Oops--sorry Joseph. I didn't see your prior entry. My apologies.
Hi Everyone--I was just wondering if anyone else has seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? I just saw it this weekend and I thought it raised some interesting issues that really resonated with the stuff we've been talking about in class. In particular, there are these scenes in which Jim Carrey's brain is represented on a computer screen. His "bad memories" are mapped out by pixels and a couple of technicians are responsible for going through this map and deleting (literally pressing a delete button) these memories from his brain. The idea that the human and the computer here are so symbiotic--that the delete button has an immediate impact on the body--put me in mind of Hayles and the posthuman ... mostly, I suppose, because the computer seems to be a type of prosthetic extension. Most critics I have read see the movie as an exploration of consciousness, but I think that it also offers an interesting vision of how we might imagine technology as embodied (or the body as technology for that matter). I wonder what this movie will look like to audiences in fifty years--prophetic or ridiculous? Anyhow, I was just wondering if anyone else saw it and had the same feeling.
I think the ending of The Bug also has much in common with what happens in the movie, but maybe some people didn't finish the book yet, so I won't go on. In any case, I loved the movie and I hope somebody else out there wants to talk about it.
Anyone else happen onto this site? Pretty cool! Can't seem to make it a live link -- sorry. Someone will have to tutor me in doing so. But you can cut and paste.
Photos from our Pyramid Atlantic letterpress course this past weekend (that's my wife, Kari). Click any of the images for a more detailed look.
Type in a California Job Case and a galley tray.
Drawers of type with two small platten presses.
Language in the palm of my hand (12-point type).
Using a composing stick.
A bit further along.
Standing type (note the blanks for white space).
Locking up (the type is transferred from the composing stick to the bed of the press and wedged in place by the small pieces of wood, called "furniture").
The pressure on the furniture is reinforced by tightening the quoin key.
At last we're ready to pull the press!
Where the furniture, quoins, and quoin keys are kept.
Two tiny little platten presses.
The fruit of our labor (excerpt from Ovid's Metamorphoses, as translated by John Dryden--a passage from the Procne and Philomela myth).
Outside Pyramid Atlantic on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.
Link to a local copy (PDF required).
I just wanted to mention that I went up to NYC this week, and I stopped by the Public Library to see the exhibit that included an original copy of Agrippa (one of 95, I think they said). It was somewhat diminished by the fact that the exhibit was being shown in the same room as the goddamn Gutenberg Bible, but as an object, the book really carries a weight of apparent significance. It's an oversized book, with an artificially aged cloth cover that looks as though it's been buried for at least a century. It's wrapped in a shroud -- the curators had draped it quite fetchingly over the cover -- and nestled in a weird black box with a sort of metal corrugation on the inside (you can get a decent idea of it here). From my description, a friend said "So it looks like someone travelled back in time from a dystopian future to bury it in a tomb," which is exactly accurate. They didn't have the book open, but next to it was the disk with the poem, which somehow looked like old tech too even though all 3.5" floppies should look basically the same. The card by the book said that the poem's encryption, like the subject matter of the sometimes-photosensitive engravings, was supposed to be based on the DNA code... I don't think we heard that in class, but everything about the book is basically apocryphal. Anyway, it's really a neat thing to see, and if anyone's in New York while the Ninety from the Nineties exhibit is still up, you should stop by during the Library's ludicrously shortened hours.
Also, of interest from The Bug... Neubauten is playing here on 4/23. Heh heh. Anyone want to go? We can dress up like androgynous sysadmins.
"If you have an AOL Instant Messenger account, send an IM to InfocomBot, InfocomBot2, or InfocomBot3. I set up an automated bot to play classic Infocom text adventure games from your favorite IM client, T-Mobile Sidekick, or any other device that connects to AIM. It supports "save" and "restore" commands, so you don't need to lose your place."
There was a really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (for which I can't provide a link because I don't subscribe online) about Avatars. It appeared in Monday's paper, page R4. The point of the article is that online virtual alter egos are big business in Korea, where 3.6 million Koreans shop for everything from cosmetic surgery to clothing for their avatars. The passage that was most fascinating to me follows:
"These colorful avatars are proving to be a popular method of escapism and self-expression. Office drones who long for the slopes have their avatars merrily skiing down digital Matterhorns. Skinny youths who want to project a tough image might purchase stubble and scowling eyes for their online selves. Others might head in the opposite direction, to a virtual beauty shop where you can purchase a tan, blue eyes or a perm for less than a dollar."
