Ktismatics

12 October 2009

Wading Out of the Shallow End

Filed under: Fiction, First Lines, Reflections — ktismatics @ 2:21 am

“How vividly I remember the first moments of my vocation as a clown!”

– Michel Huellebecq, The Possibility of an Island, 2005

Because my grounding in philosophy is shallow, I’m subject to being blown by the shifting winds of philosophical popularity. When the winds die down, so does my enthusiasm. Is it just my limited attention span, or is the whole object-oriented thing starting to run out of gas? I’m not militantly dysphoric about it: it doesn’t piss me off sufficiently to debunk it, even if I had the skills to do so. Instead, it’s just starting to leave me cold. My sagging passion for the objects isn’t, I don’t believe, reducible to a waning attraction/repulsion exerted by the main practitioners — though I don’t deny that’s part of it. Also, I’ve not become a convert to eliminative materialism or antiphilosophy, in part because I don’t really know enough about these alternative visions of speculative realism or have enough depth to evaluate them critically.

I think it’s my respect for depth that’s dampening my enthusiasm.

The object-oriented approach has introduced me to ontological and metaphysical topics about which there is a long history of speculation and critique. I’d never been strongly attracted to these investigations before: why now? Partly it was the blogging buzz: the flurry of posts and counter-posts, the personalities, the alliances, the feuds. These psychosocial impetuses have about run their course, at least for me. Do I have what it takes intellectually to dig a deeper foundation? Do I have the desire? The commitment? The sense of calling?

When I started paying attention to the speculative realism discussions they struck me as good material for fiction. One theorist projects himself into an arche-world before the evolution of humanity; another theorist goes the other direction, into a world from which man has fallen extinct; a third imagines a world populated by autonomous objects bumping into each other. Then there are the accelerationists and the singularity enthusiasts and the anti-speciesists and the apocalyptists, who appear from time to time on the periphery of my attention. It wasn’t the ideas of these people that captivated me but the posthuman metaphyical scenarios they conjured, with their resolute realism veering into otherworldly weirdness.

I just finished reading Michel Houellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island. Clearly he’s been captivated by these ontological speculations:

“Their aim, of course, was first to do away with money and sex, two pernicious factors of which they had been able to recognize the importance through the collective human life stories. It was equally a question of casting aside any notion of political choice, the source, they write, of ‘false but violent’ passions. These preconditions for a negative order, indispensable as they were, were not, however, sufficient in their eyes to enable neohumanity to rejoin ‘the obvious neutrality of the real,’ to use their frequently cited expression; it was also necessary to provide a concrete catalog of positive prescriptions. Individual behavior, they note in Prolegomena to the Construction of the Central City (significantly, the first neohuman work not to have a named author), was to become ‘as predictable as the functioning of a refrigerator.’ Indeed, while writing down their instructions, they acknowledged as a main source of stylistic inspiration, indeed more than any other human literary production, ‘the manual for electrical appliances of medium size and complexity, in particular the video player JVC HR-DV 3S/MS.’” (pp. 312-313)

The ontological speculation worked for him too, at least to an extent: he’s able, by the end of the book, to bring the prehuman and the posthuman, the raw biological instincts and the sheer technological efficiency, into stark contrast. He’s a novelist: he doesn’t have to choose sides in the philosophical debates; he can run thought experiments and see where they lead, letting the ambivalence run its course. And he doesn’t have to be a full-on philosopher to do it either. But he does have to be a full-on fiction writer. He had to devote himself to writing that novel, immersing himself in that fictional world long enough to bring something coherent and compelling out with him. As I said, to an extent he succeeded.  And he did remind me of something in the way he treated these ideas. Or maybe he reminded me of someone. Is being a novelist no different from being a clown, a shallow and cheap entertainer who jumps haphazardly from one schtick to another? Is it possible to regard clowning as a vocation?

