February 21, 2005
Marginal Moulthrop and Cryptographic Coover
Here are quick pointers to two literary pieces I’m currently playing. Stuart Moulthrop’s Marginal Effects: A Disorder of Attention is now online at Tekka (and available to non-subscribers). This was presented, in its first version, at DAC 2001’s A Night at the Cybertexts. Along with John Cayley’s Instrumental (also presented there) this was one of the first pieces that got me thinking about “instrumental texts” — texts which can be played, but aren’t quite games. Meanwhile, Robert Coover offers his Chicago Cryptogram — which can’t be manipulated, but can be played and won. It’s online at the site for the new “twice-yearly print journal of politics, literature, and culture” n+1.
February 22nd, 2005 at 4:16 pm
So, what’d you get for an answer to Coover’s cryptic copy, Noah? I guess we could use the abbr tag to discuss Harry and his line in a less spoilery way…
February 23rd, 2005 at 8:20 am
Yesterday and today are my teaching days, Nick, so I’ll have to talk cryptograms with you later in the week. In the meantime, have fun!
February 24th, 2005 at 7:16 am
Nick, I certainly agree with you about Harry’s identity, but I’m having a tough time with the attempt to find his hidden saying. I don’t have much experience with cryptograms, so I’ve been looking for things that seem potentially out of place, to see if there might be a pattern in them. Not having much luck there, or with any other tack, I’ve been reduced to reading over some of Harry’s famous lines, hoping to be reminded of elements in Coover’s piece, but also without luck. I suspect part of the problem is that I don’t have much experience playing this type of game. Are you more cryptogram-savvy?
February 25th, 2005 at 12:04 pm
I’ll have to check over this document and get back to you – this isn’t a crossword, but the help on crypticness might be useful. Despite being an avid riddler, I’m not particularly savvy to these forms of mental exercise, no.
February 25th, 2005 at 12:06 pm
At a loss, I contacted the author for a clue. He writes, “Actually, you don’t need to know the Presocratics at all. It is a simple children’s code. Count the words.” So far I count 455, including the title. Nick, are you playing along with me?
February 25th, 2005 at 6:30 pm
I’m still here and with you but won’t have time for analysis (or even rereading) until tomorrow…
February 25th, 2005 at 6:39 pm
Actually, thanks to the fastidious Dan Shiovitz of ifMUD, we have the answer. The full scheme is here unfolded as well.
February 25th, 2005 at 8:23 pm
Has Nick truly proven that the problem-solving power of ifMUD exceeds that of the GTxA readership?
February 26th, 2005 at 12:53 am
Well, I am also part of the GTxA readership, so the sets are at least overlapping :)
March 2nd, 2005 at 10:39 am
Y’all shoud try to read it more carefully from the top and thing about ‘is the the person who posted the original message being true about the authorship’?
March 2nd, 2005 at 10:40 am
The authiorship I refer to is that of the quotation attributed to?
October 23rd, 2005 at 11:41 am
I’ve just come across this story. While I think I have a good idea who Harry is, I’m having trouble with the puzzle itself. Do any of you have useful hints regarding the method of solution?
October 23rd, 2005 at 3:44 pm
Well, I can’t think of anything that would go between the hint that Coover provided (comment 5 by Noah) and the short but complete description of how to solve the piece (mouse over the words “full scheme” in my comment 7). If you’re using a browser that doesn’t support the <abbr> tag, which I’m abusing here, you can read the page source to see what the “full scheme” is.
October 23rd, 2005 at 5:57 pm
Hmm, I’ll wait a little before checking out your answer. I’m assuming it’s every nth word forms a sentence, but I have no idea what the “n” is. I’ll see if I can get it tonight. Thanks, though.
October 24th, 2005 at 1:38 am
That isn’t it! I can think of one hint that falls short of the full answer: It has to do with words per sentence.
October 24th, 2005 at 10:53 am
Got it! Thanks for the help.