Archive for December 29th, 2012

December 29, 2012

Tragic Mulatto

The tragic mulatto [muh-lat-oh] is a stereotypical fictional character that appeared in American literature during the 19th and 20th centuries, from the 1840s.

The ‘tragic mulatto’ is an archetypical mixed-race person (a ‘mulatto’), who is assumed to be sad, or even suicidal, because they fail to completely fit in the ‘white world’ or the ‘black world.’ As such, the ‘tragic mulatto’ is depicted as the victim of the society they live in, a society divided by race.

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December 29, 2012

Negative Capability

Negative capability describes the capacity of human beings to transcend and revise their contexts. The term has been used by poets and philosophers to describe the ability of the individual to perceive, think, and operate beyond any presupposition of a predetermined capacity of the human being.

It further captures the rejection of the constraints of any context, and the ability to experience phenomenon free from epistemological bounds, as well as to assert one’s own will and individuality upon their activity. The term was first used by the Romantic poet John Keats to critique those who sought to categorize all experience and phenomena and turn them into a theory of knowledge.

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December 29, 2012

Ithkuil

Ithkuil is a constructed language marked by outstanding grammatical complexity, expressed with a rich phonemic inventory or through an original, graphically structured, system of writing. The language’s author, John Quijada, presents Ithkuil as a cross between an a priori philosophical and a logical language designed to express deeper levels of human cognition overtly and clearly, particularly in regard to human categorization, yet briefly. It also strives to minimize the ambiguities and semantic vagueness found in natural human languages.

The many examples from the original grammar book show that a message, like a meaningful phrase or a sentence, can usually be expressed in Ithkuil with fewer sounds, or lexically distinct speech-elements, than in natural human languages. Quijada deems his creation too complex and strictly regular a language to have developed ‘naturally,’ but nonetheless a language suited for human conversation. No person is hitherto known to be able to speak Ithkuil fluently; Quijada, for one, does not.

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