You may have heard the phrase the plural of anecdote is not data. It turns out that this is a misquote. The original aphorism, by the political scientist Ray Wolfinger, was just the opposite: The plural of anecdote is data.
Wolfinger’s formulation makes sense: Data does not have a virgin birth. It comes to us from somewhere. Someone set up a procedure to collect and record it. Sometimes this person is a scientist, but she also could be a journalist.
And how do these suggestions take place in practice? We can rely on the different textures, hues, and intrinsic memories of the words to guide us; or we can follow the associative networks, relationships and contradictions between words: what Mallarmé calls their ‘musicality’.
the verse is musical not only because it has a certain rhythm or prosody to it, but also because it is an orchestra of sounds and meanings. All the words and ideas of the poem are interconnected, like the notes of a symphony. Together, they create the Oeuvre, the masterpiece, self-reflective and infinite poetry
Mallarmé would argue that this phenomenon is natural: that the language is there, ready to serve, and that ‘things exist, we do not need to create them; we only need to seize the relationships between them’ (‘Les choses existent, nous n’avons pas à les créer, nous n’avons qu’à saisir les rapports’). This is perhaps the most marked Mallarmean claim, uttered in an interview with Jules Huret at the ‘mature’ stages of his career in 1891. By this point, Mallarmé had, tortuously, achieved his dream. He was living and writing in Paris, surrounded by a horde of young disciples who would gather in his home at 89 rue de Rome every Tuesday: avid ‘mardistes’ hungry for their master’s parole. And what he did tell them was literary sacrilege: ‘To name an object is to remove three-quarters of a poem’s joy… to suggest it, that is the dream’ (‘Nommer un objet, c’est supprimer les trois quarts de la jouissance du poème… le suggérer, voilà le rêve’). Indeed, what Mallarmé is suggesting here is that we use the relationships between things to work out the things themselves. To do this, we need to avoid talking about the thing itself. We must not name it, define it nor describe it; instead, we must allude to it by its absence– only the evocative absence of the word can make up for the inadequacy, even redundancy, of language. This complex image could be likened to a spider’s web, from which the spider itself is absent. Even though the spider is not there, the web implies some anterior and inherent presence of a spider and therefore automatically conjures up the image of the spider in our minds. In fact, the spider metaphor is one of Mallarmé’s favourites, and appears throughout his work and correspondence.
"use the relationship between things to work out the things themselves" reminds me of Benjamin’s literary montage and "__ by ___" [what’s the phrase?] method of commenting
Alos: not naming objects and, essentially meaning, no self-reference; spider’s web; implicit
Mallarmé would argue that this phenomenon is natural: that the language is there, ready to serve, and that ‘things exist, we do not need to create them; we only need to seize the relationships between them’ (‘Les choses existent, nous n’avons pas à les créer, nous n’avons qu’à saisir les rapports’).
Mallarmé’s object of unrequited love was language itself.
What was it that rendered his oeuvre so enigmatically incomplete? Let us come back to the first of his idea(l)s. In his words, ‘The pure work implies the disappearance of the poet as a speaker; he gives way to the words’ (‘L’oeuvre pure implique la disparition élocutoire du poète, qui cède initiative aux mots’). By letting go of the words and erasing all trace of his existence, the poet necessarily creates an impersonal poetry, devoid of narrative interference; a poetry that can write and re-write itself without ever reaching a conclusive form, perpetually incomplete
Makes me think of attempts by Russell, Hillbert et almto establish a “pure” and “complete” mathematics
I think data journalism is a positive innovation. But any innovation can outpace our existing infrastructure and cause harm. We can minimize that possibility by understanding data’s limitations and how to use it responsibly. I propose we keep data analysis simple, clean, and transparent. And even then we should exercise humility and not take our results too literally.
What should be laudable in a news organization is not a simple capacity to collect facts, but a skill–honed by intelligent analysis–at teasing out their relevance
Alain de Botton quote from “The News”