Archive for November, 2008

30
Nov
08

St. Augustine’s On Christian Teaching

St. Augustine
On Christian Teaching
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
The Significance of On Christian Doctrine (from Rhetorical Tradition)

•    His confessions may be seen as illustrating the application of Christian ideas to the governance of one’s own soul.
•    OCT advises the Christian pastor on how to foster both psychological and social order by correctly interpreting the Christian truth of the Scriptures and conveying this truth to diverse audiences.
•    The Platonic philosophers come closer to the truth of Christianity than any other pagan thinkers.
•    Augustine knew something of Plato and Aristotle—the Platonic philosophers came closer to the truth of Christianity than any other pagan thinkers.
•    Augustine suggests that eloquence can be achieved without rhetorical training and furthermore, that wisdom, which is separate from eloquence, is more important than eloquence.  Thus he seems to mount a Platonic attach on the declamatory rhetoric of the Second Sophistic that he himself once taught.
•    This separation of eloquence and wisdom implies a separation of things (truths, realities) and words (signs of things), thus also leading Augustine to the Platonic conclusion that language itself is only a means to the final, silent contemplation of divine truth.
•    Augustine thus shares with Cicero—and through hum, with Isocrates—the conviction that rhetoric must be employed for people’s own good.  Augustine follows Cicero in treating the three offices of rhetoric as pleasing, teaching, and persuading or moving to action.
•    Augustine may also place more emphasis on teaching because he assumes that the Christian pastor will usually be preaching to the converted.
•    The converted audience already values Christianity and desires to live by it but must be instructed in the proper way to do so.  In turn, this emphasis on preaching to the converted may lead to slightly more emphasis on style as an important concern for rhetoric in Augustine’s work, as opposed to its place in Cicero’s.

From this source
BOOK I: Argument
The author divides his work into two parts, one relating to the discovery, the other to the expression, of the true sense of Scripture. He shows that to discover the meaning we must attend both to things and to signs, as it is necessary to know what things we ought to teach to the Christian people, and also the signs of these things, that is, where the knowledge of these things is to be sought. In this first book he treats of things, which he divides into three classes,–things to be enjoyed, things to be used, and things which use and enjoy. The only object which ought to be enjoyed is the Triune God, who is our highest good and our true happiness. We are prevented by our sins from enjoying God; and that our sins might be taken away, “The Word was made Flesh,” our Lord suffered, and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, taking to Himself as his bride the Church, in which we receive remission of our sins. And if our sins are remitted and our souls renewed by grace, we may await with hope the resurrection of the body to eternal glory; if not, we shall be raised to everlasting punishment. These matters relating to faith having been expounded, the author goes on to show that all objects, except God, are for use; for, though some of them may be loved, yet our love is not to rest in them, but to have reference to God. And we ourselves are not objects of enjoyment to God: he uses us, but for our own advantage. He then goes on to show that love–the love of God for His own sake and the love of our neighbour for God’s sake–is the fulfilment and the end of all Scripture. After adding a few words about hope, he shows, in conclusion, that faith, hope, and love are graces essentially necessary for him who would understand and explain aright the Holy Scriptures.
•    Those things which are objects of enjoyment make us happy. Those things which are objects of use assist, and (so to speak) support us in our efforts after happiness, so that we can attain the things that make us happy and rest in them.
•    For to enjoy a thing is to rest with satisfaction in it for its own sake. To use, on the other hand, is to employ whatever means are at one’s disposal to obtain what one desires, if it is a proper object of desire; for an unlawful use ought rather to be called an abuse.
•    Those things which are objects of use are not all, however, to be loved, but those only which are either united with us in a common relation to God, such as a man or an angel, or are so related to us as to need the goodness of God through our instrumentality, such as the body.
•    No man, then, hates himself. On this point, indeed, no question was ever raised by any sect. But neither does any man hate his own body.
•    Man, therefore, ought to be taught the due measure of loving, that is, in what measure he may love himself so as to be of service to himself. For that he does love himself, and does desire to do good to himself, nobody but a fool would doubt.
BOOK II: Argument
Having completed his exposition of things, the author now proceeds to discuss the subject of signs. He first defines what a sign is, and shows that there are two classes of signs, the natural and the conventional. Of conventional signs (which are the only class here noticed), words are the most numerous and important, and are those with which the interpreter of Scripture is chiefly concerned. The difficulties and obscurities of Scripture spring chiefly from two sources, unknown and ambiguous signs. The present book deals only with unknown signs, the ambiguities of language being reserved for treatment in the next book. The difficulty arising from ignorance of signs is to be removed by learning the Greek and Hebrew languages, in which Scripture is written, by comparing the various translations, and by attending to the context. In the interpretation of figurative expressions, knowledge of things is as necessary as knowledge of words; and the various sciences and arts of the heathen, so far as they are true and useful, may be turned to account in removing our ignorance of signs, whether these be direct or figurative. Whilst exposing the folly and futility of many heathen superstitions and practices, the author points out how all that is sound and useful in their science and philosophy may be turned to a Christian use. And in conclusion, he shows the spirit in which it behoves us to address ourselves to the study and interpretation of the sacred books.
BOOK III: Argument
The author, having discussed in the preceding book the method of dealing with unknown signs, goes on in this third book to treat of ambiguous signs. Such signs may be either direct or figurative. In the case of direct signs ambiguity may arise from the punctuation, the pronunciation, or the doubtful signification of the words, and is to be resolved by attention to the context, a comparison of translations, or a reference to the original tongue. In the case of figurative signs we need to guard against two mistakes:–1. the interpreting literal expressions figuratively; 2. the interpreting figurative expressions literally. The author lays down rules by which we may decide whether an expression is literal or figurative; the general rule being, that whatever can be shown to be in its literal sense inconsistent either with purity of life or correctness of doctrine must be taken figuratively. He then goes on to lay down rules for the interpretation of expressions which have been proved to be figurative; the general principle being, that no interpretation can be true which does not promote the love of God and the love of man. The author then proceeds to expound and illustrate the seven rules of Tichonius the Donatist, which he commends to the attention of the student of Holy Scripture.
BOOK IV: Argument
Passing to the second part of his work, that which treats of expression, the author premises that it is no part of his intention to write a treatise on the laws of rhetoric. These can be learned elsewhere, and ought not to be neglected, being indeed specially necessary for the Christian teacher, whom it behoves to excel in eloquence and power of speech. After detailing with much care and minuteness the various qualities of an orator, he recommends the authors of the Holy Scriptures as the best models of eloquence, far excelling all others in the combination of eloquence with wisdom. He points out that perspicuity is the most essential quality of style, and ought to be cultivated with especial care by the teacher, as it is the main requisite for instruction, although other qualities are required for delighting and persuading the hearer. All these gifts are to be sought in earnest prayer from God, though we are not to forget to be zealous and diligent in study. He shows that there are three species of style,–the subdued, the elegant, and the majestic; the first serving for instruction, the second for praise, and the third for exhortation: and of each of these he gives examples, selected both from Scripture and from early teachers of the Church, Cyprian and Ambrose. He shows that these various styles may be mingled, and when and for what purposes they are mingled; and that they all have the same end in view, to bring home the truth to the hearer, so that he may understand it, hear it with gladness, and practice it in his life. Finally, he exhorts the Christian teacher himself, pointing out the dignity and responsibility of the office he holds, to lead a life in harmony with his own teaching, and to show a good example to all.

