19.254 unfailing fairness Re: 19.251 failure of interdisciplinarity

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 09:04:19 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 254.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Mon, 05 Sep 2005 08:56:00 +0100
         From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
         Subject: unfailing fairness Re: 19.251 failure of interdisciplinarity

Dear Wendell,

Thank you for the invitation to substitute the word "discipline" for the
word "chance" in a formulation about "surprise."

trip to the dictionary...

Initially, it, the invitation, led me to the lexicographers. Finding
"disciplinarian" between "disciple" and "discipline" in an English
listing, I want to cross-culturally check and found in a French listing
"disciplinable". This led me to muse on the potential for punishment in
relation to the phobic instance especially that of the anti-blog columnist
from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

distengo ...

I certainly agree that such a person does not come off as a luddite. They
are rather expressing phobic sentiments in a technophobic mode. Luddism is
the rejection of the application of certain types of technology in certain
situations. The luddite has an experience to draw upon; the technophobe,
hearsay. Whatever admixtures of technophobe and luddite may be at work in
any individual psyche or group thought processes, the distinction that
brings the category of "experience" to the fore is perhaps key in thinking
through the movement that passes in and through these positions. Fear
recalled as an experience of fear finds us in the vicinity of Aristotlean

plot thickens...

An eschatological vision of the false disciplines withering away plays
itself out on the terrain of a dichtomous segmentation of "the wild" and
the academy. In a nostalgic mode the bisected terrain leads to a grail
game, the search for the locus of true discipline. In either temporal
orientation, past or future, the dynamic is one more of cathexis than

remapping ...

The call to subsitute "chance" and "discipline" in relation to "surprise"
reminds me of the machinery of knowledge production. An individual uses
their experience and a group, its history, to sift and sort. That the very
experience and history is the product of sifting is only part of the
story. Recognizing the operation of chance can temper the vertigo of a
regressive series of meta levels. Groups and individuals shuffle. They
wait. Patience is a part of discipline. Whereof surprise? Something hidden
becomes (re)revealed. Surprise is a function of storing. Discipline as

Machines can be harnessed for sorting, storing, shuffling.

The order here is important. The machine shuffles between what is being
sorted and what is stored. And yes, there is the shuffling of what is
stored and the shuffling of what is being sorted. And further, there is a
meta level of shuffling the shuffling. Machines plugging into machines.

Also important is the implication that storage does not in and of itself
guarantee a universal and perpetual access.

A discipline, false or otherwise, is a set of rules for a course of
behaviour. One goes _to_ a discipline in order to go _through_.

disambiguating the "it" ....

And what it presumes to protect (seriousness of purpose? standards of
quality? knowability, verifiability?) has already escaped out into
the wild -- where indeed, academics aren't the only ones looking for
it -- even accepting that it was ever really there, safe in the
academy to begin with. Yes, there has been true discipline, however
quietly its true adepts have gone their way. But there has also been
plenty of the false kind, maintaining premises of standards and
seriousness in place of the real thing. In the face of "the chance to
be surprised by machines" (as you put it), while in Francoisian
manner I ask you to substitute the word "discipline" for the word
"chance", false disciplines that reject it without knowing it can
only wither away.

The machine would work differently if the eschatological and the
dichotomous were not available to it for processing. It just might not
work at all. A perpetually purging machine would self-destruct. Unless...

In some languages, the semantic field of "discipline" cuts across the
border of "education" and "breeding". I can imagine a withering away. Not
sure I can train myself to utter it.

Since for me, the cathetic acts as a resevoir for catharsis, it is
difficult to entertain the notion that representations of experience will
shrink and disappear. Well, I guess, withering does leave traces and
disappearance is afterall a trick of prestidigitation rather than
predestination, I'll take stock in the story of the battle between false
and true disciplines, for now, holding on reserve its future liquidation.

Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
~~~ to be surprised by machines: wistly and sometimes wistfully
Received on Mon Sep 05 2005 - 04:15:39 EDT

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