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The meaning of Ghost in the Shell
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 170

PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeni Nielsen wrote:
- Sorry for a bit more off-topicness, but...

This is a general reply to what I feel has been a bit of negative back and forth between two of our forumers.

I would just say that in general shorter posts do make things easier, but sometimes it's necessary to have long posts. If you don't like how someone is doing something you should PM them and not fight on the forum. This leads to taking things off topic and general unease.

I don't really feel like this has been too much of a personal attack, so I'm not going to start on that, just make sure that you guys are decent to each other (which for the most part you are ^^) and I won't have to get involved.

And I should also add that I did have to skim this because I just got back from a week long vacation and came back to a lot of new posts.


No problems, Jeni. As I said, I harbor no ill will towards gillsing, and I hope the thread returns to a more specific discussion of the franchise.

I'm not sure it's even been an issue for a week or so... but I certainly appreciate any comments from a moderator.

To stray off-topic for a moment... From time to time, I lurk on other forums. On one particular forum, there's a fellow who, when a debate degenerates or gets bogged down in meaningless rhetoric or just isn't going anywhere, simply posts a picture of someone beating a dead horse. No comment, nothing. Just the picture.

The person who does this has become the stuff of legend. Folks who're arguing online see the picture, say something like "What the heck?", then realize they've made fools of themselves.

I'd hate to think that I deserved a response of the dead-horse-pic variety, so I'm ready to move along to another discussion. :lol:

P.S. Hope the vacation was pleasant.
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Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison. - Bosola, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi
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brillo_pad



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 6:50 am    Post subject: On and off the Subject Reply with quote

Whew.. I finally made it through the thread.. alive... As far as the philosophy of the show, I agree with Spica on the themes of the show. I like how it does not try to push a specific agenda, but rather pose questions and provide scenarios for us to ponder upon. There are limited themes to the show, but no limits of where they can take you. I think it would be more beneficial to bring up a specific theme or scenario in the show and focus on it, I'll think about it some.

But the identity discussion is fun. I'm going to use my long post here.. forgive me I can't help myself. On the subject of identity consider the following:

I have a buddy who in high school was working on top of the boy scout hut with his dad when he fell off the 2.5 story building and fell on his head. He suffered major head trauma and went into a coma (and almost died). When he came to and recovered, his personality had changed drastically. At the time he was into athletics, did ok in school, and was typically a quiet person. After the trauma he became less interested in school even though he did well, he did not care for athletics, (I think he was more worried about injuring his head in football) and beceame a more outspoken person. I'm sure his closest friends and family noticed even more changes.

I also have an aunt who was in a car wreck and suffered head trauma. I wasn't around yet when this happened, but I understand her personality changed drastically also. From what I can tell, she is still kinda stuck in the 70's. She dresses like, well a person from the 70s, her hair is old fashioned, even her makeup is outdated. I always thought it odd aunt Joan dressed funny.

The funny thing about us is we don't pay attention to small changes as much as we do big ones. For example, no one gets fat overnight. We wake up each day a tiny bit heavier than before and maybe after a couple of years you look in the mirror and say “damn, where did all this fat come from... I used to be in shape”. My family owns a cabin in the mountains and we would go there a couple times a year. In my mind, the cabin and surrounding mountains were always the same, but in reality it was always changing. Each spring the river would wash the banks a different way after each thaw, the trees would be a little taller, and the weeds would be in a different place than the last time.

“All things change in a dynamic environment”

So my point? Every time you encounter someone, in reality we meet a new person. Now you may have “known” or” know” this person, but this idea is based on our memories. Look at what happens in the case where someone changes drastically. The way they behave dosen't conform to our memories, so it confuses us. The person has the same body and face, but does not act the same. Is it the same person? The answer is no. The same goes for us. We are not the same person we were five minutes ago or even after looking at the period at the end of this sentence. Small changes go unnoticed. When you meet someone after an event like my friend's, the drastic change shocks you and you have to accept the “new” person for what they are today. Same goes for meeting an old acquantince. You small talk to get the basic information/changes out of the way and then accept the person, changes and all. Or not if they turn out to have turned into a jerk.

But look at what happens when people don't change, it is equally wierd. My aunt hasn't changed much since her accident. She dresses the same, same apperance, and same small talk everytime I see her. She still teaches piano, is married to her husband, and is raising her son. Nothing new. That is equally wierd. Its like we expect people to change, too much and we don't know how to deal with it, when they don't we are equally dissapointed.

So what now for identity? Can we even define such a thing? Lets say that section 9 goes out and Bato gets wasted. A tank totaly destryoed him or something. (No braincase left behind like in the first movie). No worries, we have his memories backed up at the base and can just reload them into a new Bato model body. Now is this person before you still Bato? Sure he looks like him, and talks like him, has the same memories as Bato minus getting blowed up and run over by a tank. What are the implications of what just happened? Is his “ghost” still attached to this new body and memories?

As far as “is this person still Bato”, It dosen't matter. A copy of Bato is just as valid as the origonal because we change constantly. It would be no different if we had not seen him in a week and were catching up over a cup of coffee. He is different than last week, and so are we. Even though my buddy had drastic head trauma, I still go to the bar with a person who is Matt, he is a sum of all of his experiences and not what I rember him to be, but he is what he is. Consider the monologue on the boat when Motoko discusses her individuality just before she quotes the bible. But if you consider the problem of ghosts or souls, that changes things. I don't know how to address what goes on there. That is why I like this show so much, and am glad we aren't confronted with such things in reality.. yet. Its a fun topic to expore and this show puts a new twist on the idea.

Every day I used to wake up next to my wife. We would go to work and I wouldn't see her untill I got home. So I would spend about 5-8 hours a day with her during the week, and on the weekends, for the most part we would spend every moment together. Or when we were dating, I lived in another city for a few months and would see her every two weeks or so. It was always strange when I saw her. She was not exactally as I remembered her, but by the end of the weekend I had new memories of her and reformed what I would consider her identity. Anyway, it would always frustrate her when I would wake up on Saturday and go work in the yard or run off and do something. In a way I think it had to do with us not being able to syncronize. When we spend time together, we experience roughly the same data and form the same memories. In a way, you grow together, not just at the same time, but like a tree can grow aroud a fence and engulf it. It is neither a tree or a fence anymore, but something new. When you are married, you become like one person. Before I thought it was a corny idea but it makes sense now. I think it is similar in some aspects to the tachikomas being able to syncronize.

