Re: Computer chicken

Subject: Re: Computer chicken
From: Eliot Handelman (
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 18:04:19 EDT

Michael Gogins wrote:

>Or, _The Question Concerning Technology_ by Martin Heidegger.
>I would say that technology is constitutive of humanity -- another way of saying that humanity is the tool-using species.
Also (eg) crows

 Jesse the crow, for instance, built a hook using some wire lying around
to snag the morsel at the bottom of the bottle.

>At this point, technology has a deep history and an unconscious side, just like any other human tradition. The tool certainly conditions what you do with it, but you may not be aware of just how that works.

Probably not, because the "tool" is a medium through which you've
extended yourself,
bringing its nature under the cloud of personal unknowing as we strive to
protect our feelings of personal importance and uniqueness.

I was just reading Roger Fry last night on "bushman" art and he has a
rather interesting
argument. The bushman is able to drwa a gazelle from any angle whatever,
capturing midair leaps
which seemed wrong to europeans until they examined the motion of the
gazelle or reebock
in photo action sequences. Fry thought that the bushman had vastly
superior perception
than anyone in your run of the mill civilization -- he could really just
LOOK and see,
whereas we only take things in through a concept filter. In children's
drwaings, for instance,
only the conceptually important things are rep[resented: a child said,
"I think something and
then draw a line around the think." In our world, we depend on
intellect for survival
rather than perception and this leads to a hieroglyphc society where
things are only
ever symbols of value and nothing is real.

When we speak about the computer as "tool" we're making the fallacy, I
think. We're
bringing it under a conceptual rubric of value. We can't at all SEE
what's happening
because the protection of ideologies comes first and conditions what we


> What this means is what Heidegger was trying to deal with. I don't think he succeeded and I don't much care for Heidegger as either a person or as a philosopher, but at least he was trying, which is more than one can say about most philosophers.

I found Heidegger a tremendous consolation at a moment in my life when
the chaotic floodgates blew open. (they may still be a wee bit ajar.)

I doubt that H. is of any use to figuring out what computer music might
be. What really
blew me open was the atmosphere of Neuromancer, which I read back in the
late 80s. I fell in love with the whole pathos of our impending
self-alteration and through it I began to feel my way.

There's a sentence in Mona Lisa Overdrive that I absolutely love, though I
can't quote it exactly. The domestic AI is writing a novel and someone
asks, "what's it about?"
And the answer is, "oh it's not like that at all -- it loops into
itself, it's the kind of thing
that AI's do." An in one short image you have the whole history and
destiny of avant-garde art.

-- eliot

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b27 : Sat Dec 22 2007 - 01:46:12 EST