Lettering

Dear Michael, Dear Jonathan, Dear Scott, Dear Laurie, Dear Lydia, Dear Sam; Dear Meghann, Dear Summer, Dear Tyler and Karl; Dear Edie, Dear Sara, Dear Mari; Dear Albert, Dear Paul, Dear Denise; Dear Tristan, Dear Aidan, Dear William; Dear Andy, Dear Pippin, Dear James; Dear Timothy, Dear Jada, Dear all of you who save my life from time to time, by being:

Perhaps I should not own a phone.  It’s Short Message Service, in my employ, allows a nearly ubiquitous, immediate reach of the text, from my thumbs.

Thank you for telling me about the exhibition, I have the retrospective tome near me even now, attempting to go in and near the two-dimensional images on paper.  It is not the same as being present to the sculptures and paintings, their ambience.  But now I know I could not move around them, nor touch them, I’d have only to use my eyes and very little of my body.

This obsession with connection.  Once I would have had to go to work unlinked to any of you for hours at a time.  Once my going home would mean your absence unless we arranged for sharing space and time.  Now I reach, I report, I ask and beg, and enter your lives like someone shoving a newspaper, pamphlet or flyer into your hands at will – without contact – propaganda blaring from speakerless speakers.

Your mails and email show deference and thought.  I am happy to have your works near at hand to consult and resort to time and again.  I see the care in the hand-writing, the pacing of thoughts, the reasoning reflection, the sense of your audience.  They lie about me on the floor, I can feel them, turn them, taste them if I wish.

Your phone makes a hum or a buzz.  An ejaculatory missive from Filbert again.  He’s lonely, he’s excited, he’s drunk.  He wants to share.  He needs to share.  He needs communique.  He wants connection.  He is not thinking of us, he suffers the duress of himself.  He spouts, he shouts, he slurs.  He insists he needs solitude and rest, needs quiet, less public.  At any hour, at all hours, these textual packets flow.

Perhaps I should not own a phone.

Where do the gaps that make the heart grow fonder bloom?  What is banal and what evental?

Thank you for your poem.  I will read it again and again.  Thank you for that clip of music, I repeat it throughout the days, when the mood demands an answer.  Thank you for your books, your artifacts, your gardens, your hands.  Thank you for your eye-contact (those of you I’ve sat or walked, camped or climbed with).  Thank you for the melodies of your particular voices.  Thank you for your hugs, your nourishing, your care.  Your listening.

I do remember the ground there, how it fell away desperately or rose violently into sky.  What the birds did.  Where the fire flowed.  Yes, the leaves.  Yes, the sleeping bags.  Here’s to the unknown trails, the stumbling, to whatever’s discovered.

I am sorry I flood your phones with less than thoughtful driveling – explosions of fear, anxiety, want.  Am I alone?  Am I alone?  Do I matter?  Does anyone want my voice?  Am I also missed?  But also love.  Yes, sometimes I merely wish to tell you the difference you make to being alive, that I feel you out there, somewhere…

Perhaps I should not own a phone.

Advertisements

Measures of Life

“‘Word work,’ Toni Morrison said in Stockholm, ‘is sublime because it is generative,’ its felicity in its reach toward the ineffable. ‘We die,’ she said.  ‘That may be the meaning of life.  But we do language.  That may be the measure of our lives.'”

Lewis Lapham, Word Order

Lapham Word Order

Read full text here: Word Order, Lewis Lapham

Interconnection and Autonomy

a personal note

I have long disliked and had an intense aversion to telephone calls.  Like televisions transmitting in shared or public spaces, they present inescapable interruption and intrusion.  One could be in thought, repose, intimacy, conversation, activity — in fact, whatever one is about when one is not on the telephone – and then suddenly must react to a demand.  A call.  But WHO is calling?  WHY?  Why now?  When my attention is demanded through interruption or intrusion, my body anticipates emergency.

Disembodied conversation shifts the burden of dialogue to the voice.  Therefore the natural indicators for “I’m thinking…” or “give me a moment,” nods, smiles, frowns or gestures that flow in face-to-face interaction, offering wholistic responses, are all pressured onto the mind and voice – forcing incessant reports and the trickiness and difficulty of translating bodily experience into language.  I require time to listen, consider, and respond.  Movement.  Silence.  Whether it’s a simple invitation, business matter, question or request – it always emerges as demand on the telephone.  Respond to this NOW.  (public or shared-space televisions – SEE this NOW).  You cannot escape, select, regulate or direct such importunities.

Global Communication Technologies, – our networks, internetworks and their myriad machines and devices – have provided some enormous benefits toward expanding our social lives outside of limited demographics and cultures, opening realms of activities and artifacts, information and resources that in any other time-period we may never have known about or encountered.  As these technologies proliferate into internets of thingsubiquitous (or pervasive / invasive) computing, and manifest the inherently linked realities of our world…simultaneously providing ambient findability (all of these terms and phrases as easily interpreted as violence or intrusion as well as opportunities or boon).

