Posts Tagged ‘body

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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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.”

21
Nov
08

Massumi’s Parables of the Virtual

Brian Massumi
Parable for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation
Area: Digital Media
Intro: Concrete is as Concrete Doesn’t

•    Body: it moves, it feels
•    Body – (movement/sensation) – change
•    Body as sight of resistance—signifying gestures can also unmake sense by scrambling significations already in place
•    There is “displacement,” but no transformation.  The body simply leaps from one definition to the next
•    Abstract: never present in position, only ever in passing
•    Incorporeal dimension of the body
•    Positionality is an emergent quality of movement
o    “passing into” and “emerging” aren’t binarisms—they’re dynamic unites
•    Difference between social determinism and sociality
•    Habit is an acquired automatic self-regulation—it resides in the flesh
o    Cultural? Natural?
•    The feeling of having a feeling is the “perception of perception” (Liebniz)
o    Occurs without characters and therefore memory does also
o    Wait…memory, sensations, and perceptions occurring without ‘characters’? Without determinate form or content?—what is memory without content?
•    Just “pastness”? –but this would make the past contemporary to the present of sensation and perception
•    Spinoza: body as relations of movement and rest: the capacity to enter into relations of movement and rest—power to affect or be affected
•    Massumi takes seriously the idea that writing in the humanities can be affirmative or inventive (experimentation)
•    When you uproot a concept from its network of systematic connections with other concepts, you still have its connectibility
o    Connectiblity without the system
4: “Even though many of the approaches in question characterize themselves as materialisms, matter can only enter in indirectly: as mediated.  Matter, movement, body, sensation.  Multiple mediated miss.”
4: “When a body is in motion, in does not coincide with itself.  It coincides with its own transition: its own variation.  The range of variations it can be implicated in is not present in any given movement, much less in any position it passes through.  In motion, a body is in an immediate, unfolding relation to its own nonpresent potential to vary.  That relation, to borrow a phrase from Gilles Deleuze, is real but abstract.”
10: “The retrospective ordering enables precise operations to be inserted along the way, in anticipation of a repetition of the movement—the possibility that it will come again.  If the movement does reoccur, it can be captured.  It comes to a different end.  At that terminus, its momentum may be diverted into a new movement. The back-formation of a path is not only a ‘retrospection.’  It is a retroduction: a production, by feedback, of new movements.  A dynamic unity has been retrospectively captured and qualitatively converted.”
12: “Perhaps ‘productivism’ would be better than constructivism because it connotes emergence.  ‘Inventionism’ wouldn’t be going too far, for even if you take nature in the narrowest sense, it has to be admitted that its inventive in its own right.  There is a word for this: evolution.  There is no reason not to use the same word for the prolongation of ‘natural’ processes of change in the emergent domain of ‘culture.’ Is a constructivist evolutionism conceivable? An evolutionary constructivism?
21: “Aside from that, poaching a scientific concept in no way prevents it from continuing to function it its home environment.  It’s not a zero-sum game.  It’s additive.  The concept still belongs to the culture of science but has also been naturalized into the humanities.”
Chapter 1: Autonomy of Affect (pagination from Cultural Critique)
•    The affective is marked by the gap between content and effect
•    Depth reactions are associated with expectation, which depends on positioning oneself in a line of narrative continuity
o    How does this differ from Gadamer??
o    They are conscious-autonomic mix, a measure of their participation in one another.  Intensity is beside that loop, a non-conscious, never-to-conscious autonomic remainder
•    Intensity will be equated with affect
•    Emotion and affect—if affect is intensity
o    Follows different logics and pertain to different orders
•    Will and consciousness are subtractive. They are limitative, derived functions which reduce a complexity too rich to be functionally expressed (free will experiment)
•    The body is as immediately virtual as it is actual
•    Deleuze: question of emergence—two sided—actual and virtual
•    The entire field (the universe) is limited and infinite
•    The autonomy of affect is its participation in the virtual
o    Its autonomy is its openness
86: When on the other hand it doubles a sequence of movements in order to add something to it in the way of meaningful progression-in this case a sense of futurity, expectation, an intimation of what comes next in a conventional progression-then it runs counter to and dampens the intensity. Intensity would seem to be associated with nonlinear processes: resonation and feedback which momentarily suspend the linear progress of the narrative present from past to future.
91: Intensity is asocial, but not presocial-it includes social elements, but mixes them with elements belonging to other levels of functioning, and combines them according to different logic.
100: It is meaningless to interrogate the relation of the human to the nonhuman if the nonhuman is only a construct of human culture, or inertness. The concepts of nature and culture need serious reworking, in a way that expresses the irreducible alterity of the non- human in and through its active connection to the human, and vice versa.




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