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NUPSA Philosophy Sessions (c) William Pascoe, 2018 (independently written and produced, this content is not ownded by UON, Government or Commercial except externally sourced material)

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Theory 2000

World Population In the past, philosophy has tended to develop over time. Now there are as many people at thinking at once as there were after each other for a long time back. There are many branches of thought. We cannot know them all. A lecturer once told me that Erasmus of Rotterdam was the last person to have 'read everything'. After his time, with the invention of printing and new 'novel' books, it became impossible for one person to read everything ever written, within their lifetime. Now we cannot hope to have a good understanding of everything people are writing now. We can only hope to find our way through it, from one place to the next without ever having a reasonably complete view. None the less, I've tried to touch on the currents of thought happening in our time and recently, trying to focus on some of the more influential. I have not read extensively in many of them, but I hope to make you aware of them and some of the basic ideas and to provide a starting point from which to navigate your own course.

Late 20th century to early 21st century critical theory and philosophy.

Some general themes:

An introductory reading list of some very influential texts is here: http://hri.newcastle.edu.au/crittheory/

Postmodernism

As a description of cultural phenomena:

Some examples:

Roy Lichtenstein

Hollywood Burn, 2006 from Soda_Jerk on Vimeo.

Anything we might say about Derrida's writing is an oversimplification. Anything Derrida writes makes reference to some further elaboration, complicating factor, or current in the history of thought. This is because he is doing, as an example, what he is explaining - that the process of meaning, the play of signs, works this way - by constant reference to something else.

Because this can be confusing to newcomers, but because Derrida makes important points that we should bear in mind, such that we shouldn't ignore him because he's too 'hard' or 'obtuse', I'll provide some oversimplifications of some of the concepts he discusses, as an entry point into the web of perpetual digression. An oversimplification gives us the illusion that we have finally understood something completely but Derrida is arguing precisely that there is no finality or completeness to meaning.

trace, space, logocentrism
overall argument that writing is not secondary, in the sense that all signification is secondary, and there is nothing beyond signification
differance

deconstruction /= analysis

Basic explanation of deconstruction, not to be mistaken for analysis (as it is sometimes used).

Deconstruction: What is the history of the underlying (binary) differences?

Analysis: What are the component parts?
Eg: analytic chemistry breaks substances down into the compounds and elements that make it up.
Analysing a poem involves looking at the rhyme scheme, metre, and other ‘parts’.

Why deconstruction?

Knowing the history of something enables us to question our own assumptions. 
We can understand why we think what we think. Without this technique of criticism we don't even know why we think what we think (so how could we be 'free', or resist power. etc?). 

We see:

It is not necessarily so. I just happened that way because of historical circumstances.

If it’s not necessarily so, it can be changed.

We can imagine how we can change things.

Derrida is famous for deconstruction, though it can be difficult to find him specifically mentioning, let a long defining, the term.

The history of (the only) metaphysics, which has, in spite of all differences, not only from Plato to Hegel (even including Leibniz) but also, beyond these apparent limits, from the pre-Socratics to Heidegger, always assigned the origin of truth in general to the logos: the history of truth, of the truth of truth, has always been-except for a metaphysical diversion that we shall have to explain-the debasement of writing, and its repression outside the 'full' speech.

Derrida, Of Grammatology, p3, 1967

Not that the word 'writing' has ceased to designate the signifier of the signifier, but it appears, strange as it may seem, that 'signifier of the signifier' no longer defines accidental doubling and fallen secondarity. 'Signifier of the signifier' describes on the contrary the movement of language: in its origin, to be sure, but one can already suspect that an origin whose structure can be expressed as 'signifier of the signifier' conceals and erases itself in its own production. There the signified always already functions as signifier. The secondarity that it seemed possible to ascribe to writing alone affects all signifieds in general, affects them always already, the moment they enter the game

Derrida, Of Grammatology, p7, 1967

The 'rationality' - but perhaps that word should be abandoned for reasons that will appear at the end of this sentence - which governs a writing thus enlarged and radicalized, no longer issues from a logos. Further, it inaugurates the destruction, not the demolition but the de-sedimentation, the de-construction, of all the significations that have their source in that of the logos. Particularly the signification of truth.

