Monthly Archives: September 2014

Response to Industrial Revolution and Crisis of Control

 

After reading Beniger’s “Industrial Revolution and Crisis of Control,” I was intrigued mostly by the crisis in consumption and the idea that the Industrial Revolution was a Control Revolution. While much of the text examined the many problems that producers faced as technology advanced, it was not until the latter half of the lengthy text that the problems concerning consumerism were examined. Yet even these problems were looked at in the context of how they affected producers rather than how consumers were affected. This caused me to have many questions. But the question that irks me the most is this: are consumers controlled by advertisements? Although the rise of production of goods led to an increase in choice for consumers, advertisements allow producers to attempt to influence and control the consumers while encouraging them to use and want more than before.

A major factor in the rise of the use of advertisement came in the form of an oatmeal producer. Henry P. Crowell was able to build a oatmeal empire through his revolutionary marketing techniques. Crowell was incredibly innovative when it came to advertising. He used publicity stunts, free samples, scientific endorsements, prizes, and a multitude of other original commercial techniques while branding his product and using trademarks to influence the consumer. His results were astonishing. Though oatmeal had previously been regarded as a subpar food, it was thrust onto breakfast tables across the country as Americans bought into whatever Crowell was saying. How did this occur? Was Crowell truly a genius when it came to marketing, or were consumers so unused to advertising that they trusted blindly the new and bright ads of Crowell. Does advertising control the consumer? Or can consumers retain their abilities to choose while being influenced by a multitude of endorsements? It is apparent through the text that although consumers may retain some choosing ability, producers have become so adept at understanding consumer habits through feedback and other surveying tactics that they are experts when it comes to what consumers want. So are we as consumers being controlled by producers? Or do producers tend to our wants?

It is my opinion that society is profoundly influenced by advertisements. This allows producers to have power over consumers, which allows them to become profitable off of our interests. Yet if there were no advertisements, consumers would not be tempted by unnecessary luxuries. They could live without greed or without excessive wants. However, the Industrial Revolution and the Control Revolution that went along with it has prevented this from being possible. As men such as Crowell revolutionized advertisement, the relationship between consumers and producers was forever changed.

Brief Prate on “Industrial Revolution and the Crisis of Control”

This response is again based on my notes for the first several pages of the text – before I would begin to digress.

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The imperative of the alteration of the current system along with economical shifts is a prime premise of Marxist theory. Here, the second premise of control being the crux of such evolution is an arbitrary delimitation of superstructure* within its pro-capitalist from that hence coerces intransigence into the basestructure**. If Marxist theory is to be challenged, a consummate induction upon the applications of control (well depicted further within the piece) to suppress economical shifts would be apt -rather than romantically proclaiming the current system to retain absolute immutability hence self-defined victory.

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Further into the piece, in “Control Crisis in Transportation”, the term crisis is contorted into a dual meaning – crisis in conversion of commodity*** into profit and crisis in application of means of production in their nascent state. As the dual meaning can lead into false analogies, it would have been applicable if this segregation was elucidated (or aim, viably subconscious, could have been to establish romantic, false analogies).

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On Application of Control, “Control Crisis in Transportation”

What captured my attention was the control application that mitigated the effect of economical alteration to purvey an extent of stasis to the current potentates of the system and, in corollary, formed the denoted segregation of work area that utilized “objective capacity of their [workers’] brains to store and process information”. My conception of this application of control within transportation:

  • There is an overflow of production; hence outright distribution of goods would be detrimental for the current potentates.
  • Thus, the distribution is suppressed to found a quasi-stasis, the preservation of which would bleed the stock funds of the potentates in a much slower rate than the bleed of unsuppressed distribution. Therein, a tolerance span is attained.
  • In this tolerance span, the appropriation of nascent production means would be facilitated. The improvement of means without a tantamount aggrandizement of the market would expedite the bleeding of potentates if such improvements are micro-simulacra of the grand-scale improvements.
  • Thus, private improvements are deliberately deviated from the objective progression that the means would naturally purvey. To explicate, the transition into nascent means is not done blandly; they are severely overseen by the potentates to prevent perforation of system shift in their private zones. As a corollary, re-induction of such micro-scale alterations of adopted improvements into the collective scale would supplant the natural progression (dialectical materialism, as in Marxist theory) of the improvement with the progression that is derived to sustain the superstructure.
  • As the crucial point, the oversight of potentates is consolidated first through objective implementation of the nascent means.
  • For this cause, as the means’ implementation is achieved, the stringent oversight -now consolidated- is converted into oversight for appropriating individuals into the maintenance of the means (as both the generic and the insinuated, new worker class). Therein, collectively, these individuals become bound to the market (later on via alienation****, etc.) thus create means to relegate quasi-stasis into antecedent system.

