Posts Tagged ‘technology


Weinstone’s Avatar Bodies

Ann Weinstone
Avatar Bodies: A Tantra for Posthumanism
Area: Digital Media
From Robert Pepperell’s Review

•    “Posthumanism thus far has focused nearly exclusively on human-technology relations.”
•    Technology is often cast as a greedy and acquisitive external force, gradually gnawing away at the core of what it is to be human.
•    “Ann Weinstone largely avoids this problem, preferring to develop instead a posthumanism of human-human relations in which the rupture between selves–between one human and another–is abrogated: “In order to create the conditions for the emergence of a nonexemptive, nonelitist ethics . . . we will have to give up our reliance on concepts of the radically other, or the other as such” (p. 14).
•    a poetic iteration of the word ‘post’, with its dual associations of ‘coming after’ (as in posthuman) and as a form of communication (as in the postal service) manages to connect the renunciation of what has gone before and the ethics of personal communication (p. 185).
•    “If we want to fundamentally alter our experience and conception of self, we must break the law of the other, the law of the alien, the irremediably unfamiliar, of exteriority (or interiority) as such. We need to get drunk with each other so we can become posthuman (p. 107).
•    a doctrine of absolute undifference is unsustainable in the longer term since it contradicts habitual experience, which consists of an infinite series of differentiations embedded in our conscious state of being
•    “I am proposing, then, as a gesture that would invite a posthuman ethics to come, a commitment to an every day practice of writing in relationship via e-mail relations with those we have never met” (p. 206).
•    That we are not humans on our own, but become human through our intimate relations with others–what Weinstone calls our “entanglement” (p. 217).
From Kathryn Farley’s Review
•    Weinstone’s mode of inquiry stresses the interconnected nature of human relations in which notions of the self are inextricably tied to understandings of “otherness”. In fact, she interrogates the self/other binary classification, stating: “I am concerned with events that suspend the terms self and other and with the ethical consequences that flow from these events-in-common” (27).  She then goes on to cite trauma, pleasure love, devotion, illness and inebriation as examples of such events.


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.’”


Ansell Pearson’s Viroid Life

Keith Ansell Pearson
Viroid Life: Perspectives on Nietzsche and the Transhuman Condition
Area: Digital Media

• Neo-Lamarckism: (demands giving ourselves ‘over’ to the future) in blind faith as a quasi-Heidegerrian destiny (only a machine can save us)
• Non-affective machines: thought exists without a body
o No future of/for invention: no future at all
• Nietzschean conception of the transhuman condition
• Thought needs to embark on a new negotiation with technology
• Technics is both the sign/mark of human distinctive futurity and the source of the artificial character of human inventions and evolutions
• D&G: rhizomatic/machinic becomings don’t so much place ‘in’ evolution as create or invent it, so marking ‘of’ evolution as an event of genuine becoming
o Bergson’s creative evolution
• Guattari: within the machinic universe beings have only the status of virtual entities; that is they are sites of becoming in which what becomes is always something alien
• The task of working through the transhuman condition thus involves the task of thinking beyond the ‘beyond’
1: “In this volume of essays I question, problematize, overturn, revalue, announce, renounce, advocate, interrogate, affirm, deny, celebrate, critique, the ‘transhuman condition,’ exploring the human as a site of contamination and abduction by alien forces and rendering, in the process, the phenomenon polyvalent and polysemous.”
3: “In 1979 Lyotard defined the ‘postmodern condition’ as ‘incredulity’ in the face of those grand or meta-narratives which have served to provide human existence with teleological meaning and significance, so that the lament of the loss of meaning in postmodernity boils down to mourning the fact that knowledge is now no longer principally narrative.”
4: “However, these new realities demand not an impetuous abandonment of a thinking and valuing of the ‘human’ condition, but rather a radical re-examination and revaluation, in which one would show the extent to which this condition has always been a matter of invention and reinvention, that is, always a matter of the transhuman. The grand narrative today is likely to take the form of a facile quasi-Hegelianism in which the rise of the machine is construed in linear and perfectionist terms: the ever-growing inhuman character of ‘technology’ resides in the ‘simple’ fact that it is machines that are proving to be more successful in creating an adequate response to the tasks laid down by evolution that the creatures whose existence first gave rise to it.”
5: “To declare that technology amounts to ‘the pursuit of life by means other than life’ is not to provide insight into the past and future condition of evolution but to encourage blindness regarding matters of life and death within late-capital. Such a claim deprives us of any genuinely interesting and critical in-humanity.”
Chapter 1: Loving the Poison: The Memory of the Human and the Promise of the Overhuman
• Deleuze uses Freud’s notion of mnemonic trace: consciousness born at the site of a memory trace
• Deleuze: in Nietzsche and Freud we find two themes of memory:
o Traces of memory become so indelibly stamped on his conscious that he is no longer capable of action (which requires forgetting). Not that his only action is reaction; rather, he’s unable to act out reaction since he feels his reaction, making it endless
o Active memory that no longer rests on traces; no longer simply a function of the past, but has become transformed into an activity of the future
• Interpreting and deciphering are the process of production itself
o We repeat the past to discharge and create beyond/beyond ourselves
• Deleuze: time as subject, or subjectification, is called memory
o Absolute memory endlessly forgotten and reconstituted
23: “Memory is viewed as functioning in terms of a punctual organization in which the present refers simultaneously to a horizontal line that captures the flow of time, moving from an old present to an actual present, and to a vertical line that captures the order of time, going from the present to the past, or to the representation of the old present.”
24: “The opposition drawn between ‘memory’ and ‘becoming’ not only rests on an unmediated privileging of becoming, but also ignores the illumination that Deleuze’s earlier work brings to bear on the source of the tremendous power of memory. Becoming is inconceivable without memory, including a technics of memory, in which the ‘product’ always exceeds the law of production.”
26: “As Deleuze maintains in his study of Proust, memory works as a ‘tool’ – one not simply subject to a willful manipulation and exploitation of the human, all to human kind that can be placed in the service of an overcoming. The subject ‘of’ memory is nothing other than this self-overcoming. Thus, he can contend that the orientation of Proust’s work is not the past and the discoveries of memory, but rather the future and the progress of learning.”


