Speaking as a functional programmer:
The designers of object-oriented languages weren't *idiots*. They were
developing new and expressive approaches to the task of encapsulating
state behind the interface of functions. It does no one any good to
pretend that there's no *use* for object-oriented programming.
(I was going to call this "luck".)
There seems to be something in us that is hungry for chance, irrational as it
is. We understand when we see something totally random—if we didn't in our
ancient past, we do now in the age of Expected Value—and we don't expect to
profit from it.
Nevertheless we will eagerly *give* some degree of control of our lives *over* to
it. We are happy to; sometimes we're relieved to.
Paul Graham has an *idée fixe* somewhere in the area of the Hacker as
[solitary artist](http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html), visionary,
creative. I disbelieve anything PG says as a matter of
is a more reliable source when it comes to painting.
And yet. Surely there is a fundamental creativity when it comes to
I experience inspiration, certainly, and the lack of it.
I experience a degree of creative fulfillment comparable to what I get
when I compose music or poetry.
I experience aesthetic pleasure when I write good code, and use an
aesthetic, intuitive sense to guide me in the code I write.
So, it's not a dead, mechanistic art.
So let's start with something that's hard to dispute from Maciej:
> So just like mechanical engineers and architects, computer
> programmers create artifacts that have to stand up to an objective
> reality. No one cares how pretty the code is if the program won't
Thinking of mechanical engineers---or civil, really: did Isambard
Kingdom Brunel design bridges for fun? That is, can we reasonably
assume that Brunel ever designed a bridge because he felt like it,
because he wanted to feel the pleasure of creation?
Almost certainly, yes. If I were Isambard I can only assume I'd be
sketching bridges all day.
So then: did Brunel ever *build* bridges for fun?
Almost certainly not. A bridge is an expensive, rather large
undertaking, that requires a lot of other people to make things or
maneuver those things into place. And once they're their they tend to
be relatively difficult to unmake.
Maybe this points us in a smarter direction. Isambard Kingdom Brunel
was, I must simply assume, an inherently, maybe even brilliantly,
creative individual. The difference between programming and
bridge-building---*one* difference between programming and
bridge-building---is that the economics of programming allow for a
practice of engineering as *pure* recreation and *pure* creation. The
use of the artifact---how it exists in the world and the function it
performs and maybe even the utility it grants others---is still
fundamental. But this too can be realized from a purely creative
perspective. When it comes to bridges, on the other hand, their nature
is *also* inherently creative; it's just that the economics of them
and the rather ineluctable nature of constructed things to take up
space and impede the presence of *other* things prevents them in all
but the most extreme conditions from being purely so.
It's underappreciated that in Erlang---as in Prolog before it---they gave pride
of place---lower-cased symbols, the Standard Notation---to the *atom*; a
constant that has no semantics beyond its identity. One feels that perhaps the
authors of these languages sensed something of the Glass Bead Game in them;
pure symbols, manipulated purely.
useful, if currently unavailable, distinction.
We say, constantly, that one is to *sit with* various afflictions and
arisings. It's hard not to consider this in the inflection of
to sit with, to bear with, to put up with.
"With", in other words, making a choice for us. The original semantic
sin of the Latins, compressing the instrumental into the ablative
without our being consulted.
Reconsider, then, the instrumental case, and sit *with* your various
afflictions and sensations; make them the instrument of your sitting,
just as surely as your body is.
This is a difficult phrase.
The "just" feels like it's a process of continuously
excluding. Cutting down anything that's not sitting as soon as it
Perhaps we can reorient this "just", into a "completely", or
That the act is to continuously *include* into sitting. That whatever
arises, knead it into your sitting.
As when you are chopping vegetables, and you dedicate your whole being
to chopping vegetables: you include every part of yourself into it.
Sit with your body and your mind; *with* in the instrumentative
case. Whatever arises, sit with that, instrumentative, too.
To exist is to be ordinary. Only which doesn't exist isn't ordinary. And that, too, is ordinary.
> All theories that say, "This is how it must be, otherwise we could not
> philosophize" or "otherwise we surely could not live," etc. etc., must of
> course disappear.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, _Private Notebooks_, 1915-01-15
Every time we open our mouths we must be incredibly careful. We must be very
clear as to the purpose of a thing before we bring it into the world. To speak
something into existence that doesn't have a clear purpose---which is to say,
that we don't know when we can throw it away---constitutes an attractive
> we talk about programming like it is about writing code, but the code ends up being less important than the architecture, and the architecture ends up being less important than social issues.
Evan Martin, [The Success and Failure of Ninja](http://neugierig.org/software/blog/2020/05/ninja.html)
Before textual technologies, there was no text. Before computers and word
processors dealt with fixed 1-dimensional arrays of characters, typewriters
placed letters in a grid---but not a particularly fixed one--- anywhere on a
page, and the letters intermingled with writing and white-out and whatever else
you could stick on. Before typewriters imposed (or suggested) the grid, to
write by hand was to suggest your own lines, to form letters as necessary and
useful, to cross out, underline, squiggle. Before that, what? Figures? A little
arithmetic, a little ritual signification? At a certain point there wasn't even
the 2-dimensional plane.
Where are the Toulemondes of yesteryear?