Word Trends in Duffy

In looking at Word Trends, we examined how frequently words appeared between the two volumes.

We focused on the relationship between love and sex. These two terms, which are so often paired together when thinking about poetry, have an inverse relationship within Duffy’s work.  When love appeared frequently, sex did not.  This is probably due to the fact that “love” is used in a platonic sense in Mean Time, while not World’s Wife, where “sex” was used more often. In Mean Time, which largely focused on memory, love appeared frequently, referencing  the platonic love of youth. However, sex, which appeared frequently in The World’s Wife, was often used in a passionless manner.

Even though each book discusses different themes, the term “eyes” show up to a consistent degree in both volumes. This reveals that Duffy, although talking about different topics, still uses consistent objects to get her argument across.

The word “like” (shown in the graph) shows up more in Mean Time, usually used in similes. This indicates that Mean Time uses more figurative language.

Taken on its own, this information is not entirely telling. This only shows differences in terms of actual word usage. It does not acknowledge stylistic differences or differences in meaning.

However, when we bring what we have discussed in class to the table, these discoveries take on greater meaning.


# of words by letter length

Count World Wife

NOTE: there may be a problem with the code I used. I’m not sure if the things listed properly. The lists may be off by 1 line

there are 1644 2 -letter words
there are 2144 3 -letter words
there are 1830 4 -letter words
there are 1475 5 -letter words
there are 1055 6 -letter words
there are 759 7 -letter words
there are 434 8 -letter words
there are 201 9 -letter words
there are 126 10 -letter words
there are 63 11 -letter words
there are 31 12 -letter words
there are 15 13 -letter words
there are 6 14 -letter words
there are 6 15 -letter words
there are 3 16 -letter words
there are 1 17 -letter words
there are 0 18 -letter words
there are 0 19 -letter words

Mean TIme
there are 1036 2 -letter words
there are 1450 3 -letter words
there are 1287 4 -letter words
there are 1085 5 -letter words
there are 684 6 -letter words
there are 435 7 -letter words
there are 292 8 -letter words
there are 158 9 -letter words
there are 102 10 -letter words
there are 42 11 -letter words
there are 27 12 -letter words
there are 11 13 -letter words
there are 4 14 -letter words
there are 0 15 -letter words
there are 4 16 -letter words
there are 0 17 -letter words
there are 0 18 -letter words
there are 0 19 -letter words

Unique word count for each book

Here’s a count of all the unique words in each book. It will work for getting an idea of how times different words are used, but it hasn’t been cleaned up and looks a little messy.


go to this link for attatchment


Where’s Icarus?

She tries to take it all in.  The sea. The ships unfurling their sails. Peaces is upset. She sees him. Covered in a feathery vestige, performing what looks like a preflight checklist takeoff.  What a bumbling idiot. Where does he think he’s going? The sun? This is got to be a joke.
He starts counting.  One… Two.. Three…. Counts more steps. Carefully Measuring the length of the “runway” before him.  Her face tightens up. Cheeks blush. A downward glance. No eye contact. The telltale signs of embarrassment.  Flashing across as it becomes clear that this is not a joke.  He’s going to make the jump in that deranged chicken suit.  A weak laugh exits her body, releasing what remains of her dignity. She watches as “the man she married, prove to the world he’s a total, utter, absolute, grade A pillock.”
He pushes his feet against the wall. Shuffling them around vainly searching for the perfect placement. Because, obviously,  that extra step is all he needs to make it to liftoff threshold. I doubt it made much difference.
Push off, a few long strides, the edge, a jump   …………. outstretched arms ………..

bursting forward….Confidence…….
……..momentum slooowwwwiiinnnggg….
…….going down…………..

Desperate thrashing….  Death?
No one was watching. Maybe they were too embarrassed to look.
I wonder if Duffy saw Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus* before she wrote Mrs. Icarus?  I can almost see the embarrassment on Mrs. Icarus face as she watches her husband make an idiot of himself.  Icarus’ leap in the painting was so remarkable in its brevity that I had trouble finding  him floundering in the sea. Were those wings made of lead or something?  He didn’t even make it to the first ship.
Duffy’s notes were like the other characters in this painting.   Most poems were a labor of effort requireing multiple drafts, an occasional rhyme schemes and the addition of more explicit imagery. Like the farmer growing his crops or the shepherd tending to his sheep these poems took effort. Success  didn’t fall from the sky.