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29
Nov
08

Petraglia’s Reality by Design

Joseph Petraglia
Reality by Design: The Rhetoric and Technology of Authenticity in Education
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Introduction: Why an Interest in the Authentic?

•    An understanding of contemporary education hinges on what we take authentic learning to mean and how we believe it’s achieved
•    Rhetoric of inquiry: study of how discursive practices constitute and sustain human understanding with special reference to academic investigation
X: “Situated cognition—an approach that again emphasizes the individual’s perception of and responsiveness to the immediate ambient world and motivating activities that seem personally real.”
4:  “Constructivism—the interdisciplinary view that we construct knowledge based on our cultural assumptions and prior experiences at hand.  Therefore, constructivism can be understood as a natural and social scientific complement to the progressivism which it developed alongside of.”
4: “Modern constructivism, Resnick argues, obliges us to view social behavior not just as an influence on thought, but also, as itself, a manifestation of cognitive processing that leads us to ‘analyze the ways in which people jointly construct knowledge under particular conditions of social purpose and interaction.”
5: “Technology can help in this process [of rethinking schooling] because it makes it possible to create learning situations that mirror what is happening in the real world in ways that are difficult to realize in a traditional classroom.”
8: “Thus, the rhetoric of authenticity can refer to how language such as authentic, real-world, genuine, and everyday is used by educators to conserve comfortable epistemological assumptions while linking pedagogical innovations to a more constructivistic intellectual framework.  In this first sense, then, the rhetoric of authenticity is about how and why the desideratum of authentic learning is used as a central trope in the contemporary educator’s vocabulary.  However, in a second and perhaps more technical sense, a rhetoric of authenticity can refer to the way in which the real, and thus, the authentic, can be seen as an outcome of rhetorical processes.”
10:  “The evolution of constructivism through the cognitive revolution of the 1950s and 1960s to what, in hindsight, looks to be the fairly natural resurrection of Soviet sociohistoricism.  It is the sociohistorical perspective initiated by Vygotsky and his colleagues in the 1920s and 1930s that creates the conceptual space in psychology necessary for the treatment of everyday context.  This is accomplished via the quotidianization of learning—that is, by looking to everyday situations and activities as the primary source of learning rather than at deliberately structured learning episodes or learning acquired in school under formal conditions.”
12:  “Rhetorical and constructivist frameworks share many features—for instance, both are preoccupied with an interest in how representations of the world are constructed and modified.  However, the rhetorical tradition usefully distinguishes itself in its focus on the affective dimensions of thinking and knowledge-making and in its long experience with context-dependence.”
Chapter Six: Negotiating the Real world: Conceptual Obstacles and Opportunities for Education
•    A constructivist analysis of knowledge foregrounds rhetoric: the powers of persuasion and the differences of dispute
•    Making students participate in their own learning, rather than students being simply the audience
•    Who is the audience (Bitzer): an inappropriate audience is no audience at all
•    Rhetoric: performative dimension of expertise
o    The status of expert is not necessarily granted to one that knows the content in any objective sense, but is a status granted to the person that possess the means in which to perform the knowledge
•    Who can persuade others of their own expertise (Gorgias)
134: “The challenge of authenticating learning becomes transformed from that of presenting the learner with new and improved ‘reality kits’ to that of persuading learners that the problems with which they are presented correspond in some important way to their own sense of how the real world works.”
135: “The student as audience, a rhetorician would contend, is less a passive sounding board for the educator’s lecture, than an active interlocutor who is fully capable of evaluating claims, assessing evidence, and posing rebuttals.”
137:  “In other words, a rhetorician may observe that technologists often design environments for what Perelman calls the universal audience—that ‘reasonable and competent’ audience to which we direct out idea arguments.  This is rooted in the assumption that rationality is universal and needs no audience.  Yet Perelman reminds us that while the universal audience has its uses, it is only a fiction that serves as a heuristic in helping us define our particular audience—those living, breathing, alternately reasoning, and alternately competent audiences that we actually encounter in the real world.”
141:  “In recognizing that expert performance is rhetorically constructed at various times for various reasons, educators are reminded that authentic assessment—a critical subject in many education-based literatures—is entirely dependent on the norms of, and consensus among, evaluators.  New ripples, trends, tastes, and politics can quickly dethrone experts and replace them with individuals whose performance was previously considered highly inexpert.”
149:  “A rhetorical perspective reminds us that there is no guarantee of success in making learning authentic: Although we may argue for a given task’s authenticity, evidence one audience finds compelling, another audience fins inadequate.  What Aristotle identified as rhetoric’s natural concern with probable outcomes instills in the rhetorically sensitive educator an explicit awareness of the limits of persuasion and thus success.  In Book One of Rhetoric, for instance, Aristotle reminds us that the rhetorician who discovers the available means of persuasion does so with no assurances that the means employed will succeed.  He advises us to set out sights a bit lower and suggests that a more reasonable objective is to come ‘as near such success as the circumstances of each particular case allows.’”

29
Nov
08

Burke’s Counter-Statement

Kenneth Burke
Counter-Statement
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
From Joshua Gunn’s summary

