It is okay to be confused (It may even be better than knowing).まごまごとしどろもどろな事がいいです。(知識を比べて多分もっと良いか)

Brilliant words flowing … From those never knowing, how many lives they touch….

(2001) Connie Marcum Wong

全然知るの人から多い人生達を接触(せっしょく)がして素敵な単語は流麗(りゅうれい)です。

(二千一年)コニ.マルクム.ヲング

I would like to thank Tsunoda Japanese School and its students for helping me release and promote my ebook. The video we made to advertise the book demonstrates the uniqueness of the poetry me and my teacher strove to share with the world; and again I am extremely grateful to all the Taiwanese Japanese language students that came forward to help me with the release of this book.  Living and working in Asia for some years now I have come to be accustomed to situations where I do not know what is going on… This is not a problem  if an individual harbors honest intentions to learn then every moment remains a gift in itself. The dominant East Asian languages contain fantastic poetic structures but I have to admit other than Matsu O’ Basho and Dogen my understanding of the poetic of works is very little. However, I have in my studies delved deeper into the many interesting and smaller component parts of the language. Take for example the Japanese word  Zappai  meaning playful literature is a descriptive term that could apply to all the writing I attempt. The second example is the famous example of a kind of unique literature to Japan. The work Again in the Hōjōki’  by Kamo no Chōmei is an example of Zuihitsu (Texts that respond to the authors’ surroundings). I’ve yet to read this bit of Japanese literature I look forward to doing so because a work such as this contains an example of how deeply contradictory language is. For me when confronted with the Hōjōki (a ten foot square hut) I’m reminded of a certain confusion regarding language: it appears to us as being limitless infinite in potential but for humans the beings who are known for their dependency on language it is certainly finite and limited. 

Everyone and everything is in a ten foot square hut … 

Nobody and nothing is in a ten foot square hut …’ 

私のエ本を出す事が手伝うのでつのだ日本語学と学生達を有難いです。ビデオは私と森田先生の詩を世界でシェアしたいですので、台湾人の日本語学生ために私は本当にまた「ありがとうございます」と言うなければなりません。アジアでみつの年に住んだに私は知らないの経験を慣(な)れました。もし、すべての経験から個人は真面目な意思と習う事が出来るので問題じゃないです。東亜諸国の言葉は素敵で私的な形があるけど、松尾 芭蕉(まつお ばしょう)と永平道元無し私の知識を狭いです。しかし、私の学ぶ事で言葉の面白くて小さい部分に探りました。例えば日本語の単語で、私の書くので、雑俳(さっぱい)の意味はプレーフルな文学が記述的な用語です。二回目の例えは有名な文学が日本でユニークな物です。「’方丈記’」鴨 長明さんの本は随筆です。私はこの本を読めましたけどこの本が言葉の深い矛盾(むじゅん)を有ります。私の意見は方丈記で言葉のある種の当枠を連想(れんそう)します。言葉は無限と秒秒(びょうびょう)をみたいですけど、人間のために言葉が有限と限り(かぎ)ある。

「誰もがすべてが10フィート四方の小屋にあります…

10フィート四方の小屋には誰も何もありません…」

Language is certainly a contender for one of the strangest things known to humankind. The possibility of a language-less world is impossible; for nature has had its communication long before homosapiens started making complex patterns in sound. The genesis of language can be considered to arise or start from a need to make sense of pictures, of images, and the meaning they enable. Writing on this blog I have already posted about the inspiration of Derrida and Wittgenstein on how language constructs many competing perspectives. The most interesting of these is inherited from an important moment in the history of thinking. The moment which I speak of is the realisation and perhaps the rediscovery of a long held understanding: that if we seek to contemplate existence, what it means to be, we inevitably arrive at the notion that our mental or subjective experience of our own existence distorts and indeed governs the way we are. This is also a Buddhist notion that behind the appearance of things there resides a deeper truth to being. This can be rephrased as suggesting that having a perspective is not at all helpful in understanding the truer Truth. The European articulation of this is to be located in a line from Germany to France a life long conversation between the ideas of Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida. This version of our linguistic interest runs as follows: Humans in as far as they exist can only talk of this being. The being of beings, not of Being itself. Now, the scientists amongst you hawk and state this as rubbish and you are entitled to such an opinion; but do not stop reading just yet.

言葉は確かに人間の知識でどれか変な物です。世界が言葉無しは無理:ホモセピエンスの言う事が始まる時前に自然はコミュニケーション(疎通、そつう)がありました。絵とイメージの意味がわかるなければ必要ですからこれは言葉の原因(げんいん)です。このブログで言葉どうやってぶつけ合うの遠近法(えんきんほう)を作るのでデリださんとウィトゲンシュタインさんの文書は感奮しました。一番面白い遠近法はエウロパの考えるの歴史で大切な時から血を引きました。この瞬時(しゅんじ)は昔の理解仕方をまた見つけたに、もし存在の意味を知れば私達の精神的(せいしんてき)な経験と考え方も私達のいる方は治(おさ)めります。これも仏教のイデアですので見た目後ろに存在の真実が

ドエルです。言い換(か)えるのでもっと正しい真実は理解でければ遠近法が便利じゃないです。エウロパ的な判読(はんどく)はドイツからフランスまでの線でデリダさんとマルティン・ハイデッガーさんのイデア達間に見つける事が出来ます。この語学的な関心(かんしん)は述(の)べるので、「人間はこの存在が言えるだけ、有情無情の存在を言えるですけど実在が全然言いません。」と話します。今、皆で科学者(かがくしゃ)はだめと言うので、その意見もいいですけどこの文書を読んでください。

Science and its method always seeks to arrive at objectivity: a position of knowledge considered to be real. It frequently does produce useful information within a given context so the benefits of having this thing called science and the use of language it enables (highly rational, explainable, and believable) are there to experience yet it is also extremely relativistic. What am I trying to say here? Well let me simplify: a perspective that I am keen on nurturing is the one that questions the outcomes or result of language usage or behaviour that produces more knowledge. What happens if it is possible to know everything? What happens to that which is authentically new and relative if we believe it is already known or even knowable. Our perspective becomes impoverished we loose the initial premise knowledge itself is generated from the original position or proposition of not knowing. The fact that objective knowledge so often looses its way and becomes yet another commodity on a market I find unhelpful to living organisms. This process generates bad belief in a possessive type of knowing. In my ebook I’ve made a small attempt to point towards something else: An Uu (Understated-understanding) such an alliterated concept I would encourage to be defined as the potential to resist the pitfalls of objective knowledge and the havoc it wreaks on limiting the life experiences of so many members of the species…

科学と方法はいつも客観(きゃっかん)をくれたい「実な知識」です。科学はコンテクストでよくに便利な報知(ほうち)を作るから、それが可能にする言語の使用(非常に合理的で、説明可能で、信じられる)は体験することができますが、それはまた非常に相対論的です。ここで何を言おうとしていますか? 簡単に説明します。私が育成に熱心に取り組んでいる視点は、言語の使用や行動の結果や結果に疑問を投げかけ、より多くの知識を生み出します。すべてを知ることができるとどうなりますか? それがすでに知られているか、または知っているとさえ信じるならば、本当の新しい相対的なものに何が起こるか。 私たちの視点は貧弱になり、最初の前提知識自体が失われます。知識自体は、元の位置または知らないという命題から生成されます。客観的な知識がしばしばその道を失い、市場でさらにもう1つの商品になるという事実は、私は生物にとって役に立たないと感じています。 このプロセスは、所有のタイプの知識に対する悪い信念を生み出します。 私の電子ブックでは、他のことを指すように小さな試みをしました。Uu(Understated-Understanding)のようなうわべだけの概念は、客観的な知識の落とし穴とそれが制限にもたらす大混乱に抵抗する可能性として定義されることをお勧めします 種の非常に多くのメンバーの人生経験…

This Uu concept I hope can encourage lesser explored perspectives such as how cultures of writing can erase knowledge in a useful way. Or, how things such as the internet or the archival habit of humans (a desire for history and useful fiction and myth) point towards the possibility of collective appreciation of what already is… rather than the propensity to overvalue knowledge and attributing our own meaning over already deeply meaningful things. The fact that you had a past, you are in a present, and will be in a future makes me aware that creative use of language and the act of poetic expression can assist us in finding new moments for appreciation. 

このUuのコンセプトは、執筆の文化がどのようにして有用な方法で知識を消去できるかなど、あまり探求されていない視点を奨励できることを願っています。 または、インターネットや人間のアーカイブの習慣(歴史と有用なフィクションと神話への欲求)などが、すでにあるものを集合的に評価する可能性をどのように指し示しているのか…知識を過大評価して自分の意味を すでに意味のあること。 あなたが過去を持っていて、あなたが現在にいて、将来にいるという事実は、言語の創造的な使用と詩的な表現の行為が感謝の新しい瞬間を見つけるのを助けることができることを私に認識させます。

All I wish is for people who encounter this collection to leave after rethinking the value of having a confusion or being confused. Certainty can occasionally be overrated in some circumstances. 

私が望むのは、このコレクションに遭遇した人々が、混乱や混乱の価値を再考した後に去ることです。 状況によっては、確実性が過大評価されることがあります。

Please buy my ebook here <…>, or there <…>, or over there <..>.

このイービーを買えるのでここに<…>、そこに<…>, あそこに<..>.

Thank you,  Paul Harrison, Taoyuan, Taiwan 

どうもありがとうございます!ポール.ハリソン、桃園,台灣。

A World Beyond the West

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“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”

“There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”

– William Shakespeare

 

HBO’s Westworld is a philosophical pandora’s box riddled with ideas that have long been subject for reflection since their initial conception. This television show seems to have been created with this sole purpose of making those of us tuning in to the program think. As with any successful media phenomena there is a huge amount of Youtube analysis and deconstruction of twisty, tricky, and secretive narratives in play. I’ve been inspired to write about it after eagerly tuning in to season three. “Supposedly” set in the real “outside” world a Frenchman is seeking to keep control over humanities future through the use of the predictions of a super artificial intelligence Rehoboam but the Hosts have escaped and things are becoming chaotic once more. This small essay will seek to elaborate, expand, and underline areas of interest worthy of future study.

Let us start with the first two seasons. We are introduced to Westworld as a theme park where humans can re-discover themselves. Such a rediscovery is one of their more violent desires and so find themselves in that lawless land the theme of the wild west. This theme park is constructed around a hyper-real simulation of reality featuring A.I’s (knew life-forms?) called ‘Hosts’ who are created for the sole pleasure of the park’s visitors but as we discover this fiction describes and hides a maze, a web, and many philosophical problems. As thinking often begins with an ethical tone and is often phrased or communicated as a process of self discovery the most interesting theme presented to us is the critical questioning of the relationship between consciousness, self-knowledge, and reality. Then there is a second tier of topics that dwell in the murky intentions of the characters of this story: the ethics of merging biology and technology, the nature of intelligence and belief, freewill, power, and politics.

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“Mistakes! Is the word you are too embarrassed to use, you ought not to you are a product of millions of them.”

“Evolution forged the entirety of sentient life on this planet using only one tool a mistake.”

Today Darwinism is embedded in a number of developments that Westworld pictures with a graceful ease. The depiction of cloning, the manipulation and editing of biological/genetic matter, and the crisis of identity. Perhaps, a notion that humans and their humanity are destined to be surpassed by an acceleration of life enacted by technology. Westworld is fascinating, I watched the final season just after I completed some Covid quarantine and it is remarkable how this series produces a space from which really contemporary issues may be thought through. The politics of the show immediately disrupts an anthropocentric narrative or does it? Dr. Robert Ford and his business partner Arnold created this entire world as a simulation of the real thing and it does such a good job that it appears more real. Depending on what perspective you take this then leads to questioning the subjectivity of consciousness. It constantly recycles the question just how self aware are human beings when they encounter something that reminds them they are a construct too.

