combinatoria

Combinatoria is a program for expanding the mind. It's a little like playing chess. You often have to look at the terrain carefully before making a move. It's also like solving a puzzle. You sit and think, knowing that somehow there is a connection between things, and finally, you see it.

It can be looked at as a game, or as a writing tool. As a writing tool, it is especially suited for philosophical thinking, systems of ideas. But it can also be useful in writing poetry. Perhaps most interesting would be in writing hybrids of philosophy and poetry. All you need are a supply of true statements... or statements presenting themselves as true...

Combinatoria is a very simple program, based on a medieval device seen by some as a precursor to modern computers, Ramon Llull's Ars Combinatoria. Llull's Combinatoria was three concentric circles, each divided in parts, with words on each part. By turning the inner, middle, and outer circles in different ways, different lineups of words were possible. In this way, all the possibilities could be worked through.

In my Combinatoria, the metaphor used is that of a big hopper full of sentences, from which a few are chosen at random. The sentences are presented side by side and the user writes their own sentence in response, to be added to the hopper. The added sentence can express or comment on the relationship between the ones presented, or in some way expand upon them all. In theory, over time one could relate every sentence to every other sentence in the hopper.

Combinatoria is available as bash scripts (Unix, Linux, Mac), or at my server, cave.10v24.net. On the server, you can have your own hopper full of words, or contribute to, and read from, a public hopper serving all the users.

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