Sandwiched between these “serious poems” was  Mrs. Icarus.  One Page.  Thirty-Two, words scrawled in thick black ink on a slightly yellowed sheet of paper.  6 lines,  no strikethroughs. Maybe one edit.  “Grade A” looked like it was written in with thinner black pen?
Did this poem just jump out of her head like Icarus and land on the page? Are we missing some of her notes?  What’s going on here? Did anyone else have a poem that was written without any edits or marks?
*wikipedia says that the authenticity of the painting has been brought into doubt, and that this may be a good copy of the original

On afternoon

Like that squeaky door hinge that sucked Clarissa Dalloway into the past, Afternoon took me back to when I was a little kid trying to use a computer.
I can almost hear the “click” of the power button, quickly followed by the bzzz of the fan and the interminable loading screen. After what seemed like forever to a child, the computer was ready and it became game time.  Did I want to play game x, or game y? Who knows.  The frustrating part was that most games didn’t have a dedicated “window”, instead I had to use the command line in MS-Dos. I couldn’t ever remember the proper codes, and unless there was someone to help me, the effort was hopeless. I’d try all kinds of different codes, but that rarely worked. And on the occasions the code worked, I’d have to input another line of code to get to the next screen. As it often happened the next input was wrong and if I was lucky i’d find myself back at the beginning. Other times I got so hopelessly lost in subfolders, that I gave up. All I ever wanted to do was to play some silly 2d video game, but MS-DOs was there to stop me, to prevent me from enjoying the content.

I wanted to enjoy the  hypertext medium of Afternoon and while it wasn’t nearly as frustrating as MS-DOS,  I found the constant looping and diversions distracting. The execution of hypertext based software in Afternoon was less than exemplary. I’d be dutifully going through it then “click” and I’d be back at the beginning or I’d click on something and I’d find myself along a path that lacked any semblance to other texts.

While I don’t think it was the author’s point, my inability  to have an unobstructed pathway for content in Afternoon reminded me of our internet search patterns, tabbed browsing, and made me wonder about the effects our modern day search habits have on our memory and comprehension.

Mediums = Windows in a House. Each has its own perspective

After re-reading the intro and chapter one of remediation, I was a little less than enamored with the presentation of the book. While I generally agree with the main tenants of immediacy and hypermediacy

Maybe the presentation of the information is really enlightening and I’m too tired to delve into it.  Or maybe the beginning is slow and the rest is a slam dunk.  I do not know if this is the case, nor would I blame em’ for it, but I have no difficulty envisioning scholars getting caught up in the “tech bubble” and carrying this tech enthusiasm from the late 1990’s into their book on “new media” and how it will change how we communicate.  And maybe in hindsight things appear clearer today, but I felt like the information (in the intro and chpt1) were redundant. Rather than taking 2 Chapters of a book the information should have been condensed into a long editorial or magazine article.

While I agree with the author’s concept of immediacy and hypermediacy. Immediacy being our desire for a live action, transparent, and seamless, immersion in an event. And hypermediacy as  our desire to combine many forms of media into an object that is greater than the sum of its parts.  However, the author’s further assertion that “new media” contextualizes,  presents,  and illuminates information in a better form than “old media” feels overstretched.

With the very significant aid of hindsight (book published in 2000),  Its obvious that “new media” like every medium before it, has both advantages and disadvantages over its counterparts. A medium is like a window in a house, different windows will have different vantage points.  Houses with more windows will have a greater probability of having a better vantage point than a house with fewer windows. However, just as an extra window of your backyard provides little perspective of the front yard, adding more mediums doesn’t = more insight or transparency.  And conversely as multiple windows face the same direction, multiple mediums can act as vantage points from which content can be processed through slightly different perspectives, resulting in insight that is greater than its parts

Over the last decade new media has satisfied our need for immediacy with faster news reporting and instant stock quotes, yet I can’t shake the urge that “new media” hasn’t resulted in greater transparency or illumination.
The author’s were right in that “new media” is remediating the “old media” world, but the transparency and illumination have been less than forthcoming. Todays abundance of news (immediacy) has deteriorated the overall quality. The shadow banking, Dark Pools, and off-balance sheet accounting are all large stock/bond market externalities that grew out of new ways to view data (hypermediacy) and new reporting regulations (immediacy).

I’m tired of this debate

I’m quickly tiring of having to read about the debate over what is Digital Humanities. The classification is pointless. If a company hires someone to fix a problem or create a solution they don’t care if you refer to yourself as “digital humanist,” a “bricoleur” or even a “frog” all that matters to them is that you get the job done. I wish they would change the name to something more accurate like “Computer Facilitated Interdisciplinary Studies” or “CFIS” but it won’t happen. Unfortunately, “computer facilitated interdisciplinary studies,” doesn’t roll of the tongue like “Digital Humanities” or “HASTAC” And don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the scholars involved in this debate. They are all trying to climb to the top of the growing pile of bodies in academy. With more and more grad students and fewer professorships, I can understand the scramble to be included. I’d hate to spend years on a PHD only to find out later that I can’t find work because some arbitrary classification excludes my research. While many of the writers are sincere and honest, I’m tired of the facade of political correctness and polite sounding words that encompasses much of the discourse . In reality this debate is about who’s in and who’s out, how does the money get spent, who gets the power, and who gets recognition. At the same time I can’t blame the bloggers for writing about it. They aren’t writing because they want to add another webpage to maw that is the internet. They want to be heard. They want to know that other people read their research and care. They want to feel included in the debate. And there’s the justification that if everyone else finds this important I should write about it as well. I understand why the debate rages on, but I think it is imperative to realize that the debate is purely noise. No Signal. If DH is lucky this debate may act like stochastic resonance, using the resonance of the noise to amplify the signal. At some stage the noise may be working, fear of exclusion in the debate drives scholars to work harder and the emotional nature of the debate draws viewers, increasing audience. At the end of the day, Everyone wants a seat at the table, and unfortunately many are willing to climb over the backs of others to make sure they get a seat.

