Saturday, August 27, 2016


Jacques Coulardeau & Dexter at (46)

Dexter's Death is a Cope Out

I discovered Dexter on bus stops in Paris. Advertisements for the series. I was curious. I got the omnibus, the first three novels. Then I was infested and I ordered the first four seasons or so and all the books and since then the sequels and new seasons.

I have lost some mental weight with him but I think he is becoming slightly too religious in his sixth season, and what’s more very one-sided, or should I say three-sided? I am not sure since the three religions behind it all come from the same melting pot.

What is interesting is the idea that some people have a dark passenger who makes them kill, and that dark passenger is a guest that comes in when a child is traumatized in a way or another in his/her very young age. That’s slightly simple minded. But that creates a good character for a thriller, especially when one of these criminals with dark passengers has been trained or retrained – in order to be refrained – into only killing people who deserve to die because they are evil. I have already seen that in Anne Rice’s vampires, witches and recently werewolves.

But what is evil, great master?

Evil is what I consider evil, though killing is what makes me full, gives me happiness, and what’s more it replaces any kind of enjoyment. This darkly-inhabited social protector comes, or should I write cums, by killing and in killing. The rest is nothing but blah blah to feel better, though he will never tell anyone.

And imagine your own sister seeing you in the act ! ! ! Yum, yum, I like that indeed. And pass me the knife over and pass me the salt over and pass me the red blood over. 

Unluckily it got short lived on TV with its eighth season when he gets “killed” and in fact escape punishment. But he also gets killed in the eighth book and this time sloppily, rapidly, urgently. Killed, disposed of and liquidated. The author is obviously bored with his character and since a character is expendable, let’s kill him and forget about it

Shame on you! No author gas that divine right of life and death!

Research Interests:

Sociology of Crime and Deviance, Trauma Studies, Police, Psychopathology, Brotherhood, Serial killers (Anthropology), Psychopathy, Florida Archaeology, Post traumatic stress disorder, Serial killers, Florida history, Blood, PTSS, Florida Everglades, Psychological Implications and role of sisters and brothers on identity, and Miami

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Jacques Coulardeau at (51)



This series is a masterpiece in a way, not by its producer but in itself. Note this is true for several reasons, over six seasons of course, six the number of Solomon’s wisdom.

1- The period chosen here is crucial for the modern world. It is when the colonial mind of our European culture reached its summit and started its downfall with the First World War. After WWI colonialism in Europe was finished, even in spite of the Nazi relapse.

2- In Great Britain it was crucial the aristocracy came to terms with the social transformation of women having to be recognized as crucial in society and as having to hold jobs and social positions. Note that could also be true for the whole western world after WWI.

3- In Great Britain it was urgent they came to terms with the Irish question and it was hard in this noble family for whom an Irishman could be a chauffeur but the husband of one of their daughters, of the youngest most rebellious of the three daughters, that was an other story.

4- In the whole world it came to the surface of history that everyone had to have, has to have, a money earning job of some kind and that everyone has to live with the means they are able to earn by their work. The aristocracy has to learn that their mansions are not only theirs but they are the heritage of humanity and as such they have to open them to the curiosity of simple people, and that can become a regular income to take care of this heritage.

5- In the whole world too it is to be assumed that servants are no longer a special class serving the aristocracy – and the rich – in total subservience. Servants could never be the same and the number of servants had to go down and many had to find new social positions for which they were qualified or could acquire qualification, provided education was open to all.

It is such questions and quite a few more that make this series a real masterpiece and the production is so lavish, florid, beautiful, extravagant that no one can resist and not push the door or the TV remote control’s button to start the adventure.

Research Interests:

Education, Service Quality, Public Health, Ireland, Aristocracy, Hospital Management, WWI, Pig Farming, Universal Primary Education, World War One, Universal Basic Education, Gender and family history; history of subaltern groups such as servants and children; questions of masculinity and fatherhood, Domestic Servants, British Aristocracy and country houses, UNIVERSAL PRIIMARY EDUCATION, and Pig Farming Business Plan

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Jacques Coulardeau & Harry Potter at (64)



J.K. Rowling had sworn she was finished with Harry Potter, sworn so loud that everyone knew it was a lie. She tried some other styles but it did not work really. 

So revive that poor dead and buried Harry Potter the author changes media and shifts from the printing press to the theater stage where she finds two people who are going to help her in that new venture, a playwright and a stage director.

The play in London was and is a success but the book, though bestselling is going to be disappointing to the readers who have not seen the play. The money-making logic of the venture will lead the producers of the play to releasing a DVD-Bluray capture of the stage production as fast as possible for the millions of people who want more than a few stage directions. She might be tempted to shift directly to a cinema production but that will frustrate the readers the same way since a cinema production cannot be compared to a play. It is like moonshine and starshine in a fully sunny sky. The film will have to betray the play to be realistic in its special effects.

But what I discover is that the author, from the very start, is obsessed by trilogies, triads, ternary structures, and so on.

Research Interests:
Literature, Magic, Drama, Theater and film, Harry Potter, Cinema, Popular Literature, Witchcraft (Anthropology Of Religion),Beyond Good and Evil, Dark Triad, Magician, Catholic Trilogy, Triads, Potter Harry and Voldemort, Alternate Worlds, and Black Magick


Popular literature is the mirror in which the standard literate audience of any country, even the world, is looking at itself. The authors are only the go-between and the intercessors. There is no hope for anyone in this globalized world if we do not have some popular literature, becoming films, TV series and whatever can reach the WIDEST audience that enables people to dream and be haunted by the liberating cathartic vision of a multi-layer world.

