[-empyre-] Starting the Third Week: Michael Boghn and Jerome Sala

Jerome Sala jeromesala502 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 21 07:02:25 AEDT 2016


I'm a fan of Pattern Recognition. I'm going to check Idoru. Don't know
Morgan, but I hope to soon. Thanks!

On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 2:31 PM, Michael Boughn <mboughn at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> It's the difference between William Gibson and Richard Morgan. My son has been reading Gibson and making me go back and read stuff I hadn't before. He always seems to leave room for some more positive possibility in the midst of the dystopia. Virtual Light, for instance, with its Bridge culture, or Pattern Recognition. Even Idoru which is perhaps relevant to this discussion. Morgan, as much as I love his books, doesn't hold out much alternative to the bleakness he represents.
>
> Sent from my iPad
>
>> On Nov 20, 2016, at 1:26 PM, Jerome Sala <jeromesala502 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> At the same time, there's a critique of the dystopian vision: it
>> discourages imagining alternatives. I know that, in the world of
>> sci-fi, a writer like Kim Stanley Robinson makes it a point to provide
>> utopian elements in his work, to make better futures a little more
>> plausible (and therefore, worth working for). He came into the field
>> at the time of TINA (Margaret Thatcher's slogan about Capitalism:
>> "there is no alternative"). It often explores post-capitalist
>> economies -- the technology in them being used to facilitate their
>> workings. (I'm guessing his work is, in part, motivated by a desire to
>> provide an alternative to the near dominance of dystopia as a mode of
>> the sf of his moment.) Anyway, such writing would view technology, as
>> Michael alluded to, as something that can harm or help. Murat, is your
>> position that it's too late for that?
>>
>>> On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 12:07 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Jerome, capitalism and war created the computer, not the Communist state or an agrarian utopia-- and a desire to penetrate a code. One should pay attention how things are created --one discovers a lot about their purposes. I talk about in in an earlier post. Isn't the same thing with Facebook, to peek into the private activities of a college girls dormitory. Isn't that original impulse written all over what Facebook has become despite all the "social media" goodies it offers --to penetrate the personal activities of one's essentially private, intimate lives, create data out of them and sell it. The primary impulse of Facebook --the raison d'etre of its flourishing personhood-- is to make the private public and social interactions short and infinite. In a very few years, it has  created a Brave New World and we are all caught in it.
>>>
>>> Ciao,
>>> Murat
>>>
>>>> On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 11:48 AM, Jerome Sala <jeromesala502 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>> Murat, your comment brought another question to my mind, especially
>>>> because it alludes to the transformation of businesses. Working in the
>>>> corporate world for many years, I know that businesses found digital
>>>> technology irresistible because it was a tool that saved them lots of
>>>> money. It helped eliminate lots of jobs and made outsourcing, near
>>>> shore and far, much easier. As a result, it's hard for me to separate
>>>> the growth of this technology from the capitalism's desire to increase
>>>> profits by cutting costs. So the question for me is -- is it
>>>> technology per se that's the problem, or the way capitalism uses it?
>>>>
>>>>> On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 10:38 AM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>> Michael, I do not agree with you. What makes it different is the incredible speed with which things are happening. There is no time to catch up and rebalance as in the old model. It is a bit like cancer or like a species through a mutation gaining a critical, basically irresistible advantage over its habitat. As a result all the other species begin to disappear and finally the habitat is destroyed, including the dominant species.
>>>>>
>>>>> Something like this is already happening. Wealth is concentrated more and more on fewer and fewer people (and Trump, who ostensibly got elected to fight this trend, will intensify it through his tax cuts). One day, companies will have nobody to sell their goods to. That sounds far fetched. But it will happen, maybe sooner than we think. That is when the pandemonium will start. My guess is it will not be pretty.
>>>>>
>>>>> Take the idea of Uber for example, which is the cat's meow because of its convenience for people who used to take taxis and the bus. By one "disruption" enabled by the computer, they destroyed a whole ecology of businesses that owned local taxi fleets or individuals who owned their own taxis. They seduced taxi drivers by offering them better commissions. Who cares for a few taxi fleet owners! Everyone is happy. It took I think less than five years, now Uber is talking about driverless cars. I suppose those drivers can find jobs in the future as traffic cops for those Uber cars. One should not forget the owners of the taxi fleets may represent the "other," but the drivers are us.
>>>>>
>>>>> To be continued...
