“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Shandian Hacking, part 2

So far, the essay as I’ve laid it out is pretty straightforwardly philosophical. But after Hacking makes the case for Canguilhem’s case for seeing tools and machines as organs, he goes off the tracks – or rather, he goes on a lot of interesting tracks that involve things like Voodoo, cyborgs and UFOs, Donna Haraway’s thesis that in the late twentieth century the line between machines and organisms have been irreparably blurred, and what kind of thing a man on a bicycle is – is he a cyborg? Actually, if one goes back to the inventor of the word, he definitely is. Cyborg’s came out of space travel – as I’m sure our friend Northanger knows.

The word cyborg was first used in print in the September 1960 issue of Astronautics. It came with the definition: for the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated system unconsciously, we propose the name Cyborg (Clynes and Kline)

The name was made up by Manfred Clynes working with Nathan Kline. Kline was a distinguished psychiatrist, director of research at Rockland State Hospital in New York and teacher at Columbia University. His foret was psychopharmacology. Those who consult the Cyborg Handbook (Gray 1996) will learn that he won numerous awards, some internal to his profession ( the Adolph Meyer award) and some more public (a New York Newspaper Guild Page One award in Science). He was a good deal more colourful than that. He was Poap Doc Duvalier’s personal psychiatric consultant, and he also established clinics in Haiti. The favours were mutual: he had a fine private collection of Haitian, popularly known as Voodoo, preparations and herbals, with which he is said to have experimented freely. He was an advisor on psychological topics to Hollywood producer Norman Lear, so whatever psychology appears in Lear’s movies or TV scripts had Kline’s imprimatur. (this supplementary information is derived from telephone interviews with family members.”

Kline was quite the Cold War magus and eminence gris. Oh, spirit of Pynchon, be with me now!

“And yet there is another twist in this story that I cannot omit. It has a lot to do with the mind, though here one imagines that it is Kline speaking and not Clynes. It interest me because Rewriting the Soul (Hacking 1995) is, among other things, a very extensive study of multiple personality and dissociation. Kline was apparently stirring the dissociative soup way back in 1960
… hypnosis per se may prove to have a definite place in space travel, although there is much to be learned about the phenomena of dissociation, generalization of instructions, and abdication of executive control.

We are now working on a new preparation which may greatly enhance hypnotizability, so that pharmacological and hypnotic researches may be symbiotically combined.

Ross (1966) is a book [sic – I believe Hacking is referring to Colin Ross’ The Osiris Complex] written by a leader in the field of dissociative disorder suggesting that the epidemic of disturbed people having flashbacks of alien abduction into outer space is due to what he calls CIA experiments in hypnosis, drugs and mind control in the 1960s. The unhappy people with these memories are really recalling trance states induced by mad scientists in the employ of the United States Government. Most readers, including myself, take this as proof that Ross is himself a bit touched. But now I wonder, what was going on at Rockford State?”

Surely this is a valuable trivial pursuit fact, no? The most popular comedy shows of the seventies received their psychological input from the inventor of the cyborg and a scientist deeply interested in mind control? Ho ho ho - I come from generation fucked. Now I know who did it!

But we have only covered one of the homonymous duo, doeppelgaengers sprung into the Cold War future by way of Freud and Philip Dick. To get back to our question about the bike for a second, the first cyborg devised by this duo was simply a rat, which had some kind of osmotic pump set to a feedback pattern that would pump chemicals into it, get some appropriate responding chemical cue and modify its injections. The point eventually, our Small ones (Kleins) (“At one time the elves are small enough to creep through key-holes, and a single potato is as much as one of them can carry; at another they resemble mankind, with whom they form alliances, and to whom they hire themselves as servants; while some are even said to be above the size of mortals, gigantic hags, in whose lap mortal women are mere infants” – Superstitions of the Highlands) thought, was to make man less robotlike – once in space, Hacking points out, an astronaut was to be as free in his capsule as the homunculus was in Descarte’s brain – freer! For the homunculus didn’t carry around a feedback rat.

