Nozick’s experience-machine gives up too much to the hedonist, in letting hedonism claim as members people who might just value fiction or fantasy very highly, or have a solipsistic temperament, or not care much about contingent external facts. I’m sure there are some people who truly are prudential hedonists (this guy?), but I suspect that a majority of those who think they are prudential hedonists are actually prudential solipsists (i.e. people who only prudentially value their own experiential biography).   People who prudentially value only their experiential biography may still prudentially value certain experiential biographies over others based on complex holistic properties that don’t reduce to a summation of the intrinsic pleasantness of the moments comprising each experiential biography. Machines more interesting than the experience-machine in this respect may be the the-experience-of-doing-confused-math-and-thinking-it’s-brilliant-math machine, or the machine that loops forever the experience of waking up on 5am on Christmas morning and falling back asleep a minute later super happy that you have an awesome active day ahead of you when you wake up. 

I guess maybe I do think that in the last 40 years the best art pop and rap lyrics have been deeper than the best poetry, David Melnick excluded, even if not as rich or as clever or as subtle or as complex or as challenging or as Kantian-beautiful or as interesting as the best poetry, and maybe I do think deepness is a thing, as in like something being deep is it being a thing you can use to understand other things better. I’m the most boring person on earth it turns out? (And don’t even ask me if I think this is a non-stupid way to talk about things like Language Writing or Troll Thread or whatever, cause I’m probably going to say ‘yes, even though only indirectly’ and then go throw up about why can’t I ever have cool good fun interesting opinions.)

I guess I think after O’Hara and Spicer poetry has been amazingly interesting and Kantian-beautiful but not ‘deep’ in the bummer sense I’m using? Like, I spend most of my reading time in life on poetry from the last 40 years, but it’s because I think if you’re interested in exploring what aesthetic objects there can be then poetry in the last 40 years is the most scary and fun and frustrating and mind-blowing place in the world. But I hardly ever find anything past O’Hara and Spicer that I desperately want to force my friends who aren’t as into exploring what aesthetic objects there can be as I am to read. (I can think of five or six exceptions.) Also I guess The Bewlay Brothers came out in 1971, and The Bewlay Brothers is about as cognitively indispensable for me as, I don’t know, Dr. Faustroll or Danton’s Death or Bouvard et Pecuchet. (I guess these are my three favorite works of literature?)

David Auerbach’s list of very good literary scholars

G.E.R. Lloyd, Andrea Wilson Nightingale, Ann Berthoff, Angus Fletcher, Alastair Fowler, Eleanor Dickey, Calvert Watkins, George Kennedy, Michael Murrin, Myles Burnyeat, Isabel Rivers, Jan Assmann, Jeanne Fahnestock, JB Schneewind, Peter Dronke, Michael Putnam, Julia Haig Gaisser, ML West, Richard Gombrich, Neil Forsyth, Louis Sass, Michael Levenson.

An argument that superficially similar phenomena in distinct time periods or cultures are, actually, completely different because of their different systemic contexts has to come together with a hypothetical of when phenomena in distinct times periods or cultures would count as being actually similar or you’re just being a dick for the hell of it. 

It kinda sucks that art scene people, esp. video art people, are the only people that I share a taste with at the level of, like, what sentence constructions are nice and what rhythms of stimuli are appealing and what cinematography looks pretty and what emotional palette is exciting and what connotations are vivid and what level of apperceptive tension is pleasurable but I basically get nothing out of how they talk about ideas and do things dealing with ideas and they basically get nothing out of how I talk about ideas and do things dealing with ideas.

(Really depressingly a lot of what goes on in my head a lot of time is iterations of that awful joke with ‘in heaven the cooks are French the policemen are English… in hell the cooks are English the policemen are…’ with the NY art scene, the NY poetics scene, the n+1 scene, a couple of different conceptual writing scenes, UPenn grad students, and god knows what else, and parties, manifestos, theories, criticism, artworks, conversations, and god knows what else.)

