The entire idea of rereading implies just such a likeable and progressive assumption about life, one that’s meant to keep us interested in living it: namely, that as you get further along, you find out more valuable stuff; familiarity doesn’t always give way to dreary staleness, but often in fact to celestial understandings; that life and literature both are layered affairs you can work down through.
Rereading a treasured and well-used book is a very different enterprise from reading a book the first time. It’s not that you don’t enter the same river twice. You actually do. It’s just not the same you who does the entering. By the time you get to the second go-round, you probably know—and know more about—what you don’t know, and are possibly more comfortable with that, at least in theory. And you come to a book the second or third time with a different hunger, a more settled sense about how far off the previously-mentioned great horizon really is for you, and what you do and don’t have time for, and what you might reasonably hope to gain from a later look.
Gradually, the creatives dressed like creatives are replaced by the rich people dressed as creatives, who express themselves by going to the right bars. The art form is pure, but it bears such a close resemblance to normal life that it’s sometimes difficult to tell someone who goes to the right…
Have this conversation constantly. It really is impossible to tell.
There’s a quiet revolution underway in theoretical physics. For as long as the discipline has existed, physicists have been reluctant to discuss consciousness, considering it a topic for quacks and charlatans. Indeed, the mere mention of the ‘c’ word could ruin careers. That’s finally beginning to change thanks to a fundamentally new way of thinking about consciousness that is spreading like wildfire through the theoretical physics community. And while the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss. Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart. Tegmark’s approach is to think of consciousness as a state of matter, like a solid, a liquid or a gas. “I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter. Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many types of consciousness,” he says. He goes on to show how the particular properties of consciousness might arise from the physical laws that govern our universe. And he explains how these properties allow physicists to reason about the conditions under which consciousness arises and how we might exploit it to better understand why the world around us appears as it does.
“The assumption that work is a passport to dignity and security, that work is what makes life worth living, is so deeply embedded in our culture that it is almost heretical to think otherwise. But the problem isn’t just the lack of work. It’s also the lack of hope. Young people leaving school and university can no longer kid themselves that their future is likely to include a stable place to live, love and get on with growing up, even if they do manage to find paid work.
Here’s what is notably not being said to the young and desperate: you are more than your inability to find a job. Your value to a potential employer is not the sole measure of your worth as a person. If you can find only precarious, exhausting, depressing work, or if you can’t find work at all, that doesn’t mean you are useless, lazy, or a “waste of space”.”—
Personally, I will begin with what is articulated in the sigla
S(0) by being first of all a signifier….
And since the battery o f signifiers, as such, is by that very
fact complete, this signifier can only be a line [trait] that is
drawn from its circle without being able to be counted part o f
it. It can be symbolized by the inherence o f a (-1 ) in the whole
set o f signifiers.
As such it is inexpressible, but its operation is not inex
pressible, for it is that which is produced whenever a proper
noun is spoken. Its statement equals its signification.
Thus, by calculating that signification according to the al
gebraic method used here, namely:
——— ——- = s (the statement), with S = (-1 ), produces:
s (signified) .__
No doubt Claude Levi-Strauss, in his commentary on
Mauss, wished to recognize in it the effect o f a zero symbol.
But it seems to me that what we are dealing with here is rather
the signifier o f the lack o f this zero symbol. That is why, at the
risk o f incurring a certain amount o f opprobrium, I have indi
cated to what point I have pushed the distortion o f the math
ematical algorithm in my use o f it: the symbol ‘P I , which is
still written as ‘i ’ in the theory o f complex numbers, is obvi
ously justified only because it makes no claim to any au
tomatism in its later use.
Thus the erectile organ comes to symbolize the place of
jouissance, not in itself, or even in the form of an image, but
as a part lacking in the desired image: that is why it is equiv
alent to the -T of the signification produced above, of the
jouissance that it restores by the coefficient of its statement
to the function of lack of signifier (-1).
Lacan as quoted in Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal
"Mr. Lacan, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."
I had noticed that friends going through breakups often took solace in the fact that they had learned from those failed romances. They had acquired important skills such as how to be vulnerable, how to set boundaries, how to listen and how to speak up. They had learned the art of compromise and forgiveness and how to love someone even when you don’t always like them. Through practice and repetition, they were mastering this exquisite, complicated dance, cultivating wisdom and muscle memory that could be successfully applied to future relationships.
I was glad my friends had found an upside to their heartache, but statements like those also made me nervous. If one learned how to have a happy partnership by trial and error, then I was missing crucial on-the-job training.
“He might have been the first Cynic, but Diogenes’ cynicism was not a flood of relentless negativity and bile: unlike modern cynics, he had a profoundly idealistic streak. When asked where he was from, Diogenes said ‘I’m a citizen of the world.’ The word he used was kosmopolites, from which our ‘cosmopolitan’ derives, so strictly speaking he was expressing allegiance with the cosmos; but the term is usually translated as ‘citizen of the world’. This would have sounded heretical to an Ancient Greek: strong allegiance to your city-state was meant to be the source of your identity, security, and self-respect. But Diogenes wasn’t simply trying to scorn orthodoxy and shock those around him. His declaration was a signal that he took nature — the cosmos — as his guide to life, rather than the parochial and often arbitrary laws of a particular city-state. The cosmos had its own laws. Rather than being in thrall to local custom and kowtowing to those of high status, Diogenes was responsible to humanity as a whole. His loyalty was to human reason, unpolluted by petty concerns with wealth and power. And reason, as Socrates well knew, unsettled the status quo. It might be tempting to see this kind of thinking as simply a quaint notion from the museum of the history of ideas — a utopian fantasy. On the contrary, I suggest that it has a special relevance for us in the 21st century.”—
“Kurzweil is perhaps the most prominent proselytizer of “hard AI,” which argues that it is possible to create consciousness in an artificial being. Add to this Google’s revelation that it is using techniques of deep learning to produce an artificial brain, and a subsequent hiring of the godfather of computer neural nets Geoffrey Hinton, and it would seem that Google is becoming the most daring developer of AI, a fact that some may consider thrilling and others deeply unsettling. Or both.”—
“As a variation on the deflationary argument, control theorists claim that because we have the option to turn off the television, stop reading the book, or leave the theater, we are protected from experiencing genuinely painful emotions. In this view, art is special because it grants us a kind of control that we lack outside art, and this control protects us from experiencing genuine pain.”—Juul, Jesper.The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013. (via carvalhais)