Ulmer offered the following response to my question on invent-l, changing the subject line to “allegory (was whacky question)”:
What is thinking. Part One: an allegory.
The ice-cream store of Reason.
The most popular flavors are vanilla and chocolate but some ask for bubblegum-clam with sprinkles. Thinking is the child exiting with a double-dip thought already melting down his hand (a self-portrait, 1950 perhaps) nestled insecurely in a waffle-grid sentence.
A proof (reconstructed scene with parable feature turned on):
2. (Sees trail of ants crossing a deep crack in sidewalk). ?????
3. (Leans over 90 degrees at the waist. Double-dip top-heavy conedischarges plops reverse order onto sidewalk altering ant train movement with several casualties). !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
4. (says Waaaaaahhhhhhh!) Oops oops oops.
5. It still looks ok mostly (reaches for upper portion).
Mother: Don’t touch that!
Father: A lesson: vertical and horizontal. Nicely done.
6. (Looking at sister’s cone). It would be funny if hers plopped.
Now at first I thought this was the kind of whacky, flip response that Ulmer sometimes will give out, or the kind of creative play that gets spun out on invent-l sometimes that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. But then I printed it out and carried it around with me at work, and in the spare moments I had (like when computers were re-booting or carrying out some function), I’d pull it out and think on it. And the more I thought about it, the more questions it generated. But when it occurred to me exactly what he was doing, I realized that it fit right in to his whole project, which has to do with changing the way we think. It’s about having us think with images, through images rather than words. I’ll save my thoughts about this post for another day.