Showing posts with label Invisible Technologies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Invisible Technologies. Show all posts

Friday 12 February 2016


Q for Question

The structure of any question is as devoid of neutrality as is its content

This is an excerpt from Niel Postman's Technolopy: The Surrender of Culture to Technology.

To put it simply, like any important piece of machinery— television or the computer, for example—language has an ideological agenda that is apt to be hidden from view. In the case of language, that agenda is so deeply integrated into our personalities and world-view that a special effort and, often, special training are required to detect its presence. Unlike television or the computer, language appears to be not an extension of our powers but simply a natural expression of who and what we are. This is the great secret of language: Because it comes from inside us, we believe it to be a direct, unedited, unbiased, apolitical expression of how the world really is. A machine, on the other hand, is outside of us, clearly created by us, modifiable by us, even discardable by us; it is easier to see how a machine re-creates the world in its own image. But in many respects, a sentence functions very much like a machine, and this is nowhere more obvious than in the sentences we call questions. As an example of what I mean, let us take a "fill-in" question, which I shall require you to answer exactly if you wish full credit: Thomas Jefferson died in the year ––––––. Suppose we now rephrase the question in multiple-choice form: Thomas Jefferson died in the year (a) 1788 (b) 1826 (c) 1926 (d) 1809. Which of these two questions is easier to answer? I assume you will agree with me that the second question is easier unless you happen to know precisely the year of Jefferson's death, in which case neither question is difficult. However, for most of us who know only roughly when Jefferson lived, Question Two has arranged matters so that our chances of "knowing" the answer are greatly increased. Students will always be "smarter" when answering a multiple-choice test than when answering a "fill-in" test, even when the subject matter is the same. A question, even of the simplest kind, is not and can never be unbiased. I am not, in this context, referring to the common accusation that a particular test is "culturally biased." Of course questions can be culturally biased. (Why, for example, should anyone be asked about Thomas Jefferson at all, let alone when he died?) My purpose is to say that the structure of any question is as devoid of neutrality as is its content. The form of a question may ease our way or pose obstacles. Or, when even slightly altered, it may generate antithetical answers, as in the case of the two priests who, being unsure if it was permissible to smoke and pray at the same time, wrote to the Pope for a definitive answer. One priest phrased the question "Is it permissible to smoke while praying?" and was told it is not, since prayer should be the focus of one's whole attention; the other priest asked if it is permissible to pray while smoking and was told that it is, since it is always appropriate to pray. The form of a question may even block us from seeing solutions to problems that become visible through a different question. Consider the following story, whose authenticity is questionable but not, I think, its point:
Once upon a time, in a village in what is now Lithuania, there arose an unusual problem. A curious disease afflicted many of the townspeople. It was mostly fatal (though not always), and its onset was signaled by the victim's lapsing into a deathlike coma. Medical science not being quite so advanced as it is now, there was no definite way of knowing if the victim was actually dead when burial appeared seemly. As a result, the townspeople feared that several of their relatives had already been buried alive and that a similar fate might await them. How to overcome this uncertainty was their dilemma.

One group of people suggested that the coffins be well stocked with water and food and that a small air vent be drilled into them, just in case one of the "dead" happened to be alive. This was expensive to do but seemed more than worth the trouble. A second group, however, came up with a less expensive and more efficient idea. Each coffin would have a twelveinch stake affixed to the inside of the coffin lid, exactly at the level of the heart. Then, when the coffin was closed, all uncertainty would cease. The story does not indicate which solution was chosen, but for my purposes the choice is irrelevant. What is important to note is that different solutions were generated by different questions. The first solution was an answer to the question, How can we make sure that we do not bury people who are still alive? The second was an answer to the question, How can we make sure that everyone we bury is dead? Questions, then, are like computers or television or stethoscopes or lie detectors, in that they are mechanisms that give direction to our thoughts, generate new ideas, venerate old ones, expose facts, or hide them. In this chapter, I wish to consider mechanisms that act like machines but are not normally thought of as part of Technopoly's repertoire. I must call attention to them precisely because they are so often overlooked. For all practical purposes, they may be considered technologies— technologies in disguise, perhaps, but technologies all the same.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

C for Conditioning: Language & Mind

Brain pushes other organs on periphery because it has Mind which has Language

"C" for Conditioning: The conditioning of Mind by Language

(It is intended to blog small write-ups on Language & Mind in English alphabetical order. Here is with 'C'.)

The camera is an aspect of technology which does not allow us to have complete view of reality. The frame captured by camera leaves out or blacks out several things surrounding the focus of the lens.
Thus, the visual image or moving picture has the limitation. It does not or rather let us say 'can not' view reality from all possible perspectives and thus can not show us the real picture of the event / world.
It's not only with Media, it is with WORDS / Language also. Media uses this power of Language

It's not only with Media, it is with WORDS / Language also. Media uses this power of Language

It is similar to candle / lamp (Deepak). The fire at the wick of candle or lamp (Deepak) 'seems' to brighten the darkness. It gives us an illusion of reality. It makes us believe that we can 'see' things because its light brightens the darkness. But, in reality, it blinds us with its dazzle. Apart from the darkness kept under and around its light, it does not allow us to perceive the reality as our eyes get dazzled in the glare of the light.

Isn't this true about 'words'?
Aren't words in the language, keeps us away from the reality?
It seems that the language (words) takes us towards reality, the truth. But like camera or candle, isn't it dazzling our mind?
Thus, as it is necessary to break free from the illusion of reality in the image or moving the picture or the brightened darkness, it is also necessary to break free from the illusion of words / language.
There is darkness beneath and surrounding the word. The meaning is not only what words show us. But there is something real in what word hides. Need to perceive, not what is revealed, but what is concealed. Language does not reveal, it conceals.
It may be argued that as human beings began to civilize itself, it needed to move away from nature and be cultured. Language is a part of being cultured and civilized. The cultured and civilized being requires to learn the art of concealing. Thus, the language becomes an inevitable part of human civilization.
It is essential for us to understand that language does not communicate, it conditions our mind.
And . . . if you think I am wrong, it proves that all these words used here do not communicate anything.
And  . . . if  u think its quite true, you are conditioned, to think so! These words conditioned you to believe in it.
It is truth unbearable that we can't think beyond mind. Because we think with the mind, we can't think out of the box (mind).
Rodin's Thinker
Here are some of the presentations which tries to justify this argument:

Language as Technopoly: Invisible Technologies from Dilip Barad

Do you agree that we feel, experience, see, perceive world, universe, our surrounding through language? We may counter argue, it is not so, it is rather 'expression' of what we have felt, experienced, seen or perceived through language.
the question is: Would it be different, had we lived with a different set of signs (words / language)?