week 10 summary

This week I’ve been trying to coalesce the readings for this block into some sort of working theory. I realise that I’ve been skirting around the edges in what I’ve written; this is probably because I flatter myself that I’ve understood what they mean essentially (expect in the case of Haraway, where I thought getting to the edge was pretty good going). I’ve been musing a lot about what this would look like played out in education, and what the uniting of meaning and matter…ahem…means for online learning. I’d like to apply this, if I can, in my assignment…although my crazy visions of sending material artefacts through the post is probably dispensable…

It also links to something a bit more complex. Jacques Derrida seems to keep coming back to haunt me, and the attacks on Platonic forms (or separation of subject and object) recalled Derrida’s insistence that words don’t have a finite number of dictionary meanings (even if accepted by a culture using the language); rather, each time a word is used, its meaning is unique to that occasion (uniterable). This seems to be very much connected to the idea of ‘chair’ (subject) versus the six different chairs in my house (objects). The chair at the top of the stairs may look exactly like the one with the laptop on it, but they are not the same object…and therefore, you cannot use the same subject to refer to both. There are many interesting ways this thought could go, but two occur to me that are linked to our topics this week:

As I mentioned in my notes on this week’s readings, this is important to Edwardsian ‘experiments’ that the topic explored is perceived as new, even if the ‘experts’ involved have done the experiment many times before. The uniqueness has to do with the uniqueness of the participants, which is built into the [concern, or whatever the 'thing' is], but also (in proper post-human style) the uniqueness of everything else involved as well–the uniterable chair.

I think this also shows Pedersen’s investigation of the lines between human and not-human, and why they need to be drawn in the first place, from a slightly different angle. First, if a human is not iterable, then a clone is as ‘human’ as its genetic twin (that sorts out Never Let Me Go, not to mention The Island). But it goes much further: without iteration, everything is unique. There aren’t any dichotomies because there aren’t any categories. Now I’m not suggesting taking this down the slippery slope of, e.g. Douglas Adams’ ruler of the universe. Going back to language, we still use this to good (not perfect) effect in all its uniterability. And so we still need to see the difference between a hairdryer and a handgun. But it’s the right to draw lines between categories that is to be relinquished to make way for the liquidity and ignorance that have always been there anyway.

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