J.K. Rowling is a ternary mind (probably from too much Christian education), so she sees a world cut in three tiers.

On top the muggle world, the one you and I can see everyday.

Under or behind the world of wizards and witchcraft, but the good one, that of Harry Potter and consorts.

Finally even deeper or farther behind the world of Voldemort, the wizard turned wicked, evil and morbid, the populist wizard calling for the persecution of muggles, the cult of pure bloods , the full domination of everyone by his dung beetles and Shadows of Death.

It is a nightmare that we have to keep in mind all the time. It takes very little for this world of evil populist fascistic isolationist and imperialistic policies to become true any time and start a burkini witch hunt.
That's why Harry Potter is the catharsis we need for us not to vote for the lethal and death-bringing trompe l'oeil politicians that try to hypnotize us into locking the doors and the windows, even the chimneys of course, to anything that is not pure, meaning purely us and nothing else.


Without special effects it is bread without salt and a summer day without sunshine


I can’t resist and I will start with the new triad J-K (Rowling), John/Jack (Tiffany) and Jack (Thorne) like an echo of another trinity Jesus-James-John, the master/teacher/rabbi, the brother and the youngest apostle hence the son, presented as such by Jesus to his mother Mary from his cross. I will not follow that line with this new volume but it is constantly present, especially with the two boys Albus and Scorpius who are always running after a third one like Cedric twice and then Delphi both the predator and the prey of the two boys trying to deal with another triad, herself, her father Voldemort and his arch enemy Harry Potter and to move away from the ill-fated triad James Potter Sr., Lily Potter and Harry Potter. It could only lead to a catastrophe since then Voldemort would be building a quartet with the three Potters.

First of all it is a strange book indeed since it is a play and not a novel. So we get no descriptions, or hardly any since stage directions are not as good as prose. It is essentially a dialogue between or among two characters or more, cut up in rather short scenes. You have to rebuild everything in your mind’s eye, if you have a mind and if you have an eye in that mind and thirdly if you can, because it is hard to know the precise intonations intended in these dialogues and at times the meaning depends on these intonations. In other words you, Harry Potter addicts, are going to be frustrated and maladjusted in this dry scenario.

The second remark I will make is that what we read implies a tremendous level of special effects. That is easy in a film or TV series but on a stage…? So you will never get the real thing if you can’t see it on stage and if they do not propose a capture of the play on DVD, a real capture with no re-mastered special effects. Some of them are not very creative. Shape-shifting and shape shifters have become very banal and common place after “Supernatural” (How many season already?), “The X Files” (quite a few seasons too, and they stopped though they are speaking of starting again and they may even have) and “Fringe” (and they have come to an end or the end) or some copy cats of these. And that is of course in the line of vampires who could turn into bats or werewolves who could turn into wolves precisely.

The third element is that this play is un-understandable if you do not know the whole saga. First there are many allusions to event of the previous volumes, the old volumes, and you have an obligation to remember, a duty of memory. But what’s more, the author uses a time-turner to make us go back to old events that are revived that way.  You better know what she is speaking of and in some scenes, the very same way as in Back to the Future you may have two, or why not three though the author avoids that potential possibility, different identities and ages of the same characters. And what’s more  modern identities are crossed with and by contradictory feelings towards the other characters, feelings coming from the past, like how the Potter side reacts to that poor Draco Malfoy. You better review and revise your summaries.

The next remark has to do with some political science fiction resulting from travelling in time and changing history, the famous butterfly effect. We are thus able to visit what the modern world would be if the dark forces were to win, if Voldemort were able to win, like Trump, le Pen or Brexit. If they do, the only solution is to push them around, filibuster them if we can and neutralize them if possible. Can you control a tempest coming from all the frustrations of people in front of the establishment: frustrated in their minds by gross lies and promises that were not held; frustrated in their feelings by the insecurity they feel in front of the changing world they do not understand; and frustrated in their deeper impulses and desires by a world in which genders are multiplied from two to more than a dozen and in which gender orientation is a multiple choice challenge with more than one answer to every stage: the gay feel besieged and become aggressive; the straight feel menaced and become uncertain; and all other colors and options feel queer, bizarre, strange and kind of disoriented.  And Pride is by far not enough to make the world change smoothly.

But political science fiction comes basically, I think, from deranged and corrugated minds: Albus and Scorpius are out of their minds when they want to change the past.  No one can remake history, not even by remembering it which is anyway a reconstruction to make it palatable, digestible and if possible haunting. But it is funny to find out the best intentions in the mental world of two teenagers may lead to the worst nightmares in the life of everybody, the same way as Brexit leads to a chasm of chaos to the point of pushing it back two years and then now three years and in a month or two to four years and after some rounds of negotiations it will be recognized as the perfectly good bad idea. Imagine Voldemort and his Death Eaters and all his dung beetles ready to do the worst crimes for a pellet of cow pie.

The fifth element is that the story is funny and very sentimental if not sentimentalese. That will be the last remark of that type I will make. And this remark leads to the main content of the book as I see it.

The central question is the conflict between the deficient father Harry Potter and his second son? The author does not insist or harp on the first son, a certain James Potter Jr., and thus does not really capture the problem of the younger son. Being a younger son is a real – I mean R.E.A.L., real – curse in itself. Think of Abel when God decided not to favor the first born Cain. At the end there is an allusion to that James Jr. seen as at peace with the father of the two sons, Harry Potter, by Albus Potter, and Harry Potter’s response is then that in fact there is no real relation between him and his elder son. But at the end, that’s too late and it requires a lot more exploration.

