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Double Vision, double consciousness, differential consciousness: worlds & communities January 11, 2007

Posted by Katie King in Uncategorized.
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Well, I am disheartened and strangely euphoric, shifting back and forth between these and all too many other states.

The surgery for my double vision has been postponed. Otherwise it would be happening right now. The retina surgeon and I decided that particular non-surgical alternatives should have been tried before getting to this point, so that’s the next step, beginning immediately. That feels euphoric – this is not my idea of nice surgery frankly (or is any?) – and then again, here I am stuck with double vision still. Can I work? Can I enjoy reading and writing?

But strangely double vision is not that debilitating for farther away things – for seeing wholes and stuff down the road, even for sort of some middle range things. I can tell it’s there, but it doesn’t bother me, and my brain seems to work with it rather than against it.

But double vision at close range is really disheartening. Everything has to be made VERY LARGE to penetrate my brain, the lines of stuff are wavy, there are patches of shadow and distortion, and they all come and go. Looking through one eye sort of helps, but for relatively short periods of time.

Training the brain? There was some talk of training one eye to do one kind of seeing and the other to do another – making them work separately rather than together? I don’t know exactly….

And it is all too strangely about everything – double vision, double consciousness, differential consciousness, they seem to meld and draw apart, merge and intersect, differentiate and mingle, become metaphors and become realities and become whatever real is.

All those discreet things we usually think of as specific senses, how unspecific and how intermingling they are! Synesthesia is compensatory and pleasurable and confusing and interferes with diagnosis! Is the double vision only between two eyes, or is one eye also having on top of it all, its own distinct double vision that is mixed in with the blurriness and distortion?

Somehow I always thought of double vision as something side by side, but no, it is up and down and side by side and both somehow and shadowy and in and out. It moves around a lot more than I understood and understand.

I want to take refuge in proprioception – in whole body movements – in being a body in space and among others – in large grain wholenesses that eschew detail. But then that too feels very vulnerable. Not really a refuge at all. All the levels are too tender, too shaky, too shifting.

Which bits can change? Which body parts and microscopic pieces, which relations among these? Which me’s? Which systems with others? What counts as: work, amelioration, correction, compensation, rupture?

What kinds of communication are necessary in skills I don’t have? It’s not true: you can’t only change yourself, ever – that myth of control is actually quite silly. You are so little just you that all changes are karmic – networked – systemic – and others are responsible too. Layers and layers of accountability and resistance to it.

Double vision. It’s not staying stable. I don’t know what’s happening.

Robert Irwin takes Said to task: shifts from one layer of locals to another layer of globals November 13, 2006

Posted by Katie King in Uncategorized.
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This morning I read Michael Dirda’s review of Robert Irwin’s book Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents.

This is an amazing essay on Irwin’s book which I do really want to read after seeing this. It helped crystalize for me a concern I’ve been working hard to think about. It may or may not interest either Dirda or others — I don’t know — I figured I’d briefly outline it in response to this review.

I’ve been using the phrase “telescoping layers of locals and globals” — anti-jargon >> >> >> people will hate this of course — to describe a way of thinking I believe we need, are being required to practice by various technologies and their commercial contexts, and which we are being trained to enjoy with computer games, kinds of TV etc. (I think of Stephen Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You here.)

It seems to me Dirda’s review describes the circumstance in which telescoping layers of locals and globals have a kind of intellectual value that matters. I would offer as another example of a similar relationship exposing a similar concern Martin Bernal’s Black Athena and its critics.

Folks who care most about “local knowledge” — the details of scholarly practice in fine grain analysis in this case, among a range of disciplines, that is, Irwin’s work — have properly one sort of understanding of “thinking and evidence” as Dirda puts it. Most scholars value most this fine grain knowledge, in their own fields particularly so. We all have to care about it: it really matters as Dirda shows, implies and as he supports Irwin here.

