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Games, Diversions & Perl Culture by Jon Orwant

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Chapter 2. Wherefore Art, Thou?

Larry Wall

I don’t know whether a picture is really worth a thousand words (most pictures seem to be considerably larger these days), but when I give talks about Perl, I often put up a picture (Figure 2-1) showing where some of the ideas in Perl come from.

The origin of Perl

Figure 2-1. The origin of Perl

I usually make a joke about Linguistics not really being the opposite of Common Sense, and then proceed to talk a lot about both of them, with some Computer Science thrown in for good measure. But last December as I was giving a talk in Stockholm, someone asked me how Perl got its inspiration from Art. I was stumped. I mumbled something semi-irrational (always appropriate when discussing Art) and went on to the rest of my talk.

But the question continued to bother me; or more specifically, it continued to bother my left brain. My right brain continued to be perfectly content with the purported connection. Unfortunately, it’s also not at all forthcoming with the verbiage necessary to explain itself. Right brains tend to be like that. So let me see if my left brain can make something of it all.

Art is first of all based on the notion that there exist amoral decisions; that is, choices you can make either way, without feeling like you’re being naughty or nice. So let’s presume that the Artist has free will of some sort or another, and can therefore behave as your ordinary, everyday ...

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