Nuclear physics and astrophysics and evolutionary biology captivate me from time to time, but I know I’ll never sustain enough passion, enough intellectual commitment, to become a pro. It’s the same with philosophy for me: stimulating, challenging, even captivating for awhile, but then it drifts into the background, its call on my attention receding into background noise.

Right now it’s the noise itself that I hear. When it recedes like that, noise becomes nearly indistinguishable from silence. If I listen carefully enough, or maybe if I stop listening too carefully, something distinct will begin to emerge. Hopefully.

Advertisements

31 Comments »

  1. As I said, to an extent he succeeded

    Thank god for that semi-disclaimer, John. Even —- —- can’t turn me on to this nerd, although he seemed to like much more my loathing of ‘Platform’ and ‘Whatever’ and said Dejan and I did better shitfights than anything in Houellebecq.

    JOHN! You’re a MASTER DILLETTANTE like we are! That’s why we’re are the most brilliant people in the goddam blawgosphere. You are attracted to everything, find it all interesting, just like me and —- —-. But time to GIVE UP on Houellebecq. Just so grey an eminence. I HATE ‘Platform’. The two fall in love, and then the book is about how they get bored with each other and have serial porno episodes that Houllebecq could never have himself.

    As for worrying about not wanting to discuss OOO 24/7, why…I cain’t even IMAGINE why you don’t want to talk to ******* all day. I know that’s all I want to do. You should be ashamed. He’ll even say things like ‘See, this already disappoints me…’ as a way of beginning an argument. Like, hey stop! You can’t debate like that. It makes me feel BAD, MAN!

    Really good post, though. Like me, you have not let our ridiculous march into middle-age prevent us from being Vital Creatures–and I now have more of a respect for straight family men, almost as much as I have for FAG-GITS like me. I’m going to tell Jack about you today, and have a toast to you in my Noo Awlins cranberry-glass goblets today. I don’t pull these out often, because I’d freak if there was even a slight chip in them. This is false values, I know, but I don’t care. I want them perfect, and that is that.

    Like

    Comment by afrohun — 12 October 2009 @ 8:16 am

  2. By far the best part of this book was the end, in which the neohuman clone, 35 generations into the future, goes on a pilgrimage through the post-apocalyptic wasteland to revisit those places where the genetic original of himself experienced his most poignant moments (such as they were). The rest fits your description of Platform. Here is another semi-fictionalized author-narrator, but far less interesting than Proust or Henry Miller.

    Dillettante? Mais bien sûr, monsieur. This was kvond’s complaint about me on the last post: that I don’t take these intellectual debates seriously, that I try them on to see how I look in them. Well he’s right of course, even if he was in VIOLATION of the civility directive. It really might be fun to set up Civility Court, and possibly reprise the Online Shrink, both of which have affinity with the Parody Center’s portfolio. Could I do them in a way that both helps and irritates without violating the civility directive — or at least not flagrantly so? I’ll give it some consideration.

    And tchin-tchin to you too, afrohun and Jack! By the way, I just celebrated one of the more notable middle-aged straight-family-man milestones: our 25th wedding anniversary.

    Like

    Comment by john doyle — 12 October 2009 @ 10:16 am

    • Congratulations, John! And we’re gonna drink to that too. I really did get out the glasses, and even Krazy-Glued an heirloom vase that had been knocked over by firemen since Jack is late and will complain about the subways.

      ‘Could I do them in a way that both helps and irritates without violating the civility directive — or at least not flagrantly so? I’ll give it some consideration.’

      Well, we certainly do hope so. Just keep in mind that we are not looking for service reductions, now that Dejan has been broken of Anvil Duty. hee hee…you are always welcome, and I have to apply deleuzian auto-critique retroactively every day. Happens like that sometimes, I used to have to apologize to traxus all the time for not knowing what I was doing till after I’d done it.

