Essay- THE COMFORT OF PERFECT LOGIC?



Essay- THE COMFORT OF PERFECT LOGIC?

Postby Aki88 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:06 pm

Was cleaning up my PDS(E) today, stumbled across an old essay by Dave Cole, original post was taken from CBTTape; the writing holds so much relevance even today and compels the reader-programmer/otherwise to look deep within. Personally I've always felt connected and could relate to this piece, a visit to it is always humbling and insightful.


The whole excerpt:


VIEW       XXXXXX.PDS.JCLLIB(COMFORT) - 01.00              Columns 00001 00072
Command ===>                                                  Scroll ===> CSR  
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000001 Golob, Sam                                                              
000002 From:   Dave Cole <dbcole@CFW.COM>                                      
000003 Sent:   Wednesday, May 09, 2001 8:41 AM                                
000004 Subject:        OT: A programmer's Life Story                          
000005                                                                        
000006                                                                        
000007                                                                        
000008                  THE COMFORT OF PERFECT LOGIC?                          
000009                                                                        
000010 Comforting?  Not at all.                                                
000011 Satisfying?  To a point.                                                
000012                                                                        
000013       I have worked with machines it seems all my life. I like the      
000014 machines, and what they have become in my lifetime. I have excelled    
000015 in my craft. I have built abstract creations of such hidden beauty,    
000016 works of art as creative as any you might see. An art, though, that    
000017 no one will see. An art that can be seen only by the mind'
s eye.        
000018 Impossible for most. Too difficult for those few who can. People        
000019 with years of experience might have the vocabulary and language        
000020 necessary to understand, necessary to comprehend. But probably not      
000021 the patience or the interest. They have their own castles to build.    
000022                                                                        
000023       There is no color nor taste in it. No sound to hear, no          
000024 object to touch. There is nothing physical or material. There is        
000025 only the abstraction of concept, coded into thousands upon              
000026 thousands of instructions-to-the-machine. Implemented, written,        
000027 incorporated, coded, yet remaining abstract. Visualizable, but not      
000028 picturable.  Hidden deep within the internals of digital systems.      
000029                                                                        
000030       Further up, layers upon layers away from this hidden beauty,      
000031 there is the final result. The display the user can see. The            
000032 output that he can touch and feel with his own mind. A good and        
000033 useful device in and of itself. But the concepts that make it          
000034 work? forever hidden in an unlit world of "internals".                  
000035                                                                        
000036       When I code, I think with extreme intensity and focus. When I    
000037 stop, I am both wired and exhausted. Decompression takes time.          
000038                                                                        
000039       When I code, my mind swims and flows in a world of                
000040 abstractions.  There are no words. Only processes coming together,      
000041 then spawning apart again. A huge spaghetti-maze of logic paths        
000042 flowing, splitting, diverging, merging. Each one needing to find        
000043 its beginning, needing to seek its end. "What about this?" "What        
000044 if that?"
"What will happen when?" "Oh shit! I forgot about THAT!"      
000045 These are the constant urges that drive the coding process. Each        
000046 of them giving rise to a branching of the logic paths. Each one        
000047 giving creation to the abstraction needed to resolve its question.      
000048 Each one remaining a flaw until resolved and merged back into the      
000049 overall flow of the program.                                            
000050                                                                        
000051       Occasionally, once in awhile, the solution to a path will be      
000052 utterly new, the abstraction will be totally beautiful. Something      
000053 to be proud of. Something to be satisfied with. Something I cannot      
000054 show or even explain to the people I love. Something that I am          
000055 forced to keep ... private.                                            
000056                                                                        
000057       When I code, my mind swims and flows in a world of                
000058 abstractions.  There are no words. "What are you doing?", someone      
000059 will ask. I cannot answer. The cost is too high. There are no          
000060 words at hand.  Only the mental flows of forms and processes.          
000061 "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!", someone insists. I have to stop. Let it        
000062 all settle into ... stillness. Then maybe I can find the words,        
000063 but now the process is gone. That is the cost.                          
000064                                                                        
000065       "What about this?" "What if that?" "What will happen when?"      
000066 "Oh shit! I forgot about THAT!" But then suddenly comes the            
000067 answer: "It is done!" Suddenly, there is stillness. There is that      
000068 perfect moment when you just know, in an inescapable way, there        
000069 are no questions remaining. All the paths have been connected. All      
000070 the answers have been coded.                                            
000071                                                                        
000072 There is stillness. It is done.                                        
000073                                                                        
000074       You asked what I do. This is what I do. There is                  
000075 satisfaction, but no comfort.                                          
000076                                                                        
000077 = = =                                                                  
000078                                                                        
000079 David Cole                                                              
000080 In the 55th year of my life,                                            
000081 36 of which have been devoted to programming,                          
000082 24 of which have been devoted to XDC.                                  
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Aki88
 
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