But the author, with her two male sidekicks, is a woman, probably a mother and she probably believes she knows what it is to be a parent, forgetting that being a mother has little to do with being a father and she has no direct experience of this father status and men generally cannot really speak of it because they are like afraid of being misunderstood when they start telling you they love their sons, they want to hug them and cuddle them as long as they can and they have to break that desired relation, both mental and physical, by far too early for them, but most of the time too late for the son: in other words they do not know how to shift from the relation of a loving father who expresses his love with physical and mental closeness to the relation of a loving father who expresses his love with concern, support, encouragement to get out in the world and sow their wild mental and physical oats in all social fields. And sure enough Albus Potter and Harry Potter are both incompetent and how they come to some kind of understanding is superficial and purely verbose.

She misses many things and particularly that whether there is a conflict or not, the son will end up either doing some of the things the father did, or not doing some of the things the father did, or doing some of the things the father did not do, or not doing some of the things the father did not do. And most of the time some of each of the four options. That is called transference, positive or negative transference of positive or negative elements. It works both ways from the father who tries to transfer things onto the son, and from the son who tries to be free to choose what he accepts and what he refuses.

The author even goes further and brings together two sons of two fathers, the two sons living a conflict with their respective fathers and the two fathers inheriting an old conflict between them they try to project (transference again) onto their respective sons. She very wisely makes the two boys best friends at first sight. She systematically calls that friendship and calls them friends, but they are best friends and that is love, but I guess in her mind love has to do with desire and impulse and signifies sex, marriage and children. That’s how she deals with Ron and Hermione for example. The girl is a potential mother with all it means. For Albus and Scorpius there cannot be any kind of turning the other into a mother. More about that in a moment. To end up on the transference from Harry to Albus it is simple. Harry declares his fright in front of pigeons, and Albus declares at once they are innocent – go tell that to the guardians of the cathedral in Wells who have invested on falcons to purge the site of its pigeons, or to the managers of airports who also use falcons to clear up the zone of the airport of its pigeons – and as a negative transference he will be a pigeon race manager. That kind of final solution of the conflict is rather trite, and Scorpius does not deserve the same treatment since we do not know his ending, showing that the relation between the two boys is insignificant for the author and she tries to cast it into a block of heterosexual concrete.

We have to understand their dialogue in 2016 when the relations between males, two males or several males, or actually between females too, two females or more, are just the crucial social question of the moment after for example the decision of the US Supreme Court on the subject. I will only take some examples from the end of the book, but it is present all along.

Page 265 Scorpius says: “So we hide in a hole?” Albus answers: “As pleasurable as it will be to hide in a hole with you for the next forty years . . .” Then Scorpius retorts: “If I had to choose a companion to be at the return of eternal darkness with, I’d choose you.” In the situation they are in, either this is serious and then the words have a clear meaning: it is a declaration of love on both sides, or it is humor but due to the situation it is really very dark if not black humor. Let’s say, serious or humorous it is nevertheless homoerotic.

Page 300-301 Scorpius says: “I asked out Rose Granger-Weasley.” Albus responds: “And she said no.” Scorpius retorts: “But I asked her. I planted the acorn. The acorn that will grow into our eventual marriage.” That is erotic indeed and, on the side of a dating failure, it is rather male-dominant, maybe even slightly phallocratic. But later on Albus says: “I honestly thought I’d be the first of us to get a girlfriend.” And Scorpius responds: “Oh, you will, undoubtedly, probably that new smoky-eyed Potions professor – she’s old enough for you, right?” Albus reacts: “I don’t have a thing about older women!” And Scorpius can add: “And you’ve got time – a lot of time – to seduce her. Because Rose is going to take years to persuade.” Albus can have the last word: “I admire your confidence.” In this passage they set their orientation as being heterosexual, though Scorpius is rejected – but is he really – by his first “date” who says no of course, and Albus does not seem to be in a rush to get one. In other the two boys have closet undetermined sexual orientation and follow in public some kind of heterosexual game that does not seem to be urgent or really serious. The author is exploiting neither side of the coin that has to do with gender orientation.

I can assure you at 14 they are obsessed by it. And they are indeed.

Page 302 we have this little scene:

“Scorpius reaches in and hugs Albus.
Albus: What’s this? I thought we decided we don’t hug.
Scorpius: I wasn’t sure. Whether we should. In this new version of us – I had in my head.”

It is obvious the heterosexual version of the two boys is the “new version” of them. Then the old version, or the previous version was rather gay, and now they still hug and the play makes it longer than a casual hug between two brothers or cousins. At least Scorpius wants it and takes the initiative, and Albus does not refuse it and takes part in it, accepts it. Is that going to be an orientation, or a gender? We definitely need to get more on those two pubescent teenagers.

After saying all that let me conclude. This play will both exhilarate AND frustrate you. But that’s too bad. Let’s hope we SOON get a DVD capture of the stage production.


Monday, August 22, 2016


Jacques Coulardeau & Timothy Olyphant at (45)



The whole question I am concerned about is whether a TV series, any TV series can be analyzed only at the purely technical, filming, shooting and editing, level or if it can be dealt with as a work of fiction that has to be considered like any work of fiction, as seriously as we would consider Shakespeare or Walt Whitman.