      But yeah, I am frankly just fed up with some of the polemics that have been directed against the finest dillettantes. It’s just not at fair for the future of our nation and our world…

      Like

      Comment by afrohun — 12 October 2009 @ 10:50 am

  3. Anne reminded my that her mother has cranberry goblets that she WON’T LET ME TOUCH. So no toast to the mother-in-law.

    Like

    Comment by john doyle — 12 October 2009 @ 10:51 am

    • Now that was a cool deletion, first one I’ve ever thought was exactly right that was inflicted on me. Definitely a real step toward substantial kind of civility without hurting bitch’s feelings.

      Like

      Comment by afrohun — 12 October 2009 @ 3:44 pm

  4. You noticed! Yes, pretty subtle, left the substance of the remarks.

    Like

    Comment by john doyle — 12 October 2009 @ 4:07 pm

  5. Man, I had a post just like this one sitting in my head for days. I’ve been reading Brassier, which was fine until he got to the stuff about Adorno and Horkheimer, and I’m saying to myself, No offense Adorno and Horkheimer, but you guys are just plain *making shit up*. Then Brassier says that what they’re doing is some kind of grand synthesis of Hegel and Freud, and I’m thinking — they’re not even making their *own* shit up.

    Then I was leafing through some Badiou and Deleuze at the bookstore, and I realized that it would take me months and months to even know what they’re talking about — and that’s If they’re really talking about anything sensical at all, which I begin to doubt.

    I think I would be much happier just torturing my own made-up character for a couple of hundred pages.

    Like

    Comment by Asher Kay — 12 October 2009 @ 4:32 pm

    • Hey Asher, what does Brassier actually have to say about Adorno and Horkheimer? I’m really curious….

      Like

      Comment by Alexei — 13 October 2009 @ 8:34 am

      • It’s really hard to say, Alexei. He seems to spend most of the time just recapitulating their position. It’s a lot of stuff to do with mimesis and sacrifice. And mimesis of death. And sacrificing sacrifice. Brassier seems to think that they are horrified by science. He also calls them “speculative naturalists”.

        If I had to guess, the whole piece on Adorno and Horkheimer sets them up as a sort paradigm of phenomenological “correlationism”, to be knocked down by Meillassoux’s arche-fossil.

        Like

        Comment by Asher Kay — 13 October 2009 @ 12:28 pm

      • Thanks Asher. I don’t explicitly remember anything about sacrificing sacrifice in the Dialectic of Enlightenment, but I no expert on Adorno and Horkheimer. In any event, I can see why one would be put off by Brassier’s account of Adorno and Horkheimer’s work: it simply rehearses a few of the buzzwords! Anyway, Maybe I should flip through Nihil Unbound, before I say anything too outlandish. Is there a .pdf online somewhere?

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 14 October 2009 @ 8:02 am

      • I’d be very interested to see if you think it’s a fair assessment. It seemed fairly detailed, but like I said in the previous comment, it seemed to be “making stuff up” in the sense that it purported a bunch of compulsions and desires that don’t seem to have any empirical basis. It’s quite possible that it’s brilliant, but that I’m too dumb to understand it.

        Here’s the scribd link. You can download the actual document from there: Nihil Unbound

        Like

        Comment by Asher Kay — 14 October 2009 @ 9:06 am

      • Thanks for the link, Asher.

        I just skimmed through the Adorno and Horkheimer chapter (and was a little surprised to see the book beginning with Sellars!). My initial impulse is to say that something seems to have short-circuited in the analysis. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but something isn’t right. I’ll have to give Brassier a good read through before I can say anything for sure.

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 14 October 2009 @ 10:48 am

      • Really? I thought Sellars was a sort of hero in the SR world.

        I’m very interested in your thoughts on the Brassier/Adorno thing. Is he representing them accurately at all? Are they really as wildly conjectural about things as they seemed from the Brassier chapter? Maybe I should just read Dialectic of Enlightenment. I’m worried that it’s simply going to frustrate me.