Folks who care about what many might call “theory” — I’m increasingly disatisfied with doing so, but not sure what else to reference, even though there are so many meanings of “theory” it is difficult to use it rigorously in this kind of discussion — they properly have a rather different understanding of “thinking and evidence.”

Said and Bernal are interested in a very different sort of argument than the analysis of local knowledge marshalled by Irwin, even when they use it. They use it as widely dispersed examples and illustrations, each one of which is subordinated in importance to the overall argument which doesn’t depend on these as evidence. They aren’t evidence exactly, they are examples in a kind of speculative scene they are trying to paint in broad strokes. For Bernal and Said the object they want to work with is “ideology” — a “global” structural set of interlocking knowledges at a different “level” of analysis — very large grained rather than fined grained. (Although it is possible to do fine grained work at this level of analysis too.)

One kind of interdisciplinary work moves among many local knowledges, sometimes with mutual respect of each other’s territories of expertise — what we used to call “multidisciplinary” but which I think is becoming the dominant form of interdisciplinarity today under that name. Lots of “locals” here.

One kind of theory moves among many “local” versions of large theoretical apparatus, comparing them, critiquing them for strengths and weaknesses — the kind of thing you get if you take a theory survey class in any discipline as a graduate student — in literature say, how to read a text from the perspective of psychoanalysis, or feminist theory, or critical race theory, or marxist theory or postmodern theory or by name: Foucault, Derrida, etc.

What telescoping layers of locals and globals means is a bit different. More like what Johnson describes in a computer game: there are a range of “layers” of the game, or levels, and you work intensely solving one to get to the next, but you have to keep them all in mind simultaneously to strategize, lots of trial and error learning is involved, returning over and over to one level to get to the next, but each has clues to what the shifting rules will be at the next level, and you have to intuit these chances implicitly generalizing over the specific examples of mistake that allows you to do things correctly.

So thinking of scholarly practice this way one might pay more attention to collaborations less on the level of many locals where folks share their fine grained expertise, and instead note how movement from one territory of expertise to another requires continually moving among degrees of grain of analysis. You can only participate in very fine grained analysis with membership in a particular territory. Even that same grain of analysis in another territory turns out to use different arguments and evidence and looks at stuff that at first glance seems the same thing, often the same name, but is actually a somewhat different sort of thing.

When you translate fine grained analysis from one territory to another, or beyond the academy, you are unlikely to reproduce that at that grain of analysis — you have to move to another layer more global in relation to what you are translating from. Move up one, several, many layers relatively and relationally, keeping as best you can the locals as well, simultaneously strategizing and thinking in more than one level (you might call it level of abstraction perhaps) at a time, keeping in mind what is the most global for this version: ie. the version that travels as widely as possible given whichever folks you are translating to. So you are likely to be translating from one grain of analysis at one level of abstraction or concreteness to another grain of analysis at perhaps a different level of abstraction or concreteness.

And the “evidence” — the examples in a more global argument like Said or the scholarly details perhaps “discovered” by Irwin — is a rather different sort of thing for each, in one case not inductively necessary to create its conclusions, but a kind of help to explanation; in the other case absolutely crucial to any generalizations: an error at this level is an error everywhere. Like a scientific experiment. I’m likening Irwin to this, and Said to the one where the details are offered more to explain why the overall argument matters and how it might work.

Hello world! November 7, 2006

Posted by Katie King in Uncategorized.
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“Telescoping,” we live among layers of locals and globals, relative and relational, opening up and closing down our black boxes of inside and outside knowledges, producing different species of elegance and complexity situationally. “Probing,” we test the edges of our ignorance, analogically pushing worlds together and apart, reenacting for experimental experiencing, finding lost or unanticipated “easter eggs,” sometimes left over, sometimes yet to be eaten.

Telescoping and probing both require one to inhabit one’s body and to sense with, through and more to one’s body. Embodiment cannot end at the skin, selves cannot depend on individuation; embodiments require human animalities amid plural consciousnesses, skills, tools, infrastructures.