Well, maybe I’ll do one more post on this.


Le Colonel Chabert said...

roger, this is the bestest blog.

memory arts and manmachines or manvehicles... Is there something renaissancy in cyborgs? Knights, swords with names? And this is what King Lear discovers on the heath, oh reason not the need. The vitruvian man is just a part. "while this machine is to him"...a crossroads of humanism.

northanger said...

AZ 347 = ALTHOUGH NORTH DOESN'T LIKE THE LIPSYNCHING HERE, THIS IS STILL GOING TO BE THE SONG = BETWEEN FACT AND FICTION: DEMARCATING SCIENCE FROM NON-SCIENCE IN POPULAR PHYSICS BOOKS (ABSTRACT :: This paper looks at the ways in which popular science books, through their explicit insertion of science into the public domain, act to reinforce a distinct demarcation between scientists and their publics. It is argued that these books acquire a distributed media presence by acting as nodal points in an intertextual web. The intertextuality of popular science books causes images of science which are supportive of scientists' interests to continue to circulate in public discourse despite the alternative images thrown up by public scientific controversies reported in the news. The paper looks at examples of popular physics books which, like many other popularizations of physics, draw explicitly on science fiction. Since these texts do not respond to any specific controversy within or around science, they provide examples of 'routine' boundary work. It is argued that by working at multiple boundaries, texts such as these are able to claim potentially contradictory attributes for science at the same time as sustaining its place at the top of a hierarchy of ways of knowing).

AZ 215 = HEGEL'S DISTINCTION BETWEEN VORSTELLUNG AND BEGRIFF = SKIN OF WIND, SKIN OF STREAMS, SKIN OF SHADOWS, SKIN OF VAPOR (Here, I braid three cords together, identity, algebra, and poetry. Identity is the subject matter, algebra is a tool for representing sign systems of fluid identity, poetry is used as the enactment of the view of identity described with the algebra. I also use algebra to aid in the development of computational techniques for implementing a system that generates prose poetry in response to a user's prompts -- a call and response form which is thematically fixed but variable in particular expression and metaphor. The subtitle of this paper: Skin of Wind, Skin of Streams, Skin of Shadows, Skin of Vapor is meant to evoke a restricted notion of identity, and the insubstantiality of that notion. A focus on skin is obsessive and solipsistic. I am expected to write about it in a paper on identity. When ethnic identity is made binary and colorized, we talk in bodily terms, of skin. It is evocative -- it is a membrane, protecting, projecting, coating, an exterior, a superficial, obvious and immense organ. I shan't disappoint these expectations of skin obsession, but when I write of the traits of ethnic identification these are just symbols for a classification based conception of social identity).



roger said...

LCC, I thought you’d find the connection between Norman Lear, of all people, and NASA and Papa Doc as startling as I did. Cold war crosshatchery – does it never end? A long blogtime ago I put up a couple of pieces about the air loom gang – James Tilly Matthews delusion which seemed to be a compound of prophecy and schizophrenia. It is funny how, at the very rim of the American culture, there has been this persistence of mental health epidemics that incorporate, as fantasy, images that turn out to be Defense Department fact. I have no idea what this means.

Isn’t the Vitruvian man actually rather helpless, compared to the cyborg? – enmeshed in his own glory, he pretty much is too endowed to do … anything.

I'll have to look up the emblems used by Descartes for Le Monde.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"Isn’t the Vitruvian man actually rather helpless, compared to the cyborg? "

yeah this is what I mean, he's just a segment, the homunculus element that goes in something, isolated and presented as a whole, but clearly not viable on his own.

I remember the air loom posts well...

"Cold war crosshatchery – does it never end? "

really never, and about the present we can only suspsect. suspect everything!

roger said...

North, I was happy to see you have a link to Precious Wilson on your site today. And you told me that skinny girls couldn't have the big voices!

P.W. is my counterfactual...

northanger said...

your counterfactual vs. my specificity.