[-empyre-] II (

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Oct 10 01:24:58 EST 2012

On Tue, 9 Oct 2012, Jonathan Marshall wrote:

> Let's just assume that i don't know what the virtual is, anymore than i 
> know what the real is To me, they look like two (distorting?) views of 
> the same events.
Just because momentum and position might be ill defined and entangling 
doesn't eliminate their usefulness and credence in QM.

I want to emphasize two things here, the reason I've been writing on these 
issues in the first place - on one hand, pain and death are inextricably 
linked; both diminish the body, and on the other, severe pain, like death, 
can be so disassociating and immobilizing that the organism (this extends 
beyond the human) can't be 'reached.' I've seen people in this state and 
have known others. Even psychic pain and intense depression can make one 
unreachable until death intervenes. This is one issue for me.

The other is the phenomenology of the virtual, which I do find useful; I 
think there is culture all the way down in terms of evolution, learning, 
retention, and culture is related to digital phenomena. I've written a lot 
on the digital as well, on its relation to a presumed eternity and  data- 
banking, on its relation to inscription and standardization/typification, 
on the potential wells necessary to immunize image storage against 
deterioration, on the abject's undercutting of the digital, on the 
digital's relation to the corporate, etc. etc. This predates computers, 
predates encoding, and you can see all of this already at work in 
cuneiform and even earlier 'forms' like Acheulian pebbles. On the other 
hand, your notion of 'online' as fundamental loses more and more meaning 
every day to me, since it's getting harder to define - is a prosthetic 
heart monitor or time that may report, like an rfid, online? Are you 
online if you're on mobile? If you're on mobile on the subway working 
locally until the train emerges from a tunnel? If you're writing offline 
and later uploading? The last is a good example since formatting, for 
example in my case, is already part of the writing itself, even though I'm 
not momentarily electrically connected to a matrix. The term online is too 
dependent on the social in an incredibly wide range of associations to be 
useful; I'm not even sure I can define 'social media' in fact. -

> Taken together they may be paradoxical. I suspect that all axioms imply 
> paradox, although i cannot prove this. If so, then the real and the 
> virtual are useful to the extent they unsettle each other or open the 
> user to receive something.

Depends I think on how small and simple the system is.

> Same for subject and object - although it seems to me that the subject 
> is as 'virtual' as the object or the particles.
Of course.

> Although, if we use it this way, is the virtual becoming the illusory? 
> Or is it fortifying illusions? And we have the problem of what is not 
> illusory. Is pain illusory? Perhaps sometimes, especially if some VR 
> diminishes it. Perhaps not, but we are not perceiving the nerves, 'only' 
> a translation, but there is no pain perhaps apart from the 
> translation... and the interpretation of what is happening and what is 
> being done.

I think 'illusory' is also suspect. If I feel 'illusory' pain, I feel it. 
This relates for me to the popular notion of depression, that someone 
should 'snap out of it,' that it's not 'real.'

> Which is why i prefer 'online' to virtual. Living online depends on 
> social-psychological-technical dynamics, and that combination clearly 
> includes pain, suffering, melancholy, distance, incomprehension, 
> failure, bonding, joy, intensity, exchange, response, etc.

Living offline depends on exactly the same things, which is one reason why 
I find the term suspect; it even hides the differences between, say, what 
being online meant in relation to the post-modern-culture (PMC) MOO, and 
what it means in Second Life.

> Even 'real' VR depends upon software written by people in interaction 
> with a socio-cultural background, it still depends on social dynamics 
> and social understanding - and social dynamics always changes and is 
> changed by its environment - again they intertwine. So VR expresses some 
> social dynamics.


> Simply we are hurt by words and images and people. We can be tortured by 
> words and plans, as well as by tools. We can suffer as a result of some 
> intention and suffer unintentionally we can feel people die in words, in 
> images. We can feel our world being destroyed by indiference or direct 
> cruelty.
> All life is there online, and not diminished.

Again, it depends on how 'life' is defined; organic life on this planet 
for the most part is inscribed and encoded in RNA/DNA; computer AI is also 
relevant here.

- Alan

> And the problems are not perhaps the same, as the environment differs, 
> but they are similar.
> jon

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