I am not satisfied with all such technical approaches that only speak of ellipses and flash backs and flash forwards and the angle of the take or the camera, the zooming details and movements.

I am not satisfied with those who consider a TV series, since it has to be popular, as having to be banal, hollow, void, meaningless and not being able to be analyzed the way any other work of fiction would and should be analyzed.

I deeply agree with the practice of Great Britain where an actor can – and must or at least is recommended to – have a parallel career on the stage, for TV and for the cinema. I regret the USA do not have that practice. We know the result when we compare British series and American series.

What’s more I don’t see why so many directors – and critics – consider film directors cannot direct a TV series, and they generally concede Twin Peaks as being an exception of a rather marginal man in the world of television. That’s grotesque.

I watched all these seasons in one go, two episodes per night and I summarized some general ideas only at the end. It is thus a living experience of this series and I think that’s how TV has to be taken, as a living experience. It is not because Dexter was killed – was he really killed – in his TV series that the author Jeff Lindsay does not have the right to keep him alive and to go on with his adventures. And we had already been used with such discrepancies between the TV series and the novel series. 

Yet a series has a problem with its end. It has to come to an end in some kind of flourish, fireworks, fanfare, brilliant twist. Prison Breaks is one of the best as for that, and yet two years later they are speaking of bringing it back to the screen. How are they going to revive the main character? The actor is available but the character was buried.

Sir Conan Doyle has already done that with his Sherlock Holmes that he killed at least once and nearly killed several times to just bring him back to life to satisfy public demand. That was literature you are going to say, and then what! Maybe TV series are also fiction.

Let me tell you here that I find it funny when some pretend to deal with history in fictional series and to have a good historian as a guarantee that all they say in the series is pure history, like Un Village Français by Frédéric Krivine and the retired university professor Jean-Pierre Azéma who found a juicy supplement to his retirement instead of teaching a few years more (65 is the sacred age at which all researchers have to retire in France, even in medicine, so that some just move to the USA to go on with their scientific work). Sorry to deceive you Mr Krivine, either you are an author and you respect the rules of fiction, and you work for television and you respect the rules of TV series and that goes against anything having to do with historical truth, especially since there is no truth, there are only points of view and Jean-Pierre Azéma is just one point-of-viewer among many others; or you are a historian and then you should be teaching your point og view about history to some university students. We are not watching your series to have any historical truth, sorry point of view, hammered into our thick skulls.

Luckily, otherwise they would reinvent the Bible.

Research Interests:

Drugs And Addiction, Southern Studies (U.S. South), Drugs and drug culture, Cinema, Series TV, Kentucky History, Moonshine, Marihuana,Company Coal Towns in eastern Kentucky, Heroin, Alcohol Addiction, Whisky, The Deep South, History of Kentucky, Political Affiliation and Gangsterism, and Timothy Olyphant


Mobile addiction, mobile dependence, mobile liberation

Kevin Talbot, ed. - STRICTLY M O B I L E, How the Largest Man-Made Platform in History Is Changing Our World – COPY R I G H T © 2 0 1 6 K E V I N TALBOT

This book is a collection of twelve studies (the authors apart from Kevin Talbot are Gary Clayton, John Couch, Jennifer Haroon, Aditya Khurjekar, Manish Kothari, Ezra Kucharz, Bill Mark, Bertrand Nepveu, Bob Richards, Paola Santana, Eric Topol,) on twelve important developments in the field of mobile technology written by twelve people who all play a key role in the fields they each cover. The style is simple and there is no over technical or scientific terms and language. It is written for the wide public, a public that is educated in computing but not more than necessary to do just a little bit more than surviving in this connected world.

A fundamental idea is given right from the start: mobile technology is transforming the world because of four factors: 1- world wide Internet usage, 2- global smart phone adoption, 3- the Internet of Things, and 4- the millennial generation who are mobile natives, in other words they were connected to a mobile phone from their very birth onward and maybe during the pregnancy of their mothers. We are becoming unable to survive in our society without a smart phone or at least a cell phone.

The question of Artificial Intelligence is crucial. Five domains of research and progress can be listed: 1- visual perception, 2- natural language understanding, 3- planning, 4- machine learning and 5- knowledge representation. When the five subfields of AI are put together we have robotics. Yet we need to cope with the field of emotions and understanding and interacting with people, and even so it is not enough and the system has to become autonomous and thus has to be able to cope with moral dilemmas That will have to be programmed in the machine. And yet that will not be human because a person does not react the way he/she is programmed but from what he/she has integrated through his/her specific experience in life from even before birth, and according to many circumstantial elements that a machine cannot even know about, let alone have programmed in its software: things like the mood of the person, the light around him/her, the weather, the heat and air conditioning, the general atmosphere around him/her, etc. A machine can learn but a machine will never learn like a human being who started hearing in the 24th week of his/her mother’s pregnancy. To paraphrase Shakespeare: “a machine does not bleed when you prick it, etc…” This author goes as far as saying that “a person reacts on instinct.” This is not human but animal. Humans have spent years and years to learn things that are not instincts but integrated knowledge. All houses have roofs not because it is the human instinct that dictates it but because the house and its roof are there to protect man against the weather. They are the extension n of our skin and clothing as Marshall McLuhan would say. That is not instinct, nothing to do with bees and their beehives, and animals do not wear clothing.

