“…we have soothed ourselves into imagining sudden change as something that happens outside the normal order of things.”

“‘An accident, like a car crash. Or beyond our control, like a fatal illness. We do not conceive of sudden, radical, irrational change as built into the very fabric of existence. Yet it is. And chaos theory teaches us,’ Malcolm said, ‘that straight linearity, which we have come to take for granted in everything from physics to fiction, simply does not exist. Linearity is an artificial way of viewing the world. Real life isn’t a series of interconnected events occurring one after the other like beads strung on a necklace. Life is actually a series of encounters in which one event may change those that follow in a wholly unpredictable, even devastating way,’ Malcolm sat back in his seat… ‘That’s a deep truth about the structure of our universe . But, for some reason, we insist on behaving as if it were not true.’”

-Ian Malcolm, chaos theorist.

Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, Ballantine Books, New York: 1990. p. 171.

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“Covered in Beeees!”

Man this is cool.

carpenter bee

I mean even if you were to hate insects, “Creatures!” as one friend of mine calls them, this would still amaze you to a point far beyond your insectophobia. “There are 4,000 species of North American bees living north of Mexico.” Staggering isn’t it? And while so many of us harbor a fear and loathing of all Apoidea, how often have we actually been stung by them? It seems easy to demonize them as we fire Raid foam straight through their hive doors and up their asses. But it’s their world, not ours, if you consider they’ve inhabited the Earth since the Cretaceous and that they’ve been providing the most crucial worldwide reproduction (and thus evolution) of Angiosperms since then.  Continue reading

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“Being Given” Circles in Sand and Marion’s Neuroses

Phil 6958: The Uncertain Boundaries of the Subject


Short Paper on Being Given, the finale

Marion’s turn to paternity as an example of the “nameless call” remained obscure for me. It seemed to reveal more of his personal neuroses about paternity than reflecting phenomenological reality. I did find his invocation of the hermeneutic circle particularly helpful (308). Marion demonstrates that an analysis of the call leads back to the responsal which leads back to the call, ad infinitum. This circle is also the case with givenness-gifted and given-reception. Thus Marion states: “Givenness traces, perhaps in sand, but ineffaceably, the most rigorous hermeneutic circle” (308). This is a powerful explanation which convincingly reestablishes the idea that the subject remains within the relation of givenness. In this way, ideas of an absolute or static subject don’t seem tenable because we are moved back toward the given when we scrutinize the subject. I do wonder about Marion’s metaphor of the trace of the hermeneutic circle in sand, though ineffable. What does he mean by this? Does he mean that the circle remains despite its changes in particular phenomena? Or is he referring to the contingency of his theory of givenness, which in the future may be more thoroughly explained?   Continue reading

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“Being Given” Experiencing Phenomena and Thought Formulas

Phil 6958: The Uncertain Boundaries of the Subject


Short Paper on Being Given, part 2

In this reading §26 particularly stood out to me. Marion begins by laying out a very enticing objection to the Cartesian-Scientific epistemological framework (262). This reminded me of his conception of the cause-effect framework which is often thought to structure the experience of phenomena—or should I say givenness? (165). Marion levels a phenomenological critique against the cause-effect scheme, demonstrating its oversimplification of the given. The same thing is done here in that Marion explains the result of applying the Cartesian “doctrine of the code”—(I don’t know what that means, but I’ll go on thinking of it in terms of an epistemological framework/interpretation). The result is that all phenomena are rendered as “intuitively poor givenness” (165). It helps me to think of the Cartesian framework and the cause-effect framework as mathematical formulas. Phenomena are plugged into these formulas and what comes out are structured units of intelligibility. In the case of the Cartesian framework/formula, the structured units lose any possibility to be saturated phenomena. Perhaps to be stricter, saturated phenomena fed into the Cartesian framework can never come out as saturated on the other end. Givenness as a Cartesian object, “gives itself too poorly to show itself in its full phenomenality” (264).   Continue reading

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Biohacking and DIY Technosurgery

I’m shocked at how little news there is on biohacking, grinding, and what has long been known in the science fiction community as cyberization. The best news article is on Aljazeera America for christ’s sake.

Behold, Tim Cannon AKA the guy that keeps implanting devices into his body!

