Assembly: Down to Basics

a portion of asm

What appears on the right is a small portion of the assembly code generated by the compilation of the linear search algorithm. In total it is just under 400 lines. Of the parts of this metaphor, the correlation between 11th grade and assembly code is by far the strongest. For those who don't know, Assembly language is the lowest level of computer languages above the actual numeric format in which programs are stored. Assembly makes an excellent analogue for 11th grade because AP English 11 was a lot like Assembly: the whole concept was to discover the implicit purpose of writing by examining structure, tone, etc in depth.

I am not being simply objective when I say that AP Language and Assembly programming are good analogues, I also select the two for the feelings they inspire. Being someone who studied both AP English 11 and Assembly programming at roughly the same time, I can personally attest that though, by themselves, neither seems that bad, the type on analysis and that required for each can be downright infuriating. The Assembly I worked with wasn't automatically generated so it wasn't quite so obscure. Some of the AP English analysis were a lot worse though, in terms of overall effort and confusion required.

This is not to say that either is inherently bad. Assembly, for example, is very fast and uses little memory because it works at such a low level on the hardware. Style analysis can be a very useful tool, when interpreting a poem, for example. Both skills bring some prestige with their mastery. Ultimately, however, the question is it really worth practicing reading a passage for tone and style or learning the strange control in Assembly programs. Really its a case of knowing when is the right time to use such a skill.

From the preceding paragraphs its pretty evident how the English components of 11th grade affected me as a thinker and a reader. As a reader, the forced need to consider analysis over content stole a lot of the joy from reading literature. This further helped along my increased reading of nonfiction. As a thinker, all of this over-analysis made me a little cynical about all of english––doubting the implicit purposes are really there as often AP English prompts want you to find them. For all eleventh grade was detrimental to my reading and thinking, it conversely did wonders for my writing because I actually worked at my own diction and implicit purposes. Just like I was proud when I got my own four-function assembly calculator working but wouldn't want to read the code for one, I felt accomplished in my own writing improvments, but I got really sick looking at the writing of others.