Wednesday, November 30, 2011

reading for today

The story begins like this:

Socrates: Very well. I heard, then, that at Naucratis in Egypt there lived one of the very old gods of that country, the one whose sacred bird is called the ibis; and the name of the divinity was Theuth. It was he who first invented numbers and calculation, geometry and astronomy, not to speak of draughts and dice, and above all writing (grammata). Now the king of Egypt at that time was Thamus who lived in the great city of the upper region which the Greeks call the Egyptian Thebes; the god himself they call Ammon. Theuth came to him and exhibited his arts and declared that they ought to be imparted to the other Egyptians. And Thamus questioned him about the usefulness of each one; and as Theuth enumerated, the King blamed or praised what he thought were the good or bad points in the explanation. Now Thamus is said to have had a good deal to remark on both sides of the question about every single art (it would take too long to repeat it here); but when it came to writing, Theuth said, "This discipline (to mathema), my King, will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories (sophoterous kai mnemonikouterous): my invention is is a recipe (pharmakon) for both memory and wisdom." But the King said...

(Plato's Phaedrus, quoted in Dissemination)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It is snowing!

Monday, April 26, 2010

TV, or Politics Even for Slackers

I am watching television. I also ask permission here to do some "theorizing" about the act (a very passive act) of watching television. I am immersed in a space of mediated reality, there is a changing image in front of me that seems to have its origin from some source behind the screen. I do not mean this literally, with a naive vision that would see the screen as some kind of window. The tele- of tele-vision implies that the image is from a distance, whether from a remote location, the site of the broadcast, or the television studio, or from the vaguely defined center, the authoritative source of the network broadcast, the network itself.

Therefore spectator-screen-image: this is the triad that forms the outline of the experience of mediated reality, the image appearing as though from behind or beyond the screen. This is an enframing [Gestell] (the word is Heidegger's from "The Question Concerning Technology") of the real order of things, of the world itself. Something is within this frame, something is left out. On the level of language, then, is a second meaning of this enframing. The frame shifts from context to context, it is a context-based "framing" of situations.

What can be said further concerning the distance or the gap between the viewer and the real event? It is not symmetrical-- what is presented as television is raised to the level of the authoritative. The barrier of entry to producing programming that seems also authoritative (YouTube with its "broadcast yourself" slogan notwithstanding) is huge. As many by now have pointed out, television, unlike the printing press that preceded it, and unlike the networked communication over the internet that seems to emerge as a possible successor, is not participatory. Is there not a whole politics of inclusion and exclusion, center and marginal periphery, around this issue, or this question, of participation? And yet it is not enough to bemoan "the media" or some hegemonic power of the network, for our own state or standing within participation or non-participation. As Sartre and others have taught us again and again, we are responsible for the whole world, for the entirety of the condition we find ourselves in. In this game no refuge in another world, in non-commitment, or in the private language of "our own world" is allowed, one must begin where one is, as one must make a move.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

{1, 2, 3, ...}

When I was twenty I dreamt that underneath a nearby McDonalds, underground, was a school where the employees read books full of mathematics diagrams, finite state machines, mobius strips and such.

While I still can be a competent tutor mathematics has lost its fascination for me I am afraid. And yet now and again I yearn for crisp and formal answers, content is not necessary, just as long as there is that objectivity, like a language in a higher kind of dream, that completely makes sense and answers our question until we are awake again, and begin forgetting.

I lack and long for this objectivity in a very general sense actually. I find myself at times as a vertex with no edges on the great social network graph of existence, then branching out connections, then cutting them again, endlessly.

Galileo, your book is lost to me!

waking up

I am on another errant pathway leading to the center-- what is solid and what is floating evanescently in this maze of streets, in the criscrossing of steps of all the people seeking the Destination? This is a city like any other, except silently sleeping, at times people rise from their beds and walk, still dreaming, finding each other in collective dreams, or segments of dreams, then walking back into their bedrooms, their sleep chambers, only to repeat the same thing the next day, a day which is actually night. Is it getting brighter or dimmer, is it dawn or dusk? It is difficult to know, the Absolute dream keeps fragmenting into separate dreams, manifestations of self, wish-fulfillments. Will the center, the whole dream, or even just the alcove leading into the maze of dreams, ever reveal itself?

At the windhorse race, the minds of all the spectators floating and hovering up like kites in the summer air, more and more people were in attendance as it seemed finally the dream was making sense, consolidating itself into the one collective dream. Was it real?

A man in the back reading Kafka's Amerika seemed like he had been there forever waiting for the race to unfold. It was rumored that the dream was his alone, that the whole race depended on his attendance for its reality and solidity.

Monday, March 29, 2010

getting Hegel out of my system

Where are the pathways, where the walls? I struggle to determine what direction to go in next, knowing that freedom is boundless but that at the same time my own mind contains signposts of self doubt, a dead stop here and there and there again, projected onto the world all around me. Tentatively, slowly, I gain an inkling of a game that is limitless, I can no longer shirk the responsibility of being right there, present. And how many others are playing at "I am", conspiring to raise their minds to the level of the real?

There is so much to say, so much to do, in this local phenomenology, at the periphery of the empire perhaps, a place where the messages from the true Emperor of conscious awareness only arrive every so often, wherever he may be, and yet, the amusement park of higher mind is turning, perpetually, even here, where and when do we get on and off the rides? The local is merging into the global, at greater and greater speed, for the local awareness is almost nothing, and yet, a quaint branch office at the periphery of the reign of the Absolute is right there, it is everything, but how often have I walked past it not even seeing it? Routing information, written on every humble prayer, even from here, do these prayers ever make their way through the bureaucracy of being-here-now phenomenology, the parts of Oversoul, or call it what you will, to the A=A, the Absolute, to GOD?

Does any knowledge leak at this level, throughout the cracks of Mind, is not the faultline of awareness the gate, or the gateless gate, itself? The part is the whole, the humble forest path is the entrance into the gardens and labyrinths of the Church that stands at the center of the Empire, "get lost" and getting directions are one and the same thing.

Um, take the highway across the River...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

condemned to be free

The absence of confines, of real, external limitations, does not seem to also come with the knowledge of what to do next, where the road that opens up leads. I form a hypothesis of the hand of some hidden god that sets the whole drama into motion, calling on this Unknown God to wake me up and show me the way forward. This too is a way to defer having to make a choice, a way to not acknowledge that I am a free agent responsible from now on for my choice, for the path my will and actions will trace. A little light is all that is necessary, will the light source manifest itself?