Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
What is it about alliteration?
I don't know either. But it sure is pleasant.
The writing I'm doing right now really has me stumped. The title of the essay of 'Relationships and Mediums: Habits, Historical Knowledge, And Human Self-Creation'. I am currently in the middle section where I am trying to write about the issue of mediums.
Mediums is a strange issue. I feel like I'm working primarily with Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows. But I really don't know what to do. I'm reaching all these plateaus, all these platitudes. I'm not saying much except that cities, economic systems, and language itself are mediums.
But the issue I am working towards is the issue of minds and of relationships. Relationships are always filtered through minds. It couldn't be any other way. So the question is, What is the mind?
And what the hell is a mind? How do we think of such a thing? What is a mind? How do I answer that question.
And I'm tempted to reduce it to the issue of mediums.
I'll take McLuhan's famous phrase, 'the medium is the message', and I'll modify it.
I'll say 'the mind is the medium', or 'the medium is the mind'.
I've just thought of this tonight and I don't know which one is better.
But there is something about minds and mediums.
Something about how we think, how we choose, how we live, and the mediums we use.
Because frankly it seems that our mediums set our choices. The mediums set out thoughts. The mind is the medium. The medium is the mind.
It reminds me of what Collingwood says. There is no such thing as a mind at rest. Mind is what mind does.
So the question becomes, 'well, what does mind do? and how does it do it?'
It does it through mediums. And thus it would seem that the mind is the medium, or vice versa.
I'm quite lost with my writing on this issue.
And I think it has to do with the confusion of parsing this distinction between medium and mind. I think it has to do with what it is that I am and what it is that has created me.
I'm really struggling with these issues. I think I don't have enough evidence for the issue of mediums. I simply haven't read enough. The same is true for the issue of minds.
But I'll try to write this essay. Unfortunately, I think it means that I won't be able to give the question of mediums a close enough look. I'm going to be short changing it. But that is okay.
Or I guess I should say that I won't be looking at it from the right angle.
Because I can certainly argue that mind is nothing but its mediums, and I can take a look at the medium. But the problem is larger than that.
The real problem is this: What is the inclination of the mediums through which our minds work?
Because a medium is never a passive recipient, never a mere tool. It is always a collaborator in our actions, it always contains an implicit message, an inclination. The medium itself encourages certain types of behavior.
And that is the issue that I am baffled by. I don't know how to explain what the inclinations of our mediums are. And thus I don't know what the inclinations of our minds are.
Mediums and minds.
Are they inseparable or am I crazy?
I feel crazy.
But I don't think I'm crazy.
I think this issue of mediums and minds is a crucial one.
Shall I flip out now?
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
And I laugh at that idea of having definition. Knowing who I am or what I'm doing.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Most of my fantasies are of
To be of use
To be of some hard
Like a spindle
Like a candle
Like a horseshow
Like a corkscrew
To be of use
To be of use
Most of my fantasies are of
Making someone else come
On a horse
Over palms laid
On the threshold
On the coming day
Coming day come."
Saturday, June 25, 2011
And I hope I can live it.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
For my dad:
He woke up in the morning and decided that he would continue living his life before he realized he didn't have a choice.
Movement overcame him and he was effortlessly pressing buttons like he never had to learn to. He simultaneously loved and loathed how little action had to do with thought. He waited for those moments where he could lose himself in the movement of his limbs. At the end of it all he would have to ask everyone where he was and how he came to be there in that way.
What could be better than to feel identity collapse under the weight of the body? The warmth of the shower felt better than that. His ego appreciated the warmth and seemed to coax his identity to life. Just like everyone else he had those fun moments of rousing under that water that possessed thousands of years of thought. He once scoffed at the idea of becoming that water, the idea of imagining himself flushing through those pipes and out into his own hands. But now here he was in the shower becoming the water imbued with the thought of history. He would never know the minds that died swirling numbers to wet his body. But he thanked them every morning for giving him the gift of morning thought.
Heat meets cold and his body enters that familiar world of dryness. Clothes clothes all the fucking clothes put them on and go. Out the door with scarves loaded not only with thought but with thoughtfulness. These were the quiet and rageless moments where he obliviously enjoyed the wanderings of his mind. He could entertain anything in that warm water, create everything in that cold air.