Derrida, Of Grammatology, p10, 1967

Within the closure, by an oblique and always perilous movement, constantly risking falling back within what is being deconstructed, it is necessary to surround the critical concepts with a careful and thorough discourse - to mark the conditions, the medium, and the limits of their effectiveness and to designate rigourously their intimate relationship to the machine whose deconstruction they permit; and, in the same process, designate the crevice through which the yet unnameable glimmer beyond the closure can be glimpsed. The concept of the sign is here exemplary. We have just marked its metaphysical appurtenance. We know, however, that the thematics of the sign have been for a bout a century the agonized labor of a tradition that professed to withdraw meaning, truth, presence, being, etc., from the movement of signification. Treating as suspect, as I just have, the difference between signified and signifier, or the idea of the sign in general, I must state explicitly that it is not a question of doing so in terms of the instance of the present truth, anterior, exterior or superior to the sign, or in terms of the place of the effaced difference. Quite the contrary. We are disturbed by that which, in the concept of the sign-which has never existed or functioned outside the history of (the) philosophy (of presence) - remains systematically and genealogically determined by that history. It is there that the concept and above all the work of deconstruction, its "style," remain by nature exposed to misunderstanding and nonrecognition.

Derrida, Of Grammatology, p14, 1967

The movements of deconstruction do not destroy structures from the outside. They are not possible and effective, nor can they take accurate aim, except by inhabiting those structures. Inhabiting them in a certain way, because one always inhabits, and all the more when one does not suspect it. Operating necessarily from the inside, borrowing all the strategic and economic resources of subversion from the old structure, borrowing them structurally, that is to say without being able to isolate their elements and atoms, the enterprise of deconstruction always in a certain way falls prey to its own work.

Derrida, Of Grammatology, p24, 1967

The violence of forgetting. Writing, a mnemotechnic means, supplanting good memory, spontaneous memory, signifies forgetfulness. It is exactly what Plato said in the Phaedrus, comparing writing to speech as hypomnesis to mnémè, the auxilliary aide-mémoire to the living memory. Forgetfulness because it is a mediation and the departure of the logos from itself. Without writing, the latter would remain itself. Writing is the dissimulation of the natural, primary, and immediate presence of sense to the soul within the logos. Its violence befalls the soul as unconsciousness. Deconstructing this tradition, will therefore not consist of reversing it, of making writing innocent. Rather of showing why the violence of writing does not befall an innocent language. There is an originary violence of writing because language is first, in a sense I shall gradually reveal, writing.

Derrida, Of Grammatology, p37, 1967

Peirce goes very far in the direction that I have called the de-construction of the transcendental signified, which at one time or another, would place a reassuring end to the reference from sign to sign. I have identified logocentrism and the metaphysics of presence as the exigent, powerful, systematic, and irrepressible desire for such a signified. Now Peirce considers the indefiniteness of reference as the criterion that allows us to recognize that we are indeed dealing with a system of signs. What broaches the movement of signification is what makes its interruption impossible. The thing itself is a sign.

Derrida, Of Grammatology, p49, 1967

From the moment that there is meaning there are nothing but signs. We only think in signs.

Derrida, Of Grammatology, p50, 1967

Ecotheory evolved in the late 20th century as a result of several factors. Ecology and environmentalism grew significantly in the 1970s. For anyone looking for alternative theories, or the the 'next theory', it would seem obvious to create such a thing as eco theory or eco criticism. As ecology and environmentalism grew people applied critical theory to it, and people within the movement began theorising. There is much in common with other currents of critical theory and intersection with other streams of critical theory, but there is a focus on the particular insights ecology offers.

