Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, December 22, 2014

Techbro Mythopoetics

In an enjoyable rant over at io9 today, Charlie Jane Anders declares herself Tired of "The Smartest Man in the Room" science fiction trope. Her delineation of the stereotype is immediately legible:
The "smartest man in the room" is a kind of wish-fulfillment for reasonably smart people, because he's not just clever but incredibly glib. As popularized by people like Doctor Who/Sherlock writer Steven Moffat and the creators of American shows like House and Scorpion, the "smartest guy in the room" thinks quicker than everybody else but also talks rings around them, too. He's kind of an unholy blend of super-genius and con artist. Thanks to the popularity of Sherlock, House and a slew of other "poorly socialized, supergenius nerd" shows, the "smartest man in the room" has become part of the wallpaper. His contempt for less intelligent people, mixed with adorable social awkwardness, and his magic ability to have the right answer at every turn, have become rote.
Later, she offers up a preliminary hypothesis that the intelligibility and force of the archetype derives from the widespread experience of consumers who feel themselves to be at the mercy of incomprehensible devices and therefore of the helpful nerds in their lives who better understand these things. I actually don't think the world is particularly more technologically incomprehensible now than it has always somewhat been in network-mediated extractive-industrial societies, but tech-talkers like to say otherwise because it consoles them that progress is happening rather than the immiserating unsustainable stasis that actually prevails, but that is a separate discussion. I do think Anders strikes very much the right note when she declares The Smartest Guy in the Room archetype a "wish-fulfillment fantasy," but I am not sure that I agree with her proposal about how the fantasy is operating here.

What is perplexing about the Smartest Guy in the Room archetype, as well as for the more ubiquitous savvy but awkward nerd archetype, is the combination in it of superior knowledge and social ineptitude. Anders proposes that this fantasy space is doubly reassuring -- securing our faith that helpful people will always be around to navigate the incomprehensible technical demands of the world, but that we need not feel inferior in our dependency because these helpful people gained their superior knowledge at the cost of a lack of basic social skills nobody in their right mind would actually choose to pay. The gawky awkward nerd is as obviously inferior as superior, we get to keep our toys with our egos intact, and everybody wins (even the losers).

All this sounds just idiotically American enough to be plausible, but seems to assume that few of her readers -- or anybody, for that matter -- actually identifies with the nerds. Anders seems to have forgotten that she begins her piece with the assertion that The Smartest Guy in the Room is "wish-fulfillment for reasonably smart people," that is to say, the self-image of her entire readership. And of course the truth is that nearly every one of her readers do identify with the archetype, indeed the archetype is a space of aspirational identification in culture more generally, an identification which fuels much of the lucrative popularity and currency of spectacular science fiction and fantasy and geekdom more generally in this moment. That is the real problem that makes the phenomenon Anders has observed worthy of criticism in the first place.

Anders describes the Smartest Guy in the Room as someone who has "contempt for less intelligent people, mixed with adorable social awkwardness, and [a] magic ability to have the right answer at every turn." It is crucial to grasp that what appears as a kind of laundry list here is in fact a set of structurally inter-dependent co-ordinates of the moral universe of The Smartest Guy in the Room. He doesn't happen to be right all the time and socially awkward and contemptuous of almost everybody else, his sociopathic contempt is the essence of his social awkwardness, rationalized by his belief that he is superior to them because he is always right about everything, at least as he sees it.

Before I am chastised for amplifying harmless social awkwardness into sociopathy, let me point out that the adorable nerds of Anders' initial formulations are later conjoined to a discussion of Tony Stark, the cyborgically-ruggedized hyper-individualist bazillionaire tech-CEO hero of the Iron Man blockbusters. Although Anders describes this archetype in terms of its popular currency in pop sf narrative and fandom today, I think it is immediately illuminating to grasp the extent to which Randroidal archetypes Howard Roark, Francisco d'Anconia, Henry Rearden, and John Galt provide the archive from which these sooper-sociopath entrepreneurial mad-scientist cyborg-soldiers are drawn (if you want more connective tissue, recall that Randroidal archetypes are the slightest hop, skip, and jump away from Heinleinian archetypes and now we're off to the races).

