From a 1929 lecture for general audience, by Wittgenstein:
If I say "I wonder at the existence of the world" I am misusing language. ... To say "I wonder at such and such being the case" has only sense if I can imagine it not to be the case. In this sense one can wonder at the existence of, say, a house when one sees it and has not visited it for a long time and has imagined that it had been pulled down in the meantime. But it is nonsense to say that I wonder at the existence of the world, because I cannot imagine it not existing. I could of course wonder at the world round me being as it is. If for instance I had this experience while looking into the blue sky, I could wonder at the sky being blue or not blue. But the it's just nonsense to say that one is wondering at a tautology. ... Now suppose such an event [as a miracle] happened. Take the case that one of you suddenly grew a lion's head and began to roar. Certainly that would be as extraordinary a thing as I can imagine. Now whenever we should have recovered from our surprise, what I would suggest would be to fetch a doctor and have the case scientifically investigated and if it were not for hurting him I would have him vivisected. And where would the miracle have got to? For it is clear that when we look at it in this way everything miraculous has disappeared; unless what we mean by this term is merely that a fact has not yet been explained by science which again means that we have hitherto failed to group this fact with others in a scientific system. This shows that it is absurd to say "Science has proved that there are no miracles." The truth is that the scientific way of looking at a fact is not the way to look at it as a miracle.


speculative fictshun

every 1nce in a whyle u gotta r33d a book fer tha luv uv it sos i often gits a fantasy or sci-f nov3l butt usuly just 1 that cumz hylee recomendead. Tad Williams' 'Otherland' series iz purty good writing butt u gotta b carefull b/c he's liek ponderously paced n shizzle. thick. a highly lawdatory revue, n yes i m biassed:
VR has given us back the fantastic, cutting out the need for those massive suspensions of disbelief that fantasy once demanded, before cybertech kindly took us back to being able to believe the impossible.

A thousand years ago, if a large guy with a big sword sat in the shelter of an upturned longboat and talked about battling monsters, no one would have thought, 'Hey, hang on, Grendal doesn't really exist...'

Monsters did exist, so did trolls and dragons, water spirits and elves. You might not have seen them, but you probably knew a mate who knew a mate who had. The supernatural was a fact of life, like God, kings and taxes. Monsters waltzed in and out of sagas - the real sagas - as often as the heroes and were just as real.

It wasn't really science that killed such superstition, it was snobbery. Educated people stopped believing in the fantastic. They still read about it but knew it was unreal. Well, now believing the impossible is possible again, courtesy of VR. And Tad Williams has embraced the concept of VR-based fantasy wholesale with a sequence of four novels, whose plotline reads as if the Illuminati read William Gibson and decided they could do it better.

Monsoon Season

So I'm out walking last night, as I have a wont to do. I was grooving on the mix gdog cooked up for me (see yesterday's post). About an hour and a half in, heading home, it began to spatter a bit of rain.

There was a lightning storm on when I left home. To the north some beligerent clouds had decided to break it up with trillions of volts of electron streams shooting for miles across the sky. Apparently some kind of domestic dispute, if I had to guess by the fury of it. When the electronic songs came on the cloud-to-cloud flashes, combined with the moving shadows from headlights and the glitter of fireflies and streetlamp glare from metal corners reminded me of the light shows that you encounter in clubs. The grass, bushes, and trees, the damp garden earth smell, everything belied that and yet on the deserted residential streets there was just as much plasticised as organic life.

My feet did their lumpy patter along brick boulevards and asphalt strips. The base drum and snare became my heartbeat, or anyway less a slave rhythm than a cherubic, smiling metronome of sound. And if you think that last sentence is the worst I have to offer just stick around, constant reader; no doubt I can outdo myself in this regard. I exited the golf course (such as it is, poor pitiful thing) and crossed back into familiar turf, heading through dark ranch houses and unused porch lights, along next to an elementary school, and then a lake fell from the sky.

Drops splattered my sweat from my face, they invaded my shoes, snuck into my pockets, soaked my electronic equipment, obscured all sight. The rain couldn't come down in sheets: it was falling in bales, in blankets; it turned the air into a cool shower. The tall old trees here huddled under their own leaves and waited, drinking, sluicing down rivulets onto me. I felt as though I'd stepped into a river. Nowhere was there a dry spot to be had except under folks' porches. I borrowed a few. I was eight or ten blocks from home. I began to jog, and lightning blasted once again before the lashing rain drowned everything else out. I ran, with rain coming horizontally into my underwear. I stopped, gave up. I laughed. I strolled, wetly, past houses known and unknown to me. I passed under streetlamps like illuminated showerheads. A couple sat on their porch, watching the flashflood over poorly drained streets at the intersection near my garage. "Nice night!" I yelled as I passed by smiling, and they laughed.

