Cardinality of Art and Walter Benjamin and other stuff

art, capitalism, consciousness

I am listening to a the fabulously generative podcast Game Studies Study Buddies – in particular the episode on Surrealism.  

It is making we think about art, individuality, the unconscious and perhaps Walter Benjamin. I am into the first three, not so much Walter. 

Follow this thread. 

Is art that prioritizes self expression still art?

Photography is the beginning of art as self-expression which is a rupture from traditional art as a mode of communal participation and perhaps self transformation (feeling and integrating new feelings).  At this moment art becomes about the decisions or mind of the photographer (ie the artist), what photo do I take, rather than my technique in creating art.  Art becomes about personal expression, rather than universal participation. It also becomes about selection, ie decision making ie taste, and is the beginning of the curation as art / the mixtape/ sampling (perhaps brilliantly temporally locally realized by Hans Ulrich Obrist).

The work of art in the of mechanical reproduction, Benjamin’s work, only makes sense in the context of capitalist culture.  The “value” of the work of art only makes sense in this context. How value changes between cardinality and multiplicity (or mass production) only makes sense in a society with use value and exchange value and commodity fetishism.  But lets play along, what is art in the age of mechanical reproduction, well everything becomes aestheticized (such as politics), because it becomes personal and perspectival rather than embodied in a medium. We could also say this is the beginning of conceptual art because art is about decisions or instructions.  Even in the case of abstract expressionism or mediums that look more traditional, the value is always in … look at this new way I the artist am expressing myself/reinterpreting this thing etc.  There is now value in doing this first.

Now I am jumping the gun. Walter attempts to ground some real value in the original vs the mass produced object in the notion of aura. This seems metaphysical – I’ll talk about this later. But in an attempt to stay grounded with Kant in the Island or reason, or land or reason, I forget in the geography of Kant if speculation is an island or the water, but I digress. Back on reason, the original work of art has original spacial and temporality that make it Art, rather than the spacial and temporal coordinates of the reproductions. Expanding this to modern art, we now have one dimension, temporal. All that matters is that you are THE FIRST. 

I do think by going radically into the personal we can get at something universal. I love rich artist works by people with a fully developed personal mythology – I think of Jacolby Satterwhite, for example. And there is something universal in the complete realization of a personal mythology. As if, the entirety of a personal mythology achieves something universal.  If we look at ART of the past there is a participatory aspect, there is an embodied aspect, there is a communal aspect (thinking of lascaux and the sistine chapel, or even bardic oral traditions like Homeric epics or Icelandic sagas), I have also experience Satterwhite’s work like this at Pioneer works and The Rubin Museum. Benjamin’s concept of aura maybe is trying to capture this idea of participatory and embodied art, I really I am not into this cartesian/kantian Time/Space analysis. I want to lean into the metaphysics of what aura can actually be.  

So back to listening to this podcast, and surrealist tools to get at the unconscious, is this just radically personal?  Is the unconscious or obsession with the unconscious radical narcissism? I would say the unconscious or connection with the unconscious is the most universal part of a human.  I would say perhaps neurosis is personal and what happens when neurosis is removed is something universal. Like all happy families are the same and all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way – to paraphrase Tolstoy.  Surrealist games and a deep communication/connection with one’s unconscious would perhaps connect not only with the particulars or uniqueness of each individual, but also with the universals of all humans. Surrealist games are participatory and communal. What is revealed in a surrealist game is not the product of one artist -but of the group playing the game.  The creator of the game gets credit, perhaps because someone needs to get paid, in money or cultural capital.

So what is Art in the age in mechanical reproduction, if art is not some fetish created by capitalism, but a participatory experience that provides something like connective tissue for the world (humanity, nature etc)? I have no idea, it cannot be just the individual ability to make a unique or idiosyncratic decision but for universal decisions and visions revealed. Perhaps it is something coordinated and emergent. But yeah photography is the beginning of our individualistic culture – realized in instagram – and perhaps TikTok – which I don’t understand AT ALL. 

