Visualizations

Visualizations

Network Graphs

The Digital Platform currently provides network graphs generated with the open-source software Gephi for each of the index headings of the 1827 Index and the PNR, which are accessible from the Indexes page. More information about Gephi, as well as links to download the software can be found at http://gephi.org. Please see the User Guide for information on how to access and navigate the graphs.

You can also view all of the cross-references in the Zibaldone as a single network graph: 1) select the pre-rendered Gephi file (.gephi) if you have Gephi installed and would like to quickly see a network map of the references; 2) select this CSV edge file (.CSV) if you would like to manipulate or generate new network maps in Gephi or other network graphing software; 3) you may also view the graph with the online graph viewer (note that this may take some time to load).

Charts

Below is a sample of statistical charts combining the chronology of the fragments and their thematic interrelations.

Number of dated entries per month and year
Themes by month
PNR Index related themes
 

 

 

The lyric poet, when inspired, the philosopher in the sublimity of speculation […] sees and looks at things as though from a high place, higher than that which the mind of man normally occupies. Hence, in discovering all at once many more things than he would ordinarily be accustomed to notice at one time, and in discerning and seeing at a single glance a multitude of objects, each of which he has seen individually on many occasions but never all together (apart from in similar circumstances), along with them he is able to see all their reciprocal relations, and as a result of the novelty of this multitude of objects that presents itself to him all together, he is led to consider these objects, albeit fleetingly, better than he has done before this time, and better than he is used to doing, and to want to look at and note these relationships. -- Giacomo Leopardi, Zibaldone, pp.3269-70 (Eds. Caesar and D'Intino, 2013). 

The Zibaldone is a text that embodies and reflects on the process of interpretation, in which the cognitive capacity to visualize the relationships between observed phenomena plays a significant role. The flash-like perception of how numerous diverse phenomena are interrelated all at once, as Leopardi describes it in the quote above, is conditioned by the close attention paid to these phenomena in an incremental fashion over time; however, this overview of their system of relations and the privileged comprehension it imparts cannot be gained intentionally via analytical reasoning—“by means of long, patient, and painstaking research, experience, comparisons, studies, reasoning, meditations, exercise of the mind, the intellect, the faculty of thinking, reflecting, observing, reasoning” (Zib. 3270). Moreover, it is fleeting and its transmission is contingent on the extent to which it is “clearly and distinctly present before [the writer]” (Zib. 3271). Many Zibaldone fragments, with their compound syntactic scaffolding of relative clauses, enumerations of the same part of speech, additions crowding the space in the margin and between the lines, attempt to register the many facets of these synoptic mental images before they dissipate from memory, while cross-references and thematic tags jot their connecting dots across the vast tableau of the manuscript. The computational harvesting of Leopardi's analysis of the fragments can generate a simulation of the synthesizing grasp of the mind by representing the semantic structure of their associations as a network graph, which then can be explored at will and redefined. The diagrammatic configuration of the associations would further facilitate the process of interpretation if it allows users to retrieve the text of the individual fragments in the same visual space. Visualizations can similarly harvest the readers' annotations on the text and serve as mediatic support for recording the interpretation that is prompted by their aggregative function. 

Semantic visualization methods can add a range of navigational, explorative, structuring, hermeneutical and discursive functions to the Digital Platform to support the interpretation of the Zibaldone fragments and the reconstruction of their intertextual matrix. The thematic connections established between the fragments by cross-references and index headings often chart such convoluted paths through the text’s stratified fabric that they require diagrammatic rendering and the dimensional space of the digital medium. The visualization of these interrelations as relational network graphs can expose the structure of how the fragments are connected at various levels of semantic granularity. An already active function of the Platform is the organization of those fragments listed under the same heading from the 1827 Index or treatise title from the PNR as a network graph generated by their additional shared themes. These networks can be expanded to include any cross-references among the listed fragments, the text of the fragments, and interactive features allowing readers to add, subtract, and qualify network relations and to record their interpretation. Each fragment’s comprehensive network of relations can be traced through its chains of references and thematic clusters and organized from the perspective of that fragment. Similarly, the results of a keyword search can be structured as a network graph, according to their thematic frequencies and cross-referential framework. The entire text of the Zibaldone can be navigated as a dimensional discourse field with intersecting thematic areas, connected by bridges of cross-references indicating their relations of subordination or parallelism, of synonymy, antinomy, hypernymy, etc., populated by content elements, such as persons, places, timestamps, referenced intertexts, each of which can be activated or kept in the background by individual readers.  

Visualizations can be used to combine any given element of the encoding of the text to construct interpretative frameworks that build upon and beyond the relationality explicitly indicated by Leopardi. The percentage of quotes and bibliographical references of the text can be presented as a chart, to which additional content elements can be added for a more comprehensive overview of the Zibaldone’s intertextuality, such as a chart of the thematic areas with high proportion of intertexts and of their genre, or a map of the referenced authors' time period, language, country, etc. The processual composition of the text can be animated with dynamic timelines to show the themes on which the author dwells extensively or repeatedly, by displaying the interweaving threads of the index themes along the text’s chronological unfolding, by representing the temporal distance between referenced fragments and the temporal direction of the links in the distribution of their relational networks, by visualizing dynamically and spatially the incremental development of an argument from its syntactic additions to its cross-references and thematic networks. The functions of the additions can be encoded and included in the visualization to show whether they are supporting, expanding, contradicting, or transposing the argument to a new context. Visualizations can outline the logical procedures that relate one concept to another, how a concept accrues new meanings or reverses its semantic value in different contexts. In sum, visualizations can correlate, structure and perform a series of analytical operations on the text and create an immersive environment, in which to follow its epistemic practices and examine the phenomena it presents through its kaleidoscope of shifting perspectives.