[r-t] Ben Constant's Yorkshire Royal

Alexander Holroyd holroyd at math.ubc.ca
Thu Jan 15 22:27:31 UTC 2009

On Thu, 15 Jan 2009, Mark Davies wrote:

> So I would say that the sentence "all compositions already exist" is of the
> same nature as "all novels already exist" or "all patents already exist" or
> "all paintings already exist".

Hear hear.  To my mind the only possible "mystery" here stems from 
confusing different meanings of the word "exist"...

> There is a big difference between compositions and everything else, though.
> A composition can be determined to be a composition by machine. You can't
> give a computer a novel and ask it to verify that it is, indeed, a novel. So
> what is the effect of this difference, if any, on the nature of authorship?

But I think this "difference" is also actually just one of terminology. 
One could make a machine that determines whether or not an object is "a 
book", and similarly a computer can determine whether or not something is 
"a true block of changes satisfying all the usual rules".  But a machine 
can't tell whether a book is something that people would want to read, nor 
whether a block of changes is something people would want to ring. 
(Although in both cases it can be programmed to produce some kind of ad 
hoc estimate).  What you choose to call "a novel" or "a composition" is up 
to you, but I don't think there's a fundamental difference between the two 
art forms here.

Needless to say, there are differences of degree.  Perhaps more similar to 
composition is another highly constrained art form like Haiku or Braiding 
(not that I know anything about either).


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