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About Meursault

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    Member of the Bitchun Society
  • Birthday June 07

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  • Gender: Male
  • Location: New York

Meursault's Activity

  1. Meursault added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    Just finished this fascinating non-fiction work by Ali Soufan entitled The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War against al-Qaeda. The book recounts a master FBI interrogator from his first few years at the Bureau and his work in the counterterrorism unit to when he left the agency in 2009. With an in-depth look into the work about the USS Cole, the East Africa Embassy bombings, 9/11 and other smaller attacks, the book allows a new perspective on the work the government is doing about terrorism. It also reveals the heavy tension that followed after 9/11 between the CIA and the FBI and the White House. For example, the CIA stonewalling the FBI on access to suspects and the White House forcing the use of EITs during interrogations, despite the FBI getting results without them.

    All in all a great and informative read.
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  2. Meursault added a post in a topic materialism   

    was that a double post to be ironic?
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  3. Meursault added a post in a topic Anyone interested in correspondence?   


    This is a great idea! If you'd be up to it I'd like collaboratively learn/understand financial markets/economics with you. It's funny you mention the Khan Academy because I signed up the other day and immediately watched the succession of videos about Inflation and Deflation. Sal is a pretty smart guy.

    As for what I could offer:
    I'm really into history and I would venture to say I have a wealth of knowledge about anything from the (to be oddly specific) Harrapan Civilization to the present day and most events/civilizations in between. Perhaps I'm biased but I think history kind of encompasses a lot of ideas and concepts (politics, philosophy, economics, theology) so it's always a good starting point for delving deeper into certain disciplines.

    My university offers free language courses that meet once a week and I'm going to try to learn Turkish and Greek, I could post my notes or scan the worksheets and upload them or something.

    Speaking of history, I just got this book by Niall Ferguson called "The Ascent of Money", which is essentially a history of finance. I think if we'd want to study finance, it'd be a good idea to know the history of it and how it has evolved.

    Also, to anyone else looking for an interesting read (well it has been so far) check out Walter Russell Mead's God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World. Mead is a superb, concise, and clever writer, so for any history buffs or soon-to-be history buffs out there, the library awaits.
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  4. Meursault added a post in a topic Reality from a physicist's perspective approached through causality.   

    Okay what you've said makes sense, but could we be looking for causality where there isn't? Maybe you're right that there isn't causality, but then again we could be zoomed in so far that all we see is a piece of bark on the tree, and we can definitely not see the forest.

    Hear me out:
    Information is only encoded through biochemical reactions in our brains so to leave out the neuroscience kind of ignores information. However, I think your question should focus on how you gain that information. The causality occurs when you receive that information, be it through reading, listening, or feeling. Communication is the medium through which information travels: light (reading) hearing (sound waves) or feeling (touch receptors). I think ideas are instantiated into a physical nature, and just like energy change between differing forms.

    Another example of a medium through which causality occurs would be empty space.
    This empty space would probably not fit your definition of existence as intended as it does not objectively or subjectively "exist". YET it is the medium through which your 4 horseman of causality occur.
    Gravity at a macro level occurs between two planetary bodies, through space
    Weak nuclear forces cause radioactive decay (radiation) which travels through a medium of space.
    Strong nuclear forces exist between sub-atomic particles (it seems my idea is breaking down here)
    Electromagnetism is responsible for light, chemistry, etc which occurs through space. BUT WAIT if electromagnetism is responsible for chemistry, than we have the biological processes accounted for, but you wanted to avoid that.

    What I'm saying is that information exists at the point of interpretation and has to travel through a medium (refer to the above)
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  5. Meursault added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    I'm currently reading Walter Russel Mead's God & Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World in addition to Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World.

    Both, so far, are extremely fascinating.
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  6. Meursault added a post in a topic The Internet: Panopticism 2.0?   

    I actually have recently completed a paper about how the Internet in fact challenges the structures I outlined in my first post, and does even a bit more. When I've got it confirmed that it's published in my universities periodical, I'll post in on here. Until then, I don't want them to think that I stole the idea, haha.

