‘How?’ said Miss Pearce obediently, but without enthusiasm.
‘By writing down what the answer is!’ exclaimed Dirk. ‘And here it is!’ He slapped the piece of paper triumphantly and sat back with a satisfied smile.
Miss Pearce looked at it dumbly.
‘With the result,’ continued Dirk, ‘that I am now able to turn my mind to fresh and intriguing problems, like, for instance...’
He took the piece of paper, covered with its aimless squiggles and doodlings, and held it up to her.
‘What language,’ he said in a low, dark voice, ‘is this written in?’
Miss Pearce continued to look at it dumbly.
Dirk flung the piece of paper down, put his feet up on the table, and threw his head back with his hands behind it.
‘You see what I have done?’ he asked the ceiling, which seemed to flinch slightly at being yanked so suddenly into the conversation. ‘I have transformed the problem from an intractably difficult and possibly quite insoluble conundrum into a mere linguistic puzzle. Albeit,’ he muttered, after a long moment of silent pondering, ‘an intractably difficult and possibly insoluble one.’

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Re: 1018: "Good Cop, Dadaist Cop"

Postby jocvtrhythgd » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:06 am UTC

in Abstract-Expressionist Post-Constructivist Neo-Plasticist Cop.


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