The Ordering Principle and Distribution of Civilizations.

In Walter Christaller’s Central Places in Southern Germany towns serve to provide specialized services. The maximize specialized services towns must be located such that they reach as many customer’s as possible, which is accomplished by placing towns in “a few necessary central points, to be consumed by many scattered points.”

While Christaller’s geometric analysis of the distribution of labor is interesting, but overly simplified. When looking at actual distributions of cities and states, it seems much more useful to look at this organization principle in terms of geography, as argued by Cerreti, than by putting geometric figures onto a cartesian plane.

Once geography is included with Christaller’s theory on labor distribution, certain aspects of civilization can be approached in new ways, utilizing the map tools described in Moreti’s book. If as Christaller contends that specialized labor’s goal is to strategically locate such that they may reach the largest audience for their goods, then the rise and fall of many civilizations may be put into a new perspective.

During the time of Greece shipping and trade were limited in both range and tonnage.  Ocean faring voyages were impossible without the astrological knowledge of the muslims, or the concepts of latitude and longitude developed centuries later. Thus, short range shore following voyages were the most efficient form of travel, making Greece’s prime geography in the mediterranean one of the keys to its success. Its location allowed it to reach the largest number of consumers, in as few points or locations as possible. It’s centralized location may have also resulted in network benefits from other nearby trading cultures, which were forced to stop in Greece in route to other trading destinations. Thus, making Greece in Christaller’s definition a G-place or center place of the mediterranean civilization.

And thus Greece, and other states like Troy (with control over the Dardanelles) thrived for centuries due to their geographical location. These states were eventually overtaken by a mediterranean dominated Rome. And then as Rome crumbled the Mediterranean status quo, shifted eastward toward Constantinople and its trade with Eastern cultures.

This close to shore trading culture faltered as open ocean faring became possible. Vasco De Gama’s 1498 trip around the horn of Africa, completely altered the trading status quo. Slowly specialization centers in Europe shifted away from what remained of Rome and Constantinople, towards the periphery states that controlled access to the open ocean. The power moved to Portugal, to Spain, to England. These states controlled access to the ocean and served as repair and resupply routes on new voyages.

Civilization’s organized across times through maps places certain aspects of development in a new light. We can suddenly see global development in terms of Christaller’s Ordering Principle. We can look at geography and understand why non-mediterranean Europe faltered until the advent of new technologies turned their geographic disadvantage into an advantage.

Could the advent of trains, planes and automobiles allowed for a shift from Europe towards large, resource abundant, land based states like the United States? Does this explain the growth of China, India, and Brazil today? What effects will the internet have on the ordering principle of specialization?

Garbage in, Garbage out

Computer’s follow rules. Without rules, a computer can’t differentiate Shakespeare from Captain Underpants.

Rules are written by humans. The same humans who can’t agree on a general definition for poetry, let alone a quantitative framework to describe poetry to a computer.

As they say “Garbage in, Garbage out”

Digital Humanities systems, are only as good as the assumptions that went into programming them. That’s not to say Digital Humanities aren’t a good idea. In fact, I think it has great potential. It gives us another horizon upon which to view our data, new ways to decipher it and to organize it into new formats, potentially peeling back deeper layers of understanding.

By analyzing the letter routes of say, John Locke, and mapping it on a computer we can spatially demonstrate his sphere of influence in a manner that anyone can grasp. This layer of understanding is no longer reserved for the specialist.

By presenting information in new ways, DH projects can assist in the transplantation of ideas from one field of thought into another, revitalizing stale areas of research. It’s this transplantation of ideas that brings me back to the “Scholarly Primitives” article, wherein the author claims that a primitive, easy to access database is the best option. While it has some merit, the author’s vigor to support his view masks the shortcoming of his approach.

His goal of making information more comprehensible to broader audiences, the simplicity of which I fear, may instill a false sense of understanding. Transforming the DH from a “tool” to better understand our data into a crutch used to oversimplify or misinform audiences.

In our current age of information overload, more accessible product access may allow certain publications to gain sway not because of the persuasiveness of their arguments, but because of fancy info-graphics and visualization methods.
They will gain views not because they are better, but like HTTP they made compromises to reach a broader masses.

The author’s primitive solution have utility, only as long as the data integrity remains. If data must be dumbed down to unintelligible levels to reach the masses its result might be mislead rather than clarify.