Peli Grietzer (Harvard literature dept.)

Wed, 10/05/201716:00-17:00
Ross 70.
In 1962, amateur literary theorist and professional mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov wrote: ‘A story is art only if the characters and situations it describes stand a chance of becoming
standards of comparison, helping our intuitive (not only conscious) understanding and evaluation of people and situations from our own personal memories.’ This lecture will present a mathematically informed interpretation of this thesis, using the conceptual framework of Kolmogorov’s own algorithmic information theory for inspiration, and a model of intuitive cognition based on a generalization of ‘deep learning’ (“artificial intuition”) systems. The resulting model of what we might call a literary work’s artistic meaning is especially resonant with Modernist and avant-garde ideas of artistic meaning and art-making, and invites us to integrate traditionally “metaphysical” ideas about the holistic, ineffable nature of the knowledge conferred by artistic meaning into a naturalist perspective on human cognition.