 

Mundus Imaginalis

consciousness

Mundus Imaginalis is a term invented, I think, by Henry Corbin, the scholar of Islamic Philosophy and mysticism.  It describes the space of imagination separate from the space of reason and the space of somatics.  I understand the rules of somatics, it is kinetics & kinesthetics & physics. I understand the rules of reason it is logic and computation (perhaps some others). This maps to body, mind, and But what are the rules of the imagination? 

Henry Corbin talks about the the Mundus Imaginalis as described by Islamic Theosophists as the eighth climate.  This ‘space’ is populated with geography or as Corbin calls it topologies. There are mountains and islands, as there is an individual who makes a journey… the stranger or the wanderer.  We could perhaps call it the quester – which brings us into the imaginal realm of the tarot or the symbolic realm of geomancy or other divinatory practices. 

It is a geography that does not follow quantitative measurements of things like distance, everything about the geography is qualitative.  Movement from place to place involves a transformation in the state of the questor, not in the location of the questor. Maybe we can imagine the state as the imaginal state or the emotional state or the spiritual state. The state the questor is in allows her access to different realms. It is an inner journey.  The map is almost like a map of a memory palace and I wonder what the relationship of these topos are to other ‘imaginal’ topos like those in astrology (the houses of hellenistic astrology and the nakshatra of vedic astrology).

How do we perceive this realm? It is the realm of symbols translating between the somatic (or material) realm and the intelligible realm, but it is not a mere translation engine.  Corbin talks about imaginary vs fantasy. There is a question that some may ask  – how do we know we are accessing the imaginary realm? I am not sure how valid this question is? The imaginary realm the realm of truth and falsehood? It is the realm of subjective experience and either you have the experience or you do not, either you are in a state or you or not.  We can map the three realms to the body or instinct, the self or subjective reality, and the world or objective reality. 

What does image mean? It comes from Latin

imāgō f (genitive imāginis); third declension

  1. imageimitationlikenessstatuerepresentation
  2. ancestral image
  3. ghostapparition
  4. semblanceappearanceshadow
  5. echo
  6. conceptionthought
  7. reminder
  8. (rhetoric) comparison
  9. (art) depiction

When we talk about images we often think of visual representation, but it is any kind of representation. We could have sound images or perhaps computational images, participatory images (theater/ritual)

The realm of imaginal is the realm of analogy, I would also say the realm of metaphor and symbolism. And, as Corbin states, there is a mapping from the material to the imaginal, the passage through the imaginal realm is inner not outer.

There is the sense, from Corbin, that our imaginal faculties are atrophied. That cultures with rich angelic hierarchies have access to greater imaginal depths for example.

Really how do you improve this imaginal faculty. I am reading a book Corbin writes and there is an analysis of the the imaginal and the realms of the 12 Imams – there are 12 months, 12 apostles – there are many symbols associated with 12. I have no idea what this means for the structure of the imaginal plane or how the 12 Imams map to this. I imagine other visionary works like Blake, or the divine comedy, or Ezekiel.But what is the structure of the imaginary?

Erotics of Programming

art, consciousness, philosophy

I have talked about erotics for probably my whole adult life. It is probably because I read a lot of greek philosophy as an undergraduate at university.

But I was unclear about the meaning. Erotics for me was about love, sexual love in a particular sense, or love that gives rise to passion. But I never really thought about it.

I used to describe my feeling towards programming as erotic- that I found programming erotic. What did I mean? Did I mean it was embodied? Yes, yes but his would be somatic. Did I find it arousing? Perhaps, I do find find programming exciting in this visceral (somatic) way.

Then I came across that famous Sontag quote “We need an erotics of art.” What the hell does that mean?

This week I watched the 4th episode of the meaning crises by John Vervaeke, and there was a brief discussion of erotics that began to unlock this question for me. 

