Gatherings

Today I decided to recap and look around, gathering some ideas and examples of the task that lies ahead. With this course being delivered online and previous years also being available a rich spectrum of thoughts are spread across these networks of EDEDC communities. Voices from the past speak to me, allowing me to put into perspective questions and remarks that were made over space and in time.A useful reminder of that what we study can also be put into practice.

In an instant I can capture voices that speak up and reflect on issues that I am dealing with, grateful for the explanations that are being presented

herehere and here.

I am reading these reflections (tumblogs) as a feed into my own thoughts, pushing forward my understanding, a state of my own ‘becoming’.  My conscious ‘self’, and the thoughts of others, separated by time and space have temporarily integrated and fused, to (hopefully) enlighten my understanding. A posthuman condition we seem to continuously engage with in an online environment.  The re-reading of Edwards is now bringing further clarity. Perhaps the initial phase in learning is to absorb the representational stage and then to deconstruct (in my case the despair that followed),   allowing for a condition that allows for a focus on ontology (following readings of Edwards,although he does warn it is not that simple)…. the ‘ post-human ethico-epistem-ontology’ (Barad, 2007)  wherein there is an entanglement of  things; ‘things as question, as provocation, incitement, or enigma’ (Grosz, 2009)

p. 125).

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Gegenstand

[warning= this post is like a dance.... it twists and turns, until some some sort of understanding is achieved within these online confines...]

The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? RICHARD EDWARDS

”This article explores the significance of theories of the post-human for lifelong learning. Drawing upon the works of Karen Barad and Bruno Latour, it suggests that education has focused on the learning subject as a result of an a priori assumption of a separation of matter from meaning, the object from the subject. By contrast, a post-human intervention points to the constant material entanglement of the human and non-human in the enactment of the world, and thus the problematic status of subjects and objects as separate from one another.’

I am trying to follow this binary argument.The above seems to equate as follows:

  1. traditionally education =
  • matter / meaning
  • separate object / subject
  1. post-human intervention =
  • constant material entanglement of human and non-human
  • mix object-subject

Where are the matter, meaning, human and non-human positioned here…

Where does ‘representation’ come into this? if along Lyotard’s suggestion there is a collapse of representationalism,  this collapse suggests ‘shifting’ meanings, but surely not ‘without’ meaning.

and Edwards continues, ‘post-humanism refers to an enactment that deconstructs the separation of subjects and objects and, with that, the focus on the human subject as either a representative of an essentialised human nature or in a state of constant becoming. However, it is also the case that this deconstruction requires a subject.’

he then suggests (p 7)  the focus is on ontology (being) rather than representation (epistemology) – would this mean the focus is on the learner, rather than what is learnt?

and it is the learner’s position that is being post-humanised?

Confused. This article is getting my brain in a twist….

More so as the article itself seems to shift in emphasis. On the one hand there is the discussion of a binary tradition (ontology/epistemology) but then considers disrupting the meaning itself of this.

His key position is to move on  to consider meaning via ‘gatherings’, where meaning is not separate from matter, in a Heidegger sense (‘Gegenstand’)

‘… and specifically a gathering to deliberate on a matter under discussion, a contested matter. Here things are a mixing, an entanglement. They gather the human and non-human in their enactments. They are material and they matter.’

and, following on,

In the post-human, rather than the subject representing the object through sense data of, for instance, observation, we enter into the spatio-temporal practices of gathering and experimentation. Knowing is not separate from doing but emerges from the very matter-ings in which we engage. This relies on apparatuses, which ‘are not mere observing instruments but boundary-drawing practices – specific material (re)configurings of the world – which come to matter’ (Barad, 2007, p. 140, emphasis in original). To gather is also to draw boundaries, to include and exclude.

now that makes sense….I see this very much in line with my Love Sick story. (And following Gough’s article, as Edwards also points out )

And for Edwards the position is relating  to ‘matters of concern’:

I am suggesting that a post-human condition could position learning as a gathering of the human and non-human in responsible experimentation to establish matters of concern. However, it could also be that rather than gathering differently, we might have to do away with the notion of lifelong learning altogether. Here a post-human condition could position responsible experimentation as a gathering of the human and non-human to establish matters of concern. This provides a different educational purpose to much of that which is familiar. The difference lies in that it is not the human subjectwho learns through experimenting rather than representing, but the thing [Gegenstand?] that is gathered which is an enactment of human and non-human elements. There is a decentring of the knowing/learning human subject within educational practices.

