How can I know what I’m feeling isn’t just me imagining that I am feeling? What is counterfeit and what is real?

Psychological analysis lost all interest for me from the moment that I became aware that men feel what they imagine they feel. From that to thinking that they imagine they feel what they feel was a very short step . . .! I see it clearly in the case of my love for Laura: between loving her and imagining I love her- between loving her less and imagining I love her less – what God could tell the difference? In the domain of feeling, what is real is indistinguishable from what is imaginary. And if it is sufficient to imagine one loves, in order to love, so it is sufficient to say to oneself that when one loves one imagines one loves, in order to love a little less and even in order to detach oneself a little from one’s love, or at any rate to detach some of the crystals from one’s love. But if one is able to say such a thing to oneself, must one not already love a little less? (Gide 1925 [1958:84])

These are the questions asked by Edouard, the narrator and protagonist of André Gide’s novel Les Faux-Monnayers (1925). Edouard reads the letters, poetry and novels of others and writes in his journal as a background to his experiment in writing a new, more authentic form of novel entitled Les Faux-Monnayers. In the post WWI period of confused values and identities, Edouard begins to question his own reality:

The only existence that anything (including myself) has for me, is poetical – I restore this word its full signification. It seems to me sometimes that I do not really exist, but that I merely imagine I exist. The thing that I have the greatest difficulty in believing in, is my own reality. I am constantly getting outside myself, and as I watch myself act I cannot understand how a person who acts is the same as the person who is watching him act, and who wonders in astonishment and doubt how he can be an actor and a watcher at the same moment. (Gide 1925 [1958:84])

But is it Gide who also experiencing an existential crisis?

André Gide introduced the concept of the mise en abîme in his Journal (1893),

J’aime assez qu’en une œuvre d’art on retrouve ainsi transposé, à l’échelle des personnages, le sujet même de cette œuvre par comparaison avec ce procédé du blason qui consiste, dans le premier, à mettre le second en abyme (Gide 1893).

It is defined by Rimmon-Kenan as,

An analogy which verges on identity, making the hypodiegetic level a mirror and reduplication of the diegetic, is known in French as mise en abyme. It can be described as the equivalent in narrative fiction of something like Matisse’s [1933 painting La Condition Humaine] of a room in which a miniature version of the same painting hangs on one of the walls (Rimmon-Kenan 2002: 94).

and described by Wenche Ommundsen, who foregrounds the metatextual significance of such text-segments, considers mise en abyme as ‘an embedded self-representation or mirror-image of the text within the text. The mise en abyme may […] refer to the whole work which includes it; it may also refer to a particular element within that work, or it may take as its subject the processes of fictional creation and communication’ (Ommundsen 1993: 10 cited by Weiss).

Bibliography

Bal, Mieke. 1985. Narratology. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (transl.).Toronto/London: University of California Press.

Boheemen. “Notes on Narrative Embedding.” Poetics Today 2.2 (1981): 41-59.

Gide, André. 1925. Les Faux-Monnayers.

Gide, André. 1958. The Coiners. Trans. Dorothy Bussy. London: Cassell & Company.

Gide, André. 1958. XIII. “Edouard’s Journal: Douviers and Profitendieu.” The Coiners. Trans. Dorothy Bussy. London: Cassell & Company. p. 358

Caws, Mary Ann. 1986. Reading Frames in Modern Fiction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP.

Dällenbach, Lucien. 1977. Le récit spéculaire. Essai sur la mise en abyme .– Paris : Seuil, 1977. The Mirror in the Text.– Cambridge : Polity Pres, 1989.


Meyer-Minnemann, Klaus, Schlickers, Sabine. 2004. “La mise en abyme en narratologie.” Vox Poetica. January 7. http://www.vox-poetica.org/t/menabyme.html

Ommundsen, Wenche. 1993. Metafictions? Reflexivity in Contemporary Texts. Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Ricardou, Jean.1990 [1973]. Le Nouveau Roman. Paris : Seuil.

Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith. 2002. Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. 2nd edn. London and New York: Routledge.


Consciousness begins when brains acquire the simple power of telling a story without words using a nonverbal vocabulary of body signals about the living organism constantly altered by internal and external adjustments of the life process. The self appears then as the feeling of a feeling. Knowledge of those feelings emerge as a response to a question never asked (Damasio 1999:30-31).

Consciousness is, in effect, the key to a life examined […] At its simplest and most basic level, consciousness lets us recognize an irresistible urge to stay alive and develop a concern for the self. At its most complex and elaborate level, consciousness helps us develop a concern for other selves and improve the art of life.” (Damasio 1999:5)

Damasio calls these two phases of consciousness core consciousness which engenders and is engendered by a core self in the here and now, and extended consciousness, the zenith of consciousness, which is dependent on and built upon the foundation of core consciousness. Extended consciousness has many levels and grades with a unique autobiographical self and autobiographical memory (Damasio 1999:16-18).

In describing the course of events from emotion to conscious feeling, Damasio argues that there is no central feeling state before the emotion occurs and that expressing an emotion precedes feeling. To illustrate this Damasio paraphrased E. M. Forster words as “How can I know what I think before I say it?” 1

Damasio’s (1999) perspectives on emotion, feeling and knowing is unorthodox. Neural patterns or images arise in changes related to body state and changes related to cognitive states. Through chemical and electrochemical messages the body landscape is changed. Having a feeling and knowing a feeling are not the same. Knowing a feeling requires a knowing subject endowed with the faculty of consciousness (Damasio 1999:283-4).

Damasio, Antonio. 1999. The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company.
Notes:

1Daniel Dennett also cited Forster’s phrase in Consciousness Explained. Damasio’s paraphrase in spite of its quotes is incorrect according to bloggers Zimmermann (2005) and Fitzgerald (2006).

Zimmerman argues that‘How can I tell what I think till I see what I say? is from E. M. Forster’s (1879-1970) essay Aspects of the Novel (1927) written when he was forty eight years old and after he completed his final novel, A Passage to India. It was first delivered as part of a series of Clark Lectures given at Trinity College, Cambridge. In it Forster reveals his own unique perspective on literary history, style and form from Defoe to Joyce including a criticism of Henry James’ The Ambassadors.

“Another distinguished critic has agreed with Gide–that old lady in the anecdote who was accused by her niece of being illogical. For some time she could not be brought to understand what logic was, and when she grasped its true nature she was not so much angry as contemptuous. ‘Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish!’ she exclaimed. ‘How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?’ Her nieces, educated young women, thought that she was passée; she was really more up-to-date than they were.” (Zimmermann, Heiko . 2005. citing Forster, E. M. 1976. Ed. Stallybrass, Oliver. Aspects of the Novel. Harmondsworth: Penguin. p.99 )

Aspects of the Novel (1927) was written when Forster was forty eight years old and after he completed his final novel, A Passage to India. It was first delivered as part of a series of Clark Lectures given at Trinity College, Cambridge. In it Forster reveals his own unique perspective on literary history, style and form from Defoe to Joyce including a criticism of Henry James’ The Ambassadors. Childs. 2001. Aspects of the Novel.

Fitzgerald claims that this is the source of the citation:
The little girl had the making of a poet in her who, being told to be sure of her meaning before she spoke, said, ‘How can I tell what I think until I see what I say?’ Graham Wallas The Art of Thought (1926) [ODQ & B16] cited by Fitzgerald (2006).

 

Essayist and poet Matthew Arnold (1822-12-24 – 1888-04-15) wrote in “St. Paul and Protestantism” (1870),

“Below the surface stream, shallow and light,
Of what we say and feel — below the stream,
As light, of what we think we feel, there flows
With noiseless current, strong, obscure and deep,
The central stream of what we feel indeed.”

Attribution:

Alan Greenspan: “I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

“I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” Robert McCloskey. U.S. State Department spokesman at one of his regular noon briefings during the worst days of the Vietnam War. Marvin Kalb in TV Guide, Mar. 31, 1984.

Alternative: “I believe that you think you understand what I said, but I fear, that you don´t realize, that what I say is not always what I really mean.”

John Weakland: “‘The meaning of any communication is the response that it gets.”

 

 

 


There were six siblings and we each experienced it differently. I was in my first year of university when he had the third and final operation which meant that both his legs were gone. The weekend I brought Dave home to meet the family, during his sleep my Dad, not yet used to the shortness of both stumps rolled out of his hospital bed- which was set up in what used to be our living room. He didn’t want to wake my Mom so he reached up to his bedside table for his pipe. When my Mom saw the empty bed in the morning, for an instant she thought he had died and gone to heaven, literally. But then she saw the familiar trail of the smoking pipe. She called for Dave. Dave had been working all summer as a lifeguard and he lifted my Dad back into his bed effortlessly clinching my Dad’s admiration for him.

Creeping gangrene, war wounds and phantom limbs were part of everyday life vocabulary during my teen years. He never complained. He was always so grateful for my mother’s care. He was gentle. They spoke of the phantom limb phenomenon with visitors as just another small detail of interest in an otherwise routine life. He didn’t speak of pain but of an itch. I think he even chuckled at the thought.

As I try to piece together the disjointed readings on consciousness that have consumed me lately, I was surprised at how often the phantom limb phenomenon entered into the conversations. It challenged assumptions about the relationship between mind and body.

In 1637 René Descartes referred to the phantom limb experience of a young girl to argue for the dualism of mind-body where the body is fragmented while the mind is unified See also Wade (2006).

In the late 20th century these dynamic neural processes became the topic of more detailed investigation (Ramachandran 1993). Neuroscientists using powerful sophisticated MEGs and MRIs are challenging scientific assumptions about the neural plasticity of the adult brain. Phantom corporeal embodiment is one of the areas of investigation.

I am not attempting to trace a complete history of the debates around the concept of consciousness. I am concerned with what is being done in the name of consciousness studies that may impact on memory work, ethics, self and the Other-I, at-risk populations and most importantly the political implications of the study of consciousness on the way mental health is constructed. During the1970s academic disciplines became increasingly fragmented. With the study of consciousness various disciplines such as cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology (qualia, Folk psychology), psychiatry (pharmapsychiatry), psychobiology, pharmacology and literature (chroniclers of consciousness) and philosophy (phenomenology) and even neuralphenomenology will hopefully benefit from more collaborative inclusive research projects. This will perhaps lead to the dissemination of useful academic research in stages which will include articles written for those outside individual distinct disciplines. At the end of the twentieth century philosophers of the mind have also been more open to investigating what has been done in the name of consciousness studies in religious practice.

Phenomenology studies conscious experience from the first-person point of view. See Smith (2003).

Something must have triggered or stimulated a similar pattern from Dad’s memory, something from the past, and suddenly he could feel something that wasn’t there. Following major wars there were many of them and they must have talked among themselves. But this was just a disorder of bodily perception. The concept of feeling pain in a missing limb was counter-intuitive. It could only be reported through first-person experience, qualia.

Selected Webliography and Bibliography

Barthes, Roland. 1953 [1972]. Le Degré Zéro de l’écriture, Paris, Editions de Seuil.

Barthes, Roland. 1957 [1987]. Mythologies. http://www.merip.org/mer/mer214/214_silverstein.html

Barthes, Roland. 1977. Death of the Author. London: Fontana. http://social.chass.ncsu.edu/wyrick/debclass/whatis.htm

Burge, Tyler. 1992. “Philosophy of Language and Mind: 1950-1990.” The Philosophical Review. 101:1.

Burge, Tyler. 1992. “Philosophy of Language and Mind: 1950-1990.” Philosophy in Review: Essays on Contemporary Philosophy (Jan., 1992), pp. 3-51.

Wolfe, Charles T. 2007. “De-ontologizing the Brain: from the fictional self to the social brain.” 1000 Days of Theory. 2007-02-14. CTheory.

Clark, Andy, Chalmers, David J. 1998. “The Extended Mind.” Analysis. 58:10-23.

Clark, Andy, Chalmers, David J. 1998. “The Extended Mind.” P. Grim, P. Ed. The Philosopher’s Annual, vol XXI.

Damasio, Antonio. 2003. Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. New York: Harcourt.

Dennett, Daniel C. 1991. Consciousness Explained. Boston: Little, Brown.

Du Bois-Reymond, Emil. 1872. “About the limits of natural knowledge.”

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Timeline of Consciousness.” > Google Docs. Uploaded March 2, 2007. ©© Creative Commons Copyright License 2.5.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Timeline of Consciousness.” > Speechless. Uploaded March 2, 2007. ©© Creative Commons Copyright License 2.5.

Goldman, Alvin I. 1993. “The Psychology of Folk Psychology.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 16:15-28.

Henry, Charles. 1992. “The Vertices of Consciousness and the Biology of a Machine.”

James, Henry. 1898. The Turn of the Screw.

Johnson, Mark. 1987. The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason. University of Chicago.

Johnson, Mark, Lakoff, George. 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books.

Kluger, Jeffrey. 2007. “The New Map Of The Brain.” Time. Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007.

Lemonick, Michael D. 2007. “The Flavor Of Memories.” Time. Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007.

McGaugh, J. L. 2000. “Memory: A Century of Consolidation.” Science. 287:248-251.

McGinn, Colin. 1989. “Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem?Mind. 98:391: 349-366.

McGonigle, David J. 2005. “The Body in Question: Phantom Phenomena and the View from Within.” The Phantom Limb: a Neurobiological Diagnosis with Aesthetic, Cultural and Philosophical Implications.

McGinn, Colin. 1993. Problem of Consciousness: essays towards a resolution. Blackwell Publishing.

Nadeau, Robert L. 1991. Mind, Machines, and Human Consciousness. Chicago: Contemporary Books.

Penrose, Roger. 1989. The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pinker, Steven. 2007. “The Mystery of Consciousness .” Time. Friday, Jan. 19, 2007.

Ramachandran, V. S.; D. C. Rogers-Ramachandran & M. Stewart. 1992. “Perceptual correlates of massive cortical reorganization.” Science. No. 258/5085: 1159-1160.

Ramachandran, V. S., and Blakeslee. S. 1998. Phantoms in the Brain. London: Fourth Estate.

Smith, David Woodruff. 2003. “Phenomenology.” > Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Van Gulick, Robert. 2004. “Consciousness” > Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Van Gulick 2004)

Wade, Nicholas. 2005. “The legacy of phantom limbs.” The Phantom Limb: a Neurobiological Diagnosis with Aesthetic, Cultural and Philosophical Implications.

Wilson, Edward O. 1971. Insect Societies. Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-45490-1.

Wilson, Edward O. 2006. The Creation: A Meeting of Science and Religion. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Wilson, Edward O. 1975. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Belknap Press, ISBN 0-674-81621-8

Wolfe, Tom. 1996. “Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died.” Forbes. 158:13. pp.210.

Consciousness and the Novel http://www.powells.com/biblio?show=0674013778#synopses_and_reviews

Debord, Guy. 1961. “Perspectives for Conscious Changes in Everyday Life.”

Lefebvre, Henri. 1961. “Perspectives de modifications conscientes dans la vie quotidienne” Internationale Situationniste #6 (Paris, August 1961). Translation by Ken Knabb from the Situationist International Anthology (Revised and Expanded Edition, 2006).

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Timeline of Consciousness.” > Speechless. Uploaded March 2, 2007. ©© Creative Commons Copyright License 2.5.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Timeline of Consciousness.” > Speechless. Uploaded March 2, 2007. ©© Creative Commons Copyright License 2.5.



The words of Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquino, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mills are unleashed from their exclusive, leather bound, Victorian-book-shelves tumbling into our homes via the impressive printerless, pressless, Gutenberg-like Internet worlds of full-text-online versions open to all Internet users. Their language is infinitely more readable than their 20th century counterparts. Web 2.0 tools such as Gnosis ClearForest, provide readers with hot links sprinkled throughout their essays, contributing to making their arguments even more accessible.

But it is in the language of novelists gifted in putting words to varied, shape-shifting, complex, unconscious states, qualia who are able to weave philosophy into fiction, to describe not only material culture through time and space but succinctly provide words when we ourselves are speechless.

From my local library I have free access to the entire series of West Wing. So with my morning coffee I watched as the fictional US President Bartlett with his fictional Nobel Peace Prize and the West Wing staff attempted to articulate specific words for a state of the economy that was not a recession − since the word was forbidden as a bad omen in the West Wing ─ but a state that encompasses a bit of moderate, albeit divergent economic viewpoints, in other words a lexicon of economics within a highly, textured, nuanced dialogue.

I watched as they tried to stretch the meaning of freedom so it could encompass the 18th century Founding Fathers right through to negotiations with North Korea in the 21st century and all that is in between. I also learned from the episode that the word Han in North Korean the name of the 22-year-old North Korean protegé pianist who chose to return to his own country rather than defecting, to protect a higher state of freedom,means a state of profound sorrow with a touch of hope.

Before I turn to my PC and my blogs, I read a paragraph from the new stack of library books recommended on-line by the New York Times, this one entitled Eclipse by John Banville. This sentence evoked a multi-layered state of synethesia with a full orchestra of fragrances, textures, images and sounds reminding me of my own experiences like this one described in the opening paragraph,

“Then a slight thickening in the air, a momentary occlusion of the light, as if something had plummeted past the sun, a winged boy perhaps, or falling angel.”

The entire book seemed condensed into this one phrase revealing the extent to which the speaking, writing and reading of words can also be experiencing. These are the things we do with words.

Number of Words: 457

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. A momentary occlusion of the light: a Review of Banville, John. 2000. Eclipse. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Speechless

December 11, 2006


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Somewhere on the Pacific a small lifeboat shared by two unwilling and unlikely passengers rolled with the waves. Pi knew he could do more than just survive once he realized that Richard was dependent on him. Pi could fish. A Bengal Tiger, king of his own ecosystem, would die at sea without the help of the seventeen-year-old. The book really ended there; it didn’t matter after that what was truth or fiction. Pi’s understanding of power in everyday life was his new reality.

Speechless refers to both the writer and reader. At one level it’s about a writers’ block being blogged. At another level is refers to deafening silence that occurs when one speaks with too much feeling or mentions an uncomfortable idea in a nice place, a unpleasant reminder in polite company, a divergent idea in a space of group think, another perspective than the Renaissance perspective. But it also refers to robust conversations among political philosophers who understand the power of language and everyday life. Socrates, Plato, Derrida called for renewals in philosophy. They examined what we do with words, the role of memory. Speechless alludes to Derrida’s urgent appeal for a renewed democracy, for a revitalized philosophy from a cosmopolitical point of view.

The human eye can distinguish 16 values of grey but that’s not including the subtle differences in the colours of grey. We just don’t have the time to see the variations.

I began speechless on October 16, 2006. Two months later I have learned what a permalink is and how to make one. It’s the equivalent to the old web page’s index.html. Now I have to learn where to use it.

https://oceanflynn.wordpress.com/index.php/2006/12/11/speechless

The cloud of tags below has grown organically since I first began using WordPress as my main blog host on October 16, 2006. I am building my customized clouds of folksonomies by working on and learning from a number of Web 2.0 feeds. This includes a Flickr account for photo blogging which attracts alot of viewers. I have only a couple of dozen images but one image alone uploaded on October 22, 2006 was viewed 1,179 times over a period of 64 days! I reworked this image again and posted it on speechless under “Wave Algorithms.”

Featured folksonomy:

Benign colonialism is a term that refers to an alleged form of colonialism in which benefits outweighed risks for indigenous population whose lands, resources, rights and freedoms were preempted by a colonizing nation-state. The historical source for the concept of benign colonialism resides with John Stuart Mills who was chief examiner of the British East India Company dealing with British interests in India in the 1820s and 1830s. Mills most well-known essays (1844) on benign colonialism are found in Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy. Mills’ view contrasted with Burkean orientalists. Mills promoted the training of a corps of bureaucrats indigenous to India who could adopt the modern liberal perspective and values of 19th century Britain. Mills predicted this group’s eventual governance of India would be based on British values and perspectives. Those who adopt benign colonialism as a truth claim argue that education, health, housing and employment possibilities improved conditions for indigenous peoples as settlers, merchants and administrators also brought new industries, liberal markets, developed natural resources and introduced improved governance. The first wave of benign colonialism lasted from c. 1790s-1960s. The second wave included new colonial policies such as exemplified in Hong Kong (Liu 2003)), where unfettered expansion of the market created a new form of benign colonialism. Political interference and military interference (Doyle 2006) in independent nation-states, such as Iraq (Campo 2004 ), is also discussed under the rubric of benign colonialism in which a foreign power preempts national governance to protect a higher concept of freedom. The term is also used in the 21st century to refer to American, French and Chinese market activities in countries on the African continent with massive quantities of underdeveloped nonrenewable envied resources. Literature that challenges the assumptions of benign colonialism claiming colonialist project as it actually unfolded placed First Nations, Inuit and Métis at higher risks of vulnerabilities to catastrophes, to social exclusion and human rights abuses, have not been as widely publicized.

For more see Flynn-Burhoe (2007).

There is a widespread Canadian mythology that First Nations, Inuit and Métis are among those who benefited from settler colonies prempting, improving, managing and governing aboriginal lands, resources and educating, training, developing, serving, monitoring and governing its peoples. Those who adopt benign colonialism as a truth claim argue that education, health, housing and employment possibilities improved conditions for the indigenous peoples since the arrival of settlers. Literature that challenges the assumptions of benign colonialism claiming colonialist project as it actually unfolded placed First Nations, Inuit and Métis at higher risks of vulnerabilities to catastrophes, to social exclusion and human rights abuses, have not been as widely publicized. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) addressed these claims but the term benign colonialism is still a convenient truth for many. Celebratory and one-sided social histories of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the RCMP, and various government leaders such as John A. MacDonald or civil servants such as Indian Agents, northern adventurers, when viewed through the lens of settlers while ignoring the perspective of First Nations, Inuit and Métis contribute to on-going dissemination of distorted histories. Museums, maps and census contribute to these distorted histories by grave omissions.

Related citations:

“Today, Mill’s most controversial case would be benign colonialism. His principles of nonintervention only hold among “civilized” nations. “Uncivilized” peoples, among whom Mill dumps most of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, are not fit for the principle of nonintervention. Like Oude (in India), they suffer four debilitating infirmities – despotism, anarchy, amoral presentism and familism — that make them incapable of self-determination. The people are imposed upon by a “despot… so oppressive and extortionate as to devastate the country.” Despotism long endured has produced “such a state of nerveless imbecility that everyone subject to their will, who had not the means of defending himself by his own armed followers, was the prey of anybody who had a band of ruffians in his pay.” The people as a result deteriorate into amoral relations in which the present overwhelms the future and no contracts can be relied upon. Moral duties extend no further than the family; national or civic identity is altogether absent. In these circumstances, Mill claims, benign colonialism is best for the population . Normal relations cannot be maintained in such an anarchic and lawless environment. It is important to note that Mill advocates neither exploitation nor racialist domination. He applies the same reasoning to once primitive northern Europeans who benefited from the imperial rule imposed by civilized Romans. The duties of paternal care, moreover, are real, precluding oppression and exploitation and requiring care and education designed to one day fit the colonized people for independent national existence. Nonetheless, the argument also rests on (wildly distorted) readings of the history and culture of Africa and Asia and Latin America. Anarchy and despotic oppression did afflict many of the peoples in these regions, but ancient cultures embodying deep senses of social obligation made nonsense of presentism and familism. Shorn of its cultural “Orientalism,” Mill’s argument for trusteeship addresses one serious gap in our strategies of humanitarian assistance: the devastations that cannot be readily redressed by a quick intervention designed to liberate an oppressed people from the clutches of foreign oppression or a domestic despot. But how does one prevent benign trusteeship from becoming malign imperialism, particularly when one recalls the flowery words and humanitarian intentions that accompanied the conquerors of Africa? How far is it from the Anti-Slavery Campaign and the Aborigine Rights Protection Society to King Leopold’s Congo and Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”?

Here Doyle is referring to John S. Mill cited in “A Few Words on Nonintervention.” . 1973. In Essays on Politics and Culture, edited by Gertrude Himmelfarb, 368-84. Gloucester, Peter Smith.

See also WordPress featured blogs Benign colonialism.

Related tags: Tom Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers, Hackett and Zhao, economic efficiency, Power and everyday life, ethical topography of self and the Other, teaching learning and research, wealth disparities will intensify, C.D. Howe, Cannibals with Forks.Selected annotated webliography

Campo, Juan E.  2004. “Benign Colonialism? The Iraq War: Hidden Agendas and Babylonian Intrigue.” Interventionism. 26:1. Spring.

Doyle, Michael W.  2006. “Sovereignty and Humanitarian Military Intervention.” Hoover Institute.

Falk, Richard. Human Rights Horizons: the Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World. New York & London: Routledge.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. Benign colonialism. >> Speechless. Uploaded January 14th, 2007

Liu, Henry C. K. “China: a Case of Self-Delusion: Part 1: From colonialism to confusionLiu 2003.” Asia Times. May 14, 2003.

Kurtz,Stanley. 2003.”Lessons from the British in India.” Democratic Imperialism: A Blueprint. Policy Review.Mill, John Stuart. 1844. Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy.
Of these Essays, which were written in 1829 and 1830,

Current debates on colonization and human rights (Falk 2000) raise questions about the notion of benign colonialism. The dominant language, culture and values of colonizers imposed on colonised peoples is often narrated as salutary. Dominant social and cultural institutions contributed to faciliating the entry of indigenous peoples trapped in unsustainable subsistence economies. Previously colonised peoples claim that the colonization process resulted in a parallel process of the colonization of the minds of indigenous peoples. The process of decolonization of memory (Ricoeur 1980), history and the spirit is crucial for the social inclusion (OECD) of indigenous peoples and nations within nations, such as Canada.

 


This is a work in process vaguely entitled Synaptic Gasp. The synaptic cleft in the human brain reminds me of the gap between the hand of God and Adam in Michaelangelo’s visualization of Creation.

Neurons must be triggered by a stimulus to produce nerve impulses, which are waves of electrical charge moving along the nerve fibres. When the neuron receives a stimulus, the electrical charge on the inside of the cell membrane changes from negative to positive. A nerve impulse travels down the fibre to a synaptic knob at its end, triggering the release of chemicals (neurotransmitters) that cross the gap between the neuron and the target cell, stimulating a response in the target (Baggaley 2001:104).

My mind is stuck on the image of the gap. That’s the leap of faith between that which we can know and that which is beyond our capacity to know. In the human brain this synaptic gap is so microscopic no one has ever seen it. But there are amazing images that are somewhat like science fiction as artists attempt to compile scientific data into visualizations of what it might look like. I am not attempting to be a science illustrator. But I think somehow this image will be like a cartography of a way of thinking that resonates more with complex hyperlinkages than with the human brain. I have been working on this Adobe Photoshop Image which seems to keep getting larger and larger.

This is the Synaptic Gasplarger version of Synaptic Gasp,
originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.

I used the starry night wallpaper for the background. I did a pencil drawing of the the neural architecture learning as I was drawing. And I keep making sketches of close-ups so now I am trying to imagine terminal nerve fibres entwined in neurofilament, proteins at the interface of the downstream end of neuron’s dendritic spine and an excitary synapse.

The brain is a supersystem of systems. Each system is composed of an elaborate interconnection of small but macroscopic cortical regions and subcortical nuclei, which are made of microscopic local circuits, which are made of neurons, all of which are connected by synapses (Damasio 1994:30).

Damasio’s elegant text reads like poetry. He describes the neural underpinnings of reason and challenges Cartesian dualisms of mind/body, emotions/reason. Feelings and logical thinking are not like oil and water.

The “body [. . .] represented in the brain [constitutes] an indispensable frame of reference for the neural process that we experience as the mind (Damasio 1994:xvi).”

Our bodies are the ground reference for the construction we make of the world. Our embodied selves construct the ever-present sense of subjectivity, our experience. The body becomes is the instrument through which we construct our most refined thoughts and actions (Damasio 1994:xvi).

Churchland takes this reasoning to imply that we, our subjective selves — our very consciousness — are merely chemical reactions, synapses firing across synaptic gaps for purely physical reasons that science alone (not religion) will one day explain and interpret for us.

The ontology of things ─ objects, substance, stuff are all one thing ─ raises questions about the world’s origin or original principle (arche) and its nature (physis). The Conflicting-Worlds model holds that science and religion are mutually exclusive ways of knowing. Science is one ontological perspective, a way of studying what exists and ways of being of different kinds of things. Religion provides another ontological perspective or another way of adding something to the study of what exists. Those who adopt the Same-Worlds-Model, argue that science and religion are different epistemologies not different ontologies. Probably most of those who believe in the Same-Worlds-Model believe in a Higher Power, a God, Divine Architect in some form, who created man with the capacity and responsibility to explore logic, pure mathematics and physics. I can believe what I want but I like to read from both sides of the Möbius Strip.

Flashback: A uniformed unsmiling, fully armed police officer pulled me over. What had I done? What was I, my young, idealistic, apolitical and therefore politically naïve self ─ doing there in a Third World country under an unstable, potentially dangerous, communist, military dictatorship? The officer leaned into the open window on the passenger side of our old Renault 4. There was a long silent pause as he decided what to do with this flushed creature whose hands were clenched on the steering wheel like a ship’s railing in a storm. He reached in and picked up the book on the front car seat and calmly asked me a question in a voice that could have been saying, “Did you know you failed to stop back there?” But that’s not what he asked. Instead, I can still hear his words even decades later. He asked me, “Do you pray?” Is this a threat? No, he was fingering the book entitled Livres de prière indicating that he too prayed and would appreciate having the book. As I drove away trembling I looked in the rear view mirror as he opened the book, then pocketed it.

After I returned to my Western home and graduate studies, I could not forget this incident which repeated itself in many forms. In spite of the pervasive even dogmatic message that the logical next step in human consciousness resided in the 20th century’s western form of atheism, humanism and materialism most people  many still living in fragmented nation states that were former colonies ─ still believe that humans are spiritual beings and that some form of prayer unites us all even if it is a silent “Help!”

For more on the body/mind duality debate see Dawkins, Pinker, Fodor, Searle. According to Richard Dawkins (1976 SG, 2006 GD) these scientific and religious ways of knowing are conflicting and mutually exclusive.

Heraclites described the ontological ultimate stuff a process, a ceaseless flux like fire, not a substance retaining its identity through time.

These sources include:

Baggaley, Ann, Ed. (2001), “Anatomy of the Human Body,” Human Body, Dorling Kindersley Publishing: NY, p. 104.
Damasio, Antonio R., 1994, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, Grosset/Putnam: New York.
Damasio, Hanna, (1994) “Gage’s skull, illustrations” in Damasio, Antonio R., 1994, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, Grosset/Putnam: New York. p. 31-2.
Johnson, Graham, (2005), “The Synapse Revealed,” 23 September 2005, Science Magazine and the National Science Foundation. The first place winner of the Science and Engineering Visualization Challengewas Graham Johnson from Medical Media, Boulder, Colorado. His image is described on Science Magazine’s web page:

Deep inside the brain, a neuron prepares to transmit a signal to its target. To capture that fleeting moment, Graham Johnson based this elegant drawing on ultra-thin micrographs of sequential brain slices. After scanning a sketch into 3D modeling software, he colored the image and added texture and glowing lighting reminiscent of a scanning electron micrograph.

Angels and Demons

November 27, 2006


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hermaphrodite, Serres, Sarrassine

The Athenian Caratyds, a Roman copy of 4th century BC Greek sculptor Praxitele’s Hermes and Dionysos (300 BC), Bernini’s (whose patrons included Pope Urban VIII) The Ecstasy of Saint Therese (1647-52), Hermaphrodite Sarrasine’s relief (18th century), Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (1767-1824) Endymion(1791) and his Pygmalion et Galatée(1819), Honoré de Balzac’s (1830) Sarrassine, Michel Serre’s (1987) Hermaphrodite: Sarrasine Sculpteur Précédé de Balzac Sarrasine and Serres (1982) Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy.

I layered these images after reading Michel Serres (1987).
There is something about the inspired playfulness of Dan Brown’s characters in Angels and Demons and setting that reminded me of this image. I hope to use free internet tools to connect the dots between layers. Dan Brown’s protagonist, the art historian, Renaissance expert and James Bond of the art world, irreverently described the ecstasy of Saint Theresa as sexual and secular not sacred.

Links: Hermes, hermeneutics, East and East, Persian and Greek Empires, Greek and Roman sculpture, Greek and Roman culture and art, Greek and Christian art, Greek, Roman and Renaissance sculpture, originality, copies, derivatives, Western art, western metaphysics, interpretation, contributions of East and West.

These are the free technical tools helping me to map my mind:

wordpress | del.icio.us | gather | swicki | flickr | thinkfree | digg | picasaweb | Carleton |

blogspot | frimr | photoblog

This is a from an interview with Dan Brown posted on his web page. I have been trying to read Angels and Demons as a way of relaxing before my grandchildren arrive in a few hours. But the book Angels and Demons is exciting not soothing:

In many ways I see science and religion as the same thing. Both are manifestations of man’s quest to understand the divine. Religion savors the questions while science savors the quest for answers. Science and religion seem to be two different languages attempting to tell the same story, and yet the battle between them has been raging for centuries and continues today. The war in our schools over whether to teach Creationism or Darwinism is a perfect example. We live in an exciting era, though, because for the first time in human history, the line between science and religion is starting to blur. Particle physicists exploring the subatomic level are suddenly witnessing an interconnectivity of all things and having religious experiences…Buddhist monks are reading physics books and learning about experiments that confirm what they have believed in their hearts for centuries and have been unable to quantify. (I will connect his url. Meanwhile it is on my del.icio.us).

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