Heraclitean Psychology, Psychasthenia, and the Spectacle

Who says Facebook is a total waste?
Inspired by a link Davide Panagia posted on his wall this morning (for NABIX’s Honey It’s Me app available through the iTunes Store), I tagged the Department of Biological Flow as well as Sean Smith and Barb Fornssler to ask them about it.

Barb F

Wow. For me this resonates with –
“If the habitat of VR and the virtual entity are eliminated as practical categories of the posthuman, the only possibility left is the cyborg. In terms of social perception in technologically saturated economic system, being a first-order cyborg covers a broad range of possibilities, ranging from a desirable empowering condition to an undesirable, dehumanizing one. However, there is plenty of time for spectacle to sort out differing perceptions of the first-order cyborg. Cyborg development is moving at a pace which allows adequate time for adjustment to the techno-human synthesis…. What is interesting about pre-cyborgian technological additions to the body is that one key ideological imperative having a direct affect on posthuman development begins to show itself– body-tech is valued as means to better integrate oneself into the social” (Critical Art Ensemble “Flesh Machine” 25-26).
2 hours ago · · 2 people

Barb F

I guess my question is whether we consider iphone etc body-tech … I’d argue yes. 🙂

about an hour ago · · 1 person

Paul Boshears

Yeah, I think you’re right. The iPhone-type gizmos out there are being employed like they’ll be as natural a prosthesis as a pair of contacts or glasses…

about an hour ago · · 1 person

Sean Smith

‎”there is plenty of time for spectacle to sort out differing perceptions of the first-order cyborg.”

yes! and i think it is also important to consider that the spectacle is not something separate here that is “layered on” to the cyborg prosthetic, but is rather a very part of its surface orientation. VR is a “volumetric” space that opens, a tacit freedom that the flattened image does not grant in quite the same fashion. one gestures to the image only to find a wall blocking one’s way.

50 minutes ago · · 1 person

Jamba Dunn

Wait a second, she’s YOUR girlfriend too???

41 minutes ago · · 1 person

§4 The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.
Society of the Spectacle
34 minutes ago · · 1 person

Sean Smith

exactly….the social relation does not “breath”, per se, in volumetric space, so much as it is flattened and inscribed.

33 minutes ago · · 1 person

Paul Boshears

I like that you’re calling it a volumetric space ’cause it harkens me to our class with Manning/Massumi and William James’ talk about volume

33 minutes ago · · 1 person

Paul Boshears

holy crap!

33 minutes ago ·

Paul Boshears

Speaking of breathing:

33 minutes ago ·

Paul Boshears

Heraclitus is the first person to investigate the nature of ψυχή (psyche) and attribute to it what we will come to recognize as the attributes of a soul or an identity that outlives our physical existence.

It is drawn into us through breathing and it is, like the other elements of the universe (earth, air, water, etc.) it is found in the world. Psyche occupies the space between the horizon and the lower atmosphere. It is, then, literally, the media in which we exist and the medium without which we cannot exist.

The role of ψυχή (psyche) is that of a central faculty connecting all the others, and ascribing to it the power of connected reasoning and language-learning for which his predecessors have no explanation.

Ψυχή holds the body and its faculties together. It is an active faculty, and not merely the seat of the πάθη. It responds to stimuli, but these stimuli remain external to it. It is locatable, and not generally diffused, but its location is not fixed. it is the essential animating force in the body, nothing done merely to the body will be sufficient to produce death.

Because Heraclitus attributes to the psyche the faculty of language comprehension, it is through the careful consideration, cultivation, and examination of one’s pysche that the good life will be possible and it will go on to lend support to the conception of one’s mind-brain as the seat of the soul.

It is with ψυχή, the central and connecting life-faculty, that man may potentially understand λόγος (logos), or connected discourse. Because of the central importance of language in understanding, the central life-faculty in man is, first and foremost, a faculty of language. Sense data are referred to ψυχή, and are interpreted according to the ψυχή’s degree of linguistic competence. All mortal living creatures, one would suppose, have ψυχή; only in human beings can that ψυχή grasp λόγος.

25 minutes ago · · 1 person

Paul Boshears

I’m tingling

24 minutes ago · · 1 person

(Some of the above is from Martha Nussbaum’s article on Psyche in Heraclitus)
I am stoked by your breathing comment and am trying to connect the mediated-ness of social relations with the newest technology that reminds us that we exist always in a medium. Heraclitus called that medium psyche, but Debord calls it spectacle. Am I going off-base with that?
20 minutes ago · · 1 person

Sean Smith

“All mortal living creatures, one would suppose, have ψυχή; only in human beings can that ψυχή grasp λόγος.”

for me, i would re-phrase this somewhat from personal experience to say “All mortal living creatures, one would suppose, have ψυχή; it appears that human beings have an almost infinite capacity to ‘invent’ techniques in which ψυχή grasps λόγος; cannot say for certain about other animals at this time.”

19 minutes ago · · 1 person

Paul Boshears

Maybe λόγος is a red-herring when it comes to thinking with animals. Maybe λόγος is only a disk formatting issue that limits us from communicating with animals in the same way we do with humans? Like trying to read OSX files on a PC….

16 minutes ago · · 1 person

i dunno if you’re going off base at all…..i wouldn’t *equate* them, but one could see how capital derives a certain filtered subset of psyche….
the final line was written the other day at a huge shopping centre in toronto….
16 minutes ago · · 1 person

Paul Boshears

dude, I dig the barcode

15 minutes ago · · 1 person

“Maybe λόγος is a red-herring when it comes to thinking with animals.” YES!!!
but gesture and resonance are foregrounded in a different fashion, then, and we turn to a question like Haraway’s in “The Companion Species Manifesto”….non-linguistic relation, co-emergence, power, colonization…..
11 minutes ago · · 1 person

Paul Boshears

the imago note you make in the invitation reminds me of Caillois’ “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia.” Because he talks about insects for a while there.

Psychasthenia has ceased to exist (in the same way hysteria has morphed into other diseases), but it’s still an informative disease because its diagnosing Modernity rather than Heraclitus’ talk about in his fragment “ἧθος ἀνθρώπῳ δαἱμων (ethos anthropoi daimon).”

Here Heraclitus creates the first diagnostic device for understanding the state of one’s ψυχή (which is the physical part of the human being that is in touch with the daimon, which is the part that comes into contact with the Divine Fire that is λόγος).

But ethos also meant at the time of Heraclitus “accustomed haunts & ways of being” of animals and people. See Homer’s Illiad 6.511 where we see ethea (ἤθεα) used:
ῥίμφά ἑ γοῦνα φέρει μετά τ’ ἤθεα καὶ νομὸν ἵππων:
carry him to the loved places and the pasture of horses;

So your habitat was where your habit’s at and examining your relations to those (including all objects) you interact with would tell you about the health of your ψυχή (psyche)

4 minutes ago ·

Sean Smith


a few seconds ago ·

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