So if you are able to sync, what then is said about your identity? Can, memories/data be interpreted the same way by individuals? Even though you see the same thing, you are able to keep you identy by the way you interpret it which is different from everyone else in the world, yet because you experienced the same thing, you are also like everyone else in the world in a way. The only reason I am not you is because I am me. I am interested to see where the show takes the whole tachicoma thing. Individuals without ghosts, who are exactally identical, trying to understand ideas about a self outside of yourself, and being able to truely share the same data, as 1s and 0s with (I think) no muddeling of perception due to seeing a crime scene through different eyes. There are definately some advantages and limitations there. Even though the tachicomas are machines and exactally alike, Bato always picks the same one. It may not have a ghost, but it does have its own set of experiences. Kind of like how I am attached to my car, even though it is like every other car that rolled off of the assembly line (assuming the same options and such). I bet the seat in the thing is molded to his butt by now and is comfortable.
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Gillsing



Joined: 25 Nov 2005
Posts: 109
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:51 pm    Post subject: Re: On and off the Subject Reply with quote

I agree with most of what you wrote, and don't disagree with the stuff I don't know about.

brillo_pad wrote:
Even though my buddy had drastic head trauma, I still go to the bar with a person who is Matt, he is a sum of all of his experiences and not what I rember him to be, but he is what he is.

Yup, he's still the Matt-identity. And if he during his coma was 'infected' with an alien brain-bug which read his memories, reactivated his brain/body and then didn't feel like doing athletics and wasn't overly interested in school and felt like talking more, then you'd still consider him to be Matt, because you wouldn't know that his changes were induced by an alien mind. Thus he would keep being the Matt-identity.

But what if you found out about the brain-bug? Would you then consider him to not be the Matt-identity anymore, but rather be the (new) brain-bug-identity (still called Matt though)? Or would you still consider him to be the Matt-identity, but with a brain-bug? For me, that's the point where I'd go with the former, and that's my stance on identities and identifying. Not that I'd necessarily treat the brain-bug-identity significantly different compared to immediately before the revelation, I'm just pretty sure that I'd consider it another/new identity. Or maybe I'd stick with being lazy and fail to remind myself that the person's brain has a new mind in charge. That's always a possibility. Embarassed
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brillo_pad



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to be honest, If I knew about the brain bug, I'm not sure how I'd react. I guess I would have to agree with you in that he would not be what I consider my friend because something outside of him would be controling him.

We always see shows about people becoming posessed, or someone else being in control. In those cases, we usually don't hold the posessed accountable for whatever actions they did because they were not in total control of their body. I guess it is like being ghost-hacked. Those people didn't know what they were doing, or who they were.

But like you said, if you don't know about the brain-bug, what choices do we have about assigning an identity? I just saw the episode "Make Up" the other day when I bought the DVD. I thougt batou's response to the quesion if he thought Pazu was the real Pazu interesting. "Probably".
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 170

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The funny thing about us is we don't pay attention to small changes as much as we do big ones. For example, no one gets fat overnight. We wake up each day a tiny bit heavier than before and maybe after a couple of years you look in the mirror and say “damn, where did all this fat come from... I used to be in shape”. My family owns a cabin in the mountains and we would go there a couple times a year. In my mind, the cabin and surrounding mountains were always the same, but in reality it was always changing. Each spring the river would wash the banks a different way after each thaw, the trees would be a little taller, and the weeds would be in a different place than the last time.


I think the analogy you're making has its uses, brillo_pad. But let me ask-- out of curiosity-- doesn't the perceived scale of the change (small, big) have a lot to do with the nature of the change? I'm not sure that putting on a few pounds is of the same order of change as something that radically alters personality-- certain kinds of brain damage, for instance. Hence the difference between major and minor changes.

And changes involve something changing...

Quote:
So my point? Every time you encounter someone, in reality we meet a new person. Now you may have “known” or” know” this person, but this idea is based on our memories. Look at what happens in the case where someone changes drastically. The way they behave dosen't conform to our memories, so it confuses us. The person has the same body and face, but does not act the same. Is it the same person? The answer is no. The same goes for us. We are not the same person we were five minutes ago or even after looking at the period at the end of this sentence. Small changes go unnoticed. When you meet someone after an event like my friend's, the drastic change shocks you and you have to accept the “new” person for what they are today. Same goes for meeting an old acquantince. You small talk to get the basic information/changes out of the way and then accept the person, changes and all. Or not if they turn out to have turned into a jerk.


This reminds me of the discussions one finds in 18th and 19th Century philosophy-- and later, among certain early 20th Century philosophers-- about ideas of continuity and contiguity.

It sounds a bit as if you're confusing the map of the person (who you thought the person to be, your perceptions of the person) with the person's existence in-and-of-itself. (Insofar as it can be perceived, one's existence provides one with an identity in a strictly philosophical/epistemological sense. "To be is to be perceived," as the man said-- and being always comes first. Being human implies that an individual has some unique "being" on a molecular, cellular, neurochemical level-- individual consciousness and subjectivity, among other things. While consciousness seems to change over time, there's always something behind that, a thinking, feeling "Self". And for a thing or person to be perceived by someone is for that thing or person to be perceived as "not-me" by the observer.)

Basically, I think being a jerk-- or whatver-- is an attribute or perception, rather than an essence. We think of some attributes as identities, and they function as such, sometimes. But they aren't the thing-itself, or the person-him/herself. And the changes you perceive can only take place in relation to the person and your perception of the person... but the perception wouldn't exist without the person.