Through this way of appropriation of new means of production, oversight -application of control- is utilized expediently to preserve the current positions of power. Above, the term “consolidation” is vague. The term is utilized as probably insinuated in my previous responses -existential self-actualization through action within defined medium.

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* Superstructure, in Marxist theory, is the aggregate set of social establishments (daily interrelations, cultures, politics, arts…) that stem from the basestructure.
** Basestructure, in Marxist theory, is the set of economical foundations from which the superstructure stems.
*** Commodity is utilized as defined within Marxist theory.
**** Alienation, in Marxist theory, is conversion of the immersion of worker’s private life into work time hence conclusive conversion of self into commodity, an alienated version of self.

Response to “J.H. Hammond Instructs His Overseer”

The piece “J.H. Hammond Instructs His Overseer” is from 1840-1850 and reflects much of the mindset of the time. Throughout the piece, Hammond gives general instructions to be taken into consideration when running a plantation. His major concern seems to be achieving efficiency in terms of produce while keeping separate the rest of the property. Hammond points to the Overseer of the plantation to achieve such efficiency. Hammond’s piece is incredibly didactic in nature, and is presented in such a way to instruct. The piece includes instructions on the issue of favoritism and also instructs on such matters as allowances and rewards. Finally the piece ends with a list of offenses and their corresponding punishments. Though the document is intended to be informative and instructive, its syntax also reveals the prejudices and attitude of the time.

Hammond reveals through his language the mindset of the time. For example, when examining what it takes to have an efficient crop, he lists slaves in the same category as “land, mules, stock, fences, ditches, farming utensils, &c.” (page 212). To group human beings in the same category as “ditches” is to remove their human qualities. Through this language, Hammond dehumanizes the enslaved people.  He does this by equating them to objects essential to the prosperity of plantations yet lacking qualities of people. In addition, Hammond advises to give allowances of food on Mondays as opposed to Sundays, to avoid the slaves from “eating it in consequence of having nothing to do” (page 214). In this way, he undermines the intelligence of the slaves by suggesting they have no concept of rationing food. Yet although Hammond continually insults the humanity of the slaves, he also urges the Overseer not to act too rashly towards the slaves. He explicitly states that under no circumstances should an Overseer kick, strike, or hit a slave with the handle of his whip. Instead he specifies the offences worth punishment and their individual punishments. The fact that a plantation owner would have to specify when and how punishments can be used suggests that there were previous issues with Overseers. Perhaps Overseers become too enraged or too power hungry and often get carried away with punishments. This suggests violence is common from Overseers and there may be a lack of control in the matters of punishment because of that.

Hammond’s piece is important in showing the mindset of the time, yet it was also written in a peculiar way. The document is broken up into different sections, which include step-by-step processes that should be followed. This is somewhat similar to a process of analysis writing piece. Though these pieces are often written in a technical sense, Hammond’s views on plantation life are quite technical. Through speaking about the slaves as though they are not human, he is able to give instructions on keeping them in order, just as he would give instructions for the upkeep of land, mules, fences, or ditches.

Hammond Instruction Reading

After reading the document and the rules and regulations of slavery, the most blaring aspect of the piece is that the slaves were treated as animals. By animals I do not necessarily mean treated cruelly and inhumanely, though by no means am I saying there is any aspect of slavery that is not cruel and inhumane, but I mean the manner in which the slaves were treated was that of a farmer and an animal. An overseer could “show no favoritism among negroes” which in one sense dehumanizes slaves because it leaves the idea that slaves and masters could not be friends. Even in professional relationships in which an employer and employee relationship is established, it is still possible to be friends and not show favoritism. In the slave setting however, I feel that the favoritism comment connotes that this is strictly not allowed. What really displays the animal like tending was the descriptions of food and feeding the slaves. Each slave had a specific diet that they got once a week, and there were such condescending reasons for the dietary plan. Meat was not given on a Sunday because the slaves would eat it all and not have anything for the rest of the week or perhaps get sick from it. The way that this is described and the assumption that slaves cannot ration or even learn how to ration makes them seem more and more like animals. This piece shows how data and observations can be used as propaganda. While data is in essence bias free and just facts, it can be contorted to perpetuate a certain viewpoint. It is valid that this is how plantations were run and that this method may have been efficient. With these instructions, however, slaves are treated like animals, or at the very least as humans who cannot act on their own accord, and therefore it is necessary that they have masters. The men who read and followed these instructions probably believed that they were superior and that slavery was therefore necessary not only for their way of life, but also for the slave.