The article goes on to say that the expansion of the personal avatar business is dependent on growing and maintaining online communities that are culture specific. There is quite a bit of growth also in the branded "products" available to these avatars like Levi Jeans and Nike sportswear that not only provide the avatar with chic clothing but enhance their performance in the gaming world.
Finally, and also very interesting to me, is that the products available for the avatar are time/season/current event specific. During the Sars outbreak, one could buy a mask for their avatar - so it wouldn't catch a virus? The line between the real and the virtual is really blurry.
I'll bring the article on Wednesday if anyone wants to see it.
it seems to me that i should feel a bit more comforted than i actually do after finishing the book. if one were looking for a narrative incarnation of Hayle's nightmare, i think one could find it in Ullman's story. maybe that's why it feels somewhat anti-climactic to me. Matt, i think you set us up! If i hadn't had Hayles and her post-human nightmare on the brain, i wouldn't have been expecting huge and cataclysmic results....
continued in extended entry to avoid spoiling it for anyone who hasn't finished....
not that Ethan hanging himself isn't huge and cataclysmic. but because it ends up being for nothing in the end (just a bug, after all...), and because it is complicated by personal issues (which i found a bit trite and "lifetime" movie-ish to use Ed's term...), maybe not even related to the Jester. And it's not like i even feel that bad for Ethan. I don't mean to sound heartless, but he wasn't the greatest of guys. though i do feel a pang of regret that after making this huge personal epiphany ("hey, i really was an asshole and perhaps Joanna had lots of reasons to hate me..."), he won't get the chance to redeem himself.
But that could be the narrative part of my brain wanting closure and happy endings that just aren't possible for someone like Ethan, someone so wrapped up in a world outside of most people's *reality*.
I guess for me, the lessons in this story seem a bit too simplified to really offer me comfort. I'm thinking back to our discussion last week of the *self* and where is it really located? where is our locus of control (if it even exists....)?
Ullman certainly isn't subtle about what she thinks. I understand how she can think that she is ultimately in control since the Jester really was solvable in the end. Was her ability to test such a simple loop (inregion) due to her inexperience with coding or due to her knowledge about Ethan and how his mind worked? in hindsight, it seems simple, but would she have ever thought to look there? What if that update never happened in just the right way? what if SM corp didn't decide to update the mouse driver right then? how much longer would the Jester have hung around? showing up when least expected and never on demand? how many more people might have ended up in Ethan's shoes? Berta certainly seems like she could have headed that same direction without much prodding...
I'm rambling here, but since I don't have the book in front of me, i'm having to deal in generalities based on what i remember....so excuse the randomness of my thoughts... i'll stop torturing whoever is brave enough to have read on...
Haven't read it myself yet -- just read the review on Sunday, March 21, but you can see why the title caught my eye! (Anyone familiar with author Lev Grossman?)
In her review in the New York Times Sunday Book Section, POLLY SHULMAN writes, "Is the ''Viage'' a manuscript? Is it an incunable -- a book made in the first 50 years of printing? Is it nothing more than an 18th-century rewriting of a genuine 14th-century source text, done up in fake, ye-olde language -- ''like a novelization of a movie based on a novel,'' as Margaret, the sexy grad student, puts it? Is it a literary forgery like the similarly named ''Culex,'' which claimed to be Virgil's juvenilia, or the similarly themed ''Travels of Sir John Mandeville''? Could it be what bibliographers call a ghost -- a book that has been documented but never actually existed?
If ''Codex'' can trace its parentage on one side to self-referential writers like Laurence Sterne or Borges, on the other side it's descended from the computer game Tomb Raider and its movie versions, the Lara Croft series. (In fact, I kept imagining Angelina Jolie as Margaret.) A second line of narrative runs parallel to the book hunt, heading off to meet it in the distance like a pair of railroad tracks, and taking us into territory well mapped by members of the cyberpunk school of science fiction, such as Neal Stephenson and William Gibson.
To read the entire review, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/21/books/review/21SHULMT.html
(If you're not already registered with the online Times, you will have to register first -- it's easy and free.)
I know I've been flogging the blog a lot lately, but I can't help but feel compassion for hungry blogs.
A couple things.
1. I'd like to plug a new media object, namely a film: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's about an outfit that erases memories, focusing particularly on two characters in a failed love affair who decide to erase their memories of each other. The reason I plug it here is that the film basically depicts the brain--or perhaps more specifically, the memory--as a database that can be manipulated by means of a computer interface. It also depicts the memory as a virtual space, as one of the characters undergoing the memory replacement therapy races through his memory database, dragging along his memory of his ex--who he decides he doesn't want to erase after all--trying to find a memory from his childhood where he can hide her (great scene).