The discussion mentioned that erotics was related to care.  There is an ethics of care that arose out of feminist thought. It is a form of normative ethical theory (ie value ethics) that prioritizes interpersonal relationships and the specifics of individuals. This is not what is meant by erotics and care. Care here is what you care about, a person or thing. 

This jailbroke erotics for me.  We need a care of art – like people need to actually care about art, not use it for virtue/cultural signaling… But lets move even further. 

But care is not enough to understand erotics. Erotics for me is something connected to physical love, to embodiment/somatics, and to passion.  I think this is key to understanding erotics – it is an embodied care. 

What is passion?  I always think of the Passion of Jesus, which is Jesus’ anguish on the cross. And then I think of limerence, that feeling when you are (or think you are) falling in love and cant stop thinking about the beloved. But lets talk about the Passion of Jesus. The word passion, from latin ‘passio’, has connotations with emotion, and perhaps comes from the greek pathos. Pathos is related to suffering and death, but also any strong feeling. To think about this psychologically, passion is to be in the grips of an emotion. It was first used in relation to sexual desire I think by Shakespeare in Titus Andronicus, a very gruesome story involving rape.

I don’t know if we can connect passion to eros. These are in conflict, and from googling on the internet Socrates/Plato does discuss this in dialogues I have read and I have since forgotten. 

There is also the notion of libido, that Freud introduced for psychology. libido is more of a sex drive, and eros is more of a life force – vitality. In order to have vitality, to create, sex (biologically for humans) is involved.

Erotics is a vital caring, it is a generative caring, it is a participatory caring. I care with my whole self, not just with my mind. The passion of jesus is reinacted during the easter as a participatory ritual. Erotics as I imagine it is participatory. 

When I write code, I am participating in the code, I feel what it is to care about one thing verses another, it is more than just a product of my mind.  Part of that has to do with my body (somatics), because participation involves the body, but it is not only the body. For an erotics of art, it is about participating in an artwork, and feeling what it is to care. 

These videos I am watching with a group are about a so called “meaning crises.”  I can translate this as not knowing what to care about, which I definitely struggle with.  And if care is about eros, then that is something we need to reintroduce back into society.  Perhaps an impossible to do in world experienced through zoom.

Negative Capabilities

consciousness

In one of my discord servers there has been a discussion on what it means to be generative – create new ideas, rather than analytical which ends its life in optimization (operations research). Dr Jason Fox, who runs the server, wrote a fantastic piece on something called negative capabilities, a term coined by the poet John Keats in a letter!

Negative Capabilities is the ability to live with uncertainty, doubt or paradox. This is one of the things lost today, particularly in cancel culture and in contemporary human life.  The desire to take time and consider a situation in all of its gory incomprehension is antithetical to life hacking, optimization, and even the dopamine hit that comes from acting (and social  media actions in particular).  There is no dopamine in dwelling in the quagmire of paradox. But perhaps there is an increase of depth or of capacity for feeling that may make our later dopamine hits that much more pleasant… 

 

Mythology and Psychotechnics

consciousness

I am part of a group that every week watches and discusses The Meaning Crisis. 

And this point in time we are in the middle of a meaning crisis. There is a mass reckoning with structural inequality and with perceived notions of unquestioned institutions such as the police. The protests in the street are an example of participation in history (see below) in response to a world that is very broken.

The meaning crisis is an attempt by cognitive scientist John Vervaeke to discuss the history of meaning making. This week we watched part 3:  a discussion of the developments of the psychotechnics of the ancient hebrews and ancient greeks. 

