Wave Forms: A Natural Syntax for Rhythmic Language

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Stanford University Press, 2002 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 347 pages
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In this daring book, the author proposes that artistic and literary forms can be understood as modulations of wave forms in the physical world. By the phrase "natural syntax," he means that physical nature enters human communication literally by way of a transmitting wave frequency.

This premise addresses a central question about symbolism in this century: How are our ideas symbolically related to physical reality? The author outlines a theory of communication in which nature is not reached by reference to an object; rather, nature is part of the message known only tacitly as the wavy carrier of a sign or signal. One doesn't refer to nature, even though one might be aiming to; one refers with nature as carrier vehicle.

The author demonstrates that a natural language of transmission has an inherent physical syntax of patterned wave forms, which can also be described as certain "laws of form"a phrase used by D'Arcy Thompson, L. L. Whyte, Noam Chomsky, and Stephen Jay Gould. He describes a syntax inherent in natural languages that derives from the rhythmic form of a propelling wave. Instead of the "laws" of a wave's form, however, the author speaks of its elements of rhythmic composition, because "rythmos" means "wave" in Greek and because "composition" describes the creative process across the arts. In pursuing a philosophy of rhythmic composition, the author draws on cognitive science and semiotics. But he chiefly employs symmetry theory to describe the forms of art, and especially the patterns of poetry, as structures built upon the natural syntax of wave forms. Natural syntax, it turns out, follows a fascinating group of symmetry transformations that derive from wave forms.

  

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Contents

Introduction
1
ILLUSTRATIONS
4
Arcs Arranged Over and Under a Broken Line
7
William Blake Act of Creation
27
Diagrams of Transformations
34
Art Frequency
41
Types of Wave Motion
49
Three Forms of Wave Signals
51
Chapters Symmetries of the Sun Cycle
141
Diagram of the Letter F
155
Drawings from The Eagle the Jaguar and the Serpent
157
Pythagorean Diagram of Interlaced Four Directions
172
Renaissance Drawing of the Suns Apparent Track
175
How to Construct a Labyrinth
180
Diagram of Solstices Seen as Spiral
181
An Anatomy of Natural Syntax
183

Saussure Diagram of Speaking and Thinking
71
Lohan on Lotus Leaf
73
Natural Forms of Carrier Waves
83
Sicilian Tomb Door
92
Scythian Buckle
100
Chen Rong Nine Dragons m
111
Diagram of Tao Tieh
117
Anasazi Ladle
128
Rhymes and Rhythms of Natural
219
Symmetry Conservation
253
Weave of a Greek Fret
259
Coppo Roof Tile
265
Notes
283
Works Cited
315
Index
333
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

James H. Bunn is Professor of English at the University of Buffalo, where he is also a member of the Center for Cognitive Science. He is the author of The Dimensionality of Signs, Tools, and Models.

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