Sunday, July 05, 2020

From Star Wars to Star Trek
I wrote about the enduring radicalism of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and what it seeds in its premise--the idea that without greed and scarcity, there are inner and outer worlds to explore in freedom...

i fucking loved TNG and how gentle and kind everyone was and how enthusiastic about my nascent Trekkie journey... it reminded me of the post-scarcity world of the enterprise-D
Eoin Higgins defends the looting of shops, but not presumably Hollywood sound-stages, or maybe Hollywood homes. Talia Lavin wants to defund the police but fantasizes a benign universalist military, Trump's "Star Force" by Gene Roddenberry.

The only interesting things about the remodeled shows was the transition in Jewish characterization from Vulcan to Ferengi and the insinuating Jesuitical sleaze of the Vorta.

Angry bourgeois left-liberals celebrate that adolescent antics of "autonomous zones". Like Occupy Wall St, the same old hippie utopian shit. The maturity of Wisconsin is forgotten. And the critical response is lead by the same boosterish defenders of America and Americanism.

By coincidence I just rewrote a bit near the end of the manuscript, adding the reference to Paul Romer.

The theory of The Extended Mind says that since we orient ourselves in the world by means of objects in the world, our minds themselves extend outward. In the words of Andy Clark of the University of Edinburgh, the human mind has never been “bound and restricted by the biological skin-bag.”[i]  Hatred of the physical self is one of the founding precepts of futurism in the computer age, but in this new fantasy of  hypertrophied individualism, not only do we find “the other” in ourselves, we find the world.  I’ve parodied it a few times, in the characters a of jaded professor answering an enthusiastic student, and the same student with his girlfriend who’s lost patience.

"Put your cell phone on my desk. [crushes the cell phone with a hammer] Now put your hand on the desk."
"No baby... please... I understand you... you're a part of me! I have an extended mind!"

This fantasy relates directly to Actor Network Theory and Bruno Latour’s “Collective”, a self expanded not only to the world around it but to the world as a whole. Latour’s fantasy is of an extended, universal, benign self. It’s rhetoric, not logic, but it’s the rhetoric of expansion when humility is if anything the rhetoric of reticence.  His collective includes non-voting members, obliterating distinctions central to self-government, a fitting parallel to Paul Romer’s idea of Charter Cities.[ii] If we’re all equal, some are more equal than others.  Why not imagine ourselves as humanists once did, as small, with burdens of both responsibility and tolerance? But all humility being false –Derridian ostentation– the problem remains. In the end there can be no humanism without irony. Saying “I love you” means nothing absent the agreement of another human being.  The other is the chimera in the mind of an adolescent boy who talks endlessly about himself while claiming to be talking about the girl of his dreams. All of these philosophies, in the name of the primacy of ideas and theory and the self-regarding optimism of their authors, ignore the practice of adversarialism in daily life, from the schoolyard to the theater of politics and law, all built in the tacit admission that all that is fully common in the human world is form.

Technocracy demands that the majority replace the world of experience, of conflicting obligations judged by each of us as individuals, with an inflexible model of rules: all of us limited to an identical internally consistent ideology of self.  The model is authoritarian.  

[i] Andy Clark, Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence, OUP 2003
quoted in John Sutton, "Exograms and Interdisciplinarity: History, the Extended Mind, and the Civilizing Process", in The Extended Mind, MIT Press, 2010
[ii] Sabastian Mallaby, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty”, The Atlantic, August 2010

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