Monday, June 14th, 2004
Technology is an extension of the limbs and of the senses (and the perception [and interpretation] of sense input), an extension of human control and physical reach; technology extends the human body outward into and through space, either into the primary areas of our everyday experience (in this sense, experience, space and time, are pretty much one phenomenon) or into simulated space, say the image of a plane flying over massive land, as in the film Out of Africa. Radar allows the sailor to see at great distances. Chalk provides a teacher the magic of making sounds hover above ground. Shovels are hands, telescopes eyes. A plane is a magical body, the arms extended and flapping. Who is flying, however, the pilot, the plane, or the passenger? All technology conforms or casts to some human sense or some aspect of the reaching body, perhaps.
Spatial extension is an outward and nearward (bringing the distant near) experience but theres also an interior or interiorizing process to this, which may or may not be paradoxical.
I say interior to point to the phenomenon of thinking. The mind is perceived as enclosed in the head, knitted with the brain, therefore our thoughts must be enclosed somewhere as well. The thinking self is inside, bottled up, within. The self I is inside or enclosed and even has echo and reverberation. W. James and M. Heidegger have had lots to say about this issue of mind in terms of primary and secondary memory and time space issues, but Im not really intending any drawing out of these much studied bottles of wine, at least not yet.
Nevertheless, its hard to describe the location of the mind with nouns and adjectives. Where are memories? Here I dont mean to a physical place, such as the hypothalamus. But I know where I am in terms of location. I enter the garden and Im in the garden. Simple. Not so simple, really, since I can also be attached to the machine, and where am I then?
Repetition (to myself): technology makes the body larger, more effective, massively strong, eagle-eyed, immensely small, but technology also enlarges us on the inside, within the malleable room of mind. Both Descartes and Einstein liked the idea that human beings are spatially extended but we perceive that extension (and dont really understand it) in a continuous act of locating ourselves and in remembering in its multiple forms, but we dont blend into the landscape or necessarily feel part of it, depending on circumstance, although we use arts of design to get close. Technology enlarges us (accidentally?) outward and inward simultaneously. Consider architecture in this sense and Frank Lloyd Wrights idea of interior spaciousness. The fact that I can make a room more spacious can result in greater relaxation, control, and movement. In a larger room a man is larger, better able to act. A woman can see more, listen to the echoes in a grander space, but its not an outside feeling. Its a feeling of being freeingly enclosed.