I also think it's significant that this film is more-or-less billed as a "Charlie Kaufman" film, who is the screenwriter, not the director (he also wrote Being John Malkovich and Adaptation). Could it be that the ascendancy of this particular scribbler--an auteur in the original sense of the word, though in the past fifty years the word has become associated almost exclusively with movie directors, not writers per se--is due to the closer synergy of verbal and visual in new media productions?
2. As a probably-not-the-last word on transhumanity, I would like to offer this mordant cautionary tale from Kurt Vonnegut Jr., from The Sirens of Titan:
"Once upon a time on Tralfamadore there were creatures who weren't anything like machines. They weren't dependable. They weren't efficient. They weren't predictable. They weren't durable. And these poor creatures were obsessed by the idea that everything that existed had to have a purpose, and that some purposes were higher than others.
"These creatures spent most of their time trying to find out what their purpose was. And every time they found out what seemed to be a purpose of themselves, the purpose seemed so low that the creatures were filled with disgust and shame.
"And, rather than serve such a low purpose, the creatures would make a machine to serve it. This left the creatures free to serve higher purposes. But whenever they found a higher purpose, the purpose still wasn't high enough.
"So machines were made to serve higher purposes, too.
"And the machines did everything so expertly that they were finally given the job of finding out out what the highest purpose of the creatures could be. The machines reported in all honesty that the creatures couldn't really be said to have any purpose at all.
"The creatures thereupon began slaying each other, because they hated purposeless things above all else.
"And they discovered that they weren't even very good at slaying. So they turned that job over to the machines, too. And the machines finished up the job in less time than it takes to say, 'Tralfamodore'" (274-275).
Vonnegut, Kurt. The Sirens of Titan. New York: Dell Publishing, 1959.
I was thinking about the whole database versus narrative tension that Joseph brought up in the (his) last post to the blog. I'd like to continue the discussion and interrogation of Manovich in a slightly different vein. (In a way I guess, we're building narrative and database at the same time since this post narratively connects to Joe's entry as well as digitally creates two separate entries in the blog database.)
I was thinking about the start of the semester and our encounter with Ong. I was also thinking about "digital" texts like the I Ching. Basically, I'm wondering if it can be argued that in orality there can be a comfortable collaboration or interdependency between database and narrative.
Homeric storytellers did not have written records of the Iliad or the Odyssey. The stories were passed down from one storyteller to another and often in what we today would call "episodes." Therefore, in a session, a storyteller would recount the fall of Patroklos or the pouting of Achilles or the routing of Troy. Furthermore, the poets of Homer's day also had a battery of poetic tropes, devices, mnemonics, and stock phrases, passages, and descriptions to aid in the memory of the sagas. Therefore, to tell the Iliad or Odyssey, required access to episodic and poetic databases and access to the databases allowed for the spinning of narrative. Furthermore, tellings did not always have to follow the chronological thread of the tale. Audiences often clamored to hear past episodes again or the storyteller will pick and choose tellings that may be temporally discontinous.
Another example of the orality = narrative + database is the use of tarot cards (or i ching or rune casting) used for divination (and sometimes for storytelling). Typically, a deck of tarot cards has 72 cards. Depending on the divination, the "spread" or configuration and number of cards will vary. But here is a practice where the drawing of a number of cards, literally dipping into the database, is part of the creation of narrative, the fortunetelling story. Each card has its base meanings; each card has its own story. However, when strung together, when informed by the (extrasensory) perception of the reader, and the questions of the querent, the cards become narrative.
For example, if I were to do a very basic three card reading for Matt:
The first card represents the past. The central card is the present. And the third card is the future.
Looking at these three cards, drawing on my own experience and awareness (perhaps Jung would argue that the collective unconscious is a database that informs the narrative of our lives and dreams), I would offer up this narrative:
"Matt, I sense that recently you are coming out of a period of relative calm, consideration, and balance. The forces of your life have been in check. That is not to say that you have not been active, creative, or busy. But that things have been even and sailing has been smooth. Currently, you are being asked to apply your judgement to important matters. Someone has asked you a difficult question and you feel, at times, caught between two friends. Depending on the balanced energy of the recent past, you are equipped to handle this difficult question. I would say that the matter concerns family life rather than professional or civic life. Moving into the future, the calm energy is going to become capricious, a bit more chaotic. Someone younger than you, perhaps one of the people invovled in the aforementioned question, will act against your advice (or judgement) with risky consquences. As a side note, it is not the right time to invest in a pet."
