“Ultimately, we are puppets of both pain and pleasure, occasionally made free by our creativity.”

A century and a half after James, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio picks up an empirical baton where Dickinson had left a torch of intuition. In his revelatory book Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious (public library), he makes the bold case that consciousness — that ultimate lens of being, which shapes our entire experience of life and makes blue appear blue and gives poems their air of wonder — is not a mental activity confined to the brain but a complex embodied phenomenon governed by the nervous-system activity we call feeling.

Quelle: I Feel, Therefore I Am: Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio on Consciousness and How the Feeling-Tone of the Body Underscores the Symphony of the Mind

Trees travel in Salomé Jashi’s Taming the Garden, a jaw-dropping record of sublime beauty and gutted community. The Georgian filmmaker chronicles the pharaonic transport of massive trees — excavated from the earth, hauled overland (and upright) inch by inch, then ferried on the Black Sea — at the behest of billionaire businessman and politician Bidzina Ivanishvili. But this is no simple story of eccentric whims; Jashi’s expansive, wide-angle views let us feel the visceral impact when towns and villages must give up 100-plus-year-old trees, like losing some part of their hearts.

„When I saw it in reality for the first time, even though I was anticipating it, I felt dizzy, I felt like vomiting, which was a really interesting feeling. It meant that something fundamental was off, was shaken up. So I felt this metaphor that you just explained physically in my body. I don’t think the screen can actually convey the magnitude and the dimensions of what we witnessed there and what the people witnessed. But I hope that this meaning of taking away something fundamental, like uprooting something fundamental inside ourselves, is conveyed in the film.“ (Salome Jashi)

Salomé Jashi on Taming the Garden

Some time ago, the entire country of Georgia witnessed a surreal scene – a large tree floating in the sea. That was when we learned that the most powerful man in the country had a new passion – to own century-old trees on his private estate. Witnessing this image was like seeing a glitch in the real. It was as if I had seen something I should have never seen. It was beautiful, like real-life poetry, but at the same time it seemed to be a mistake, a kind of discomfort.

I embarked on filming this process as Georgia’s whole coastline was involved in implementing one man’s desire. I wanted to explore what was behind this mesmerizingly strange image; to tell about the ambition of a powerful man, who alters landscapes, moves trees, leaves witnesses perplexed – all for the sake of his pleasure.

I am fascinated by environments and how these environments affect people. More precisely, how we perceive others, and ourselves, in specific environments. The contradiction between settings and the people in them is what often drives my vision.

To me, the film does not have a one-dimensional line as to what it is about. The material spoke of many different aspects of life, which found symbolic expressions in the film, such as the idea of manhood, or forced migration, or uprooting, which is not just a physical process. I also relate the theme of uprooting to my country, where values and a sense of stability is constantly floating. I see the film as an evocative journey into a surreal world, which paradoxically is also fact-based.

We were filming for almost two years. I would travel with my small team to the coast each month to try to capture elements for the film. It was a challenging process as nothing was properly planned. We were dependent on the natural elements like wind, rain, unexpected circumstances in the workers’ routine, even the general political situation of the day. The process of transplanting trees was very slow and key elements would happen very fast. But the biggest
challenge was connected to the local inhabitants. Since the wealthy man behind the scenes is also the most politically powerful man in the country, they were often scared to even appear in front of the camera fearing possible consequences, the fear which we, like other fragile democracies, have in our blood.

– Salomé Jashi

Quelle: Salomé Jashi on Taming the Garden

Lanier writes how he was scared witless when he learned how humans could be conditioned and brainwashed through selective feedback responses. It was then it dawned on him, what he later referred to as “the Thought”, that VR is the ultimate technology for a skinner box; the perfect tool for human manipulation.

Lanier summarised an equation for the terrifying outlook of the ultimate Skinner box, and its reads as follows:

Turing^Moore’s Law * (Pavlov, Watson, Skinner) = Zombie Apocalypse

In other words: if we combine our ever growing computational powers with behavioural manipulation, shit will hit the fan. Those in power of defining the behaviour of the people in the box will have absolute power to bend the world to their will. The result, according to Lanier, will be catastrophic.
In a recent Forbes article, Lanier is quoted:

„If you run [the metaverse] on a business model that’s similar to the one that Facebook runs on, it’ll destroy humanity. I’m not saying that rhetorically. That is a literal and specific prediction that humanity could not survive that. (…) VR can either be beautiful art and sympathy or terrible spying and manipulation. We set its meaning”

Quelle: How Jaron Lanier, “The Father of VR”, Warned us about Meta.

