A technemanifesto mess

(In response to selections of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, Stiegler’s Technics and Time 1: The Fault of Epimetheus, and my own set of musings on writing, technology, and naturalness.)

“Once the stick has become a familiar instrument, the world of feelable things recedes and now begins, not at the outer skin of the hand, but at the end of the stick. …. The pressures on the hand and the stick are no longer given; the stick is no longer an object perceived by the blind man, but an instrument with which he perceives. It is a bodily auxiliary, an extension of the bodily synthesis.” (Merleu-Ponty 176).

Such is the pen to the script-writer. Once the technology of writing becomes familiar to me in the performance of writing, it pushes the perceivable-as-world world back just a little bit further out of my view. The technology, through familiarity and ubiquity, recedes from the world and becomes a part of me, part of my essence and my being such that the performing of writing ceases to be a technological act but rather a spiritual, vital act. It is natural, not because it comes from the “natural world” of rocks and trees and falcons, but because I see it as coming from my being, my Platonic and divorced-from-the-world soul. Because the body is lived-through, it cannot easily perceive its relationship to the world and to technology. As Steigler shows, in his critique of Plato and reading of Heidegger, techne is tied to our very creation in Prometheus’ act. Yet because it is mythologically tied to 1) Epimethius’ forgetting and 2) Prometheus’ deceiving, techne (prosthesis) is a negative gift, a gift to be feared as a mark of mortality (a very tattoo, perhaps, of our self-destruction). Because of this fear, “their visibility is reduced.” We forget the artifice of the pen, the page, the computer, of writing and of language itself–and thus display our fear of writing-as-technology–because we wish to forget our own fallibility. We wish to forget our mortal, eventually unvital condition. Techne-fear is wrought out of our abundantly close relationship. Thus, when the human-as-tool-bearer begins to be displaced by the machine-as-tool-bearer, we are potentially confronted by and certainly in denial of the technicity of those items we touch every day and use to inscribe our individuality on the world. We think “humanness” comes out of us, but only in that we are us because of techne…

Are we in need of a nondeterminist techneromantics? Why do we teach writing? Or why do we tell ourselves that we teach writing (as opposed to drawing or sculpture or speech or cave painting)? Vitalism, essentialism often play a strong role in the answer, an answer that often unfortunately romantically denies the very materiality of the writing it draws upon for its identification. However, if Steigler is right, if through techne-logy comes individuation, if Dasein is through/by techne (if I get this right), if techne is infinitesimally tightly tied to time and culture’s urge for reflective anticipation (234, 236), then writing can assume a new kind of techne-vitalism. Writing IS tied to humanness, if not in the way we traditionally have espoused it in the humanistic tradition. Writing and the teaching of writing are essential for individuation because writing is part of the dehiscence of our differance, it is how we fix ourselves in time, how we conceal our own temporality, how we put ourselves before us. Writing is (as Stiegler argues) prostheses. Yet it is in relationship that this techne-vitalism might take place, not determinism–a potential overemphasis of Stiegler. Techne, tied to closely to our creation and our culture, did not make us, but potentially allows us to become who we may become…

To what extent do I control technology? To what extent does it control me? Technology controls me when I let it become invisible. In making it visible, in looking at it rather than through, I recede its determinism and open myself to taking part my own construction.

(I think.)


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