Response to Facts and FACTS

The Garvey paper was very interesting, I had never hear of Testimony of a thousand witnesses before. I think it was a brilliant idea to use clippings of slave trading materials against the institution and was surprised that it wasn’t done sooner. This article provides a vivid example of how Big Data can be used to further a political cause, like abolitionism

Brief Rumination on Discontinuities, “the Order of Things”

50, Establishing Discontinuities, on Iteration Order

Segregating any given set of data is denoted to be capricious -for per the yearning of omniscience (which is a robust drive for preserving integrity of mind for practicality) human coronates perceived pattern as the finest structure of existence, rather than dissecting data into its quantum units.

What captured my attention was: in the text, the basis of segregation (of data) is iterated after the presence of the aspects of segregation (segregated span’s end points) along with an idealistic “right” for conceiving such segregation. If basis is presumed to be subsidiary, then it can be stated that absolutization** of patterns extracted from puerile cognizance*** precedes inferring from these extracted patterns.

A corollary would be that yearning of omniscience drives individual into absolutization rather than inference -and since the latter (inference) is the salutary action for molding pattern into practical application, it can be presumed that yearning of omniscience contradicts with iself. To elucidate, yearning of omniscience, which is derived for practicality of survival, may take the course of absolutizing a pattern that is detrimental (or not optimal) for the end of survival. This seeming contradiction can be solved by the synthesis: cerebral omnipotence is the primary aim -material practicality is merely ancillary to preserve the host of the thought in equanimity. Conclusively, sufficiency in itself, as sufficiency by the act of thinking -solipsism- is the culminating point. Per utility, motive for solipsism can be utilized to analyze underlying causes in cerebral decisions.

* Segregation of data is induced form of discussed delimiting of history.
** “absolutization” is rendering a concepting into absolute truth within self’s conception. Absolutization of patterns is achieved through ascribing a self-sufficient validity to these patterns wherein any form of arbitrary evidence that can interact with the pattern is presumed to accede with the pattern per default. Hence, pattern requires no deliberation on validity, is present by itself. Conclusively, it is rendered into an empirical fact and conveyed into a concrete analysis, as empirically measuring its end points, rather than an abstract analysis.
*** defined on the previous response

Response to Foucault’s piece

The discourse of madness and the paradox of madness

First of all, I want to point out the opposition between reasoning and insanity, where the discourses of madman were often oblivious but observed to possess underlying truths. The irony is that it was also through listened discourses that madmen were recognized; and, at the same time, his discourses were also immediately discarded as there were no psychological doctors that would pay any sufficient amount of attention to or infer any important matter from the words of mad people, at least not until the end of XVIII century.

Therefore, the importance and reason behind the madman’s discourses were only appreciated through the literature (Don Quixote), used as a sign, through something I would want to call as masked methods for an implying way of telling the truth.

Until now, even that the words of a madman is listened, however, the act of listening is not because from the needs of being listened of the patient but from the established law that force the doctor to listen to the patients.  The doctors, while listening to the patients, are also not listening to them.Why? This was due to the fact that language were something determined by our mind even before we know of its existence. The act of listening is a part of our censorship to the world, that is, we have already synthesized the meaning of the discourses imbued with nonsense and insanity even before we make the act of listening.

The opposition between right and wrong

Truth and knowledge are the cores of human’s society. However, opposing to the nowadays definition about what is truth and knowledge. In VII B.C., truth was something originated from the rightful person during a certain ceremony, which was, the meetings that philosophers such as Socrates and Plato would gather and speak out of their minds what they think were the truth of the universe. Or a more detailed example mentioned earlier in this piece (The order of things) is the Chinese’s encyclopedia where we would think about the validity and possibility of such classification. Without much different from Socrates’s age, it all came down to the decision of a man or group of men that controlled the truth without much solid evidence but discourses.

