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Higgins
02-13-2007, 03:07 AM
Lots of machinery proliferating: writing machines, talking machines, intelligent machines, machines that want to be writers, machines that
keep you cosmic in the other world...the world of the dead, the world of the Other.

I've already pointed out that for a machine, just writing a good story is not enough...a good writing machine must really want to be an writer, otherwise we will not be very impressed -- we will just say the machine is a writing machine -- why, even a big advance means nothing to your average writing machine...but if the machine can not only write, but it really wants to be a writer, we must admit it is much smarter than the average machine (whose intelligence is undoubtedly "artificial" and perhaps unconsciously motivated in some way of which it is unaware) and will probably be going places, if only as a machine. I suppose a machine is never a wannabe machine, just as Pinocchio was never a wannabee puppet...so that is something.

Oddly enough, Lacan and Freud and ETA Hoffman (the PDQ Bach of musical Romanticism) all have a fair amount to say about automata. Of course, the first thing any romantic does is to "fall in love" with the nearest automaton. This leads to a one-sided misunderstanding.

OR see Freud on that and the other disturbing features of the "uncanny" or automata....

http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/uncanny1.htm

Which brings us to one of the oldest types of writing machines: the temple, cenotaph, tomb complex. At first glance, what can you say: seen one Bronze Age mega-complex, you've seen 'em all? And where is the writing exactly? Is it fixed like any decent piece of writing or does it wobble all over and get stuff on your car? ("Hey, don't get stuff on my car!"...you can practice that part at home) Or is it sort of like a car already? That already has a lot of stuff on it? Not like your car at all? Perhaps its more of a sarcophagus?
It only happens to look like you and your car. Strange.

But is it really that strange? As Freud says (op cit):

The theme of the ‘double’ has been very thoroughly treated by Otto Rank (1914). He has gone into the connections which the ‘double’ has with reflections in mirrors, with shadows, with guardian spirits, with the belief in the soul and with the fear of death; but he also lets in a flood of light on the surprising evolution of the idea. For the ‘double’ was originally an insurance against the destruction of the ego, an ‘energetic denial of the power of death,’ as Rank says; and probably the ‘immortal’ soul was the first ‘double’ of the body. This invention of doubling as a preservation against extinction has its counterpart in the language of dreams, which is found of representing castration by a doubling or multiplication of a genital symbol. The same desire led the Ancient Egyptians to develop the art of making images of the dead in lasting materials. Such ideas, however, have sprung from the soil of unbounded self-love, from the primary narcissism which dominates the mind of the child and of primitive man. But when this stage has been surmounted, the ‘double’ reverses its aspect. From having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes the uncanny harbinger of death.


Sheesh! Frightening! But where is the automation and the writing? And what about that "found of" for fond of....(who really wants to say "fond of representing castration"?)

ColoradoGuy
02-13-2007, 04:50 AM
I thought you believed "writer" to be a useless signifier? Or, can a machine wear one or your turtlenecks?

Medievalist
02-13-2007, 05:00 AM
. . .

You've perfectly captured why I hate critical theory

Thank you.

Higgins
02-13-2007, 05:38 AM
I thought you believed "writer" to be a useless signifier? Or, can a machine wear one or your turtlenecks?


"Writer" ...useful in its "extensive" meaning (ie something that literally writes)

Likely to be worse than useless in any "intensive" meaning (that excludes for example machines or some uncanny cases that I'm thinking about).

The reason is that the extensive meaning really is neutral and the intensive meanings lead to contradictory cross-cutting of different areas of signification (see point de capiton)

Higgins
02-13-2007, 05:39 AM
You've perfectly captured why I hate critical theory

Thank you.

It's not pretty.

Higgins
02-13-2007, 05:56 PM
I thought you believed "writer" to be a useless signifier? Or, can a machine wear one or your turtlenecks?

As is the case with many of our best machine fantasies, it's not a matter of whether you could throw a turtleneck on a machine, but of whether you can convince yourself that the machine really wants one.

In the "What is Uncanny Writing?" prop department: today we favor the pipe, because today we ask ourselves: what about hieroglyphics that you cannot read?