        Like

        Comment by Asher Kay — 14 October 2009 @ 7:09 pm

      • I would have thought that Sellars would have been a hero for SR too, although perhaps only the eliminative X wing. I actually like Sellars a fair bit….

        Now, about Brassier’s account of Adorno: Brassier does identify the basic thesis of the text (i.e. that myth is already rational, and rationality reverts to mythology), along with the text’s three ‘motors’ (mimesis, sacrifice, history), but his attempt to understand reflection as commemoration seems to fall flat (I really don’t think that’s right), and his emphasis on judaism is syncopated (it’s bound up with the scapegoate logic and projection [if we’re not outwardly jewish, we’re all inwardly circumcised jews]). In effect, Brassier treats the text ahistorically, which, in light of the preface to the 1960’s reissue, is a mistake. From the 1969 preface:

        We do not stand by everything we said in the book in its original form. That would be incompatible with a theory which attributes a temporal core to truth instead of contrasting truth as something invariable to the movement of history. The book was written at a time when the end of the National Socialist terror was in sight. In not a few places, however, the formulation is no longer adequate to the reality of today

        Ultimately, and so far as I can tell, The Dialectic of Enlightenment actually charts the victory and consequences of Hegel’s logic of the Notion. some version of materialism (which isn’t explicitly developed in the text) is supposed to be the tonic which resolves the false progress from myth to enlightenment. So, really, I’m not entirely sure what Brassier’s problem is, exactly. He thinks that a specifically social philosophical text which charts the development of the Hegelian Begriff to its apotheosis is too bound up with a correlationist philosophical position? Is he saying that the philosophical anthropology that H&A offer fails, because it’s not a history? Does he think that the specifically religious and commemorative registers of the text fail? Simply put, Brassier is extrapolating a few key notions without regard to the roles they actually play in the text, or the general argument of the text itself. That, and I don’t find his discussion of mimesis or sacrifice particularly compelling (especially since he read Bernstein’s book on Adorno, wherein Bernstein argues that Kant’s intuition is a rationalized account of mimesis: a non-predicational comportment with sensuous singularities).

        So I guess that’s what I think of Brassier’s discussion of Adorno and Horkheimer. I really don’t see why it’s in the book in the first place. Now, about the Dialectic of Enlightenment itself, all I can say is that it’s a wild ride: speculative, conjectural, maddeningly fragmentary. Do they make shit up? yeah, probably. Is it valueable? I think so. Worth trying to read? Yes.

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 15 October 2009 @ 7:26 am

      • Oh, and before I forget: I would have to double check this very carefully, but I’m pretty sure that sacrifice is actually the logic of the concept par excellence. So I think that the following claim of Brassier’s is false:

        The concept of sacrifice assumes its decisive import for the book’s speculative thesis as the paradigm of non-conceptual exchange. The entwinement of similitude without identity and exchange without subsumption provides the pulse of the dialectic of myth and enlightenment. The book’s thesis can be paraphrased as follows: the sacrificial logic of myth is repeated in reason’s own compulsive attempt to overcome myth by sacrificing it. But as a result, it unwittingly mimics the fatal compulsion which it intended to overcome.

        Again, that can’t be right for two reasons: (1) sacrifice is conceptual, since it depends, minimally, on a metonymic or synechdotal — symbolic — relationship (the rabbit eye and eye tissue in general, the lamb’s flesh and flesh as such), and (2) by pitting sacrifice against the concept, one hypostatizes a conceptual structure, thereby eliminating any kind of development. Really, the only way for myth and rationality to have ‘something in common’ is to show that they share the same sacrificial dynamic. Subsumption is just a different — itself symbolic — name for sacrifice. so the opposition is false.