However, after sometimes, the definition of the truth was dramatically changed as it didn’t have anything to do with what it was about or where it came from but what it said, that is, the contain rather than the presentation and the origination. Thus, there was a new separation between the right discourse and the wrong one. The right discourse wasn’t the most honored and desired one, because it was not the discourse that attached to the power as mentioned above. Instead, the truth, was then base on “From now on, every resemblance must be subjected  to proof by comparison, that is, it will not be accepted until its identity and the series of its differences have been discovered by means of measurement with a common unit, or, more radically, by its position in an order.” (The order of things,p.55)

P/s:I acknowledge that some points made maybe inaccurate and prolix. Thank you for reading my response. :)

It is also interesting to note the development of our knowledge system:

-From unattached classification without any scientific linkages (the Chinese’s encyclopedia) to the similitude (Linnaeus’ system) to the resemblance (p.51) to the 2 forms of comparison: measurement and order (p.53) to the definition of nowadays truth mentioned above (p.55)

Response for “The Order of Things”

As the book was replete with information to could be discussed, I wanted to focus on a single aspect before I would begin to ramble in the endeavor of creating a response for the whole piece. Hence I just converted some notes I had taken while reading the preface into this response before delving further.

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XVI – “Narrowness of Separation”, An Irrelevant Interpretation

The cognized pattern -presence of demarcations due to the empirically observed or contrived discrepancies (hence the separation)- is tautology. A point of inquiry that occurred to me: The reason for Foucault to denote this tautology is its dominance over puerile cognizance*. To unravel this dominance, investigating the lack of the reverse approach would be of use, as why data is sought to be separated into categories rather than be induced into more general entities.

The reasons for relative lack of induction can be designated as (1) accommodation for utility, (2) accommodation for processing in human mind or (3) cerebral orientation for separation.

(1) Utility is the pre-determined pragmatic action for the pre-determined betterment of the community. Here, betterment is bound to be a derived from survival and given an artifical form to transcend the notion of being bound to primal needs. I assert that this aim of transcendence inhibits the efficiency of utility (utility then becomes bound to satisfy both the needs of survival and the needs of artificial devising). Hence, the information that is separated for means of utility can be induced if a set of betterment notions undergo parallel conflation.

(2) Human mind needs shortcuts for efficiency. Hence separations are created for efficient processing of data. This case of separation does not need optimization (unlike for the first case).

(3) If separation of data into arbitrary groups occurs during a lack of both utility and ease of process, then it can be stated that human mind has an inherent orientation to separate data. Since inherent orientations originate from the same basis of survival**, it can be stated that separation of data is actually controlled by the means of controlling actions to accede with survival. I assume that satisfaction is the simplest recurring piece of the control structure for an individual to act in accord with the survival. Thus attaining data in self’s demarcations is satisfactory.

(3 continued) To briefly speculate on this sense of cerebral satisfaction, separation of data forms an exclusivity for the informed -whereas, to juxtapose, the opposite case of inducing the data into general terms disseminates this exclusivity. Hence, it can be stated that satisfaction that aims to ensure survival (material dominance) also exhorts individuals for intellectual dominance. Henceforth, in accord with this train of thought, separation of data, which seems to be a solely intellectual process, is actually a primal urge for human.

* A term of mine that I use for animals’ [can be further generalized], inherent associative pattern recognition as the basis of learning

** It would be utterly arbitrary to state that human, in the midst of its evolution, formed an instinct that was devised to somehow apply only to the term “data” I currently defined within this response.

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XVI – “Narrowness of Separation”, My Speculation on the Lingual Aspect

On this section of the foreword, what Foucault calls as transgressing boundaries of imagination is the use of language for denotation. Words, without forming a vicarious empirical image in the mind, are still linked with conceptions.* This case debunks the premise of empirical senses being imperative for any process of human cognizance. I found no basis for the presence of such a premise; moreover, this case depicts the capability of human mind to process abstract concepts through associations.

To further unravel this topic, a baby just learning to use language can be examined.

* To clarify this point, I will provide an example through the word “siren”. When the word “siren” is thought, imagination musters a picture of the mythical creature that can be perceived with senses. It is clear that the recalled image is correlated with the conception “siren”. When only the word “siren” is considered, though -without linking the word to a vicarious image- human mind can still understand that the conception of “siren” is being meant.

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