The truth is that there is no such thing as the guy who knows all the answers, or who solves all the problems. Problem-solving is a collective process. There is more going on that matters than anybody knows, even the people who know the most. Even the best experts and the luminous prodigies stand on the shoulders of giants, depend on the support of lovers and friends and collaborators and reliable norms and laws and infrastructural affordances, benefit from the perspectives of critics and creative appropriations. Nobody deserves to own it all or run it all, least of all the white guys who happen to own and run most of it at the moment, and this is just as true when elite-incumbency hides its rationalizations for privilege behind a smokescreen of technobabble. 

The sociopathy of the techno-fixated Smartest Guy in the Room is, in a word, ideological. Anders hits upon an enormously resonant phrasing when she declares him "an unholy blend of super-genius and con artist." In fact, his declared super-genius is an effect of con-artistry -- the fraudulent cost- and risk-externalization of digital networked financialization, the venture-capitalist con of upward-failing risk-fakers uselessly duplicating already available services and stale commodities as novelties, the privatization of the "disruptors" and precarization of "crowdsource"-sharecropping -- the "unholy" faith on the part of libertechbrotarian white dudes that they deserve their elite incumbent privileges

Perhaps this is a good time to notice that when Anders says the Smartest Guy in the Room provides "wish-fulfillment for reasonably smart people" her examples go on to demonstrate that by people she happens always to mean only guys and even only white guys. She does notice that the Smartest Guy does seem to be, you know, a guy and provides the beginnings of a gendered accounting of the archetype: "the 'smartest guy' thing confirms all our silliest gender stereotypes, in a way that's like a snuggly dryer-fresh blanket to people who feel threatened by shifting gender roles. In the world of these stories, the smartest person is always a man, and if he meets a smart woman she will wind up acknowledging his superiority."

That seems to me a rather genial take on the threatened bearings of patriarchal masculinity compensated by cyborg fantasizing, but at least it's there. The fact that the Smartest Guy keeps on turning out to be white receives no attention at all. This omission matters not only because it is so glaring, but because the sociopathic denial of the collectivity of intelligence, creativity, progress, and flourishing at the heart of the Smartest Guy in the Room techno-archetype, is quite at home in the racist narrative of modern technological civilization embodied in inherently superior European whiteness against which are arrayed not different but primitive and atavistic cultures and societies that must pay in bloody exploitation and expropriation the price of their inherent inferiority. That is to say, the Smartest Guy in the Room is also the Smartest Guy in History, naturally enough, with a filthy treasure pile to stand on and shout his superiority from.

From the White Man's Burden to Yuppie Scum to Techbro Rulz, the Smartest Guy in the Room is one of the oldest stories in the book. And, yeah, plenty of us are getting "kind of tired" of it.


D. Ghirlandaio said...

You'd think Americans might have gotten over "the smartest man in the room" after the failure of "the best and the brightest." But why learn from history when you can discover things for yourself?
Back'atcha George Santayana!

Science fiction and fantasy Is fiction for rationalists. It's only taken seriously by people who fantasize themselves as smart, mostly philosophers, engineers, economists and preadolescent boys. Optimism of one sort or another is a prerequisite. The first thing optimists are optimistic about is themselves.

"Serious" fiction (and I've leave the scare quotes on for your benefit) is observational. it's the description from a distance of subjective experience. It takes a lot of control, a lot of practice, and a lot of work to make someone have a complex emotional response to a craft. Ask an actor. They're empiricists too.

Only one genre of pulp has ever made it out of the ghetto of fiction for engineers, and that's detective fiction. You figure it out. But no way in hell am I going to give technocrats and geeks the credit for finally discovering the limits of geekdom. Your own language has subtext. Imagine that? And critical theory is still theory: it's the bureaucracy of poetry.