•    There can be no objective rule of taste which will determine by concepts what is beautiful. For every judgement from this source of taste is aesthetical; the feeling for the subject, not the concept of the object, is its determining ground. To seek for a principle of taste which will furnish, by means of definite concepts, a universal criterion of the beautiful is fruitless trouble, because what is sought is impossible and self contradictory” (par. 232).
Chapter One: Three Adepts of ‘Pure Literature’
•    A. Useful background: Burke discusses Gustave Flaubert, Walter Pater, and Remy de Gourmont
•    Pater is allied with Nietzsche in “one respect”: “both kept the theme of transvaluation [of values] well within the sphere of ceremony”(15), meaning that Pater preferred “ceremony” to “information.” Burke later seems to relate ceremony to the psychology of form.
•    “Art was ‘justified’ because art was an appetite – in being desired it found its ample reason for existence. Art did not require defense as an instrument of political or social reform. Art was purely and simply a privilege, to be prized as a cosmic exception” (16-17).
•    A method of analysis termed “dissociation,” which divides a concept “which we usually take as a unit” in order to draw out associative relationships that inhere in “desires” and “interests” (23).
Chapter Two: Psychology and Form
•    Form: “form would be the psychology of the audience. Or, seen from another angle, form is the creation of an appetite in the mind of the auditor, and the adequate satisfying of that appetite” (31).
•    Psychology of information: displaces the psychology of the audience with the psychology of the “hero” or subject; specific details and bits of information are valued over that of the whole. From this perspective, “one might denounce Cezanne’s trees in favor of state forestry bulletins” (32).
o    a) “Under such an attitude, when form is preserved it is preserved as an annex, a luxury, or as some feel, a downright affectation” (33).
o    b) The corresponding methods of sustaining interest “are surprise and suspense” (37).
•    Music is offered as the example par excellence of the psychology of form: “Here form cannot atrophy. Every dissonant chord cries for its solution, and whether the musician resolves or refuses to resolve this dissonance into the chord which the body cries for, he is dealing with human appetites” (34).
Chapter Three: The Poetic Process
•    Burke invokes the principle of crescendo (or “a general rise to a crisis”) as a chief characteristic of art: “Over and over again in the history of art, different material has been arranged to embody the principle of crescendo” (45). He then confidently asserts that the “work of art utilizes climatic arrangement because the human brain” has the potential to respond (“arrested, or entertained”) to climax.
•    However, the principle or concept of crescendo needs to be “individuated” in a particular work of art in order to evoke emotion.
•    Burke then glosses Plato’s theory of the forms as an illustration, and discusses the nominalist philosophy (which holds all one can know are “particulars”). Burke corrects the nominalists by modifying Plato’s conception of the universal forms – he sticks them in the mind: “So eager were the nominalists to disavow Plato in detail that they failed to discover the justice of his doctrines in essence. For we need but take his universals out of heaven and situation them in the human mind …, making them not metaphysical, but psychological” (48).
•    Thus, “we have the original emotion [or mood] which is channelized into a symbol. This symbol becomes a generative force, a relationship to be repeated in varying details, and thus makes for one aspect of technical form” (61). In other words, the consistency required by emotional form, once symbolized, requires a “logical consistency” too, which in turn is part of technical form.
Chapter Six: Program
•    The Thesis: “The present Program speculates as to which emotions and attitudes should be stressed, and which should be slighted, in the aesthetic judgment to the particular conditions of today” (107). What are these conditions?:
•    Mechanization and industrialism, which “affects our political institutions, as it alters our way of living … ” and so on (107).
•    A symbolic of the “past” and “future,” as represented by the “Agrarian” and the “Industrial.”
o    The Agrarian is the “morally conservative.”
o    The Industrialist is the progressive, yet the progressive whose agenda solidifies rather quickly and, though open to innovation “will usually be found to harbor a set of cultural retentions which completely undo” innovation (109).
o    The artist must play the intermediate.
Chapter Seven: Lexicon Rhetoricae
•    The Nature of Form: “Form in literature is the arousing and fulfillment of desires.” There are five aspects of form
o    Syllogistic progression (sub. of “progressive form”):” the form of a “perfectly conducted argument,” where, “given certain things, certain things must follow, the premises forcing the conclusion” (124).