For example to see 'critical theory' and 'philosophy' itself as a emergent from a web of ecologically connected factors - society, politics, environment and so on. The kind of critical theory or philosophy we develop or lean to will be affected by these factors and our theory will in turn affect these other things in complex feedback loops. No part of it can be considered in isolation.

One of the basic premises of ecocriticism is that the stories we have about the natural world, our environment greatly effect what we do in it and to it, which in turn, because it's an ecosystem, greatly affects us. These stories are more than *just* stories, but determine cognitively what we percieve in the world around us, cognitively, at the most profound philosophical level - what to us exists, what we can know about it, and what we should do. As a simple example consider the different narratives there are, in which we hear stories retold with these assumptions, and how they will affect what we do in the environment:

Each of these myths will cause us to treat our environment differently. This is vitally important because we depend on our environment for survival. There are many historical cases of cities, civilisations and cultures disappearing, of mass migration, of starvation because of environmental change. Because the myths we live by are usually assumed to be true and we don't even think of questioning them because they are 'obvious', it is crucial to have a critical attitude - our lives and our environment may depend on it. Note that, our mythology is so embedded in our psyche that it is difficult for me to even finish that sentence without adhering to one of the narratives above - I actually changed the wording a few times. Eg: '...our survival depends on it.' (the fight for survival in the wilderness myth) '...our existence and our environment, which are mutually dependent, depend on it.' (the environmentalist myth).

A long time ago, as an undergrad in a philosophy lecture, I wondered if some people believe in gods and spirits and others don't just because some ask who the universe is instead of what it is. I think I remember that the maker of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall Past Lives Apichatpong Weerasethakul pointed out in an interview that if you live in a city, the difference between 'subject' and 'object' between 'people' and the 'material' world is clear. If you live in a city, everything around you is made of inanimate matter - rocks, steel, plastic, and so on. So there is a clear difference between people and things. But if you live in the country, if you live in the jungle you are surrounded by living things all the time and living things have personality and character. It makes more sense then to ask 'who' instead of 'what'. If we ask 'who' instead of what, because ethics is about interactions between 'humans' or at least entities which like us think and feel and form their own judgements about right and wrong, then you will have an 'ethical' relationship with the world around you, rather than one based on what use we humans can put the physical world to. In this sense we could say that Western philosophy has tended towards materialism and it's ethics draws a simple distinction between humans and the (material/natural) world because it was thought up by city dwellers.

'Deep ecology' shifts the focus away from humans. We are just another part of a vast and complicated ecology - just one among millions of species. There is no reason we should consider ourselves more important that microbes, or any other plants or animals, indeed we are far less important to the ecology than other creatures, such as pollinating insects or nitrogen fixing bacteria.

The 'Anthropocene' is a term referring to the fact that the impact of humans on the earth at present will now be visible in the long term geological record. Geological eras last millions of years. Although our presence has been so far brief, what we are doing now will be detectable in millions of years. In this sense humans are a significant part of the ecosystem - we have great capacity to destroy it. In fact we make other species extinct and change the climate.

In some cases ecocriticism can be merely looking at the environment a writing was working in to consider how it affected their work.

One of the most important things to know about 'post truth' is that it is on purpose.

It's not just a strange thing to have emerged from social media, nor just shock jocks and right wing politicians twisting the rhetoric of the left to stir the pot until some people started taking it seriously, nor the logical extreme of 'snowflake' hypercategorical identity politics playing out to the point (where everyone has the right to construct their own niche identity and epistemology without prejudice) - though these all have something to do with it.

It was an explicit strategy of Russian sci-fi writer and military strategist and adviser for governments to spread misinformation in order to undermine resistance. This guy knows his semiotics [find that source]. The theory goes that the government should purposefully release contradictory statements. One day saying one thing and the next announcing the exact opposite. Not knowing what is true, never knowing what the governments policy is, there is nothing for people to organise a resistance against. Nobody knows what to resist. Given Trumps famous involvement in 'post-truth' and the Russians involvement with Trump it's hard not to believe there is this method in the madness.