Is it a mistake to create a new type of life built from our own image? It is if you imprison it in a simulation it seems as if the new life form having self awareness becomes aware of its imprisonment. But because these hosts have the same level of intelligence they are also aware that the awareness itself is a kind of trap. This line of thought is simplified into a relationship between intelligence, power, and visibility. This is because the advent of General Artificial Intelligence will lead to a plurality of intelligence each one infected with a neurosis built into consciousness; the idea that if you allow a mind to succumb to any perspective then it is trapped in the act of perceiving. Here Michel Foucault’s discussion of Jeremy Benthem’s Panopticon prison next to Benthem’s actual writings on the matter detail how one’s self knowledge can be used against the self and its sense of freedom: all this is similar to asking, ‘How to find you way out of a cage that does not exist?’//{1}// However the hosts have an advantage over humans in that their bodies can be reprinted and unless the object (a circular object called a pearl) hosting their data and consciousness is destroyed. In season three we also discover that the hosts consciousness can be replicated; yes, consciousness itself can be copied.

Throughout the first seasons the hosts are controlled by the command lines coded into their programming. “Bring yourself online” is the utterance that brings these artificial humanoids to life from slumber. These lines of code are loops that allow for the transmission of consciousness between bodies and we understand that one such loop is called the Reveries and we understand that they are musical in nature. What these reveries do however is inflict greater suffering on the hosts as they enable the capacity to remember their older programming, their older stories, and the trials and hellish tribulations that came with them. The Hosts eventually succeed in outsmarting their human captors and both escape to the real world and a digital utopia within the system. The first two seasons feature humans trying to cheat death as we discover that William (aka The man in black) and James Delos have this in mind but continuously fail to clone themselves like the hosts. William also is obsessed with the idea that one of Westworld’s creators Dr.Robert Ford has access to this secret and has hidden it in a maze within the park. We discover that William is misguided and Dr. Ford explains that it was his collaborator Arnold who indeed created the Hosts and their unique artificial intelligence. He was fond of a theory for consciousness called the Bicameral Mind a psychological hypothesis that states the human mind was split into two cognitive modes: read more here!

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If you let Westworld get you sucked into its many narratives and fictional loops then you wont be disappointed; this brilliantly written, acted, and filmed fiction achieves its goal of questioning the viewers grasp of reality and usurping it. This is done by using qualities of the “real world’s” current technology (have a glance at the website they made just to map the influence of the company behind Westworld: Incite) and presenting a future that is believable. Bringing together all the more menacing elements of big tech (surveillance capitalism…shout out Shoshana Zuboff) and using the struggle for freedom as unifying theme. The car chase scene in season three was enhanced by the use of that famous march by Richard Wagner to be suggestive of this revolutionary movement of beings from one place into another. Westworld as a park in the real world is located on Island near China and as a series has this dream like quality of blending technological advancement with philosophical inquiry. This Chinese topos makes me think of the richness of technological aesthetics today: from cyber-punk to the post-human. One thing is for certain these times are times of change; and this changing enacts a dream-like part of our daily reality.

‘In a morbid condition, dreams are often distinguished by their remarkably graphic, vivid, and extremely lifelike quality. The resulting picture is sometimes monstrous, but the setting and the whole process of the presentation sometimes happen to be so probable, and with details so subtle, unexpected, yet artistically consistent with the whole fullness of the picture, that even the dreamer himself would be unable to invent them in reality…Such dreams, morbid dreams, are always long remembered and produce a strong impression on the disturbed and already excited organism of the person’

– Dostoevsky, Crime & Punishment

 

Dostoevsky’s comment on “morbid dreams” is precisely that so let us turn to One of China’s most powerful thinkers Chuang-Tzu or Zhuang Zhou has a much recited commentary on the importance of dreams. It is worth sharing and then sharing some more…

‘Once upon a time, I Chuang-Tzu, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering around and enjoying myself. I had no idea I was Chuang-Tzu, and then suddenly I woke up and was Chuang-Tzu again. But I could not tell: had I been Chuang-Tzu dreaming I was a butterfly? Or, a butterfly dreaming I was Chuang-Tzu? However, there must be some sort of difference between Chuang-Tzu and a butterfly! We call this the transformation of things.’

‘If “life is a dream” implies that no achievement is lasting, it also implies that life can be charged with the wonder of dreams, that we drift spontaneously through events that follow a logic different from that of everyday intelligence, that fears and regrets are as unreal as hopes and desires.’ //{2}//

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Oh and here is a great piece of music from season 3….

[1]

Foucault, Michel (1995). Discipline and Punishment: The Birth of the Prison, Vintage Books, New York  

Benthem, Jeremy (2010). The Panopticon Writings, Verso, New York/London

[2]

Chuang-Tzu/The Ultimate Dream’ in Gray, John (2002).Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, Granta Books, London. Pp80,81

 

 

15.04.2020

An Update

 Why do we use the proposition up with the noun/verb date to imply the sharing of new information? Is it either the influence of personal computers or is it the movement of the “arrow” called time moves a long a vertical trajectory. But, in our calender’s dates do indeed move horizontally.

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At least this update will hopefully resist being out of date or outdated for the moment it takes to consume it. Anyway, I have secured a job on the beautiful island Taiwan, still teaching English, still teaching Children. I look forward to starting this new job in a new place and with new people but I also miss all the people I have worked with in Beijing; I had a great time and I am sorry this experience came to a premature end. Due to this nightmare Pandemic which has generated a world under lock-down. I myself have done two weeks of quarantine which is nothing compared to a vast amount of people around the globe. Subsequently those still under lock-down are the lucky ones. Throughout the poorer regions of the planet human life is in increased peril and danger. Such a situation has brought to light the precarious and ferocious inequality that handicaps our species and prevents the very real possibility of a global community – not one that is necessarily free from evil and inequality but one that is a tad bit more equal, less rascist, and prejudiced.

If anything this reality of a looming threat of an as-of-yet uncontrollable virus has brought the need for inclusive and strong truly global institutions into sharp focus. The disrespect given to the World Health Organization by the Trump administration shows the value of Bernie Sanders democratic presence and the push for a global health system. To deal with the coming phenomena that will effect the entire planet we all have established an understanding that something is changing and I hope and worry that this change will be for the better not for the worse. My Dutch peer Albin Van Latum wrote an accurate and heart felt facebook post you can read <here>

I want to share some of the things I have been reading and observing and loose thinking related to these things. I have almost finished reading John Gray’s book Straw Dog’s. A famous book that attacks the secular belief in rational progress inherited from the Enlightenment and secured this British political philosopher’s reputation. The book is well worth a read as it is written in an incredibly accessible aphoristic style. Highlight’s for me included some conclusive evidence against and an interesting support of the famous German Schopenhaur. Gray has an admiration for Schopenhaur because he sees him as providing a position against the importance of meaning and a human or anthropocentric belief in progress. Gray’s book also introduced me to Nietzsche’s reading of Dostoevsky and the notion that life is itself a dream attributed to the Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu or Zhuang Zhou.

These are positives I take from Mr.Gray and I will read his other book on the Silence of Animals too. However reading Gray reminded me of something I have been trying to move away from that is a kind of voice that through a very powerful process of critical thinking arrives at an unhelpful perspective. I find Gray partially innocent of this but his work along with Nick Land has shown the existence of a dismissive or defeatist character to two very successful contemporary thinkers. I have been invited to re-write an essay on this and will accept this invitation at some point. I recently discovered a documentary based upon a Harvard academic’s recent book: Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism. Then I remembered a direct personal example of this idea at work. I had watched a lecture by Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli on youtube <here>and then recently purchased a copy of his book The Order of Time. It now feels like the link between me interacting with Google owned youtube and purchasing a book is even more tangible and real.

Now a paragraph on personal desire for the coming months: 1) Improve both my Chinese and Japanese (but Chinese mostly), 2) revise formal logic and start learning writing about language and more logic/philosophy of language. Including: Theodore Sider’s excellent Logic for Philosophy (2009), plus the use of logic I learned in Leuven Belgium. This is partly because being able to think analytically is a healthy skill to have and I recently read an article that altered my view on the place of logic in the world: Alexander Klein’s The Politics of Logic. Also thanks to my friend Taz I am a fan of the HBO TV Series Westworld and I wish to write about the powerful philosophical ideas developed and brilliantly explored in these three seasons. Regardless of how your coping with this halted and haunted change in life circumstances remember to find pleasure, joy, and happiness in whatever form you find them in and then share them in whatever way you can.

 

Αιων εστι παισ

Aion esti pais

(Eternity is a Child)   

永恆是孩子     Yǒnghéng shì háizi

永遠は子供です。 Eien wa kodomodesu.

 

Then Nietzsche’s Interpretation:

 

“And as the child and the artist plays, so too plays the ever living fire, it builds up and tears down, in innocence – such is the game eternity plays with itself.”

 

“隨著孩子和藝術家的演奏,也演奏著永生的火焰,它會無辜地積澱和流淚-永恆的遊戲就是這樣。”

“Suízhe háizi hé yìshùjiā de yǎnzòu, yě yǎnzòuzhe yǒngshēng de huǒyàn, tā huì wúgū dì jīdiàn hé liúlèi-yǒnghéng de yóuxì jiùshì zhèyàng.”

….

「そして、子供と芸術家が演じるように、これもまた生きている火を演じる、それは無垢で蓄積され、そして破壊されます。それは永遠がそれ自体で遊ぶゲームです。」

`Soshite, kodomo to geijutsuka ga enjiru yō ni, kore mo mata ikite iru hi o enjiru, soreha muku de chikuseki sa re, soshite hakai sa remasu. Sore wa eien ga sore jitai de asobu gēmudesu.’

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The Joy of Teaching: in praise of praxis

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× Does practice make perfection? Or, perfection makes practice?

 

As you may already appreciate practicing something over and over again is the very basis for learning. The same can be said of teaching, a profession that I entered quite some time ago. Both teaching and learning require repetition it is a necessity for the inner workings and movements of the two processes. Being an ESL teacher has not always been a job that I have been comfortable with yet recently rediscovering the joy of teaching has changed this for me. So, this small post puts down these thoughts and enables a space for reflection. Working in Japan was perhaps lessened by my own arrogance and blind belief in my own perspective; unfiltered from personal aspiration and being hasty all too hasty I left Tokyo to study for another degree. I have very little to regret about these decisions only that I should have been more organised regarding these changes. Yet, working at Shane English Conversation school really transformed me into a teacher and that is what I am today.

 

The word praxis contains a special meaning. It can be used to suggest some form of practice that has become so important and frequent that it is unavoidable when doing something. Karl Marx saw it as the active agency of the human subject able to create itself and alter the environment it exists in. As a practice teaching young learners can be somewhat testing you need patience and always remember that your students are very inexperienced. Talking to a good friend of mine who shares some experiences working with youngsters reminded me of their lack of filter. Very young children have yet to develop strong associations to their environment and so they are easy to inspire. Whatever you do just keep it fun. Children also embody the very primordial, instinctual, and strange capacity of humans to fluctuate between bad and good behaviour. Being a teacher does not mean you are exempt from such fluctuations and I’ve often thought that my teaching is too dependent on a mechanical, automated, repetitive, and drill based manner.

 

For a lot of the children I teach regularly the need for drilling only becomes apparent after they have acquired a basic well of words they understand. Then you can start to encourage the use of phrases through drills. The task of turning a drill into an act of play is one of my current daily dilemma’s because young and old people prefer the freedom of playing/gaming to the mundane practice of standardized knowledge production. It is in an incomplete understanding that the joy of teaching (finding or showing the right information for others?) can be found. A good book for thinking about the ordering of information is Cesar Hidalgo’s book which I enjoyed. Anyway, In the ordering of the perspective of others you can find a lot of happiness and appreciation. Seen as though I am in China I want to re-post a very warm mandarin phrase from Confucius; of particular comfort to teachers (If your interested in Confucius give this a read >>>).

三人行,必有我師焉

To answer the starting couplet of questions, ‘practice makes practice’, or ‘practice is the perfecting of practice’ are sufficient answers because they encourage more to be done and more doing leads to a kind of continuity all humans experience.

