Re: Postmodern Perl

Kragen Sitaker (
Tue, 9 Mar 1999 15:54:18 -0500 (EST)

> But the essay itself is basically incoherent,

I think it was designed to be. :)

> and he completely botched the definitions of
> postmodernism/deconstruction, the tenets on which he re-thematized the
> standard Perl duct-taping rhetoric into pomo jargons.

Can you define postmodernism and deconstruction for me? I am an
ignorant old man, and I do not understand these terms. (Please do not
tell me to go read Derrida.)

> My problem with
> the whole idea of calling Perl a pomo language is that like all computer
> languages, it is a logically coherent formal language, hardly what you'd
> call pomo.

A formal language is a set of strings. I'm not sure what you mean by
"logically coherent"; perhaps that it is computable whether or not a
particular string is a member of the Perl language.

A building has faucets, walls, roofs, chairs, gewgaws, etc. These
things are used by the people who interact with the building. The way
that these facilities affect the people who use the building depends
partly on their design.

You could say that a building, like all physical objects, is a
collection of atoms bonded together in a logically coherent structure.
But you would sort of miss the point of architecture.

Perl is also a set of facilities, much like a building. The same
spirit you see in the design of AT&T Headquarters is in the design of

> Sometimes I wonder if all this talk about Perl being a
> language designed for gonzo programming has very little to do with the
> features intrinsic to the language itself, but rather an a posteriori
> claim about the culture surrounding the Perl community.

Trust me. Perl has lots of features designed specifically to support
gonzo programming. Most of the command-line flags and $_, for
example. :)

Have you done a lot of programming in Perl?

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
We are forming cells within a global brain and we are excited that we might
start to think collectively.  What becomes of us still hangs crucially on
how we think individually.  -- Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web