Posts Tagged ‘Derrida

18
Nov
08

Derrida’s Archive Fever

Jacques Derrida
Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Note

•    Arkhe: 2 names at once—commencement and the commandment
o    There where things commence
o    There where authority is exercised
•    Order is not longer assured
2: “It is thus, in this domiciliation, in this house arrest, that archives take place.  The dwelling, this place where they dwell permanently, marks this institutional passage from the private to the public, which does not always mean from the secret to the nonsecret.”
5: “Sigmund Freud, the proper name, on the one hand, and, on the other, the invention of psychoanalysis: project of knowledge, of practice and of institution, community, family, domiciliation, consignation, ‘house’ or ‘museum,’ in the present state of its archivization.  What is in question is situated precisely between the two.”
Exergue
•    An eco-nomic archive in this double sense: it keeps, it puts in reverse, it saves, but in an unnatural fashion
•    Where does the archive commence? This is the question of the archive
•    The death drive works to destroy the archive: on the condition of effacing but also with a view to effacing its own ‘proper’ traces
o    Devours before producing on the outside
•    *See Baudrillard’s Vital Illusion: the museumification of everything before it can even exist
•    There is no archive without a certain exteriority; without an outside
o    Assures the possibility of memorization, repetition, reproduction
•    This compulsion is indissociable from the death drive
•    The archive always works against itself
•    The archival model is to represent on the outside memory as internal archivization
•    The machine, and consequently, representation, is death and finitude within the psyche
o    The machine has begun to resemble memory
•    The future consists of a transformation of archivization techniques
•    The archivization produces as it much as it records the event
o    Psychoanalysis wouldn’t be what it was with e-mail
•    What is no longer archived in the same way is no longer lived in the same way
7: “In this way, the exergue has at once an institutive and a conservative function: the violence of a power which at once posits and conserves the law, as the Benjamin of Zur Kritk der Gewalt would say. What is at issue here, starting with the exergue, is the violence of the archive itself, as archive, as archival violence.”
11: “But, the point must be stressed, this archiviolithic force leaves nothing of its own behind.  AS the death drive is also, according to the most striking worlds of Freud himself, an aggression and a destruction drive, it not only incites forgetfulness, amnesia, the annihilation of memory, as mneme or anamnesis, but also commands the radical effacement, in truth and eradication, of that which can never be reduced to mneme or to anamnesis, that is, the archive, consignation, the documentary or monumental apparatus as hypomnema, mnemotechnical supplement or representative, auxiliary or memorandum.  Because the archive, if this word or this figure can be stabilized so as to take on a signification, will never be either memory or anamnesis or spontaneous, alive and internal experience.  On the contrary: the archive takes place at the place of originary and structural breakdown of the said memory.”
16: “One can dream or speculate about the geo-techno-logical shocks which would have made the landscape of the psychoanalytic archive unrecognizable for the past century if, to limit myself to these indications, Freud, his contemporaries, collaborators and immediate disciples, instead of writing thousands of letters by had, had had access to MCI or AT&T telephonic credit cards, portable tape recorders, computers, printers, faxes, televisions, teleconferences, and above all E-mail.”
Preamble
•    Does it change anything that Freud didn’t know about the computer?
•    We don’t have a theory of the archive, only an impression of it
25: “I asked myself what is the moment proper to the archive, if there is such a thing, the instant of archivization strictly speaking, which is not, and I will come back to this, so-called live or spontaneous memory, but rather a certain hypomnesic and prosthetic experience of the technical substrate.”