I’ve long preferred face-to-face interaction (in spare doses, they are taxing & rewarding) and textual communications (obviously, but also texting, emails, postal correspondence), because in the F2F we are offered and allowed appropriate cues to follow and respond to one another, and in textual discourse we are allowed the time and distance to craft and dictate our translations of experience, messaging intentions, and terminological tones.

Of late, however, I have noted a convergence of Call-Anxiety and Pervasive-Communications.  And am wondering about our levels of autonomy (if there even is such a thing for the human) or self-direction, any amount of governance we might preserve over our lives and activities and choices in a world populated with linked devices?

How much of our days – work time, supposedly “personal”/private time, play time, labor time, interpersonal time, family time, meal-times, chore-times, reading times, creative times, necessity times, and so on…- are steered and directed, controlled and dictated by the consistent, persistent, pervasive and invasive thoroughfare of MESSAGES from OUTSIDE?  If we consult our devices upon waking – how often are that day’s events passively designed around what we receive?  If we respond to text vibrations / updates / posts / SMS or IMs / emails – how much are they eroding self-governance and discipline or choice and instead simply ANNOUNCING (demanding?) direction and response?

How many swerves do we make in our causeways of living by our over-saturation with “friends,” our communicative reach far beyond our communities, our global information system versus our local work offices or families or few (actual) friends?  There have been plenty of studies from nearly every field of inquiry reporting that our safe or thrivable social capacities are quite limited – most studies indicate humans do best in consistent contact with 30 or less others.  Proffering sufficient opportunities to know, understand, interact and relate.  Yet any given Facebooker or tweeter or snappy-chatter may have exponentially larger engagements nearly every minute of their lives.

How different would my relationships with co-workers,  children, family, friends, BE if we weren’t including thousands of others in remote places, professional connections throughout the world, images and language and emotional reports and happenstances flooding like telephone calls and tele-visions and noise into our domains, habitats, domiciles, studies?  What might i NOT buy if it weren’t so easy?  How differently might I know books, movies, music, animals, persons – if they weren’t in virtually infinite supply?Do we preserve moments of choice and connection, safe from Call-demands or Pervasive/Invasive-communication-technologies?  Or do we simply escape or take breaks from time to time?  Going for a walk or having a dinner, camping, hiking or traveling once in a while without our devices?  What would it be like to lose them?  What would we know?  What kinds of knowing would we produce?  What sorts of makings?   What might be drawn or composed, felt or engaged, seen or heard if we were DISconnected to the hive of activity and input? How might we relate to those around us?  Where might we go?  Who might we be?

Well, that’s what I’m thinking about.  Pondering.  Wondering.  Queries of value and quality and meaning.  Stress-levels, anxiety, physical wear of being “on alert,” alarm, reactive, responsive to ubiquitous “Calls.”  Demands.  Invasions.

What if we saved intrusions for emergencies?  Took time to send only specific, relational-oriented, relevant and appropriate information to one another?  Thought critically?  Reflected?  Looked, touched, listened, and managed more wholistic presence with our immediate surrounds?

I don’t know.  I’m just wondering.

[The lucky piece for us at present is that, like pulling the phone line from the wall, our technologies are remarkably easy to dismantle and turn OFF, should we CHOOSE to]

Meaning

From an email conversation I am involved in regarding human relation to technology…seemed to expose a who-I-am via what-I-concern-myself-with moment in my life worth sharing… and would love any/all comments, ideas, perspectives, regarding:

“I like that inference of thought…influence of larger and smaller systems interacting in our particular (as Lemke refers to them – “focal levels”) living.  I think from Heidegger onward that attention to the reciprocal or interactive influence of what we devise/make and who we are and what makes us continuously reshaping/constructing/constituting us IS a fundamental challenge/question Humanity is within.  This is why I am drawn to technesis as a human activity.  There is no difference from developing domiciles and agriculture, accounting and writing, language and representation in its holistic alteration of the species as there is with what we are within with the devotion to the “digital” – an oddly ubiquitous remediation of experienced matter-ridden-media into this ONE SORT OF ORGANIZATION/CODING.  A strange phenomena.  I think the nearest relative is “writing” and this is where Hansen (“Embodying Technesis”) and Hayles (“How We Think”) as well as Hodder & Ingold’s anthropological works help elicit perspective (& Kittler) on how ALL technological development (craft, architecture, invention, production) so foundationally EDIT us as a species… akin to geophysical change for all forms of biological life.  I suppose what I hope for is some small increase in awareness &/or experiment of capability for Human-kind to discern what amount of agency we may (or may not) have in relation to what we evolve and construct.  Is the system too vast – the biological motive too strong – to continue exploitation and networking (also increasingly representative of our fundamental relationality) – or are we a kind of thing that can affect larger systems in such a way that is transformative?  How small of a part are we, what are our limits of capability, do we have ANY genuine (actual) capacity to discern telos of larger systems… or not (trickles all the way down to personal behavior and ‘psychology’) – can we ever determine our AGENCY (collectively / personally / speci-ally)?  Or is it airy imagination and the activity of abstraction?

