16.146 visualizing and knowing

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Wed Aug 07 2002 - 03:45:15 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 146.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Wed, 07 Aug 2002 08:42:20 +0100
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Re: 16.142 visualizing and knowing


    A twist of reversal helps me construct a useful blindfold.

    > this problem? The performative dimension, of knowing-in-engagement,
    > suggests the possibility of alliance with work in multimedia, not in its
    > application e.g. to teaching but as a means of thinking.

    I'm tempted to develop an alter ego (MW = Mirror Willard) so that I can
    contemplate the pairings doubled by the redoubtless*** WM

    Teaching is a mode of thinking, no?

    Heidegger in the second part of What is Called Thinking? plays with an
    etymological twist on a saying of Parmenides to arrive at and depart from

            Useful is the letting-lie-before us also (the) taking-to-heart
            too... (trans. J. Glenn Gray)

    Now I ask if objects invite contemplation, is contemplation always already
    a slide towards the visual? Is it possible that appeals to the primacy of
    vision (or conversely a rhetoric "deeveeing"** the visual mode) spring
    from the defense politics and reaction formations to those defense
    politics which underpin the history of cybernetics? I ask because c3i
    (command, control, communicate, intelligence) may lie at the edge of the
    hesitancy of calls to invoke the performative. There is an economy here
    which the very term "visual language" can undercut. If language is a
    virus, as William Burroughs writes and Laurie Anderson rewrites, then as
    with any language, thinking, that taking to heart what is allowed to lie
    before us can be infectious. The vectorness of the viral is mutable (it
    can change direction and speed). The modularity of language challenges
    attempts to totally control the effects induced by users playing with its
    granularity and combinatorial powers. The visual may be imbued with
    neither the mobility of the viral nor the modularity of language. One can
    imagine such a visual. Can what is in the objects that we may shape that
    can neither be controlled nor communicated be commanded? The sentence may
    appear contorted upon first reading. It deserves perhaps less a second
    reading (with eyes) or even a sounding aloud as an ammendation in the form
    of a further question: is Humanities Computing a site where scholars
    create and command through a set of performances that could be mapped to a
    semiotic square:

            control lost communication regained

            communication lost control regained

    This becomes remarkable when the possible paths are envisioned less as a
    two-player game and more as a community dynamic.

    And so can provide in their being allowed to lie-there for the
    taking-heart for a kind of two step digital imagination:

            visual language

            not language not visual


    ** See John Brunner's 1975 novel _Shockwave Rider_

    *** Yes, I meant "redoubtless" and not "redoubtable".

    Hoping to be redoubtable in redoubtlessness as WM someday: my initials do
    not however form such nice symmetries, though FL does tend to sonorous


    I wonder if the Romans made visual puns on the numbers 4 and 6.


    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
    per Interactivity ad Virtuality via Textuality

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