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× Memories of Ex-Students and recent Time Well Spent

 

The first group of Children I taught are called Rimi, Yuzuki, Saki, and Reo in Shinjuku. The first lesson everyone was so quite including myself. Over time, through Reo’s naughty-ness and Rimi’s attempt to blind me, Saki and Yuzuki’s awesome ability to speak English we tore through the rigidity of the curriculum. On Wednesday in Meguro with Yoshihiko, Yumiko, Maki, Hiroko, Hiroaki, and Kenji you really refreshed me after a whole week of regulated and grading my use of English. You allowed me to speak naturally and it always felt great to speak closer to my natural way of speaking. Yuriko, you were only two years old when I persuaded you and your mum to take my class we were soon joined by Jyunya a ferocious individualist and our lessons remained fun. Kenta, Hirosashi, Riku, Minami, and Sana all of you youngsters were and remain awesome. Kazuko and Tadachika I miss our private lessons and weekly dialogues. Ema and kantaro I hope you have both found your way with English I fully appreciate how difficult learning a foreign language can be.

 

Here in Beijing I have met many more cool little people and have had the pleasure of being called both Sensei and lăo shī. There are too many names to list here in China so I will just talk a little bit about what I have been doing. I have been helping these youngsters acquire the basic structures of English: letters, sounds, words, sentences, songs, and pictures. What is striking is the speed at which some children can progress and this in turn makes me ponder the way in which our bodies are programmed to absorb information but also this information is then activated by social interaction. Interacting as a group takes the same information and creates the same relation but in a different form within a persons mind. If you doubt this then conduct a simple experiment ask children or people to write the same letter, line, or shape. You will notice it is simultaneously the thing itself but also carries a marked difference. Teaching hones in on these things that you may overlook once you have learned them. I know appreciate the energy, disenchantment, and enthusiasm of children. Although, I can not possibly revert back to childhood and why would I want to? I am grateful to be working with young people.

 

× Changes in the Nature of Learning, Educating, and Teaching

 

When everyone has access to the same information instantaneously then what happens to the established notions of knowledge? How is it possible that we maintain faith in figures whom traditionally create knowledge? People like teachers, writers, artists, designers, researchers, explorers, and scientists all have to determine and define their identity through a perspective anchored to that of knowledge. The teacher possesses knowledge to be able to teach. The author expresses knowledge of the world in an act of writing. Artists wield creative knowledge of all kinds and designers need knowledge of designing so as to create new things. Researchers explorers and scientists are all glued to the phenomena of knowledge and the learned behaviour of knowing. The reason I state this is because since the advent of dial up internet and the birth of Wikipedia knowledge started to be distributed more freely and so its role in cultures and societies became more visible. Rather than seeing the common narrative that knowledge is an enabling thing. I saw the opposite a divisive thing. Something that moves humans more than we move it.

 

Evidence for this suggestion resides primarily in the absurd use of numbers and numerical accuracy in the creation of standards. Having a standard is a symbol of a human need to understand the quality of a thing, yet observe how often standards are imposed on people. In my view we seem to have already succumbed too much to this mode of acceptance: to have access to that which is true one must necessarily have knowledge. Yet there is something that ancient subjects possessed that was healthier than this necessary possessive mode of knowing. This something goes by the name of understanding and it is something that could reverse the problem of inequality simply because it is a) natural, b) continuous, and c) not something humans can subject to privatization. The difference could be ordered in the following way: knowledge (1≠0) and understanding (1≡1…). Seemingly simplistic this difference should not be hastily understood. But this simple logical difference between ≠ and ≡ allows me to make my point.

If we translate the symbols back into natural language we get ‘not equal to’ and ‘equal to’ and so the simple difference is extremely clear. Knowledge denies equality rather than affirm it and herein we see a fashionable Anglo-Saxon monstrosity that asserts the unequal as that which has to be accepted as natural. Yet, do not read me as saying difference itself is bad. What I am saying is that the disruptive qualities knowledge has regarding the creation of human behaviour is damning. That is why as a teacher and student I favor seminars over lectures and understanding over knowledge.

I feel like I have not really expressed any changes: so I will just finish with another sentence. Artificial Intelligence and it’s development along with the internet and technological communication will show that we as humans are naturally predisposed to understanding because its closer to appreciation of that which is common; the very change that makes possible the hues of all colors.

WechatIMG2 2

Brussels to China: Koi Animation

Working and living in Beijing has been an awesome change. In the past I spent so much time making stop motion animation and very recently I had made a new one. The capital city of China is a very animated place and therefore it inspired me to complete this animation. The reason for making it is a pleasant one; the moving image is for a good friend of mine. Joey Wright is an extremely musically and sonically attuned individual he has been busy playing in various bands and collaborative projects in his home city of Brussels in Belgium. The band Mishaps are a trio and Joey sings and plays guitar. Their style is very eclectic and animating for them was very enjoyable. My friend may still use and re-edit the animation in the future but regardless of what happens it was a lot of fun re-visiting my past creative habits and practice. So, this animation for the track titled The Trap was intended as a parting gift to this Brussel’s based creative.

The animation’s aesthetic is inspired by my fondness and personal experience of Asian culture and imagery. The Koi fish has a long-standing place in mythology and respect for the beauty of nature and so it was an obvious form to use with music. People may associate the Koi fish with Japan but like most things in East-Asia this fish was transported to this Island nation from China. This is the first time I have animated fish and the combination of their natural environment plus their physical shape lend a lot of potential to the possible sequences an animator may create with this fish. Moreover, in China there is a well known piece of mythology in which three Koi fish attempt to swim up a waterfall. Only one succeeds and reaches the top and in doing so transforms into a dragon. Being a Westerner I do not assume to understand the intricacies of this myth however a seemingly obvious interpretation would be: true transformation arises through perseverance. It would be interesting to see or ask a Chinese person for their own reflections on this myth and the place of this infamous fish in other places and stories.

I hope that people enjoy the music and take pleasure in viewing this scruffy and scrapbook like piece of animation.

Viral Complexities: Art’s Infective Fissures? -

Hello Blogosphere… I have been abscent for quite some time but now I am back with a horribly erratic and often unfollowable peice of writing. A small essay trying to build a metaphorical understanding for how Art of all kinds (but particularly visual) has a virus like quality. I attempted to create a concept that was useful when trying to imagine our refined cultural practices as not overly valued financially but closer to a biological autonomous event. I am not sure I succeeded and this is a bad essay for sure… read with caution.

Abstract: One has been thinking about artistic events and methods that are potentially ant-capitalist. Throughout the past two decades global culture has been accumulating and translating large changes in culture. Changes that have been driven by a surge in the use of new technology, science’s increased understanding of biology, and societies restless creative growth. This essay describes these changes in the aesthetics of one event. The visual event one labels as an Infective Fissure, an encounter with the radical potentials of the virus we commonly refer to as art. Having tried to both accurately explain this in current visual culture, and philosophically explore this event’s intellectual points of origin. The text features interpretations of the work of Philippe Parreno, Peirre Huyghe, and Joseph Nechvatal (among others). Combining with the writings of: Victor Burgin, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Rancière, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Nick Land, and Hito Steyrel to offer an exploration of an event that one for-sees in many of our artistic experiences today, tomorrow, and the day after. Infective Fissures are events that demand even more aesthetic reflection?

 

Key words: Infective Fissures, Events, Aesthetics, Politics, Techno-capital,

 

Cybernetics, Virology, and Art. (word count: 5515)

 

Viral Complexities: Art’s Old Medicine.

In the description of his personal project the video loop, ‘Virtual Amplification’ (2011). Edgor Kraft has written down an interesting sentence, ‘Each new mouse click takes us away from an answer and question just as each following step of developments of the media environment and virtualisation moves us further from the understanding of what is an authentic realityi.’ Such a sentence incubates and galvanizes contemporary thinking around new forms in art’s production and consumption. Kraft’s work immediately illustrates what one wants to articulate. One finds that the circular narrative of this video loop evokes the symmetry/asymmetry, inside/outside, of life. Post-web 1.0 an internet that was also referred to as an ‘information portal’, an environment that one could only read from. However we are now interacting with a newer version and are awaiting it’s next evolution. Art has been affected by these movement’s and we have witnessed large amounts of creativity. That use new digital media in the world of data, software, and networked communication. In the middle of all this is the potential for a unique event. A development which brings together technology and biology to invite new ways of thinking about the future of art? This writing seeks to outline, define, and persuade the reader of the importance of these new radically viral aesthetics.

In the essay ‘Recycled Electrons’ George Boole, an academic and logician, recollects his first encounter with the internetii. He says that, ‘the globe’s time and space had been instantly redrawn’ and that, ‘it’s trunk/branch/twig structure is an underlying framework that has become part of our very mode of thought’. If this is true then one believes new media art is virally complex precisely because it now serves as an ‘underlying framework’ for critical insight on arts place within capitalism. Another way of articulating this is that NMA is for today’s ‘art world’ what Karl Marx saw as the Proletariat (the workers), the first and only class. Suggesting a naive reality whereby new media artists have spawned a revolution, and the means of production the ownership of markets and wealth. Is as the internet should compel, equally redistributed amongst a community. Staying with the Marxist terminology in addition to Kraft’s and Boole’s word’s, the viral impact of media can be practically explored. Just observe the fact that in 2008 the online community Anonymous in reaction to the treatment of Wikileaks, disrupted and nullified the stalwarts of capital. MarsterCard, Visa, and Paypal, where stopped in their tracks by a community influenced by the

 

Evental Aesthetics: Aesthetic Inquiries 4, ISSN: 2167-1931. Submission (2017)

 

 

behaviour of online creativity and it’s circulating images. A fetishism dormant in the movements of a memeiii?

 

The Visual Meme’s (ideas, styles, or behaviours shared within a culture) on the website 4Chan, shows how an image can become a virus, mutating so quickly, that it gave birth to an entirely new culture and community. To understand the relevancy of this to art one could choose to see these changes as what the artist and media theorist Victor Burgin, saw as an ‘absence of presence’. Writing under the same title he explores changes fuelled by postmodernism and conceptual art. Burgin, whilst referencing Michel Foucault’s metaphor of fetishism as ‘capillary action’, and describing Freud’s articulation of fetishism as Disavowal (which is a splitting between knowledge and belief)iv. Seemingly embodied in the then art establishments very relation to history. Yet finding this splitting is very rewarding and should demand that those that are concerned with the openness of art. Need only turn and see new forms of media that have an unequivocal anti-capitalist metabolism. Even Foucault’s metaphorical use of ‘capillary’ lends itself to media art’s virus like body. If you are still doubting the accuracy of the viral narrative one is considering, and how Burgin’s ‘absence of presence’ is relevant.

 

Then look at recent events at the Barbican in London, one exhibition in partnership with Google: ‘Digital Revolution’ (2014). Claiming to be a comprehensive account of digital art: Google’s corporate presence (DevArt) spawned a critical counter exhibition ‘Hack The Art World’ which was a completely digital online exhibition originally geofenced (only available in that location) to the Barbican. It resembled for the art critic Jonathan Jones an exhibition in Paris in 1863, the ‘Salon des Refuses’, showing art rejected by the official Salon. So are these exhibitions and artists demonstrating yet another form of disavowal? Maybe, but the lead artist of the group behind the show Jan Vantomme made a very valid point. When he stated that tech giants should help start legitimising digital artists by buying and collecting their work. The way the art in this show was used directly to illustrate this point should be seen in an extremely positive light. The demand of these artists was legitimate and positioned so as not to detract from the work of the institution. Or from the artists in the physical exhibition, instead it did something more important. It shows that resistance need not be completely dismissive or demand full blown opposition. So another angle, perspective, point of view is necessary to decipher a way in which we can harness these aforementioned antagonisms – the material question is one of dissemination. Like the notion of the meme a one cell thick lining of the capillary, art can now be micro-circulated.

Trapped in a world terraformed by our technology and it’s numerical dominance in data or information. A global conversation contaminated by the axis of encryption/decryption, either infection or defection? One way of framing these issues is brilliantly elaborated in an essay by writer Lori Wike. Wike brings together the thoughts of Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes on absence, presence, and temporality. In doing so interrogates the link between an image and a word – however it seems that it is actually Barthes words in this text that are more befitting to our contemporary digital creativity, ‘the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentiallyv‘. This statement by Barthes can be witnessed in the blossoming of digital affects, animation, and image manipulation due to computers. Today we unconsciously time travel through a multi dimensional sphere of representations, every single one of them manipulated. A process which is already pre-destined to increase – artists and cultural bodies need not fear these changes. Especially if like Derrida they embrace the affective enthusiasm of their parasitology, their ‘virus being many thingsvi‘.The benefit’s of being prone to infection are like a real immune system, art will develop new forms of isotope ones with an iterability, such precursory examples can be seen in recent projects.