When I returned home, a party was being held in my absence. Someone mistook me for being barely wet--there were no dry places on me to contrast the sodden places with. They should have been outside.

(Note: moneymaking scheme #1129--waterproof iPod.)


abowt town

tha playLiszt uv summa late nite ramblinz:

1. Velvet Waltz - Built To Spill
2. The Only Moment We Were Alone - Explosions In The Sky
3. Drunk as a Monk - Banco De Gaia
4. Thru The Eyes Of Ruby - Smashing Pumpkins(n look @ what corgan's comited tsk tsk a sham(e))
5. Around The World - Daft Punk
6. New Paths To Helicon Pt 1 - Mogwai
7. Time - Pink Floyd
8. We're In This Together - Nine Inch Nails
9. Busy Child - Crystal Method
10. Hearts Alive - Mastodon
11. Love and Desire (CD version) - trance[]control
12. Theme From Ernest Borgnine - Squarepusher
13. Voodoo Chile - Jimi Hendrix Experience this'z tha long one not tha (slight return) one everbuddy noes fr. that cadillac or benz or whatevs commercial.

Ice Pirates

If you love pirates (and I know you do), catch The Ice Pirates. It's the worst, ha ha.

When are they going to film "Pirate Monkey Robots vs. Zombie Cowboy Ninjas pt. 2"? That would rock.


Funtime laughalot hour

Ha ha: Rove busted would be so sweet.

In liberty news, if you're tired of rockin' the ganga and you can't cultivate any pretty somniferum flowers, then check out the I'm-sure-it-will-get-banned-as-soon-as-any-rule-crazy-right-wing-mutants-get-ahold-of-any-
information-about-it-because-they-think-the-drug-war-is-a-well-conceived-cultural-project new product (possibly available at the local head) which is, like, totally legal: Kratom. Gdog and the monkey say it's full of vitamins. Ask also eripsa for a different P.O.V.



So fizhburn had me reading this book of Wittgenstein. It's just a set of old notes of his on a variety of topics, very little of it hard-core philosophy. Some quotes that seem apropos to me at present:
"You can't construct clouds. And that is why the future you dream of never comes true."

"If you already have someone's love, no sacrifice is too high a price to pay for it but any sacrifice is too great to buy it."

"Someone is imprisoned in a room if the door is unlocked, opens inwards; but it doesn't occur to him to pull, rather than push against it."

"The monstrous vanity of wishes is revealed for instance i my wish to fill a nice notebook with writing as soon as possible. I get nothing from this; it's not that I wish it because, say, it will be evidence of my productivity; it is simply a longing to rid myself of something familiar as soon as I can; although of course, as soon as I am rid of it, I must start a fresh one & the whole business will have to be repeated."

"One cannot view one's own character from outside any more than one's own handwriting.
I have a one-sided relation to my handqriting that prevents me from seeing & comparing it with the writing of others on the same footing."

"The pleasure I take in my thoughts is pleasure in my own strange life. Is this joi de vivre?"
I am finding myself more and more akin to Wittgenstein (though I don't presume any measure of his talent). I can't tell if I should be sad, mad, determined, resigned...

Robot photoblogging

from a Chris Cunningham video for Bjork


Summer Dress

I was drinking with a friend last night and we were discussing the many benefits of warm weather. One big one, he said, was breasts. I have to totally agree. I mean, big knockers are in. Like about softball sized. But actually they're fucking out if you know what i mean. The halter top thing, right, that is sort of over. But still huge gazongas all waving in your face? Sweet.

So but why look? I mean, there's members of our own little blog crew here who think I'm a chauvanist for staring at Homo sapiens teats. But what the fuck? I mean, they are out there on display. We're not talking about some sort of friggin' like tee shirt or even normal tank top or anything. This is like bikini tops and super thin material and on and so forth and the totally obvious purpose is to MAKE US FUCKING STARE. Why wear clothes that scream "Look at me!" and then complain about it. What the hell business of yours is it (hypothetical feminist opponent) if someone else wants to be the object of desire... If feminism is "all about making choices" then the choice to attract drooling male leers is perfectly well available. Otherwise you're just the cultural gestapo, right--this is fine and free but that is forbidden...

Well so but the other side of the argument is why can't people wear whatever clothes they want without being objectified sexually. To this I gotta reply: are you effing kidding me? Please.

First of all, are you really going to try to separate physical beauty from sexual attractiveness? That's totally outside the bounds of sense. Even if you could accomplish it (doubtful) you'd have the same fucking problem of people being evaluated based on some objectification as an aesthetic object. (See, f, I have learned a bit.) And really have we been talking so much only about males looking at females? What about the suit, the shoes, the car, the cigar? Fucking ridiculous, all of it. Yes (to bring up something a friend and I chatted about) there can be a problem with unwanted sexual advances--but that's a different "problem" from the one of people looking with lust, or admiration, or fascination, or appreciation, or etc. at someone due to their physical qualities.

