I try not to think about it...

Posted by | Chris | 13.9.10 | 1 Comment

One of the many interesting things about Iain's talk from the Speculative Realism conference is the way he brushes of challenges of ethics, politics and freedom. When he uses Spinoza to deny free-will you can imagine the murmur of upset that went through the room.

I re-watched
Richard Linklater's film of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly recently and, leading on from some comments a while back, found a talk where Dick cites Spinoza. Dick's book and Linklater's film are amazing, but also incredibly poignantly sad. As if that wasn't bad enough, Spinoza's words are chilling to me:

Further conceive, I beg, that a stone, while continuing in motion, should be capable of thinking and knowing, that it is endeavoring, as far as it can, to continue to move. Such a stone, being conscious merely of its own endeavor and not at all indifferent, would believe itself to be completely free, and would think that it continued in motion solely because of its own wish. This is that human freedom, which all boast that they possess, and which consists solely in the fact, that men are conscious of their own desire, but are ignorant of the causes whereby that desire has been determined.
(Letter to G.H. Schaller: October 1674)

I think Whitehead has a bit somewhere where he talks about the reaction of a falling stone and an angry man. Whitehead believes in freedom though (even for stones).


One Response to “I try not to think about it...”

  1. Anonymous
    14/9/10 02:32

    Apropos of PKD:

    When I was working at the conference, I had to commute into Bristol, so I had a lot of time sitting on buses. I took the opportunity to reread The Man in the High Castle and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

    It got me thinking how the Dick novel is so much better than the Bladerunner movie. I don't usually make the 'oh, the novel was so much better than the movie ... ' claim, but in this case I think it really was. The movie might be a good sci-fi action flick, but everything that is characteristic of PKD is utterly missing: the most obvious case is the title! The title 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' becomes entirely puzzling if you apply it to the film, because that whole layer of the novel is missing. Some of the more 'radically'-PKD themes are missing too, IIRC, such as Mercerism and the quasi-hallucinogenic descent into the Tomb World ...

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