When dealing with medicine, it is quite clear that mobile technology will be essential, if it is not already, particularly connected health machines and wearable machines connected to services and people who can follow the patient and help if there is a problem or if an adjustment in the treatment is necessary. Yes big hospital are doomed and the main resistance will come from doctors (who will lose a lot of privileged positions) and regulatory bodies who will try to impose costly traditions because they are traditions, in spite of the risk assessment policy of WHO. Some of the new “micro-or-nano-machines” envisaged here are interesting though they all run into one problem. The following are suggested: digestable sensors (a chip in a digestable pill); sensors embeddable in the blood stream; and biodegradable chips directed glued on the skin. The real question is what will these connected devices be connected to and who will have access to this central processing unit (the new connected CPU à la 1984). This question is not even asked.

As for education, the digital natives all men can be, and some are such from nearly-birth, are already confronted and will be a lot more soon to mobile technology within the learning process but the author does not seem to be aware of some learning styles and strategies when he only lists “visual, kinetic and combination of different modes.” If it were that simple! Most people are visual dominant but not limited to the visual competence and some are not visual dominant but audio dominant. The kinetic element has to be widened to the tactile, gustative and touch elements, what makes a human experience uniquely human and any human experience uniquely personal. This has to do with a myriad of psychological en experiential elements that are absolutely unique for each learner. Standard school systems have tried to treat all students alike – in the name of equality – and that was a mistake but here that mistake is not corrected. MOOC are nothing but standard classes or lectures, at times visually enhanced (and we do not need to produce a MOOC to use visual elements in class, broadcast on the Internet.. The medium is different, the product is the same.

We have to shift from “KNOWLEDGE – TRANSMITTED TO – LEARNER” to a completely different procedure or algorithm like “LEARNER/SEARCHER – SEARCHES & ASSIMILATES – KNOWLEDGE HE/SHE FINDS BY HIS/HER OWN MEANS.” And we have to add this supplementary element that all the knowledge found by the learner has to be contradictory, to contain opposed points of view. And even so learners need, require and demand a regular human contact either by telephone, or by Skype or one-on-one for discussions, confrontations, suggestions, incitation to go beyond. Knowledge is a construct and we have to get out of the prefabricated standard scholastic knowledge to get to a constructive and constructing learner who owes all his knowledge to his own efforts and searches and even to the struggle to have the necessary confrontation sessions with other learners and with specialists of what he is looking for and with teachers who are not giving knowledge any more but only indicating a road that might be more productive or interesting in that constructive construction.

When the chapter comes to assessment it is a plain futuristic illusion. Of course we have to use machines for the assessment that has to be digital, interactive, tailored to the needs of the student and integrating feedback in real time. But that is good only for factual knowledge, Multiple Choice Questionnaire. But that cannot be the case of an essay that is constructive, creative and contradictory. How can a machine measure the originality of the architecture of such an essay and the brilliance of its style? Maybe one day when humans are robots and machines humans. The machines though can easily point out plagiarism and other evils of essay writing, including the use of essay-writing software. That’s why such essays should be contradictory presentations of three or four students in the shape of systematic debates with an assessing jury that could be composed of both teachers and learners. And that can or even has to start as soon as possible after birth, or at least after the child can speak, which is around three years old.

I have little to say about self-driving cars that will be very useful for blind people, elderly people, people who cannot drive and people who use chauffeurs all the time, uberized or not. But once again these cars will be connected and some central unit will build their “experience.” Who will be behind this central processing unit and what kind of security must we think of? It will be very useful to the police and other security agencies, private or public.

Manipulation is banal with modern robots and even better with tomorrow’s robots. Sensors have become versatile and they will be useful provided they bring “delight” to the users and they respect or enhance the users’ sense of dignity (people who cannot do something accept to do it with the help of a machine they control better than with the help of another human they do not control).

Autonomous transportation of merchandise with drones is purely commercial – or military – but it is so far limited by the weight drones can carry and the distance they can fly autonomously. We are far from personal drones for individuals, and frankly if that happens one day and everyone goes to the baker’s, to the post office and all other convenience stores or services by drone it might be hectic at certain times in the day and no more walking at all: good morning obesity and heart diseases.

The lunar frontier is being privatized. Good if you want but the project is greedy: only exploit resources on the moon that do not exist on the earth or are rare or difficult to reach. But the main question that is not even considered is that of the occupation of the soil and the property of the resources extracted from that soil. What would be the criteria for anyone having the right to do this or that here or there: first arrival, military means, buying a section of the moon (from whom?), the size of each claim, etc? Are we going to transform the moon into some western territory in cosmic dimension? Is the invasion of a territory and claiming that it is mine acceptable for me or any other person? And what do we do with previous occupants, if any? Exterminate them like American Indians and First Nations?

The front lines are numerous and those considered here are only a few. The hardware is not really a problem today, and certainly not tomorrow. The software is not discussed really and that is bothering because each producer has his own software and they are not compatible. Are we going to go on reproducing the absence of open standards that can enable all users to access all resources without having to buy a special machine and a special software for each one of them? But what is more important is the content, and “content is king,” that is going to circulate on these mobile highways. Sure enough perishable content and commoditized content are not interesting. Content has to be unique and durable or perennial and of sufficient quality to stand out if it pretends to be professional or creative. That is to say it has to be sustainable: it must produce its own audience (due to the quality of its content); it must produce the means to go on with its own work and broadcasting (that means money: advertising or premium subscriptions, etc); and what is even more important it must produce the desire for more in the audience targeted and reached. The sustainability of sports events cannot be the same as the sustainability of opera because the audiences are not the same but both contents have to be sustainable with their audience if they want to simply survive and go on existing. That question is not considered in enough depth in the chapter concerned.