Narrative, yes? The use of tarot cards is a primarily oral activity; though I suppose you could argue that it borders on becoming literate since there are cards (even earliest cards did not contain text). What do we think about this?
Matt asked me to elaborate on some things following my presentation on narrative and database last Wednesday.
For initial comments, read on. Or to skip directly to the "creative component," follow this URL [NOTE: the material is kind of R-rated. So if you're in a G-rated kind of mood...]:
Text proper starts here.
I’m a big-time narrative guy. Before beginning the doctoral program at Maryland, I was in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Maryland. I have one novel nearly finished and hope to write quite a few more. At the same time, I make my living as a practitioner of the digital arts, as a graphic and web designer, and in addition have a number of “new media” projects in the works. All this (narrative) is to say is that I’m very deeply invested in the distinctions and relationship between narrative and database that our friend Lev Manovich discusses in The Language of New Media.
Initially, when I read Manovich’s chapter on narrative and database, I was a confused. I found him a little fast-and-loose with his terms and his argumentation muddy. After all, he calls database and narrative “correlates” (218), “complementary” (223), and “symbiotic” (223), but then later calls them “natural enemies” (225) and “two competing imaginations…two essential responses to the world” (233). So are they symbiotic or natural enemies? Or could they be both, symbiotic enemies, as it were? I think just that possibility alone is enough to forgive Manovich his verbal prestidigitation and spur one to slog through his muddy argumentation. And then find that perhaps he is not so tricky, and his argumentation not so muddy, after all.
From my reading, there are three different ways to see the relationship between narrative and database.
1. One is a parallel, non-interacting relationship. This, of course, is the traditional—or pre-digital-age—relationship between the narrative and database. I do my work on the computer, creating a web page using a number of different multimedia elements, dipping into myriads of databases as I do so; but when I want a narrative, I step away from the computer and I pick up a book—Jane Austen’s Emma, for instance—and read. In this sense, the database and the narrative are “two competing imaginations.”
2. But, as we know, we can’t keep these two competing imaginations from stepping on each other’s toes. It’s possible, even, to teach them how to dance with each other. This is the second way of looking at the relationship between database and narrative: as an interactive, “complementary” relationship. It is a relationship between a database and an algorithm that acts upon that database. Manovich cites the computer game as an example of such a relationship. “In a game, the player is given a well-defined task—winning the match, being first in a race, reaching the last level, or attaining the highest score. It is this task that allows the player to experience the game as a narrative” (222). The task is an algorithm that constructs a story-line for the player, out of the possibilities offered by the game-makers and/or masters, said possibilities comprising the database.
For Manovich, the exemplar par excellence for this interactive relationship is film. “Cinema already exists right at the intersection between database and narrative,” (237). This is particularly true of the film editing process, as the editor creates a narrative by splicing together film-stock. “During editing, the editor constructs a film narrative out of this database, creating a unique trajectory through the conceptual space of all possible films that could have been constructed,” (237).
I have two small quibbles with this particular part of Manovich’s discussion. One is that he cites Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera as the ultimate example of the merging of narrative and database. But then, in doing so, he seems to conflate “narrative” with “argument”: “Vertov’s film [is] motivated by a particular argument, which is that the new techniques of obtaining images and manipulating them…can be used to decode the world.” I have no problem with this argument except to say that it is an argument and not a narrative per se. I do not find Manovich’s conflation helpful—rather the opposite: the relationship between rhetoric and database is quite different than that between narrative and database, and deserves its own realm of discussion.
My second quibble is this: if a film editor can create a narrative out of a database of film-stock (or, more figuratively, “a unique trajectory through...conceptual space ”), than why can’t a book editor (including the author-as-editor) create a book out of a database of words, themes, genres, or so-called grand, or cultural, narratives? In this sense, the narrative-database relationship pre-dates the new media moment, which is partially what I was trying to get at with our in-class exercise.
3. A third way of discussing the relationship between database and narrative is to see their roles reversed. This brings us to the discussion of paradigm and syntagm, and Manovich’s insight that in new media, the two switch places. In new media, the “[d]atabase (the paradigm) is given material existence, while narrative (the syntagm) is dematerialized” (231).