Novelists don't read theory for the same reason lawyers don't read legal philosophy. In the world outside the academy, practice comes first.

Dale Carrico said...

Your observation that critical theory is the bureaucracy of poetry stops me short -- there's a lot of truth there and some of it hits very close to the bone. Excellent!

I do think some theory -- Donna Haraway, Oscar Wilde -- actually is more like real poetry than its bureaucratization, but part of the reason you can tell is that it is read as little and with as much confusion as poetry usually is.

I also find congenial your observation that optimists are optimistic about themselves first of all. It's rather like my worry that techno-utopians who declare there are NO LIMITS! are really merely expressing the faith of the privileged that there will always be others around to cleanup their messes for them.

I do think you are overgeneralizing about science fiction a bit -- at its best it seems to me to providing critique of the customary as seen from the alienating vantage of hyperbole or allegory, or trying to cultivate our resources for enlarged sympathy.

All that hard chrome dildo stuff about predictive accuracy and positive visions seems to me mostly advertizing pretending to be literature, and I don't like much of it either.

Thanks for your time and attention.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

Techno utopians: Boullée? Bentham? Tatlin? The Bauhaus?
Gramsci? Descartes?

You're a fashionista against fashion, like Adorno: a bureaucrat against bureaucracy. Your irony is the irony of self-hatred.

The Baroque is the theatricality of authority, of the Monarchy and the Church, anything to avoid the theatricality of Shakespeare, of the secular and the plebeian. It's backward-looking. Sophocles was dead before Aristotle was born. Which was parasitic on the other?

You're not even Baroque; you're Mannerist. Your rebellion marks your dependence on the authority you struggle against. As if drag were a model for feminism, rather than of its opposite. You're thinking Waters, when you should be thinking Kuchar. Waters is a reactionary faggot. George was just George.

The answer to techno-utopians is in the work of the people who made The Wire and Breaking Bad and the lyrics of ex drug dealers. None of them read theory, and equally to the point: they'll outlast anything written in the US.

"No idea's original, there's nothin new under the sun
It's never what you do, but how it's done."

You think you're ahead of the game, but you're behind the curve.

Dale Carrico said...

I don't need you to tell me who the Kuchars are, and fag bashing isn't cute. Thanks for the self-hatred diagnosis, I'll file it with the rest of your comments. Best of luck, there, bub.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

Of course you know the Kuchars. You're at the San Francisco Art Institute.

I met George a few times. He was a sweet overbearing man. I remember him and laugh. I love his movies. I respect them. Waters is the reactionary, as his friends acknowledge. He makes honest reactionary art and I don't fault him for it. But there's no high and low for Kuchar, just low: we're all rolling around in the muck. That's the humor and the radicalism.

Waters is more famous, but Almodovar is more important than either of them, and his generosity shares more with Kuchar than Waters. Almodovar is liberal in the best sense, making films for a wide audience without hiding himself, except in the way all artists do.

If anything Waters is the most conceptual. Like Mike Kelly; another reactionary touted as if frisson were enough to be radical, like a shockingly high hemline. But decadence isn't radical.

Dale Carrico said...

There's plenty to agree with here, and at least this time I don't get the feeling you're trying to offend me for kicks, unless this is just buttering me up for another round of troll the moot. I know at least one friend of Waters who wouldn't concede that he is a reactionary, and I think there is a kindred playfulness whatever their differences about what gets called high and low in Waters as well as Kuchar. But I'm happy to agree to disagree on that, because either take probably yields insights or at any rate thrills. Not sure how this is what I ended up talking about given the post that prompted it, but, you know, conversation. You like to move quick I notice. The rapid fire associations of ranting (a genre I respect) are good for provocation, usually less good for sustained analysis (tho' Burroughs managed the latter in that mode occasionally, if it's honest reactionaries we're on about).