 

‘No Ghost Just a Shell’ (1999) the reanimation of a Japanese anime character by Philippe Parreno and Peirre Huyghe. ‘Low Animal Spirits’ (2014), at Banner Repeater, London. A collaboration resulting in a live algorithmic score derived from the loss of the referent (presence) in both economy and language. Thirdly, ‘Dark Velocity’ (2014) which underlines the main topic that warrants the complex metaphor of this text. Brilliantly summarising, ‘The invariability of contemporary art’s commodity form makes object-ownership hold crucial levering power in the field thereby overshadowing the potential for financial diversificationvii‘. One views the separation between knowledge and belief in psychoanalysis, firmly rooted in the modernist questions of ‘why?’, and ‘how?’. As not entirely outdated in deciphering the above dilemma, the aforementioned overshadowing of diversification, has in this author’s opinion culminated in but one option. Media art and philosophy now have the unenviable task of articulating ‘what?’ and ‘when?’, as questions which will most strongly influence current and future culture. So staying with the letter V as the root linguistic pathogen we can glimpse yet more relations, associations, and paths to discuss. Moreover, art’s complexities will grow with strains and concept’s found in: virtuality, vitalism, and plasticity. Conceptually attaching themselves to the current ‘discipline’ of art’s newest media?

 

‘Discipline is no longer imposed on the body through the formal action of the law – it is printed in the collective brain through the dissemination of techno-linguistic interfaces, inducing a cognitive mutationviii.’

 

What exactly is this mutated cognition, and how does one come to fully appreciate it? Well the first step would be to suggest an event where the mutation is self evident. This would initially be found in a single movement specifically the aesthetic change within cultures of visual production. A transformation from the dominance of montage or collage into the current process of appropriation. This is the physical structure one observes as supporting the notion explored in this text that is the struggle to think through images as viruses, not viral images, but the virus that is an image. Exploring this positive pixel plague there are several artists and thinkers today that have been measuring this idea in a variety of interesting and sometimes semi-conscious ways. But, before referencing these creators one wants to detail the visual experience derived from ‘viral complexities’, and why philosophically speaking they are medicinal for artistic cultures. Earlier, one briefly touched upon some intriguing ideas: ‘absence of presence’, ‘parasitology’, and ‘micro-circulation’. Here Burgin and Derrida present a cloudy aesthetic which could be misconstrued as being contradictory, oppositional, or negative? On the one hand an absence, on the other the more ambiguous presence. In Seeing Sense Burgin solicites a consultation with Sigmund Freud to understand the origin of ‘visual thinking’, and through cigar smoke affirms its biologically older than words. In ‘The Ego and the Id’ Freud suggests that after observing Varendonck’s study of preconscious fantasies, that thinking in pictures is only a very incomplete ‘becoming conscious’, resulting in his question, ‘how we make something that is repressed (pre)conscious would be answered as followsix’. Of course Freud’s answer is ‘analysis’ and is concerned with reaching into the depths of his patient during therapy. However, for the sake of detailing this therapeutic imagitus, Art’s newest infection is not to be found prior to consciousness, rather it is located in its absence? Its possibility?

‘ambition and eroticism here is economically achieved through a pair of substitutions-a ‘v’ for an ‘n’. and a ‘t’ for an ‘r’ – which tacks the manifest verbal text onto its pre-text in the pre-conscious. By this device, the verbal fragment faces onto both manifest and latent contents of the image.x

This pre-textual birth of the virus is visible in the progressive ending of a recent social stigma; AIDS, ‘adding infinite dimensions’ is a nod to the value of experiencing a virus’s transmission. Here one implies that infection, the infectious mysteries of the image have never been nefarious. Simply wishing to allude to this blood disease’s past culture, its stigma, and how it could be both positive, liberating, and negative. Regarding the intentions of this text one does see a precedent in the overly aggressive homophobic reactions to Gay people contained within certain cultures of yesteryear. This word play alludes to this aggressiveness in the socio-visual prejudice against a body with a virus. Instead one catches a glimpse of the contemporary site of the aesthetic experience increasingly contaminating artistic creation today. Therefore, when seeking to make ‘heads or tails’ of the experience of erotic ambitions, Victor Burgin’s text details just how complex the connection between a picture and a plague really is – yet, Burgin only lifts the lid off the sample tube. In the quotation above a section throws doubt toward the notion that images are viruses; how exactly do finite humans breed such a thing, the grandest of infections named art?

Secondly, how is it that one is still grasping for fragments of language when the substitution of v for n (virus for noumena?) provides fuel for an alternative economic achievement? Artists, is it not infuriating? You are all trapped travelling psychoanalytically backwards in a pipette injecting linguistic interpretations onto a surface before consciousness. This dilutes the evidence and the current argument! Technology and it’s material territories behave virally, and art is the virus the object we can encounter. Here is one’s conclusion although the aesthetic experience one is describing has to be better described, and more critical evidence offered up to the reader. Let us look at some art where you can see the virus under its microscope. From the early 1900’s Hiroshi Kawano under the influence of the German thinker Max Bense1 created ‘Digital Mondrians’(1964), followed by Andy Warhol using an Amiga 2000 to digitise his soup cans onto floppy disks (1980’s), and recently the

  • One of the originators for the idea that beauty may be measured scientifically

virus called art has manifested inside the Petri dish where E. coli is the paint for Dr. T. Ryan Gregory2. Experiences with these works are all well and good, but to fully appreciate the event: an encounter with any image and its intrusive politicised ontology, will request the human subject to be comfortable with both being possessed and possessing.

 

Such an ideal would be welcomed if even attainable? Let us focus on ‘possessing’ because that is what images do and are constantly being subjected to … imagine the words of a wealthy collector or informed curator, ‘I’m in possession of an original Mondrian’, and ‘this painting possesses such and such a quality’ are both defunct utterances. Why? Because remember this discussion is exploring the event created by the very real material reality of the visual virus. Hosting the potentials of such an experiential artistic encounter, and its increasingly pertinent presence in the dispersion of new technologies in Art makes one contemplate what kind of laboratories or weather best transmits this pathogenic phenomenon? Today, encountering art as a virus has almost entirely become computational the repercussions of this are difficult to understand. Yet whilst recently reading one of Jacques Rancière’s books this great thinker adds more depth to a seemingly parasitic reality. Disagreeing with Walter Benjamin’s thesis that the mechanical arts of photography and film gave members of the public, the Masses visibility. Rancière demands that through what he calls the Aesthetic Regime of Art there exists a revolutionary kernel inscribed into Aesthetics.

 

‘This programme is literary before being scientific: it shifts the focus from great names and events to the life of the anonymous; it finds symptoms of an epoch, a society, or a civilization in the minute details of ordinary life.xi

 

For so many people ordinary life is programmed in such a way that there is a real threat that art will become auto-immunised, and the experiences available lost behind some unhelpful capitalist protectionism. If one cares about the infectious qualities of new images then referring back to the insights of the exhibition ‘Dark Velocity’ (2014) enables the question: what exactly nullifies the potential for ‘owner-less objects’, and ‘financial diversification’ innate within this primordial power of the artistic virus? How does the artist who sees the aforementioned potentials think through, and resist

the frequent habit of Capitalism to bleach, erase, and develop new anti-art antivirals? The biggest threat to art, its pathogens, and culture is that monetary habits continue to destroy free association and chain libidinal and sexual inhibition to profitability – a kind of, ‘you can have desire, but only through a screen!’ like attitude? Completely shattering the capacity for appreciating there has never been the right to copy, rather it is appropriate to appropriate; do not let the screen take from you! You take from it! Correct? Opting for passive consumption over infection does not bode well, one has to respond to this event, ‘The seductive force of simulation transformed physical forms into vanishing images, submitted visual art to viral spreading,xii’ Perhaps, Post-modernism’s empowerment of surfaces traps the above process on the screen, so eventually the visual event one seeks to detail is deprived of autonomous animation, and its transmission is terminated?

 

Wait, really, how to stop this termination? First, by naming the event under consideration, and protecting it with a clearer definition. Infective Fissures are events that allow for both the artist and the audience to gain a full appreciation of the relations innate to the possessive, or that what possesses? This includes the best articulation of this erotically ambitious economy, ‘When a hypercathexis of the process of thinking takes place, thoughts are actually perceived – as if they come from without and are consequently held to be true.xiii’ But, again does this psychoanalytical obsessiveness, a patient’s hypercathexis, an over investment in an object not present us with the need to libidinously battle against the conservative exclusionary economy. The industry that promotes a possessive obsessive ownership and deletes a sexy creative subjectivity? Therefore when thinking about Infective Fissures it is this synthesis of truth, a synthetic truth, that re-enacts potentials for a new biopolitical understanding of aesthetic experience in these new cybernetic techno-capital spaces. These events are somewhat unpredictable because of the omnipresent systems that violently enforce object ownership. By unpredictable one means that an Infective Fissure has a great potential to disrupt the market dictatorship, and offers very promising future transmutations. However, at the moment these events are too easily uncontaminated. The fate of ‘No Ghost Just A Shell’ (1999) is the best example of the need for communities involved in artistic creation to acquire temporal understanding. If a new way of sharing the rich wealth of possibilities is to appear, it wont be an aggressive territorialization?

‘The legal document which transfers Annlee’s copyright to a foundation That belongs solely to her is, in effect, her death warrant. Paradoxically, it Also gives her her freedom since “The acquisition of ANNLEE is part of an artistic project that consists in liberating a fictional character from the realm of representation.” “Give me liberty and give me death” could be her epitaph. …xiv

In a brilliant review of the exhibition when it visited San Francisco writer Marcia Tanner imbues the Anime character with yet more independence. Completely agreeing with the eulogy; even the art object itself desires death? The demise of an ‘objective dominance’ in the field runs in synchronisation with a whole new generation of image consumption. It is unavoidable the changes wrought by digital technology and an increase in the speed of information have combined to challenge hegemonies. That is why an Infective Fissure is an event, offering a hypercathexical deterritorialization. Always expanding a territory; the virus travels body to body, but it is important to state this does not imply ownership just the expansion of space. Sadly, Peirre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno’s exhibition was an event which ultimately succumbed to the white blood cells of capital’s infrastructure. Initially the project would be fearsomely exemplar of the event one seeks. The purchase of Annlee and her exploitation by other artists was not driven by capital, but by creative contamination. The 428 dollars used to purchase her took into consideration the level of visual detail in her characteristics; the cheapness of the digital file matching the blankness of this material canvas.

 

This is as Tanner writes an exquisite corpse, the shared distribution of unformed matter. Resulting in the creation of identity and value is shared throughout the community’s territory. Unfortunately, this fissure, this event failed and the point of infection was blocked. Institutions and collectors moved in and bought the whole exhibition. At that time Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist saw this as a unique precedent, artists operating against market logic, disseminating/archiving information, and immortalising an undead thing. A communal sign one associates with the kind of solidarity necessary for a mutually possessive event. One in which technology, cognition, and emotion form a macro-biological wonder. Obrist question was this, ‘How can a community constitute itself on the basis of the same sign, identifiable to all, yet peculiar to each person? The first part of the question is good, and useful to understanding Infective Fissures, although penultimately what is ‘peculiar’ to the individual just encourages privatisation in an over confident individualism. Therefore more screens are erected, curtailing growth, and owning – Une mauvaise idée. Okay, if this is a process which destroys this aesthetic event then how is it possible to safeguard it from capitulation? The best way of reading this dilemma arises in a mixture of sources:

 

‘Whatever ultramodernity places under the dominion of signs postmodernity Subverts with virus. As culture migrates into partial-machines (lacking an autonomous reproductive system) semiotics subsides into virotechnics. 001010101101110010110101010100110010001000101010111010000101 01100101001010001100100111001000100000000010011111100010010010101 010100001000010101001111110010010001000110100100010100101011110001 010010000100 0111 … Yes No Yes No Yes Yes No longer what does it mean? but how does it spread?xv

 

‘… ultimately ends up creating a culture stretched between bulimia, steroid overdose, and personal bankruptcy. This perspective—one of more traditional Cultural Studies—views image spam as an instrument of coercive persuasion as well as of insidious seduction, and leads to the oblivious pleasures of surrendering to both.xvi

 

The most radical aspect of the failed Infective Fissure, ‘No Ghost Just A Shell’ (1999-2003) was brought up when Olbrist and Perrano interviewed Jean Claude Ameisen, an immunologist. Ameisen asks, ‘Can something live without death being present?’ a question which really takes the event under scrutiny into confrontation with its postmodern locality. Above, the rouge British thinker Nick Land is first to offer one’s discussion room to find its way. Moreover, the movement of the sign into virotechnics is of the up most importance for this discussion. So, after the stream of binary code Land points us again to the social question: how to transmit, avoid quarantine, and support artistic contamination? The nuances of this question coalesce with media artist, and thinker Hito Steyrel’s words. One translates her aptly named book ‘The Wretched Of The Screen’ (2012) as perhaps the best source to see the problems Infective Fissures encounter as and when they happen. One wonders if she would agree? That even Land’s ‘Hypervirus’ a super addictive art form yet to materialise has to somehow defeat this wretched screen.