o    Qualitative progression (sub of “progressive form”): the more subtle sort of progressive form, where “the presence of one quality prepares us for the introduction of another,” yet we only recognize the whole (“its rightness”) after the progression is complete. (124-125).
o    Repetitive form: “the constant maintaining of a principle under new guises. It is the restatement of the same thing in different ways” (125).
o    Conventional form: “involves to some degree the appeal of form as form.” There is an “element of ‘categorical expectancy,’ such that the gratifications of the reader are “anterior” to the reading” (126). Seems like the most basic of forms, simply expectations of the audience.
o    Minor or incidental forms: smaller sorts of form, such as “metaphor, paradox, disclosure, reversal, contraction, expansion, bathos, apostrophe, series, chiasmus … ” (127).
•    Burke then proceeds to further clarify (that is, complicate) the five aspects (or types) of form:
o    Interrelation of forms: The forms overlap and are not necessarily distinct in any one work (128).
o    Conflict of forms: The forms can compete, for added or destructive effect (129).
o    Rhythm, Rhyme: Burke identifies rhythm and rhyme as chiefly categorizable under the heading “repetitive form,” although can be described with the other sorts of forms too (130).
o    Significant Form: Forms are not necessarily wed to any one theme; that is, there is no essential correspondence between the peticularies of the subject matter and form. “In most cases we find formal designs or contrivances which impart emphasis regardless of their subject” (135). Burke shows how “talking at cross-purposes,” as a formal contrivance, yields different emotional effects in selections taken from Wilde, Wordsworth, and Racine (the former two for humor, the later for “tragic irony”).
•    The Individuation of Forms: In this section, Burke further elaborates and traces how form gets individuated (as he outlined in the “Poetic Process”).
o    Appeal of forms: Form is successful, or “‘correct’ insofar as it gratifies the need which it creates. The appeal of the form in this sense is obvious: form is the appeal” (138). Burke then discusses the five aspects of form in turn, fixating on the minor: ” … since the single sentence has form, we are forced by our thesis to consider the element of gratification in the sentence apart from his context” (139).
o    A special status is afforded to form as “exemplified in rhythm,” because “rhythm is more closely allied with ‘bodily processes.’ Systole and diastole, alternation of the feet in walking, inhalation and exhalation, up and down, in and out, back and forth, such are the types of distinctly motor experiences ‘tapped’ by rhythm” (140).
•    ‘Priority’ of forms: Though forms are not necessarily “prior to experience, they are certainly prior to the work of art exemplifying them.” (141). This seems to contradict the psychological universals he posits earlier, so he poo-poos the question by saying, “so far as the work of art is concerned they simply are … ” (141).
o    He then returns to his emphasis in earlier chapters on “capacities” (as “a command to act in a certain way”). Peculiar, confusing distinctions like this were sure to cause ire of many an analytical philosopher.
o    “The forms of art, to summarize, are not exclusively ‘aesthetic.’ They can be said to have a prior existence in the experiences of the person hearing or reading the work of art. They parallel processes which characterize his experience outside of art” (143).
•    Individuation of Forms: Further explanation. “A ‘metaphor is a concept, an abstraction – but a specific metaphor, exemplified by specific images, is an ‘individuation.’” (143).
•    Form and information: Because form is “embodied” or clothed by subject-matter, certain “diseases of form” can occur. These diseases come about when the subject-matter obscures the form or out-strips its “functional uses.” A balance must be struck between the intrinsic interesting effect of “information” and formal method/technique. Burke revisits the “psychology of information” and “psychology of business” stuff here. (144-145).
•    Form and Ideology: Burke vacillates between description and proscription. Ideology, because it shifts “from age to age” as well as “person to person,” can render the formal universals ineffective if not used and manipulated by the artist carefully. The artist often must appeal to ideology in order to individuate form (and thereby evoke the desired emotion). (146-147).
•    Re-individuation of forms: Burke maintains that re-individuation is the “best proof that there is ‘individuation’ ….” He offers the example of a “literal translation,” which basically rearticulates the form “with a complete change of matter [words].” Burke offers Joyce’s Ulysses as the “most elaborate re-individuation” of The Odyssey (148-149).

