Friday, April 3, 2009

O D. Brown, D. Brown! wherefore art thou such and idiot?

Well, here I will explain just why. And I must say I do it with a nearly physical sensation of pleasure at the mere thought of this. I'd describe myself as tingly (can't help the little Whedon ref. ^_^)

While of course not being the perfectionist when it comes to the use of the English language, or any language for that matter, at least I get my linguistic facts straight (about the only thing about me that is, you know, quote-unquote straight)

But let's start with the issue in question, Digital Fortress by Dan Brown (Published in 1998 by St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-26312-0), pages 11-12:

For two hours, Becker interpreted an endless stream of Mandarin symbols. But each time he gave them a translation, the cryptographers shook their heads in despair. Apparently the code was not making sense. Eager to help, Becker pointed out that all the characters they'd shown him had a common trait-they were also part of the Kanji language. Instantly the bustle in the room fell silent. The man in charge, a lanky chain-smoker named Morante, turned to Becker in disbelief.

"You mean these symbols have multiple meanings?"

Becker nodded. He explained that Kanji was a Japanese language [apparently this was revised to read "writing system" in later editions; "Kanji language", above, remained - ed.] based on modified Chinese characters. He'd been giving Mandarin translations because that's what they'd asked for.

"Jesus Christ." Morante coughed. "Let's try the Kanji."

Like magic, everything fell into place.

The cryptographers were duly impressed, but nonetheless, they still made Becker work on the characters out of sequence. "It's for your own safety" Morante said. "This way, you won't know what you're translating."

Becker laughed. Then he noticed nobody else was laughing.


Not only Becker laughed of course... but so did I and every person with even a grain of sense of Chinese characters in them. Naturally both hanzismatter and linguaphiles on livejournal have utterly ridiculed this already. Since the book has been out for more than 10 years, well I'm sure others have as well. Nonetheless, please just continue ridiculing it for no other reason than that Mr. D. Brown deserves it.

Now you would expect someone with an interest in Cryptography to know for a fact that there is no such thing as a Kanji language, doesn't exist. It's like diet friendly chocolate... idiotic to say the least. Of course there is no such thing as Mandarin symbols either, doesn't exist. Like the easter bunny humping snowwhite, it is... well you get the picture.

Just for those not understanding: Kanji are Chinese characters in use in Japan, they are simplified in some cases (not in all), and are one of the three writing systems used to write Japanese. Mandarin is a spoken oral dialect in China (a full fledged language in my opinion) and does not refer to the characters used to write it, those are called Hanzi (aka Chinese characters).

Now appart from that these characters cannot be read alone out of sequence. Neither is it possible to translate them character-by-character out of context, because Chinese, Japanese and Korean (the major languages that use them) have many characters that have multiple meanings or are used in compounds.

Apart from that D. Brown is just a bad writer. Not necessarily referring here to his stories alone, I find his writing style just... "poor" is the best word that comes in mind.

So questionable writing style, less than correct cryptography (read: idiotic), and stories that well... I know that fiction means fiction, but still.

Well maybe Mary Magdalene was really married to Jesus of Nazareth. Maybe they had a hundred fat children, who knows. Or maybe not, maybe Mary was actually Sharon, the assistant of the all-round family entertainer: Amazing Jesus (unfortunately he doesn't do children's parties) on his tour Changing Water Into Wine... At least, some do seem to think ^_^

2 comments:

tian said...

Rowan Atkinson's bit is hilarious. How does the guy manage to stay in character when the audience are rolling laughing?

connieconnie said...

Hoi Kim, weet je e-mail niet. Dan maar zo.

Liefs,

Connie



Oproep voor artikelen – Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies

De visualisering van gender



Het Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies wil in het eerste nummer van 2010 aandacht besteden aan de visualisering van gender in de hedendaagse, door nieuwe media gevormde, kunst en cultuur. Door de impact van een grote verscheidenheid aan informatie,- communicatie- en biotechnologieën omvat ‘visuele cultuur’ vandaag de dag meer dan ooit tevoren. Niet alleen leven wij in een mondiale mediamaatschappij waarin we dagelijks worden overspoeld door zintuiglijke ervaringen, ook kunnen de meest intieme, ‘onzichtbare’ delen van ons eigen lichaam aanschouwelijk worden gemaakt dankzij diverse visualiseringstechnieken.

Daarnaast zijn door de digitalisering van de (post)moderne beeldcultuur, waarin beelden eindeloos kunnen worden gemanipuleerd en veranderd, de grenzen tussen werkelijkheid en kunst, echt en namaak, feit en fictie, ingrijpend verschoven.



Voor dit themanummer is de redactie op zoek naar bijdragen die vanuit verschillende theoretische perspectieven reflecteren op deze en aanverwante ontwikkelingen in relatie tot gender. Hoe wordt gender gevisualiseerd, gemedieerd en geproduceerd in de hedendaagse beeldende kunst en cultuur? Welke impact hebben nieuwe media zoals internet, digitale film, games, en virtual reality op de verbeelding van gender in een globaliserende visuele cultuur? Op welke wijze wordt het gegenderde lichaam gevisualiseerd in interactie met andere vormen van verschil, zoals seksualiteit, etniciteit, klasse en leeftijd? Welke culturele normen, idealen en machtsverhoudingen zijn daarbij in het geding? Hoe verschuift de perceptie van mannelijke en vrouwelijke lichamen onder invloed van hedendaagse visualiseringstechnieken? En wat is het potentieel van eigentijdse kunst en nieuwe visuele media voor het creëren van nog ongekende configuraties van gender?



Mogelijke onderwerpen zijn onder meer:

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· nieuwe media en feministische esthetiek

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·(trans)gender en/in de hedendaagse (mode)fotografie

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· de ‘pornificatie’ van de digitale beeldcultuur

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· voorbij gender? verbeeldingen van non- en posthumane lichamen


Opzetten voor artikelen (400-500 woorden) kunt u zo spoedig mogelijk, doch uiterlijk 15 augustus 2009 zenden naar Louis van den Hengel (L.vandenHengel@maw.ru.nl) en Josje Weusten (josje.weusten@gmail.com).

Opzetten dienen vraagstelling, wijze van behandeling daarvan, theoretische uitgangspunten en globale indicatie van de argumentatie en de te gebruiken literatuur te bevatten. De eerste versies van de artikelen (max. 6000 woorden) worden medio oktober verwacht.



Zie de website voor meer informatie: http://www.tijdschriftgenderstudies.eu


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