Sigh.  This is where I’m at…”

Writing comes naturally…

For those of you intrigued by yesterday’s article about writing as a technology – here I’ll attempt to balance it with another fascinating article supposedly providing an “opposing view” to Walter Ong, et. al.

Ingold - Lines

Drawing, Writing and Calligraphy by Tim Ingold

(chapter 5: pp. 120-160)

what do you think?

Is writing “technological” artifice natural or unnatural?

I’ll tell my thoughts in time…

 

 

 

a tidbit on writing

“every thing is a parliament of lines”

I think many people sense a difference between typing, printing, and writing.  But very few, I surmise, might be able to speak clearly about what those differences are.  There’s the kinesthetic difference, the disjunction of flow between thought forming through the body into theories of letters on paper.  There’s a temporal difference, between the stenography of lightning-thought tapped like Morse code onto a keyboard, versus the individuated pacing of each writers body, hand, and facility of digits.  Some may even say there’s a personality difference between interpreting standardized typography as a communication, and the erratics and imperfections of the same terms from a writing hand.

My desk is dominated by books with titles like Chaos, Incompleteness, Complexity, Information, Emergence, Touch, Telling, Lines and Erasure.  Aspects of being human that glance across gaps or dawdle on edges – where knowledge isn’t comprehensive (and where might it be?) – are the processes and activities that fascinate my fancy.

Coupling an article I chanced upon (thank you Scholarly Kitchen) about Technology and Cursive Writing, with my current readings in Tim Ingold’s Lines: A brief history, I begin to slowly realize that how we interact with lines, with writing, is sourced far beyond and beneath our immediate experience.

Ingold begins with the consideration of what we understand by the words “song” and “music.”  How “music has become wordless; language has been silenced.”  In the past music referred to sonorous words set to harmony and rhythm, sounds alone were an embellishment to language, but not the principle purpose.  Language was the sound-filled reality, like animal chirps or barks, the human’s vocal verbality.  With inscription, language began to silence.  Sound encountered a gap with meaning, or took on meaning of a different kind.

Similar worldview realities are exhibited in ways of inscribing.  “In typing and printing, the intimate link between the manual gesture and the inscriptive trace is broken.  The author conveys feeling by his choice of words, not by the expressiveness of his lines.”  And writing experienced gaps in relation to drawing, language further abstracted.  

“Yet whether encountered as a woven thread or as a written trace, the line is still perceived as one of movement and growth.  How come, then, that so many of the lines we come up against today seem so static?  Why does the very mention of the word ‘line’ or ‘linearity’, for so many contemporary thinkers conjure up an image of the alleged narrow-mindedness and sterility, as well as the single-track logic, of modern analytic thought?”

“It seems that what modern thought has done to place – fixing it to spatial locations – it has also done to people, wrapping their lives into temporal moments…If we were but to reverse this procedure, and to imagine life itself not as a fan of dotted lines – but as a manifold woven from the countless threads spun by beings of all sorts, both human and non-human, as they find their ways through the tangle of relationships in which they are enmeshed, then our entire understanding of evolution would be irrevocably altered…It would lead us to an open-ended view of the evolutionary process, and of our own history within that process, as one in which inhabitants, through their own activities, continually forge the conditions for their own and each other’s lives.  Indeed, lines have the power to change the world!”  (Ingold)

Bringing it back to the inscription of language, it is easy to see the bias of expression in the meaning of signs – but that meaning abstracted into disconnected idea-banks of terms, rather than the entire gesture of activity of inscribing.  My talent diminishing to equational finesse – the fiddling and play or arrangement of alphabets like numbers – rather than a being expressing its thought through gesture and individuated agreed-upon symbols and signs.  Perhaps our sense of difference betwixt the typescript and handwritten is that there is a little less of ourselves as individuated organism, and a lot more of standardized general practices and beliefs.  Perhaps we feel a little less in- when our scripts are preformed?  I do not know, I am foraging the questions…

“every thing is a parliament of lines”

-Tim Ingold

Of Goals and Achievements: To be thinking

In considering progress.  In thinking reflexively.  In pondering what humans are as well as what we are able to produce.  Gilbert Simondon, like Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, John Deely, Mikhail Bakhtin, Paul Thibault and many other profound scientists and thinkers, continually examine “human progress” within a conceived totality of systems.  This enables us to reflect, question and surmise.  To be conscious.  To conceive.  The following article, only recently published, provides I think an intriguing overview of such networked and systemic thinking…

Gilbert Simondon – The Limits of Human Progress

The curious inherent courage of being an open adaptable dynamic system

“The human skin is an artificial boundary: the world wanders into it, and the self wanders out of it, traffic is multi-directional and constant”

-Bernard Wolfe, Limbo

as information-processing organisms, we are amazing.

in relation to nonbiological elements, wow.

i am typing this and you’ll be able to view, read, interpret, apply it.

we become persons, individuals, agents only by relating to what is around us.

we are fascinating.

I recommend.