Here is a list of psychotechnics that I picked up

  • reason (from the socratics) – I have lots of thoughts about this and the development of logic and computation
  • patterns or relation (and the cosmos) – Pythagoras developing the notion of mathematics from arithmetic. The idea that numbers can be expanded to describe relationships between things and the world – such as the octave. This is probably the beginning of modeling. Also the notion of the cosmos vs the universe. The cosmos being an ordered beautiful thing – seeing the beauty in the world. 
  • historical time vs cyclical time – So with the development of exodus story we have the notion of history. We can break out of the perception that everything is a circle (thank you for returning us to the circles Nietzsche with the eternal return) What happens then … we can act! we can influence the future. I think this is the beginning of the science or need for decision making.  There is also a discussion in the lecture on participation – that in ancient cultures there is the notion of participation – this is what it means to be in a ritual.  Historical time allows us to be participants in the world.  So this is interesting participation vs observation.
  • real vs illusion – this we discussed in our group a bit. V mentions that people used psychotechnics to distinguish between the real world and some sort of false world. This I have a problem with, although members of the group had different interpretations.  Why does real vs illusion matter?  If you want to act in the world, participate in the world, then you want a mental map that helps you do this. If your map some how does not match the world, or if you find yourself going off course – then you have an illusory map. Perhaps this is the meaning. In this case you need a bunch of real maps not just one -and that is metamodern. And the reality of the map is related to what you want to achieve.  This notion of achievement and destiny or goal – like we are on a journey with a goal. This I suppose is the meaning crises.  Historical time presupposes a goal and there really is none beyond the journey and the extent to which you participate in the journey.  I do like the Hanzi notion that we want to experience greater depth and range and then integrate this into ourselves.
  • mythological space  – V talks about how these psychotechnics arose in a mythological world that we no longer inhabit. What is the mythological world? We discussed this a bit. But if you imagine the distant past as a world we were deeply embedded in (participating in via ritual), and via the scientific revolution we are engaged in the world as an observer -perhaps that has something to do with it. V talks about the notion that we have regressed to a world view that preceeds the axial age and historical time with the advent of the scientific revolution.  And that when we apply the psychotechnics of the axial age to the modern age it makes no sense, because we are not in the world in the same way. 

Have we left the mythological age? Probably. Have we returned to a previous age? Probably not because we still have the cognitive apparatus of mythological grammar. What is the sort of participation we have now? Is the ability to determine a deep fake similar or different to the ability to judge whether or not the divine right of kings is true or whether a statement is logically true or false? True or false are unhelpful categories. We just want greater clarity in order to act in the world with full participation. And this is perhaps the shift in pyrotechnics that we need. This capacity to look at a phenomena with many different maps and from many different perspectives to get a full understanding of how to act. This is so difficult in the modern world as there is so much information and things are moving so quickly and it is difficult to understand even what the most important thing in life should be. Also we are alienated from abilities to take care of ourself in a most fundamental way (food, shelter, support). We are looking for a higher meaning, but there is instability in our lower levels of support or a lack of understanding and transparency. Perhaps the we must now return to the beginning not necessarily to grow our own food, but do that too, but also to understand where food comes from the points of failure the precariousness of the network. We are looking for meaning in higher levels of the maslow pyramid but perhaps even if we are fed and sheltered, we have neglected the bottom of the pyramid in a substantial way.

 

psychotechnologist – writing and the computer

Metamodernism

clothing, consciousness

At the beginning of quarantine I read the Listening Society by Hanzi Freinacht. I was obsessed with it. I asked everyone what they thought of it. Finally I found a discord group where people talked about it. I first learned about the term metamodernism from reading the Listening Society.  It is a term originally used to describe contemporary art. 

If post-modern describes an either/or perspective and povs like cultural relativity and irony among other things, metamodernism describes a both/and perspective – irony and earnestness, autofiction, cultural relativity and hierarchy.  

What is the use of these labels? Enlightenment, romanticism, modernity, post-modernity, metamodernity. There is a certain word view and perspective that these movements represent. This short hand, or signature still has some meaning. The describe a certain orientation if not a metaphysics. 

What interests me about metamodernity are the generative aspects of the orientation. Metamodernity is about combining things that seem paradoxical, it is about creating new genres and perhaps destroying genres.  I am really interested in things beyond metamodernism. I an interested in the role of inner life, feelings, and emotions in the listening society. In Freinacht’s books what interests me as well is what populates one of these phases, the symbolic codes, the reasoning structures. This essay refers to metamodernity as a new kind of sensuality. And perhaps it is – perhaps it is the “erotics of art” that Susan Sontag talks about in maybe Against Interpretation or something. 