29
Nov
08

Bergson’s Creative Evolution

Henri Bergson
Creative Evolution
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Hence should result this consequence that our intellect, in the narrow sense of the word, is intended to secure the perfect fitting of our body to its environment, to represent the relations of external things among themselves— in short, to think matter. Such will indeed be one of the conclusions of the present essay.
•    In fact, we do indeed feel that not one of the categories of our thought— unity, multiplicity, mechanical causality, intelligent finality, etc.—applies exactly to the things of life: who can say where individuality begins and ends, whether the living being is one or many, whether it is the cells which associate themselves into the organism or the organism which dissociates itself into cells? In vain we force the living into this or that one of our moulds. All the moulds crack. They are too narrow, above all too rigid, for what we try to put into them.
•    True, it hurtles in its course against such formidable difficulties, it sees its logic end in such strange contradictions, that it very speedily renounces its first ambition. “It is no longer reality itself,” it says, “that it will reconstruct, but only an imitation of the real, or rather a symbolical image; the essence of things escapes us, and will escape us always; we move among relations; the absolute is not in our province; we are brought to a stand before the Unknowable.”—But for the human intellect, after too much pride, this is really an excess of humility.
•    Intellectual knowledge, in so far as it relates to a certain aspect of inert matter, ought, on the contrary, to give us a faithful imprint of it, having been stereotyped on this particular object. It becomes relative only if it claims, such as it is, to present to us life— that is to say, the maker of the stereotype-plate.
•    On other paths, divergent from it, other forms of consciousness have been developed, which have not been able to free themselves from external constraints or to regain control over themselves, as the human intellect has done, but which, none the less, also express something that is immanent and essential in the evolutionary movement.
•    This amounts to saying that theory of knowledge and theory of life seem to us inseparable. A theory of life that is not accompanied by a criticism of knowledge is obliged to accept, as they stand, the concepts which the understanding puts at its disposal: it can but enclose the facts, willing or not, in pre-existing frames which it regards as ultimate.
•    a theory of knowledge which does not replace the intellect in the general evolution of life will teach us neither how the frames of knowledge have been constructed nor how we can enlarge or go beyond them. It is necessary that these two inquiries, theory of knowledge and theory of life, should join each other, and, by a circular process, push each other on unceasingly.
•    In the first chapter, we try on the evolutionary progress the two ready-made garments that our understanding puts at our disposal, mechanism and finality; 1 we show that they do not fit, neither the one nor the other, but that one of them might be recut and resewn, and in this new form fit less badly than the other.
•    In order to transcend the point of view of the understanding, we try, in our second chapter, to reconstruct the main lines of evolution along which life has travelled by the side of that which has led to the human intellect.
•    The intellect is thus brought back to its generating cause, which we then have to grasp in itself and follow in its movement. It is an effort of this kind that we attempt— incompletely indeed— in our third chapter.
•    A fourth and last part is meant to show how our understanding itself, by submitting to a certain discipline, might prepare a philosophy which transcends it.

