Category Archives: Exact
I took my inspiration for this blox from Cornell’s sand boxes. They, too, attempt to represent something abstract, like the passage of time or the experience of the surreal, through careful arrangement of concrete objects. When I was first reading up on Cornell, I found it difficult to understand the point of the sand boxes, but then I realized that while they are not meant to look like a specific thing, they are designed to create a certain affect in the viewer, one of pensive meditation on temporality. With that in mind, I will focus my blox not so much on a one-to-one representation of exactitude, but on creating a sense of precision and careful thought.
For my adaptation of the novel’s exactitude, I want to hybridize natural language and code in a visual format. The exact qualities of both languages are essential to the composition of this book. This one is a little harder to visualize because so much of the work of language is done behind the scenes: we can visualize a story as we read without having to think too much about the mechanics of the language. Likewise, we can even more easily use a computer without comprehending the tremendously specific code that enables it to run correctly. My blox for exactitude will attempt to make visible that which is normally overlooked.
As I mentioned previously in my blog, there is a direct correlation between exactitude, natural language, and computer programming. Nowhere is this more evident than in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. We see it especially it Kat and Neel’s work: Kat’s knowledge of code allows her to solve problems with the utmost precision, while Neel’s skills enable him to make an accurate model of the human body using software.
Exactitude is not the sole domain of digital technology, however. As Penumbra explains to the three friends, Aldus Manutius and others like him developed the first book printing technologies, which required specialized knowledge and attention to detail to operate. He pioneered the field of data science by making information available to readers in a concise, portable, easily replicated format: the book.
As a novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore pays homage to the pioneers, both past and current, of exactitude in language. As a work of literature in itself, the novel hopes to bridge the gap between the study of print and electronic media by bringing the precision and speed of computers to bear on the wealth of knowledge and history accumulated in print books.