The abs-tract-organization in one of their essays on quotes heavily from González,  (1996), and situates this as one of the origins of metamodernism not the 20teens art theorists. It comes out of post-colonial studies. (This is a great resource- I still have not exhausted it).

“González cites Zymunt Bauman’s description of modernity as a self-deception, concealing its own parochiality, and that postmodernity knows better…“that Lyotard’s definition of the postmodern may very well serve as a sort of “Cold War weapon” of neocolonialism.” AND “At the same time, however, a hermeneutic of suspicion leads us to wonder what hidden agendas lie behind the postmodern critique of modernity.” This last bit is from Ricoeur, it is about understanding we gain through interpretation rather than observation. I am discussed this before. If interpretation is post-modern, what is metamodern?

Perhaps metamodernism is occult.  Occult is what is hidden. It is not necessarily magic. It is the noumena of kant, the realm of the forms for Plato. What is the form of understanding native to the occult? It can be one of two things? It is subjective (or inner work, or feeling) OR it is mediation. We access the hidden through some method of mediation, either a spell or a medium, or a tool, a journey to find the man behind the curtain (of the wizard of Oz).  But also as we work with the tool the tool works on us. By going on the journey we are transformed and able to see behind the curtain.  What is the practice for the occult? Toolmaking. As Borgmann says, quoted in the abs-tract essays:

“But the postmodern condition also holds the possibility that we may recognize technology and pass through it to another beginning, one I have suggested we call metamodernism.” — Borgmann (1992)

Hanzi would disagree if we are linking occult with magic. But occult is not magic necessarily -it is what is hidden. I am not sure what to call magic.  It would be some causal relationship between something. I don’t even think you can talk about magic per se, but maybe you need to talk about sympathetic magic or different types of magic, like you talk about different types of medicine (allopathic and homeopathic etc).

 

I am going to end this with an attempt to close down another tab – Game B. Game B is a way to describe the civilization operating system that comes after Game A – which is the western status quo. Now I am not sure how I feel like that. Because most of the world, like all of china perhaps does not experience the western status quo, but maybe they do via mcdonalds and hollywood. I dont know.  From this article Game B is

” 1)self-organizational 2) network-oriented, 3) decentralized, and 4) metastable for an extended period of time” 

There is this idea that Game B is focused on developing self-sovereignty and inner life. And Game A is focused on control and conformity – it is subjective vs objective.  

Now in covid, there are these things called pods arising. These are small groups – subcommunities that are self organizing and taking care of one another, it is sort of like a grass roots Game B.

Process

consciousness

I am really not the best at process (or processing) – that was a joke – hahah.
Anyway.

Happy Sunday! I was talking with my writing group and they said that I should keep a record of my newsletter process so here it is sort of … the beginning.


Ancient History
Well I had a newsletter once before -it was about crypto. I started it maybe 6 years ago. I had a vague notion that through this newsletter I could connect with other people in crypto and become a crypto expert. And while, I did become a crypto expert, I did not have the sort of legitimacy one gets from having 1.5mm instagram followers like kim kardashian. No fancy conference invitations for me, I had to apply like everyone else…

Recent History
So last year I was at the recurse center. One of the things I wanted to explore was something called ‘conscious computation’ – the application of computational models to ideas of consciousness, and the application of consciousness to computation.
I really did not get very far on this concept. I was very impressed by the work of Vilem Flusser and the relationship between medium and conceptual frameworks. I wondered what would our dreams be like to dream in code or non-linear systems instead of images.

At the start of 2020 I started working with a group of creatives and we started keeping one another accountable to our creative projects. I hoped to maybe create a body of work or writing around this concept of conscious computation. I have a vague idea of who I wanted to connect with in order for this idea to have impact within the wider culture.

