The Best Sentence of the Day

This blog is a cut-up of a dissertation in progress. Each day, I will post my favorite sentence that I have newly scribed. Everything out of context, but suggestive. I hope.

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I'm a game designer, a games researcher, and a future forecaster. I make games that give a damn. I study how games change lives. I spend a lot of my time figuring out how the games we play today shape our real-world future. And so I'm trying to make sure that a game developer wins a Nobel Prize by the year 2032. Learn more here in my bio or get my contact information on my contact page.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Best Sentence #34

Okay, so two things.

First, doing a critical analysis of ACM and IEEE papers from a humanities perspective is weird. I know the authors are not used to being discussed in such a manner. Scientific papers usually just congratulate other people for thinking of things first or making an interesting related effort. They don't, like, accuse each other of having a Manifest Destiny complex. Um.

Second, I just wrote the following sentence, which is going to be a major aspect of my Chapter 3 critical analysis ("Colonizing Through Play: The Ubicomp Games"). It is scary, because I am like: OMG! That is SO TRUE! But since I only just thought of it this very second, I am also like: OMG! Now I have to figure out what the hell it means! Using the word "performative" is, like, de rigeur for a performance studies dissertation, but as it is just about the most frought term in the field (everybody screws up the original intended application) I am like! Oh no! Do I really want to go there!

I know, I know I'm all over the place. :) Anway the point is, I LIKE this new idea and am happy about the work it will do, if I can reign it in and make it do that work.

The projects profess to be performative, but in the end, are largely only theatrical.

UPDATE: Ha ha, I've changed my minds. The projects actually are performative.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jane - Your dissertation is so erudite it is scaring me. Maybe going outside more than once a day would be a good idea? I envision the steam coming out of your brain. Also, keep going! Good luck!!

2:27 PM  
Anonymous QBKooky said...

This may just be because I'm 17, but I'm wrestling with "perfomative" vs "theatrical"... but I really like where this is going, and I hope you promise to SELL us your dissertation when you're all done so we can all read it and smile and nod! :D

Yougogirl =)

9:06 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

Anonymous-- rofl. You could have a point about that whole getting outside thing.

And poor QB, lol, wrestle no more, unless you REALLY want to get seriously down and dirty with performance studies. It is the nature of Ph.D. level humanities to be horribly specific in its terminology, much of which gets twisted to mean things only 100 people in the whole world actually understand. I'm not even sure after 5 years of graduate study that I am one of the 100 people, lol. If you seriously want to dig into performativity, though, try here and try not to let your brain explode:

Lyotard calls the change that has taken place in the status of knowledge due to the rise of the performativity criterion the mercantilization of knowledge. In postmodernity, knowledge has become primarily a saleable commodity. Knowledge is produced in order to be sold, and is consumed in order to fuel a new production. According to Lyotard knowledge in postmodernity has largely lost its truth-value, or rather, the production of knowledge is no longer an aspiration to produce truth. Today students no longer ask if something is true, but what use it is to them. Lyotard believes that computerization and the legitimation of knowledge by the performativity criterion is doing away with the idea that the absorption of knowledge is inseparable from the training of minds. In the near future, he predicts, education will no longer be given "en bloc" to people in their youth as a preparation for life. Rather, it will be an ongoing process of learning updated technical information that will be essential for their functioning in their respective professions.

Lyotard does not believe that the innovations he predicts in postmodern education will necessarily have a detrimental effect on erudition. He does, however, see a problem with the legitimation of knowledge by performativity. This problem lies in the area of research. Legitimation by performativity lends itself to what Lyotard calls "terror" - the exclusion of players from language games or the exclusion of certain games entirely. Most true "discoveries," Lyotard argues, are discoveries by virtue of the fact that they are so radical that they change the rules of the game - they cannot even be articulated within the rules of the "dominant" game (which is dominant because it draws the consensus of opinions). Many discoveries are not found to have a use until quite some time after they are made; therefore they seem to be of little value by the performativity criterion. Furthermore, for economic reasons, legitimation by performativity tends to follow the consensus opinion - that which is perceived by the majority of experts to have the most efficient input/output ratio is considered most likely in fact to be most performatively efficient, and hence the safest investment.

Lyotard argues that legitimation by performativity is against the interests of research. He does not claim that research should be aimed at production of "the truth"; he does not try to re-invoke the metanarratives of modernity to legitimate research. Rather, he sees the role of research as the production of ideas. Legitimation of knowledge by performativity terrorises the production of ideas. What, then, is the alternative? Lyotard proposes that a better form of legitimation would be legitimation by paralogy. The etymology of this word resides in the Greek words para - beside, past, beyond - and logos in its sense as "reason." Thus paralogy is the movement beyond or against reason. Lyotard sees reason not as a universal and immutable human faculty or principle but as a specific and variable human production; "paralogy" for him means the movement against an established way of reasoning. In relation to research, this means the production of new ideas by going against or outside of established norms, of making new moves in language games, changing the rules of language games and inventing new games. Lyotard argues that this is in fact what takes place in scientific research, despite the imposition of the performativity criterion of legitimation. This is particularly evident in what Lyotard calls "postmodern science" - the search for instabilities [see Science and Technology]. For Lyotard, knowledge is not only the known but also the "revelation" or “articulation” of the unknown. Thus he advocates the legitimation of knowledge by paralogy as a form of legitimation that would satisfy both the desire for justice and the desire for the unknown.


3:57 PM  

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