        There’s also a false sense of radicality being imputed to H&A here. Myth has a structural analogue in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics: prejudice. Gadamer argues that Enlightenment made extinguishing dogma and prejudice its own prejudice, and thereby fell into a vicious, revolutionary-like terror. transcending this vicious circularity involves identifying the productive character of prejudice itself (essentially the fore-structure of understanding). I think much of H&A can be read along similar lines (hence mimesis). IN any case, I don’t think that the myth/enlightenment dialectic is really all that much different from the hermeneutical elaboration of our traditionally inculcated beliefs. Somehow, Brassier seems to have latched onto a slightly more bizarre characterization of traditions self-sacrifice, which seems to be quite the opposite of what we find in the later chapters of Dialectic of Enlightnement.

        But enough! I’m not a blogger anymore, and this is John’s comment section!

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 15 October 2009 @ 8:15 am

      • “I’m not a blogger anymore.”

        Sure, Alexei, keep trying to persuade yourself that this myth is true. Even on a post extolling shallowness you cannot keep yourself from heading into the depths. You are a deep sea diver, Alexei — be true to your self! Then again, maybe the blogs aren’t really the best place for these sorts of soundings — your readers have to come up for air too often.

        Like

        Comment by john doyle — 15 October 2009 @ 11:53 am

      • your readers have to come up for air too often.

        I just hope no one gets the bends….

        Been a pleasure, John & Asher

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 16 October 2009 @ 7:41 am

      • Alexei – Well, I have to say that your description is a lot clearer for me than Brassier’s. Maybe it’s his writing style combined with the difficulty of the material. I will give The Dialectic of Enlightenment a read. I think I need to simmer down about the “making stuff up” thing. I find that if I’m honest with myself, it’s not the speculative nature of what’s being said that gets on my nerves — it’s the fact that I disagree with the speculation, or feel that there’s simply no way to validate it. Freud is like this for me. Also, there is the issue of writers who do not seem to strive for clarity in what they write. Brassier, while obviously adept in a certain academic style of writing, ends up with a lot of unnecessarily contorted formulations. I searched on the phrase “the latter”, which is usually a strong indicator of contortion, and it appears on 123 pages – about half of the pages in the book.

        Like

        Comment by Asher Kay — 16 October 2009 @ 8:04 am

      • I tend to think that psychoanalysis — whether Freudian, Lacanian, or Kleinian makes no difference — is pretty dumb too, Asher. At least as a philosophical position (I think that if we sat down and tried to identify why psychoanalysis has any currency, we’d find out that it’s actually a rather delayed response to the problem of the ‘logic of social research;’ it acts as an a priori, as a mathematics of human behaviour, as a transcendental logic for explaining contextual dynamics, and promises to be predictive. Strangely, this is what JS Mill thought psychology would be — a logic for the social and human sciences. It fails, of course, but what are you going to do when every french thinker since the turn of the 20th Century has been talking about it?) But that puts us in the minority, I think.

        That’s a might ramble, so let me hamfistedly switch gears and topics: I don’t like the way Brassier writes either. My feeling is that he actually makes things more complicated, rather than less so. I’m not sure why. Anwyay, I’m glad that I could be of some help.

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 16 October 2009 @ 8:32 am

      • Asher, I love your idea of searching on “the latter” as an indicator of stylistic convolution.

        Alexei, I realize it’s a shift of topic, but can you elaborate a bit on your views of psychoanalysis? I personally think the analytic praxis is valuable and is compatible with many different rationales as to why it might work. The analytic metapsychological theory I don’t find particularly valuable — I recall mentioning on Larval Subjects that I went through an entire Ph.D. program in psychology without reading or discussing anything psychoanalytic. I suppose it could be argued that this was a matter of repression at the institutional level, but it had more to do with the seeming invulnerability of analytic thought to empirical verification or refutation. In short, psychoanalysis was a language spoken by English and French departments, which apparently remains the case.

        Like

        Comment by john doyle — 16 October 2009 @ 8:45 am

      • John – I eagerly await Alexei’s views, but I can tell you why I have the opinion I do about psychoanalysis.