>>>>>
>>>>> Ciao,
>>>>> Murat
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 6:33 AM, Michael Boughn <mboughn at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>> OK, devil's advocate here. Every tool humans have developed has changed them, has obliterated certain practices and modes of thinking and generated new ones. The computer is just another tool, a really sophisticated and complex hammer. Some of the consequences of this tool are pretty dire -- the enablement of a post-truth polity, for instance -- but it also creates a potential being in common that is the  -- I want to say "cure" but that's not quite it. It's the antithetical action that opens into other possibilities. It can go either way, depending on what people do, and there are a lot of people doing a lot of different things.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I don't think that our lack of awareness of our dependence on those systems is new. Isn't it always just "the world". And they (the techne) have always shaped us. Isn't that Heidegger's point? If you figure out how to make flint spear tips, you stop throwing rocks and become different. We become aware of it when the computer stops working in the car in the middle of Death Valley, or the operating system goes wacky just before the deadline for a huge project. It's really the same old same old.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> It's just that the stakes have risen catastrophically.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I think that's true about sci-fi. It has framed the question of technology in terms of an address to ontology.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Mike
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Sent from my iPad
>>>>>>
>>>>>> On Nov 19, 2016, at 5:54 PM, Jerome Sala <jeromesala502 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>> Murat, your question, as to whether "the computer (and the web and its
>>>>>> consequence) has the ability to expose and criticize the condition it
>>>>>> has created...whether the digital can be 'revealer of is own truth',
>>>>>> brought to mind a book I've been reading - Discognition, by Steven
>>>>>> Shaviro. One of the points Shaviro argues is that, in our everyday
>>>>>> experience, "we're mostly unaware of how deeply our lives depend upon
>>>>>> the functioning of complex, expert systems..." -- we're the fish in
>>>>>> their ocean (McLuhan) (unless they break down). Another aspect we
>>>>>> don't grasp, as your question implies, is that such technological
>>>>>> entities, rather then just being there, inert until we manipulate
>>>>>> them, have an agency of their own: "...if we engineer them, in various
>>>>>> ways, they 'engineer' us as well, nudging us to adapt to their
>>>>>> demands."
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I am not sure whether the "digital" can speak its truth (at least in a
>>>>>> language we understand), but Shaviro suggests one way we humans might
>>>>>> begin to see its truth/reality for ourselves - by creating art where
>>>>>> the "material and technological factors are explicitly foregrounded."
>>>>>> His book is about science fiction stories that do this. Perhaps this
>>>>>> is also what I had in mind by the poetic project I wrote about, which
>>>>>> foregrounds digital/corporate cliches that inform us, through the
>>>>>> jargon we speak. In any case, Shaviro's book may offer a clue as to
>>>>>> the great popularity of the SF genre. Often, in allegorical ways, it
>>>>>> acknowledges the agency of the technological (remember the Borg?), and
>>>>>> enables people to start talking about the power of its influence.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 3:15 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Hi Jerome, by your question on the nature of "knowing" in poetry, I
>>>>>>
>>>>>> think you touched a critical point, an issue running throughout the
>>>>>>
>>>>>> discussions and presentations this month.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Knowledge that poetic experience contains or "reveals" does have
>>>>>>
>>>>>> multiple facets. On the one hand, the knowledge (in some incarnations,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> message/propaganda) may be transactional and implicitly points or
>>>>>>
>>>>>> leads to action. Some great classics are of that sort, for instance,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Lucretius's On Nature or Virgil's Eclogues, Shakespeare's Henry V and
>>>>>>
>>>>>> also, in some sense, though a book of "revelation," The Bible, etc.
>>>>>>
>>>>>> The election of Trump last week drove the discussion to the
>>>>>>
>>>>>> transactional side of poetry (art), and rightly so. That is what all
>>>>>>
>>>>>> the writing invited to be sent to Dispatches for the anthology all
>>>>>>
>>>>>> about. So are the post cards Craig refers to, as conceptual acts.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> There is another kind of knowledge that poetry "reveals," not
>>>>>>
>>>>>> necessarily leading to action-- of course, the distinction is somewhat
>>>>>>
>>>>>> artificial since a poem or work of art contains both simultaneously
>>>>>>
>>>>>> each time creating a different balance. If one extreme side of this
>>>>>>
>>>>>> spectrum is propaganda (all nations/cultures/languages have propaganda
>>>>>>
>>>>>> masterpieces), the other extreme is gnosis-- a knowledge not quite
>>>>>>
>>>>>> contained in the practicalities of a language, but in its peripheries,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> the often unacknowledged overtones that emanate from words, space,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> etc. (embedded in poesies).
