What is a television apparatus to man, who has only to shut his eyes to see the most inaccessible regions of the seen and the never seen, who has only to imagine in order to pierce through walls and cause all the planetary Baghdads of his dreams to rise from the dust. ª•¶ Salvador Dali
Every day I read, and yet, what remains? Sometimes it feels as though I am doing the very opposite: emptying my head. Not directly, not as simple as all that. The new „knowledge“ pours in through my eyes line by liquid line and immediately, Al Bundy‘s daughter-like, replaces some valuable previous knowledge. However, the new „knowledge“ turns out to be, not knowledge at all but rather raw information. That is to say it has no place to fit in within my pre-existing network of Wissen and, instead, flows out together with the knowledge it was going to wash out. The baby and the bathwater, everything is flushed down my mental drain. And replaced by horrible metaphors instead.
An alternative theory would be that I am becoming older and have a hard time retaining info and transforming it into knowledge of any recognizable kind. Certainly this is part of the stimulus of this blog: I can have a long patient [admittedly, patently, not patient but at least calm] look at the information I meant to transform into knowledge, consider it and try to make it somehow meaningful, to give it some fragmentary shape, connect it reasonably to what has come before.
Almost nobody will be willing to admit this but writing, as a matter of simple fact, is incredibly linear: you put one more word behind the last one, and so on and so forth. Post-Modernsters will raise a hue and cry, championing collage and flash-backs and flash-forwards but, even then, all of that only works because there are stretches [or areas] of continuity which our laughable little minds can grasp at to make at least little chunks of sense. Yes? No? Know? I don‘t know. One no‘es that one doesn‘t know.
The reason workaday thought is such a bloody mess, come to think of it, must be mostly because the sequence of the words [and images] is incredibly, stupendously random, never permitting even a dysmorphic narrative to arise. Under which circumstances then writing is like ever so slightly mending the heart-dropping, brain-popping massacre we tend to make of clear, comprehensible linearity in the course of everyday thinking. Little wonder information has a hard time becoming proper knowledge in that tornadic imbroglio. Which, all of the above, of course, is not the leastest of bits what I originally intended to write about. Urghkh! Even writing cannot escape the tornado‘s eventhorizon.
So many outlets must have written about C. Hebdo that this here is like adding a mol of hydrogen to the Universe. But in case this thought hasn‘t had an outlet yet: C.H.‘s most eager readers were probably those very killers. And: the protests that followed stood for intercultural communication, being mindful and the power of peace, while, ironically, sadly, C.H. stood mostly for juvenile provocation, cheap outrage. This is what adults should seriously imagine freedom of speech/the press to be?
Insulting everybody instead of insulting one particular group doesn‘t make defamation any better. Worse, if anything. Finally, C.H. did not really get anybody riled up except those most likely to repay it in suffering – what on earth could conceivably be the point in that? It just seems that the pouting wish for freedom to insult and to irritate and to slander [everybody!] is an infantile impulse coming at an inacceptable risk. It shouldn‘t be a risk but it is. There be crazy people.
Please to consider how this David Wallace insight about 90s TVs rather smoothly translates into our, what‘s the catchphrase, fakebook era [I‘m foolishly proud about still not knowing jack about how Instagram works]; though we must adjust for the TV-related timeblock he considers. Regardless, here goes:
For 360 minutes per diem, we receive unconscious [emend: hyperconscious] reinforcement of the deep thesis that the most significant quality of truly alive persons is watchableness, and that genuine human worth is not just identical with but rooted in the phenomenon of watching. [AsftIlnda, p.26]
However, in his iteration watchabelenss related to the moving charcaters on screen, while now it is more related, I suppose, to the static, cyclical pix and their concomitant micro-telegrams. There is a broadcast-ish air about FB, except that everybody is broadcasting all the time, calling for serious filtering action on the side of the recipients. Or else: filter failure.
This here still strikes me as one of D. Wallace‘s prime insights. It seems to come out in any encounter one ever has with any sort of special interest group [except perhaps lobbyists, maybe even them].
Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests. [AsftIlnda, p.37]
And so TV via Internet or packaged as boxset, as demonstrated by HBO, can cater to just such refined interest groups and thereby aggregate their numbers and make the invested buck well-worth its televisional bang. As the seasons pass!
Though lately, due to cortex-enriching [inflating?] insights and sublimescent sentence wizzardry, I‘ve come down much more on the side of fiction than social-sci or science writing, yesterday, out of the colorless depths of [buddha forgive me] …ugh… the Amazonian, I once again had the privilege of reading pure, non-fi goodness. Moreover, I had partially myself to blame as I indulged in fascinating but overly detailed art theory [B. Taylor says ,hi‘] and half-baked pop science, which of course never could hold any type of metaphorical or other candle to serious lit. All the while Capital in the 21st just sits there on the bottom shelf, silently signifying „J‘accuse!“, even though this sun-spin its the one tome I‘ve more-or-less staked my soul on reading to the sweet finish.
Anyway, I was saying non-fi, I was meaning Rorty:
[Philosophy and Social Hope, p. xxv]
Reading this quote a second time I am surprised by a number of more things than I initially was: A) It is very lucid for contradicting the nigh commonsensical belief in the intrinsic value of truth B) It elegantly and whiplashingly avoids the kettle of crabs of competing explanations, theories, ideologies, etcetera which all would make claim to coming closer to the „truth“ than their rivals C) It sounds superbly true, that is, it floors intuition D) It evades the fickle issue that there is lack of agreement among human beings precisely about the actual nature of what is „the truth“ E) I think what Rorty is saying that collaboration within „the real“ is more important than representation of „the real – the latter will lead to many futile debates, at least among philosophers, finally, F) Inquiry, often enough, is simply interested in the thing per se and not as an object of further collective coordination. So then in my mind, this pragmatic stance raises as many problems as it solves, which is the way of philosophy and all epistemology, to the best of my provisional knowledge.
Aye but no, I don‘t beg to disagree but simply do. Mostly because we are genuinely mysteries unto ourselves, unknowable to the degree that we do not know how we will unfold into our own futures, especially given the absolute absence of ceteris paribus. What part of our individual entelechy will circumstance and our willpower allow us to unfold? We simply do not know and for the most part, we are terribly curious. What happens next… to me, with me, by me?
And there is not just the question of the unknowable future [which suggests, if not a core, then at least another person: the future self] but also that of, pragmatists fasten your seat-belts, the part of our consciousness beyond words and beliefs. Reality or not reality, it leads to coordination of ourselves with others. At any given time we might, so to speak, return from our inner mines with emotions, images, dreams, simply new material to be transmogrified into [insufficient] words and even if they are just tools, these words, they are tools that then reveal „new“, „unknown“ aspects of one‘s self. This does not necessarily amount to a radically different personality, another person inside but it gives an account of why our significant others go on an expedition of something unknown inside us – they wish to understand us as much as themselves, to cast radiant words in the dark.
Perhaps what the author is referring to is the belief, here and there, now and then, that, maybe, a person might be radically different once we get to know them better, that the words and behaviors will alter in irrecognizable ways if they just probe deeply enough. But then the last sentence still does not compute: I am what I appear to be from the outside [?]. Maybe this crass, unbidden reductionism refers to something deeper in the story, namely the devious cloning of the protagonists by Area X. Yet it are these Doppelgaengers fullbodied interiority, their confusion about memories their own and not, their conflicting emotions, which add to the extraordinary creepitude of the trilogy.