Thinking about yesterday's post and whether it really went anywhere, and whether the same criticism I levelled at the waffly IT blog post might be levelled at my own writing here, which doesn't need to come up to any real standards of coherence or clarity. That's what editors are for: another sense in which a "good" written text is not a spontaneous outpouring from a single inspired individual, but a piece of work done collectively, not just by an editorial staff but the reader and the broader community in which language happens.

And I feel like I was too hasty to judge generated texts as content-free, that's not very Barthesian of me, a text has content in the eyes of the reader, regardless of how it was produced. The sentence "colorless green ideas sleep furiously" is meaningless in the context of a linguistics seminar in 1957: if it occurred as a line in a poem it would have whatever meaning it managed to evoke from its reader and their aesthetic response, and in the context of a seminar in 2022 it denotes a particular phase of intellectual history, one in which, in a slightly different context, "meaninglessness" was used as a way of shouting down ideas which were unfashionable.

"Meaning" has a double sense here, that of denoting and of intending. In the second sense a generated text means nothing, in that no-one intended it to denote anything, though this argument seems a bit like it's begging the question, or that the author is not quite as dead as we'd like to assume.

And if someone uses a tool to generate a text in order to write an article or a blog post, there is an intention there, just one step back from what we think of as authorial intent.

I don't feel like this post is going anywhere more constructive than the last: I'm feeling quite unwell after a busy day at the zoo, although I just got a negative COVID-19 test, which is a relief.