Monday, August 4, 2008

Hypermodernity and the Rule of Technology - Part IV

The inherent violence of “coercive steering”In the same way nature is steered and ordered into a “standing reserve” by technology, so too is human behavior steered: whether by the endless iteration of technical progress, the infinite projection of wireless information into space, or the physical movement of peoples through the locomotive technology of "modernity."Steering has the character of “bringing movement forth” in entities. As a phenomenon, steering could be the movement of a human who brings a ship into a desired course. It is the “directing” of movement that a rational human pursues. This moment of directing is a coercive and pre-calculated regulation. Steering is the bringing-into-control of movement. A ship without a rudder and helmsman is a plaything of the waves and winds. The ship is forcibly brought into the DESIRED COURSE only through steering.The helmsman of a ship is a man of skill. He knows the tides, the winds, the waves. He must make use of the driving wind and tide in the correct manner. Through his steering he removes the ship coercively from the free play of wind and waves. Steering has the character of violence.


"The transition from signs which dissimulate something to signs which dissimulate that there is nothing, marks the decisive turning point. The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation, in which there is no longer any God to recognize his own, nor any last judgement to separate truth from false, the real from its artificial resurrection, since everything is already dead and risen in advance." Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Stanford; Stanford University Press, 1988), p.170?.


Heraclitus sez: "Latent structure is master of obvious structure."

Hypermodernity and the Rule of Technology - Part III

The hyperextended domain of technology: first into nature, then into human beingsIn opposition to the above definition of technology, one can argue that the Greeks really only use techne to refer to the techniques of the handicraftsman; that it cannot hold true to describe modern machine technology, or the technical autonomy of iPhones or nano-robots. (It is precisely this objection that causes us to pause and question “technology.”)The revealing that rules in modern technology is a challenging, which puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such.Does this not hold true for the old windmill as well? No: its sails do indeed turn in the wind; they are left entirely to the wind’s blowing. But the windmill does not unlock energy from the air currents in order to store it.In contrast, a tract of land is challenged in the hauling out of coal and ore. The earth now reveals itself as a “coal-mining district,” the soil as a “mineral deposit.”Long ago even the cultivation of a field has come under the grip of technology. Agriculture is now the mechanized food industry. Air is now “set upon” to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium, for example; uranium is set upon to yield atomic energy, which can be unleashed for purposes that can be either completely destructive, or peaceful.This tendency of technology to “set upon” nature challenges the energy of nature, expedites it. Such a challenging happens in that the energy concealed in nature is “unlocked” – then transformed – then stored up – then distributed and switched about.Everywhere everything is ordered to stand-by, to be immediately on hand, indeed to stand there JUST SO THAT IT MAY BE ON CALL FOR A FURTHER ORDERING.This is clearly undignified.


BTWThe essence of technology is by no means anything technological. Thus we shall never experience our relationship with the essence of technology so long as we merely conceive and push forward the technological, put up with it or in the case of haters, evade it.But this much remains correct: modern technology too is a means to an end. That is why the instrumental conception of technology conditions every attempt to bring man into the right relation to technology. Everything depends on our manipulating technology in the proper manner as a means. We will master it.The will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.


"In the Enlightenment, universalization was viewed as unlimited growth and forward progress. Today, by contrast, universalization is expressed as a forward escape." JB -The Violence of the Global, in the journal Critical Theory


And so Holderlin asks: "What is the role of the poet, in a destitute time?"

Hypermodernity and the Rule of Technology - Part II

Connecting techne to aletheia (“truth”) in a "Greek" wayEven more significant, is the link between techne and episteme. From the earliest times until Plato the word techne is linked to the word episteme. Both words are terms for “knowing” – in the widest sense of the word possible, i.e.: to be entirely at home in something, to understand and be an expert in it. This knowing provides an opening-up. As an opening-up, it is a revealing.In this way, Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, links techne to truth. Techne is a mode of aletheuein, of truth “as a revealing.” Techne reveals whatever does not bring itself forth and does not yet lie before us. Whoever builds a ship or a house, or forges a sacrificial chalice, reveals what is to be brought forth. This revealing gathers together in advance the aspect and matter of a ship or house, with a view to the finished, completed thing. This gathering determines the manner of its construction. Thus what is decisive in techne does not at all lie in making and manipulating, but rather in the revealing. It is as revealing, not as manufacturing, that techne means a “bringing-forth.” The Greeks defined techne as an activity that occurs in the same realm as truth (“as a revealing”).Technology is a mode of revealing.


In "revealing" or "making manifest" we imply a simple dualism that does us dis-service...surely we are not the munching brood that assumes that "reality" is hidden behind some flimsy curtain dividing experience from essence. Surely these men are our boon-enemies. So called "techne" does no more for us than it did for our poor greasy, dolma-eating fore-bearers, and their chitnzy pagan gods. In more hypermodernist terms one might turn to the Cyclops chapter in Joyce's Ulysses for a consideration of techne as a "hinge" or a continuous turning in perspective of our hero, the Wandering Jew, Judah ben Bloom, contrasted with the trivial bistcuit tin cast at him he rises"at a 45 degree angle, like a shot off a shovel..." So called enlightenment is not a "revealing" but a "disillusionment" invoked by increasing methods of perception..


Most likely of truth, Heraclitus sez (Diels fragment 18): ἐὰν μὴ ἔλπηται ἀνέλπιστον οὐκ ἐξευρήσει, ἀνεξερεύνητον ἐὸν καὶ ἄπορον"If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out and difficult to obtain."

Hypermodernity and the Rule of Technology - Part I

What is technology?What do we refer to here as “technology,” ie: what is meant by technology?Technology – unsurprisingly – comes to us from the Greeks. Technikon means that which belongs to techne.Techne – from which comes technique and technical – can translate literally as “craft, skill, art, craftsmanship.” The skill and care a carpenter devotes to construction is a techne. When we look at a well-laid foundation or a fashioned cabinet or a finely-forged ship, we admire the skill of the builder. We admire the techne.For the Greeks, techne does not only refer to the activities and skills of the craftsman, but also for the arts of the mind and the fine arts. Techne is something poetic.