D. Ghirlandaio said...

Techbros: Kraftwerk had the same relation to technology that Warhol, Waters and Huysmans had to the Church. The same relation theorists and philosophers have to the academy, with added irony. "Radio-activity. It's good for you. It's good for me" But Greenberg ended his career granting permission to makers of kitsch, and writers for October or whoever else now -Zizek and Badiou? Ranciere?- just continue a very old pattern: the politics of speculative fantasy and delusion. Diderot pushed Greuze. He was wrong.
My inbox last week: A gallery press release, and invitation to a "Lecture Performance" by Alain Badiou: "Badiou reaffirms his commitment to Maoism..."
As if art galleries weren't luxury boutiques. What is that but decadence?

You link to a writer of SF, which is fiction for technocrats. That's a red flag right there, but I guess you're a fan. Serendipity: I had a nice short exchange on twitter this morning, with a woman who posted a quote and a link to Penelope Fitzgerald, from 1980, in the LRB:
"In the novel’s domain, plots were the earliest and the poorest relations to arrive."
I responded: "Technocrats read fiction the same way they read philosophy, for plot, and miss the point."
Her reply: "Quite"
She takes for granted and I imagine has since childhood, everything the woman you link to claims to have discovered: description before prescription; honesty before fantasy.

Libertarian techbros? The demimonde by definition is anti-humanist and anti-democratic. Modern libertines are libertarians. Everything's for sale, including of course, ass. But if they live long enough -and I know a few who haven't- they retire as liberals or return to the Church that in their heart they never really left. I remember an exchange between Waters and Kelly when they both admitted their debt and continued love for the Church. And Genet argued against prison reform. That's reactionary honesty of the anti-bourgeois right.
Huysmans in his preface to A Rebours, quotes the one critic he says who got the point:
"After such a book, it only remains for the author to choose between the muzzle of a pistol or the foot of the cross." Adding only,
"The choice has been made."
I'm not trolling. Or maybe I am, since now I've read a bit of your blog. But I'm trying to have an honest conversation about politics and culture. I've been trying for 35 years. And I remember being laughed at by conceptualists who pretended to be leftists for the same reason I was condescended to by architects and designers: because I was a craftsman who worked with my hands. The designers at least were honest in their snobbery. But writers are craftspeople, and conceptualists from Plato to Borges are snobs, and anti-democratic. Interesting that conceptualists have now become boutique craftsmen, snobs who work with their hands and make tchotchkes for oligarchs.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

Finishing this up...
It's not a rant; it's a lecture, but unasked so maybe there's not difference.

We live in a culture where intellectualism is supposed to be generalizing, predictive and prescriptive; all we get are varieties of anti-humanism. Geek culture is anti-humanist, a culture of enthusiasm, of first order without second order curiosity. The poetry of geekdom, or autism, Warhol, Robert Wilson, Kraftwerk, Koons, is poetry because it allows for tragedy. Like portraits by Bronzino. As Callie Angell said about Warhol "People think that Andy said he was a machine. But he didn't. He said he wanted to be a machine and that's not the same thing." Warhol was honest, in the great tradition of Catholic conservatism, and one of the greatest eyes of the 20th century.

Rhetoric is for philosophers not writers, now listen to a craftsman: Write something; refine it; refine it again; fix what seem to be errors, then step back. Look at it and ask yourself, "What the hell did I just make?" That's where intellectualism begins. Ask yourself that question because that's the question strangers will ask, and you're making what you make for strangers and for those not yet born. And if you're making it for friends it should be because they'll be honest and tell you it's shit if that's what they think, not pat you on the back without question, out of loyalty or shared enthusiasm. The world is not your intentional community. That's a nice line. I'm going to reuse it,

Intellectualism is retrospective. Historians are intellectuals; scientists are technicians. And Descartes was not a humanist. Your model is backwards. It's the opposite of humanism; it's the opposite of art, even anti-humanist art. It's the opposite of Waters, or Warhol, or Matisse, Velazquez, Cezanne or Proust. Sophocles did not read Aristotle. He was dead before Aristotle was born.