        If you say that the praxis is compatible with a bunch of different theories, you are implying, to one degree or another, a couple of things:

        1. The praxis is more important than the theory
        2. Psychoanalytic theory underdetermines the praxis
        3. Psychoanalytic theory is of limited importance to the praxis

        A couple of questions appear for me. First, does a theory that underdetermines the praxis really cut the mustard? Wouldn’t a less underdeterministic theory give us more specific ideas about how to help people? Second, does decreasing the importance of a theory relative to the praxis create a sort of disconnect in which theory will tend to be neglected? Third, the value of praxis is pragmatic – “what helps” – while the value of a theory is in determining etiology (which *should* lead to more effective praxis). To me, etiology is of vast importance — especially in cases where presumably, a bunch of etiologies lead to something that is presently classified as the same disorder (as could easily be the case for “big umbrella” disorders like ADHD, autism, and bipolar disorder). In downplaying theory, are we risking downplaying etiology? Lastly, I just think that a theory that allows empirical validation is normatively better, if it’s possible to formulate one.

        Like

        Comment by Asher Kay — 16 October 2009 @ 9:42 am

      • I don’t mind the shift in topic at all John, although I’m not entirely sure how much I can really elaborate. Despite being in a philosophy dept where psychoanalysis is quite popular (there’s even a possible concentration at the graduate level in it), and being at an institution where the psych dept isn’t hostile to it, I’m far from an expert.

        I guess I only have two real points: (1) the metapsychology that’s supposed to ground clinical practice is nothing other than a transcendental theory of subjectivity, (i.e. a functional account of the conditions for the possibility of experience, of subjectivity, and of our coping with reality that’s consistent with empirical data) and (2) Historically, this transcendental theory is supposed to ground, as legitimate areas of research, the humanities and social sciences.

        LEt me start with(2): you would have to go back to some really dry histories of the 19th Century academic disciplines for a full account, but here’s a rough sketch. Towards the tail end of 19th Century there was the so-called Methodenstreit>/em> that took place within German academic circles, particularly in relation to economics and historiography (this is where the whole nomothetic/ideographic distinction comes from, actually). The problem was how to justify that the social sciences were in fact sciences (and this debate led to the now common labels of Gesiteswissenschaften and Naturwissenschaften). There were a number of positions, but the basic battle lines were drawn as follows: one group argued that the social sciences ought to use the same methods as the natural sciences, and thus ought to produce something like natural laws for social interactions. Let’s call them the Nomotheticists (they include, naturalists, positivists, and some empiricists). Another group argued that the social sciences have distinct objects of study, which resist this kind of lawlike correlation. Let’s call them the Ideographers (most forms of Idealism fall into this category). Among the ‘Nomotheticist’ group were folks who thought that the basic laws that the social sciences were trying to formulate were psychological. Hence the logic of the social sciences was psychology (given the supplementary premises of naturalism and reduction, you get the idea that all of human behaviour can be reduced to the laws of psychology in the same way that all middle sized physical phenomena can be reduced to Newtonian Mechanics. With the Rise of Neo-Kantianism in Germany this view died out. I don’t know what happened in France, but I would speculate that the work of Piaget is probably only possible where some version of ‘Nomotheticism’ still dominated. IN England, JS Mill argued that the social sciences should reduce to psychological laws. Through a weird quirk in history (which involves, among other things, the uncanny convergence of German Idealism, Marxism and Freudian Psychoanalysis, all of which involve notions of the unconscious, the irrationality of some underlying drive, and the need for some hermeneutical, interpretive framework that can pierce mere semblance etc), psychoanalysis supplanted the cognitive psychology of folks like Wundt to become the new logic of the social sciences.

        I think your observation about pyschoanalysis’ popularity in English and French depts is evidence of this: it provides a method, or logic of interpretation that allows practitioners to sift through material, and to streamline or customize their interpretative techniques, while remaining consistent with some naturalized, historicized view of the world. Moreover, on top of providing a set of concepts, which purport to be consistent with empirical research and sciences (thus giving them an air of legitimacy), and which can identify and explain a wide range of interactions, psychoanalysis possesses a robust meta-language to justify and evaluate concrete instances of its own application.