We can almost see it now: the big attractions at the Valley of the Kings, some Ramasside tomb, fabled since Antiquity finally visited by the French 1799 expedition (who still cannot read Hieroglyphics since the Rosetta Stone is found later when the English arrive on the Coast) and here come the savants, puffing away madly on pipes full of the extremely potent local tobacco, each like his own little train of thought. They get some way down into the vast tomb and cannot read a thing, though they are surrounded by writing. They come to the sacred well or shaft that blocks their way deeper...but they cannot see to the bottom. Luckily they have some supply requisition forms with them (initialled by Desaix even) and they crumple these up and light them off their well-stoked pipes and throw them into the well to see how deep it is. In 1979, these illuminating textual gestures are finally brought to light and "decyphered"....

Medievalist
02-13-2007, 08:02 PM
Please God No

C.bronco
02-13-2007, 08:20 PM
It sounds like you need a robo-psychologist, Sokal, if you want your writing machine to desire success in writing and respond to external motivation (i.e. payment).

My attention span isn't long enough to digest anything after your third paragraph. Were they philosophical terms or just non-sequitors?

You'd better read this before you start tinkering with microchips:
The Three Laws of Robotics are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through
inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings
except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such
protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Higgins
02-13-2007, 08:39 PM
It sounds like you need a robo-psychologist, Sokal, if you want your writing machine to desire success in writing and respond to external motivation (i.e. payment).

My attention span isn't long enough to digest anything after your third paragraph. Were they philosophical terms or just non-sequitors?

You'd better read this before you start tinkering with microchips:
The Three Laws of Robotics are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through
inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings
except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such
protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Hmmmmmmmm....I was thinking more along the lines of the uncanny scariness of partial things that act on their own. As Freud says in "The Uncanny" (cited above):

"Dismembered limbs, a severed head, a hand cut off at the wrist, as in a fairy tale of Hauff’s, feet which dance by themselves, as in the book by Schaeffer which I mentioned above — all these have something peculiarly uncanny about them, especially when, as in the last instance, they prove capable of independent activity in addition. "

So I'm thinking not so much of machines as agents with rules, but machines as manifestations of the labyrinthine aspects of human desire and its associated anxieties, things which are often manifest in the sensation of the uncanniness (wierd scariness) of certain "scenarios": automata, doubles, ghosts, tombs full of writing, ruined temples...its pretty Gothic now that I think about it.

C.bronco
02-13-2007, 10:46 PM
Gotcha.
I guess the fascination with it stems from our fear of the unknown and fear of that which we can not control. So many episodes of The Twilight Zone seem to operate on that theme: your "uncanny manifestations of the psyche."

Higgins
02-14-2007, 11:22 PM
Gotcha.
I guess the fascination with it stems from our fear of the unknown and fear of that which we can not control. So many episodes of The Twilight Zone seem to operate on that theme: your "uncanny manifestations of the psyche."

I'm trying to be more Lacanian, so if I'm not entirely sure what messed up mental stuff is going on, I blame anything but the brain or the psyche..."Hey, something's lacking in the Real! I'm experiencing a symptomatic dislocation and it looks like there was a thing there and now its just a box of tissues or fissures or sutures....no Really"

The Lacanian "Real" was pretty cool before he tried to formulate it in really bad pseudomathematics (after say 1973)...which makes Encore (with Bernini' s St Theresa in Ecstasy) seminar XX the last decent Lacanian seminar...IMHO.

Anyway, in 1964 (Seminar XI or so "Four Fundamental..."), the automatic things turn up along with Freud's uncanny inability to stay away from prostitutes whenever he gets "Lost in Italy"....and a Lucky aspect of the Real (tuche, some sort of Greek "good fortune")...but that is when the Real is still neato and hasn't been explained as the mathematical equivalent of "the impossibility of everything always going down the same drain every time"...so true and yet so not neato or REAL.

Source of seminar number:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Lacan

List of Seminars:

http://www.lacan.com/seminars1a.htm

Bravo
02-17-2007, 11:38 AM
You've perfectly captured why I hate critical theory

Thank you.

no.

thank you