Enthusiasm is easy. Communicating it to people who don't share your interests is hard. But that also assumes people who don't share your interests might still be curious about them. The technocratic geek model of intellectualism and of culture denies both those things.

Dale Carrico said...

It's hard to believe you think Samuel Delaney's Mad Man or Nalo Hopkinson's The Salt Roads is for technocrats. Even quite celebrated authors like Connie Willis and Margaret Atwood push against the reading practices with which you identify them as writers of sf. Maybe hard sf of its golden age is vulnerable to your critique, but I think there are better things to criticize it for, too.

Libertarianism in its neoliberal US form is market fundamentalist, with a host of false assumptions and aspirations and a record of ruin I argue against for reasons I say. Sure, consumerism and media spectacle enable plutocracy, but they actually aren't the same thing, and it is their unsustainability and soullessness that seem to me especially worthy of critique.

The business about rhetoric seemed to draw on implicit definitions that are not my own and didn't make a lot of sense to me. Rhetoric is the facilitation of efficacious discourse and inquiry into the terms on the basis of which discoursecomes to seem efficacious or not. Historically, rhetoric has taken the figurative as seriously as the literal, insists on the occasional and situated character of intelligible and forceful agency, and recognizes the passionate character of speech. I got my PhD in rhetoric and to the extent that I teach critical and culture theory it seems to me that rhetoric is what I do.

I can't for the life of me figure out what model you are attributing to me and then declaring backwards. Were we talking about humanism? I mean, we could talk about humanism but I don't think we were. Why are Cezanne and Proust suddenly at the table? You like that line about Sophocles and Aristotle so much this is the second time you've tried it out on me in this comment section. These are all figures and topics I have opinions about, I even teach all them, some more than others, and I can imagine ways to hold all these pieces together to elaborate larger cases about humanism, instrumentality, convention, or what have you. But is that what you think you have done here? Where's the connective tissue, don't leave us all guessing!

Dale Carrico said...

You say a lot of cocksure things about rhetoric and writing and philosophy and some of it seems silly and some truistic and some interesting, too. You say you are making a good faith effort to communicate and even that you've been trying so to do for thirty odd years. If that's really true you are doing it wrong.

You make assertion after assertion, usually in the form of unqualified identities of this and that. Even a sympathetic conversational partner will want to reintroduce qualifications and contexts into their responses to you. You expect readers to do a whole hell of a lot of work for you. Much of your writing feels a machine gun spitting out slogans. Such slogans look rather like they want to be looked at more than engaged with at all.

To try to take them on, your interlocutor not only has to ramify a gnomic hard nut into many possible implications -- which is quite demanding -- but all the while your reader risks ridicule, because all you have to do is roll your eyes after all and declare them too dense to get the joke, the allusion, the performative character of the aphorism, and so on.

I say this as someone who is often accused of doing what I am saying you are doing. I too feel the appeal of the rant, the aphorism, the free-associational engine. Part of the reason many find my writing too dense or too hard is I try to pay for what I do -- provide a breadcrumb trail for those who do me the honor of spending their time reading me, provide a link or a companion piece that offers a more prosaic argument after a particularly playful or angry one. That sort of thing.

If you lay an enamel hard faberge egg in my lap that looks more like a bid for an admiring gaze than the opening gambit of conversation. I sincerely do not mean to seem insulting, as I said I think my style of thinking and expression has something in common with yours. You ended with the difficulty of communication across the gulf of difference, and I have tried to take you seriously.

Athena Andreadis said...

Shorter Ghirlandaio: "Watch me drop names (strictly white male "canon" ones, at that) in my word salad!"

