Cover image for Geek sublime : the beauty of code, the code of beauty
Title:
Geek sublime : the beauty of code, the code of beauty
Author:
Chandra, Vikram, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, [2014]
Physical Description:
xiii, 236 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Summary:
Examines the connections between the worlds of art and technology, exploring the similarities between computer coding and writing fiction.
Language:
English
Contents:
Hello, world! -- Learning to write -- The language of logic -- Histories and mythologies -- The code of beauty : Anandavardhana -- The beauty of code -- The code of beauty : Abhinavagupta -- Mythologies and histories -- The language of literature -- Application.Restart().
ISBN:
9781555976859
Format :
Book

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PN56.T37 C426 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

An unexpected tour de force. . . . Its ambition: to look deeply, and with great subtlety, into the connections and tensions between the worlds - the cultures - of technology and art. The book becomes an exquisite meditation on aesthetics, and meanwhile it is also part memoir, the story of a young man finding his way from India to the West and back, and from literature to programming and back. . . . Programmers feel an exhilarating creative mastery, and Chandra captures it." - James Gleick, The New York Times Book Review " Geek Sublime dwells on Chandra's gripping personal narrative . . . as well as his sometimes spiritual exploration of computer language, the ancient Vedas, and the way they share so many traits with fiction. In a sense, it's like Zen and the Art of Software Maintenance . 'The past and present speak to us in languages we refuse to hear,' he proclaims, and it's the book's most succinct statement of intent - not to mention its own well-earned profundity." - NPR "Chandra weaves a comprehensive understanding of the history, practice and art of programming into a startling fabric. . . . It is a dazzle, from beginning to end. . . . Plenty of programmers consider themselves artists, and plenty of writers presume to declaim about programming. But very, very few can comfortably inhabit both worlds with such grace and precision. . . . There is so much to be fascinated by here." - Salon "Chandra, brainy, delving, and spellbinding, delineates the intricacy and beauty of code. . . . As [he] illuminates links between programming and literature in bedazzling elucidations of Sanskrit, linguistics, aesthetics, and Hindu, Tantric, and Buddhist beliefs, he also conducts unique and heady inquiries into codes, ethical as well as binary. Chandra's creative and elegant meshing of thought and experience, conscience and storytelling nets both the profane and the sublime." - Booklist "


Author Notes

Author Vikram Chandra was born in New Delhi, India in 1961. He attended college in the United States receiving a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from Pomona College and attended the film school at Columbia University before dropping out to work on his first novel. His first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, was inspired by an autobiography of a nineteenth century soldier named Colonel James "Sikander" Skinner. It won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His next novel, Love and Longing in Bombay, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Eurasia region) and was short-listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize. In 2000, he and Suketu Mehta co-wrote the Bollywood movie Mission Kashmir. He teaches creative writing at the University of California and currently divides his time between Berkeley, California and Mumbai.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Chandra's (Sacred Games, 2007) first nonfiction book provides a key to the webby complexity of his fiction and awakens fresh appreciation for computer code's world-changing properties. Chandra came to the U.S. from Bombay to attend Columbia University for his second degree and write fiction. Seeking work in 1986, he discovered his gift for digital technology and turned himself into a freelance computer programmer: Fiction has been my vocation, and code my obsession. There are many correlations between the two. As Chandra, brainy, delving, and spellbinding, delineates the intricacy and beauty of code, he also identifies historical and social forces at play in the machismo and misogyny of programming culture, the ubiquity of the Indian geek, and the dangerously decaying software used by governmental bureaucracies. As Chandra illuminates links between programming and literature in bedazzling elucidations of Sanskrit, linguistics, aesthetics, and Hindu, Tantric, and Buddhist beliefs, he also conducts unique and heady inquiries into codes, ethical as well as binary. Chandra's creative and elegant meshing of thought and experience, conscience and storytelling nets both the profane and the sublime.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Novelist Chandra (Sacred Games) explores the connections between the worlds of computer programming and writing, beginning with the fact that "[b]oth writers and programmers struggle with language." In a short span, the book offers much material to consider, leaping from a history of computer programming and a primer on logic gates and how these programs work, to a personal of Chandra's writing life, to some serious philosophical inquiry into how the term "beauty" might be applied to programming. The latter thread draws mainly on the rasa-dhvani theory of aesthetic analysis (from Indian philosophers Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta), and although the ideas presented are sometimes challenging, Chandra provides more than sufficient intellectual guidance. Chandra's book calls for a fuller appreciation of the programming world, not only because of the exponentially growing roles software plays in our lives, but also because of the actual work programmers do; in fact, he says of comparisons between programming and other disciplines, "When programmers say what they do is just like what writers do, or gardeners, or painters, the error is that they aren't claiming enough, the fault is that they are being too humble." Chandra's melodic prose further adds to the contingency of his ambitious ideas. This book is truly a relic of today's day and age. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Chandra's (creative writing, UC Berkley; Sacred Games) first nonfiction book is a critique on coding, writing, beauty, society, philosophy, literary theory, and Indian culture in which the author aims to determine whether coding can be considered an artistic endeavor. Supporting himself through graduate school by teaching himself how to program, he was astonished at the amount of money available in that field and the machismo common among programmers. No previous knowledge of programming language is required to read this title; however, the book covers so much material that the connections Chandra hopes to make can easily be lost. Chapters on the author's childhood in India and literary theory may seem tangential but are essential to the case he is building. Narrator Neil Shah has a pleasant voice, but there is very little inflection or emotion in the performance, which, over time, becomes robotic. VERDICT Fans of Chandra's fiction will find this work interesting because he discusses his own writing process; computer programmers, artists, and geeks of all kinds will enjoy it as well.-Jason L. Steagall, Gateway Technical Coll. Lib., Elkhorn, WI © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Note on Transliterationp. xiii
1 Hello, World!p. 1
2 Learning to Writep. 9
3 The Language of Logicp. 19
4 Histories and Mythologiesp. 41
5 The Code of Beauty: Anandavardhanap. 84
6 The Beauty of Codep. 111
7 The Code of Beauty: Abhinavaguptap. 136
8 Mythologies and Historiesp. 154
9 The Language of Literaturep. 180
10 Application.Restart()p. 198
Notesp. 211
Bibliographyp. 223
Copyright Acknowledgmentsp. 235