Thursday, April 06, 2006

Philosophical distillation

To pass the time at work during those long periods where I either have nothing to do, or just don't want to do anything, I have a collection of books in a folder on my computer that I've downloaded from Project Gutenberg. It's an odd assortment of novels, short story collections, children's books, sappy poetry, marriage and hygiene manuals, religious texts, and studies of criminal behavior. I sometimes play with these texts using things like Find and Replace, sometimes I randomly cull senteces from various volumes and put them together into incoherent collages of prose, and sometimes I even read them.

Last night while bored out of my cotton picking mind, I started playing around with a few volumes using Find and Replace, but I quickly got bored. Then I remembered that Word has a fascinating, but ultimately quite useless tool called AutoSummarize. I tried it on the marriage manual and got some vaguely amusing results. Then I loaded up Wittgenstein's Tractatus. I ended up setting AutoSummarize to its absolute minimum setting:

proposition. proposition. 4.12 Propositions

proposition. propositions. proposition.

proposition. propositions.


I've never read Tractatus even a fifth of the way through, but this condensation seems quite accurate to me.

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