Covid19 came to the USA in early January. I was actually in Bothell on a project when someone was first diagnosed with covid in the USA (in Bothell I think). I started to lose interest in this project. In the past when I would often become despondent when embarking on projects and begin to think ‘who cares?’ Who cares about this? This lead to further feelings that I was self-indulgent and doing something with little utility.

In the past 18 months or so I have radically reframed this. I no longer ask this question. I ask am I interested? And that alone is enough. Since what is better than to spend one’s time doing what one is interested in. But even my conscious complexity project no longer interested myself… I had to start again.

I started thinking about what I was really interested in and it was, as it has always been since I was a young girl, the connection between different things, areas of thought, and mediums of expression. I was interested in learning about different systems, I was interested in creating in a variety of mediums, I was interested in the scaffolding the tools, structure, and milieu of all these things.

Prompted by Nitzan, I started calling my self a systems poet.This is a term that is evocative although meaningless in a way -since I am the only (or perhaps the first) systems poet.

Back to the newsletter. Why did I want to do a newsletter now? I no longer had a project – like conscious computation, but a method and a process… I wanted to look at the boundary lands between systems. The goal was no longer to become an expert – because there is no field to become an expert in, instead my goal now with the newsletter was to connect with people who would be interested in these explorations as well.

My first newsletter was all over the place, I went really deep really fast on a myriad of concepts. I still was clinging to consciousness and computation. I knew I wanted to bring in visual references and links that might provide some inspiration and sarendipity but that was it. The feedback on this first, aborted, newsletter was that it was complex and difficult to understand (perfect for a blog post).

I regrouped and a few weeks later, I wrote my first newsletter. I was very happy with it. I accomplished a high degree of precision and fidelity that I had been struggling my whole life to achieve. I felt I was on the threshold of a new higher quality of work. Sadly my call to action link was broken and because I am using the generally excellent square space mailing app, but otherwise I was happy. 

Now to write the next newsletter. This was not so easy. I would sit down to write some ideas for a few moments, and come back and feel the inspiration and momentum totally gone.  I would post something to this blog, or to twitter or slack and thing ahh the newsletter, but then I had no motivation to write it.  

One of the things I am also in the midst of doing, is learning to listen to myself and be in alignment with myself. This is a whole body process. So I would think, well if I dont feel like writing now, should I just honor that. My whole life has followed a few philosophical points – I have used a numbers game mentality, I have attempted to use force of will, and I thought better done than perfect. 

But in the past year this has totally changed for my. Rather than trying everything under the sun, I wanted to listen to myself and only do those things that I truly wanted to do. My litmus test was how I wanted to spent my time, not what would be ‘successful.’ Then I challenged the force of will. How can I feel like ideas, thoughts, feelings, creations, come from me, rather than from some sort of way to anticipate or meet another person (can we say co-dependance), or to push something through without focusing on how it feels.  Finally I am challenging the better done than perfect, and all the attendant ideology like MVP (minimum viable product). I have a desire to do things exquisitely. I have lived my life in broad strokes, and I now I am interested in the details (I still cannot spell however).

With this orientation, I was really mindful of how I was writing the newsletter, in addition to writing the newsletter. The second newsletter had trouble being birthed. 

I had a conversation with one of my writing partners, Thomas, that he recorded on zoom. He had a conversation methodology and it was amazing. It was one of the most generative and energizing experiences I had in a while. I might not be able to write a newsletter, but I can have good conversations. So I started doing that (please sign up for a 1:1 conversation 🙂 

There is no goal beyond this other than the sheer pleasure of it. I can see it becoming a collection of interviews or even an audio project or documentary. But for now, it just brings me pleasure. 

I started working on some personal coding projects and I realized that what I now loved to program with another person. I love to code and have a ton of knowledge, both technical and just process or what I call body knowledge or pattern matching.  I decided that going forward I would try and write with a partner as much as possible. 

