[Humanist] 29.470 intoxicants

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Nov 12 07:45:40 CET 2015

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 470.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 6 Nov 2015 09:16:16 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: intoxicants

Perhaps it's not particularly surprising to think of computing as an 
intoxicant, e-mailing in particular. Early this morning, while taking a 
break from such activity, I came across Will Self's contribution to 
"Diary", on the cocaine trade, in the latest London Review of Books. He 
recollects, from experience during his youth, the effects of the finest 
variety but then notes the blurring of sensations that followed. This 
sentence leapt out at me:

> That's the thing about intoxicants: because they alter the
> consciousness that assays them, they blur the boundaries between
> primary and secondary qualities, between essences and attributes.

Is this not what follows from involvement with almost anything? But 
computing in particular concerns me. It's not so much that our minds 
blur but that we begin to see phenomena as computational. (Take a 
peek into cognitive science, for example.) Not that the phenomenon of 
invention looping back to refigure the inventor is new. It would seem 
fundamental to inventions of all sorts and has been repeatedly noticed.

And so a question (which I've asked before, for which apologies): who 
has written about this looping phenomenon recently and well?

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney

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