Seminar (2014)

Within the methodological framing of grammatology (the history and theory of writing), debates about the closure of Western metaphysics are understood as an engagement with the limits of literacy as an apparatus (social machine). The apparatus of alphabetic writing was invented in Classical Greece, including the new institution of school (Plato's Academy, Aristotle's Lyceum) , within which were created the practices of writing: logic, rhetoric, poetics, metaphysics: the methods that gave rise to the scientific worldview. Alfred North Whitehead famously observed that all philosophy is a footnote to Plato. His point is not so much that the tradition is Neoplatonic, but that the methods of reason created in the Academy remain at the core of philosophy as a discipline. Gilles Deleuze declared that the primary task of philosophy is the creation of concepts. The first concept was Justice, credited to Plato according to a history written by the grammatologist Eric Havelock, and the context of the apparatus makes Deleuze's point redundant. The insight provided in this perspective is that metaphysics is relative to its apparatus, and each apparatus operates within the powers and limitations native to its communicational episteme. English Departments (and by extension the Humanities disciplines in general) are the heirs, curators, and stewards of Western Metaphysics in this sense.

The goal of this seminar is to take up the challenge implicit in our legacy as diadochi (successors) of the Greeks, not to follow in the footsteps of the masters, as Basho stated in his personal motto, but to seek what they sought (adopted as a guide for heuretics, the logic of invention). Grammatology clarifies the important role that the Humanities disciplines may play in the creation of a digital apparatus (electracy), developing at least since the beginnings of the industrial revolution, continuing today in every dimension of technology, institutional practices, and identity formation (individual and collective). The seminar undertakes a heuretics project in two parts: 1) the design of a poetics for generating an electrate equivalent of what Aristotle composed for alphabetic writing. A scholarly description of Aristotle's works provides the point of departure. Jacques Lacan is tapped to represent the innovations of twentieth-century philosophy and theory, specifically his theory of the "object little other" (objet petit a [autre]), as a significant innovation in ontology that is the "thing" of imaging technologies. This template is completed by a sample of artists's experiments in the cinematics that are to electracy what alphabetic technologies are to literacy. 2) The second part of the experiment is to use this poetics to test the pedagogy Ulmer developed for electracy in his experimental textbook, Internet Invention.

The seminar project is framed within a meta-conversation about methodology, specifically, the methods of heuretics and grammatology used to design this course and my research in general. The goal is to generalize from our project to a method of creative inquiry adaptable to any area of disciplinary study. The course project is composed as a blog, supplemented by Prezi and photoshop.

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