So I do! ( Sergio and me are writing about teaching kids to program.)
“When I perceive the other, there’s a level of violence which turns to be impossible” (Merleau-Ponty)
“…and it happened to me that, if perception is obviously culturally shaped — for me this is now completely clear –, maybe we should think of consciousness as also culturally shaped.
Then I started to think about how could I support such hypothesis, and I decided to follow that more or less hermeneutic path — the fact that, to the extent that conceptual thinking seems to depend on language, so does consciousness — the way we are aware of reality, the way we make meaning of it, the way through which we have a “world” (to a certain level language-dependent; for Flusser, completely dependent on language). Merleau-Ponty also agrees that each language is a “world in itself”, and through anthropology we can then consider that each language expresses a perceptual relation between body and environment, which is elaborated in cultural terms and turns into a kind of colective normatization through which the way a certain people and/or society makes meaning of the world.
But the decisive argument for me was that we superimpose the structure of language over our experience — this is something you will find in psychologists, in Piaget, in linguists, in Philosophers. It is not something very difficult to hold, in fact. And it made me happy that, through this, I was able to achieve two goals: a) to claim, provocatively, that stricto-sensu scientific approach is quite blind to it’s own limits (which should not be a novelty, as also); and b) to start finding new paths to explore from this cocktail of Phenomenologyand Anthropology on which my work is mostly anchored. I’m now very
much interested in this relation between language and perception: a language explicits a way of perceiving the world, a “point-of-experience”.
Right, but how to go ahead, without getting into typical scientifical methodologies of cognitive sciences, linguistics or semiothics? It looks to me that Flusser has some great contribuitions on this, but even if he is now beeing completely recognized in Germany as a truly great philosopher, I should need more fuel. The paths to think language outside typical scientific reasoning seem to have been opened by Heidegger and also Wittgenstein. I am a little bit familiar with Heidegger, but have still very little knowledge of Wittgenstein. (According to Hamed Taheri, in that Empyre debate, also Benjamin has
written about language in this way).
But, also — and this is amazing for our work — Merleau-Ponty has a great article discussing “language and algorithm” (!). So we have natural spoken and written languages as opened to interpretation, thus never precise and always relying in an experiencial ground to be understood in their many levels of meaning; and algorithms as
artificial “closed” language targeted to an unique and precise reading by a machine: algorithms are not supposed to be opened to interpretation.
So, I’m thinking about language in the following terms:
Language is what articulates our relation to the worlds and the others;
Language is production of meaning, a way of making meaning of the lived world.
(I have not found the precise words yet…)
So that’s why I think of the questions of “media wisdom” or “media awareness” — and then the question of teaching kids how to program — as necessarily grounded in a Phenomenological approach that emphasizes the richness of lived perceptual experience in contrast with the power and precision of algorithmic thinking. Otherwise, algorithms will shape, through the perceptual experience they enact, the way kids think and make meaning of the world (and I’m back to our usual topics…)
Then, of course the very fact that one is able to perceive that the other is engaged in private affairs that demand to be respected is a cultural notion — can you imagine this idea of privacy in such terms, including the telephone conversation, in another model of society if not this one in which we are in? Colective native societies of South America, Asia and Africa probably would not have such a situation (of course all structures of power and hierarchical dispositions may mantain, in some level, conditions of privacy; but such a notion of individuality is something that have developed only in the European
influenced West). (TO BE IMPROVED…)
So, technological networks seem to be, at the same time destroying such individual privacy and empowering dinamic colective networking. But then we are in a territory with which I think of you as much more familiar then myself. But, of course, has its perceptual and obviously linguistic implications.
In my best intelectual dreams, I would like to avoid as much as possible typicaly scientific technical reasoning, in order precisely to protect language as this space where meaning blossoms.
(enough for part 2)
That made me very happy, as I thought I might be on track and start understanding a little, as I wrote a while ago:
“(…) Implementing digital connecitivity in an analogue environment without a design for all the senses , without a concept of corporal literacy, leads to information overload. In a
ubiquitous computing environment the new intelligence is extelligence, “knowledge and tools that are outside people’s heads” (Stewart and Cohen, 1997) In a ubiquitous computing environment the user has to be not only textually and visually literate, both alsohave corporal literacy, that is an awareness of extelligence and a working knowledge of all the senses. It is our claim in staking out a field of corporal literacy that in contemporary performance and theatrical practice we find an actualization of (and ways of dealing with) the bottleneck scenarios that are envisaged by information experts. (…)”
“Amazing! We are tunned on the same stations! In 2003, I presented the first version of the concept of “Digital Perception” in the Subtle Technologies Festival, in Toronto. The idea is that digital technologies foster sensory integration, translation and multisensory,
synaesthetic, cultural forms — that are all around.”
2003 was a good year.