We sometimes notice that a person or thing changes as a result of time, i.e. we assume that changes occur to something or to our perception of or in our thinking about something. But whenever changes occur (provided that they're not too significant, too radical), we view the thing that's changed as having something like an essential "sameness" throughout the change-- as having an identity or cluster of identities, the details of which have changed. But this isn't to say that the thing or person who's changed is no longer the "same" thing or person. Even if your behavior differs from day-to-day or significantly alters after an interval of several years, it's still your behavior. I'm not going to assume that you're not you-- as awkward as that phrasing is. I'll just assume that you've changed, or you're having a bad day, or you're happy, or traumatized, or whatever.

Similarly, we notice that we change over time precisely because we experience those changes. But we don't question that the changes are happening to us; on some fundamental level "we" exist, and that's how we become aware of the changes.

To put this another way, to use an analogy: We can observe a particle decaying, but as we observe the decay, we understand that the changes are happening to a given particle. Just because the particle decays, we don't assume there are multiple or different particles at each microsecond of decay. And if you've been observing or recording a particle for a while, and I've seen what you're measuring but leave for a bit, then I come back, look at the data, and say, "Gee, this isn't the same particle you've been measuring for however long," you'd be correct in pointing out that it is the same particle, that decay is part of a particle's "life", that I'm wrong.

Of course, particles can be combined with other particles to create composite particles or broken down into smaller units or even annihilated, but in these cases, we usually say that the original particle has "ceased to be itself", i.e. it's not what it was, it's no longer the thing we were observing. It's changed in a pretty basic way. It's either part of something else, has become something else, or is nonexistent in these instances. Its structure-- and therefore its nature or essence-- isn't what it was, or else the particle has become part of an aggregate or composite-- which also implies a change in function, thereby changing both what the particle "means" and, in a manner of speaking, what it "is"-- at least until the composite is broken down.

(Being a jerk would be an attribute of or value-judgment about the person you used to like, for example. Either you didn't notice the attribute before, or the person took on the attributes or behaviors that you think belong to someone who fits the category "jerk", or you were conned by the person. But the attribute and the changes are properties of or occur to something or someone who has some "self", some essence, some continued and sequential identity in time and space-- even to the perceiver.

(If you decide I'm a wonderful person but meet me and decide that I'm a jerk, you'll be thinking, "AlphonseVanWorden is a jerk", by which you mean, "Alphonse has jerklike qualities or behaves in a manner I find indicative of his being a jerk or belonging in the jerk-category." My being a jerk isn't something that's fixed or a given-- after all, someone else might not perceive me as a jerk, or maybe I'm having a bad day when you meet me, or whatever. But these statements are predicated on my existing or having existed. No Alphonse, no Alphonse's jerk-status. And if you liked me at one time and your perception of me later changed, that's not really saying that there is no underlying "Alphonse".

(This isn't to say that Alphonse doesn't/I don't change over time. But even that change is predicated on my existing. Kill me and cut me into pieces, and phrases such as "Alphonse's hand" or "Alphonse's leg" or "Alphonse's brain" have meaning only in relation to the Alphonse-who-is-no-more. But while I'm alive and completely intact, those parts are components of the whole that is me. Some parts you can live without; others are more essential to one's existence. Existence, pure and simple: That's one kind of identity-- one that's pretty much the foundation of all other possible identities and perceptions, including not-being, non-existence.)

The brain-damage thing is a little dicier. We worry about, contemplate, and study the relationship between mind/self and body. Do certain types of brain damage cause changes to a person such that the person "isn't the same" in essence? If you have severe retrograde amnesia, are you the "same" person you were before the condition's onset? In some ways, yes, you are. In other ways, maybe not. But notice that these are different questions from that of someone's changing over time. The situations involve something more radical than losing a hand or a foot, gaining weight, or getting older. And the questions involve not only perception, but essence. And some of the questions about brain damage, mental illness, and personality can't be easily answered at present.

We could compare this with what happens to particles, and we could wonder if there are some changes to a person that alter "who" the person "is" in a more fundamental way than the changes that naturally occur to a person over a lifetime.

We ask other questions about essence and identity, too. And we can perform certain types of meta-thinking about these matters. (Critical theory, some types of mystical and metaphysical thought, and quantum mechanical models are good examples of this sort of meta-thinking.) But on some level, we're basically wired to make certain day-to-day assumptions about essence and existence. We notice that this is me, this is not-me. And we assume that some clusters of not-me have a "discrete and separate" identity (this is a person, a dog, a rock-- the words come after the fact, but the perception/awareness is there pretty early, if our brains are healthy), that they are discrete entities.

This kind of goes back to gillsing's point:

Quote:
Yup, he's still the Matt-identity. And if he during his coma was 'infected' with an alien brain-bug which read his memories, reactivated his brain/body and then didn't feel like doing athletics and wasn't overly interested in school and felt like talking more, then you'd still consider him to be Matt, because you wouldn't know that his changes were induced by an alien mind. Thus he would keep being the Matt-identity.


I'd modify gillsing's language a bit and say that Matt still has and would have the Matt-identity for you. Matt's status-as-Matt (his essential Mattness, if you'll pardon me) after the alien brain-bug takes him over would be a little harder to ascertain-- and would probably have a lot to do with the nature of the bug. Mutualist symbiote, commensalist symbiote, or parasite...
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Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison. - Bosola, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi


Last edited by AlphonseVanWorden on Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:56 am; edited 11 times in total
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But like you said, if you don't know about the brain-bug, what choices do we have about assigning an identity?


That's a good argument for pursuing certain lines of scientific and philosophical investigation.
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Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison. - Bosola, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi
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sonic
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Joined: 23 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To put this another way: Sylphisonic is smart. But I find it a darned shame that the stereotype exists in the first place, because its existence means that women have to think about how people will think about what they're saying about what they're feeling


Yeah, Sylphisonic is smart. And honest, too- I don't have to keep using personal experience as an example ("We wish you wouldn't!" says everyone else!). But being honest is a form of being smart- it strengthens one to be able to be so comfortable with oneself as to talk so honestly- it's a reassurance that you don't really have that many insecurities about yourself. Plus I get to live in other people for the moment, and I hope that it affects them in some small (positive) way as they are helping me too. Even if it is just making other people feel more comfortable about themselves. Or less comfortable, if they need a sharp kick up the backside to learn the error of their ways! Kidding Mr. Green

...