28
Nov
08

Hansen’s Bodies in Code

Mark B.N. Hansen
Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media
Area: Digital Media
Preface

•    Bodies in code: a term designating embodiment as it is necessarily distributed beyond the skin in the context of contemporary technics
Ix: “My explicit aim is to show how Merleau-Ponty’s final ontology of the flesh, with its postulation of a fundamental indifference between body and world, requires a technics—a theory of the originary technicity of the human.  Because the human is essentially a being distributed into nonoverlapping sensory interfaces with the world, it is characterized by a certain ‘gap’ or ‘divide- by what Merleau-Ponty calls an ecart.  As I show, the most primordial form of this ecart is the transduction between embodiment and specularity, the transduction that informs the emergence of the visual from primordial tactility.  This transduction (a relations that is primary with respect to its terms) is an instance (indeed, it is the protoinstance) of the inherence of technics within embodied life.”
Intro
•    The virtual now denotes a space full of information that can be activated, revealed, reorganized, and recombined, added to and transformed as the user navigates ewal space
•    Motor activity—not representationalist verisimilitude—holds the key to flux and functional crossings between the virtual and physical realms
•    The first generational model of VR as a disembodied hyperspace free of all material constraints simply no longer has any purchase in our world
•    The priority (or the ‘superiority’) of the analog: always on arrival a transformative feeling of the outside, a feeling of thought (Massumi)
o    Outside coming in
o    The analog creates reality out of forms or mixing realms, out of transformations
•    All reality is mixed reality
•    Theory has become almost simply coextensive with the claim (Sedgwick and Frank)
•    What makes the passage from one realm to another so seamless, so unnoticeable, so believable?
•    Blindspot (the photo montage of the parts of the body the artist cannot see) recognizes the inescapability of a cofunctioning of ‘natural’ perception and technically extend perception
•    Across the virtual body our culture constructs its own body image
•    Rigid Waves: the ‘mirror’ art—movement creates distortion, proximity shatters the image
•    To think of the body as a body-in-code is to think of human existence as a prepersonal sensory being-with
3: “Natural three dimension” demotes a more immersive, data-rich visual simulation.  In contrast, for Krueger, ‘natural formation’ means information produced through an extension of our natural—that is, embodied, perceptuomotor—interface with the world.”
3: “The development of 3-D simulations puts us in touch with out most primative perceptual capacities: ‘the human interface is evolving toward more natural information.  3-D space is more, not less, intuitive then 2-D space…3-D space is what we evolved to understand.  It is more primitive, not more advanced 9than two-dimensional space].”
4: “First, the mixed reality paradigm radically reconfigures a trait that has characterized VR from its proto origin as the representationalist fantasy par excellence: namely, a desire for complete convergence with natural perception.  This trait serves to distinguish it from all discrete image media, including cinema, which as underscored by Gilles Deleuze’s correction of Bergson’s criticism of the ‘cinematic illusion,’ function by breaking with natural perception.”
4: “Atonion Damasio’s analogy for consciousness: if consciousness can be likened to a ‘movie-in-the-brain’ with no external spectator, then VR would comprise something like a move-outside-the-brain, again, importantly, with no external spectator.”
5:  “Rather than conceiving the virtual as a total technical simulacrum and as the opening of a fully immersive, self-contained fantasy world, the mixed reality paradigm treats it as simply one more realm among others that can be accessed through embodied perception or enaction (Varela).  In this way, emphasis falls less on the content of the virtual than on the means of access to it, less on what is perceived in the world than on how it comes to be perceived in the first place.”
8:  “Mixed reality specifies how ‘media determine our situation’ (following Kittler’s media-theoretical deepening of Foucault’s epistemo-transcendental historiography), it does so in a way that foregrounds, not, (as in Kittler) the autonomy of the technical, but precisely its opposite: the irreducible bodily or analog basis of experience which, we must add, has always been conditioned by a technical dimension and has always occurred as a cofunctioning of embodiment with technics.”
12:  “The social-technical-psychological condition of psychasthenia, meaning ‘a state in which the space defined by the coordinates of the organism’s body is confused with represented space’”
20:  “Such a technical mediation of the body schema (of the scope of body environment coupling) comprises what I propose to calls a body-in-code.  By this I do not mean a purely informational body or a digital disembodiment of the everyday body.  I mean a body submitted to and constituted by an unavoidable and empowering technical deterritorialization—a body whose embodiment is realized, and can only be realized in conjunction with technics.”