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> It is in terms of this same dilemma (the nature of poetic knowledge)
>>>>>>
>>>>>> that Heidegger is discussing technology in his essay. On the one hand
>>>>>>
>>>>>> it is defined as "enframing" nature to exploit it (in terms that
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Francis Bacon asserts as "knowledge is power"). On the other hand, it
>>>>>>
>>>>>> returns technology to its roots as techne, a making that reveals the
>>>>>>
>>>>>> truth. Their relationship is dialectical.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I have been on Empyre list for about two years, following it on and
>>>>>>
>>>>>> off with interest because it presents to me a digital culture that is
>>>>>>
>>>>>> of great interest to me; but in which I am not directly involved as a
>>>>>>
>>>>>> practitioner. What struck me most is that, save for important
>>>>>>
>>>>>> exceptions such as Alan Sondheim and Isak Berbic (and I am sure there
>>>>>>
>>>>>> are others), the focus of the participants was on what the internet or
>>>>>>
>>>>>> the computer can do for them, on the computer as a new potent enabler,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> the computer as artistic or political power. As far as I can see,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> little attention was given to it as a revealer of "truth," the
>>>>>>
>>>>>> knowledge of human condition and psyche in a digital technological
>>>>>>
>>>>>> age.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> In my view, poetry (art) is doomed to die without containing within
>>>>>>
>>>>>> itself both these knowledge, though the melange may be different in
>>>>>>
>>>>>> each.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> The underlying focus for me this month has been, that is why I
>>>>>>
>>>>>> accepted the invitation to moderate, to explore whether the computer
>>>>>>
>>>>>> (and the web as its consequence) has the ability to expose and
>>>>>>
>>>>>> criticize the condition it has created, in other words, whether the
>>>>>>
>>>>>> digital can be the "revealer of its own truth." I can not say I have
>>>>>>
>>>>>> been that successful up to now.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> The primary text for this month is the fifteen minute video clip I
>>>>>>
>>>>>> referred to in my introductory statement at the beginning of the month
>>>>>>
>>>>>> in which the film maker Jean Renoir discusses the effect of technology
>>>>>>
>>>>>> on art (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7Mtd6GE_PI ). He says that
>>>>>>
>>>>>> art becomes boring to the extent that that the art maker is in total
>>>>>>
>>>>>> control of his or her own materials and techniques. He refers to a
>>>>>>
>>>>>> group of 11th century French tapestries (the Bayeux, the first known
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ones) where the threads were coarsely spun, the colors were primitive
>>>>>>
>>>>>> and of a narrow range; but they contained great beauty, revealing the
>>>>>>
>>>>>> strife of their making.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> That is why "Overcoming Technique"--the first two words of my
>>>>>>
>>>>>> introductory title-- is crucial, whether one finally agrees with
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Renoir or not. In our daily lives with family and children and
>>>>>>
>>>>>> teaching and grading papers, etc., I hope some of us find time to
>>>>>>
>>>>>> re-focus on these issues the remaining days of this month. As artists,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> the issues are important for all of us.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Ciao,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Murat
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 9:28 AM, Craig Saper <csaper at umbc.edu> wrote:
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Relevant to the discussion and the “dispatches” this event might speak to the issue of, what Jerome Sala called in a recent "poetry is a particular way of knowing the mind” …
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> "Post Card Avalanche"
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Join in and send a postcard directly to Trump! Here are the basic instructions to participate:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> ** IMPORTANT - Don't mail your card until NOV. 26th **
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> In the message section, write this simple message: NOT BANNON!
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Throw a post card Avalanche party. Make postcards.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Address it as follows:
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Donald Trump
>>>>>>
>>>>>> c/o The Trump Organization
>>>>>>
>>>>>> 725 Fifth Avenue
>>>>>>
>>>>>> New York, NY 10022
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Affix a stamp - you can use a 35 cent postcard stamp, or a normal letter stamp.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Take a picture of your postcard that you can share on social media using the hashtag #stopbannon
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Drop it in the mail! We are aiming to get these mailed between Saturday, Nov 26th and Monday, Nov. 28th to create a concentrated avalanche of postcards.”
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>
>>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>>>
>>>>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>>>>
>>>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>>>>>
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>
>>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>>>
>>>>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>>>>
>>>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>>>>>
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> empyre forum
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>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> empyre forum
>>>>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>
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