Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How Philip K. Dick redefined what it means to be (in)human

How Philip K. Dick redefined what it means to be (in)human

Fifty years ago, Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? questioned what it means to be human in ways that have an immense lasting influence.

The action of the novel – and the Blade Runner films based on it – largely revolves around the central tension and struggle between biological humans and artificially constructed androids. Arguably, however, the story’s greatest continuing relevance is in the way it challenges a particular image of the human that has come to dominate in modern Western culture. This image portrays certain qualities – whiteness, masculinity, heterosexuality, rationalism, professional success and physical prowess – as the ideal symbols of humanity’s success.

The novel revolves around the efforts of bounty hunter Rick Deckard, in his quest to identify, track, and destroy androids posing as biological humans. Unsurprisingly, he repeatedly meets violent resistance. Both his livelihood and his life depend on his ability to tell the difference between humans and androids. Ultimately, however, Deckard is forced to face the possibility that there may not be any fundamental difference. This causes him to undergo a deep existential crisis, finding both his sense of identity, and his literal survival, severely threatened.

Deckard’s primary means of distinguishing between humans and androids is the Voight-Kampff test. Combining psychological analysis with a measurement of physiological reactions, the test seeks to determine whether a subject is capable of empathy. If the subject adequately demonstrates concern for the lives of others, they are deemed human, and allowed to live. If not, they are deemed non-human, and must be destroyed. Deckard’s transformation begins when he realises that some newer androids are capable of passing the test, and so passing for human.

A likely response to this dilemma would be to regard the test as fundamentally flawed. A better test would be needed, one based on identifying another trait as the essential feature to distinguish androids from humans. However, Deckard, and the reader with him, is ultimately led to a far more radical conclusion – that the test is accurate after all. That is, the capacity for empathy is the only value that should ever be used to determine the worth of another being.

Being human

This revelation is a kind of update on Descartes’ influential “cogito ergo sum”. In place of “I think, therefore I am,” Dick implicitly suggests, “she loves, therefore she is (human/worthy)”. (It is no coincidence that Rick Deckard’s name somewhat echoes that of René Descartes.)

This “posthuman” gesture abandons any scientific, ontological or material basis for distinguishing between humans and non-humans. Yet it continues to capitalise on the widespread human sense that there is something special and valuable about humans. Such a sense is often referred to as a defining feature of “humanism”. What the novel offers us, then, is a kind of posthuman humanism.

On this basis, there is no being – whether mammal, robot, computer, bird, slug, stone, or star – that is excluded from the category of humanity on the basis of its physical nature. Conversely, each and any being may qualify as human by demonstrating empathy for other beings. Meanwhile, the term “human” has by this point come to mean nothing more than “worthy of existence”.

This is far from a mere philosophical or science-fictional game. To see its radical social and political significance in our world, we need only consider the range of ways people have been dehumanised over the millennia of (so-called) humanity’s existence. Slavery, colonialism, alienation, patriarchy, racial inequality, and virtually any form of systemic social injustice you can think of, involve presenting some beings as “less than human” in order to justify their exploitation.

For this reason, it is crucial that Deckard’s entire outlook and sense of self – rather than simply his understanding of the distinction between humans and machines – is thoroughly challenged. His (hetero)sexuality, his commitment to the values of marriage, family, legal and police justice, the importance of professional, financial and social success, all intact at the novel’s outset, have been radically undermined by its end. Seemingly a broken man, he is, nevertheless, left with an enduring sense of the primary importance of an unrestricted, non-prejudiced care or love for other beings.

Admittedly, Dick could have pushed this dimension further, as Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany and a host of more recent science fiction authors have done. But at least it is an integral part of the narrative. The recent film, Blade Runner 2049, in contrast, downplays this dimension, while retaining the central concern with the relationship between biological humans and artificial androids.

This may be one possible reason why the latest film has attracted great praise as well as intense critique. While Blade Runner 2049 continues to blur the boundary between human and machine, it seems to uphold the notion that, in the end, the goal of either would equate more-or-less to the supposed values of the average white, Western, heterosexual, bourgeois male. This, ultimately, risks undermining the radical political potential of the posthumanist experiment that drives the original story.
Do not miss reading the comments they are excellent. 


And also - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/René_Descartes

Frans Hals - Portret van René Descartes.jpg

Blade Runner 2049: how Philip K Dick’s classic novel has stood the test of time

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Remembering Art Saturday, April 14, 2018

Whitley's Journal and Remembering Art Bell

Remembering Art

Art Bell was one of my dearest and oldest friends. We had not spoken together for about a month before he died, but the friendship remained strong. I can recall how we first met. Through my publicist, he sent me a tape of his late night show, which was then in the process of breaking out into a national phenomenon. He had heard me on Larry King's old late night radio show on the Mutual Network.

I don't remember what subject was covered on the tape, but Anne and I both loved the ambience of the show, its sense of mystery and excitement, and Art's voice. I agreed to be a guest, which was the beginning of a long association with the show and a deep friendship between me, Art, his first wife Ramona and my wife Anne.

