Wednesday, January 30, 2008

graded blog#2 option1The excerpt by Lyotard

After reading the excerpt by Lyotard twice, I still found it quite frustrating deciding what to write as my blog. Although I felt I understood the gist of it, I wasn’t quite sure I had wrapped my head around it fully, then as I read the third time it dawned on me. It was the paragraphs where he talked about pain as an element of thought. He said, “The pain of thinking isn’t a symptom coming from the outside to inscribe itself on the mind instead of in its true place.” Could this be the frustration I was feeling? the pain of making sense of this? the aggravation of expressing my thoughts? So I dove in and determined to understand what his thoughts.

The pain of thinking is the pain of our unattainable dreams. “…and even inscribed on a page or canvas, they ‘say’ something other than what we ‘meant’....” This is the impediment in crafting the machine, because the nature of machines is that they are inherently logical. This put a strain on them in generating new complex ideas and thought process. What logical being would put itself through the anguish of thinking?

Also, there is a general idea of technophobia throughout the excerpt. The fear of human extinction creates the need for a sophisticated man-made machine that can replace us. So, Lyotard theorizes that there is a related inevitable process of vital consideration that needs to be eliminated in order for the future post-humans to survive, “… your thinking-, your representing machines suffer? What will be their future if they are just memories? You will tell me this scarcely matters if at least they can ‘achieve’ the paradoxical relationship to the said ‘data’ which are only quasi-givens, giveables, which I have just described. But this is hardly a credible proposition.” This quote expresses our need to create a soulless being- a Zombie that will carry on our existence, but we face the impossibility of its creation.

Thinking, itself, is a minds translation of pain, the murkiness of our inability to thwart our annihilation, a pure sensational pain, a result of our making. “Matter asks no questions expects no answers of us, it ignores us” Hence, our classification of this thinking as philosophical. "So the unthought would have to make your machines uncomfortable, the uninscribed that remains to the inscribed would have to make their memory suffer." "Otherwise why would they even start to think? We need machines that suffer from the burden of their memory. (But suffering doesn¹t have a good reputation in the technological megalopolis. Especially the suffering of thinking.)"

This excerpt was hard to understand, to show the complexity of a thought process. The machines as a logical ‘being’ would not go through the painstaking effort required to understand and digest the contents of the material. He caused me pain by forcing me to embark on an intellectual journey.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois. “Can Thought Go on without a Body?”

Oxford English Dictionary


Adam Johns said...

So, no machine would suffer through Lyotard? This is yet another good entry: many people have been struggling with the issue of pain and suffering in Lyotard, and how that relates to thought: your focus on its centrality to thought (its identity with thought) is a nice culmination to those efforts.

I'm not quite sure of something, though. Do you _agree_ with Lyotard? Is thinking, at least to an extent, the same as suffering? Why? I feel like your own thought (your own suffering) is incomplete. Maybe connecting to Twain or Joy would have helped?

Aj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aj said...

Thinking isn't necessarily suffering. It depends on individual definition of suffering. Since suffering is considered a state of discomfort, then any involved thinking could be considered suffering. Also, thinking is an act of questioning the known or the unknown which may result in change. This could be very discomforting.
This is partly the reason why the excerpt challenged our way of thinking and how the 'future post humans' would be able to deal with 'new thinking' and the changes that may follow.
I agree with Lyotard’s thesis. For post-humans to be human they have to be capable of human thought as well as the adjustments that may result. This would be a great challenge for "machines". Perhaps, as joy suggested we might some day make this machine but that would the break the logical rule that makes them machines.

Adam Johns said...

I'm beginning to suspect that the main difference between you and Lyotard is that you are reluctant to do what he does: set the bar very high on "thinking," and excluding "everyday" forms of thinking which are not, by their very definition painful.

Felix's "involved thinking" = Lyotard's "thinking," I believe.

For what it's worth, I agree with you.