    When dealing with theory I like to keep Fitzgerald's idea of "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function". So if you are confused with my about-face, it's because I never really believed in the first idea, but decided to look into it on its' merits.

    Also, here is the original essay that indicates how the internet is pan-optic (forgive the brevity and inexact language, not one of my best essays and it had to be less than 1500 words) Internet_Panopticon.doc
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  7. Meursault added a post in a topic Reality from a physicist's perspective approached through causality.   

    How do you define "event"? It seems that the causality described by physicists "(gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, and electromagnetism)" are forces that describe cosmic events (like supernovae, orbits, etc) on a macro scale or a nano-scale(interaction of sub-atomic particles), rather than this relatively micro-scale of you perceiving Socrates' ideas.

    Let me put it this way, if I push you and you move which of the four do you attribute to my action? Under your presented definition is there causality?

    Maybe I misread something and gave a misinformed answer, and please indicate that if I did.

    Oh and a reductionist way out of this is that the strong nuclear force is the cause of atoms being bound together, and those atoms bound together make up mass, mass makes up life, and life (socrates) wrote down stuff that other life (you) read that day.

    Also, I would say that biological processes that result from you reading the information encoded on the book are in fact causality. The reading of his words fires neurons in your brain and the neurochemical reaction alters the information stored in your cerebrum. This information at an appropriate moment would then cause more synapses to fire and then it would cause your mouth to operate along with your vocal chords and you would then explain to me that Socrates was all like "I know that I know nothing!"
    That could be rife with false information^ as I am not a neuroscientist/chemist, but from my understanding it is generally correct.
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  8. Meursault added a post in a topic Biketrip   

    It depends on what time of the year you want to go biking and what kind of terrain you and your family prefer, in addition to how far you want to go. But if you're thinking about now, I'd suggest somewhere closer to the equator.

    However, If you plan on going somewhere in the spring/summer, the Pacific Northwest and Colorado offer really good biking. To get more specific, Sunriver in Oregon is a really great area. It is at a high elevation in Central Oregon, so you get that mountain elevation without the ridiculous incline. Unless you want that, in which case Sunriver also has those kind of bike paths.

    If your family gets tired of the biking all the time, you can relax in the areas many pools in addition to hitting the slopes of nearby Mt. Bachelor (second largest single mountain ski resort in the United States) throughout both summer and winter.

    If the above information did not float your boat, biking up/down the Pacific Coast of the United States is always a great trip, with many bike friendly roads and scenic vistas.
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  9. Meursault added a post in a topic What does your avatar/sig say about you?   

    That could not have been more accurate! [The picture is of the Red Hot Chili Peppers new album cover]

    Heretic's avatar is an extremely defined Roman statue with intense rage about to boil over from the statue's pursed lips. I can draw three conclusions from this,
    The statue, seeming to contain heavily realist impulses, is a representation that Heretic alone understands the carefully defined features of this world and the "pursed lips" (now a homeric epithet!) are the only thing between the explosion of truth upon us all!
    Looking down upon the poster following Heretic, the statue serves as a stern warning not to mess with the intense, well-defined man that the statue is a literal portraiture of.
    Heretic appreciates sculpture and his avatar has no hidden assumptions or implications and I am folly to attempt to discern what is not there.

    As for Heretic's signature, it coyly says "we" although his avatar is of a solid marble statue. This implies that we are all full of red slop and Heretic is not, seeing is he is full of marble.

    What is the title of the statue? I feel like I've seen it before, except it was my father face, and I was sitting on a couch talking to this guy named Freud about how I wanted to lop it's head off...
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  10. Meursault added a post in a topic What does your avatar/sig say about you?   

    I'd say Dave's avatar represents his extreme fascination with death, especially considering his last status update,

    Hence I see Dave as a reaper with a conscious. He regretted having to kill Scotty because he didn't get in chat. That or he is subtly telling the rest of us when we're on TGL we should always be in chat or face the consequences.

    His lack of a signature is due to the true signature of death being the body that he leaves behind with the taking of his quarry's soul.
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  11. Meursault added a post in a topic The Internet: Panopticism 2.0?   