Mobile payments is fictitious up to the moment when the author of the chapter finally suggests an identification of the user of the mobile phone that is absolutely sure like his/her fingerprint, since smart phones have tactile screens, but the author only suggests this at the end after several pages comparing the security of credit cards and smart phones to the advantage of the latter, though the identification of the user is a number (card or phone) and a pin code with or without then some kind of back control to the user who has to get a special code on the telephone (but the person behind the telephone is not necessarily the real owner). Then the author suggests “blockchain” as a security measure but for the banks and the merchants, not for the customer. All these securities are based on automated procedures and apparently the only security for the customer is to tie the smart phone to his left or right hand with an un-pickable handcuff and a chain in non-cuttable metal.

Virtual Reality is a gadget to make ourselves believe we are in a real conference whereas it is only a video conference, in a real class, whereas it is only a MOOC, or in a real business meeting whereas it is only some Skype multi-connection. Maybe simply make you believe you are on Fifth Avenue though you have never been in New York: a VR satellite image by Google, in a way. We are far from anything there, except if we are speaking of games and entertainment: a VR-DVD for an opera at the MET, why not?

As for Love, the subject has been dealt with by so many filmmakers that it is funny to oppose artificial intelligence to companionship. We all have difficulty being understood everyday by people who know us, at times quite well, because out words and intonations are our own and other people do not acknowledge them. Imagine a robot then who will have to become an image of the user to understand and use the same words and intonations with the same meaning, and also the same functional constructions, etc. But then where will companionship be if the robot is an image of the user? Narcissistic companionship. And ethical dilemma and choices, strategic questions and life or death decisions cannot be considered within a narcissistic relation, but within a contradictive situation. But the contradiction I expect if we are discussing abortion is not at all the same as if we were discussing the wall along the border or Mexico or Brexit. Will that robot be able to be as many advisors as I need according to my needs at this or that time? A robot-orchestra for sure. But that is not feasible. If we speak of companion for a cancer patient in terminal phase, that sounds easier, but a companion who can be a personal assistant, a friend and confidant, and a small-talk companion to an advanced researcher in several fields of competence like ancient languages, anthropology, modern literature and baroque, classical or modern music, it might be slightly more complicated.

Just delve into the book and keep your imagination wide open because too often technical people seem to lose their creative imagination that would tell them they are just forgetting the fundamental fact that nothing black is black all the time and everywhere. And there are so many shades of grey!


Friday, August 19, 2016


Choice maybe, but change impossible

THOMAS HOBBES – LEVIATHAN OR THE MATTER, FORME, & POWER OF A COMMON-WEALTH ECCLESIASTICAL AND CIVILL - Printed for Andrew Crooke, at the Green Dragon in St. Paul's Churchyard, 1651.

I will only consider some chapters in this approach. The a priori position is that God is the origin of everything, that the Bible is absolutely true about the history of humanity and its “creation” and that the best order is that dictated by God’s law and order in which man is only free in the subjects and situations that have not been ruled out or regulated by God himself. This represents the situation in England in 1651 under the absolute rule of the Puritans led by Oliver Cromwell and named the Commonwealth. But the value for modern human beings can only come if we get the ideas he espouses out of this religious axiom that is like a pillory to his thinking.

The introduction takes us directly into the subject. The general idea he states is that man is the central element of his thinking and this man is positioned in nature. We will have to clarify what he means by nature later on. The idea here is that man as an organism, as an architectural construction is the basis of any other construction that develops from man, that is developed by man. He thus identifies what he calls Leviathan, or the common-wealth or state, as being built on the model of our body and the concept of “sovereignty” is stated to be an “artificial soul.” This metaphor, because it is a metaphor, is even densified by comparing this Leviathan created by man to a simple machine or watch or clock, hence a complex mechanism created by man too. When we bring in the concept of God as the creator of man to his own image we feel a contradiction. Man creates Leviathan or a watch to his own image, not God’s, though this man who is the model of the creations we are speaking of is the image of God, hence Leviathan should be the image of the image of God. Yet Hobbes divides his discourse between nature that governs or should govern us in daily life, man and his civil dimension that organizes the common-wealth for peace and prosperity, and God and the religious principles that govern the ultimate human society and morality. We have the impression God is something added to the previous two levels of nature and man and that it is a sort of wrapping up that reminds us of the  creative dimension of this God and of the superior ethical dimension of this God. But the whole discourse has to do with the reality of nature and the civil society organized in some common-wealth and state. In fact, we could consider this approach as very modern if we just set aside the divine supplement and we see that man is extending his own body and his own capabilities into everything he does or creates. In fact we have here the basic concept of the “extensions of man” developed by Marshall McLuhan.

I will then consider chapter 4 that deals with Speech. His starting point is that printing is not such a tremendous invention. He totally neglects the tremendous impact it had on education and all levels of social life, religion, politics, culture, and many others. This is surprising since his book is such an intervention in the field of politics and ethics that is bound to have an impact due to the number of copies that are going to be circulated. But instead of seeing what was caused by the printing press, he goes back in time (a typical and unscientific retrospective method) and considers that the invention of writing was a lot more important than printing. He traces alphabetical writing back to the Phoenicians, which is not false indeed, though that was not the invention of writing per se since there were non alphabetical writing systems before this one. This Phoenician invention reached us through the Greek alphabet. He has a good point there because Homo Sapiens started emerging 300,000 years ago and writing was only invented something like a little bit more than 5,000 years ago. He is right when he speaks of isolating the sounds of speech to represent them with letters that become some kind of conceptual written forms of the isolated sounds. We are here at the root of modern phonemics and phonetics.

