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Showing posts from January, 2016

Vitruvius Pollio, The origin of the dwelling house

Chapter 1 of Book II of "Ten Books on Architecture", available from Project Gutenberg.  Sections 1, 2, and 7 (from the Richard Schofield translation published by Penguin rather than the one here) are quoted on pp. 218-219 of Spheres II by Peter Sloterdijk.  Pay particular attention to Section 2.

1. The men of old were born like the wild beasts, in woods, caves, and groves, and lived on savage fare. As time went on, the thickly crowded trees in a certain place, tossed by storms and winds, and rubbing their branches against one another, caught fire, and so the inhabitants of the place were put to flight, being terrified by the furious flame. After it subsided, they drew near, and observing that they were very comfortable standing before the warm fire, they put on logs and, while thus keeping it alive, brought up other people to it, showing them by signs how much comfort they got from it. In that gathering of men, at a time when utterance of sound was purely individual, from d…

what is something? - for a subatomic phatics

By the people who brought us http://phatic-workshop.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/bruce-alexander-in-nutshell.html --


I really like the illustration of fundamental particles.  It seems to speak volumes about where `phatics` (as we know it) ultimately comes from.  (Particularly from around 4'00".)

thinking the analogue

I started thinking about this question when reading the first chapter of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble. Basically, it goes like this: we imagine a "law" or some other system of judgment that can discriminate or categorize -- e.g. beings according to sex or gender.

I wanted to get acquainted with Butler's work which I haven't looked at before precisely because I wanted to read it "against" Turing's imitation game, which in its initial formulation is exactly a gender-discrimination test. 

This law, where does it come from?  Well, I'm imagining that optimistically speaking, it has been created as something like a social contract.  The entrants to Turing's imitation game have, at least in principle, agreed to submit themselves to the experiment.  (We can also consider Turing tests that are not voluntary.)

"I am the woman, don't listen to him!"And so on.

But here's where it seems to take a "phatic turn".  What if phati…

The Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions series (cambridge press)

«The Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions series focuses on two central questions: How do institutions evolve in response to individual incentives, strategies, and choices, and how do institutions affect the performance of political and economic systems? The series concentrates on answers to these questions based in methodological individualism. Its scope is comparative and historical rather than international or specifically American. Its focus is positive rather than normative, but many of the studies in the series offer analyses of informal institutional factors, such as social norms and culture, based on a rational-choice approach.»

Some of that seems (possibly) related to phatics. What I'm thinking here relates to the idea of a "gift economy", which exists in both ancient and modern forms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_economy

E.g. here are some quotes from that article:

«Gift exchange thus has a political effect; granting prestige or status to on…

paths as blends - anthropogenic change

Some vintage writing from me that gets at some ideas in "distributed cognition".  While this isn't strictly "phatic" it seems like something closely adjacent.

Figure 3 presents a simple illustration of the idea: a path is traced out as a blend of several forces. Commenting on a similar image, Andersen [1] writes that the basic metaphor for thinking is travel. But rather than considering a simple path between obstacles, we might envisage a skier descending amongst moguls. Through continued use, the landscape shifts, and the classifications of paths in terms of their homotopic features or their desirability may change. The “relations between relations” [2] that define semiotic systems can be hooked together and react back on themselves, as our representations, relations, and the world we live in evolve over time.

References are:

[1] ANDERSEN , P. B. Dynamic semiotics. Semiotica 139, 1/4 (2002), 161–210.

[2] KOCKELMAN , P. Biosemiosis, technocognition, and sociogen…

finishing up Stiegler's "What makes life worth living: On pharmacology"

I wanted to write a bit more about the central idea of a pharmakon, but then realized that Wikipedia doesn't really do this term service, so I started a new draft article to define the term properly. I also encountered a relatively short article that may be a useful introduction to Stiegler in the "phatics" context, namely Relational Ecology and the Digital Pharmakon, published in 2012. As a general comment on his 2010 book, I found it really profound -- in places -- and I'm glad that I read it.

However I regret that I would have a hard time recommending it to anyone who isn't relatively steeped in post-structuralist French philosophy. There are too many long snowclone-style sentences with the form "if A of B and C, then C of B to A". These just come across as waffling around. And there are also too many places (for my taste) where Stiegler uses terms without any definition, but which casual readers aren't likely to know.

OK, with this comment …