[Humanist] 29.474 intoxicants

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Nov 13 09:49:34 CET 2015


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 474.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2015 09:51:19 +0100
        From: Tim Smithers <tim.smithers at cantab.net>
        Subject: Re:  29.470 intoxicants
        In-Reply-To: <20151112064540.DDFC66D87 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

Yes!  Intoxication.  Very nice!

Our technologies and the tools we render from these have for a
long time inspired, informed, dominated, constrained, clamped,
and cramped (typically in that order) our thinking about the
brain and the cognitions we attributed to it.  Clock work
mechanisms, hydraulic systems, (mechanical) telephone
exchanges, and, now and for the time being, computation and
computers, are some examples.

Who has written well on this?  I don't know, but, like you,
I'd be interested to know.  It's difficult.  You have to
indulge in the different substances without becoming
intoxicated by them.  Blurring essences and attributes always
feels easier and happier.

Who in the digital humanities doesn't think languaging is
essentially an information exchanging activity, for example?

Best regards,

Tim

> On 12 Nov 2015, at 07:45, Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
> 
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 470.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                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?
> 
> Yours,
> W
> -- 
> 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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