Today, while reading Tom Vanderbilt’s The Pleasure and Pain of Speed from Nautilus’ Issue 9, I learned about the saccade. This is the term for the rapid movement of eyes between fixation on different objects. Our visual perception is basically turned off during this time — which, apparently, makes up about 60 — 90 minutes of our day.
This ties in nicely to an anthropological theory I have that I wrote about over a decade ago: The Space Between Thoughts. I think we have an instinctual awareness that our perceptions are incomplete — and then we come up with all kinds of stories and theories for what happens in those gaps, and where our perception fails. What happens during a saccade. The saccade is where the coin reappears — where the magic happens.
It’s nice to finally have a word for it.
I posit that the event horizon of “historically important” as a quality of information is the point at which the dataset disappears from living memory. The magnitude of certain events ensures that they will be recorded for posterity, but even then, the reasons behind that recording fade as the people who experienced it die. I might be using the wrong terms here. Maybe it’s not history I’m talking about, but anthropology. History is “these are the things that happened”; anthropology is “these are the ways people acted.”
Living as I do, in a society where many people are arguably obsessed with recording and archiving every detail of their lives, I wonder what methods future historians/anthropologists will use to sift wheat from chaff — especially when, as this post is evidence for, so much of what is shared and saved is chaff.
That’s long-term historicity. If history is still being recorded 5,000 years from now, this whole epoch will likely be reduced to a one-liner: “An age of technological growth so rapid it’s effects threatened to destroy civilization.”
Specific to this is the rise of the automated autobiography. People have been posting things online so long now that there are services to show us and let us share what we were doing to the day, 1, 3, 5, or 10 years ago. Is there a broader desire to consume these mini-histories, or do they just exist to serve our need to feel more important than we are? It doesn’t have to be either/or. My bet is that it’s an admixture of onanism, exhibitionism, and voyeurism.
Signal to noise depends on your ears.
Trash is treasure.
so… i’m — aahh — i had a poem in the student literary magazine, The Juggler. does that make me a published poet? or does it have to count elsewhere? can i call myself a poet now or is that still premature?
i was also inducted into the lambda alpha beta chapter of the Anthropology Honor Society. I got a groovy card and a certificate. I don’t really know what it means to be whatever I am now. In fact, I think it is just a thing to say that you are and has no real meaning or impact. Kinda like Shriners. Or maybe not, cuz Shriners get to drive around in go-carts at parades and they get to wear fezzes (sp? fezi?). More like a member of Congress. Yeah, definitely congress.
5.25.02 INT. HESBURGH COMPUTER CLUSTER KIOSK 1:42pm DAY
i know why i like anthropology so much. i think i have finally understood the holism of anthropology. anthropology is applied philosophy. i’ve read so many things that describe types of behavior and discussions of what defines reality, etc that seem totally unaware that anthropologists deal with these concepts as a matter of course, not only metaphysical, but documented and observed in a variety of cultures. i was discussing with Hani the other day about conceptions of reality and this man named Rorty says everyone has their own reality, something similar is posited in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. i heard/read these things and thought…of course! the reality i know is structured from the society and mythos i am surrounded by. my relationship as subject to object, “Quality” in the book, is determined by the associations learned and experienced by existence. those who are termed ‘insane’ are those whose learning and experience have formed analogues that are significantly different from the societal norm. their reality is not invalid…just different. the conflict arises because the realities cannot coexist and remain in harmony.
after that digression i will attempt to be succinct.
i think whenever a new philosophical argument arises, the person who comes up with it should head to their local anthropologist to find out if there is documentation of the belief system in the really real world.
chances are there is.
the more i shuffle my anthropological knowledge and supplement it with other forms, the more i understand what the hell humans are.
today was the annual Anthropology Department Goat Roast. At nine in the morning some anthro majors and the profs, using stone tools produced in the Lithic Technologies class, butchered a goat and a sheep. keep in mind that properly produced obsidian stone knives are something like 5times sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel. so the actual cutting part was pretty easy. then they were marinaded, kebabed and grilled to perfection. not to mention the other great foods that accompanied it: goat curry, chili, salad, noodles, potato dishes, and wonderful peanut butter/chocolate bars. when anthro people get together the parties are great. especially since most of the side dishes were recipes from around the world. i’m going to buy the new anthro club tshirt too its pretty nice. i got to do some flint knapping myself, but since i have never taken the class, i’m not too good at it. however, i did get a nice sharp flake that i cut my thumb with. i would have died very early if i had been cro-magnon. cleanup sucked mostly because we were all numb with cold but hey if that is the price you pay to be an anthro nerd with all the other anthro nerds (profs included) so be it. hot damn i had fun!
distance from ND to Fargo…734.2 miles…estimated hours of traveling time 12hrs, 27mins. thank god for instant messenger. too bad you can’t actually look at or touch the person you are talking to. i’m gonna write a paper on the reflexivity of anthropological filmmaking now.