D. Ghirlandaio said...

"Libertarianism in its neoliberal US form is market fundamentalist." Walmart is from Arkansas. I think someone even did a study of the area where Walton was born. Libertarianism isn't new; the theorization of libertarianism is new. It's American Anarchism, the Whisky Rebellion, the Wild Wild West and the Gold Rush. It's a product of our frontier culture (as is the EFF-note the name). It's made respectable by an engagement with Oxbridge philosophy. It's the only ideology academic liberals have engage with on friendly terms. It was accepted openly in academia until a few years ago, unlike conservatism. Liberals and libertarians both pretend their arguments have no priors. Democracy as republicanism demands priors: responsibilities precede freedoms, and academic liberals have a hard time with that. Virtue ethics and individualism don't mix. Sorry.

None of my "assertions" have been original. They're observations, and not new ones. Rhetoric: Michel Meyer or Rashomon and storytelling? Rhetoric isn't a form of truth, it's used for clarity but also for seduction. Lawyers are supposed to win their cases. They tell stories, and they're closer to actors than philosophers. They're players, and playas. Problematology in the courtroom takes two, like the tango, and a pompous ass on a bench. Jack Balkin says the Supreme Court "is sort of like the husband in the French farce. He's always the last to know." The Other, the nemesis across the courtroom "-mon semblable, -mon frere!" is the central tenet of the adversarial system of justice. The role of "the philosopher" is individualist. Philosophers dream of themselves as investigating magistrates or scientists, depending on whether they're Continental or Anglo-American and Analytic. But now we have this hybrid analytic theological crap: Deleuze. It's disgusting.

I read science fiction as a kid. The Man in the High Castle was the only one I read that moved towards something more complex, but it was still tricky. Ballard doesn't interest me but I'd never make fun of him. Most of it is minor stuff, but you won't agree. I think you'd agree it's a niche, limited within a specific group, even if it's not that small. It's a specific culture within a culture. What's its role in the larger culture? Is it a microcosm or a ghetto? The Hugo Award or the Booker Prize?

Danto, who the staff at the Journal of Philosophy referred to as Miss Piggy, coined the phrase the "art world" in 1962[?] separating it from the wider cultural "world". That marked the continuation not only of of specialization but decline. Absurd that Bourdieu to the end of his life made the same argument Greenberg made 50 years earlier that everyone now ignores.

"Today there is no denying that narrative films are not only “art”—not often good art, to be sure, but this applies to other media as well—but also, besides architecture, cartooning and “commercial design,” the only visual art entirely alive." Erwin Panofsky in 1934. He was expert on Durer, Gothic architecture, Chaplin and Keaton. His students called him "the last humanist". He was.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

When I went to art school we watched Man With a Movie Camera for a class. I grew up on Eisenstein, but art schools taught Vertov for film the same way they taught Gertrude Stein for literature, because of the connection to abstraction. It was avant-garde; it was art; it was serious; it was minor; and it was taught with no relation to actual historical importance. Has the avant-garde ever been really avant-garde? And the avant-garde of what? Vanguardism has always been a fantasy and every vanguard has aged badly, but the fantasy remains.

Why Cezanne and Proust: because they're weren't philosophers. No one has ever championed Proust for choosing the general over the specific. Seeing literature as philosophy is something else, but that's the end of what we call philosophy.

When you get to a point when the theorists are more important than the work they're supposed to theorize about- and Obrist has said curators are more important than artists (and these days they are)- it's a sign the stuff's not gonna last. I've been told academic theorists of politics have no obligation to act on principle at all. I suppose it's the thought that counts. When "Politics" is more important than politics, Maoists give lectures at luxury boutiques.

Sophocles and Aristotle twice? Apologies. That's a bad sign too.

This was all a waste of time, yours and mine. But I had fun. I wish I could have a sophisticated conversation about culture. You should read Panofsky. So should Morozov. The unification of science and the humanities was a hallmark of the Gothic. And we call it The Dark Ages for a reason. If you knew your history you'd win arguments much more easily.
"If the anthropocentric civilization of the Renaissance is headed, as it seems to be, for a 'Middle Ages in reverse... a Satanocracy"
Panofsky wrote that in the 50s. I'm glad you and your friends are rediscovering humanism, but at the same time, it's annoying that you think you've invented it.

Dale Carrico said...