But damn am I glad nobody likes a three-foot fucking hairy dog-faced primate.


Weather Report

Expect the atmosphere to turn to scalding soup over the weekend, and grey matter is likewise likely to become boiled mush.


9th lettar

yo i almos' 4got that tha new issue uv Ninth Letter lit mag iz bin 0uten. chek it, yalls. more web shizzle hurr n hurr n hurr. suscrive OR @ least get a issue @ tha newsstand. good stuff needs yer like $$ to stick or else you b havin' aboot 87 damn 'stra wras ep. iii' bulshitz in yr artworld.


e. e. cummings is my favorite poet. Since we're lacking brainpower around here (certain parties are draining all our resources), here is a good one by him. From 1 x 1, number XIV:
pity this busy monster,manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim(death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
—electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange;lenses extend

unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born—pity poor flesh

and trees,poor stars and stones,but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if—listen:there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go
Yeah, yeah, this is usually panopticon's beat, but really whatever. From No Thanks, number 16:
may i feel said he
(i'll squeal said she
just once said he)
it's fun said she

(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she

but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you're divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)



This should've been up Sunday but we were all zonked out after the rave plus the drive. It's kind of heavy-handed, but then who cares. I've been asked why these things I write aren't titled; the answer is that they either need none or deserve none, and anyway they just clutter up the reading, most of the time. Even the post titles I use are really an afterthought... a denouement curled back to the beginning.

With which
ten thousand lost children
ten thousand seekers conjoining their lives
from 13 to thirtysomething, and
also ex-hippie biker stoner hick goth drunk townie counterculture thanks

On which
the sign says "waiting 1,000,000 years to meet you"
that Styxx wore away limestone birdnests
calls itself an Amphitheatre and soars
over us, with speaker stacks like moon-craters
the sun overhead burned the skulls of entranced shufflers
from sunset to sunrise to moonrise to Mass

In which
no glass containers - no violence - no sobriety -
no elevator for the long cliff trails - no cacophony so
booming an muffled & interference waves crossing at each camp
- no sleep - no shirking friendship

For which
we came armed and armored, these ten legions
shining at night with gauntlets and batons
maces swinging neon tracer fire exploding eardrums eyesockets drawn in
a case of water bottles - never a goodwill concession
whatever came quietly in a pant pocket
security made easy money

To which
decks, mixers, mikes, bullhorns, heads, scratches, keyboards
& the stages passed like the heavenly seals
at each a new combination of sex & motion
at each a new throng a grind, the liquid air
at each a stunned eye dilated mouth drool-grinning hugs

From which
greetings Dave, Rachel, Brian, Erik, Emile, DJ Lee, CM3, Robin...
whom we knew for just those minutes or hours
whom we shared with this motion
this fleeting glow between moonless trees and deaf heights
and all those unnamed eye-caught in the crowd, the press
between the hopping shoes and twisting wrists
a nod and thanks

At which
aural differentiations become so much jam
eyesight is a glow of tracking lasers circling our compatriots
rib cages vibrate with the thunderous rhythm of extacy
sex and exercise, fun & art are one
fools veil themselves with pills
the Musketeers make no competition
heartbeats become mindbeats, handbeats, footbeats
mind and body unify and dissolve
flight is possible

By which
sole and calf and ass and back and shoulder, neck, arm, abs, knees thanks
worked into submission and done over & over
that sleepy-eyed point
that warmth of everything sent out, respired
with all of you

That which
we answer our ancestors in truth, & in culture
ancient frozen spirits are fired and thawed
this much is saved from the separation of things
this much is spent, these become we


The Dotted Line in the Sand

Sign this for fuck's sake. Mutants are attempting to co-opt the last of the people's airwaves.

Here's what it costs to get out on recognizance in CA. (Thanks to J-Ro.)

No news is apparently crazy news. It's a good thing we're so good with rational solutions.

We're solving our debt problems with Julie's book about our stuff-obsessed culture. Do you have a debt problem--I mean, a psychological one?


Weather Report

Mental and physical exhaustion predominate, while humidity and general haziness continue to push through in slow fronts.


You wish you had more cats (dance remix)

In the name of cute things, drop a nickel for stuff on cats. We're off to see the wizard.

Weather Report

A raving good time is projected to be had by all, Friday through Sunday.


News Update

Since I don't have new essays ready at the moment, here's some newsy stuff to keep in mind. Sometime soon I'll have a consumer society thing requested by januarygirl.

