Wednesday, May 28, 2008


dinner at mexitaco was tight. but first things first, THIS is how we do staff parties, friends. as predicted, my old supervisor did indeed, go buck. uncle buck, if you will. she made these goat cheese sandwiches, these tortilla pinwheel things (with 2 different kinds of fillings), three different kinds of dips, pickled artichoke and tomato salsa, some saffron shrimp stuff, smoked salmon, my dip and then for sweets: cannolis, english toffee, fudge, my cookies, a fruit platter, dominion chocolate cake (which isn't my favorite. i prefer the "white" cake. with the "white" frosting. only in grocery store cake world does "white" constitute a legitimate and discrete flavour), vegan carrot cake from fresh. it was insane. what was ALSO insane, as K pointed out, was how my old supervisor's "VAY-gan" pronunciation seems to have caught on like wildfire.

then i met up with my friend S from library school, who is moving back to vancouver somewhat imminently (like, on saturday) on my lunch break. then met up with dr. rei and had dinner with her and bwong and JK at mexitaco. ultimately, i'm still not the biggest fan of pure mexican tacos. too dry, guy! me and bwong shared this platter with a bunch of different tacos on it: some with pork and pineapple, beef, mexican chorizo, and this juicy pork. as was my experience at rebozos and el trompo, everything BUT the juicy pork was hella dry. it was still tasty. dr. rei got something that spelled out mexico in sour cream, which was kind of awesome in and of itself. for dessert, we got deep fried ice cream (always a treat), flan (which was biting through a school eraser...thick, gummy, and not eggy enough...definitely adulterated with some kind of starch), and my favorite, bunuelos, which was a deep fried flour tortilla cut into wedges, topped with cajeta (caramelized goat's milk...mexico's answer to dulce de leche), and whipped cream.

consequently, i now feel like a piggie of the highest order. further consequently, i was discussing the bruno latour lecture with dr. rei and i was basically on the brink of tears from theoretical inspiration.

here is the summary of his major points:

1) the same tools now trace facts and opinion
2) the same tools allow one to inhabit the intermediary steps between individual and aggregate...both can exist in a cartographic simultaneity
3) virtual witnessing so efficient in the birth of is expanded to the simulation of all matters of concern. we have the sufficient tools to distinguish what is more partisan than the other
4) for the first time, the data scapes of social scenes begin to catch up with those of natural ones.

when i was described points 1 and 2 for dr. rei, i used the example latour gave of this team at MIT who are doing this topography of hurricane katrina victims and plotting their experiences visually in a way that simultaneously gives you access to aggregate data and their individual experiences. she said that those people might have been at a conference she attended. it's really exciting because this ability to map information and provided multiple points of discrete and collective representation and access collapses that representational entropy i've talked about before. AND, as latour says, for the first time, we can use the tools of empiricism to analyze qualitative information. it bridges the divide between qualitative and quantitative.

basically, when i was talking about it with dr. rei, i got so excited i broke out in goosebumps. conceptually, i'm so enthralled, excited, and invigorated by this. it makes me want to explode, and conversely, hole up in a cave (more ideally, the cottage) with a pile of books and mull it through.

here are my half-assed notes:

- object-oriented question raised in relation to "pragmata" (that is, practice)
- is there a political aesthetics of matters of fact?
- matters of fact versus matters of concern
- what other techniques of representation surround matters of concenr [latour is interested in]
- the nostalgic definition of objectivity suggests that by politicizing science we have polluted science [this is a retrograde belief system, according to latour]
- not science, but a hidden political epistemology
- heidegger: "gigenstand" vs. "ding" [i have to look this up]
- nature is a technique of representation
- the market is a quasi-parliament
- whitehead, alfred north. "the concept of nature"
- ian hacking
- rendering recalcitrance is what empiricism is based on
- starting to change what we mean by taking a position within a controversy
- assemble representative space for controversies
- controversy is the entire spectrum, of which assent and dissent are parts (this is more in line with how europeans use the word "controversy" whereas north americans tend to use it in a pejorative sense)
- link between scientific, artistic, political representation
- is wikipedia written in the first or third person?
- we panic because of the movement from one political epistemology to another
- instead of situating politics as the nightmare why not include politics as a technique.
- "cosmopoliticis" - cosmos to remind us that politics is not just about humans, politics to remind us that the cosmos is not just about nature
- can we move to a second degree of objectivity by using new techniques of information?
- instead of objectivity, use the word "design"
- no need to make distinction between aggregate data and individual
- "quali-quantitative" same tool will allow you to follow simultaneously fact and opinion, "rumours" can be followed with the same precision (due to the power of the tools --> collapses "truth" and "rumour") this has HUGE ramifications for our understanding of objectivity
- "the object is what makes us different"
- matters of fact aren't meant to be generalized, matters of concern CAN be generalized because we are in it
- durkheim (and the follow through of durkheimian thought) is due to bad statistics (!!!!! lol!)
- allow us to translate the space of dissent into an empirical data set.
- turning to the web for a "source" --> ramifications for objectivity in the sense that you simultaneously produce and construct and iterate an objectivity.
- peter slaterdijk's "crystal palace" (as metaphor)...the biosphere --> what it means to be "in" the world, yet has to be artificially supported and encased
- Q: what does it mean to reclaim the world? A: it means to create artificial, breathable, scale size environments/assemblies (YES! i agree...praxis!!!).

i'm always so thrilled to have my belief systems validated by people i consider to be heavy thinkers...and it's surprising how often it comes down to the same thing - that is, small scale changes based on living your praxis.


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