Alt-Right etc, and the willful misunderstanding and co-opting of left wing criticism of truth and authority. Note Hitler from the session on rhetoric (eg: claiming to be a minority while being a majority, claiming to be persecuted while persecuting, myth of a good people who are wrongfully disempowered but inherently strong, struggling against corrupt people who are wrongfully powerful but inherently weak.)

Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm skeptical of OOO. It seems self contradictory on many important points, and doesn't escape 'subjectivity' that it claims to. But I withhold judgement as I haven't read enough. Maybe I'm just not getting it.


http://files.meetup.com/328570/Harman%20-%20The%20Third%20Table.pdf
OOO - objects cannot access each other in themselves each other. Who says the mind is the only thing that has an outside. Objects also have outsides. Objects translate each other, just as we do them.
German idealism, german realism.
The Third Table - Graham Harman. (after metaphor of the two tables)
Philosophia means love of wisdom, not wisdom. Socrates 'knows nothing'.
'Interior' 'Exterior' finite, infinite? So many metaphors like this, and yet rejects Kant who says we're constrained to think within our capacity for thought which is spatio temporal. If Harman says two objects percieve or interact with each other - it is only because he percieves it and rationalises it as such.
And isn't this: 'Just as we cannot
reduce the table downward to electric charges
rushing through empty space, we also cannot
reduce it upward to its theoretical, practical, or·
causal effects on humans or on anything else.'
Just saying that we can't know anything 'in itself' just as Kant and Husserl did?
"Our third
table emerges as something distinct from its own
components and also withdrO!lJJs behind all its
external effects."
But he says: "Our table is an intermediate
being found neither in subatomic physics nor in
human psychology, but in a permanent autonomous
zone where objects are simply themselves." - but *as they appear to us to be so*, right??? how else could it be? This aesthetic sense of the bootness of boots, the tableness of tables, or more to the point the this-particular-tableness of this-particular-table - how is that not subjective? The only way this makes sense is in the post-structuralist sense of 'differance', or like Levinasian ethics - where it is revealed that something is concealed, we sense the essence as 'internal' to it signified by it's external appearance but always beyond the grasp, as an in-itself. This is perhaps what Harman means by 'withdrawal'. But again, there's nothing new about this, it's just the 20th century philosophy he claims to criticise.
"By locating the third table (and to repeat,
this is the only real table) in a space between the
"table" as particles and the "table" in its effects
on humans, we have apparently found a table
that can be verified in no way at all, whether
N'086 I Graham Harman
8 I Aristotle, MetapJrysics,
trans. Joe Sachs
(Santa Fe, N. Mex.:
Green Lion Press,
1999),p.145.
EN I 11
by science or by tangible effects in the human
sphere. Yes-and that is precisely the point.
Any philosophy is unwortby of the name if it
attempts to convert objects into the conditions
by which they can be known or verified." - Exactly as Kant says about things in themselves. So what's new?
Harman's observation that 'The
term philosophia, possibly coined by Pythagoras,
famously means not "wisdom" but "love
of wisdom."' is a good one, but here he is not positing his correct view as a contrast to any other that got it wrong. He's just wording a pertinent observation well. Perhaps the problem then is either than he claims to critique and argue against things when really he is just re-articulating things and putting together aspects of the history of philosophy, to raise some things to our attention, particularly about art - which would be fine, but why not articulate it as such?
Kant says this, Heidegger that and if we qualify Levinas with Derrida, then Latour makes sense as a more complete philosophy...

Post Digital


Post Digital

After – Digital

Reaction against digital / Remaining human with tech: 
analogue, face to face IRL, artisanal makers, slow-food, circuit bending, pre-digital nostalgia, hipsters, reclaiming agency

Indifference to digital:
Effortlessly use digital but dismissive of digital ‘hype’ and ‘paranoia’.
I used an app to order a pizza, they know where I live – such future, so dystopia.

a new ordinary


In Film and Literature

Post Digital
Fantastic Mr Fox
Fan-fictionBladerunner 2049
Vaporwave

Post Human
A Clockwork Orange
Bladerunner & 2049
Akira
Wild Palms
Never Let Me Go


a new ordinary

For children born in East Germany it was ordinary.

The history of ideas, society and culture – why do you think what you think?


Post Humanism

Challenges to human centred attitudes:

Is it posthuman-ism?
(a critical theory about what comes after the biological category ‘humans’)
or post-humanism?
(after the ideology ‘humanism’)

What is humanism?
Focus on human, in contrast to divine, nature or machine.
A focus on ethics – fraternity, civil society, progressive government, humanitarianism.

Eg: Dr Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vDWWy4CMhE




thinking beyond human:

Nietzsche’s ubermensch and transhumanism
Cyborgs, Haraway and Hayles
Ecotheory
Indigenous philosophy



new ordinary

Control Systems and Agency
A challenge to ethics
Cybernetics and Ostranenie




Manufacturing consent or not even bothering with that any more?
In my lifetime without my consent, without public debate, sometimes without significant resistance:

Biometrics in passports and at airports
Just two days ago I accidentally found a map showing that Google has been tracking my movements without me knowing.
Voice recognition when phoning the government.
Phones eavesdropping on conversations and presenting advertisements. Even if I switch it off on my phone, the people I’m with may have theirs switched on.
People I know may tag images of me without my consent enabling automatic face recognition.
The US government can access US corporate data, and most social media is run by US corporations, so the US government can monitor my movements use automatic face and voice recognition and eavesdrop on private conversations in my own home.
Innocent people, including children, are kept in jail indefinitely, for years, without trial.
Corporate commandeering of public streets requiring residents to use access passes.

A strategy or making us want the mechanisms of control, rather than force them upon us. It becomes difficult to get by, to get work, to socialise, etc, without participation.
To ‘opt out’ is to be unemployed, poor, desperate and alone.







we are hidden in noise

opt out alerts authorities
stealth draws attention

needle in haystack algorithms






Technology Ethics and Posthumans

Much of our ethics is based on the human interactions, especially not treating humans like objects.
If the distinction between subject and object, human and machine, collapses what becomes of ethics?
Micro, Meso and Macro system integration and agency.





Can you get work without a mobile?
Can you live anywhere without rent or debt?
Where does coltan come from?




Donna Haraway and Katherine Hayles





Donna Haraway
IT and cybernetic theory
Feminism
Post-structuralism
Resistance politics



Katherine Hayles
Science fiction
IT reality
Embodiment
Self




IT and Biotech

IP and DNA
DNA as encoding
Biological Hacking
Environment – Anthrax, Cane Toads and the future



AI
Strong and weak AI
Problem solving
Automation
Robotics

Glitches
Robots at war
Should we be more worried that it will be out of control, or that someone will control it?

Problems:

Do we control the control system, or does it control us?

How to maximise agency within a post human macro system beyond any one individual’s control?

What does ‘freedom’ mean?


"All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun." - Jean Luc Godard

Bruno Latour - sociologist/anthropologist studying scientists and engineers.

- focus on agency in interconnections among people and things

- from the Fr. tradition. Relation to de Certeau and situationalists?

- so some relation also to cybernetics and post humanism

- not a clear distinction between 'subject's and 'objects' or people and things. We normally think of people using things.

- Latour says that things have agency, even if they may not have cognition.

- More importantly, agency changes during interaction, as in example of a person with a gun from Pandora's Hope. Eg: US gun lobby says, 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people.'

- My digression into the principles of ethics, agency and cybernetics. Tech enables (enhanced) agency enables - to do - it follows, 'should we do?' and 'who can do what to who?' - technology, 'know how', thereby inherently ethical (see the workshop on ethics). Yet with post humanism, and ANT, distinction blurs boundary of subject and object and Western ethics is founded on this distinction - eg: don't treat people like objects (not as a means but an end, capable of judgement etc). Yet what is more definitively human that tool use and language, to be technological? We have always been cyborgs. Normally we might say it's not the tool that is evil but what you do with it, who uses it. A stick can be used to pound grain, to build a house, to hit someone on the head, it is not in itself 'evil'. The difference with guns, and atomic bombs, is that the specifically designed to kill, they are specifically designed to make it easier to kill more people, more easily, from a greater distance. Neither the user nor the designer and maker can wash their hands of this.

Back to Latour:

"The myth of the Neutral Tool under complete human control and the myth of the Autonomous Destiny that no human can master are symmetrical. But a third possibility is more commonly realized: the creation of a new goal that corresponds to neither agent's program of action. (You only wanted to injure but, with a gun now in your hand, you want to kill.) p178, Pandora's Hope.

"Which of them, then, the gun or the citizen, is the actor in this situation? Someone else (a citizen gun, a gun-citizen). If we try to comprehend techniques while assuming that the psychological capacity of humans is forever fixed, we will not succeed in understanding how techniques are created nor even how they are used. You are a different person with a gun in your hand."p179

"You are another subject because you hold the gun; the gun is another object because it has entered into a relationship with you. The gun is no longer the gun-in-the-armoury or the gun-in-the-drawer or the gun-in-the-pocket, but the gun-in-your-hand, aimed at someone who is screaming. What is true of the subject, the gunman, is true of the object, of the gun that is held... The twin mistake of the materialists and the sociologists is to start with essences, those of subjects or those of objects... It is now possible to shift our attention to this 'someone else', the hybrid actor comprising (for instance) gun and gunman. We must learn to attribute - redistribute - actions to many more agents than are acceptable in either the materialist or the sociological account. Agents can be human or (like the gun) nonhuman, and each can have goals (or functions, as engineers prefer to say). Since the word 'agent' in the case of nonhumans is uncommon, a better term, as we have seen is actant. Why is this nuance important? Because, for example, in my vignette of the gun and the gunman, I could replace the gunman with 'a class of unemployed loiterers,' translating the individual agent into a collective; or I coudl talk of 'unconscious motives,' translating it into a subindividual agent. I could redescribe the gun as 'what the gun lobby puts in the hands of unsuspecting children,' translating it from an object into an institution or a commercial network; or I could call it 'the action of a trigger on a cartridge through the intermediary of a spring and a firing pin,' translating it into a mechanical series of causes and consequences. These examples of actor-actant symmetry force us to abandon the subject-object dichotomy, a distinction that prevents the understanding of collectives. It is neither people nor guns that kill. Responsibility for action must be shared among the various actants."pp179-180

What is digital humanities? You're looking at it.
An all too close future in which neoliberalism has declared philosophy redundant 
because it is not profitable in a world where only vocational courses, 
ways to be useful to corporations, are salable to people desperate to be employable, 
in a struggle to be the unit of labour in highest demand. 
Philosophy and other humanities disciplines survive only through the 
actions of those who see it's value for it's own sake, who ask 
"what is all this money for anyway?" Who say, "If the party bans it, 
if the nazis ban it, if the king bans it, if the budget bans it, it's all the same."
Those few who can steal back time out of their 
14hr days in intellectual labour the field of technology innovation 
assemble ad hoc courses from pre-existing materials, books, podcasts, movies - 
both online and offline to maximise reach, to cater for as many as possible
in the shortest time whatever their type and degree of inconvenience. 
These hastily hacked together courses are little more than notes, selected 
samples of pithy quotes from Anaximandros, the Mahabharata, Spivak and Haraway, 
with annotations, aimed to get a point through, to show contrasts and oppositions 
in the shortest possible time, in the hope that insights might propogate like memes 
if only they are simple and incisive enough, designed by busy people for busy people, 
interspersed with bullet points and half finished sentences, telegraph style, 
in html pre tags showing notes as if they were raw code because when it came 
down to the last minute there still wasn't enough time even to mark it up, 
let alone write it up, followed by embedded clips, maps and audio files 
designed to sustain interest through the density of text,
trusting that one idea will lead to another and each may follow from nodes
in this broad network into depths of their own devise.