Ong’s Orality and Literacy

Walter Ong
Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word
Area: Digital Media

•    Difference between orality and literacy
o    Developed in electronic age, not earlier (second orality)
Chapter One: The Orality of Language
•    No one has figured out a way to write all the languages—orality is permanent
•    “Oral expression can exist and mostly has existed without any writing at all, writing never without orality.”
•    Aristotle’s “Art of Rhetoric”—rhetoric was/had to be a product of writing
•    After delivering a speech, nothing remained to work over
o    Disgracefully incompetent to recite text prepared in advance
o    Orally composed speeches treated as written texts
•    Primary Orality: culture untouched by knowledge of writing/text
•    Secondary Orality: present-day high-technology culture—depend on writing and print for their existence
•    Written words are residue ≠ orality has only the potential to be retold
•    “A literate person cannot fully recover a sense of what the word is to purely oral people”
•    Can’t describe a primary phenomenon by starting with a secondary one
•    Literacy, unless carefully monitored, destroys and restores memory
9: “Thus writing from the beginning did not reduce orality but enhanced it, making it possible to organize the ‘principles’ or constituents of oratory into a scientific ‘art,’ a sequentially ordered body of explanation that showed how and why oratory achieved and could be made to achieve its various specific effects.”
12: “Thinking of oral tradition or a heritage of oral performance genres and styles as ‘oral literature’ is rather like thinking of horses as automobiles without wheels.”
14-5: “Nevertheless, without writing, human consciousness cannot achieve its fuller potentials, cannot produce other beautiful and powerful creations.  In this sense, orality needs to produce and is destined to produce writing.  Literacy, as will be seen, is absolutely necessary for the development not only of science but also of history, philosophy, explicative understanding of literature and of any art, and indeed for the explanation of language.”
Chapter Three: Oral Memory
•    No way to verify the correctness of oral texts unless recited with someone
•    Twentieth Century bards: don’t repeat the same thing twice, but instead use the standard formulas in connection with standard themes
•    When retelling a story, it’s a recitation of themes and formulas variously built
o    (Joni: “Paint a Starry Night again, man!”)
•    When demand for printed book declines, presses stop but books remain (residue)
o    When market for oral genealogy disappears, so does the genealogy itself
•    Oral Memory: high somatic component
Chapter Four: Writing Restructures Consciousness
•    Writing has established autonomous or context-free discourse: detached from author
•    Plato: Phaedrus: “Writing is inhuman, pretending to establish outside the mind what in reality can only be in the mind”
o    Weaken the mind and memory
•    “Writing is passive.  So are computers.”
•    Idea/form is visually based
•    Oral: natural
•    Writing: artificial
•    Writing as leaving a mark (i.e. animal waste)
o    Development of coded system for exactness
•    Writing was/is most momentous of all technological inventions
•    The alphabet represents sound as a thing
•    High literacy = truly written composition = precisely a text
•    Orality knows no lists, charts, or figures
•    Texts assimilate utterance to the human body
•    Writing is an imitation of talking (diary = talking to myself)
•    “Art” of rhetoric, though concerned with oral speech, is a product of writing
78: “What functionally literate human beings really are: beings whose thought processes do not grow out of simply natural powers but out of these powers as structured, directly or indirectly, but the technology of writing.”
81: “Intelligence is relentlessly reflexive, so that even the external tools that it uses to implement its workings become ‘internalized,’ that is, part of its own reflexive process.”
91: “For the alphabet operates more directly on sound as sound than the other scripts, reducing sounds directly to spatial equivalents, and in smaller, more analytic, more manageable units that a syllabary: instead of one symbol for the sounds ba, your have two, b plus a.”
105: “By separating the knower from the known, writing makes possible increasingly articulate introspectivity, opening the psyche as never before not only to the external objective world quite distinct from itself but also to the interior self against whom the objective world is set.”
110-1: “From at least the time of Quintilian, loci communes was taken in two different senses.  First it referred to the ‘seats’ of arguments, considered as abstract ‘headings’ in today’s parlance, such as definition, cause, effect, opposites, likenesses, and so on. […]  Secondly, loci communes or commonplaces referred to collections of sayings (in effect, formulas) on various topics – such as loyalty, decadence, friendship, or whatever – that could be worked into one’s own speech-making or writing.  In this sense the loci communes can be styled ‘cumulative commonplaces.’
Chapter 7: Some theorems
•    Barthes: meaning of text is outside, in the reader
•    Derrida: writing isn’t a supplement to the written word, but a different performance altogether
o    In this way, Derrida aligns with McLuhan
•    Language and thought for the Greeks grew out of memory

July 2017
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