Information Is Not Literature and Literature Is Not Information

"The central dogma [of information theory] says, 'meaning is irrelevant.'  Information is independent of the meaning that it expresses, and of the language used to express it.  Information is an abstract concept, which can be embodied equally well in human speech or in writing or in drumbeats.  All that is needed to transfer information from one language to another is a coding system."

Freeman Dyson, "How We Know" [review of James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (N.Y.: Pantheon, 2011)] in The New York Review of Books LVIII:4 (March 10, 2011) 8.

Literature depends entirely on the meaning that its words and punctuation contain, and the language used to contain it.  Literature is a concrete phenomenon, which cannot be embodied in any other form other than that in which its authors initially expressed it.  Literature cannot be transferred from one language to another without unacceptable loss.  See New Criticism's "heresy of paraphrase" (Brooks, The Well Wrought Urn [NY: HBJ, 1947] 192-214).

Arnie Sanders, 17 February, 2011