If Scanalonians were into arguments from evolutionarily encoded moral illusion, they could say the following against the aggregation of many lesser individua goods/bads to overwhelm a larger individual good/bad: we have aggregative intuitions because masses of tribespeople could form coalitions to get what they want, investing effort/risk proportional to how much is at stake for each one of them.

Yet more notes to self

The main AI idea that will enter the dissertation:

—Mood in most general sense as Deep Learning super high order feature (which, like always in Deep Learning high order features, might express something causally primary — like in the lighting case in image analysis example in Deep Learning textbook).

—Modernist collage as training set for concept-learning (‘what interesting class do all these items belong to?’)

— Symbolist ‘symbols’ as prototypes of the mood structure, for prototype-based clustering of things that embody the mood structure

— Exformation surprise-that-it’s-not-a-surprise as proof of  extensiveness of information contained in a mood

— Uncanny textual objects (Pinter, Langpo etc.) as a different technique for same, by breaking triangle inequality — same as Symbolist ‘symbols’ but involving big bold concept-creation rather than refinement 

More notes to self

remember Tomer’s insight: after mood or prototype was evoked, the extra detail/twist/elaboration that makes it come alive isn’t a new specification that generates information but a proof that you already generated that information from the mood/prototype without knowing that you generated it.  the amazing surprising details is amazing because the surprise is that it’s unsurprising — it’s surprisingly unsurprising. it shows you that it’s already implied by what you generated previously.   why the surprise? it can be a failure of introspection that keeps from knowing you already generated it ( a failure of matching your definition of the model/prototype you’re sub-personally employing to the model/prototype you’re sub-personally employing ), or it could be that it is a detail that’s inferable from the model you constructed but it takes cognitive work to infer it — that it’s a NP-ish problem to extract that detail from the model you were  using.

Owain says this is a lot like what DFW calles ‘exformation’ in his essays on Kafka. 

Tomer’s insight was about the ‘twist’ in these David Bowie lyrics I showed him to give an example of richly generative use of prototype+surprising detail combo (where the revelation is that the fantasy of failure is a crucial part of the fantasy of rebellious adventure): 

Well, how come you only want tomorrow
With its promise 
of something hard to do
A real life adventure
worth more than pieces of gold
Blue skies above
and sun on your arms 
strength in your stride
And hope in those squeaky clean eyes
You’ll get chilly receptions 
everywhere you go

Note to self about dissertation

Need to talk to Tomer and Yoni to figure out a prototype-based clustering system that’s compatible with deep learning (that can cluster based on abstract features/concepts). Something like ‘k-means’ but with feature-learning? 

quote from books i need to look at for dissertation that i’m keeping here for ease

"Here, we assume that the computational machinery necessary to express complex behaviors (which one might label “intelligent”) requires highly varying mathematical functions, i.e., mathematical functions that are highly non-linear in terms of raw sensory inputs, and display a very large number of variations (ups and downs) across the domain of interest. We view the raw input to the learning system as a high dimensional entity, made of many observed variables, which are related by unknown intricate statistical relationships. For example, using knowledge of the 3D geometry of solid objects and lighting, we can relate small variations in underlying physical and geometric factors (such as position, orientation, lighting of an object) with changes in pixel intensities for all the pixels in an image. We call these factors of variation because they are different aspects of the data that can vary separately and often independently. In this case, explicit knowledge of the physical factors involved allows one to get a picture of the mathematical form of these dependencies, and of the shape of the set of images (as points in a high-dimensional space of pixel intensities) associated with the same 3D object. If a machine captured the factors that explain the statistical variations in the data, and how they interact to generate the kind of data we observe, we would be able to say that the machine understands those aspects of the world covered by these factors of variation. Unfortunately, in general and for most factors of variation underlying natural images, we do not have an analytical understanding of these factors of variation. We do not have enough formalized prior knowledge about the world to explain the observed variety of images, even for such an apparently simple abstraction as MAN, illustrated in Figure 1.1. A high-level abstraction such as MAN has the property that it corresponds to a very large set of possible images, which might be very different from each other from the point of view of simple Euclidean distance in the space of pixel intensities. The set of images for which that label could be appropriate forms a highly convoluted region in pixel space that is not even necessarily a connected region. The MAN category can be seen as a high-level abstraction with respect to the space of images. What we call abstraction here can be a category (such as the MAN category) or a feature, a function of sensory data, which can be discrete (e.g., the input sentence is at the past tense) or continuous (e.g., the input video shows an object moving at 2 meter/second). Many lower-level and intermediate-level concepts (which we also call abstractions here) would be useful to construct a MAN-detector. Lower level abstractions are more directly tied to particular percepts, whereas higher level ones are what we call “more abstract” because their connection to actual percepts is more remote, and through other, intermediate-level abstractions."


