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Ben Steele

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Ben Steele commented on a post on Blogger.
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").
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Ben Steele commented on a post on Blogger.
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
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