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Date: Sun, 03 Sep 95 07:44:14 0600
From: Rob Mayoff <>
Organization: The Kernel Group, Inc.
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To: mayoff
Subject: post-impressionist programmers
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Resent-Date: Sun, 3 Sep 1995 01:41:31 -0500 (CDT)
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Resent-To: John Dawson <>, Curt Finch <>,
        Dave Taylor <>, Britt Yenne <>,
        John Watson <>, Alex North-Keys <>


                                La Boite Bleue

                          translated from the memoirs of
                               Jean Turing-VonNeuman
                 a minor 19th century post-impressionist programmer


              I will never forget that Spring, that day.  Paris had an air
         of revolution.  The week before an exhibition of Seraut's
         listings had caused a sensation.  In his unrelenting quest for
         simplicity he had reduced all of programming to three machine
         instructions.  The resulting 6,000 line bubble sort had shocked
         the critics.

              My own recent efforts had been received poorly.  I had cut
         and slashed through my programs, juxtaposing blocks of code in a
         way that exposed the underlying intensity of the algorithm
         without regard to convention or syntax.
              "But it doesn't compile.", they complained.
              As if programming was about adhering to their primitive
         language definitions.  As if it was my duty to live within the
         limits of their antiquated and ordinary compilers.
              So it was that I came that day to La Boite Bleue, seeking
         solace and companionship.

              La Boite Bleue was where we gathered in those days. The wine
         there was cheap, the tables were large and they kept a complete
         set of language manuals behind the bar.
              As I entered I heard Henri's measured accents above the din.
              "...that complexity is not the salient characteristic of
         exemplary style."
              Toulouse-Lautrec was seated at a table spread with greenbar.
         Manet, redfaced, loomed over him.
              "Damn your recursion, Henri.  Iteration, however complex,
         is always more efficient."
              Manet stormed away from the table in the direction of the
         bar.  He always seemed angry at that time.  Partly because his
         refusal to write in anything but FORTRAN isolated him from the
         rest of the Avant-Guarde, partly because people kept confusing
         him with Monet.
              Henri motioned to me to join him at the table.
              "Have you heard from Vincent recently?"

              We were all concerned about Van Gogh.  Only a few days
         before he had completed an order n sorting routine that required
         no additional memory.  Unfortunately, because he had written it in
         C and refused, on principle, to comment his code, no one had
         understood a line of it.  He had not taken it well.

              "No. Why?", I replied.
              "He and Gaugin had a violent argument last night over
         whether a side effect should be considered output and he hasn't
         been seen since.  I fear he may have done something ... rash."

              We were suddenly interrupted by the waitress's terrified
         scream.  I turned in time to see something fall from the open
         envelope she held in her hand.  Stooping to retrieve it, I was
         seized by a wave of revulsion as I recognized that the object in
         my hand, bestially torn from its accustomed place, was the mouse
         from Van Gogh's workstation.  The waitress, who had fainted, lay
         in an unnoticed heap beside me.

              By the evening, the incident had become the talk of Paris.

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