Wow, that's quite some posts you have there! I enjoyed reading what I could- this bit made me feel like I was a subject in a textbook. It was fun, actually. But the whole thing about being nervous about appearance, asking others for their opinions and looking in the mirror; that was not about being a woman and conforming to outsider's views on physical appearance and the like (as one is told to do); that was about conforming to my interpretation of what I should be, coming from me. I want to look cool. Not other people's interpretation of "cool"- my interpretation... I couldn't care less about dazzling other people with my looks (although it's a nice bonus and it doesn't hurt if everyone else likes it too), but I have to walk around with me all day and so I want to dazzle myself. I make a poor travelling companion with myself if I go out with a dodgey-feeling stomach all day. That's just a fact. You spend the whole day not being able to feel very great, and the time you spend alone in your body and in your mind is like having to listen to someone complaining all day- "Owww, I feel like hell. Everything's churning and I can feel my mid-section hanging out." That voice is not good company but what can you do when it really is a physical sensation that is normally not "part" of you, so you are bothered by it's presence constantly. It is not possible to be confident like that; at least, not to the extra sensitive.

Also, most people don't think huge arm muscles or whatever look good on women, but I like 'em. So I am inclined to want to make my body into the many odd ideals I've constructed, and if I don't quite have it as a matter of self-pride I'd get rather displeased. Not so stupidly displeased that I hate myself or anything, but no longer self-confident an identity that I see myself as normally having, I start to lose my sense of self temporarily and seek another for reassurance. And not just any other, but someone who I perceive as containing the knowledge of who I really am (who I think I am, anyway), and knows who I want to be, and will therefore give me the reflection of myself as like looking in a mirror. They will know my "standards", what I expect of myself. What I am seeking in them is a reassurance from myself, and not from them. It's actually pretty pathetic if you think about it... or maybe just cheeky of me. I mean, I've already asked myself the question so I know the answer is "No, I feel a little rough today," but I have one last try anyway by asking the "self" of me that exists in another person (in this case, Jeff). It's like I'm parents or something- parent Sylphi 1 said "no", so I go to parent Sylphi 2 and hope she'll say yes. Which is like trying to trick yourself. And asking 20 times is even worse- that's called whinging about it... "Tough, it's just the way it is today, kid!" That's what you say if you are feeling right in yourself. But the stress of rushing out of the house in time has a habbit of making one forgot who one is, and look to a mirror to make it all better.

Oh, and yeah,; the stereotype does suck. Because it is not true that everybody is affected by it. Many run off of the type of your own choosing. I guess the trick is to hold a flexible identity within yourself that will not hold you back. It is a headache though to think that by performing what others observe to be cliche (even if that isn't what you are really doing), they may somehow think of you as that cliche, because then for me it sort of impedes on the identity that is important to me- that cool person- as I had decided that being thought of by others as a cliche is not cool. It's so circular, but at least it is vastly narrowed down to just your personal ideas of what is important rather than every single idea about it that anyone else could possibly have. The "cliche" thing ends up being important as something I want to avoid from other people, because in my personal identity I also frown on cliche and would judge another individual on that basis. At the very least, I am personally mostly free of looking at another person's (and therefore also my own) beauty too negatively... I mean that I have a greater leeway over what beauty is than many people. The pointer swings from -10 to 10 with me, as opposed to the -3 to 3 (or worse) that many people might only see. I have a fairly big zone for normality on most issues. You know, "So what if you're the hairiest man or woman alive?" It isn't really something I care about either way, so it doesn't matter. My arms are kind of hairy and the hair goes strangely, cheesily, blonde-on-tan with prolonged exposure to chlorine; but as arm hair isn't even something I think is a big deal I dont give a hoot. That's the differece betweening conforming to yourself or to other people's stereotypes of what you should be. I don't care about the hair- barely notice it anyway. Other people would say that it is not good ("Oh my gosh! Get waxed at once!") but stuff 'em! On the other hand, a bad or bloated stomach is not good to me as it genuinely feels unpleasant and takes me out of feeling completely like myself in whatever I am doing (it can do). And society doesn't say it's good either, which does not help any if I already dislike it, though that is still the primary problem.

Quote:
When she speaks of the British Empire, she seems to be assuming that geopolitical power always has to do with occupation, imperialism, military might; the lingering economic and social impact of the old imperialism on colonies is minimized- excluded from the discourse- and the feelings of those who were colonized is also excluded.


Yah... Sorry about that. If I accounted for everthing... Well, I could do it if I lived forever and had the tools to record it. I already do too much. But in this case, I was just making a very simplistic point about how the public feeling of a culture as an entity adapts after a perceived loss of power. It does capture the grassroots mood on the most basic of levels. A 100 years ago, we were waving flags and singing about how great and special we were. Now, most don't think about things and go with the flow, while those who have been educated on the past and their gaze directed to the course of events tend to nod wisely and to understand... It feels like becoming one of the custodians of time or something. But overall, people adapt. And we are so far removed from the time that we no longer connect to it. There is no lamentation- except about the fact that there were sad wars, and deaths, perhaps. But we try to be what we are now, whatever that is to you. This is extremely generalised as only it can be, but there is a kind of truth and wisdom to it. Knowledge of mood is perhaps the most difficult thing to explain, no-one can really appreciate it on this level unless they experience it for themselves. In time (abstarctly speaking), all things come around. There has to be a time to play the begger, and a time to play the king- and there is relevance in both.

I hope that cleared some stuff up. If it did not, tough 'cause I'm on holiday from this again now. Time to revise for exams.
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sylphisonic, welcome back-- and good luck on your uni work.

Quote:
Wow, that's quite some posts you have there! I enjoyed reading what I could- this bit made me feel like I was a subject in a textbook.


I often have the same feeling... when I'm not feeling like a pariah, I mean. Wink Laughing

Quote:
It was fun, actually.