The show was breaking new ground in a fundamental way. In those days before the internet, all public forae were carefully curated so that anything said on them would either conform to generally agreed notions of reality or be ridiculed. I'd ended up becoming a laughingstock for claiming that I'd had a close encounter of the third kind, and was routinely exposed in the media as a fool, essentially for having told the truth as I saw it. But Art had a different approach. He was more a listener than a talker by nature, and he had a very open mind. It wasn't that he would believe anything, but rather that he wouldn't disbelieve things simply because they violated consensus reality.

So I found a home on Coast-to-Coast AM--along with hundreds of others considered by the broader community to fall outside the consensus. This made for a wild--and wildly entertaining--radio program. But it was also a pioneering format. Instead of demanding that any and all claims stick to accepted norms, Art's show was saying, 'let's not believe or disbelieve, but rather let's keep an open mind.'

His listeners understood this. They understood that the show was not there to propagandize them into believing every wild claim that was made on it, but rather to allow them to entertain ideas that were generally rejected, scorned, derided and condemned. Not to believe them, but to explore them in the same way that Art did.

I found his skillful neutrality bracing and exciting and loved being on the show. I could at last tell my story  as I had lived it in all its ambiguity and with all its contradictions. The listeners weren't for the most part believing or disbelieving my claims, but they were hearing and responding to my sincerity and that was enormously reassuring to a man who was otherwise being laughed at by millions.

A personal friendship developed as well. Anne and I would drive up to Pahrumph and spend weekends with Art and Ramona. Sometimes Art and I would do the show together in his studio. Mostly, though, the four of us talked and talked about life and just enjoyed one another. They took us to the spot where they'd seen a silver triangle heading toward Area 51, and we explored the mountains west of town together. It was, in short, a comfortable friendship and a very pleasant one.

At about that same time, Anne and I had run into financial trouble. We lost our home in upstate New York and ended up living in Texas with literally almost no money and a son in an expensive school. We sometimes had to choose between buying food and paying tuition. It was that stark.

Art was a generous man, and he suggested that I make a video of one of my meditations to sell on his show. I did this, and he sold it every night for weeks, asking for nothing in return except the satisfaction of knowing that he had helped his friend. Then, in 1998, I had the encounter with the Master of the Key, which set me on a journey of search through the scientific literature to see if any of the claims I remembered him making had any support.

To my surprise, I found that the collapse of the Gulf Stream that he predicted and the great storms that would accompany it were suggested in the climate record from the end of the last ice age. Art was fascinated and we ended up writing "Superstorm" together. When it came out, we were openly scorned by Matt Lauer on the Today show, and when Roland Emmerich's film based on it, "The Day After Tomorrow" appeared, the criticism became strident. Both left and right agreed: we were way off base. Our claims were nonsense.

I am very glad that Art lived to see "Ice Melt, Sea Rise and Superstorms" by leading climate expert James Hansen and 18 distinguished colleagues. Although they could never mention our work, their paper does support the idea that superstorms have happened in the past and describes the circumstances under which they could happen again. We both felt vindicated, and I was once again left wondering who in the world the Master of the Key was.

Art Bell was a pioneer of the open mind. He was a fine man with a generous heart and a great capacity for friendship. When Ramona died, he called me from their RV in tears. He'd waked up and found her. He was contemplating suicide. Anne and I rushed to Pahrumph and spent some time with him. We ended up missing Mona's funeral but spent a good deal of time with him trying to convince him not to follow her. Then, just a short time later, he told us that he'd met a new woman--a lovely young Filipina--on the internet! We cautioned him that he might be moving too quickly, but Art was a man who knew people and who knew his own heart, and his marriage to Erin has produced two children, a beautiful young girl and now also a baby boy.

There was a lot of love in that family and now there must be a lot of grief. But as my wife Anne has said, "grief is another form of love."

When she died, I called Art in tears just as he had called me in tears when Mona passed. Just as he had been, I was contemplating suicide. And just as I had, he told me, "Whit, you don't want to go where you're not wanted. Live your life. Annie won't leave you behind."

But they do leave us behind, those of us who must continue on this path after the stars of our lives have gone. Erin and the kids must travel this path that he traveled and that I am traveling. Sometimes I think of people as being like little drops of dew sparkling in the morning sun and so soon gone, risen into the morning.

Art was a good man and a dear friend. He joins Mona and Anne in the land of light. Fare you well, Brother!

Read the original source: http://www.unknowncountry.com/journal/remembering-art#ixzz5CkVZBYLg

In case you have never heard of Art Bell - he was someone you should know. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day: A Lovely Illustrated Ode to the Nourishment of Nature and the Art of Solitude in the Age of Screens

On A Magical Do Nothing Day

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day: A Lovely Illustrated Ode to the Nourishment of Nature and the Art of Solitude in the Age of Screens

Generations of great thinkers have extolled the creative purpose of boredom. Long before psychologists came to understand why “fertile solitude” is the seedbed of a full life, Bertrand Russell pointed to what he called “fruitful monotony” as central to the conquest of happiness. “There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone,” wrote the poet May Sarton in her stunning 1938 ode to solitude. But today the fertile sanctuary of solitude is a place more endangered than any other locus of the spirit, attesting more acutely than ever to Blaise Pascal’s seventeenth-century assertion that “all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Now comes a warm and wondrous invitation to remastering the art of fertile solitude in On a Magical Do-Nothing Day (public library) by Italian artist and author Béatrice Alemagna, translated by Jill Davis.