    I have not read Teilhard de Chardin or the other authors you mentioned so I couldn't comment on their words.

    I do not see God being the ultimate structure of panopticism for his adherents only on the technicality is that panopticism really stems from a democratic gaze. This being that it can be operated by a multiplicity of individuals, more a machine than anything else, and in this case the only wielder would be God. However, I see that God would be like the central guard tower from the Panopticon in that he has the potential to always be watching. But I think part of the oppressive nature about the Panopticon, and the power expressed on surfaces (seems to be an early precursor to "the gaze", Foucault never terms it as such), is that the subject cannot determine if the guard is present at all times, so there is this interesting uncertainty dynamic. Followers of Christianity are fully aware that God is always watching them, so the discipline that arises is less refined than the disciplinary power of the strict panopticism.
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  12. Meursault added a post in a topic The Internet: Panopticism 2.0?   

    I think it's deeper than just being purely "pan-optic". The internet is better than Bentham's Panopticon because of the ambiguity of whether or not we are under surveillance.

    Sure, people(?) on 4chan do not necessarily exhibit the self control that the early Panopticon-in-school would instill, but it does normalize this behavior across those particular message boards (the anonymous person feels like they can post whatever because of the nature of /b/). Discipline does not need to be a negation of action, it can actually be a production in that the person's actions were produced by the norms of the website s/he visited. In addition to this 4chan like all other websites is a replication of the structure of information exchange that is the Panopticon-as-internet.

    Let's remember, this language we are conversing with is information to our computers, so we are literally an object of information (input) and not actually communicating through our prison cells.
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  13. Meursault added a post in a topic The Internet: Panopticism 2.0?   

    Nice posts Hugo, Scotty, and Soleo here is my first reply.


    I'm trying to move beyond the original panopticism, in the sense that the physical panoptic gaze is being supplemented by the internet. I'd also argue that the public activism and corporate normalization is an end result of Panopticism anyways.


    This is what makes it panoptic, The nature of the internet is democractic (no username is "king") in that it allows the oppressive gaze to be operated by anyone or by no one. It is ambiguous if your actions are being monitored, be it from a corporation, nation-state, or your sysadmin.


    Yes, that is the traditional argument against the panopticism of the internet. That it lacks the spatial organization of the original panopticon. However, when analyzing the physical structure of the internet it does seem to resemble Bentham's Panopticon. The gaze seems to go from the periphery (the screen of the user) to the central tower of the server. From there the webmaster can censor our actions that take place on the website we enter onto And gazes out from the server. The information flows linearly from server to screen (from tower to cell). The flow of information is decidedly panoptic in that regardless of your action on the net you are still "the object of information, never a subject in communication” (D&P 200). The faceless, segmented mass that F sees arise from panopticism is that of the internet. We are each independently looking into the window (screen) of our "cell" and normalizing our behavior. I think this is why I've considered the internet a supplement or a alternative structure of panopticism because it is no longer the physical surveillance of the school, the factory, the hospital, but the digital surveillance. Mark Winokur in his essay "The Ambiguous Panopticon: Foucault and the Codes of Cyberspace" has two interesting points:

    1.) The digital surveillance is not just the other members of the internet acting as prison guards, but the subject-surfer who installs software to monitor his activity on the computer to prevent malicious software, etc.

    2.) Code transforms the information that is transferred across the internet. No longer is there the signifier-signified-referent, but the signifier (the line of code) translates to the signified (the result of the code) and the referent no longer exists! The signifier produces the signified. How does this relate to Panopticism? The action of one online are not physical, and thus they are digital, and when it is digital, it is coded and the code is information. The action of the subject is again purely an object of information and the communication is gone.

    In Diane Saco's Politics of Visibility she also confront this notion of the internet as Panopticon, particularly in segmenting bodies in space. Her argument is that the internet is able to reconstitute that body in space from the physical world, to cyberspace, and thus it can be more adeptly controlled.