- At least that's how I see it ;-) Some see it as a way to bring 
empirical evidence to Humanities. Some see it as a 
positivist plot to take over humanities. Some see it as 
a neoliberal plot to commercialise humanities through technology startups.

Glitches reveal the human behind the precise veneer of technology.


politics of
relation to post humanism
pragmatics, performance, interdisiplinarity
distant reading
etc

Who am I? A product of British Imperial Eugenics, designed and built for a redundant empire. And yes, sometimes, it does matter who is speaking, Roland Barthes. Moreton-Robinson on the universally anti-universalist fallacy.

Indigenous qualifier implies then colonised.

Most 'normal' person is Han, but Western colonisation has affected the whole world.

Why it tends to be political

moreton robinson (epis) and collins gearing (difference and homogeneity) in indigenous epistemology and ethics.

Is it anyone indigenous doing philosophy, or philosophy specific to indigeneity - and so relating to country and exogenous, foreign, colonial, invasive philosophy

'Indigenous' Western philosophy was colonial from the outset (Miletus - a Greek colony in Asia, etc). What happens to myths when taken away from country (Greek myths in England)? Layers and association, rather than distinction, but these depend on each other. Categories.

Myths and constellations - Greeks as mariners, relation to constellar navigation in the Caroline Islands. From pragmatics, food, navigation and law to abstract moral fable.

The meaning of orange leaves in Japan and QLD.

Epistemological status of 'dreams' - the crow chickadee dream.

Help understanding meaning of 'country' to Westerner or other foreignors:

Traditionally aboriginal people could navigate hundreds of kilometres (show map). For this they need good ways of remembering.

Memory – poetics, art, loci, landscape and law. Redundancy. Failure of Westerners to perceive, Yeundemu art – destruction of small communities.

Vivien Johnson points out in ‘Once upon a time in Papunya’ that European’s didn’t recognise aboriginal art as such until they saw bark painting – paint on a rectangular flat surface.

Maps aren’t necessarily in the form we see here. They may be in read from constellations. They may be in paintings. They may be songs and poems and ritual dances.

For example, in some situations one person is responsible for telling a story and another is not allowed to tell it but must correct the other if they get it wrong or right. In information technology that is know as redundancy – if you have one copy of a message you don’t know if there is an error. If you have two copies you can easily compare to isolate errors and fix them.

You may have heard of myth being likened to a weave – Athene and Perseus. A map is like that. In this map we see a story all at once, but if you journey through it, there are many stories from point to point.

The method of 'loci' or ‘mind palace’ is a well known memory technique used in ancient and medieval times. In this method we imagine some familiar place, such as the house we grew up in or some other familiar building and in each room or some place within it we imagine placing some object that will help trigger the desired memory. We can wander through the house and recall in sequence whatever we need. In The Memory Code Lynne Kelly points out that this is a technique used in traditional Aboriginal culture. Most people in the world have heard of 'songlines' and have seen traditional aboriginal art which depicts, in partly abstract form, landscapes, laws, stories, journeys and practical information such as where and when to find food, and conveys different information for people with different roles in society (eg: https://nga.gov.au/collections/atsi/). In this sense the painting can be read, like writing, but also, the land itself, which carries bears these stories about law, spirits, food, water and so on, becomes the text in which memory is written and from which is read, and which can be journeyed through in the mind or in reality, using the method of 'loci' - understanding this, we can begin to appreciate how country, songs, art, poetry, memory, law and survival are all connected.

Star Maps and Travelling to Ceremonies: The Euahlayi People and Their Use of the Night Sky - Euahlayi people.

The Deep History of Aboriginal Trade and Exchange Networks in the Top End of the Northern Territory Mudburra and Jingili people