I thought our work in class, looking at the two different 9-11 websites (particularly "Mr. Beller's Neighborhood") showed quite well how this works. Instead of being given upfront an authored, or “authorized,” story, we’re given a database of stories to choose from, from which we (the reader) must do most of the heavy-lifting, narratively-speaking. In that sense, the author is really the constructor of the database, and the reader is the constructor of the story. This foregrounds the freedom of the reader, but also strips the “authority” from the author, such that in new media we may need to discard the term “author” altogether—which is, as Foucault pointed out, merely a social construct after all, which chimerically changes (or disappears) given differing social realities.
Which finally brings me to the “creative component” of this discussion, mentioned above. Manovich’s insight on the paradigm-syntagm reversal in new media has caused me to re-work one of my primitive new media creations. I “published” it online a few months ago, and spent a lot of time thinking about the multimedia aspect of the project (photographs at this stage), but very little on the database aspect—until now. Inspired by Manovich, I’ve created another version of my story, one which foregrounds the database and backgrounds the linear story-line, creating in effect another “interface” to my database of narrative “possibilities.” I offer to you the option of choosing the linear version or the database version. You may make your choice by following the link below.
There's been a request for information on the short paper that is due later in the semester. Below is the basic assignment, which met with much success last year. It will give you the gist of what I have in mind, though I reserve the right to fiddle with it a bit. The "official" version of the assignment will be circulated at least two weeks before the due date.
Choose a single selection from either the short fiction or the long poetry section of the Electronic Literature Organization’s Electronic Literature Directory:
Write a 5-7 page paper that performs a close reading of the work you have selected.
Not all works in the Directory are equally interesting or equally accessible, so you should spend some time looking around and try to choose wisely; don’t be afraid to abandon your choice and look again if the first work you selected isn’t panning out.
For a brief explanation of close reading, see Jack Lynch:
A few additional words about the goal of the assignment. Though unfashionable in the current day and age, a close reading exercise will allow us to take seriously the notion that words on the screen can be subjected to literary analysis that is every bit as rigorous and rewarding as words on the page. However, Lynch’s guideposts above—diction, verb forms, word order—are necessary but not sufficient for close reading on the screen. Some other aspects of the text to consider might therefore include: images, sound, links, motion/animation, code.
The most successful papers will be those that eschew general musings on the nature of electronic literature and instead dive right into a detailed close reading, filled with examples and quotations, perhaps even screenshots, of the text at hand. The emphasis throughout should be on interweaving description and interpretation. If you have the technical knowledge, you should also feel free to discuss the relationship between the language/software used to create the work and the way it performs as a literary text.
Incidentally, you may download a free trial version of a good screengrab program for the PC here: http://www.snagit.com
Papers submitted as online HTML are welcome, but not expected.
Last year the class published a selection of papers online. I'd like to do that again this year, if people are willing and interested.
Also, William Gibson has an official home page (and a blog, though he no longer updates).
"Whenever I give talks about games, discuss game definitions or simply mention the fact that games have rules, part of the audience always looks like all the alarms are going off inside their heads. The alarms are going off mostly because much structuralism (say, Propp, Greimas, Levi-Strauss) assumed that all texts really consisted of objective formal structures. The goal of the theorist was then simply to prove that a specific text also had the kind of formal structure that the theory predicted. This of course ignored the small matter of interpretation as well as the pleasures of the reader, and made for some pretty far-fetched readings of literature and film. Very broadly speaking, literary deconstruction and poststructuralism was then a reaction against this, emphasizing the act of reading, the act of interpretation, reader experiences, and the instability of texts.
This is the history that makes a lot of people automatically assume that if anybody talks about rules, structure, or definitions, they must be ignoring the experiences of the user. But the problem is that while this to a large extent is true with literature or film - if you reduce a novel to a semiotic square, almost everything interesting is lost - it is completely wrong when it comes to games.
Games are pleasurable because they are rule-based, because they are well-defined (and definable). It is the formal nature of games that makes them fun. In this case, games are complete reversals of what you may expect if you come from literary theory. If you ignore the rule-based nature of games, their well-definedness, or the kind of formal challenging systems that they are, you will be at loss to understand why games are fun, and you will be completely ignoring the experiences of the player. As I’ve said elsewhere: Games are formal systems that provide informal experiences."
All of this is in response to the post-conference blogging of the recent Princeton conference; if you want to follow that discussion, here's a good place to begin.
Over the weekend, I came across a couple items in the Washington Post that touch upon our recent readings in 668K.
