the beholder's share

the "gutter" in understanding comics, define




USF St. Petersburg Linux Users Group


Fall 2008: Computing with a Porpoise

where: Davis 265

when: Monday, September 22nd


The theme for this year is set up with the intention of directing the group's collective attention to the current and future role of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) at USFSP, and to participate in a nascent but multidisciplinary turn towards sustainable educational computing on our campus. The group will submit recommendations to the University's Science & Technology and Sustainability committees, and interface actively with the student body at large to promote open source as a viable solution to many of the economic, technological, social, and even environmental challenges facing the University community today.


“Computing with a Porpoise” begins from this premise: if we can synergize our experiences with and knowledge of FOSS, we can make a real difference on our campus. We can contribute to the development of a sustainable computer policy, one unfettered by vendor-lock and site license restrictions. Our new Terminal Server Lab in Davis 280 allows us a venue to pilot open source software, an opportunity that will eventually lead to broader deployment of open source technology across campus. Students in Special Topics classes and First Year Composition classes  will beta test applications for potential wider uses, and perform research that could take any number of directions.

This overall shift in structure is both a proposal and a request for help, and in this spirit, this will be an informative and participatory session for brainstorming recommendations regarding software suitable to educational computing at USFSP. Please email or a post to this wiki--for more information.



karma chameleon

In his opening salvo, in which he provides a rationale for his licensing scheme (public domain), James gleefully spins the wheel of wyrd. "If others have read and appreciated my work to the degree that they wish to emulate, or even copy it, then the words I wrote have accomplished their goal," James explains, and perhaps it is this very detachment from the ideas he renders makes room for more ideas to flow--never mind where they come from or where they go. So it matters not except that "they've reached someone, and through what that person uses them to write, they will reach others" So when James references Disney's Lion King vis-a-vis Elton John's Wheel of Life, he acknowledges the importance of language but in a much much larger context, and I take his reference to be strategic—Disney and the RIAA business model that facilitated Sir Elton's enormous wealth are notorious for taking powerful ideas, archetypes, and stories from free culture and attempting to lock them down by means of archaic legal codes. If we take this idea about our role in the emergence of ideas seriously, an ecological approach to the philosophical idea of Becoming can be heard, an approach that would direct our attention to force and energy, rather than the structures and identities that becoming leaves in it's wake.



Yes, that's a "y" where an "o" would usually be, up there: wyrd. Arlea Æðelwyrd Hunt-Anschütz explains this in her article \"What is Wyrd?, "we can think of wyrd as a process that continually works the patterns of the past into the patterns of the present," or, as Lessig might put it, wyrd weaves "free culture." That "wyrd" might be the important concept in "heathenry" is no surprise, since it's one that seems to correlate with theories of karma (as a subtle yet vast or perhaps total law of cause and effect), and, what's more, Hunt-Anschütz's etymology of wyrd shows "the Anglo-Saxon noun wyrd is derived from a verb, weorþan, 'to become', which, in turn, is derived from an IndoEuropean root *uert- meaning 'to turn'" So, as James' says in his post, cue the wheel and give it a spin!


Nothing really matters

Where James identifies with an Eternal Self ("In the beginning, there was me"), Danny asks us to also consider non-Self. To my ears, Danny's Nothing resonates with traditions of "emptiness," or sunyata, as much as with astrophysics. This affirmation of nothing designates a creative Void, a nothing from which all things emerge. I choose to link these passages because of the way the seem to almost function as a single string on an instrument, which, when made to vibrate, oscillates on the most fundamental of tones. Danny goes on to celebrate the creative and dynamic forces that James also trusts--even chaos, which is often understood as entropy, as death, is affirmed as axiomatic, as a paradoxically creative destruction. Danny's diamond-cut rendering ("Chaos is the destabilizing force that disturbs a neutral idea in our minds from its equilibrium, giving it beauty and splendor") reads like a slogan for creative practice that Hakim Bey could get behind, for sure.


3 notes and runnin'

You just gotta love the running metaphor that Phil brings to the wiki. " The purpose of the race is not only the finish line, but in the race itself," Phil says, hitting the ground running, indeed, and here echoing Trungpa, who echoes the historical Gautama Buddha, who echoes countless buddhas who came before, and so forth ("the path is the goal!")


stumbling, walking, and dancing

And the path is not always smooth. In the discourses of the life sciences, the one life that James beseeches us to affirm is generally accepted to be a far-from-equilibrium phenomenon. Jantsch's often-cited image person eternally stumbling forward to avoid falling posits life as a stuttering delay, an indefinite postponement of a return to thermodynamic equilibrium. Along the The trope "sustainable” + “identities," translated into the lidiom of astrophysics (invoked by Danny in his WeekOne writings), particularly as articulated by Austrian astrophysicist Erich Jantsch, the pioneer who helped develop theories and descriptions of far-from-equilibrium systems dynamics, means, simply, dissipative structures. In terms the third step of our self-enquiry blog aka our "Who are You Remix?" project, it's in the links between pages, in the "gutters" between panels in a comic (McCloud), the rests in the score, the lacuna in the manuscript, the no-longer extant text or lost book, between structure and function, where life finds it's rhythm. Lacuna, Matata! Here, wyrd weaves it's web; dissipative structures "form a bridge between structure and function" (Jantsch). In this vibrational ontology, all "complementary aspects in the self-organizing dyanamics of 'order through fluctuation' which may also be depicted as a...'stumbling forward' and crossing by its own force the ridges separating 'valleys' of 'global stability'" become patterns of alternation, intervals of unrestrained tone, with no essential content, punctuated and stacatto-ed with holes of silence, producing more patterns of compression/rarefaction. Why stop at stumbling forward? An ecstatic dance emerges amidst this stumbling and guttering!



From walking to stumbling to dancing to...swimming? Drew shows us how to inquire into sustainability--in his evolving "Taking the Plunge" piece connects Heideggar's observations about thinking to more fundamental concerns of the will, and by means of words and images, creates a certain resonance with all of us who tremble on the threshhold of wiki, and who celebrate after taking the plunge into the rippling surface of it's futurity. “Swimming,” Avital Ronell (1989) tells us in the classified directory of her Telephone Book, “creates a sonic space” (p. 432). Martin Heidegger's "What is Called Thinking?" (as cited in Ronell 1989) offers swimming as the exemplar of activities that we can only learn about by full immersion. “We shall never learn what 'is called' swimming...or what it 'calls for,' by reading a treatise of swimming. Only the leap into the river tells us what is called swimming.” Likewise for the immersive medium of sound. And likewise for wiki, too! As the anonymous 14th century mystic and anonymous author of the Book of Privy Counseling says, "whatever we may say of it, is not it, but only about it" (page 169 in the William Johnston edition).