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Riffs off Baudrillard, Dennett, McLuhan and Graeber

by on June 10, 2018

Ecstasy of Communication
Baudrillard seems to say that since the medium is the message and there is a tremendous amount of medium around, then there is an overabundance of message.

Everything interconnected.  This was written before social media. Social media made explicit what was already there.

That in this overabundance of message the subject/object dichotomy is crushed and there is no more inner or outer space, no self. Or at least that the self, the subject object has a ton of weight around it, which may make it hard to emerge from.

Not sure this all follows – not sure it is necessarily a logical conclusion. It is certainly a risk but why is it an accurate description of what is happening?

He says theory coaxes/seduces reality out of the real.

Makes it more objective, more real.

Is he saying the for-itself seduces the entire order of things around us, the logic, the causality, etc?

If so, is this so different from Sartre? In his collapse of object and subject, is he an updated retelling of Sartre?

According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the difference is that he says there is no subject. Subject itself is a function of/ “produced by language, social institutions, and cultural forms and was [is] not independent of its construction in these institutions and practices.”

The Perfect Crime
If there is nothing there and reality/causality is created by our discourse with the world simply giving itself to our seduction (and in turn seducing us with the illusion of meaning) then how come it works? [Kant]  What determines what, from an instrumentalist perspective, actually works?

How can a rocket fly to the moon? How come a car gets us from one place to the other?

Is this seduction by reality?

How come other causalities by previous discourses didn’t work e.g. longevity of an instrumentalist reality?

Or is the metric we use to determine what works part of the grand discourse i.e. our threshold for what works is custom tuned to the discourse we’re using?

The system of measurement within the system creating the reality.

“The first reaction of the fathers of quantum physics at the aberrations coming our of the equations (collapse of the universe of reference: time, space, the principle of identity and of the excluded middle, inseparability, non-locality of particles) was to regard the microscopic world as radically strange and mysterious. Such an interpretation is not, however, the most logical. For the microscopic world is to be accepted as it is. If we cannot derive a conception of the macroscopic world from it, then the mystery lies in the macroscopic world. From that point, we have to think that the strangest thing is not the strangeness of the microscopic world, but the non-strangeness of the macroscopic. Why are the concepts of identity, excluded middle, time and space operative in the macroscopic world? That is what we have to explain. (Du micro au macro – le mystère des évidences) – Bruno Jarrosson, as quoted in The Perfect Crime.

AI Explainability. Move beyond linear compared to non-linear explanations. Consider sensemaking. Explainability compared to sensemaking.

Ecstasy of Communication
The Ecstasy of Communication ends with a call for a truly imaginative theory/theorizing, one that can again create something with meaning – in the hyperreal. That is, outside the control system that is the medium and existent ideas of meaning.

Simulacra and Simulation

[Dennett and Dawkins]

Was there ever a real? (The premise of The Perfect Crime).

Or was it a construct of the meme of consciousness which is, if accurately described

Though what is accurate?

i.e. which is, in one way to describe it,

about communication.

Consciousness is communication within ourselves, amongst ourselves. Consciousness is the control system.

Which perhaps helps describe why there is so much resonance when Baudrillard or McLuhan describe media as a system of consciousness: of a control system [Baudrillard] or extension of us which can elevate us to a new consciousness [McLuhan].

Critique of discussions on communication in management/project management books. They describe communication as one way, linear, sender-receiver. Communication is invisible and ongoing, all directional. It is the everyday chatter, etc. That’s why we speak of a communication environment. Which is how some people speak about culture. But we find it more instrumentalist valuable i.e. more productive and effective to speak about it as communication environment since this has definitive variables/levers which can be controlled. They can be measured, studied and optimized/manipulated, for specific outcomes.

Project management is communication management. It is often called creating a culture.

Executive leadership is communication management. Communication management is creating the communication environment which is the overall control system of an environment. There is instrumentalist value in thinking about it as communication environment since is focused on items which can measure, monitor and manipulate.

McLuhan sharper 2
“As we know more, we rely less on any one food or fuel or raw material.” Marshall McLuhan, chapter on Money.

This seems to connect knowledge with survival. Seems like a good addition to the argument for how consciousness (and communication, particularly lineal, phonetic alphabet, then follow-on technologies) contributes to survival – per Dennett.

How consciousness, not just by helping us be good at prediction but by increasing knowledge

Via our extensions

Interesting topic in that the structure of consciousness, and likely different outlooks, which translate/lead to different activities related to our extensions i.e. invention.

That is, the outlook that allows for experimentation, learning, innovation or, their opposites

is evolutionarily successful.

Can’t find it right now, but interesting that somewhere between pages 100 and 200 he mentions a quote to the affect that humans are the carriers of technologies or the such.  Very reminiscent of the idea of a scholar as a carrier (reproductively necessary) for the meme of a library.

Debt by Graeber

As McLuhan talks about roads, paper, number and money, he brings up many of the same themes Graeber does on Debt.

For example:

slavery/enslavement, individualism, breaking family/clan/tribal ties, commerce, societal organization that allows for a market, treatment of women, sea travel, conquest, empire vs city state.

Store of value, physical commodity compared to media of communication of societal/cultural values, or at least those of a particular group.

And he goes straight to Keynes.

Yes, McLuhan seems to talk about credit evolving after physical money – the myth of barter. But beneath and within it he seems to allude to the connections of a society that are necessary to have an economy without commodity money or paper money i.e. the kind of tribal/communal relationships Graeber describes pre-money.

There is likely rich ground there between the two for research.


Media analysis of AI.  That is, AI as an extension of us

Page 320 Understanding Media. Uncertainty drives increased compliance to rules/makes the rules seem reasonable and rational [Utopia of Rules].  Do folks with different levels of orientation toward uncertainty have different compliance to rules? How about folks with different risk attitudes (revealed and stated).

This would suggest a management technique: increase uncertainty get increased compliance.

Not sure evidence supports that. May be a different sense of uncertainty, referring more to fear.


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