Here he is “post-op” with a magnet implanted in his finger so that he can feel magnetic fields:

Continue reading

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“Being Given” A Cause is an Effect of an Effect

Phil 6958: The Uncertain Boundaries of the Subject


Short Paper on Being Given

I was drawn to Jean-Luc Marion’s claim that a cause is the effect of an effect (165). It is the effect that is encountered and which is necessary in order for us to seek a cause. Therefore an effect is temporally nearer to us than the cause, and it is the cause of our look for a cause. Phenomenologically, it is only the effect which is encountered and is thus primary to experience. The very cause-effect scheme is the instituting of an epistemological structure on phenomena. The cause-effect logical scheme forces phenomena into necessary functions as effects awaiting logical causes, and causes which provide evidence for the logical effects (165). “The effect alone imposes itself with certainty; consequently, one rests on it in order to ‘deduce’, after the fact, the cause, whose function consists less in producing it than in understanding it” (166). Thus the cause-effect scheme is more of an epistemological instrument than a metaphysical entity of necessity. It is a result of the will to know (166). This will to know, or imposition of an epistemological scheme, undercuts the privilege of a phenomenon as an eventContinue reading

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Grumpy: Diabetic Cannibal Parrot

Philosophy must yield to comedy.

This two part comic will hurt, because of the severity of laughter spasms it will induce. Warning: Do not read with a full bladder.

You’re Welcome.

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“Of Grammatology” The Writing Meme and Its Lost History

Phil 6958: The Uncertain Boundaries of the Subject


Short Paper on Of Grammatology Part 2

I first had a lot of difficulty grasping Derrida’s meaning in this reading. It was in researching the history of language (online) that I came to understand Derrida’s project. The terms: ideogram, pictogram, grapheme, logograph, and phonograph, are all central to the study of the history of writing. It is clear that the origin of writing is something which entirely depends on one’s definition of writing. While writing in one sense started around 8,000 to 6,000 BCE, writing in another sense can be dated to 40,000 BCE! There are even older “forms” of writing that are classified as “proto-writing.” When one starts researching the history of writing, one understand why Derrida finds it impossible to give it a scientific origin. Do we call pictograms writing or do we need discrete symbols that can theoretically communicate any morpheme? I particularly liked his reference to the fact that the origin of myths implies a myth of origins (92). We can see that the sciences often propound the necessity of causal origin (the necessity of causation) but one wonders if this has better ground as a foundational supposition than any other myth of origin from ancient religions. Continue reading

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“Of Grammatology” a Signifier of a Signifier of a Signifier of Signifieds

Phil 6958: The Uncertain Boundaries of the Subject


Short Paper on Of Grammatology

“‘Signifier of the signifier’ describes on the contrary the movement of language: in its origin, to be sure, but one can already suspect that an origin whose structure can be expressed as ‘signifier of the signifier’ conceals and erases itself in its own production. There the signified always already functions as a signifier” (7).  Since all words are signifiers for specific signifieds, language is to be identified or defined as a signifier of the signifiers. Writing as a signifier though is a dilemma so far as it is representative of language: writing must be a signifier of the signifier (language) of the signifiers (words) of signifieds (things). Is a signifier of the signifier a dilemma? Perhaps not, but Derrida’s further point is that as writing took precedence over language, it could manipulate the linguistic signifieds without ever touching them (so to speak). It used to be the case that the problem encountered in the language-writing relationship was forming sensible spoken (linguistic/dialogical) things into abstract written symbols that preserved them for exact recovery in language later. Now the greater problem is forming the sensible written things into abstract spoken language. While the ancients focused on a problem of interpretation as a textual error, we focus on it as an exegetical error. For us, the text is held aloft as the source of the truth of a matter at hand. Thus in antiquity a problem may be “cleared up” by discussing it. In the modern day a problem is the result of discussion. Continue reading

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“Totality and Infinity” “As-sociation” and “Enjoyment” ?

Phil 6958: The Uncertain Boundaries of the Subject


Short Paper 2 on Totality and Infinity, thus far…

A particular line in our reading that stuck out to me was under the section f) language and justice: “If we call a situation where my freedom is called in question conscience, as-sociation or the welcoming of the Other is conscience” (100). I can see here clearly the pull of pre-ontological ethics. Conscience seems to imply association with others. Perhaps by “as-sociation” Levinas is fore-fronting the social aspect of this association? To me this encourages a Heideggerian view where conscience means not just me in association with other individuals but also me as a being-in-the-world. In fact, I think Heidegger might use the term “being-with” others. Furthermore, these others are not the same as me but may judge me differently than I do myself. This may give me anxiety because I am being judged by them according to their foreign standards. Here is a good example of what Levinas means by the Other. I should feel no anxiety if I am egoistic because I do not let the Other touch me. I assume my actions would be judged the same as I judge them. The Other provides me self-criticism. Ultimately it is the recognition of the Other, an association with him, that generates conscience. Continue reading

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