Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gratitude for Technology

Gratitude in etymology (Derrida cautions about this "abuse of etymology that serves as explanation, play on homonyms (he should know about this one), privileging of nomination, autonomization of language, and so forth"- Specters of Marx, p. 167)

gratitude c.1500, from M.L. gratitudo "thankfulness," from L. gratus "thankful, pleasing" (see grace).

grace from L. gratia "pleasing quality, good will, gratitude," from gratus "pleasing, agreeable," from PIE base *gwer- "to praise, welcome" (cf. Skt. grnati "sings, praises, announces," Lith. giriu "to praise, celebrate," Avestan gar- "to praise").

etymology from the amazing etymonline

In this book I wish to create a manifestation of the legacy of human care and effort that coalesces in the contemporary surface. This manifestation, of the intricate webs of human relations intertwining back through history, all the way to the flint knife and before, is proposed to be a media object, a digital media modeling of documentary/historical traces, that should serve as contemplative resonator for gratitude for technology.

Rather than being an object of our contemplation it is a Flusserian project projected from processes inside the apparatus which is modeling the history of human collaboration recorded in the document of the contemporary surface. This work requires an infinite labour:

  1. of research, to compile records towards a comprehensive documentary legacy of the human history of technology,

  2. of mimetics, to re-enact and reembody all the events of this legacy

  3. of modeling, developing categorization and cross-referencing protocols and the algorithms to traverse these, creating recombinant documentary sequences and inter-associations with intuitive subjective sense of perspective and movement..

My friend Steven Augustine has challenged my use of the notion of gratitude as implicitly religious. Seeing as even the secular humanist modernist tradition is redolent of judeo-christian learning, this charge is hard to defuse. Without god, utterly without god, we really only have each other, and we will have to start dealing with that fact with the earnestness it deserves.


Today, while editing, I heard a scratchy squeaky rhythmic something coming from the park beneath my window. There were a few young voices obviously enjoying this racket very much. I finally figured out that it was

“Das Geht ab” (it’s starting) by Frauenartz (Gynecologist) and Manny Mark coming out of a cellphone speaker. I thought about what I was doing, trying to make something sublime, but the cell-phone makers know just what functionality the kids need. Kids today, as back when I was, are desperate for anything that will give them hope that this technological future world will be worth it.

People are grateful for technology which transports them, away from their bodily and existential uncertainty into a fantasy space where everything responds to them, and offers them an intoxicating taste of complete control. We suspend ever longer this technological fantasy through drugs , through media, it seems the future will be one where people will be transported from cradle to grave without ever having a moment unmediated by technology. There will be no slowing down of technology no crisis just an ever surging yearning thrust towards fusion with automated processes.

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