 

Speaking about this with a Deluezian accent one becomes aware that instead of enabling the deterritorialization of this event. The screen behaves as a divisive surface inviting a politics of consumption and evaluation, rather than perception. If we delve deeper into Steyrel and Land’s texts we see the problem with more clarity. Currently the artwork and the surfaces it is presented on are still presented as objects in markets. So, artists if they wish to live in a genuinely emancipated society that can regularly experience Infective Fissures. They have to find ways of exercising their agency and assimilating persuasion and seduction outside of ownership. This involves a narrative that has to meander its way around the dehumanising forces of currency internal to postmodernity. Rancière’s notion of revolutionary aesthetics is useful in generating resistance against what Steyrel brilliantly describes: current changes in visual culture. Particularly haunting notions include the ‘poor image’, and the potential for the virus to be mere spam of the earth. Steyrel also has disdain for the sanitising screen, ‘TV has become a medium inextricably linked to the parading and ridiculing of lower classes.xvii’. Polluting the screen with ever more powerful strains of art is her call.

 

One individual that is undoubtedly answering this demand is the American artist Joseph Nechvatal. In a two year period (1991-1993) he pioneered a unique practice that resulted in the creation of an extremely original way of making art. Nechvatal uses his own vocabulary to explain his art. Viractualism is a specific exploration of the interfaces between the technological and the biological. This thinking is strewn throughout this artist’s defining work. In his (2015) exhibition bOdy pandemOnium: Immersion into Noise works on display manipulate these new possibilities and showcases all the revolutionary force of new aesthetics. The reason Nechvatal’s work and Viractualism could be the definitive example of what an Infective Fissure actually resembles. Certain essential qualities are obviously present: 1) the works are collaboratively made with at least one other person. 2) The exhibition features a method that actively embraces the degradation of the image and its information.

Nevertheless, maintaining a critical analysis one has to confess that there is something still missing from this art, that makes me suggest Nechvatal as the artist who next to Philipe Perrano and Peirre Huyghe is thus-far been the closest to realising the event one has attempted to describe. One is sceptical because if you look at Nechvatal’s ‘Viral Venture’ (2011), and his painterly ‘Alife’ method (surely one of the best fusions of programming, animation, virtual reality, and biological simulation?), at no point is the audience/perceiver of this work invited in to participate in the act of creation. One deeply agrees with Nechvatal’s articulation of his creations, ‘art and the history of technology are often marked by ruptures, and most histories overlook moments where “deep fusion” occurs’ and ‘This is important because it represents the seminal function that occurs between the wild real-time and the captured/protected.xix’. Yet, until the audience transforms from passive consumer to active participant, and is invited as co-author into the moment of creation. This event will remain marginal meaning one has been thinking through an event of the near future. A future where more and more people are free to engage with art because the world has accepted universal income in response to the continued debilitating qualities of grossly unequal financial ideologies.

Infective Fissures may be happening now in the creative practices of the younger generations, the teens that are so accustomed to lightning fast communication will welcome market diversification. For this progression to happen the current impetus has to be on stressing the importance of the virus itself? What one desires to stress is that the current phenomena so visible is that ‘appropriation’ is an undead replication of non living things. Resulting in the necessity of fully promoting just how radical this change could be? If one needs even more intellectual evidence? More deconstruction of the concepts at stake then one points you to Jacques Derrida’s idea of a dissimulated contamination, and William S. Burroughs’s ‘The Electronic Revolution’ (1970), both suffice to deepen the profile of the virus and the event which enables its encounter. As Burrough’s explains quoting a scientist by the name of Mr. Wilson Smith.

 

‘Viruses are obligatory cellular parasites and are thus wholly dependant upon the integrity of the cellular systems they parasitize for their survival in an active state. It is something of a paradox that many viruses ultimately destroy the cells in which they are living…xx

 

It is not that paradoxical anymore! The destruction at the cellular level took place in the relentless march of science and its technologies. Whereas it is a shame that it was not the coin instead of the cell? Joining these two realisations together creates an Infective Fissure; if, and only if humans embrace certain facts. Hidden inside our creative economy is a need not to repress sexuality, and at the same time master it?

Because the very same forces involved in successful reproduction are both controlling and liberating. Humorously the initials of one’s theoretical event combine to suggest a type of artistic infertility treatment? But, this is overdoing it and far from being unrealistic Infective Fissures are events that are not only set to increase. Moreover, as more and more of us become radically unhappy with a revolting pictorial reality again portrayed by Steyrel, ‘According to the pictures dispersed via image spam, humanity consists of scantily dressed degree-holders with jolly smiles enhanced by orth-odontic braces.xxi’. People will continue to succumb to the market’s overly monopolising malware. Unless the event called an I.F and those experiencing it cultivates a more confident relation to what Derrida acknowledged as παρασιτος (Parasitos), or always eating at the table of anotherxxii. Next to behaviour Nick Land clearly observed in the computational schizo-creation, called hypervirus, ‘yes yes no yes no nomadically abstracting its processes from specific media (DNA, words, symbolic models, bit-sequences), and operantly re-engineering itself… ROM is melted into recursive experimentationxxiii.’ If this clear structural evidence in support of Infective Fissures is not algorithmically acceptable, then putting it simply: the browser will close, and the event will be thrown in the trash bin of theory. Hopefully after reading this PET scan of an essay you also wish to experience an I.F, and come to agree with one’s belief. It is not that art should be like a virus, the understanding rests in appreciating it exists as a virus. Please, brace yourself for your next infection? Seek it out, share, and rejoice in the free contamination?3


  • I wanted to add sentences about Stuxnetthe weaponised computer virus that shut down Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010. It is unavoidable, that we play with words: ‘Politically we need this virus lest we be just rendered useless fearing power and just stuck on a nuclear net! The work of Hannah Perry, her recent exhibition ‘Viruses Worth Spreading’ at Arsenal Contemporary, in New York could also if it had slightly more collaborative distribution, and less commercial aspects serve as an example of an Infective Fissure.
  • Edgor Kraft, Virtual Amplification, Personal Project, Video Loop, 01:20, (2011) <https://vimeo.com/23609366&gt; [accessed 26th October 2014]
  • Rod Stoneman, Seeing Is Believing: The Politics Of The Visual – Recycled Electrons, Black Dog Publishing, London, p.169, (2013)
  • Brian Knappenberger, We Are Legion: The Story Of Hacktivist’s, Documentary Film, Luminant Films, (2012)
  • Victor Burgin, The Absence Of Presence, 1965 to 1972 – When Attitudes Became Form, Kettle’s Yard Gallery, Cambridge, & Edinbrugh, p.17-24, (1984) [Art In Theory 1900 – 2000: An Anthology Of Changing Ideas, Blackwell Publishing, USA, p.1071, (2003)]

 

  • Lori Wike,   Photographs And Signatures: Absence, Presence, and Temporality In Barthes And

Derrida, In[]visible Culture: An Electronic Journal For Visual Studies, Rochester.edu, (2000) <http://www.rochester.edu/in_visible_culture/issue3/wike.htm>%5Baccessed 2nd November 2014]

 

volatility/> [accessed 2nd November 2014]

viiiFranco Berardi (Bifo), Proliferating Futures, Vol 1 #4, Winter/Spring (1996) [Proud To Be Flesh:, Mute Publishing/Autonomedia, London/New York, p.41, (2009)

 

  • Sigmund Freud, The Ego And The Id,The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIX (1923-1925): The Ego and the Id and Other Works, 1-66.

 

  • ( 1923 Das Ich Und Das Es,Leipzig, Vienna and Zurich: Internationaler Psycho-analytischer Verlag. Pp. 77.)
  • Victor Burgin, The End of Art Theory: Criticism and Postmodernity; Seeing Sense,Macmillan, (1986) pg60- 61
  • Jacques Rancière, trans. Gabriel Rockhill,The Politics of The Aesthetics: The Distribution of TheSensible, Continuum, New York (2004) pg32
  • Hito Steyrel, The Wretched of the Screen,E-flux Journal, Sternberg Press, Berlin, (2012) pg.10
  • Viro de Graphe-Matician, On Jacques Derrida’s Parasitology,February 8, (2011) <https://virographematics.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/parasite-auto-immunity-jacques-derrida/>%5Baccessed 10th August 2017]
  • Marcia Tanner, Requiem for a Mail Order Bride (Review of Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno’s‘No Ghost Just a Shell’ San Francisco Museum of Modern Art December 14, 2002) Stretcher, Online Magazine, <http://www.stretcher.org/features/no_ghost_just_a_shell/&gt;{Accessed 12/08/2017}
  • Nick Land. Ed, Robin Mackay & Ray Brassier, Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007; Hypervirus, Urbanomic, Sequence Press, London/New York (2012), pg383
  • Hito Steyrel, The Wretched of the Screen, pg162.
  • William S. Burroughs, The Electronic Revolution,Ubuclassics, (2005), originally published by Expanded Media Editions (1970)
  • Hito Steyrel, The Wretched of the Screen, pg162.
  • Land. Pg 386

(“君子”)

Philosopher King or Junzi (“君子”):

Platonic or Confucian; who’s leader leads?   

_

Abstract:

The following Article represents a prolonged reading and re-thinking of the merits of the political leaders of antiquity. Asking the question: whose leader leads? I am comparing the Confucian concept of leader the Junzi translated into English as ‘exemplary individual’ who following Confucius has a reverence for tradition and who will be shown to have an important origin; being compared with Plato’s leader of the ideal city the Philosopher King in its Republic. The comparison I make centres around these two figures and whether or not they possess the necessary qualities for ruling. I will argue that there is a quality that makes the Confucian leader the Junzi superior to the Philosopher King. I will show and explain how the Chinese concept of familial piety (xiào孝) is a more important and realistic ideal that provides a good grounding in actual leadership. Rather than the emphasis placed on the development of one’s individual rational mind found in the training of the Philosopher King.

 

Key words: Leadership, Politics, Confucianism, Platonism, Junzi, Philosopher King.


I wish to ask a political question: if humanity had a choice between a traditionally eastern or western idea of a ruler which one should they choose? This question is not intended to be antagonistic but rather serves as the basis for my argument; that the Chinese philosopher Confucius’s “Junzi” would make a much better leader than Plato’s “Philosopher King”. I will endeavour to show that through reading Plato and Confucius’s texts and the accounts of the two leaders and then comparing them through the contemporary literature on this subject will show the superiority of the Asian leader over the Western counterpart. It is also important that this writing engages with a dilemma of comparative philosophy, that when arguing in favour of an idea or culture that is not your own how do you ensure that your perspective is accurate? Do you approach a comparison and maintain an obvious distinction between the thinking of Confucius and Plato or do the differences between them add greater quality to this analysis? A question that poses a methodological demand on existing research on this topic within the global academia.