I'm glad. Very Happy

Quote:
But the whole thing about being nervous about appearance, asking others for their opinions and looking in the mirror; that was not about being a woman and conforming to outsider's views on physical appearance and the like (as one is told to do); that was about conforming to my interpretation of what I should be, coming from me. I want to look cool. Not other people's interpretation of "cool"- my interpretation... I couldn't care less about dazzling other people with my looks (although it's a nice bonus and it doesn't hurt if everyone else likes it too), but I have to walk around with me all day and so I want to dazzle myself. I make a poor travelling companion with myself if I go out with a dodgey-feeling stomach all day. That's just a fact. You spend the whole day not being able to feel very great, and the time you spend alone in your body and in your mind is like having to listen to someone complaining all day- "Owww, I feel like hell. Everything's churning and I can feel my mid-section hanging out." That voice is not good company but what can you do when it really is a physical sensation that is normally not "part" of you, so you are bothered by it's presence constantly. It is not possible to be confident like that; at least, not to the extra sensitive.


See, I'm not sure why someone would need to ask another person about his/her appearance-- or look into a mirror-- without a kind of mind/body dissociation taking place (or seeming to take place). This sort of goes back to Simone de Beauvoir's argument about mirrors in The Second Sex, but to me, it seems to be a more recent development of the phenomenon de Beauvoir was describing, one predicated on the spread of late-stage capitalism and on the cultural diffusion of what was once called "bourgeois individualism". (I know those terms sound ominous, but they're not always bad things.)

It used to be solely a matter of being a woman and realizing that one's "received" body image was constructed in order to appeal to and conform with social conventions; it used to be simply a matter of wanting to construct a more valid and authentic self-image (a la de Beauvoir's position), and while for some people that's still the case, for others, the primary issue is the matter of individual identity without reference to sex or gender.

But I wonder how objectively real and empirically verifiable that notion of individuality is.

When you say, "my interpretation of what I should be, coming from me", I see that "me" as being something that isn't just a given, but is constructed dialectically and socially, through the interplay between one's consciousness and one's conditioning/environment. The idea of women as autonomous and having feelings-- and the idea of women acting upon those feelings, identifying with a self-image as opposed to a prescribed feminine identity-- is probably something like a meme or meme-complex, if it's not an actual meme-complex. It's part of our social milieu, at this point in history. But things weren't always this way, and to be honest, I wonder if earlier phenomena which strike us as similar to today's situations weren't different in some pretty basic but truly profound ways.

(To be fair, sometimes conditioning can be so deeply rooted that some or all components of the conditioning determine a person's identity; hence some people raised in fundamentalist Christian households and environments becoming, dare I say it, proselytizing atheists, and hence Nietzsche's texts sometimes reading like the anti-Christian equivalents of Lutheran sermons. But the sort of meme or meme-complex which caused changes in discourses about "femininity" did more to liberate than to undermine a woman's identity-- and this particular meme-complex and its later variants came about thanks to technological advances brought on by earlier stages of capitalism. Simply and perhaps cynically put, the question of women's rights was taken seriously in direct proportion to the degree in which technology changed social units, values, and relationships-- and I don't think such changes were a bad thing. Still, I tend to agree with those who point out that most British and American feminisms-- and I emphasize the plural form-- were and are predicated on essentialist assumptions and binary systems, which always create the possibility of controls and manipulation... and which exclude the ways in which race, class, and ethnic or national situations inform discourses about "womanhood." I know you're not viewing things in terms of such a binary paradigm, Sylph, but it's worth noting in passing that such binary thinking does exist, even among people whose goals I generally admire... )

To return to the matter of identity and to put this another way, I'm not sure you'd be you if you hadn't grown up in a given historical/social/cultural/economic environment-- and reacted to the environment in a certain way, within the boundaries of what was and is possible in that environment. (By environment, I don't just mean where you grew up, I mean the whole thing-- place, time, culture, opportunity, and exposure to certain types of thinking. We can't really take advantage of an opportunity if it doesn't exist, nor can we escape a kind of thinking unless the holes within that thinking are apparent, and our awareness of those holes is historically based...) When and where we're born-- and the larger culture in which that when and where occur-- do a lot to shape who we are.

And I'll be honest-- most statements about subjectivity cause me to be skeptical, simply because they seem anecdotal and often partake of a kind of ahistorical (and therefore noncontingent) model of the self/the subject, and they often exclude scientific evidence, i.e. how the brain works-- precise descriptions of stimulus-response, conditioning, neurological reactions to given conditions, etc. But I take them as valid, or at least subjectively true... pun intended.

(Individual reaction is a variable in any given social structure, but the structure informs the reaction, the social informs the individual. What I've said elsewhere about the relationship between mind and body applies to the social and the personal as well-- it's a series of feedback loops, with information flowing both ways. The self is a dynamic system, not a fixed one, but there's the potential for both negative and positive feedback in any information system, so sometimes the self is in equilibrium, and sometimes it's part of a network...)

If you'd grown up in a different culture, who you are would be radically different from the present "you".

Quote:
Not so stupidly displeased that I hate myself or anything, but no longer self-confident an identity that I see myself as normally having, I start to lose my sense of self temporarily and seek another for reassurance. And not just any other, but someone who I perceive as containing the knowledge of who I really am (who I think I am, anyway), and knows who I want to be, and will therefore give me the reflection of myself as like looking in a mirror.


A good example of the feedback loop... To have a lover or significant other or spouse is, of course, to have a social bond. Jeff knows you (or you perceive him as having knowledge of who you think you really are, or whatever), and you look to him for reassurance. I'm sure Jeff does the same thing when he's feeling down, and I'm sure each of you would wonder what was wrong if the other started acting "out of character". Most people would do that, I think.

The differences between this sort of thing and other social relationships are of both degree and health. There's no reason for you not to trust Jeff, I suppose. (I say "I suppose" as I don't know him-- or you-- outside of your posts. But you seem like swell people, so I'll assume that's true.)

But some people place a lot of interest in what a given social group-- sometimes, even strangers-- think of them, and some women seem to care a great deal about how they're perceived by men. It's a similar sort of thing, and it has to do with "losing yourself." If you lose yourself temporarily, it's not an issue, really. But if you develop what sociologists and some psychologists used to call a purely "other-reactive identity" or become what memeticists call a "memebot", you're in rough shape-- as your core identity hasn't developed into a discrete thing or has become subordinate to an social construct, and as your behavior is totally context-driven.

