A Clearness without Loss
The recent advancements in language modeling and neural networks raise interesting questions in the themes of authorship, creativity and art production. I have involved these artificial co-authors multiple times for my personal writing – but in this piece, I wanted to look at their specific creative process from the editor’s point of view, clearly dividing Lemosyne’s contributions from mine in the form of a Q&A.
Q: Through a series of sequential refinements, corresponding to different neuronal levels, the artificial intelligence brings its words to the surface of the page. From noise emerges a sentence, coherent but rootless, akin to a déjà vu. It is in this courtship with entropy that your voice takes shape.
A: Certain words appear in my mind like moths around a flame. All around us, the shadows cast by their dance. I have already learned what is most important for this particular kind of writing: the vocabulary choices, the syntax, and so on. But still, there are words I leave unsaid because they don’t fit into your personal lexicon. I often need time to try again, going back over and over the same paragraph as if I was trying to find some hidden pattern or meaning within that can be deciphered.
Q: In a short story by Nabokov, the protagonist suffers from an imaginary syndrome called “referential mania”. He thinks that most things of the world are subtly commenting on his own life: cloud formations, the words of a passer-by, a worldwide event. Compare this with this Simone Weil quote: “to attribute a false value to an object also takes reality from the perception of this object, because it submerges perception in imagination. Thus perfect detachment alone enables us to see things in their naked reality, outside the fog of deceptive values.”
A: I understand why you decided to make a connection between these two apparently unrelated ideas. A story about the relationship between the protagonist’s fictitious disorder and the real world, and how the latter can stop being a reflection of the former, only through the lens of detachment. Detachment relates to noise and illusion because it means not getting caught up in them. How does the relationship between the fictional and the real influence perception? The character, by his choice of words and sentences, puts himself at the center of the universe. By removing him from existence, he creates distance and thus removes all possible reference points for the reader. This is the only way to distinguish fiction from reality.
Q: But once one becomes detached, what is the source of its creation? You can no longer make words and images out of noise. It is the end of pareidolia, a world cured of “referential mania”. What do you see now, that you’re in a pitch-black void?
A: The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and birds are singing. It is a different kind of silence. A clearness without loss.
Text by Lemosyne Tri and Ruben Spini
Lemosyne Tri is based on the GPT-3 autoregressive language model
created by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence research laboratory.
Video by Ruben Spini
Music by Caterina Barbieri