[Humanist] 23.384 boundaries of the hand

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Oct 20 07:21:41 CEST 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 384.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2009 06:54:50 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: boundaries of the human hand

Thanks to Renata Lemos, James Rovira and Susan Brown for the suggestions 
for further reading. Gould comes closest to what I had in mind. But, 
sitting here with my line in the water, the fish I was hoping would be 
named was someone who relatively recently has written about the embodied 
knowledge of the artist/craftsman, say, who knows in experience that the 
boundary which begins with the hand extends to the edge of whatever 
tool. I'd like to know historically when this primaeval insight was 
spoken, how it was developed under what cultural conditions, or if it 
was not spoken, what kept it silent. What interests me about Hayles' 
statement is that the cyberneticists should have greeted the 
artist/craftsman's basic experience as revolutionary. Of course then as 
now (even more so now?) scholars and scientists seldom, I'd think, learn 
to make things with their hands in a way that would lead them to realise 
the boundary-shift implicit in skilled tool-use. In other words, 
cybernetics would seem basically a surfacing and formalizing of 
something as old as sentient life. Why was the historical question not 
asked then?

Interaction design, as with Engelbart's mouse, has certainly brought us 
to the point of having digital tools to hand which approach the 
extensive capabilities of a chisel. I would think that we need to 
connect with all the thinking we can get along these lines.



Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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