Freedom is not a goal, but a direction

Quelle: Cultural Revolutions

„I was most recently enlivened by a book, so I can’t think of anything more fitting for my return to this format than an account of it: 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows, by the great Chinese artist Ai Wei-Wei.“ (Edward Snowden)

Ai Wei-Wei writes:

„Under the pressure to conform, everyone sank into an ideological swamp of “criticism” and “self-­criticism.” My father repeatedly wrote self-­critiques, and when controls on thought and expression rose to the level of threatening his very survival, he, like others, wrote an essay denouncing Wang Shiwei, the author of “Wild Lilies,” taking a public stand that went against his inner convictions.

Situations such as this occurred in Yan’an in the 1940s, occurred in China after 1949, and still occur in the present day. Ideological cleansing, I would note, exists not only under totalitarian regimes—­it is also present, in a different form, in liberal Western democracies. Under the influence of politically correct extremism, individual thought and expression are too often curbed and too often replaced by empty political slogans.“

A generous reminder that we must aim for “a revelation in the heart rather than a confrontation or a call-to-arms or a defense.”

Quelle: There Is a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In: Leonard Cohen on Democracy and Its Redemptions

In „The Every,“ Dave Eggers imagines a monopoly so vast that resistance is futile.

Quelle: What if Facebook and Amazon merged? Dave Eggers imagines our dystopian future

What was first? Dave Eggers‘ novel or this reality?

A former Facebook employee has told US politicians that the company’s sites and apps harm children’s mental health and stoke division in society.

Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old former product manager turned whistleblower, heavily criticised the company at a hearing in the Senate.

Facebook has faced growing scrutiny and increasing calls for its regulation. (…)“

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58805965

Das Doku-Projekt „Made to Measure“ will untersuchen, ob man das Leben eines Menschen anhand seiner Google-Daten nachspielen kann. Das Experiment zeigt, wie wenig wir inzwischen noch überblicken, was Konzerne aus unseren Datenspuren alles herauslesen können.

Quelle: „Made to Measure“: Die Doppelgängerin

Dazu passt dieses Gespräch zwischen Wolfram Eilenberger und Adrian Daub über die geheimen Vordenker des Silicon Valley aus der tollen Gesprächsreihe „Sternstunde Philosophie“ des SRF (Schweizerisches Fernsehen): https://www.srf.ch/play/tv/sternstunde-philosophie/video/adrian-daub—die-geheimen-vordenker-des-silicon-valley?urn=urn:srf:video:ffa89a05-9cf3-42c0-9c11-bb6ee5529f1f .

Welche Philosophie steckt hinter Google, Facebook und Amazon? Es sind Intellektuelle wie Ayn Rand, Marshall McLuhan oder René Girard, auf die sich Tech-Ikonen des Silicon Valley gerne berufen. Der Literaturwissenschaftler Adrian Daub erklärt die philosophischen Wurzeln der digitalen Revolution.

Das innovative Zentrum der digitalen Revolution ist seit mehr als 50 Jahren das sogenannte Silicon Valley. Warum wurde ausgerechnet dieses schmale Tal im Norden Kaliforniens zum Ausgangspunkt der wohl grössten technischen Revolution der Menschheitsgeschichte? Welche Utopien waren dabei leitend? Welche Philosophinnen und Philosophen prägend? Diesen Fragen geht der in Stanford lehrende Literaturwissenschaftler Adrian Daub nach in seinem Buch «Was das Valley denken nennt. Über die Ideologie der Techbranche». Im Gespräch mit Wolfram Eilenberger legt Daub die Geister frei, die Tech-Ikonen wie Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg und Peter Thiel ins Leben riefen – und damit unseren Lebensalltag auch in Zukunft entscheidend prägen werden.

The Danish director’s new Oscar-winning film Another Round is about a group of teachers who dedicate themselves to getting drunk. He talks about losing control, patching up his friendship with Lars von Trier and the death of his daughter

Quelle: Thomas Vinterberg: ‘There is a great need for the uncontrollable – but little room for it today’