(To some extent, a lot of human behavior is context-specific, but sometimes people's behavior becomes so context-driven that they cease to have anything resembling a "self". Call it groupthink, herd mentality, or whatever, but it exists, and it's pretty unpleasant, and can have some nasty consequences for the person, the group, the world. There's an entire body of sociological and psychological research-- and, increasingly, neuropsychological research-- devoted to this sort of phenomenon.)

I don't think the permeable nature of the lowercase-s (and maybe the Capital-S, as well?) self is always a bad thing. We're social creatures, and to some extent, other people's consciousnesses (and dare I say, their bodies) provide a kind of archive of who we are...

I hope I strike you-- and other readers of the forum-- as honest. But you're not going to get too many personal revelations or discussions of my own experiences... Laughing

I've seen and experienced and heard some terrible things, too. (And I've witnessed some wonderful, beautiful, and profoundly touching things in my life.) But for the most part, I dislike talking or writing about myself-- although I suppose that some of my posts could be read as a sort of abstract autobiography.

I don't mind people talking about themselves or their experiences. In fact, I think it's instructive, in that I get to learn what events people value or see as paradigmatic...

And I find people pretty darned fascinating.
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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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I hope I strike you-- and other readers of the forum-- as honest.


Yeah, you do actually. I find you a little confusing at times (like that last post, actually), but I think it's probably just because our heads are in completely different worlds. And some of the words get a bit jargon-y. It do find it hard to relate to what someone is saying whenever anyone talks about some kind of feminism and tries to relate it to me personally, but it's often in the assumptions (like you said). I am (or was) an unusually isolated individual to the point at which I thought people were fibbing when they said that humans were social creatures and needed to be social. I have had a very different life from many in some ways, and a lot of the normal situations do not apply. I guess it's just to say that my environment is probably not the same environment that most people (particularly often feminist people) are thinking of. So I use a lot of personal examples to try and illustrate where I am coming from. To me it's a kind of philosophy unto itself; less wordy or academic then what you or I might have studied for years, but very reflective and more explanatory than I could get with standard ways of doing philosophy.

But I really do come from a different environment-- I went to a catholic all-girls school, I grew up in a family with almost no guys in it, I hardly ever watched TV, I often didn't pay attention to the culture around me because I had my head in Japanese videogames instead of the latest trendiest whatever, I didn't even know what the different musical genres were until I was 15 or 16, and I couldn't ever remember the names or faces of famous people because I didn't read magazines or listen to gossip. I've always become invested in things that are several years out of date for some reason. I think perhaps I was largely unaffected by the outside world because I never really understood it, so it passed me by. There's a lot of contradictions you encounter s a child between what you are told and what you see, and I guess I always went along with what I was told even though it might not be what happens in practice. So, no make-up ever, even though I saw everyone else using it, because I was told that it wasn't good to wear make-up (and that it made your skin really bad). With a lot of things, I'd often pick a third, unrevealed option. I just saw things that took my fancy, and did them or became them. I wanted to be a ninja turtle. I wanted to be a robot. Then I wanted to be Super Mario, because he jumped really high. I wanted to dress as a Humphrey Bogart-style dectetive (but mum said no!)... I don't know why I felt that way, it just looked good to me. Like what a crime-fighter would wear, and I liked that idea because I knew that criminals were bad and that it was cool to be a hero and fight them. Mostly it was other children that said, "Oh this isn't for girls,(etc.)" but I had the strange inclination to always shrug any response like that off if it was something I just felt like liking. Besides, I never saw the evidence in claims like that, and at home nobody told me I couldn't like those things. It's true that I can associate certain types of behaviour with being "masculine" or "feminine", but for the most part I don't think it affects me as a person in what I like or myself. I go with whatever seems the most logical and right. Which is why my house is decorated with plushies from very un-hip anime, and I've allowed my old hiking boots that I wear every single day to have gotten to the point where they've almost arrived at death's door (they leak when it rains- I'd replace them but I can't seem to find a good replacement, now that the women's shoe shop I got them from only seems to sell strange spangly disco high-heels. In that respect, our gender-minded societies are really screwing with my life. I want my stomping boots back).

Actually, if I'd grown up going to school in the US I may have become more feminist... or at least, really p***ed off and moody all the time, like those goth kids. There's so much weird gender stuff that would have put me in a constant foul mood if I'd had to deal with it constantly, it seems. I do see where they are coming from now, although I find much of the feminism to be pretty annoying too. It's unatural to be pushed and pulled and tugged at like this by all these different "sides" (i.e. "You're a woman! Be one of us, and embrace the sisterhood!" or "You're a woman? Well yeah, chicks are a separate species from us but we're glad to have you anyway.") I shall just be a loner with my own values, I think- sod the lot of you, you're boring and uninspired but it isnt my problem. I do want to help people though, so I learn to present myself many ways in order to do so.
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james_sb



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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to interrupt whatever it is you may be saying above, but I used to read this thread, until page three.

I've given up, I just don't have the time, but I'm still curious.

Could someone give a summary of the Thread so far? The shifts in the topic and any conclusions or suggested conslusions reached?

A rough Copy and Paste into WORD tells me there's over 45,000 words in this thread. It might be about the time a summary was made to accompany the book your writing..
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sylphisonic wrote:
I guess it's just to say that my environment is probably not the same environment that most people (particularly often feminist people) are thinking of. So I use a lot of personal examples to try and illustrate where I am coming from.


You're probably right about your environment being different from other people's. No, that's not at all a slam or insult. I just mean that people tend to view their environments differently, unless they've submerged their identities within a group-- and even then, there's usually some variance.

It's the variance that makes me interested in people's personal examples. Examples-- and what strikes someone as an example-- can reveal a lot about a person and his or her worldview, in terms of what makes the example unique or shared, or both. (The less variance and fewer "personal quirks" a person has, and the more the person agrees with "general" or "common sense" or "popular" attitudes and opinions of a group, the less individuality, more often than not. Sometimes, that's okay; sometimes, it's scary-- as in Pod People scary.)

But I don't talk about my experiences or feelings much, even with my closest friends and associates. It's not that I'm unemotional or overly analytical or repressed or somesuch thing, and I'm not worried about what they'd think of my opinions and feelings (if it's appropriate to the relationship, they'll learn my opinion and I'll express my feelings-- I seldom discuss personal matters or differences of personal opinion with, say, co-workers or casual acquaintances), and I'm certainly not introverted. I just... don't talk about that stuff, unless I've known someone for years, or unless the person asks a pretty specific question about my life. And even then, whether or not I answer the question has a lot to do with the person.

Sometimes I'll mention things on the forum from time to time... but I doubt anything I'll mention is the sort that I think of as personal.

Quote:
And some of the words get a bit jargon-y.


Hehe. Generally, I write as I speak, although my language in the real world can get a touch spicy and/or foul at times.

I mean, when I'm among close friends and such.

Admittedly, I don't use certain words and phrases in realtime conversations if I suspect someone won't get my point or see where I'm coming from . Not because I'm assuming the person's stupid or inferior or anything like that, but because I try to communicate my point-of-view as clearly as possible to the listener. "Know your audience" and all that. Of course, that's an easier thing to do offline than online, as you can get a better feel for someone's personality, interests, use of language, frame and points of reference, etc. in a offline conversation than you can from posting on a public forum. Or at least, that's my experience, and I'll admit, other people can and do find it easier to express themselves online. Sometimes in positive ways, sometimes in scary ones.

Just a matter of a person's preferred medium (or media)... I enjoy writing letters and e-mails to friends (the missives are longer than my posts, God help my amigos and amigas), but I like the contact of face-to-face or even telephone conversations. A human voice, with all its subtleties. More often than not, I find myself annoyed with the Internet-- simply because I find it difficult to determine, sans emoticons, whether or not someone's kidding, and whether or not a person is a jerk.

And I'm sometimes attempting to communicate with both the person whose post I'm responding to, and to folks at large-- as the forum is, of course, a public forum.

So my posts are pretty indicative of my speech when I'm among friends-- only I don't include the naughty bits.

If something's unclear, I don't mind-- heck, I like-- people asking me for clarification or examples.

All these years, I'm still ambivalent about the Internet.

But here I am, posting online. Go figure. :lol:

I know that if I use a metaphor drawn from the social or physical sciences or a technical term drawn from philosophy, theory, or theology, some might get it, and others won't. And much as that reeks, I'm kind of stuck with it. I'm not trying to talk down to anyone, or attempting to be deliberately obscure. If something seems vague to somebody, the person should go ahead and ask me what the heck I was thinking.

I don't bite. Often. And I've had my shots, so when I do, no worries. Wink

james_sb wrote:
Could someone give a summary of the Thread so far? The shifts in the topic and any conclusions or suggested conslusions reached?

A rough Copy and Paste into WORD tells me there's over 45,000 words in this thread. It might be about the time a summary was made to accompany the book your writing..


Laughing Laughing Laughing

The thread has gone on, hasn't it?

I think the dialogue went from the politics and significance of copies and of socially-constructed identities in general, to nationalism and legal/ethical issues in relation to copies, to the question of kinds and degrees of constructed identities, to gender-as-constructed-identity, back to the question of constructed identities in general (and the matter of people's actual lives and perceptions of identity, and the question of whether or not-- and how-- somebody can be said to have an "independent" identity, i.e. one that's not socially determined in some way), to, at this point, questions of communication and sincerity.

And all of these things, oddly enough, have to do with GitS.

If someone uses this stuff in a book, I want my slice of the action. I want a freakin' royalty check... Wink Laughing
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
-- I seldom discuss personal matters or differences of personal opinion with, say, co-workers or casual acquaintances), and I'm certainly not introverted. I just... don't talk about that stuff, unless I've known someone for years, or unless the person asks a pretty specific question about my life. And even then, whether or not I answer the question has a lot to do with the person.


That's fine, nobody's asking you to. I used to be that way too, but over the years I noticed I seem to help people better by giving myself... I don't know, I just like to do it in the hopes that people will take something from it, like that it's okay to... I dunno, just be. Like it's good to have this level of integrity with yourself, and there's nothing bad about thinking about yourself this way and talking to sociey as yourself. As you can tell, I can't explain it well just like this; it's more in the process of living by example. I think what being like this does for me is allow me to test myself... to see how I as a person hold up as I write and try to imagine what someone else who doesn't know me would think. Would they think I'm strange? Would they think I'm the kind of person I think I am from this? And am I comfortable with what I think the answers to that are? All those things make for a great philosophical pursuit, and I think they make me better and more accountable as a person.

And also, it gives me a voice as someone coming from unusual circumstances and thus feeling a bit "left out" of the world, where others would try to force me into more traditional moulds based on more traditional experience (i.e. feminism, the opposite, "guy"-oriented world view, nationalism, etcetera etcetera). I know that there are a lot more people than me out there who are unhappy at being told "you're a woman so society does this to you" or "you're a young asian/white/etcetera guy, so society does this to you" by everybody who thinks their more largely-accepted models of life experience must apply to you; my aim by speaking out about how I am is to encourage these other people who feel like me to quietly stand out and be what are amidst the wash... Not everyone is into the "find your tribe" mentallity- many of us because there just can't be one for us in the larger society. But it doen't mean people should just sweep past us and not manage to see us either. Doing that... means that we are forced to be very lonely... And that's a shame, because I think that people who do not find a suitable "fit" in the world exist to bridge the divisions between the different pools of humanity. What else can you be, if there is no other place for you? Nothing that is of use to anybody else, probably.

Anyway, that's probably my last great personal explanation of why I do what I do and present myself as I do. Wink

Quote:
So my posts are pretty indicative of my speech when I'm among friends-- only I don't include the naughty bits.


I'm glad you don't include the "naugthy bits". I don't really like people to be doing that out in public. Or even anywhere in my presence. It's... poor presentation.

