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Ben Steele

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Your mention of Karl Popper is interesting. I'm not familiar with his work and so I didn't catch the connection with the notion of mistakes. I did see another possible connection, either directly or indirectly.

As I thought more about 'reveries', it occurred to me there is a resonance to Agamben's writings on 'gestures'. Specifically, my thought was on how gestures relate to what Agamben says about intentionality, action, power, and state of exception. And also how they relate to entertainment media. Agamben discusses Kafka, in terms of theatrical influence and the idea of a "way out" (as discussed in "Agamben's Joyful Kafka" by Anke Snoek).

Then again, Agamben isn't the only thinker to write about gestures. I don't even know if this is relevant at all to the reveries. But there is obviously great significance to those reveries, beyond a mere plot device. It makes me think of many things, especially about the relationship between body, movement, and memory.

The reveries appear to be idiosyncratic. They don't relate to the host's scripted loops. Or rather they allow a bleeding over across configurations, new and old, which is to say 'memory'. The reveries are gestural movements that create a rupture in the present scripted loop, an interstitial space.

That is a different kind of movement than the hosts were previously programmed to do. There is a scene in one of the episodes. It shows an earlier time of Westworld. Some workers are setting hosts up into position for a group dance of the old fashioned formal variety. The hosts are all being positioned exactly the same and the dance is no doubt perfectly orchestrated.

That scene reminded me of "On the Marionette Theatre" by Heinrich von Kleist. In the piece, the focus is on dancing puppets:

"Yet he did believe this last trace of human volition could be removed from the marionettes and their dance transferred entirely to the realm of mechanical forces, even produced, as I had suggested, by turning a handle.

"I told him I was astonished at the attention he was paying to this vulgar species of an art form. It wasn't just that he thought it capable of loftier development; he seemed to be working to this end himself.

"He smiled. He said he was confident that, if he could get a craftsman to construct a marionette to the specifications he had in mind, he could perform a dance with it which neither he nor any other skilled dancer of his time, not even Madame Vestris herself, could equal."

If the puppets could be made perfect to specification, there orchestrated movements could be implemented without mistake. They could be perfect because they have no soul, nothing but pure mechanism and force:

"The advantage? First of all a negative one, my friend: it would never be guilty of affectation. For affectation is seen, as you know, when the soul, or moving force, appears at some point other than the centre of gravity of the movement. Because the operator controls with his wire or thread only this centre, the attached limbs are just what they should be.… lifeless, pure pendulums, governed only by the law of gravity. This is an excellent quality. You'll look for it in vain in most of our dancers."

The conclusion being that, "Grace appears most purely in that human form which either has no consciousness or an infinite consciousness. That is, in the puppet or in the god."

All of this talk makes me want to reread "The Secret Life of Puppets" by Victoria Nelson and the "Melancholy Android" by Eric G. Wilson. There are also some other books on puppets I've been meaning to read, such as Kenneth Gross' "Puppets" and "Dolls").
An outstanding episode 1.3 tonight of Westworld, turning out to be one brilliantly philosophical ride of a series, as we would want a drama about artificial intelligence in android bodies to be. We learn from Dr. Ford that Ar...
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I meant to add one thing. Agamben talks about the relationship between gestures and the messianic. He speaks specifically of a messianic gesture, in context of action and non-action. I can't claim to fully understand much of what Agamben writes about. But his ideas are intriguing. And they get me thinking about the deeper significance in shows like this.
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Ben Steele

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Brookhiser seems to be projecting quite a bit. He is portraying a Lincoln he'd like to believe existed. But he offers no evidence to prove his claims, as far as I can tell.

Lincoln never made any personal declarations about religion and God that would not fit Paine's own deistic beliefs. Even Lincoln's political rhetoric, when referring to God, easily fits into deistic interpretations.

Sure. It's possible Lincoln changed and kept it a secret. Lincoln is well known to have held his cards close to his chest. The point being that there is no reason to assume that Lincoln's beliefs changed.

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The Millennial woman makes a good argument near the end (around 1:27). She is right. There were previous social conditions that were far worse than now and previous generations that were criticized far harsher for similar reasons. Just look at the Lost Generation (high poverty and inequality, highly uneducated, high rates of crime and homicide, etc). They were also handed a bad deal and older generations said they were a lost cause. But they led to some of the most important changes in our society.

Ben Steele

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I think it is odd that the discussion about narcissism is quite shallow. For example, self-esteem statements are seen as a sign of narcissism. Yet Millennials were taught these statements and are just repeating them, which doesn't prove they actually believe them. it reminds me of shallow discussions of politics where ideological labels replace detailed knowledge of issues.

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What if our entire global society is fundamentally changing? What if a large permanent class will grow? What if most of the jobs won't come back?

Maybe none of this has to do with any specific generation. Maybe it more has to do with technological advances that are undermining the very social relationships underpinning modern society.

Maybe we will have to stop defining people by work as technology takes over more jobs. Maybe in place of the old system we should create a basic income.

Ben Steele

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This comes down to two things.

First, you are either for traditional constitutionalism or against it. Traditional constitutionalism opposes the belief that corporations have constitutional rights because of corporate personhood. There is a vast difference between legal personhood and constitutional personhood, between legal rights and constitutional rights.

The Constitution precedes and trumps law, politics, and even government. Our country was founded on the Constitution. It is unconstitutional to have later laws redefine the constitutional rights. The legal fiction of corporate personhood is an entirely separate issue than the constitutional personhood of natural persons.

Second, you are either for a functioning democracy or against it. There is no more clear case of showing who actually cares about democracy. Having a society dominated by and a political system controlled by wealth and power is completely opposed to democracy, and democracy is completely opposed to it. There is no way of getting around it. There is no honest way of redefining democracy as putocracy.

Ben Steele

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If you're interested in more recent exploration of the ideas and evidence behind bicameralism and related theories, there has been many interesting books. I'd also recommend some of the books that Jaynes referenced.

Our understanding about certain things has improved over time, specifically about voice-hearing. Even so, some of the central propositions of bicameralism remain plausible, even when they're hard to prove beyond all doubt. For example, there is research that has shown support for Jaynes speculations about neurocognition.

Trying to make sense of ancient societies, of course, is much more tricky. Yet there has been interesting anthropological studies that can be interpreted as indicating bicameralism, semi-bicameralism, or vestigial bicameralism.

The debate is very much still alive and kicking. It's good that it is getting mainstream attention.

Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited
by Marcel Kuijsten

Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind: The Theories of Julian Jaynes
by Marcel Kuijsten

How Religion Evolved: Explaining the Living Dead, Talking Idols, and Mesmerizing Monuments
by Brian J. McVeigh

The Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness
by Rabbi James Cohn

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
by Iain McGilchrist

The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size
by Tor Norretranders

The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible
by John Geiger

Voices of Reason, Voices of Insanity: Studies of Verbal Hallucinations
by Philip Thomas

When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God
by T.M. Luhrmann

Of Two Minds: An Anthropologist Looks at American Psychiatry
by Judith Weissman

The Cultural Psychology of Self: Place, Morality and Art in Human Worlds
by Ciaran Benson

Orality and Literacy
by Walter J. Ong

Preface to Plato
by Eric Havelock

The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present
by Eric A. Havelock

The Discovery of the Mind
by Bruno Snell

The Greeks and the Irrational
by Eric R. Dodds

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/survival-and-persistence-of-bicameralism/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/piraha-and-bicameralism/
An outstanding episode 1.3 tonight of Westworld, turning out to be one brilliantly philosophical ride of a series, as we would want a drama about artificial intelligence in android bodies to be. We learn from Dr. Ford that Ar...
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Enjoy The Consciousness Plague! And, absolutely, there's a connection between PKD and Westworld. See my review of the 1st episode http://paullevinson.blogspot.com/2016/10/westworld-11-isaac-asimov-and-philip-k.html You also might enjoy this little lecture I gave earlier this year at a conference devoted to PKD - my talk is about The Man in the High Castle on page vs screen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzNwdf0Wgd0
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Ben Steele

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Ben Steele

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Does she not realize that economic problems are a direct cause of not getting married or, if married, getting divorced? She doesn't even acknowledge this obvious reality. She comes off as being clueless about the experience of most people's lives.

Ben Steele

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The older guy complained that GenXers and Millennials aren't doing enough for environmentalism, as supposedly did Boomers. That is a rather uninformed view. Much of the previous environmentalism was led by even older generations. Boomers just this past decade became the majority in Congress, with the Silent Generation being the majority before them. So, the lack of environmental policies coming out of Washington, at this point, has to be squarely placed on the shoulders of Boomers.

Ben Steele

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It's interesting that the conservative guy ended with an argument that having a principled and fair-minded conscience is despicable. Instead, he thought that patriotism should be blind, ignorant, and amoral. Well, that does sum up conservatism fairly well, I must admit.

Ben Steele

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I can't stand the dishonesty of claiming that money doesn't effect politics. Anyone who claims that knows they are lying. How can we have a functioning democracy when even public debates like this include one side who is willing to lie in order to try to win?

Technically defined bribery is a crime. But there are plenty of forms of indirect or non-overt forms bribery that remain legal. When a politician gets a high-paying job after leaving office because he pushed corporate agendas, that is a form of bribery. Politicians know they will be paid well if they play along. It's just a delayed bribe. Everyone knows this fact, and yet some disingenuously pretend it doesn't exist. No honest person believes that buying influence isn't bribery.

Why can't we have an honest debate about obvious facts? Why are we afraid of facing reality?
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