13
Nov
08

Nealon’s Alterity Politics

Jeffrey Nealon
Alterity Politics: Ethics and Performative Subjectivity
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Leans towards more ethically unfamiliar notions: responses to the inhuman, the chiasmus, exemplarity, anger, and becoming other
•    Ethical response is the production of social relations, rather than the tracing of preexisting ethical templates
•    Butler: theories of otherness/alterity close with an embarrassing “etc.”
•    Identity politics: thematize according to sameness
•    Alterity politics: considers identity responsive first to the other
•    Ethics concerns itself with general theoretical structures and specific concrete responses
o    Reemergence based on the combo of political and theoretical
•    Performative responsibility
•    Refusal of lack
•    The specific “I” that lacks wholeness is symptomatic of the generalized “we” lacking wholeness
•    Linguistic turn—any state of sameness requires difference to restructure
•    Hegel: every individual is dependent on the possibility of constant reassurance by the other
•    Subjective differences through postmodern excess ≠ modernist lack
•    Every group must share the lack—mourn collectively
•    Discourse of identity’s lack (failure to attain the idea) tends to level all identity ‘failures’ on the same plane
•    A notion of difference-as-lack underestimates the productive qualities of alterity
•    Identity and difference: not an effect of loss, but instead produce effects
•    The excess-that-is-lack
2: “Why is it so difficult to ‘situate’ and respond to a set of specific others—ethically, politically, or theoretically—and what does the difficult of doing so teach us about identity politics and the possibility of what I call an alterity politics? Can this ‘failure’ of sameness be rethematized as an affirmation of difference? What possibilities are there for concrete responses that do not merely or finally reduce otherness to a subset of the same, to a subset of an inquiring subject’s identity?”
10: “Thus the homogeneity—or, in Laclau and Mouffe’s parlance, the hegemony—of ‘the people’ must be thought in the double time: the time of the nation, the people, and the same becomes the time of difference’s exclusion, a presence constantly interrupted by the alterity of an impossibility or void at the origin.”
12: “As Deleuze polemically maintains, ‘Those who bear the negative know not what they do.’ In other words, whereas its proponents take the process of loss and mourning to be an ethical expropriation of the subject, for Deleuze this process is actually the assured movement of a resentful subjectivity.  Those who tarry with the negative, he suggests, know all too well what they do: they know that totalization will fail, the subject will be frustrated, promises will inexorable be broken.”
14: “A response, Derrida argues, is always a ‘response in deed, at work rather in the series of strategic negotiations…response does not respond to a problem or a question, it responds to the other—for the other.”

31
Oct
08

Auerbach’s Mimesis

Erich Auerbach
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
From class

•    Bible: God is the effect, not the cause, of Jewish idea
o    Lack of classical idea in Jewish tradition
o    Bible: chosen—personal fate
•    Serious Realism
•    Objective Seriousness
•    Modern Realism
•    Jubilant background and putting people into this
•    Post-Reality from recalling consciousness: Proust
From: David Carroll’s “Mimesis Reconsidered”
•    Concept of reality is problematical
•    Distrust of “systems”: historical explanation/product of the times
o    Absence of authentic communities of thought
•    “All have been destroyed and replaced by preconceived ideological systems which no longer serve a positive function but only serve the interests of particular factions.”
•    No confidence in systems, but complete confidence in man
o    “Man, free of al constraints, al ideologies and philosophies, man as a product of his time but still able to understand others ‘spontaneously,’ man as a concept which is not part of any system but ‘natural’—it is this ‘man’ that one finds throughout Mimesis” (6).
•    Randomness: the changeability of the real
•    The real becomes “externalized,” that is spatialized, so that it can be seized as a full presence.  The eye is supposedly able to capture immediately this externalization of what is.
7: “The real will be defined in each essay as ‘random’ and be characterized by its difference from what is defined as unreal.  Its principal characteristic will be change: imitation of reality is “imitation of the sensory experience of life on earth—among the most essential characteristics of which would seem to be its possessing a history, its changing and developing.  Whatever freedom the imitating artist may be granted in his work, he cannot be allowed to deprive reality of this characteristic, which is its very essence.”  The sense of this ‘randomness,’ the changeability of the real, will become clear as Auerbach proceeds and opposes the ‘random’ to all the pitfalls of philosophy and ideology.  A work is considered to be realistic, therefore, only when it is able to fulfill a series of negative conditions.”
9: “That the senses are free and have an immediate and original contact with the real is a philosophical argument, however, and not a statement of ‘common sense,’ a natural, unquestioned truth.  It should not be impossible to find, therefore, the system which organizes and makes sense out of phenomena, which logically precedes and thus ‘determines’ the moment in which the sense are in contact with the real.”
9: “At each step along the way an immediacy is argued for which would eliminate any difference or distance between the ‘original’ perception and its repeated representation. What Auerbach’s theory of the real posits is the continual repetition of the Same.”
10: “The real as a concept tends to function in Mimesis in the same way that Derrida contends other ‘metaphysical’ concepts (such as being, identity, self, etc.) work: to deny the complexity of the written, to deemphasize the process of interpretation by finalizing it, to dismiss the existence of other levels of meaning and of a plurality of senses for the unity of a single sense—in other words, to reduce in this instance the different levels of historical reality and the problematic nature of the real (the stated goal of Mimesis being to capture this complexity) to a unity, to an acceptable level of comprehension in order for it to be grasped immediately in the plenitude of a full present.”

21
Jul
08

Derrida’s “Plato’s Pharmacy” from Dissemination

Derrida: Dissemination “Plato’s Pharmacy”
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Introduction
•    Derrida: Western thought has always been structured in dichotomies
o    These dichotomies are not polar opposites, though
•    The second term is always considered negative, corrupt (man/woman, light/dark): arrangement gives priority
•    Writing is the representation of speech
•    The possibility of opposing the two terms on the basis of presence is already structured by difference and distance as much as writing is
•    Language is constituted by the very distances and differences it seeks to overcome
o    This lag in any signifying is differance
•    Appears to be immediate and present
“Plato’s Pharmacy: The Final Inscription”
•    Plato in Phaedrus: “writing can only repeat itself; always signifies the same”
•    One is dishonored only if one writes in a dishonorable fashion
o    Phaedrus: what does it mean to write beautifully?
•    Khairein: takes place in the name of truth, in the name of knowledge of truth, of truth in the knowledge of self
•    Pharmakon: both a remedy and a poison
•    Writing is proposed, presented, and asserted as pharmakon
•    Morality is at stake: public morals and social conventions
o    Question of knowing what is done and what is not done => question of writing
•    The truth of writing (non-truth) can’t be discovered in ourselves
o    Myth: writing is repeating without knowing
•    The discipline of writing will improve memory and wisdom
•    Question: the tekhne—sophists and rhetors had or pretended to have at their disposal—at once an art and an instrument
•    Logos: indebted to the father ; tokos: return or revenue
•    The good is hidden, illuminating source of logos
•    Thoth: god of language
•    Pharmakon of writing is good for hypomnesis (re-memoration, recollection, consignation) and not for the mneme (living, knowing memory) that Thamus, in the Phaedrus, condemns as being of little worth
•    God of writing must also be the god of death
•    Figure of Thoth is opposed to its other—the original kind of logic but it at once supplants and supplements it
o    Extends or opposes by repeating or replacing
“The Pharmakon”
•    Pharmakon=remedy
o    Not a completely inaccurate translation
o    Translation of King Thamus
•    The pharmakon goes against natural life
•    Opposition by King Thamus: Writing goes round in circles
o    Writing will weaken the memory—will draw on what is written down
o    Writing is only apparently good for memory, seemingly able to help it from within
•    Memory is like a shelter in a crypt: life of a memory, taking it out of itself by putting it to sleep in a monument
•    Memory and truth can’t be separated
•    Writing has no value on its own: simulacrum—mime of memory, of knowledge, of truth
•    Sophists: not memory, but memorials
•    Memory always needs signs to recall the non-present
•    The pharmakon can restore memories; monuments—it is a debilitating poison for memory but a remedy for its symptoms
•    Writing is external to (internal) memory, affects memory inside: effect of this pharmakon
•    111: Freud’s analogy; writing has no effect on memory
•    While presence is the general form of what is, the present for its part is always different
Critical moments the text
70: Pharmacia is also a common noun signifying the administration of the pharmakon, the drug: the medicine and/or poison.  “Poisoning” was not the least usual meaning of “pharmacia.”  Antiphon has left us the logogram of an accusation of poisoning against a mother-in-law.”  Through her games, Pharmacia has dragged down to death a virginal purity and an unpenetrated interior.”
77: “From the position of the holder of the scepter, the desire of writing is indicated, designated, and denounced as a desire for orphanhood and patricidal subversion.  Isn’t this pharmakon then a criminal thing, a poisoned present?”
84: “Logos is thus a resource.  Once must turn to it, and not merely when the solar source is present and risks burning the eyes if stared at; one has also to turn away toward logos when the sun seems to withdraw during its eclipse.  Dead, extinguished, or hidden, that star is more dangerous than ever.”
89: “The process of substitution, which thus functions as a pure play of traces or supplements or, again, operates within the order of the pure signifier which no reality, no absolutely external reference, no transcendental signified, can come to limit, bound, or control; this substitution, which could be judged ‘mad’ since it can go on infinitely in the element of the linguistic permutation of substitutes, of substitutes for substitutes; this unleashed chain is nevertheless not lacking violence.”
100: “Such will be, in its logical outlines, the objection the king raises to writing: under pretext of supplementing memory, writing makes one even more forgetful; far from increasing knowledge, it diminishes it.  Writing does not answer the needs of memory, it aims to the side, does not reinforce the mneme, but only hypomnesis.”
104: “Every model of classical reading is exceeded there at some point, precisely at ht point where is attaches to the inside of the series—it being understood that this excess is not a simple exit out of the series, since that would obviously fall under one of the categories of the series.  The excess is only a certain displacement of the series.”
108-9: “The boundary (between inside and outside, living and nonliving) separates not only speech from writing but also memory as an unveiling (re-)producing a presence form re-memoration as the mere repetition of a monument; truth as distinct from its sign, being as distinct from types.”
Favorite quote
112: “How indeed does the dialectician simulate him whom he denounces as a simulator, as the simulacrum-man?”

10
Jul
08

Derrida’s Specters of Marx

Derrida: Specters of Marx
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
(Notes from the text)
Intro: How to learn to live finally; a time without tutelary present; Being-with specters would also be a politics of memory, inheritance, and of generations; future-to-come: proceeds from the future
xx: A spectral moment, a moment that no longer belongs to time, if one understands by this word the linking of modalized presents (past, present, actual present: ‘now,’ future present). We are questioning in this instant, we are asking outselves about this instant that is not docile to time, at least to what we call time. Furtive and untimely, the appartition of the specter does not belong to that time, it does not give time, not that one.
6: “The specter is a paradoxical incorporation, the becoming-body, a certain phenomenal and carnal form of the spirit. It becomes, rather, some “thing” that remains difficult to name: neither soul nor body, and both one and the other. For it is flesh and phenomenality that give to the spirit its spectral apparition, but which disappear right away in the apparition, in the very coming of the revenant or the return of the specter. There is something disappeared, departed in the apparition itself as reapparition of the departed. The spirit, the specter are not the same thing; but as for what they have in common, one does not know what it is, what it is presently. It is something that one does not know, precisely, and one does not know if precisely it is, if it exists, if it responds to a name and corresponds to an essence. One does not know: not out of ignorance, but because this non-object, this non-present present, this being-there of an absent or departed one no longer belongs to knowledge.”
10: “Repetition and first time: this is perhaps the question of the event as question of the ghost. What is a ghost? What is the effectivity or the presence of a specter that is, of what seems to remain as ineffective, virtual, insubstantial as a simulacrum? Is there there, between the thing itself and its simulacrum, an opposition that holds up? Repetition and first time, but also repetition and last time, since the singularity of any first time makes of it also a last time. Each time it is the event itself, a first time is a last time. Althogether other. Staging for the end of history. Let us call it a hauntology. This logic of haunting would be not merely larger and more powerful than an ontology or a thinking of Being (of the “to be.” Assuming that it is a matter of Being in the “to be or not to be,” but nothing is less certain).”
17: Since the future, then, since the past as absolute future, since the non-knowledge and the non-advent of an event, of what remains to be: to do and to decide. If “since Marx” names a future-to-come as much as a past, the past of a proper name, it is because the proper of a proper name will always remain to come.
18: Time is out of joint: time is disarticulated, dislocated, dislodged, time is run down, on the run and run down, deranged, both out of order and mad. Time is off its hinges, time is off course, beside itself, disadjusted.
31: No differance without alterity, no alterity without singularity, not singularity without here-now.
39: Why in both cases is the specter felt to be a threat? What is the time and what is the history of a specter? Is there a present of the specter? Are its comings and goings ordered according tot eh linear succession of a before and an after, between a present-past, a present-present, and a present-future, between a ‘real time’ and a ‘deferred time’?
97: The one who has disappeared appears still to be there, and his apparition is not nothing. It does not do nothing. Assuming that the remains can be identified, we know better than ever today that the dead must be able to work.
99: There are several times of the specter. It is a proper characteristic of the specter, if there is any, that non one can be sure if by returning it testifies to a living past or to a living future, for the revenant may already marks the promised return of the specter of living being.
100: There is no Dasein of the specter, but there is not Dasein without the uncanniness, without the strange familiarity of some specter.
101: The specters appears to present itself during a visitation.
102: (Since this singular end of the political would correspond to the presentation of an absolutely living reality, this is one more reason to think that the essence fo the political will always have the inessential figure, the very anessessence of a ghost.
109: The conjuration is anxiety from the moment it calls upon death to invent the quick and to enliven the new, to summon the presence of what is not yet there.
109: The dividing link passes between a mechanical reproduction of the specter and an appropriation that is so alive, so interiorizing, so assimilating of the inheritance and of the ‘spirits of the past’ that it is none other than the life of forgetting, life as forgetting itself. And the forgetting of the maternal in order to make the spirit live in oneself.
110: This forgetting is only a forgetting. For what one must forget will have been indispensable. One must pass through the pre-inheritance, even if it is to parody it, in order to appropriate the life of a new language or make the revolution. And while the forgetting corresponds to the moment of living appropriation, Marx nevertheless does not valorize it simply as one might think. Things are very complicated. One must forget the specter and the parody, Marx seems to say, so that history can continue. But of one is content to forget it, then the result is bourgeois platitude: life, that’s all. So one must not forget it, one must remember it but while forgetting it enough, in this very memory, in order to ‘find again the spirit of the revolution without making its specter return.
115: All the same, in the past revolution, when the gravediggers were alive, in sum, the phrase exceeded the content. Whence the anachrony of a revolutionary present haunted by its antique models. But in the future, and already in the social revolution of the nineteenth century still to come in Marx’s view (the whole novelty fo the new would inhabit this social dimension, beyond the political or economic revolution, the anachrony or untimeliness will not be erased in some plentitude of the parousia and the presence to itself of the present. Time will still be ‘out of joint.’
117: Must one not think that the loss of the body can affect the specter itself? To the point that it is then impossible to discern between the specter and the specter of the specter, the specter searching for proper content and living effectivity?
123: The history of the ghost remains a history of phantomalization and the latter will indeed be a history of truth, a history of the becoming-true of a fable, unless it is the reverse, a fabulation of truth, in any case a history of ghosts. The phenomenology of spirit describes (1) the relation of consciousness to the object as truth or as relation to the truth as mere object; (2) the relation of consciousness, insofar as it is the true, to the object; (3) the true relation of consciousness with truth

From Tom Lewis’ essay, “The Politics of ‘Hauntology’ in Derrida’s Specters of Marx,” in Ghostly Demarcations:

140: “In this light, Derrida goes on to assert the need to replace ‘ontology’ with its near homonym ‘hauntology’: ‘To haunt does not mean to be present, and it is necessary to introduce haunting into the very construction of a concept. Of every concept, beginning with the concepts of being and time. That is what we would be calling here a hauntology. Ontology opposes it only in a movement of exorcism.’

08
Jul
08

Derrida “White Mythology”