"Insofar as the term “structure of feeling” describes the ways social forces shape or structure our affective lives, it is in some ways similar to Stimmung. Its emphases, however, are different, and thus, so are its uses. The term was coined, as is well known, by Raymond Williams, and is now sometimes used in senses broader than those he described in his relatively brief treatment of the term. Williams conceived of the term, however, in a very specific sense. He initially describes the term as useful not only because it enables us to talk about the sociality of affect, but because it enables us to describe those structures that mediate between the social and the personal that are more ephemeral and transitory than set ideologies or institutions. The problem with most forms of social analysis, Williams notes, is that the “habitual past tense” that such analysis falls into creates a set of “finished products”; it fixes the social forms in which we participate. What this inevitably misses is the lived, affective and very unfixed, halfarticulated way that most of us experience our lives most of the time. For this more ephemeral, nascent thing—specific qualitative changes in the ways people experience their lives, the ways they think and feel about the world, that have not yet hardened into ideologies—Williams proposes the term “structure of feeling.” The task, Williams writes, is to think in a manner whereby ‘specific qualitative changes are not assumed to be epiphenomena of changed institutions, formations and beliefs, or merely secondary evidence of changed social and economic relations between and within classes. At the same time they are from the beginning taken as social experience, rather than as personal experience or as the merely superficial or incidental small change of society … they are social in the sense that … although they are emergent or pre-emergent, they do not have to await definition, classification or rationalization before they exert palpable pressures and set effective limits on experience and on action.’ 

"Although Williams and Heidegger are coming from different theoretical traditions, I do not think that Stimmung and structure of feeling are incompatible concepts; their points of emphasis are just different. Where Stimmung as a concept focuses attention on what kinds of afGlossary • 27 fects and actions are possible within an overall environment, structures of feeling are more discrete, less total, and they orient one toward a specific social class or context. For example, depression is a mood, not a structure of feeling; however, we might describe the particular depression of the Russian peasant in the steppe in the 1920s as a structure of feeling, or the depression of the residents of a decimated New Orleans after Katrina as a structure of feeling. Or, to return to an earlier example, we might talk about the structures of feeling created by the civil rights movement and the Black Panthers, structures of feeling that were mobilized within the Stimmung that allowed the 1967 rebellion against the police in Detroit to happen. And although mood will be the more useful concept for me in this book, it is the Marxist tradition in which Williams participated to which I bring my interest in attunement and affectivity. That is, this book is less concerned with being-in-the-world or a reassessment of our understanding of Being than with the way aesthetic practices respond to and represent concrete historical situations, and I hope to suggest the suitability of Heidegger’s concept of Stimmung for this project. My aim, besides my desire to argue for the importance of an antidepressive, political, and politicizing melancholia, and the local arguments the book pursues about the particular practices I am concerned with, is to make a case for the importance of mood and affect to a Marxist concern with the representability of history—“what hurts,” in Jameson’s memorable phrase—and the possibility for our collective participation in and transformation of our own history as it unfolds."