Rummy's job may be in trouble after he accidentally admitted the truth. The lame duck's party seems to be re-evaluating their position on his punk ass. They also reaffirm their racism just in case anyone was confused about what they stand for. Meanwhile, the top brass are worried that these numbskulls will get them jailed. It certainly looks like that's what they have in mind. Everyone, of course, is bewildered by someone on the other side growing a spine at a time like this.

On another front, there's good news for people who can't live without an enemy. People in the UK, at least can see what needs to happen to save the country. It's probably because they can read the evidence.

In the Commondreams punditland, lots of opinions about contemporary ambivalience, neocon eggface, and our unconcern for darkies. So put this movie on your NetFlicks (flash site). And of course then there's Krugman.

I've been asked to mention that several members will be on holiday this weekend, so probably little or no posting will happen until next week.


musik iz tha spyce uv lyfe

'f u r a raver near chi/st lou/so ILL chek this. 's gunna b tha shizzle, w3rd.

normully i don' lyke no xian bands butt these hard-/grindcore mofoz Norma Jean gots talent so youse take a lissen 2 'Disconnecktie' tha faithful wampir:
its taken me 50k separate wrecks to get here n
ive learned absolutely nothing. as im standing here alone,
upright and motionless, im drowning in her sea.
tha rising n sinking of every consciousness ive ever known
now detached n disconnected. tha endless cycle of idea n action,
endless invention, endless experiment, endless hope n endless
disappointment. n i thought all i needed was just one breath to stay
afloat. for me it was like... like tha breath, tha last breath, tha last
breath that i never wanted. any of this.

i never thought that this would
capsize, but this isnt a boat, its a coffin!
n now im moving forward
into tha sea...into tha great sea
so i begin with tha end in mind.
tha cycles of heaven, 20 centuries gone by, come home

ive fallen three miles now... n i still cant shake this dragon,
but tha end is coming like a flood. it is going to be a year for
growing and the greatest amount of forgetting. my sea is dying, but
death is a doorway
n at the very root of me i know this.
its tha greatest reminder. what a broad world to roam in,
what a sea to swim in, so i begin with tha end in mind.
n frum 'Pretendeavor' in reference 2 a sinkin ship:
oh my god, hand us down our ribbons.
you death defier you. far from fear, we are.
adrift n gone. after tha fallout, after a million miles.
adrift is tha reason for tha rain
n we're in the undertow.
stop danding around, in stories untold
tha mind has conquered tha whole heart.
sewing tha insecure thread of reason.

ill burn what it takes. drown what it takes
we're not going down with this ship.
i burned 41 hills for tha love of academic ability.
that exceeds tha love of searching for tha truth.
we comprehand a massive array
thx Norma Jean. hed bangs n dope slangs, alls.



wrd upz fr. tha lan' uv tha frizzle n tha bored.
every day is a holiday
another motherfuckin holiday

i got my glock back
if you are a junkie i can tell you where to shop for rocks at
our apartments got dope dealers
and they sure been watchin out for t'well squealers

i bring tha sound and i found a better way
sometimes a nigga gotta do like Bobby and get away
since i gotta stay unemployed niggas don't pull it boy
if it wasn't for this rap shit, i wouldn't have no job

every day is a holiday
another motherfuckin holiday

he bought a quarter, cut it up
lookin at tha rocks in tha sack
had his pockets from bein' flat broke
another toke of this gut
i wanna stop smokin blunts
i need some fresh cut
i bring tha funk with tha sways of tha club
when i say 'whazzup' you know where i'm from

just watch, survival tense
rappin is tha way to get it off my chest
can't let this stress win
comin thru this swatch again
ain't made that many motherfuckin new friends
but i don't sweat it though

...and let tha doctor ease your pain
...pop that wine, listen to this rhyme

everyday is a holiday
another motherfuckin holiday
everyday is a holiday
another motherfuckin holiday

thx e. johnson, r. mcdowell, d. searcy, w.e. butler, j. butler.



Sparring partner for intellectual grappling, grappling.
Sense of humor and will to win a must. Minimum
MA/MS candidacy, background in History and/or
Literature/Philosophy/Anthropology/Psychology a
plus. Female applicants with strong libidos given
preference. No sore losers, no writing MFAs, please.
555-4231. EOE.


Think Big

A thoughtful Sunday courtesy of Jared Diamond:
The risks of a nuclear holcaust and of an environmental holocaust constitute the two really pressing questions facing the human race today. Compared to these two clouds, our usual obsessions with cancer, AIDS, and diet pale into insignificance, because those problems don't threaten the survival of the human species. If the nuclear and environmental risks should not materialize, we'll have plenty of leisure time to solve bagatelles like cancer. If we fail to avert those two risks, solving cancer won't have helped us anyway.
From The Third Chimpanzee. Since the book's publication, in 1992, what has changed about this basic situation? Nothing.


Am I supposed to believe in this? What is it, anyway? How about concordance or happenstance?

Sometimes life seems full of happy accidents which all contribute to a particular view on what's going on in my life. Somethinge the accidents are not so happy. Rarely, however, are they mixed. Perhaps that means I'm just viewing them in one light or another, and the fortuity of them is all in my mind. Yet how can it just be my own attitude which determines this? The events that occur are far beyond my control. I often cannot even gain conscious control over my interpretation of such events. It would be foolish of me, I think, to believe that coincidence itself has any greater significance beyond mere "existence"--as in that there are coincidences. As the blighting creation of an animator has told us, it's a small world, after all. And in this way: with so many things going on, how can we avoid finding that some of them are unlikely yet seemingly full of portent or potential? Perhaps one becomes attuned to coincidences in some way, and sees them everywhere.

At some times of life it may seem that everything which happens has gone on just for oneself to reach the moment of realization... We create the narrative of our own lives, in which we figure as our own protagonist (even, sometimes, as the tragic fop or the antihero); we must make it seem as though this story is significant, meaninful, more than a mere series of neural firings followed by everlasting unbeing. Even small things, like finding that I and another person react similarly to two somewhat differing sets of events, can suddenly spark introspection far beyond that ever considered by the average run of paycheck-chasers. But in the end there are more questions, as now, than answers. This life is what it is, unlikely as anything else: there is just as much chance, really, that this should go on as anything else, or that nothing at all should happen.

There could very well be no events or things, and that there are is a mere matter of fact. So why this or that event, why this or that attitude toward it... Can we resign ourselves to existence as wetwork robots, plying our bony derelicts through a fog of self-delusion, believing that there is anything more to what goes on than the data of its happening (there being data is itself just a matter of fact, too)--or is this question about meaning in things and events senseless? In other words, will random assignation of importance to one time-worm (that's the name of a region of space--and anything in it--during some temporal period) win out, or should we, Taoistically, deny the contrast which supposedly sets one thing apart from another?

In still other words, I can't decide what to think about coincidences, at all.


Small things

Waking up without a hangover, though you're pretty sure you ought to have one.
Neko Case sings like a Texan angel would sound if that were possible.
Constructive risk-taking and confrontation.
That glowing muscle ache you get when your body finally gets well-used.
Glimpses of a couple's special look at each other.
A week's worth of warm summer thunderstorms.
Getting to a task you've put off for far too long past when it should've been done.
Falling back into meditative repose.
Combining coffee and a Rick Powers book.



been a while since we'd gone 2 a lotta shows. tonite gunna see Neko Case @ tha highdive a purty lame clubb. per fizhburn lite postin' dis week b/c uv obligatoriums 2 meet. glASS raize 4 tha summ3r, all.


This was the year's first approximation to sweltering
In which we dripped
Our life out, salted old men
and women
in a rush to escape our own creation
Drenched in the liquid of life
it felt like piss
it felt like hell
So drink a beer all you happy suckers
told to sunscreen
or wear a hat, no tinfoil
We gathered then
in the middle of the week as only we can
we foolish academics
and our greased visages masked
under sleepy lids we watch each other
That felt like grass
that felt like balls, and tears
and cameraderie failed
and dying told you life could still ooze out
The fire within drives that
stupid, moronic phlogiston
of growth and friendship
the air
dry-ice machine and heat lamp
the water
precious interior given prodigally 'round
Now toast and relive
your precious glowing childhood



To Aloha (supporting their new album) concert-goer miss e: how in the world did we miss each other at the show? I know I was half-blind and more than half-deaf.



'fter lotta considurashun i kent s33 wha' tha f anybuddy lieks re: dis band. if u lyke Air mebby u could hep m3...? whutz tha 'ppeal uv Stereolab. they's like a french lounge band on vitamin K all huffin n2o n thinkin' crappy ode Cassio beatz are cool, wtf?

Weather Report

Today expect increasing porous activity as sunshine and long-legged walking combine to create a storm of perspiration; whirling winds may flap the trees a bit, and it is tornado season--fortunately our instruments report mere late-afternoon showers to cool things down; expect the current high-pressure system to linger through the week.


Cognition or Computation, first thoughts.

An interesting discussion from eripsa that should be weighed in on, albeit not by me. However, we shall endeavor to stake out a position, at least provisionally, based on what is plausible at the moment. Keeping in mind, of course, that the depth of literature in this field is so far unavailable and unabsorbed, so we shall be speaking in some measure of ignorance. Let the following be a highly tenuously held position which it would be easy to topple if any compelling evidence against it were offered. No discussion of this specific statement has been undertaken prior to its issue, and indeed no study of the thread from which it is pulled has been made. It seems best, after all, to consider first what one has so far in mind, to make it clear, and thence to modify it as warranted.

There can be no doubt that supernatural forces are impossible. If "supernatural" powers, properties, or forces exist, they are merely unstudied. We do well to remember Asimov's proclamation concerning technology and magic; much the same thing may be said about the properties of what is experienced: all aspects of that which is are, in the relevant empiricistic sense, natural--there is no mystery beyond lack of knowledge. And of course such knowledge is "to be had" (we do well also to recall a different sense of the final statement of Wittgenstein's Tractatus--if we can "point at it" we are able to account for it, and nothing is unaccountable). The result is that there is no soul as revealed by the religious books. Or, if there is, our empirical investigations will eventually reveal it.

The point being, it will eventually be impossible to deny that there is some sort of "reductionist" explanation of the workings of mind, which is itself computable. That is, there will be a way to predict future subjective states, in some sense, from current brain states and subjective states. The difficulty is not with the theoretical possibility but with our ability to understand the different levels of discussion as separate, combined, or identical. But this is perhaps solvable--who in the sixteenth century could have understood a cell phone?

As far as the "computer" aspect of the brain, it is of course a false analogy to suppose that a solid-state computer can perform the functions the brain does. Partially this is because the brain does not operate in discrete states. Partially it is because it operates under a probabilistic framework far more than the silicone chips of binary computers, or the tapes of Universal Turing Machines do. Nevertheless, the explanation of consciousness and subjective states will be available in purely "physical" terms, and soon enough at that.

Then there is the question of intelligence, as supposedly contrasted with emotion. This is what is known as a false dichotomy, and on its face no less. Perhaps some bumbling boobs can still believe that these sorts of states are separate, but whoever they are perhaps they ought to wonder what they think an emotion is, after all. No sympathy for these anti-humanists. An emotion is a subjective state no less than "understanding" or "seeing" or "remembering". Supposed "qualitative" differences are illusory. The state of understanding has one set of qualia and the state of, say, sadness has another set. If it seems odd to speak of a state being understandingish then perhaps it is only because we have not the proper vocbulary. But of course vocabulary is in an important way arbitrary--in the sense that we can, as philosophers, just make this word up and know that it does have an extension. For we just saw what it was.

Ordinary experience bears this out, of course. (A debt to Dewey is here to be acknowledged.) The "understanding" and "sadness" qualia may mix in the processing of a particular sequence of data--what we could describe as 'the viewing of a movie about the Holocaust', for instance.

Where does this get us? Well it points at this final idea. That an "intelligent" system which operates only logically cannot be a person. Its logical functions must be constrained by perameters which we can call "interests." These will be either arbitrary (as in decided by the "creator" of the system) or functional (as in due to the nature of the system--some purpose for or in its goings-on as one or more of the things it is). If you discern an Aristotelian flavor herein you are nosing in the right direction, though be careful not to get too close to the source, which may burn. Emotion is, for the type of thing we "know" as being a person, i.e. a human being, a functional parameter on its internal state. By this we can only mean that we are set up to have interests of a certain sort with are not reducible to purely logical consideration. For, of course, geometric reasoning must have assumptions. The functional interests (and the arbitrary ones, for that matter) serve, for the system, as "assumptions." The processing hardward gives rise to states that do not conform to the parameters of traditional predicate logic. Witness, for instance, our ability to correctly use common nouns such as "cat" without the term's being quantifiable either in truth-functional terms or probabilistic ones. Emotions are, then, a data-processing mechanism that works through a different set of "rules" than purely logical ones (and yes, we have been throwing around 'logical' quite loosely).

What then are programs and instructions for computers--they are just particular events going on in particular locations and involving particular materials. One could of course describe them in general terms. To say that a computer "only follows commands" within its software architecture is to say something true, given a wide enough definition of 'command'. The same sense of 'command', however, also shows that human brains likewise operate only due to certain inputs, which are 'commands' in the relevant sense, and so one must question, then whether we should not impute metaphysical intentionality to machines, animals, falling rocks and so forth. But the answer is simple. Instead of taking the notion of intentionality and trying to apply it to inanimate things, we ought to examine just what it turns out to be. A simple analysis reveals that a certain sort of recursive loop within a system, whereby the system relates to its environment (in some here-unspecified way), is the characteristic of an events being "caused" "intentionally." Thus someone who acts intentionally may be involved in event X. Following Anscombe for the most part we can say that for descriptions A, B, C, etc. (of which there are indefinitely many) are not all what was done intentionally. For event X, the person did A and C, but accidentally also B, D, etc. (Thus we also reach ethics, in the form of plausible foresight and culpability.) We get out of the trap (and the sorites paradox of intentionality) by recognizing that the reflexive consideration of what is to be done is the mark of intentionality.

This may look like nothing has moved, for now perhaps it seems we are describing intentionality in terms of "what it wanted to do" or "what it went after", which explains nothing. To this we have no answer except perhaps that we are after explication and not some ultimate explanation. We must have assumptions after all. That final answer seems like a cop-out to some, and we may allow that it appears so, but yet for an initial statement of position we can go no further.



c. palahniuk's novel that iz. 'e's replayin' tha themez uv like findin' 1'z way n tha world n such. tha existential ennui of tha damaged psyche. but not insane or nuffin'. jus' like a pathological-type self-descructive type r3ally.

4 plotwize tha book's like basically a sorta tragemady w/a comic element in tha' like tha hole arc is basickully tha death uv one's f'd up ma. like viktorr tha progaminst's ma dies uv like ode age + starvation cuz she don' member how 2 b hongree. n like viktorr iz tha sexxx addicks so's as a diseazed person he b avoidin' like 'iz whole life n shit.

tha sentrul themez's agin' takin kontrol uv 1's life n not lyin' n shit. mebby alsos tha author'z like too obvious n in-yr-face 'boutit. yeh purty much liek that 2 much repetishun. but gi'en tha levelz uv datail in tha manusprickt mebb3 itz mo' 4givubble. 'fterall 'snot so detailed tha' u gets a good idea uv locales 'r nuffin. + also tha vizual detale'z r lackin' so's tha cinematic imagination haz a hardd tyme makin' all tha peaces fit. but on 'thuthurr han' tha voice uv tha narater 'z totally character appropriate so what da f's i gunna sayda that.

tha physuckle manifestashun uv tha proganonixts best fri3nd's addicshun n displacement toward liek tha constructive rebuilding of tha damaged psychological monster inhabiting tha most comfortless depths uv tha soul iz liek this exceptionally witty pseudo-metaphorical stand aginst both wage-slavery n appetitive material distractive self-medication. or sumfin', i dunno whatevs.

plus alsos thurr'z a luv sroty. 's like a purty fun33 moment when sumbuddy sez they guess theyself's crazy. yeh.


Chicago, second impressions

Last time I was here I got dragged on a tour of downtown. Big C is supposed to be one of the major architectural spots in the U.S., maybe even in the world. Why, I have no clue. A lot of it looked totally similar to me, but then I know nothing of architecture so go figure. I was more interested in the moving bits.

First, in a sort of obligatory and cursory fashion, I have got to complain about the traffic. So consider that done. If you live in or near a large city you know what I'm talking about.

Second, I always have the same strange feeling when I go to a city. (I'm not a city slicker, but I'm not a hick, and probably "suburbanite" would also not be an apt description. Ask me about it sometime, if you feel like a dose of boredom.) The feeling is the following: I am the second-unit director for an urban drama television program, searching out locations, views, and people to film for those two-second between-sceen fills that establish location or "atmosphere" for a scene.

If you have tried to shoot a film you'll know what this feels like. Otherwise you won't, so here's the attempt to give it to you. It's a sort of out-of-body experience. Now that you're reaching for the mouse to get the fuck away from the website, I'll give a bit more detail for those who stay. (Thanks, non-losers.) The eyes and ears are a very small and inefficient film crew, surveying the look of a place. The feet are a dolly moving the camera about. The body is merely a support structure for the observation devices. One watches.

Of course, maybe someone else would call my behavior during such experiences "gawking." I can't entirely disagree, though I hope I hid it well enough not to bug the locals (who, I'm sure, deal with annoying tourists all the time; which is not to say I'm a tourist; I'm not; but still). I certainly felt this way in an Indian section off Western of Devon where we had dinner. I am a sucker, plain and simple, for Indian food.

Third, the lake. Yes, the lake. And if you don't know which one, look at a map of Chicago sometime. There is only one. A storm blew in today, as we stood knee-deep in fishy lakewater to cool some of the sweat we'd worked up walking from brunch through the steaming rat-cage air to the quay. (Another aside, and a plug for which I get no compensation: Ann Sathers [the second word may be a misnomer, but it starts with S] serves some of the most incredible cinnamon buns this side of the Ole Store [which I think I heard is closing/-ed, but used to be in Northfield, MN]; also basically it's the best place I've been for an American-style non-buffet brunch. They don't serve grits, tho'.) From the concrete path that abuts the beach we looked out over the water, and there before us stretched out the high aqua tones of a tropical reef in the water. The cobalt thunderclouds shadowed slowly over the lake and the filtered smoglight of the afternoon sun reflected back that chemical climate impossibility. Where is my camera... Oh wait, I gave up my budding photography career in highschool when, if I remember correctly, a girl from my French class required my undivided attention. C'est la vie.

I still don't know any French because of her.