He is more surprising by the fact that he still goes back to speech, oral speech. He sticks to the idea of the speech incentive and energy being given to Adam by God though God gave Adam the mission of naming everything, and he considers this speech invention as “the most noble and profitable invention.” In spite of his referring to the Babel Tower myth, he clearly states here speech is an invention of man himself using his “tongue, Palat, lips, and other organs of speech” to produce it, though God is the real “author of speech.” The objective is to “register thoughts.” We can see he is modern in a way since he connects speech to the body though he ignores the larynx and other elements in the body that were developed not for speech but for bipedal long distance fast running. What is important is that he sees the organs he names as the organs of speech implying they were developed to produce speech, which is not the case at all. At the same time speech is used by man to register thoughts for sure but were do these thoughts come from? And by what process are words and sentences with syntactic and paradigmatic architectures produced? It is quite obvious that his reference to God and the Babel Tower myth is nothing but a necessary reference in his society and the fact that God is the author of speech while man is the inventor of it shows we can just get God out and say that the necessity to have a common-wealth to permit the survival of the species requires some kind of communication and man being what he is he uses his physiological resources to produce and invent language, speech if you want. The “author” is the necessary social dimension of man’s life and survival when emerging several hundred thousand years ago. That’s what he could call a “Law of Nature” as we are going to see. God is only a name glued to it and I wonder if it was only opportunistic or really believed.

He is very modern on the uses of language: to register past or present thoughts, findings and the acquisition of arts (old meaning of crafts and artistic productions); to communicate knowledge to others; to give orders and instructions; for pleasure. His conception of speech is centered on “names”, both “proper” or “common universal.” And he reduces what we are (“wise” or “foolish”) to the meaning of the words we use, neglecting the fact that the mind (what we are, wise or foolish) is just like language, it is developed from experience, through experience and by the invention and use of language which develops in the same way through that process.

For him names can designate things, material or sensible and rational, hot or cold, moving or quiet. Then they can indicate the accidents or qualities we perceive in things, both concrete or abstract. And this is done through the properties of our own body. The eyes gives sight that perceives color that becomes our idea or fancy of it in the considered thing. The ears give hearing that perceives sound that becomes our idea, fancy or conception of it, from noise to music. His approach is very interpretative and not genetic. The final use of names, hence of speech, is to be the meta-language describing language itself. As he says names can be “general, universal, special or equivocal” and speeches can be “an affirmation, an interrogation, a commandment; a narration; a syllogism, a sermon, an oration and many others.” Here “speech” means either an utterance (sentence) or a discourse that can be one or several sentences. He even concludes that names are “inconstant” because they reflect the moods and states of mind of the speaker. All that is modern, refuses a frozen and congealed language but once again it is connected to circumstantial use, though there is no dialectic that would state the mind and language develop together one with the other, one development in the mind causing one development in language and vice versa. The approach then is very utilitarian: what we can use language for. That’s why he consider abuses of language which is one particular type of use and nothing else since the basic abuses of language are to say something that is a lie, hence not true, or to aggress and insult people.

If we turn to chapters 14 and 15 we come to the “Laws of Nature” that are in fact the central piece of this book. Let me list them with some comment. First he defines the “right of nature” which is the fact that an individual has the right to do anything he needs to do in order to defend his life. This is the survival instinct but exclusively at the level of the individual. This is important because he does not see the fact that the species per se has a survival instinct and that human beings cannot survive as a species if they do not organize their life collectively. In other words he misses the concept of survival instinct.  Then he has to define his concept of “liberty” and it is for him “the absence of external impediments” which is a purely negative definition and he is going to show that such impediments are natural, implying there is no liberty, a conclusion he would absolutely refuse. He has to define the concept of “law” that he opposes to that of “right.” A law gives an obligation for him, whereas a right is a liberty for him. It sounds weird since a right is also established by society and its laws and regulations. He misses history that imposes onto people some limitations and opens to people some possible actions, hence some duties (have to do or have not to do) and some rights (can or may do). But this being said he can consider the laws of nature which are what the consideration of nature implies as for the organization of man’s life.

1-       The first law of nature is that every man needs peace or otherwise it is a constant state of war for their individual survival (one against all).
2-       The second law of nature is the reciprocal limitation of “the right to all things” to ensure peace. This is what he calls a covenant with the religious reference behind though these covenants are purely human and in no way divine. It is the simple observation that human beings ALWAYS live in groups of various types and even the individuals who live absolutely alone do so in reference to the groups they move out of and away from.
3-       The third law of nature is that men have to perform their covenants. He comes then to a simple definition of “just” (what respects covenants) and “unjust” (what goes against covenants). Justice is then the keeping of covenants, hence and therefore the rule of reason. He states though there must be a coercive power to compel men equally to perform covenants. That is where the concept of common-wealth appears.
4-       The fourth law of nature is gratitude.
5-       The fifth law of nature is natural accommodation or complaisance.
6-       The sixth law of nature is the facility to pardon.

