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Got bored during lunch and tried an experiment with GPT-4:


Write an italian sonnet about the difficulty of building a writing habit.


Nell’attimo in cui la penna tocca carta bianca,
La mente si perde nell’abisso del dubbio.
Come fiume che si rifiuta di seguire il suo corso,
L’ispirazione si nasconde, lasciandomi a mani vuote.

Cerco le parole tra le pieghe del silenzio,
Ma il foglio resta intatto, immacolato, sterile.
La routine è un nemico, insidioso e furtivo,
Che ruba la creatività, lasciando solo l’eco del vuoto.

Ma nel cuore dell’oscurità, una luce balugina,
Un pensiero, un’idea, un filo d’inchiostro si dispiega.
L’abitudine è un muratore, costruisce ponti, non mura,
E il fiume delle parole, infine, si risveglia.

Così, ogni giorno, lentamente, la penna si muove,
E la pagina bianca diventa un racconto d’amore e di prove.


Hah! I meant a sonnet in the Italian style (as opposed to a Shakespearean one). But a sonnet actually IN Italian is pretty fun, too. Could you please do two things: 1) Give me a translation of the above “Italian sonnet”, and (2) write a second sonnet–in English–but in the Italian (petrarchan) style, on the same subject.


Of course, here’s the translation of the Italian sonnet:

In the moment when the pen touches white paper,
The mind loses itself in the abyss of doubt.
Like a river refusing to follow its course,
Inspiration hides, leaving me empty-handed.

I search for words in the folds of silence,
But the page remains intact, immaculate, sterile.
Routine is an enemy, insidious and stealthy,
Stealing creativity, leaving only the echo of emptiness.

But in the heart of darkness, a light glimmers,
A thought, an idea, a thread of ink unfolds.
Habit is a builder, it constructs bridges, not walls,
And the river of words, at last, awakens.

So, every day, slowly, the pen moves,
And the blank page becomes a tale of love and trials.

And now for an English sonnet in the Italian (Petrarchan) style:

Upon the barren plain of white, I stand,
The scribe’s relentless duty in my hand.
My thoughts, once swift, now stagnant as a pond,
The stream of inspiration seems beyond.

Each day I face this quiet, daunting fight,
Against the emptiness, I must ignite
A spark within my mind, a kindled flame,
To dance upon the page, to stake its claim.

Yet, in the struggle, something pure unfolds,
A rhythm born of constancy takes hold.
The habit, once a foe, becomes a friend,
A means to coax the muse, the silence end.

Thus, daily wrestle shapes a writer’s art,
In steady beats, the story finds its start.

So: my Italian is limited to asking for the location of a toilet, buying cigarettes and beer, and asking for the check. Anyone more fluent care to comment on GPT’s performance, here? As for the poetry itself: I will note that neither of these is actually in the proper form. I was looking for something made up of one octet followed by one sestet (and no final couplet), with the rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA (although I’d also accept ABABABAB) for the eight line stanza, and either CDECDE, CDCCDC, or CDCDCD for the six line stanza.

Everything Is a Habit

Our regular output is more a product of our habits than of our decisions. Or so they say. So pick something you wish you did well, and start by doing it frequently. Don’t worry about the quality. Don’t worry about the product. Habituate the process, and then once that machine is up and running, go ahead and make adjustments, add gears, and pour in more power. But first, get rolling.

Are We There Yet?

From time to time I get lost in my mind
When thoughts let go of now and turn to meaning:
A peek above the hedge to seek and find
A bigger picture of life's path so fleeting.
At times my passions mapped a path quite bold
Across the landscape seen by eyes so young,
But more and more now that I have grown older
My visions of horizons come undone.
For forty years my future was so certain;
The path would blur but the compass point stayed clear.
But now all roads are hidden by rain curtains,
And far as I can tell my goal's no nearer
Than when I first set out so long ago.
Are roads and maps and trips an empty show?

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Objective Truth vs Personal Truth

Does objective truth exist? Does it matter?

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Je Suis Parisien

Student officers display a US giant national flag on the Trocadero square with the Eiffel tower in the background during a solemn tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2011 in Paris. Several commemorations are held in France today to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks which killed almost 3,000 people in NYC and Washington and plunged the US into an era of war. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Stay strong, friends.