14.0350 sci-fi & science; philosophical fiction; glass houses

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 10/13/00

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 350.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
       [1]   From:    Randall Pierce <rpierce@jsucc.jsu.edu>               (9)
             Subject: Philip K. Dick
       [2]   From:    Randall Pierce <rpierce@jsucc.jsu.edu>               (6)
             Subject: name
       [3]   From:    Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni-        (14)
             Subject: Philosophical Fiction
       [4]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>         (35)
             Subject: by means of a glass in an enigma
             Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 10:13:01 +0100
             From: Randall Pierce <rpierce@jsucc.jsu.edu>
             Subject: Philip K. Dick
    Mr. Dick was not a contributor of what is known as "hard" science
    fiction. That is, a concentration on scientific themes, such as Gibson's
    works about the neuro-sciences and computers. Mr. Dick was interested in
    the "soft sciences", in this case the psychology of perception, as shown
    in his "Man in the high Castle". While engaged in the dissemanation of
    material by the means of a hypertext it would be unfortunate if we did
    not take into account the human and humane impacts of this burgeoning
    science. Technique should never take precedence over results. Remember
    the "human" in humanist. Randall
             Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 10:13:50 +0100
             From: Randall Pierce <rpierce@jsucc.jsu.edu>
             Subject: name
    It has come to my attention that I have misspelled the name of one of
    the correspondents to this list, Arun-Kumar Tripathi. I have seen my
    spellings in transcripts provided by my ISP. Mea Culpa, Maxima Culpa. I
    also want to thank the participants on the Humanist list for their
    good-natured interest in my comments on the role science-fiction can
    play in technological innovation, especially in information sciece and
    in the dissemination of hyper-texts of literature. Randall
             Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 10:16:37 +0100
             From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni-dortmund.de>
             Subject: Philosophical Fiction
    dear humanist scholars,
    My high regards and courtesy to Prof. Willard McCarty for doing
    the excellent, but a difficult job of moderation and keep things
    HI..when we are discussing the science fiction and science..then I would
    like to motivate the directions (slight bending of mind) to read a recent
    essay on "Tom Wolfe" (in the form of an interview) published in the latest
    issue of _The Harvard Review of Philosophy_, Volume VIII, 2000. The essay
    can be readble in the PDF format, is located at
    (http://hrp2.student.harvard.edu/2000/00_101.pdf) ..Tom
    Wolfe is a world-famous author of fiction and non-fiction. His two highly
    acclaimed works of fiction are "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and recently
    "A Man in Full". Enjoy the blending of mind! Thank you!
    Sincerely yours
    Arun Tripathi
             Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 10:56:00 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: by means of a glass in an enigma
    Concerning the issue of online vs face-to-face, I thought that Sherry
    Turkle among others had shown that there was little or no evidence to
    support the claim for a causal relationship between use of the electronic
    medium and isolation of individual users. (Contrary scholarship, if you
    know of any, please!) With no research whatever one can suspect that if a
    relationship could be demonstrated it would be a very complex one indeed.
    This is not to say that major institutional errors cannot be made by
    investing stupidly in online distance education, but again I'd think that
    the errors would be due to the stupidity with which distance education is
    offered, not with the fact of offering it.
    Someone with a better memory than I have surely can come up with diatribes
    against letter-writing -- to choose one among many of the older
    technologies. In Clarissa, perhaps? But then there's the wonderful
    interiority of Donne's verse letter to Sir Henry Watton:
        Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle Soules;
        For thus friends absent speake. This ease controules
        The tediousness of my life: But for these
        I could ideate nothing, which could please,
        But I should wither in one day, and passe
        To'a bottle'of Hay, that am a locke of Grasse....
    Looking into a glass versus seeing face-to-face certainly does have major
    religious and philosophical echoes and a great deal of cultural history.
    While understanding the inferiority of seeing per speculum in aenigmate
    ("through a glass darkly") and making all efforts to turn our heads from
    the shadows to direct vision of our communicants face to face, should we
    not rejoice in the fact that we at least see an image of them? I know,
    Humanist mostly just pumps out needful announcements of this and that,
    seldom lives up to its boast of being a "seminar", but we and many others
    like us do have our moments from time to time. Chomsky's a bright man, but....
    Dr Willard McCarty / Centre for Computing in the Humanities/
    King's College London / Strand / London WC2R 2LS U.K./
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784 / <ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/>
    maui gratias agere

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