Monday, September 4, 2023

Heavy hangs the burden of the artist


Yesterday clerkmanifesto was taken over by an AI. Or was it? 

We employed here a technique known as the "Kinks/Lola Technique". 

In the song Lola, the lyrics conclude:

"But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man,

And so is Lola"

Lola is glad he's a man, or Lola is also a man? Both work.

And so when yesterday's column concludes by saying thank you to the reader for describing the essay as too complicated, clever, and unusual to be the product of an AI, is it the AI thanking the reader for suggesting that the AI has finally achieved the critical mass of creativity, or is it the meat author (me) thanking the reader for acknowledging that their (my) work is beyond the capability of mere technology?

Thus, a Kinks/Lola ending. Both read plausibly, and a question that seems to be answered may or may not be.

But going with what we both really know to be true, for a variety of complex, human reasons, which is that I wrote yesterday's column, not AI, I want to bring up something I think it speaks to:

AI can write plausible text, but it is bureaucratic text. It is text not written for the pleasure of the reader, or for the use of the reader. It is text that only serves at the pleasure of bureaucratic systems, or to the person working to produce such text. Of course, this is a criticism, but it also could be presented neutrally: AI is capable of writing text that does not intrinsically need to be written, and it can only write text that does not need to be written.

So, as a non-AI, am I saying this that you're reading is text that needs to be written?

Alas, I am afraid so.


  1. Blogging about the experiences and insights of a library clerk can be a valuable and informative endeavor. It allows you to share your knowledge and experiences with others who are interested in libraries, books, and information management. Here are some tips to get you started with library clerk blogging:

    (a) Eat peanuts slowly and with your nose pointed down.
    (b) Never spell words that quandary of
    (c) Enterprise is the shelving
    (d) "The biggest wagon is the emptiest wagon"

    1. It is so exciting to see elephants comment on clerkmanifesto. I feel that I provide elephant-rich content, and I always try to be respectful of the elephant's way of thinking. Nevertheless, having the direct perspective of an actual elephant really enriches the environment here. I never would have thought of eating peanuts slowly with my nose pointing down, but now I can see how useful this information might be.

      Also, when William Carlos Williams first famously said "The biggest wagon is the emptiest wagon", I was actually in the audience, though I can't say as I thought so much of it at the time. Now, of course, it never fails to dazzle me.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.