Blankly up the hill with the pumping and stretching of calf muscles. He liked the pain because it wasn’t cold. He knew that faces were imminent. That he would soon look at other eyes and feel the mirror extend forever. Which ones would it be today? Who would look at him and ask him to become something? It was him, of course. That man whose name he would never know. That man that he trusted with his life every morning. That man that he hoped had a twenty year safe driving record like those mythical figures he saw on signs.
Get on the bus swipe the card hear the beep find a seat move on with your life. Here we go. Around those curves around those curves up those streets into that familiar space that he knew had to have changed somehow. It was like watching cookies bake, waiting for them to lose their factory given cube shape, watching them become something more natural. He hoped these walls would crumble so that he could experience some roundness in his life. But that would come from other times and other places.
His mind was the only round thing that he really needed to be round. He needed to be a ball on a floor that wasn’t quite a ball and that wasn’t quite a floor.
Window seats were ideal because they reminded him of what it was like to know space in different ways. He would walk these streets and know that they were different on foot, that they weren’t the same place from behind that glass. He would watch the numbers on the houses go by and watch them count. Up up up up up up up up the numbers went, counting up to an exciting number that would some day be a year. Suddenly he realized that the numbers were getting beyond him. They were becoming things that he wasn’t able to keep track of anymore. He realized he was the numbers and that everything would soon be beyond him. He would soon become something that was just another ride down a hill. He would have to trust someone else to guide him towards his end. He had to let his time go because that is what this world wanted. It wanted him to live and then to die.
Don’t make a fuss, don’t make a scene, just get on the bus and forget that you are watching yourself die.
Get the money.
More hills and more turns and more words and he is finally in position to get the money. More buttons more words and the money is his, accumulating slowly, to be dispensed at a later date. To be given to him in numbers on screens and on paper. To be pulled from claws and teeth and to become alcohol and other various things. Are the things around me made of money?
Entering that carefully defined space he prepares to perform his loosely defined tasks. He was instantly pleased with the way judgement was a part of his work. But carefully defined judgement. Judgement without all the messy side effects. Judgement light.
And soon the explicit feeling of judgement would collapse under the weight of experience and repetition. He would no longer make ‘decisions’, he would simply act. He would simply move. He wondered what secret contents lie within that movement. What secrets his mind was keeping from itself. How could all of this thought disappear? How could its content persist in the form of action?
There was, however, one thing that would never collapse into routine. And that was the indignation. He couldn’t stand the way that others were capable of commanding him. And even more so he couldn’t stand the whimsy of it all. The flailing whimsy of his own feelings and the way that others seemed to regard him. Where were his egg shells? Why were you always stepping on them? Why couldn’t he just clean them up? I want you all to walk safely.
But I don’t really. Because I’m not safe. Not in any kind of dangerous way. But in the way that I can’t trust myself. I want to be stable and I want to be that rock. I want these careless people to mean nothing to me. But the truth is that they mean a lot to me. I tell them how I’m doing and they tell me how I’m doing and none of it means anything. Except to me. It means a lot to me.
It means a lot to me that I get that money. And you people get me that money. Thanks. Thanks for the money.
I’m not that angry. I’m just angry.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
So, if human nature is in constant flux, and historical study, the study of texts, can tell us what it means to be human, what does this mean for the human nature of the future? Well, Smith puts it strangely: "the answer to the question, 'What is human?', lies in the history of the forthcoming answers" (Being Human, 15). What Smith ultimately advocates is the prospect of human self creation, 'the creation of human nature'. This is indeed an idea with considerable historical precedents. Vico, Collingwood, Croce, Foucault, Searle, and others have all discussed the way that humans create themselves through language and history. And with my reading on neuroplasticity, I feel more convinced that humans are capable of creating themselves through language and culture.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
But I do not want to cease giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Also, Elaine Scarry has a book called Thinking In An Emergency that looks fascinating. The crux of the book is a philosophical investigation into the nature of habit. Habit in politics, in society, in emergencies. Looks fascinating. Doesn't cite Zizek or Collingwood or anyone I know on habit. So, yeah. Interesting stuff.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I have a hard time believing that it is June.