        This last point brings us to my first point: metapsychology tries to provide a robust theory for why the interpretative practices work. It provides an account of its own success by offering a functional account of subjectivity that is responsive to contextual, environmental inputs. But such an account is absolutely no different from Kant’s transcendental theory of subjectivity. It’s just that the mechanisms are different.

        The basic problem, then, so far as I see it, is that the success of the psychoanalytic praxis should only be explainable in light of it’s transcendental theory. Or at least, any other explanation for the productiveness of the clinic needs to converge with the transcendental justification. Failing this, the metapsychology turns outt to be false, and the practice has no legitimate relationship to it.

        Anyway, this is a really long comment. I hop eit clarifies more than it obscures.

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 16 October 2009 @ 10:02 am

      • Short version of my last comment = “Yeah, what Asher said!”

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 16 October 2009 @ 10:08 am

      • Yours was more fun.

        “the uncanny convergence of German Idealism, Marxism and Freudian Psychoanalysis”

        That sounds like a subtitle for what would be a *very* interesting book. I wonder if anyone has written it.

        Like

        Comment by Asher Kay — 16 October 2009 @ 10:20 am

      • I think it’s the silent subtitle to everything Zizek has ever written….

        Like

        Comment by Alexei — 16 October 2009 @ 10:37 am

      • Alexei, your discourse on the history of the bifurcation in the social sciences reminds me of an anecdote from my grad school years. I was on the colloquium committee, so I got to hang out and have dinner with outside speakers. One invitee was Daniel Robinson, a philosophy professor from Georgetown who had a Ph.D. in neuropsychology and who is an expert in the history of philosophy. He strongly contended that empirical psychology ought to limit itself to the more biologically grounded subfields like neurology and sensation. Everything else — social, developmental, cognitive — was philosophy and sham science. He was a great character (no doubt he still is): sharp, deep, opinionated, funny. I remember playing straight man to Robinson at dinner. At the time I was working on AI and expert systems and so on. So I said, “You know, Dr. Robinson, there are computers that can simulate human thought processes;” to which Robinson replied, “I wish I knew more humans who could simulate human thought processes.” Lols all around the table at that one.

        Like

        Comment by john doyle — 16 October 2009 @ 11:33 am

  6. Sure, make up a character, Asher. Make up a philosophy for him or her too while you’re at it. Have it take over the world. Your character can be a reluctant messiah who’s killed because he realizes that the philosophy he’s promulgated and that has captivated the world is just a bunch of made-up shit. And then he escapes his own death and heads into the wilderness where he becomes a counter-philosophical icon, gradually attracting a whole new crowd of acolytes. No no, don’t you see, I’m STILL making shit up. But they won’t listen; they make him a relucant messiah exactly contrary to the role he played before. He’s become his own doppelganger. And so he takes up the clarinet and joins a marching band, seeking to escape the fate that seems to have hold of him. But then the band leader invents a worldview based on twelve-tone harmonics… Wait. What were we talking about?

    Like

    Comment by john doyle — 12 October 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  7. Ignore that last comment please.

    Like

    Comment by john doyle — 12 October 2009 @ 7:34 pm

  8. I hope you’re a fan of Monty Python as that very common storyline has also been played up by them in the “Life of Brian” thingy.

    Like

    Comment by samcarr — 13 October 2009 @ 1:21 am

  9. eloise for nearly three years now you’ve been oscillating between dysphoria and elation; do you draw any jouissance from this self-inflicted Inferno?

    Like

    Comment by the voice of parodic reason — 14 October 2009 @ 1:59 pm

  10. Which one of these two moods do you detect in this particular post, vopr?

    Like

    Comment by john doyle — 14 October 2009 @ 2:34 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: