Archive for December, 2012

1930’s B Horror Movie Starring John Boehner And Barak Obama

December 21, 2012

“Religious faith and superstition are quite different. One of them results from fear and is a sort of false science. The other is a trusting.” (Culture And Value, Ludwig Wittgenstein, ed. G.H. Von Wright,1980, pg. 72)
The black and white King Kong genre movies of the early days of talkies come to mind with all the heathen infidels dancing around in veneration of their stage set idol. Superstition was easy to identify then. It was what the other did. What “civilized” folk didn’t. We knew better. Science had a lot to do with our being civilized. After all, if those folk were in the least scientific, they would recognize that their idol was nothing more than a Hollywood stage prop.
We are all science, all the time now. Our high tech solutions to low tech problems indicate an advanced level of sophistication. Whatever happened to superstition? Is it only found in NFL beer commercials and with dial-a-psychic? Has the bright glow of next generation computers cranking out perfectly modeled projections permanently erased the shadowy side of superstition?
“Superstition” may be not, but fear certainly is, and as pervasive as ever, perhaps even more so than found with less “civilized” manifestations. We certainly do constantly choose to act on that fear, to expend energy and resources “insuring” its imagined horrors do not visit our investments in progress and success, our carefully calculated and modeled projections for tomorrow. True, in a world enlightened by scientific knowledge, volcanoes don’t have appetites.

Ludwig has another small quote on pg. 73: “If someone can believe in God with complete certainty, why not in Other Minds?”

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Getting A Little Behind In My Work

December 13, 2012

            I (un)intentionally backed into Ludwig Wittgenstein while considering the various questions that video within culture present. Video’s unique ability to describe or represent (sans words) and contemporary culture’s preference for being shown rather than told leaves some incredible imaginings. One could imagine a glossary or dictionary where the meaning of a given word is described or represented by video alone. A Merriam-Webster’s where all words would have video definitions.  This would be an exaggerated continuance of Pinchevski’s rationale for a video archive of testimonies. Would it be more accurate or complete? What kind of language would this be, this exchange of visual imagery without the conventions of the written word? Would it be like the pictogram sentences of children’s puzzle books or maybe more like an expanded version of charades? What would a logic of such propositions be like? This is where Wittgenstein grinds into the reverie with his original picture theory of propositions (serious, non-Hegelian analytic philosophy, mind you). Some of his early definitions of what a proposition is and how it works seem to be equally descriptive of video one hundred years later. Am I really reading this? (Am I really writing this?) Of course, Wittgenstein’s outlook changes and evolves into his later insights on language, rules and games. But how much of this anticipated our current reliance on video for communication and “factual” analysis (whether police forensics, athletic performance, contract verification, etc.)? Benjamin may have accurately described the shift in visual culture to one reliant on mechanically reproductive technologies but I never came away with the impression that he was describing any kind of fundamental change in language, or communication. What if one read Wittgenstein’s evolved thinking with an interpretation that maintained his discarded picture theory of propositions, but with these “pictures’ being taken to be videos instead? How would that inform our understanding of current culture? Stay tuned.