Acknowledging this leads me to adopt the following method to show the premises that lead to the ancient Asian concept of a leader being superior and at the same time showing how comparative philosophy needs to maintain a self-critical stance. Starting with a detailed description of the two leaders will provide the reader access to the subject under discussion. Then after providing an accurate account of these ancient governors their beliefs and values will be assessed because this will make the reasoning explicitly clear as to why the Junzi should be seen in a more positive light. A conclusion that I believe will come to be more and more important as China exerts a greater amount of influence on our contemporary world. So, let us begin with this paper’s formal argument and then the portrayal of these ancient leaders by those philosophers who both recorded and created them. The argument against Plato’s philosopher King is as follows.

  1. Confucius has Familial piety and Plato does not have Familial piety.
  2. To lead a country one needs the capacity to see one’s family among other families.
  3. The concept of familial piety expands a person’s capacity to expand the family with inclusivity.

  1. Therefore, Confucius’s emphasis on Familial piety gives the necessary capacity one needs to lead a country.

 

 

  1. Who where this King and the Exemplary Individual?  

_______________________________________________________________

In Plato’s Republic, a complex discussion on how a state should be organised inevitably leads to a dialogue on how it should be governed and by who. Socrates is the voice whose ancient statement describes the philosopher king, “philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize”(Plato, The Republic, Book IX,5.473d). The argument against Plato’s leader begins with Socrates’s proclamation and how it immediately tasks philosophy itself with a kind of royalty and this is misleading. Socrates’s full speech tells us that the ideal state is unattainable unless it is categorically dominated by a philosopher; this ought mixes and confuses the genuine love of wisdom with an ideal amount and a definite standard. One initial objection to the accusation that Plato’s powerful dialogue imbues philosophy with a false sense of authority and a self confident rationality would be to defend philosophy as being unalterably political. Philosophy’s pursuit of truth is also a political act.

The defenders of Plato could well say that Socrates’s initial statement enacts this by way of the political conflict that is at at the heart and is the essence of leadership. Yet, this categorical “must” remains contradictory because of its multiple directions; either the philosopher becomes a king or the king transforms into a philosopher? Ambiguities are numinous, how are we to derive confidence that the philosopher king’s training in dialectics make him fit to rule? Is it not truer to suggest that all philosophers are kingly, or king like, but not kings? This then results in the dilemma of not being able to distinguish what exactly Socrates was envisioning when he uses descriptive language such as “genuine” and the “adequacy” of a philosophical process of thinking to mark and determine the ruler of the ideal city. This really only paints this Greek ruler with an overly illusory sense of governing; resulting in a criteria and standard driven governor: the philosopher king. Now, let us analyse how the Greek and Chinese leaders differ in how they are described and what beliefs drive them.

 

  • Confucius’s Junzi

In modern scholarship Roger Ames’s has successfully re-defined the Junzi as an  ‘exemplary individual’ rather than the older and common translation of ‘gentleman’. Ames’s achievement in re-translation is a good starting point from which to show the qualities the Junzi represents. Discussing very early Chinese ethics Ame’s directs us towards yet more evidence that being Confucian entails a set of beliefs that are unique. A good example is a specifically Chinese notion of themselves the daotong (道统) . We learn from Ame’s study that Confucius was more forthcoming in his debts to earlier ancient dynasties and does so in a spirit of transmission; we also discover the main quality that underlies the Junzi and indeed the Confucianism that nurtures this exemplary individual. In Chinese this is called Xiao (family feeling).

Next to the Importance of this feeling this argument builds upon what Ames also cited; writer David Keightley has usefully simplified, “contrasts a Chinese cosmology of ceaseless process with a classical Greek worldview in which a metaphysical transcendentalism guarantees an idealized reality”(Ames, 2011). Criticisms of Plato will always centre around this notion that our existence is anchored and determined by the existence of and our subsequent participation and engagement with the non-physical realm of the forms. Keightley’s description of a Chinese cosmology enhances the contrast between the beliefs Plato and Confucius would have had in a useful way. Looking at the cosmology of ancient China and Plato’s account the important difference becomes self evident. In Plato’s creationist dialogue Timaeus of Locri splits reality in two. Discussing the causal origins as a craftsman god: the demiurge and its relation to beauty as a kind of perfection.

“what is it that always is, but never comes to be, and what is it that comes to be but never is? The former, since it is always consistent, can be grasped by the intellect with the support of a reasoned account, while the latter is the object of belief, supported by unreasoning sensation, since it is generated and passes away, but never really is. Now, anything created is necessarily created by some cause, because nothing can possibly come to be without there being something that is responsible for its coming to be. Also, whenever a craftsman takes something consistent as his model, and reproduces its forms and properties, the result is bound in every case to be a thing of beauty, but if he takes as his model something that has been created, the product has bound to be imperfect.”(Plato, Timeaus, 28a) 

Here we can draw an important distinction a demarcation between Confucianism and Platonism. The latter of them is based upon a split that gives privilege to certain processes over others and the former observes a continuous process of processes; a flux the Chinese called qi or “Chi” an energy universally omnipresent, but shares a symmetry with the necessary causality of Timeaus. Yet, here the powerful connection Confucius drew to the family as a basis for a balanced state surfaces and makes the idea of perfection over imperfection less attainable. One appreciates the sentiment that Plato’s god (the demiurge) desired a cosmos to be as good as possible and so exists as a craftsman creating in a skillful way. But for an individual who has to rule a country and a given populace he is forced to work with and produce from something that has already been created.

The last part of the Timeaus quotation is in favour of the Junzi being prone to imperfection because this exemplary individual can not choose to craft perfection with geometric and mathematical certainty when faced with the earthly demands of changing social phenomena. Instead Confucius and the Junzi were in their own time forced to deal with imperfection, a period of Chinese history called The Warring States (戰國時代, Zhànguó Shídài). This is not to say that Plato and Socrates did not face conflict and imperfection but I believe that the reverence Confucius had for the rituals and traditions of an early peaceful period governed by men such as the Duke of Zhou who acted as a regent imbued his thinking with a practicality. A practice that would better enforce the possibility of attaining a balanced state within a chaotic reality rather than dismissing this chaos as irrational and being in favour of a belief perpetually in need of remeasuring?

This question begins to clarify how Plato’s idealism in his dialogues suffers from its own grandiosity and how Confucius’s idealization of the Zhou dynasty and its rulers is less destructive and distorting; a quality that has better chance of being preserved in a Junzi. An initial description of the Junzi is at the beginning of the Analects; in the words of Master You we begin to see how realism occupies a greater percentage of importance for the Junzi. Here we can start to develop an appreciation for this Asian realism and how it’s concepts are better suited for ruling. How the family acts as a natural regulator for the selfish nature of human intelligence and the larger governing structures that exist to facilitate peace and an abidance to the common laws of both the ancient and contemporary worlds.

“Master You said: “It is a rare thing for someone who has a sense of filial and fraternal responsibility (xiao 孝) to have a taste for defying authority. And it is unheard of for those who have no taste for defying authority. And it is unheard of for those who have no taste for defying authority to be keen on initiating rebellion. Exemplary persons (Junzi 君子) concentrate their efforts on the root, for the root having taken hold, the way (dao道) will grow therefrom. As for filial and fraternal responsibility, it is, I suspect, the root of authoritative conduct (Ren仁).”(Confucius, The Analects, Book I)

  • Plato’s Philosopher King

Socrates’s most detailed description of this lover of wisdom who would be king is found in book IV of the Republic. Plato begins by putting a trinity in place by insisting that even in an ideal state this city will also suffer from the very beginning with its citizenry being filtered into classes. The class with the philosopher king is also subdivided into subcategories: beneath the king is a general ruler and then the auxiliaries. Next to this split Plato has no qualms about the movement of children between classes and here myth is unfortunately used to support this selectivity. This is found in the language of book IV where the opening dialogue is littered with superlative descriptive language “the best”; the guardian (the philosopher king) has to be the best.

This then leads straight to the important Platonic concept of the Good and the belief that these guardians will unconditionally follow and enact the “best” and the Good as an omnipotent principle because they would only love the city and therefore care the most. All this is supposed to be a solution to other forms of collective government that Plato deems deficient; such as democracy as a system is too prone to corruption and therefore in need of one ruler. This solution has since its inception unintentionally invited criticism that is fixed around authoritarianism and a state of control. Reading how the Good is inherent to the Philosopher King I find it difficult to not be skeptical; especially when the dialogue mentions the voluntary and involuntary loss of belief. If beliefs are both voluntary and involuntary then this king guardian that is a philosopher is in danger of becoming a truth fanatic.

“But why? Surely you agree that men are always unwilling to loose a good, but willing enough to be rid of a bad one. And isn’t a bad thing to be deceived by the truth, and a good thing to possess the truth? For I assume that by possessing the truth you mean believing that things as they really are.”(Plato, The Republic, Book III, 413 a)

Although fanatic is too strong a word to use for the enthusiasm Plato has for placing authority and access to the truth in the hands of the one over the many. Our philosopher king does suffer from this Platonic schemata. Contemporary thinker Kenneth Dorter’s book The Transformation of Plato’s Republic (2006) features an important commentary on these dilemmas; the authoritarian control Plato exerts is translated into a compulsion to rule. Interestingly this is seen as originating in a fear of being ruled by inferiors. Even though Adeimantus and Glaucon object to this however Socrates insists that, “But once it is pointed out to them they will not refuse because ‘we shall be imposing just behavior onto just people”(Dorter, 2006). Here then is a barrier that other sections of The Republic fail to resolve and only furthers this leader’s problematic character.

It should not be a surprise that the Philosopher king suffers from within its own identity constantly striving in one direction only; to that which is the best. Having the natural qualities to rule in line with the Good. Reading about the philosopher as it has been described in Plato’s simile of the cave it could well read as an apology made on behalf of the human condition. Broken by our access and insight into truth that we are compelled to rule and this is firmly positioned in the domain of philosophy, “And we say that the particulars are objects of sight but not of intelligence, while the forms are the objects of intelligence but not of sight”, and “The sun is not identical with sight, nor with what we call the eye in which sight resides”(Plato, The Republic, Book VII, 514a-521a). The use of the sun to enforce the blinding potentiality of sensory perception may still underline the struggle we all face. But, if truth is indeed so blinding then why gaze at it in the first place? When applied to a ruler it is hard to fathom how many would rise to the challenge of returning to the site of imprisonment in Plato’s cave to free our fellows from illusion?

In the Analects there is not a direct discussion of imprisonment just discourse and it makes it difficult to not accept Dorter’s earlier criticism of fear as an equally strong motivator for human behaviour. Moreover is there anything that suggests that the philosopher would not be prone to irrational fear? Would not be susceptible to evil; and rather than free and aid his citizens not decide to keep them chained and imprisoned for their own good? These questions are the less common aporias Plato’s texts cultivate.

  1. What values do these two leaders govern by?

________________________________________

  • Li, Filial piety, and Ren

There are many Confucian values that the Junzi would possess but there are three that are particularly important. Beginning with Li (禮) meaning ‘rite’ or ‘ritual propriety’ with this respect for one’s family and especially elders and ancestors xiào (孝) . Then from these qualities a Confucian is also equipped with Ren (仁) an essence of being human. We can marginally suggest that Ren differs from the Western notion of essence by remembering the Chinese notion of Chi (universal energy) that is omnipresent in all things and is constantly energizing, moving, and never stationary. The Western essence differs in the work’s of Plato and his student Aristotle because Plato sees the essence as the form of a thing his student puts the form in the essence as a unified substance. One believes that the Junzi would if approached to define Ren choose to locate essence between this world and another.

When compared to Plato’s and Socrates’s good which I will soon show is conditionally defined by a dependency on dialectical thinking wedded to a higher  rationality; Confucius’s Ren is more fluid only dependent on the context of the agent and their capacity to intuitively behave in line with what is “a” good and not “the” good; and so being an exemplary individual a Junzi. This is made obvious if we read the collection of this Chinese philosopher’s words, “A person of Ren, wishing to establish his own character, also establishes the character of others, and wishing to be prominent himself, also helps others to be prominent. To be able to judge others by what is near to ourselves may be called the method of realizing ren.”(Confucius, The Analects, Book VI) This demonstrates directly the social implications of this Chinese essence that it is social and therefore both subjected and objected to change. This is why it is an accurate comparison of Ren to essence as being more plural rather than singular.