Derrida: “White Mythology”
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
Content
•    Metaphor in the text
o    Drawn from the senses—“abstract notions always hide in the senses”
•    Possibility of restoring: hides as it is hidden
o    Metaphor no longer noticed: double effacement
•    Expression of an abstract idea can only be an analogy
•    Metaphor is resemblance between two signs
o    Analogy within language is an analogy between language
o    Resemblance ≠ identity
•    One metaphor is always excluded—remains outside the system
o    One would have to classify where they came from (biology, chemistry, etc.)
•    By classifying, they are lending two discourses: more original and ceasing originality
•    Metaphor, then, is an abridged comparison
•    (*p. 227): “How are we to know what the temporalizatoin and spatialization of a meaning, of an ideal object, of an intelligible tenor, are, if we have not clarified what ‘space’ and ‘time’ mean?”
•    Metaphor is giving a thing a name that belongs to something else
•    Metaphor is giving a thing a name that belongs to something else
•    Metaphor makes the detour; detour becomes the return;
o    Detour is w/I; Metaphor is the concept
•    Aristotle: (Rhetoric) : “Analogy is metaphor par excellence”
•    *Language alone makes the connection: metaphorical redoubling; bottomless
•    Metaphor names its death within itself

01
Jul
08

Some talking points on the digital

MERLIN DONALD
Merlin Donald’s term, “external memory devices,” or EMDs henceforward. Until called upon, EMDs remain suspended and retain the exact information one uploaded onto the device. The increasing utilization of EMDs suggests that our bodies are not enough.
VILEM FLUSSER
Vilem Flusser argues for a distinction between cultural memory and genetic memory, noting that the former is, “is shorter than genetic memory, and even less trustworthy” because the individual re-remembers an event over time (397). Electronic memories are simulations, within inanimate objects, of the memory functions of the human brain. Even though EMDs only simulate memory, they do not disregard all other aspects of the brain. EMDs do indeed exaggerate memory, but rely upon computers (or, the “rest” of the brain) to function properly.
COLLECTIVE MEMORY AND PROGRESSION
A crucial distinction between personal memory (storage apparatuses) and collective memory (libraries) is the notion of progression. Whereas collective memory is themed knowledge, we place ideas that are important to ourselves in our EMDs.
Collective memory entails privileged access to particular places, but personal memory is not limited in this sense, as EMDs only demand an internet connection or a USB port. Simply, personal memory is individualized.

DELEUZE’S THEORY OF TIME (NOT NECESSARILY DIGITAL)

Deleuze states that, “time simultaneously makes the present past and preserves the past in itself” (98).
BERGSON’S THEORY OF TIME (NOT NECESSARILY DIGITAL)
According to Henri Bergson’s essay, “Of the Survival of Images,” time is a constantly formed and reformed trinity: past, present, and future. We simply “define the present in an arbitrary manner as that which is, whereas the present is simply what is being made” (Bergson 149-150). This is the critical illusion of time according to Bergson—the present is ‘being made’ as it is at the same time disappearing.
Bergson designates three important processes through which one can examine time and, ultimately, one’s personal history: pure memory, memory-image, and perception. Just as the past/present/future trio function only as a result of each other, “perception is bound to expel the memory-image, and the memory-image to expel pure memory” (Bergson 134).
DERRIDA/HAUNTOLOGY
Derrida calls this recurrence “hauntology,” defining it as, “repetition and first time, but also repetition and last time, since the singularity of any first time, makes of it also a last time. Each time it is the event itself, a first time is a last time” (10).
STELARC/PROSTHETICS/REPLACEMENT
As Stelarc admits in, “Prosthetics, Robotics and Remote Existence: Postevolutionary Strategies,” “evolution ends when technology invades the body” (591). Arguing for the need to begin thinking about our future selves, Stelarc suggests that we should replace parts of the body as they fail, rather than temporarily repairing the body with modern medicine.
DOYLE
“The body need no longer be repaired but simply have parts replaced. Something other than the present, something yet to come, insures the cryonic body,” the body in suspension, too, risks the possibility of never being resuscitated (Doyle 65).
VANDICJK: MEDIATED MEMORIES
Van Dijck argues that memories are never stable over time, and how we choose to remember them and the technologies that we use to recall such memories are actually the concerns. In chapter three, van Dijck shows how some Alzheimer patients are utilizing blogs and lifelogs to record their deteriorating memories. Although van Dijck argues that memories are never stable, Alzheimer blogs are functioning in the exact opposite way by storing memories so that they become stabilized. Also, the shared experience between the blogger and the blog reader further compliments the notion of collective digitized memory. This specific type of collective memory suggests that the Alzheimer blogger will experience her own memory as though it is not actually hers. Moreover, while the disease actively deteriorates the mind, the Alzheimer blogger is actively posting to suspend his memories in order that he, his family, and others who may be experiencing similar deterioration can return to these memories knowing they will be constant and unchanged.
LEROI-GOURHAN: GESTURE AND SPEECH
Extending the brain with the development of exteriorization
Today, we are dramatically externalized, so much so that our physical memories are under worked and reliant upon outside sources. However, Leroi-Grourhan views externalization as a “logical stage of evolution,” as noted in the following:
“These machines […] reflect a logical stage in human evolution. As with hand
tools the process whereby all implements came gradually to be concentrated outside the human body is again perfectly clear: Actions of the teeth shift to the hand, which handles the portable tool; then the tool shifts still further away, and a part of the gesture is transferred from the arm to the hand-operated machine” (245).
By looking at Leroi-Gourhan’s argument for extending our bodies, it appears that technologies have always encouraged the expanding of the brain in one fashion or another. Currently, we are experiencing the ability to “store” our brains: “evolution has entered a new stage, that of the exteriorization of the brain, and from a strictly technological point of view the mutation has already been achieved” (252). Compared to the reformation of the skull to hold our physical brains, this mutation of which he speaks occurred rather immediately. Consequently, we are externalizing the self with more frequency and relying upon a stored, technologized memory. It should be noted that while Leroi-Gourhan refers to encyclopedias and punch-card indexes, he was indeed able to see where externalization is heading.