    Speaking of Foucault,

    And this is what the freedom of the internet is right? We believe we have the ability to acquire this new information, surf websites, play games, but the starting point is always from that structure of the Panopticon..
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  14. Meursault added a topic in Influence   

    The Internet: Panopticism 2.0?
    Hello everyone,

    It's been a long time since I've been remotely active here at TGL (if I was in the first place) and thus I'm coming back into the fold with a discussion about Panopticism in the Information Age (digital age, internet age, etc).


    Panopticism is the social theory posited by Michel Foucault in the chapter of the same name in his book Discipline and Punish. The name Panopticism comes from Jeremy Bentham's prison, which he called the Panopticon. The prison was a circle of cells with large windows only facing the interior "doughnut-hole" and a central guard tower. The prisoners would not have visual contact with anything other than the central guard tower (outfitted with Venetian Blinds). Herein lies the architectural brilliance of the Panopticon. The construction gave the impression to every prisoner that he was constantly under surveillance from the central tower. And the surveillance from the tower was ambiguous due to the Venetian blinds which would lead to the prisoners being unaware of the presence of a guard. Bentham's idea is that this would turn every prisoner into their own subject. The prisoner would not be disciplined by the guard tower, but would think they might be if they misbehaved and thus normalized their own behavior. The crux of this is that they are the exercising oppressive power upon themselves. Foucault goes on to apply this to many other institutions such as the school and the factory. These institutions, and society as a whole, function as the Panopticon because they all promote the normalization of behavior through observation and the exercise of power through said observation.

    (If you don't find this short, shallow explanation amenable here is the Wikipedia article. Alternatively, I have a short 2000ish word essay that goes more in depth if you'd like)


    Now what does Panopticism mean in the context of the internet? The internet has been considered to have vast potential for liberation, and the revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa seem to support this. However, we've also seen the Panoptic nature of the net through various attacks by organizations seeking to normalize behavior (a tenuous recent example is that of the Kansas teen who seen as criticizing the governor was hounded to apologize from those who saw her actions. Although she didn't it is still and example of the swarming of discipline to those not normalized). Also, Facebook has fairly recently been thought to be giving information to the CIA and controlling the accounts of its' users (ownership over the content posted). In addition, Google's Page Rank system and various advertisements that show up from it stem from knowledge of the content we peruse on the net.

    The above are examples of institutions engaging in Panoptic behavior (the school of the Kansas teen, the "factories" of Facebook and Google"), but what of what Foucault really considered the influence of Panopticism? The infiltration of the social body is the realization of Panopticism at it's finest. When the whole mass of humanity acts as millions of eyes constantly observing the other (or the individuals perception that that is the way it is) Panopticism becomes ingrained. In no other area is this more apparent then the Internet.

    How so? The anonymous, faceless gaze of the masses allow for comments that "discipline" the original poster. If someone posts a video of them doing an act considered embarassing or engaging in an activity that isn't held in high regard by the majority, the reaction of the internet is to barrage the individual (or have the potential to barrage which is the true normalization. Lots more people could be posting really freaky shit, but they are (un)aware of the backlash from the majority) into not doing that action. I think there are stronger arguments depicting the internet as Panopticon but I don't want to proselytize I want to spark discussion, if this is something to even be discussed.


    This is where y'all come in. Is this an accurate characterization of the internet? Could it instead be of the liberatory nature so espoused in science-fiction and social theory?

    Last question: Is it exactly like Foucault's estimation of Panopticism, that just as Panopticism underwrote and created the framework for the liberties of the Enlightenment, the Panoptic nature of the internet will provide the framework for the liberties that it has been considered to provide?

    Please share your thoughts. (Full disclaimer: I have recently finished a paper on this idea and I want to test my arguments against any potential new ones)
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  15. Meursault added a post in a topic What books are you reading now?   

    I've also compiled a list of books I am reading or plan to read in the coming months:

    On China - Henry Kissinger
    State vs. Defense - Stephen Glain
    Mahabharata - William Buck (his retelling of the Sanskrit classic)
    Anti-Oedipus - Gilles Deleuze + Felix Guattari
    First as Tragedy, Then as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
    Confessions - Augustine
    The Bible (New Testament) - God?
    The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

    It seems a very random assortment does it not? Hopefully I can finish at least a few of them and work up the courage to start the others.
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