The lyrical, tenderly illustrated story is told in the voice of an androgynous young protagonist who grudgingly accompanies Mom to a writing cabin in the lush, rainy woods — a place oozing boredom only alleviated by a videogame. 

I hope you enjoy this lovely story as much as I do.

 On a Magical Do Nothing Day

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Jim Carrey: I Needed Color

Jim Carrey: I Needed Color


For additional information regarding Jim's art please visit: signaturegalleries.com
For all other inquiries email info@befreejc.com

Director/Producer David Bushell
Associate Producer - Linda Fields Hill
Editor - Nicole C. Conrad
Music - Dave Palmer
Vocals - Jane Carrey
Camera - Bobby Davidson (NY)
Sound - Sean Massey
Asst. Editor - Kelsey Ann McClure
Art Assistants - Roland Allmeyer, Lino Meoli, Brogan Dunphy
Thanks to FotoKem
Edited w/ Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Copyright 2017 Jim Carrey
Unauthorized downloads and usage of this video without written permission is strictly prohibited.

Stunning, beautiful and incredible. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Lao Tzu's Four Rules for Living

Lao Tzu's Four Rules for Living - Uplift

How to Live an Inspired and Peaceful Life

Many centuries ago, Lao Tzu, spoke of the four cardinal virtues, teaching that when we practice them as a way of life, we come to know the truth of the universe. The ancient Chinese master said that living and practicing these teachings can open you to higher wisdom and greater happiness, as they realign you to the source and enable you to access all the powers that source energy has to offer.

Learning to accept who you are and learn true wisdom does bring happiness into your life. It is joyful and meaningful.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all

Joy continues to sing to me and wishing this for all..................

Enabling our future with kindness and love

Don't lose hope.

These Free Resources on Science Could Be The Answer to The 'Fake News' Epidemic 

Indeed, as Zack Sims, Co-Founder and CEO at Codecademy, noted in an interview with Futurism, we are quickly entering an era in which all knowledge is free and readily available.

"In the next ten years, we will find ourselves in a world where everyone around the globe will have access to the internet. Institutions will make, will continue to make, their content available, and MOOCs will be commonplace."

And this gift of joy came in my email this morning - a little wonder

Thankful for the Joy

Enabling the future that we all can dream of

“If two people on opposite sides of the planet,
from their garages,
can use this technology as a vehicle
to create and share an idea
which then blossoms into a small community
who is working to find ways to create a large positive impact,
imagine the possibilities
as more and more people become involved
and begin exploring what this technology can do.
It can serve as a new tool
with which we can reach out and help our neighbor.
And our neighbor can now be someone
who lives thousands of miles away.”
  • Ivan Owen 
Wishing a wonderful Thanksgiving of joy and love with all. And sharing the love that still surrounds us - our wonderful husband who we still thank the world for his love and light. We will forever miss and love him. But we still have his memories to be grateful that we can share his love.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations

I am the child of two wars fought by my Dad, the horror of WWII and the South Pacific as a Marine who suffered unbelievable trauma that wounded his body and his mind. And then for him to volunteer to go to North Korea and suffer again, and be wounded again. I was his first child (the one that lived), and knew him to be moody and unpredictable. Learning all that he went through now helps me to understand that my genes are also part of his. And part of my Mother who also suffered trauma. She became pregnant by my Dad. He shipped out to the South Pacific and she was left pregnant and rejected by her family. She was placed in a laundry for pregnant girls. My Grandmother from Arkansas found out and went to Virginia and brought her home to live in her new family, the Elrod's. 

My Mom lost the baby. He was born stillborn. She believed the baby died because she had sinned. She carried this sin, this pain with her for her entire life. She never felt that she was worthy. Our life was chaotic to say the least, Mom ended up with me, and then four boys came along. All of us parented by wounded people who felt immense pain.

I have delved into all of who we are and me, of course, and now my children who have been raised by me with my wounds. I married a lovely man who never felt loved by his parents. So we both ended up with painful wounds inside of us and then had our own children. I now see why we all need to understand who we are and find the opportunity to grow from this and use it to our benefit. And learn to share this with our new generation of children and use all this trauma to make us strong, kind and loving.

The new Grandfather that we recently just lost. He also was a wounded child but overcame it and it made him a much loved human being. I am sure that his new children and grandchildren will be strong, kind and loving.

How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations

 Rachel Yehuda
How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations
The new field of epigenetics sees that genes can be turned on and off and expressed differently through changes in environment and behavior. Rachel Yehuda is a pioneer in understanding how the effects of stress and trauma can transmit biologically, beyond cataclysmic events, to the next generation. She has studied the children of Holocaust survivors and of pregnant women who survived the 9/11 attacks. But her science is a form of power for flourishing beyond the traumas large and small that mark each of our lives and those of our families and communities.

How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations