Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Temple Talk MP3

I'm quite sad that the incandescence of yesterday is no more. I did take detailed notes however and I shall try to reconstruct the Q&A here, which was one of the best experiences of my career so far. In the mean time, here's the Temple talk.


Ted said...

thanks for posting this. It was very helpful to listen to the interobjectivity part once again.

bill benzon said...

Strange pathways -- you mention this sometimes a bit after 1:03:00 when you talk about the Airporter trip through Davis and then coming back to London (1:03:40) and finding all sorts of strange little places that you hadn't seen before, "strange ways of going from A to B." I felt that very strongly when I first began photographing graffiti in my neighborhood. The graffiti itself aside -- marks of paths taken by others through my 'hood -- I walk obscure and hidden pathways through my familiar neighborhood. I'd walk for, say, a mile or so behind abandoned buildings and along a railroad track and take and turn and then annother and suddenly, Wham! There I am in this place I've been through time and again. But never by the route I just took. That place has become, all of a sudden, strange and a bit uncanny.

Here's a passage from the psychologist J. J. Gibson that's relevant. He was addressing the question of how you tell a veridical perception from an illusion (say, projected into your mind by a malignant being):

A surface is seen with more or less definition as the accommodation of the lens changes; an image is not. A surface becomes clearer when fixated; an image does not. A surface can be scanned; an image cannot. When the eyes converge on an object in the world, the sensation of crossed diplopia disappears, and when the eyes diverge, the “double image” reappears; this does not happen for an image in the space of the mind. . . . No image can be scrutinized -- not an afterimage, not a so-called eidetic image, not the image in a dream, and not even a hallucination. An imaginary object can undergo an imaginary scrutiny, no doubt, but you are not going to discover a new and surprising feature of the object this way.

Gibson, J. J., 1979. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Miflin, pp. 256-257.

David Hays and I have glossed Gibson's passage:

Gibson presupposes an organism which is actively examining its environment for useful information. It can lift, touch, turn, taste, tear and otherwise manipulate the object so that its parts and qualities are exposed to many sensory channels. Under such treatment reality continually shows new faces. Dream, on the other hand, simply collapses. Dream objects are not indefinitely rich. They may change bafflingly into other objects, but in themselves they are finite.