The lake was beautiful. A note to you all: if you ever move to a city, and have not lived there before, bring some Odorscreen. (For the last time, we do not accept sponsorships, endorsement monies, or bribes. Yet. I'm kidding, of course--we're not corporate sell-outs. But seriously, call me.) *that "phone call" hand gesture with pinkie and thumb to mouth and ear*

Also, Lewis Black is an excellent comic to listen to on a long automobile journey, because on his CDs he works blue--very blue--and it's pretty good to imagine how rad it would be for him to bust his good material out on the Daily Show. Or somewhere. Great, now I'm thinking about censorship. Just great. What a way to end a post.


Chicago, first impressions

It's been a number of years since I've been to (as opposed to through) Chi-town. It's a beautiful city. But it stinks. I live in a rather smaller community than the city proper, and I'd forgotten the smell you get when several million people all do their shitting and perspiring together. Right now I'm at a party thrown for a friend's 30th birthday. As you might expect, it's totally way lame. All that's happening is chatting and drinking and dancing and craziness. That's all.

As an aside, let me also point out that vegan birthday cake is both delicious and inedible. It takes about four delicious bites for the stomach to climb up through the esophagus and slap the tongue because it feels like someone is taking a spade to your guts. So that's kind of a mixed blessing.

We're not really by downtown here, so it's not more than normal hum-noisy, and the cool breeze forty feet off the pavement makes the humidity bearable, finally. This season is a roil of thunderheads and quick hail strikes, a bathwater toss of warm rain and then clear evening skies.

I'm glad to know that there are people whom I don't yet know whose life-paths are as tortuous and knotted as mine.


Friday post: hey America,



My supposition is that in ancient times there was, for the common run of people, a lot less entertainment. By which I mean not things to do but things one sits and watches. Sure there were folk tales and music and myths, or bardic epics, or whatever. Things of that nature, but not all the time, and not in great variety. Great variety, of course, being what we've got now, which is access to basically everyone's culture. (Thanks to the interweb.)

People's lives were also shorter, and there were fewer ancestors. Knowledge was therefore much more limited, because storage of it was limited.

Where do people learn how to act? They learn by example. We are imitators, in an important sense. Our parents and other adults model for us, as do our peers to a certain extent. Now myths are often (not so) disguised morality tales that communicate standards of behavior. They are compacted bunches of information about admirable ways to live one's life, which do not require a model for transmission. One's imagination supplies the missing link. In imagination legendary characters take on a life far beyond the transparent fiction of words from which they are composed. Their models are meant to replace the imperfect actual ones with ideals.

Transmission of stories has grown more complex as storage of information has become more extensive. Now we are bombarded by so many ideals and anti-ideals, gods and fools, that there is no one set that we can look to. Yet, for all that, the models are still out there.

Look at the sit-com. Ever since "I Love Lucy" there has been a pattern of the husband-wife dynamic with respect to appearance. And this leads us to the obvious point about body image and expectation in current American society. But as an example we see that the model tells us how to deal with situations; they can be resolved easily, wrapped up in a relatively short amount of time, and the harm done is not lasting no matter what the mishap that befalls us--and we are encouraged to take life superficially. You can think about that now, if you like, but if you're a typical sitcom fan you won't/can't.

Everywhere we look there are multitudes of stories. There was some years ago a statistic circulating that a typical six-year-old had seen a thousand murders on television. Whether or not this is true, it is certainly true that the child has encountered several thousand stories already. And every year, more stories are bombarding us from every media outlet. These are all filed away in our memory somewhere, and slowly a method forms for responding to situations.

Real life becomes stale and hackneyed, cliche'd, out-of-date, just in virtue of our tendency to follow the modes put up everywhere for us. Here is the lament, then: how can one be oneself and act originally and without subconscious restraint or imitation which holds us umbilically to received indoctrination, when one's entire life is built of safely familiar stories that, if not happy, are comforting in being so familiar?

It makes one question whether one is a pawn of one's ancestors, or of others' ancestors. The love story, the break-up, the fall and the conversion, the friendship and the rivalry, the comedy of manners, the tragedical farce, even these can be plotted out. I have, at least, developed the ability to suss out the plot of any movie made in Hollywood based solely on a 30-second television spot. What's the point of watching the thing if you know what's going to happen? Perhaps to see how "good" it is.

Are we reduced then to being only critics? This seems as though it would bleed over into daily life. So then we watch how much the aesthetic has crept into our approach to relations between people, and not in a positive fashion. It is just that this is the only way that we can think of what goes on. If we have escaped the tyranny of visceral emotional reaction to each and every little thing that happens--if we can take a critical stance--it seems that then we have nothing else. We are now machines controlled by critical humunculi, who play the game of life for fun and profit, tragedy and death, spectacle if nothing else. We are no longer in ourselves but rather beneath ourselves, in the bunker, controlling the action from afar.

More later, but I feel an attack of self-criticism coming on.



buy. now.