A reader commented on my first blog entry, and my first writing about C++/CLI in over a year, stating the following
RE: The Revised C++ Language Design Supporting .NET — Part 1
You poor, confused soul.
This is actually a variation of Buzz Lightyear’s response to Woody in the opening of Pixar’s original feature film Toy Story. Woody has just tried to explain to Buzz that Buzz is really a toy and not really the star fleet commander whom he believes himself to be. Of course, for Woody, Buzz was deluded rather than simply confused.
Shortly upon my joining Disney Feature Animation, a number of us flew up to Pixar to meet with them. I had been asked to develop a language along the lines of Pixar’s ML (Modeling Language) language which they had described in a recent [or not so recent] Siggraph paper. When Disney Feature Animation first made use of CGI (Computer Graphic Imagery) in The Great Mouse Detective back in the 1980s, Scott Johnson and others there at Disney invented a language they called EEK! [This is the sound people tend to make on first seeing a mouse irrespective if it is wearing white gloves and a blue hat with stars.] This language was having difficulty scaling up to the success it paved the way for – that is, for the amount of CGI that was then being integrated within each cartoon [the idea was that in a 2D animation, the CGI elements should not call attention to themselves and so anything too spectacular was always muted down until it cease to call attention to itself]. One of the cool things up at Pixar was a screening of about 7 minutes of composited film – this was the toy soldier sequence where the soldiers are deployed to spy out the opening of the presents. A purely digital film was completely uncharted territory back then, and no one was quite sure if a main street audience would sit through 80 minutes of specular plastic however artfully rendered.
The purpose of the initial blog was three-fold. On the surface, it is intended to motivate our redesign of what came to be called the Managed Extensions for C++ released with Visual Studio.NET. That is what the content is driving towards. Secondly, it was to put myself on the public blog because my name is recognized and would draw attention to our efforts with the revised language. That is, irrespective of the content, folks recognizing my name and curious would tune in. This is good. So, those are the corporate reasons for me to write a blog – part of why I’m on salary. Next comes the personal part. I have a good idea what I want to say, and a general sense of having a right to say it without being apologetic. So, the only degree of freedom left me is how it should be said. One might call that finding one’s voice. I stole shtick from the novelist Willam H. Gass’ experimental novella Willie Master’s Lonesome Wife [I am sure I damaged the title [much like I damaged Peter Jackson’s name [calling him Peter Jacobson [I was thinking of Ivar Jacobson, the methodologist [although I knew his first name was Peter [and my off-by-one error with Simila-67]]]]]] and the silly nesting of parentheses from John Barth from his text, Chimera [John allowed me as an undergraduate to attend his graduate fiction writing seminar [and so doing this sort of nonsense is an inside joke that only I appreciate]]. Certainly, Mr. Tim Sweeney did not appreciate it. And it didn’t feel right anyway; it was intended just to be an old man’s sloshing around with language.
If you write books for a reputable publisher, they will be peer reviewed during the process of composition. Unfortunately, those peers are not always thoughtful or particularly gentle in their responses. I remember one reviewer of the first edition of my C++ Primer cursing me and darning the book to heck, and my only consolation was that he then complained that Kernighan and Ritchie were guilty of the same sins. And I thought, great; those sins I could live with. However, every response, however negative, is useful in the review process, because it is another data point. Mr. Sweeney reinforced my sense that if I really want to play literary games, I should write some literature, and in general keep things separate – this is a lesson Huck Finn’s aunt fails to teach him in the opening of what Hemingway called the first American novel, but I think I’ve taken it to heart, finally. I think it marred my third edition of the Primer and my C# Primer. The problem is that I would rather write fiction but felt I could not afford to, and so it seeped into inappropriate texts.
I use to have a public web site on which I keep old articles, alternative versions of chapters of my books, editorials from the C++ Report, source code, and other miscellaneous data and interfaces. I added a guest book at one point to allow users to sign in. I was aghast one day to discover that a pornographic site had decided to use my guest book as an advertising strategy, and startled I just nuked the whole thing. In some unfair way, I feel the same about Mr. Sweeney.