Memory is becoming individualized, rather than group oriented
One might argue that with the prevalence of externalized memory, a collective memory is replacing our individual memory. However, I believe that it is the reverse that is occurring: because a collective memory is no longer necessary, our memory is strictly individualized. Real memory of specific, collective, survival behaviors that were passed on through a group are no longer necessary for the species to endure. We simply store the information that we need and seek out only what we deem important. Perhaps, then, the next step in externalized evolution is maintaining a certain technical savvy-ness—if one does not have the means (economic, knowledge or otherwise) to externalize, you will not evolve.
HAWHEE: BODILY ARTS/MUSCLE MEMORY
Hawhee’s detailing of ancient gymnasia perfectly illustrates the interrelation of mind and body training. Both types of training are initiated through a seeking out, a dedication to becoming, which is initially motivated “by a concomitant submitting: active submission is thus a necessary first step for transformation” (87). This transformation is a recognition that the individual wants to become something more, something other than his/her natural self. Only through the 3Rs (rhythm, repetition, and response) can one remold his/her current nature, thus forming new habits, or a “second nature,” that “become so ingrained in a person they become almost instinctual responses and most closely approximate a ‘natural’ response” (95). This sounds quite like the flatterer who “has no principles in him, and leads not a life properly his own, but forms and moulds it according to the various humors and caprices of those he designs to bubble, is never one and the same man […] like the water that always turns and winds itself into the figure of the channel through which it flows” (5). Interestingly, Hawhee calls upon Heraclitus’ saying ‘it is not possible to step twice into the same river’ during her discussion of cyclical differentiation, the notion of simultaneous combination and scattering (141). We can see cyclical differentiation represented in both the flatterer and the trainee, for both are learning new skills while abandoning the older ones.
The flatterer, whose “second nature” is based solely on imitation, is unlike the ancient ‘gym rat’ in the sense that the latter has “the desire to become something else” permanently (97). Instead, the flatterer is never completely transformed, but only performs as someone based upon his/her situation. The athlete—and here I use athlete to recognize the training of both the mind and the body—has the potential for self-improvement and true change through his/her training. In order “to make oneself capable of training,” self-control is the necessary component of self-improvement; therefore “the transformative work of practice relies upon the readiness, the submission, the painful subjection’ for the athlete’s total transformation (146). Only others motivate the flatterer, whereas the self motivates the athlete.
ISOCRATES
Turning to Antidosis, Isocrates notes at the start that we are “not to form opposite
judgements about similar things” (1). From Hawhee, we have learned that the body and mind were not trained separately, but rather informed the other through similar training styles (the 3Rs). Speaking on the gymnasium, Hawhee notes, “the inculcation of such knowledge in a crowd heightens the embodied nature of such learning, as the space of the ancient gymnasium emerged as a network of forces” (128). This “network of forces” can be compared to Isocrates’ “similar things”: the physical space representing the convergence of mind, body, sophistry, and athleticism.
FOUCAULT: DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH/ LOSING THE BODY