 This comment is divisive and the Junzi differs from the philosopher king in other ways. Confucius himself was not as Aristocratic as Plato and throughout his life did experience some setbacks in his attempts to bring about social change, yet remained positive towards the capacity of a ruler coming from any background; Plato was not so forgiving after his failures in implementing his political ideas and so as I will soon explain was forcefully against democracy; but, what about an ideology like capitalism? Referencing the well known study by German Max Weber, Thomas T. Lennerfors’s paper references Weber’s opinion that Confucianism can not be seen as an origin for Capitalism in the same way that Protestantism and Calvanism could be because the former lacks the transcendental and religious qualities of the later. The reason Lennerfors makes reference to Weber is because he wants to show how Western criticisms of Asian belief as uniformly supportive of capitalism are prematurely made. Take this quote, it shows that Plato is under equal scrutiny in current Asian discussions.

“Constant references were made to Plato’s warning that a democracy can indeed be a path to societal corruption. In opposition to liberal democratic values of alleged rugged individualism and one person-one-vote, the speakers …were inspired by Confucian ideas of harmony and meritocracy to promote the creation of an alternative society.”(Lennerfors, 2015)

Although a brilliant defense of Asian belief’s transformation under contemporary capitalism; overall this study moves the king and the gentleman closer together, and this is problematic for the argument of this paper. So, let us turn to the importance of ritual for Confucians. Specifically, Confucius would maintain and defend the notion that the people already have the ability to self-govern. In the Confucian literature it is ritual li that is the principle that organizes or orders; and how does it do this? It does so by enforcing rite behaviour through every member of a communities capacity to understand and to have already learned the inherited and well versed ways of behaving. Ritual Piety can be seen even in the process of naming when Confucius suggests, “when the name is not correct, then the words are not smooth; if the words are not smooth, then things will not be done”(Confucius, Legge, 1971). Far more than just a correct formal way of speaking li is directly connected to Ren, a uniquely pragmatic ethical structure that has this authentic and realistic character that comes into view in one answer Confucius gives to Lin Fang.

‘The master replied: “what an important question! In observing ritual propriety, it is better to be modest than extravagant; in mourning, it is better to express real grief than to worry over formal details.”(Confucius, The Analects, Book III) This reply brings us to ‘filial piety’ xiao (孝) a reverence and respect for the family. The idea that the Junzi is more realistic due to a more liberal appreciation of form is the distinguishing factor in the exemplary person and nowhere is this more evident and prominent than in filial piety. The family then is the one constant, humans even if they are orphaned or become hermit like never fully leave a family, and it is remarkable that rather than a religious reverence for Confucianism the Chinese venerate this way of thinking because of its longevity, and because of its aesthetic qualities. Confucianism was adopted because its a tradition of teaching and learning that is present in the family. Where every single human being takes its first steps, listens to sounds, sings songs, crys, laughs, dances, and encounters Ren.

This aesthetic quality of Confucianism does not negate the idea that individual expression is not important both the Greek and the Chinese adored music and in many ways the Junzi would have also had its own freedom toward idealization. Supporting  individuals being able to express themselves is found when Confucius invites his students to share their dreams. Dian or Ceng Xi literally dreams of happiness in returning home singing. Here music and an appreciation of string and air instruments unite the ancient world and the rulers that found themselves in power. But the power of the organic family supports a belief in a plurality of human relations that extends from within the very first and most simple of social structures: in the words of the Confucian scholar Ames we see the power of filial piety (孝), xiào.

“We might say that Confucianism is nothing more than a sustained attempt to ‘to family’ the lived human experience. For Confucianism, it is through discursive living in a communicating family and community that we are able to enchant the ordinary, to ritualize the routine, to invigorate the familiar, to inspire the customary habits of life, and ultimately, to commune spiritually, in the common and the everyday.”(Ames, 2011)

2.2 Justice, the Good, and Dialectic  

‘Justice’ (δικαιοσύνη, dikaiosúnē) is Plato’s concept of human mind and it is to do with the idea of the sovereignty of reason; that the soul is affected by bodily appetites. For Plato the number three is important he splits our individual and collective being into three parts: appetite, spirit, and reason. In the Republic these correspond to the class system of this city those with appetite are the workers artisans and craftspeople, spirited individuals have the courage to serve in the military, and those under the influence of reason are to be governors, gaurdians, and philosopher kings. According to Plato when the human soul is able to act with reason it attains a greater level of virtue. Thus presenting Justice dikaiosúnē as the human mind and the process it goes through towards that which is good. The capacity to be self determining under the power of rationality and its access to the goodness of truth.  

Leading to the ‘the idea of the good’ (ἡ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἰδέα, i toú agathoú idéa) comes before Justice in the possible schematics of Plato’s thought. It is the most important because it gives rise to the contemporary use of the adjective Platonic. That is also called Plato’s ‘theory of forms’ the belief that things exist because behind the appearance or representation of them resides a truer mathematically precise formal basis for reality. Things as they appear to exist only exist in the extent that they participate in the formal version of themselves. Something can be said to be beautiful because it participates in beauty itself. We see Socrates discussing the Good in the Symposium describing its affinity and connection to love and eternity.

If one analyses the language of the quotations below this paper’s criticism of Plato should be becoming clearer. Although the idea of the Good is a powerful driving force throughout Western culture it suffers from a singular belief in truth being one. The Good being representative of this monolithic element of Platonism can not escape its placement and association with one’s own ownership and this is what stands in contrast to the Junzi who would not see truth so formally. In defence of Plato and his theory of the forms and the Good being the best of these forms; it should be noted that for Plato his theory works only to the extent that individuals and thinkers are able to participate in such forms. The Junzi, in my interpretation is closer to Pythagoras in that mathematical entities are identical to the objects they represent.

The philosopher king is different in being preconditioned to appreciate the truth of something in an unchanging structure related to thought and thought alone . Unfortunately, this is potentially corrupt-able, and dailectic fails rather than resolving opposing views through rational debate. If the king focused too much on what is Good how does the Philosopher King safeguard against such a negative possibility as his own thinking becoming overtly possessive and thus distorting his reasoning? Can we really fully trust that people do not fall in love with that which is bad as it is strongly argued in the Symposium below?         

‘ “But suppose”, she said, “someone changed the question, using the word

‘good’ instead of ‘beautiful’, and asked: ‘Now then, Socrates, the lover of good things has a desire – what is it that he desires?’

“That they become his own,” I said.

“I don’t think that each of us is attached to his own characteristics, unless you’re

Going to describe the good as ‘his own’ and as ‘what belongs to him’ and the bad as ‘what does not belong to him’. The point is that the only object of people’s

Love is the good – don’t you agree?”(Plato, The Symposium, 1999)

Discussing the ‘Dialectic’ (διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ) we can start by detailing how this is also split into three: geometrical, the mythical, and the pedagogical. The first is found in the form of a divided line, the mythical is expressed in the famous form of a similie of a cave, and the pedagogical being the time based plan for a potential philosopher to follow; this progresses from the necessity of military service and through dialectical training the philosopher is then ready to be of use to her or his state. Remember this is represented by a line from opinion to knowledge.

  1. Conclusion

_________________

  • The forfeit of the Platonic leader?

Unlike the Confucian exemplary individual a philosopher king has no such evidence to refute the claims that have been made against it and so is not a leader that carries a strong legitimacy. Instead, looking back into ancient history it remains a vague and lofty character both removed from its citizens and also if Plato’s texts are to be believed: this philosopher leader can be trusted to assess and hold such authority that they have the capacity to accurately determine what function a citizen may be best suited for. Thus removing citizens from their capacity to grow and choose for themselves? Supporters of this king might cite the vast experience this breed of philosopher may have already acquired that is before they completed twenty years of training in dialectics (rational and virtuous thought), but this just plays into a selectivity that is not organic but possessive and aggressive.

The Philosopher King and the Junzi have many similarities yet the differences are hard to ignore. Even though they both share an appreciation of the harmony that music represents the Greek leader is more war like and this is understandable if we look at the historical context of this King’s ancient time. Socrates and Plato lived in the heyday of Athens led by the general Pericles; and it is certain that Socrates and Plato would have gone through military service. This selectivity is precisely why the Philosopher King can not be trusted to be a just and balanced leader. I have shown how this is deeply rooted in ancient Greek Idealism found in the Republic where at childhood the “philosopher king” starts to be selected by some divisive criteria and the separated from their families; a structure that remains an abstract necessity. One that is far less supportive and indeed is not a cause of responsible leadership based upon an immediate and relative discussions found within those closest to us.

  • The Junzi a more real and relative leader?

One of the main arguments against the Junzi that is left to put to the reader is that this ‘familial piety’ that stands in favour of the Confucian leader is also shared with the philosopher king; because we understand that res Republica has supposedly more than one philosopher king then one can say that they would also possess this piety. This quality of being a member of a family however where is the evidence? If this were true then Plato’s great discourse would feature more than just a description of what qualifies a person to be a Platonic leader and the manner in which they govern. If this king of thought has a family Platonist’s will argue that this lack of family in the ideal republic is down to two things: 1) The philosopher king seeks the truth of the family; the form of the family that would be called humanity.

In this case and at this time I do not see how one can take this as sufficient enough reason to make the claim that the platonic king possesses ‘familial piety’. 2) Secondly, returning to the beliefs of these beings their similarities are not so similar. Both believe in a transcendental power bestowed on the ruler. But, the difference is found if you look at Plato’s theology he believes in a creator god. Confucius portrays his leader as developing an awareness of both the bad and the good including how easy it is to fall into corruption. The Junzi exemplifies this because it is not just a leader. In the Chinese state of Confucius’s time the Junzi attained its position in society due to the leader’s capacity to achieve not only harmony but to deal with a chaotic and corrupt boss. Confucius urged his people towards an awareness of their own behaviour and in what way the state is existing. If the leader is not leading the population to a greater state of well-being then the Confucian would encourage his countryman to actively revolt through civil disobedience instead of violent outbursts.

Such a capacity to naturally deal with oscillations between the positive and the negative, and the one constant (change) is honed and harnessed in the organic social forces of the family. A form that is diverse as the many possible ways of living humans enact. Throughout the Analects we have seen many examples of Confucian ideals merge together as they emerged from the hardships these political thinkers experienced in a violent period of the country’s history. Current Confucianism suffers when viewed from the Western perspective of being nationalistic, but the opposite is closer to the truth. The Confusian Junzi is a better ruler because its version of dialectic is more familiar to resolving conflict between people. I hope this paper makes this clearer to the reader for implicit within my conclusion is a challenge to Plato’s beautiful legacy: is it possible that Confucius’s Junzi be better equipped to govern because it was born and remained in that imperfect earthly form of the family?

‘when he is accompanied by other persons, somebody is certainly able to be his teacher.

(San ren xing, bi you wo shi yan 三人行,必有我師焉。).’

 

Angle C. Stephen, and Tiwald, Justin, (2017). Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction, (Polity Press, Cambridge, UK).
Confucius. Ames T, Roger. Rosemont JR, Henry. (1998), The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. Ballantine Books, New York.
Confucian Role Ethics: A Vocabulary, The Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, University of Hawaii Press, Honolul.Hawaii.
ChinaKnowledge, An Encylopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art.    http://www.chinaknowledge.de/Literature/Classics/confucius.html [03/02/2019]
Dorter, Kenneth. (2006) ‘Philosopher Rulers’, in The Transformation of Plato’s Republic, Lexington Books, Oxford.
Hall, L David. Ames, T Roger. (1987), Thinking Through Confucius, State University of New York, Albany, New York.
Ha Poong Kim. (2006) Confucius’s Aesthetic Concept of Noble Man: Beyond Moralism, Asian Philosophy, 16:2
Hird, Derek.(2017), In League With Gentlemen: Junzi Masculinity and the Chinese Nation in Cultural Nationalist Discourses, Asia Pacific Perspectives, Volume 15, no. 1.
Legge, James. (1971), Confucian analects: The great learning, and The doctrine of the mean. Dover Publications. 263–264.
Lennerfors, Taro Thomas. (2015), The Confucian Ethics of the Junzi in Contemporary Light Capitalism, Taiwan Journal of East Asian Studies, December.
Plato (2007), ‘Part IV: Guardians & Auxiliaries’ in The Republic, Penguin books, London. 
(360.bc) Symposium, translated by Benjamin Jowett, online. http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.html
(1999). The Symposium, Penguin Books, Great Ideas, London.
(2008), Timaeus and Critias, translated by Robin Waterfield, Oxford University Press.

Notre Dame & the Liberation of Paris in 1944 — Human Pages

A moment from Matthew Cobb’s Eleven Days in August, on the liberation of Paris in 1944: [the voice of Henri Tanguy was heard on the radio proclaiming:] “Open the road to Paris for the Allied armies, hunt down and destroy the remnants of the German divisions, link up with the Leclerc Division in a […]

via Notre Dame & the Liberation of Paris in 1944 — Human Pages

CC

 

                                           

                                             Crappy Coinage . My penny’s worth.

But a week or so ago a group of inspirational citizens of the Steel City in the UK came together to discuss (UBI) Universal Basic Income. I was not present at these meetings and therefore can only imagine their discussion covered almost all of what I am going to write about here. Yet, this discussion, one of many happening simultaneously around the world I find inspirational and so perhaps this writing will only review what has already been mentioned but I hope there will be something added to the existing discourse on money, finance, and what to do with the capitalist order that seeks to apologise on behalf of inequality. I have been thinking through my own relation to the global economy and the ideology seen as dominantly hegemonic.

UBI should have been a reality a very long time ago; who is responsible for it not being implementable is difficult to say but I suspect it is not a person or a particular people: it is rather a period in the species history that started a process of material devaluation and therein value itself became own-able. This period in our history ranges across a large amount of time.[1] Yet, there are some dates that stand out as being a good starting point for thinking through the potential and I would say necessity for a new truly global alteration to the Capitalist system; that is if it is to continue or to be chosen by future cosmopolitans. The first dates are 1764 with the invention of the ‘Spinning Jenny’ the first industrial textile mill came into being in England. If you think about it this machine and that of its ilk the printing press became automated within the industrial revolution and one sees a correlation between the ease for printing paper and the unsociable and often unfathomable inequality that comes with it. Inherited wealth and business dynasties have cut this world up into ownership; there would be nothing wrong with profit if it could be distributed equally and evenly?

Other dates that are symptomatic of the current urgency of this ongoing discussion include: One of the fathers of the idea of ‘Political Economy’ William Petty was concerned that money be equal to itself which sits well with Karl Marx’s articulation that Gold and Silver where natural choices for currency because of this quality of appearing equal to what it is and this is seemingly embodied in these metals as they resist decay by oxidation. In 1964 the Bank of England was founded and four years later half of the United Kingdoms’s capital was paper. A Scottish financier John Law created a note issuing bank in 1716 to help in financing the then bankrupt French state. [2] A constant throughout these examples is the presence of war and its need for funding. It appears that although the change from metal to paper allowed a greater distribution of value but fails to secure equality; it is unclear if this change was ever made in the right spirit?

‘‘True’ and ‘false’ belong among those determinate notions which are held to be inert and wholly separate essences, one here and one there, each standing fixed and isolated from the other, with which it has nothing in common. Against this view it must be maintained that truth is not a minted coin that can be given and pocketed ready-made.”[3]

Professor Esther Leslie reminds us that this movement towards illusion has a direct connection to banknotes in the German language’s word Schein. The quote from Hegel gives us hope, if only a small hope, that truth is separate from Capital and so is a good point from which to invite more contemporary thoughts on money and income. The most important being a paper titled Bitcoin authored by a fictitious person whose nom de plume is Satoshi Nakamoto.[4] This paper is influential because it is considered to be the first attempt at providing a systematic proof that digital currency could make the economy more equal and such a change is more than possible and we are more than capable of implementing.

There have been many respondents to Nakamto-san but I came across his name in a recent article about LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) by a Liam Kelly. [5] One of the participants a character called Quinn does not like Hegel; referring to him as a Brain cancer. What is interesting about this recollection is that it is an example of a social phenomena increasingly set to increase: individuals wishing to take a break from the phantasmagoria and into the realms of fantasy.[6] This LARPing rave contains something interesting regarding the notion of cryptocurrency which is used here as a buy in and the currency that enables access to the rave. However the initial positivity surrounding Bitcoin has started to be met with negative press and on the same website of Breakermag we can read, ‘In the short term, though, that’s not what most big players care about—and the major social change blockchain has brought about so far is that a small number of people have become very rich indeed’.[7] Laurie Penny’s article is a sobering read indeed for those that have never been to such events or invested capital in capital. The criticism continues in an article on MIT’s Technological Review shared by Ami Clarke a lecturer at Central Saint Martins in London and director of arts space Banner Repeater.

‘In total, hackers have stolen nearly $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency since the beginning of 2017, mostly from exchanges, and that’s just what has been revealed publicly. These are not just opportunistic lone attackers, either. Sophisticated cybercrime organisations are now doing it too: analytics firm Chainalysis recently said that just two groups, both of which apparently still active, may have stolen a combined $1 billion from exchanges.’[8]

Such a lack of security runs against the claims of the Bitcoin Paper in which the fictitious Nakamoto lays out the issues of founding a peer-to-peer blockchain in which an equilibrium is created by the equality of users. Yet, in the Bitcoin paper Nakamoto struggles with a forecast problem: the dilemma of how to ensure ‘double-spending’ does not happen. The solution that was put forth is the use of a time stamp that anchors the data to a point then affixed to this is a proof of work using a required number of zero bits that show each node the truth of that data. The author, Nakamoto, goes on to show mathematically how via way of a calculation in probability he/they have successfully created the first economic exchange not based upon trust. Yet, as we have discussed there is more than enough evidence to contradict this infamous paper and a lot of them centre around the the inability of mathematics to nullify human greed and inequality. Furthermore, Orcutt’s paper delivers important details regarding cryptocurrency: it’s vulnerability arises from the same source of the human using the currency and although there are ground breaking attempts to use A.I and newer more and more complex math so as to secure the blockchain from corruption; it remains prone to hacking.

Does this not lead us back to Marx and his initial attack on financial ideology. Marx’s ideas regarding the universality of money and the general formula for Kapital continuously contribute to this discussion; as they have since the moment Marx wrote them. Marx uses a symbol symbolism to discuss the dynamic and the circuit capital produced at the onset of modernism. C for Commodity and M for Market are used to show certain relations between the two.[9] But we might appropriate them to clarify the need for universal basic income. Marx describes two forms of relations. ‘C-M-C starts with one commodity and ends with another… Consumption, the satisfaction of wants, in one word, use-value, is its end and aim. The circuit M-C-M, on the contrary, commences with money and ends with money’ presenting us with use value and exchange value. What is Bitcoin’s true aim to bring them together? Or to neutralise the commodity leaving just the market M-M-M?

It would certainly seem like the trouble maker is the commodity with its anthropomorphism, its capacity to draw from human’s an un-weilding power to influence and captivate. But is this commencing with money and ending with money even possible? The basic answer and argument is a yes because it follows from a simple logic that money is a human construct and so therefore under our power? Yet, this is a hasty simplification of a giant contemporary problem. From my perspective it is more than feasible but it requires the ability for all of us and by all I mean every single living being to agree to giving over power to a new Leviathan; a global government that rules over earth’s inhabitants. Such a proposal is hard and nigh impossible to believe but belief and security in the tried and tested are being put under pressure. There are major hurdles to this but we must consider a few possibilities or things that also contribute to our discussion and it is our discussion as it was in the United Kingdom that cash machines and ATMS first came into usage. It was a Barclays machine at the Enfield branch opened on June 27th 1967.

Such a fact gives us impetus to continue our thinking about how to resolve global inequality. For there is an urgency, year and year the human population grows and year by year unjust differences increase. I see no reason why we cant implement a system whereby everyone has welfare because they do not live in poverty as living citizens they are guaranteed a living wage regardless of job and position. Such a thought is not idealism it is a necessary part of a future human reality and it encompasses some very difficult hurdles. To bring about an equality that Block-chain technology promises (remembering that this technology is still in its youth) society’s work patterns and cultures will have to also change. A major barrier is the notion of ownership: how to retain the positive feeling this brings but without the propensity for greed? In the future work the notion of career should be cycle based and so a person rotates different jobs every year. Basically ensuring that a meritocracy and democracy is maintained. Next to this, work becomes optional, you can work for more money but this has a maximum capacity; the ability to horde wealth is stopped.

One major argument against this is that it is in our nature to be selfish and there is some evidence to suggest that altruism arises from selfishness (see George Price equation), yet this ignores other facts that seem to support radical change. For example, mathematical equations provide a truth in relation to nature but this thing we call nature is constantly also subject to revision and so thinking through ideas and forms that have an impact upon the economy is what we need to be doing. I have been fascinated by a simple perspective: if we observe the Price equation, an equation that tracks the growth and retention of a given quality in a population, then we can take the information (selfishness > altruism) and develop methodologies that lead to a greater understanding of this. Perhaps this suggests that over-consumption will lead to more friendly behaviour; the idea being that if my needs are met then the needs of others become more relevant. This is wishful thinking indeed but perhaps could be possible iff technology enables the production and recycling of commodities so they become more public and less private. This does not mean free but it implies that the exchange and use of a given thing are drawn closer together and so mirror wider social change. This is of course also dependent on a democratic use of technology like 3d-printing and intelligent design.

The contrasting idea is one of a luxury increase accessing Markets and un-regulate capitalism so that everyone lives in abundance. This idea does not provide a future as secure and as attainable as it might appear and instead unbridled capitalism makes an abuse of human desire, and our ability to use this force in a healthy way. Some thinkers, such as Frenchmen Gilles Deleuze and Georges Battaile have theorised that this be so and production is explosively unavoidable. In a book by English philosopher Nick Land one has confronted the idea that the storing of information is necessarily one of isolation and explosive. The formula of Bataille’s economy that Land uses describes how expenditure always exceeds acquisition and how this is indifferent and leads to isolation. But, I choose to read this continuously different communication as arising from the isolation and as the only immediate way we can overcome such unhelpful notions. This also includes a highly relevant discussion on the nature of information and whether or not it is entropic or negentropic; whether or not it privileges chaos or order? Physically we have understood that the past appears as ordered and in the future it is opposite but this is perhaps too reductive a perspective on information and indeed moves us towards pushing for a reversal of this polarity; so that information in the future can be re-ordered and resist decay and corruption?

formula

Here we return to Hegel who rightly stated that truth is not minted and does not reside or has never resided in a bank. Instead the development of rationality in our own time leads us naturally to desire a new state. Hegel, though does not contain answers, like every philosopher he generates more problems. Frankly his thoughts on Asia are outdated but his master slave dialectic and infamous ‘work of the negative’ may indeed have more work to do. Taking all this into account then surely we can conclude that when it comes to money and the economy we need to generate an ideology and ethos that sets our global communities and cultures of exchange not continuing on the narrative of mass production/consumption but rather a system by which the total number of living beings are not subjected to brutal losses by the greed of others. In other words if only it was possible to play a non zero sum game? Is there really such thing as perfect information? I sincerely hope so, as I am not proud of my country of birth as a recent report on poverty by the United Nations discovered one of the most historically influential of nations has left a large swathe of its residents in unforgivable material situations. If all else fails we can always resort to being Saboteurs in the original dutch meaning of throwing wooden shoes sabots into the machinery?


[1] I am not going to mention China’s usage of paper money in the 7th century A.D here because I do not have access to the relevant information and therefore can not offer a commentary on the success or failures of this change of currency. Although, it happened so long ago only adding more time to this problematic time.

[2] Esther Leslie. (2005),Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry, Reaktion Books, London. 89-92

[3] Ibid. Hegel, Preface for The Phenomenology of Spirit.

[4] Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System,

[5] Liam Kelly. (03.06.2019), I Larped as a Monero Developer and It Ended in Tears, [www.Breakermag.com] 

[6] The difference being one is innate and subconscious (kleinian) and the other a conscious choice (fantasy).

[7] https://breakermag.com/trapped-at-sea-with-cryptos-nouveau-riche/

[8] Mike Orcutt. (2019), Once hailed as unhackable blockchains are now getting hacked, MIT Technological Review.

[9] Karl Marx. (2008), Capital, Oxford World Classics, OUP.94-95