1. Brain Pacemakers
"A handful of scientists around the world have begun cautiously experimenting with devices implanted in patients' bodies to deliver precisely targeted electrical stimulation to the brain in hopes of treating otherwise hopeless behavioral, neurological and psychiatric disorders" (from the introductory paragraph).
Just another indication that the posthuman cyborg, the "technobio-integrated circuit" (Hayles 27), has already arrived.
But where will this technology take us? To a world without mental illness or one of clockwork oranges?
Read the article (NOTE: if not already signed up, you'll need to sign up with the Post's free online service):
2. Believe in Your Emails
According to Richard Morin, in his "Unconventional Wisdom" column in the Sunday Outlook section, people are twice as likely to lie over the telephone than in emails, this according to a study by Jeffrey Hancock of Cornell University.
The bare stats: 37 percent of telephone conversations, 27 of face-to-face conversations, 21 percent of instant messages, and 14 percent of emails, involved some lying.
I thought this interesting in the light of the conventional wisdom that the more conversation is mediated by technology, the more likely lying will be involved (sleazy chat-room pick-ups, etc.).
Does this mean the posthuman will be (is) more honest, or that as our thinking becomes algorithmic, and as our brains come to more resemble databases, we will communicate more often in binaries ("yes" or "no", 0 or 1)?
Read the article:
3. Zippy the Pinhead
My favorite posthuman commentator on the posthuman condition is Zippy the Pinhead, who's strip is syndicated daily in the Washington Post (but not on Sunday, in color, alas). I've attached a strip to this post. If you'd like to see more, you can go to the website:
The Society for Textual Scholarship, which holds a fine biennial interdisciplinary conference I've attended multiple times, has issued its 2005 CFP. Recommended.
Call for Papers
The Society for Textual Scholarship
President: W. Speed Hill, Emeritus, City University of New York
Executive Director: Richard J. Finneran, University of Tennessee
Thirteenth Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference
March 16-19, 2005, New York University
Program Chair: Theresa Tinkle, University of Michigan
Deadline for Proposals: October 31, 2004
The Program Chair invites the submission of full panels or individual papers devoted to the implications of contemporary textual scholarship: the discovery, description, bibliographical analysis, editing, and annotation of texts (be they musical, verbal, visual, etc.). The Program Chair is particularly interested in papers and panels on the following topics, aimed at a broad, interdisciplinary audience:
. digital text and editing projects,
. the marketing of books and digital texts,
. texts for teaching-challenges and opportunities,
. property rights,
. gender and editing.
Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length. Panels should consist of three papers. Individual proposals should include a brief abstract (one or two pages) of the proposed paper as well as the name, e-mail address, and institutional affiliation of the participant. Panel proposals should include a session title, the name of a designated contact person for the session, the names, e-mail addresses, and institutional addresses and affiliations of each person involved in the session, and a one- or two-page abstract of each paper to be presented during the session.
Abstracts should indicate what (if any) technological support will be requested. Such support may be limited, so please request only what is truly needed.
Inquiries and proposals should be sent to:
Associate Professor Theresa Tinkle, Program Chair
Society for Textual Scholarship
Department of English Language and Literature
University of Michigan
3187 Angell Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003
FAX: (734) 763-3128
Email: tinkle @ umich.edu
All participants in the STS 2005 conference must be members of STS. For information about membership, please contact Secretary-Treasurer Nancy M. Goslee, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
37996-0430 (firstname.lastname@example.org). For conference updates, see the STS
Because I keep talking about it, I thought I'd post the links to some information on transhumanism for everybody to take a look at. What caught my eye in particular was the faq's definition and separation of the idea of human/posthuman, that to be "posthuman" was (and here's a direct disagreement with Hayle) an altered physical state as different from our current states and processing abilities "as humans to primates":
"Some authors write as though simply by changing our self-conception, we have become or could become posthuman. This is a confusion or corruption of the original meaning of the term. The changes required to make us posthuman are too profound to be achievable by merely altering some aspect of psychological theory or the way we think about ourselves. Radical technological modifications to our brains and bodies are needed." (from the FAQ: http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/faq.html#whatistranshumanism)
Sure, it's a lot of sci-fiesque conjecturing, but the tracking of the new tech on the page is certainly neat, and I think the perspectives might warrant some interesting discussion. Or, maybe you think they're just cracked. :)
I am rather sold on some of the ideas, myself, were they possible.
Kell--'net culture geek, finger on the button (but which button?!)
Alright folks-- here's the text from the "1984" commercial we watched in class:
"Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!"
Society for Cinema and Media Studies, this weekend in Atlanta.