I wish I could have a sophisticated conversation about culture.

You should try it. You could start by not telling me things I think that I don't. It's pretty boring.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

Cyborg Democracy
"democratic transhumanists, nanosocialists, revolutionary singularitarians, non-anthropocentric personhood theorists, radical futurists, leftist extropians, bioutopians and biopunks, socialist-feminist cyborgs, transgenders, body modifiers, basic income advocates, world federalists, agents of the Culture and the Cassini Division, Viridians and technoGaians - transmitting a sexy, high-tech vision of a radically democratic future."

Geek culture is individualist by definition, its model of society an "intentional community" of individualists with the strong bond of shared Geek interests. Israel is an intentional community; it's built on a dream of a social and economic bubble-economy. The model is utopian and anti-humanist. And Zionism is racism.

Humanism is anti-fascist because its anti-utopian. Utopian anti-fascism is dangerous delusion. A "radically democratic future" is the fantasy of a community where people are not only equal but in all important ways alike.
The attempt or claim to have "the other in myself" is just rhetoric. The fantasy of an expanded self is a way of avoiding the fact of others and outsiders. Latour's "collective" is neoliberal fantasy. The other is other: other members of your community and members of other communities. The world is other.

"socialist-feminist cyborgs" The point of Callie Angel's comment about Warhol was the tragedy. Machines don't feel pain. Kraftwerk was the music from the kloset of Dr Caligari. The poetry makes it humanist even if the ideology is not.

Futurist utopians imagine society as a machine. The model is fascist. Humanism and democracy sees society as a game, played in the mud, with rules but no ref, and plenty of cheating. It's a play without a director or a playwright. It's Rashomon, and collaboration only in the context of real conflict and commitment to conflict. "Rhetoric is the facilitation of efficacious discourse and inquiry into the terms on the basis of which discourse comes to seem efficacious or not." What if the speaker is lying? What if the speaking is lying to himself? You presuppose a unified individual consciousness that does not exist. There is no evidence for its existence.

Thee models of utopia in politics and language and three fallacies: Intentional communities, the intentional fallacy and original intent. I think you would recognize the fallacy in the last but why separate them? Technocratic reason is intentional. Your models are intentional. The only viable model of community that allows for both individual agency and the authority of the community is the community of the game. The community of unity, of the imagined One, "Cyborg democracy" is either fascism or the socialism of the hive. High gothic.

Post this or not. If you want to respond you know how to find me. Other than that I'm done.

D. Ghirlandaio said...

I just read your transhumanism post and other things.
Sometimes my impatience gets the better of me.

You're critiquing movements you have a history with, and that I won't even engage. You like Morozov et al. are rediscovering humanism in the sense I use. But you're doing it full on, and I shouldn't mock you for it. I wouldn't have been so rude if I'd taken the time to read.

I stand by a lot of what I said but a lot of it also absolutely was off. My apologies.

Humanism as idea, written in the language of propositions and technocracy, is not humanism as practice, and my point is always that practice, of lawyers and actors et al. and in the common literary tradition is primary. Speculative fiction, philosophical art, is deeply problematic as literature; Haraway is less poetry than poeticizing, and I don't have much patience for Butler. But here's the thing: Butler's now defending liberal principles in Palestine that Martha Nussbaum claims to stand for, while Nussbaum says nothing, or worse. Maybe poeticizing helped Butler see more clearly.

Nussbaum's theory is Butler's practice. Someone could make a novel out of that, but it would have no need of science fiction.

Again, no request to post these last two.



Dale Carrico said...

I cheerfully accept your apology. Futurologists troll the moot quite often and I read comments pretty defensively unless they are coming from friends or long-time critics, so I get prickly in ways that may have exacerbated your leaping to worst assumptions. Online practices are as impatient as libraries are patient. It snares us all, the writing too much without reading enough. There is a lot I agree with in what you say, some I might contend with, but you keep things pretty gnomic and it can be hard to dig in. Best to you.