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· Function Follows Form, Indicatively Speaking ·

So, you might ask, where have I been? My answer involves more, alas, than a cursory glance at holiday cheer or a quick nod at my newly-begun winter quarter. For as I hint above, I've surfaced from recently-mentioned backend matters, always a regrettable time sink. Just ask the sleepy programmers at MovableType, the guys surviving on double-strength Starbucks coffee and sugary Coke. Mark my formal, but hardly functional, snippet of MT-3 javascript — pointedly deformed now merely to appear online.

if (canFormat) {

   with (document) {

      write('" href="#" onclick="return formatStr(document.entry_form.text, \'span class=\'blockquote\')"> · <MT_TRANS phrase = Blockquote · " width="24" height="19" border="0" />');

      write('" href="#" onclick="return formatStr(document.entry_form.text, \'span class=pullquote\')"> · <MT_TRANS phrase = Pullquote · " width="24" height="19" border="0" />');



Function Follows Form
It renders two very helpful buttons I've crafted to "blockquote" my code above and, indeed, to "pullquote," at left, its point: "Function Follows Form" (indicatively speaking). I've thought to share it to demonstrate how self-referencing recursions can sometimes be partly seen in textual or visual representation, at least if carefully deformed and wholly unworkable. Happily, you can find them both below, even if you can't use them in my two left-hand BQ/PQ buttons.

 · <MT_TRANS phrase = MT's Javascript> ·

Naturally, there are more — involving Perl script, ASCII code, binary digits, electrons, quarks, even theorized strings, I hear. All of which goes to show that such backend matters can become enormously complicated.

But it's been that way from the get-go. Indeed, you might recall my first nod to Geoffrey Hartman's apt take on style, "an index of how the writer deals with the consciousness of mediation." So I thought to end by extending Hartman's point with a quotation drawn from a programmer much smarter than I, LeRoy Searle — a Seattle writer who marks Hartman's point also more stylishly than I:

[T]he shape of language, as articulation [Searle writes], is the realization of a potential; and what is produced in the exercise of the power is a form. Linguistic insight is based on the ability to infer from manifest examples the function of the example from its form, as when one recognizes that the relation between a topic and a comment is invariant, no matter what the content of the topic or the comment. So too with subjects and predicates, noun phrases and verb phrases, parts of speech, inflectional patterns, and so on. It follows that items in a language have not "meaning" but only a distinctive shape and that understanding any articulate expression requires assigning an interpretation to that shape. Leroy Searle, 'Afterword' to Critical Theory Since 1965, eds. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle (Tallahassee, FL: Flordia State University Press, 1986), 864.

Naturally, I'll leave that interpretation to you.


Say, what? OK, Styles; I'll take another look at this post early one morning when I'm fortified with double-strength Starbucks myself. Clearly, Seattle-style geekdom is directly correlated to Seattle-style coffee.

You folks out there may need more sunlight.

Posted by Aunt Huldah on January 13, 2005 03:32 PM

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