[as my brain hurts again, I need to take a rest and will revisit later...This is my third attempt at making some sense of this...]

(I also think the Edwards paper can be linked to Dewey but this needs further investigation)

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Do cats play with electric ants?

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Last night my daughter and I decided to test out a computer game on a willing subject: our cat. It made me think that perhaps we will not enter the next stage (beyond posthuman) until somehow animals join in our digitally interconnected world. Can cats really play with electric ants? Why would my cat play with these ants anyway? there is no food (for the cat)  involved, but it does resemble analogue offerings…

On the other hand, human exploitation of animals is aided by technology. What sort of philosophical and ethical implications are there? The materiality of our biological needs (taking the flesh i.e. meat) is still primary. The loss of body (information) is in support of material sustenance, of both meat and non-meat eaters.

And then I read the Hayles article  ’From ‘Cyborgs to Cognisphere’ ‘ in which she is reflecting on Haraway’s recent work

‘Understanding that humans and animals have co-evolved together is entirely consistent with the contemporary but nevertheless potent phenomenon of humans and machines co-evolving together. Indeed, given the technologies of genetic engineering, implants and bio-silicon hybrids created from a variety of life forms ranging from cockroaches to lampreys, it is clear that humans, animals and intelligent machines are more tightly bound together than ever in their cultural, social, biological and technological evolutions.

(…)

Haraway’s insistence that the world is ‘relationality all the way down’ applies as much to technology as to companion species. In the contemporary period, computation emerges as a crucial aspect of the entwined dynamical hierarchies that structure and energize relational dynamics. As inhabitants of globally interconnected networks, we are joined in a dynamic co-evolutionary spiral with intelligent machines as well as with the other biological species with whom we share the planet.

[will need to give this further thought...]

Haraway more recently looked at the dogworld, this lecture offering further insights below and reviewed here.

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2002/05.02/15-haraway.html

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by the way: it took my cat many attempts at grasping what was going on: he was not keen to act, but purring all the time… !

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Material-semiotic assemblages of sociotechnical relations embedded and performed by shifting connections and interactions among a variety of organic, technical, natural and textual materials
Gough (2004), on posthuman pedagogy

This is such an ingenious definition. The ‘material-semiotic assemblages’ seems the most durable element in getting this off the ground.

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Boundary

I thought the Katherine Hayles article was pretty captivating. What struck me in this article is the concept of ‘boundary’.

As she gives a definition on posthuman – the posthuman subject is an amalgam, a collection of heterogeneous components, a material-informational entity whose boundaries undergo continuous construction and reconstruction – I think key is our interaction with these boundaries. Boundaries shift, mutate, engage, can be sharp and fuzzy. Embodiment itself implies a boundary and ‘erasure of embodiment’ similarly implies to me a distinction of where embodiment is defined, and where it might dissolve.

Boundaries indicate an environment in which there is a manifestation of boundary. This environment can be material (matter) and immaterial (information) and again considering a separation of these, as Hayles is discussing, involves the idea of boundary. The idea of abstraction to multiplicy seems impossible, unless there is a boundary.

All this is pretty complex, I get lost in the reflexivity!

[ I find it takes a lot of re-readings to digest, hope to do more on this]

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Aggregation

I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep track of what I have been discussing and writing on the various platforms.

Over these past few days, there seems an exponential growth of comments. One of the buzzwords in my head is aggregation. In order to be efficient, I need to be using my tags better…

I realise I should check:

  • Pinterest board
  • WordPress main page
  • WordPress course participant pages
  • Tweetdeck
  • The week 4 MOOC overview page and all its spin offs
  • the EDEDC MOOC and the discussion forum

My coffee breaks, lunch and evening are increasingly spent checking status and adding comments.

I check my mobile phone for incoming messages about various accounts but know that not all are notified through my mailbox.

I am looking for visual clues that can give a better understanding of how to interact on the course.

I check YouTube and my Flickr account

I have a story in my head that needs to be followed up.

I would like to try out all the other platforms I haven’t had a chance to look at yet: thinglink (signed up for an account), Glogster (not yet)…

Is this utopia or dystopia?

Am I (becoming) post human?


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