26
Nov
08

Ricoeur’s Memory, History, Forgetting

Paul Ricoeur
Memory, History, Forgetting
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Preface

Xvi: “In this way, the phenomenology if memory begins deliberately with an analysis turned toward the object of memory, the memory that one hase before the mind; it then passes through the stage of the search for a given memory, the stage of anamnesis, of recollection; we then finally move from memory as it is given and exercised to reflective memory, to memory of oneself.”
Chapter 1: Memory and Imagination
•    Two questions: of what are there memories? Whose memory is it?
•    To remember is to have a memory or to set off in search of a memory
•    What → who → how
•    Memory, reduced to recall, thus operates in the wake of imagination
•    Platonic: speaks of the present representation of an absent thing
o    It argues implicitly for enclosing the problematic of memory within that of imagination
•    Aristotelian: centered on the theme of representation of a think formerly perceived, acquired, or learned, argues for including the problematic of the image within that of remembering
o    Aristotle: “All memory is of the past”
•    Can a man who has learned something not know when he is remembering it?
•    Accept the identification between possessing knowledge and actively using it
o    Holding a bird v. keeping it in a cage
•    Platonic texts on memory: aporetic results and difficulties
o    Absence: explicit reference to the distinctive feature of memory in which the affections of the body and the soul to which memory is attached are signified
o    The relation that exists between the eikon and the first mark
•    Can the relation to the past only be a variety of mimesis?
•    History: trace or imprint?
o    “External” marks of writing: written discourse, image (wax impression), graphic
•    What do we remember: the affection or the thing that produced it?
o    If affection: then it’s not something absent one remembers
o    If the think: then how, while perceiving the impression could we remember the absent think that we are not at present perceiving?
•    Aristotle: distinction between mneme and anamnesis
o    Mneme: arises in the manner of an affection; simple evocation
o    Anamnemesis: active search; effort to recall
3: “If the ‘I’ in the first person singular is too hastily declared the subject of memory, the notion of collective memory can take shape only as an analogical concept, even as a foreign body in the phenomenology of memory.”
7:  “And yet, we have nothing better than memory to guarantee that something has taken place before we call to mind a memory of it.  Historiography itself, let us already say, will not succeed in setting aside the continually derided and continually reasserted conviction that the final referent of memory remains the past, whatever the pastness of the past may signify.”
9:  “The reference to time we might expect from the use of the verb ‘to preserve in memory’ is not relevant in the framework of an epistemic theory that is concerned with the status of false opinion, hence with judgment and not with memory as such.  Its strength is to embrace in full, from the persoective of a phenomenology of mistakes, the aporia of the presence of absence.”
11: “The idea of ‘faithful resemblance’ belonging to the eikastic art will at least have served as a relay.  Plato seems to have noted in the threshold of the impasse, when he asks himself: ‘what in the world do we mean by a ‘copy’?  We lose our way in the enumeration of examples that seem to escape the art of orderly division and, first of all, that of generic definition: ‘What in the world would we say a copy is, sir, except something that’s made similar to a true think and is another think that’s like it?’  But what is the meaning of ‘a true thing’? And ‘another thing’? And ‘like it’?”
14:  “Socrates proposes: ‘that our soul in such a situation is comparable to a book.’  ‘How so?’ asks Protarchus.  The explanation follows: ‘If memory and perceptions concur with other impressions at a particular occasion, then they seem to inscribe words in our soul, as it were.  And if what [the experience] is written is true, then we form a true judgment and a true account of the matter.  But what if what our scribe writes is false, then the result will be the opposite of truth.’”
15:  “To distinguish, not the persistence of memories in relation to their recall, but their simple presence to mind (which I shall later call simple evocation in my phenomenological sketch) in relation as a search.  Memory, in this particular sense, is directly characterized as affection (pathos), which distinguishes it precisely form recollection.”