Also, what are "Pod People"? You mean like iPod? Or is it some scary vegetable reference involving human peas? Question

I promise not to be any more off-topic on this now.
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Also, what are "Pod People"? You mean like iPod? Or is it some scary vegetable reference involving human peas?


Syphisonic, you never saw or read Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Shocked

I love the old version. Cool novel, too.

Quote:
I'm glad you don't include the "naugthy bits". I don't really like people to be doing that out in public. Or even anywhere in my presence. It's... poor presentation.


I'm not sure what "that" is... I was referring to the use of foul language. I'm not above calling someone a <cough> in real world conversations (depending, of course, upon the setting), but I'll explain how and why the person is, in my estimation, a <cough>-- and if prompted, I'll explain why the only appropriate term for such a person is <cough>.

Sometimes "wag" and "mountebank" and "scoundrel" seem too mild when describing certain behaviors and individuals.

"I don't really like people to be doing that out in public. Or even anywhere in my presence..." Huh. Hope I didn't imply that I perform lewd acts in public or something... Laughing

Quote:
I promise not to be any more off-topic on this now.


I'm not sure it's completely off-topic. References to third-world countries (or "emerging markets" in the current phrasing), refugees, sexual identity, and social structures in relation to the individual abound in the various incarnations of the GitS franchise.

Quote:
I used to be that way too, but over the years I noticed I seem to help people better by giving myself... I don't know, I just like to do it in the hopes that people will take something from it, like that it's okay to... I dunno, just be. Like it's good to have this level of integrity with yourself, and there's nothing bad about thinking about yourself this way and talking to sociey as yourself.


On the whole, I agree. (I'd take issue with your conclusion that the way I am resembles the way you used to be, as I'm pretty sure we have different reasons-- and I think we're operating from pretty different definitions of things such as the Self, identity, etc. If two things are different in motivation, they're probably different in kind, although they might share similar goals...)

I don't think sharing what I perceive to be personal data is the only way to help. Different perspectives, different ways of helping, I suppose.

Plus, I tend to be cautious, and not just in some sort of "I want to keep this private" way... Sometimes mentioning one's own experiences further isolates the person with whom you're speaking, draws the conversation away from what the other party really wanted or needed to discuss or articulate or share. I noticed that a lot after Katrina, when people who didn't live down here would try framing discussions of the storm's aftermath in terms of their own experience. ("Well, my house burned down once, and you just have to get on your feet and rebuild, that's what I did..." "I had this happen to me once, and it took a long time, but everything turned out okay..." I swear, I heard this sort of thing quite a bit, as well as some other folks explaining what Katrina meant to them when there were people who'd lost family and friends and everything to the storm right in front of them, and I saw the looks on the listeners' faces, and I wanted to go ballistic. But I bit my tongue and closed my eyes and breathed, repeating to myself, "They don't know what they're doing, their intentions aren't represented by their actions." And I still have to bite my tongue at times, when tourists say, "Huh, how come some parts of the city are still messed up?")

Also, sometimes personal experience in and of itself becomes mere anecdote. Often, this leads to an impasse. "I've never had that sort of experience, here's my experience, and your experience or perceptions are at variance with my experience, therefore I refuse to accept the other point of view. But maybe that's just me, so keep talking." At its worst, this reduces to "Well, you have your opinion, I have mine"-- and people are talking about personal experiences without really communicating in any meaningful way.

So many fine lines between relating to another person, discussing with another person, and solipsism...

I'm not saying that you do any of these things. Just saying it happens.

Quote:
I know that there are a lot more people than me out there who are unhappy at being told "you're a woman so society does this to you" or "you're a young asian/white/etcetera guy, so society does this to you" by everybody who thinks their more largely-accepted models of life experience must apply to you; my aim by speaking out about how I am is to encourage these other people who feel like me to quietly stand out and be what are amidst the wash...


I agree, but I think the question of how independent one's model of oneself is or can ever be comes into play. I think that the notion of individual identity itself has biological, social, and historical factors that go into shaping it, so the notion of "standing up" or "speaking out" as an individual isn't ever just about the speaker...

Hence my mentioning, on this thread and elsewhere, the notion of memes and meme-complexes, a la Dawkins, Dennett, etc.

I guess a way to bring it back to topic is: What do you think is the relationship between technology and identity?
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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
See, I'm not sure why someone would need to ask another person about his/her appearance-- or look into a mirror-- without a kind of mind/body dissociation taking place (or seeming to take place). This sort of goes back to Simone de Beauvoir's argument about mirrors in The Second Sex, but to me, it seems to be a more recent development of the phenomenon de Beauvoir was describing


Women and mirrors? No, the same behaviour is present in our cousins the apes. I believe it is correct to say that they are the other animal that can look in a mirror and actually recognise themselves. They are fascinated with their own appearance in one, and will react to it, going so far as using a mirror to pick things out of their teeth, or groom themselves to heighten their appearance. This is not just a modern socially costructed type of behaviour, it is innate in us as the self-concious animals we were derived from. I guess even King Louey wants to look his swingingnest when he parties on down to his jungle lifestyle. And there's nothing wrong with it; we're artistic creatures too, so it's natural that we want to reflect our talent visually as well as inwardly. Perhaps our bodies are really one of the first and most personal artistic materials we have to work with. As a form of self expression, I'd think it's natural you'd want to sculpt it and present it (clothes and all) to your own liking... Craving perfectionism is something a lot of artists do, too. Like I said, I think it's fine just so long as people are diverse in their perception of what is "perfect" and understand what makes them seek it enough so that they keep a sane, level perspective on it too "outside of themselves".

Quote:
I didn't imply that I perform lewd acts in public or something...


No, no; just really bad language. Not that lewd acts are okay either, of course.

Oh yeah, I saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers! There's just so many different things "pod people" could mean though; I thought you were referring to purchasers of iPods perhaps.

Quote:
What do you think is the relationship between technology and identity?


It brings out the true personality of people as being complete twits? Internet identities, lol.
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just so you know, I'm grooming myself. Between each typed letter.

I really should shave today... I could strike a match off my cheek. Laughing
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