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

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Mon Nov 21 07:06:58 AEDT 2016


Michael, I am not denying that the computer will have some undeniably
positive results. Probably, a few illnesses that are incurable today will
be curable relatively soon, essentially due to the computer's power to
calculate (though I am not sure how many will be able to afford those
cures). Mine is not a Luddite argument. Reality is what it is. We must
adjust.

What is Virtual Light? Amazing, something like virtual God?

Pattern recogniition -- is that something that will make it for us harder
to hide?  :)

Ciao,
Murat


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
> >>>>> 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
> >>>> 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
> >> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> >> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
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> > http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> _______________________________________________
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