A year or so ago, a friend put me in touch with a professional coach for software developers. I took a sample session, but did not proceed further, at the moment I did not have the need. The idea and tips she gave me though I still remember. And imagine that I would improve dramatically if I worked with her. And maybe I will now. The idea that programming, like everything else, can benefit from having a coach, was mind blowing. After these revelations I started doing 1:1 code coaching sessions. I do plan on charging for this one day, or doing work study (like we code on one of my personal projects), but for now, while I am figuring it out, they are totally free. Please try it out!

While not writing my newsletter, I was doing these other things that were more process oriented and directed at what I enjoyed doing. However I still wanted to put out the newsletter. I had (and still have) in my mind a list of 5-10 people who I imagine reading my newsletter, perhaps passing it to other people, of a feedback loop within the newsletter (which is why I have a Q/A at the end), and even a feedback loop among people who I interact with (who read the newsletter, who dialogue with me, who code with me etc). 

Today I scheduled my second newsletter. It comes almost a month after the first. I sat down this morning and wrote it like the first one, in one burst in google doc. I did then go back and edit it in the afternoon after comments from my writing group. I have the same good feeling I had with the last newsletter.  My goal is to hopefully turn this method into a rhythm. On sunday morning write, and sunday afternoon revise. 

I have goals for the newsletter, as I stated before. I want to connect with other people who are interested in these thoughts. I want those people to connect with me. I want them to connect with one another. It would be nice if these thoughts create actions either works or deeds. But internal changes are enough. If enough people undergo enough internal changes then the world will change. 

I don’t have a dogma or an agenda that I want to promote, I just want fellow travelers on my journey.

 

Meditations on Technology

consciousness

Before I begin – If you have other ideas of what constitutes a tool or technology please comment or schedule a dialogue with me.

Now to begin proper…  I have recently taking to call myself a systems poet. Most other people don’t know that I am talking about, but I know what I am talking about. Randomly the other day I described myself as a tool maker. What does that mean???

What are tools and what are the relationship between tools and technology?

I have written about this before, but I want to refine this…

So there are a few different ideas about tools and technologies

1a. Tools are an extension of the body, like a telescope is an extension of the eye

1b. Tools generate power which extends the body but something like a water wheel.

2a. Technologies are guard rails – I think of this in terms of the philosophy of nudging – and example is the fordist assembly line

2b. Technologies are practices to refine something  Here I think about things like kundalini is tech or yoga is tech. It is a way to focus or refine energy, but it is using your body as a tool. Someone once asked me what are you/me a tool for? 

I recently read Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield. One of his ideas is that mathematical models like E =MC^2 grew out of making empirical observations. People making observations were just saving the appearances, just recording what they saw, they were not deducing anything. The phenomena  was primary, the data secondary.

This became flipped around when we started taking the data as primary. That is how we started creating models and then studying our models. You could even say science is now about studying models and using more data to figure out if it is correct or incorrect.

The models according to Barfield are the Idols, this is a form of idol worship. I am making no judgements, just observations. One of the great things about the 20th century is that our models became predictive and models started to drive our technologies instead of experiment driving technology. 

Since Napolean and the introduction of Logistics read Delanda’s War in the Age of Intelligent Machines we also have the idea of optimization.  Technology is no not just about models or equations, but about measurement and instrumentation (how well are we doing something, how accurate is a reading), and also about simulation.

We can think of Jungian active imagination as a technology, we can think about talk therapy as technology, we can think of games as technology.  As Marx says technology works on us as we work on technology, so technology is a part of conditioning. 

So to recap technology as extension, as refinement, and as prediction.

As I am thinking about developing technology and tools, more and more I am thinking in this cyborgian way, how do I want to be conditioned … today … right now. How do I want to be…

People say we are moving from an age of doing into an age of being… how do we think about technology as ontology instead of epistemology. 