26
Nov
08

Castells’ The Information Age

Manuel Castells
The Information Age: vols. 1-3
Area: Digital Media
From Felix Stadler’s Review

•    Castells’ main argument is that a new form of capitalism has emerged at the end of this century: global in its character, hardened in its goals and much more flexible than any of its predecessors. It is challenged around the globe by a multitude of social movements on behalf of cultural singularity and people’s control over their own lives and environment.
•    This tension provides the central dynamic of the Information Age, as “our societies are increasingly structured around the bipolar opposition of the Net and the Self” (1996, p. 3).
•    The Net stands for the new organizational formations based on the pervasive use of networked communication media. Network patterns are characteristic for the most advanced economic sectors, highly competitive corporations as well as for communities and social movements.
•    The Self symbolizes the activities through which people try to reaffirm their identities under the conditions of structural change and instability that go along with the organization of core social and economic activities into dynamic networks.
•    Transformations amongst the trilogy
o    First: Changing relationships of production
o    Second: relationships of power and experience: crisis of the nation-state
o    Third: ties together the loose ends
•    Technology and society can’t be understood or represented without its technological tools
•    Rather than seeing identity as an effect, as a traditional Marxist would, he argues the opposite: identity-building itself is a dynamic motor in forming society
•    “A new society emerges when and if a structural transformation can be observed in the relationships of production, in the relationships of power, and in the relationships of experience” (1998, p. 340).
•    The first assumption structures Castells’ account of the rise of the Net: the dialectical interaction of social relations and technological innovation, or, in Castells’ terminology, modes of production and modes of development.
•    The second assumption underlies the importance of the Self: the way social groups define their identity shapes the institutions of society. As Castells notes “each type of identity-building process leads to a different outcome in constituting society” (1997, p. 8).
•    A society produces its goods and services in specific social relationships–the modes of production.
o    Since the industrial revolution, the prevalent mode of production in Western societies has been capitalism, embodied in a wide range of historically and geographically specific institutions to create and distribute profit.
o    The modes of development, on the other hand, “are the technological arrangements through which labor acts upon matter to generate the product, ultimately determining the level and the quality of the surplus” (1996, p. 16).
•    Identity is defined as “the process of construction of meaning on the basis of a cultural attribute, or related set of cultural attributes, that is/are given priority over other sources of meaning” (1997, p. 6).
•    Castells concludes that information technology evolves in a distinctively different pattern than previous technologies, thus constituting the “informational mode of development”: a flexible, pervasive, integrated and reflexive, rather than additive evolution. The reflexivity of the technologies, the fact that any product is also raw material because both are information, has permitted the speeding up of the process of innovation.
•    This new economy is informational because the competitiveness of its central actors (firms, regions, or nations) depends on their ability to generate and process electronic information. It is global because its most important aspects, from financing to production, are organized on a global scale, directly through multinational corporations and/or indirectly through networks of associations.
•    Rather than creating the same conditions everywhere, the global economy is characterized “by its interdependence, its asymmetry, its regionalization, the increased diversification within each region, its selective inclusiveness, its exclusionary segmentation, and, as a result of all those features, an extraordinarily variable geometry that tends to dissolve historical, economic geography” (1996, p. 106).
•    Its most distinct result is the emergence of what Castells calls the space of flows: the integrated global network. It comprises several connected elements: private networks, company Intranets; semi-public, closed and proprietary networks such as the financial networks; and public, open networks, the Internet. Social organizations reconstitute themselves according to this space of flows.
o    Technology: the infrastructure of the network.
o    Places: the topology of the space formed by its nodes and hubs.
o    People: the (relatively) secluded space of the managerial elite commanding the networks,
•    The space of flows has introduced a culture of real virtuality which is characterized by timeless time and placeless space.
•    Binary time expresses no sequence but knows only two states: either presence or absence, either now or never.
o    Within the space of flows everything that is the case is now, and everything that is not must be introduced from the outside: that is, it springs suddenly into existence.
•    Sequence is arbitrary in the space of flows and disorders events which in the physical context are connected by a chronological sequence.
•    Binary space, then, is a space where the distance can only be measured as two states: zero distance (inside the network) or infinite distance (outside the network), here or nowhere.
•    Power is concentrated in the intricate space of flows, to the extent that “the power of flows takes precedence over the flows of power” (1996, p. 469).
•    The classic embodiment of legitimizing identity, the nation state, is losing its power, “although, and this is essential, not its influence” (1997, p. 243).
•    Trapped between the increased articulation of diverse, often conflicting identities and the need to act on a global scene, the traditional democratic institutions–the civil society–are being voided of meaning and legitimacy: they lose their identity. The power of the political democracy, ironically at the moment when it reaches almost global acceptance, seems to be inevitably waning.




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