“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Rather More Hermetic than Hermeneutic

This is the epistemological equivalent of the Texas Border Patrol or John McCain's “danged fence”:

“Kittler seemed to me to consider technique before considering the embeddedness of technique-as-codification-of-social-relation.”

Said embeddedness-consideration being, as stated later, the proper American way of doing “it.”


1. It's like saying “You can't come into America until you are American.” Which means that no one (else) comes into America.
   a. Technique is assumed to be (dangerously) “non-social.”
   b. This kind of hermeneutics is incapable of hermeneutics, that is, interpretation. Everything must be scanned at entry according to prefabricated logics.
   c. Whence the smuggled-in readymade, easy to wear, handy-wipe metaphysical concepts: “technique,” “society” (betcha it's merely human), “codification” (because everything must be always-already determined as linguistic), “of” (since “we all know that” “social relation” is ontologically prior to “technique”), “relation” (because things only mean insofar as they are related to other things; on their own they are blank nothing). Even the hyphens, because we all know that this sort of thing is true without having to explain it in advance or even spell it out nicely.
       i. The prize for easy to wear-ness goes to “embeddedness.” Heaven forfend that things not be embedded. Explain it please, I'm waiting!
            * doesn't it mean that a thing must always already be totally swallowed, nestled, burrowed in Hobbit-like to something more real, meaningful, important? Such nature-speak, allowed to be naked, would be shunned by the ideologeme, I bet. Heaven forbid we think the world as Hobbits do! We are sophisticated cool kids.
            ** and doesn't it also mean something correlationist? Doesn't it mean that there is a Bush-like Decider, in this case social relations, that gets to decide what a thing is? That a thing is nothing until it's been properly scanned? It's a checkpoint pretending to be a descriptive sentence, and I think I know who's in charge of this particular checkpoint, though I shan't spell it out.

2. The bigger point is, total contextualism is self-defeating. Consider the sentence:

All sentences are contextually determined.

That means that the sentence itself is contextually determined. Unless anything you can do, it can do meta and the sentence somehow escapes its own logic--and is on its own terms thus meaningless.

Either way, it can't mean anything on its own. You need a context. And how can you check in advance that the sentence's context is the valid one?

Houston, we have an infinite regress.

3. This is in the context of a discussion along the lines of: “Might it not be a good idea to include, in some way, nonhuman entities and perspectives, especially given that, you know, we are now doing a grand job of extinguishing an awful lot of them on this planet? The sixth grand job so far in 4.5 billion years?”

4. Imagine the dolphin equivalent of this sentence. “Well, we couldn't possibly consider [human name's] concept. That would be an insult to dolphinkind, especially insofar as it's patently absurd, given that it's an insult to dolphinkind.” Now imagine the dolphins are saying this sentence in the context of very very loud sonar pulses that are terrorizing marine mammals.

Unfortunately for the dolphins, there are no ear plugs insulating enough to baffle the immense pressure waves. Just this conceptual equivalent of an ear plug. They reason that if they go on saying the sentence, they will be safe.

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