Foucault notes that the panopticon is the “perfect exercise of power” for several reasons, although most significantly “because it can reduce the number of those who exercise it, while increasing the number of those on whom it is exercised” (206). The panopticon, just as the parked police car, does not need a physical body behind it to instill a sense of control. Because any of the prisoners may be watched at any time, simply the possibility of being watched should be enough to maintain order. Further, Foucault says that, “because without any physical instrument other than architecture and geometry, it acts directly on individuals; it gives ‘power of mind over mind’” (206). The panopticon’s strength lies within the ‘power of mind over mind’ since it is the prisoner’s mind that is being controlled. One could assume that no one is ever looking, but one assumes that one is always looking, without ever knowing which is true at any given time. Becoming posthuman, or becoming body-less, is previewed by the panopticon. Some sort of actual human presence is not necessary for the panopticon to function—it is self-sufficient. This self-sufficiency is not the issue though, but rather that human presence is no longer needed. We are in a time when we can be absent and present concurrently (i.e. on dating websites, blogs, and myspace and youtube postings). Just as the prisoners did not know when they were being watched, no one knows when we are ‘available,’ as the webpage, posting, etc. stands in for us even when we are offline.
ROTMAN: GESTURO-HAPTIC
“[…] force-feedback devices are enabling varied forms of haptic actions at a distance. These range from the simulated handling of molecules by research chemists and telesurgery effected through visually enhanced feedback loops, to cross-planetary arm wrestling, and the inevitable attempt to realize sex-at-a-distance, or teledildonics (“Corporeal” 431).  If ‘avatars sexing other avatars’ enables an actual feeling, how are the lines of private and public redistributed? And further, is there a private self anymore if public actions (i.e. the sexing avatars’ deeds) are responsive to and received by the lone, haptic recipients? As Brian Rotman notes earlier in “Corporeal or Gesturo-haptic Writing,” this results in “a form of transposed physicality,” where we can be both ‘here’ and ‘there’ simultaneously (430). Although because ‘sex- and arm-wrestling-at-a-distance happens’ here and there, the haptic response seems to suggests that there is no ‘there,’ anything that is being felt is only happening ‘here.’ To explain, even though I might be tele-arm-wrestling someone else across the globe, the only sensation I am feeling is their presence back on me. The action is only taking place for me ‘here’; I am exerting strength, but I don’t feel it there (where my opponent is ‘located’). There is a supposed ‘there’ (with which I am supposedly interacting), but since I do not feel my actions, the only ones that ‘count’ are the ones being received. The tele-arm-wrestling is transpiring in two separate places, and the same event is identical and separate.
To add to this, Rotman says in “Going Parallel” that “the I/me unit is disintegrating, the one who says ‘I’ is no longer singular, but multiple: a shifting plurality of disbursed, distributed and fragmented personae” (60). To return to the above example, the tele-arm-wrestling “I” materializes in two locations at once, creating two copies of the same action. The idea of “copies” is an interesting thread, as the transported self is not necessarily a reproduction, but is the same action And, MMOGs such as Second Life foster this distribution and fragmentation of the individual—there (in Second Life’s virtual world), one can be both “serial” and “parallel”; behind the computer is one “operator” with the ability to create multiple selves “doing many things at once” (“Going” 57). In this life (and I am not referring to reincarnation here, but distinguishing our lives from virtual ones), one can be a starving grad student, while at the same time have enough Linden Dollars to consistently devote to groceries in Second Life. Also in Second Life, we are able to foster our “alters” by creating various personae; there we can create “The Angry One” and “The Innocent Child” while we, “The Actual One” maintains control over all of them. What I find most interesting about MMOGs such as Second Life is that they still require an actual person to foster action. They are not, to borrow Varela’s term, “selfless selves” (“Becoming” 6). Although limiting, one can play MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft by oneself, while Second Life would not exist without involvement from other people (actual ones, not their avatars).




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