 

 

Complexity, Time and the Pandemic

consciousness

My internet is not working well so I am binge reading Identities journal, which I opened in 10 tabs in my browser.  Right now I am reading The Curve of the Clock by Ben Woodard.  The discussion begins with biology. That changes over time are often morphological changes. Like a foetus becomes a human child, grows a heart, lungs, thumbs, hair.  This unfolding over time has a different aesthetic dimension than unfolding over space.  Unfolding in space would be the beauty of a picture For unfolding in space, Ben invokes the term phase-beauty.

So what! You may say.  Music unfolds overtime. Ahh but maybe I misspoke, perhaps this is the aesthetic of unfolding over worlds.  The world of the foetus is a different world than the world of the human child. The world of the seed is a different world than the world of the towering oak tree. 

This sort of unfolding over worlds, is something I would perhaps assign to the field of computation in the form of a state machine. Bergson raises the idea that this sort of phase shift, or what I am calling a world shift, is unquantifiable. But perhaps this is the wrong way to look at it. It belongs to the realm of set theory and not countability . The clock is a metaphor for the musical score written once and performed forever (although idiosyncratically).  But the computer is the metaphor for phase transitions. 

Woodard suggest that pandemic, not the virus, is an example of phase-horror perhaps.  Horror would be a reaction to the unknowable, the (un)sensible.  Horror is how we interact with phenomena we can only apprehend through mediation. 

But is the pandemic an example of a phase transition. I would say no. The progression of covid19 within an individual does exist in a world of phase transition, in a world of states: Health, asymptomatic, symptomatic, cough, fever. Together it is a picture of covid19. 

Looking at the scale of a population, a different world, we have different stages, outbreak, epidemic, pandemic, and so forth. The pandemic is a phase within the larger set. What we call this larger set I am not sure, disease perhaps, but I think there is something more accurate.

Knowing a disease with different phase transitions, apprehending it, acting with it, ie epistemology, aesthetics, ethics is different than  knowing a thing that extends only over time and space.  The pandemic itself may have qualitatively different phases within it, just as increased or decrease rate of growth. As the scale changes from linear to exponential, the world changes. 

 

What is invisibility?

consciousness

I was reading this article,Contagion and Visibility: Notes on the Phenomenology of a Pandemic by J.P. Caron. It is about ways of knowing and covid19. It is really excellent and I recommend reading it. 

It is from a phenomenological perspective, which can mean one of a million things. But mainly that we start our investigation from sense perception in some way. With something like covid19 what does this mean? 

Well it could mean starting with symptoms, if you have them. It can mean starting with the protective measures we take and the feeling of that, the locus of attention on the hands, on the mouth.  What is the sensation of washing hands, of dry hands, of mask marks (as I am sure many of you have seen on social media).   It can start with our visual experience of charts (of different scales) showing infection, unemployment claims, or the stock market.  

However, all of this is an oblique, or mediated, ways at getting at what we believe is the cause of these sensations – an invisible virus. Sure if we put the virus under a microscope then we have a sense perception of this virus through the eye. Our experience of this is even different than our feelings of illness/symptom, or of protection.

This article mentions invisibility and scale. Invisibility is a problem of scale. It starts from the notion of world building and how we create meaning within worlds – this is a notion that is very close to my heart, as my investigation of system poetics is in many ways about world building.  The virus exists in a different world than the world we live in where we can feel a masks but not virus. We cannot directly ‘sense’ it – that is sense it unmediated.  The phenomenology of the covid19 is the phenomenology of the aspects in which our world of sensation intersects with covid19. 

J.P. connects this with ethics and the cognitive load that is associated with interacting with a something that exists in so many worlds (such as fear).  His perspective is informed by Kant and perhaps Hans Vaihinger, through the notion of as-if.  We have to act as-if these worlds or that these worlds represent something we do not directly sense.  

Ethics is essentially the study of how to act. I offer a different perspective.  This is not a matter of as-if, but a matter of system poetics, or world poetics.  As I see it, the ethical issue with covid19, from a phenomenological perspective, is that it presents itself in so many conflicting phenomenological experiences (or worlds). Which worlds we choose is based on our phenomenological experience of those worlds, the places where they overlap and where they rhyme.