7-       The seventh law of nature is that in revenges man must respect only the future good.
8-       The eighth law of nature is against men’s contumely contempt to one another.
9-       The ninth law of nature is against pride.
10-   The tenth law of nature is against arrogance.
11-   The eleventh law of nature is equity, to proceed equally when dealing with various men.
12-   The twelfth law of nature is the equal use by all of things that are common to all.
13-   The thirteenth law of nature is “lot,” i.e. the priority of anything to first possession or possessor.
14-   The fourteenth law of nature is Primogeniture and first seizing.
15-   The fifteenth law of nature is about mediators.
16-   The sixteenth law of nature is about one’s submission to arbitrament and arbitrators.
17-   The seventeenth law of nature is the fact that no man can be his own judge
18-   The eighteenth law of nature is No man can be a judge who has in himself a cause of partiality.
19-   The nineteenth law of nature is about witnesses who are supposed to be as numerous as possible.

Hobbes adds a twentieth law of nature in his concluding remarks:

20- The twentieth law of nature is "that every man is bound by Nature, as much as in him lieth, to protect in Warre, the Authority, by which he is himself protected in time of Peace."

It is strange because it states clearly that the existing authority cannot be changed and that everyone is supposed to defend it if it is attacked. This is in full contradiction with the Puritan revolution that attacked the Authority of the King, though they will object that they represented the authority of Parliament that was under attack from the King, but then the Civil war was necessary since the supporters of each authority had the natural obligation to fight for it. What’s more it implies that the Puritan Common-wealth cannot be changed and that all people will have to fight if an attempt is done to change it. Historically this principle is de facto unacceptable. The restoration took place and later the Glorious Revolution took place and the Jacobites were declared illegal and traitors.

We have to point out these laws of nature are based on individualistic considerations. They are laws of nature governing every individual and the social and political facts are only the consequences of this first principle. The second remark is that they are deeply anti-historical. If these laws of nature are the basic covenant of all human commonwealths, if respecting or implementing the covenant is the only basis for justice and finally if “the laws of justice are eternal,” meaning the laws that are devised in application and continuation of the twenty laws of nature, the very essence of any covenant which is the only basis for justice, then there is no possible historical change, which is absurd. He even goes further and declares that “the science of these laws is true moral philosophy.” Such laws are not a science. They are only his own reasoning, hence at best a theory. True enough we are dealing with ethics and nothing else but ethics are not and cannot be “true” because they depend on too many personal choices that have nothing to do with truth, except that they are true at one particular moment in one particular situation for one particular person. And even when one of these ethical elements has been instated as a basic human right, for example the right to enter a same sex alliance, marriage or not, no one is forced to do it: it is a basic human right for those who choose to implement it for themselves. In other words gay marriage is not becoming compulsory for everyone just because it is considered today as a basic human right. Note in the same way that plain marriage of any type is not compulsory either though it is a basic human right.

Then his discussion of “liberty” reveals a lot about his own philosophy.

1-       For him liberty is purely individualistic.

2-       For him liberty is defined negatively: absence of opposition, “not hindered to do what he has a will to do.” Note here the “he” pronoun is also very meaningful: he does not consider women, just as he does not consider blacks (who are slaves in the colonies), or Indians (who are being slaughtered already in the colonies) or even the Irish who are being ruthlessly colonized) and probably a few more like all Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus.

3-       For him it is based on the fear of the law as the incentive to liberty, since liberty and necessity are consistent and here comes his basic religious fundamentalism: man has to do what God wants him to do and man has not to do what God does not want him to do, and beyond these two obligations (to do and not to do) man can and may do what is not covered or included.

4-       When he is dealing with the “liberty of subjects” he does not see the contradiction between “liberty” and “subject” (someone who is subjected to another, who submits to the authority of another), even when he asserts “the liberty of sovereigns.” The only important liberty he asserts is the liberty for any man to defend his own body and body’s integrity. This is the Habeas Corpus principle that will only be passed in Parliament in 1679. For him the liberty of subjects is in the silence of the law. This asserts the power of Judicature. This is the premise of what will become with Montesquieu judicial power. But he does not understand how it works: you are tried in a first level lower court. You can then appeal to an appeal court. You can finally appeal to some “supreme court” (House of Lords in England, Supreme Court in the USA) and their decision will edict a total ban on one activity, a total freedom to practice it, or an in-between regulated practice. The best example is abortion and how the US Supreme Court made history for the fifty states by ruling on an attempt to reduce the right to abort for women in Texas. (SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, Syllabus: WHOLE WOMAN’S HEALTH ET AL. v. HELLERSTEDT, COMMISSIONER, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, ET AL, CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT No. 15–274, Argued March 2, 2016—Decided June 27, 2016., accessed August 19, 2016)

5-       He concludes his book with a call for leniency from the Censors since “there is nothing in this whole Discourse, as far as I can perceive, contrary either to the Word of God, or to good Manners; or to the disturbance of the Publique Tranquillity. Therefore I think it may be profitably printed, and more profitably taught in the Universities.”

This book then is essential to prove the historicity of such concepts as “liberty,” “common-wealth,” including those I did not consider like “democracy,” “monarchy,” “aristocracy,” tyranny,” and “oligarchy” in the direct political field. In England per se we can see that some principles are becoming established: distance from the purely fundamentalist religious approach, the idea that any state organization and social organization are the results of covenants (what J.J. Rousseau will call one century later “social contracts”), the idea that any covenant is the result of some general historical rules that govern the survival of the human species, of any human group and of any human individual, and finally the idea that all human activities are governed by the ability of man to speak, communicate, imagine and create crafts, arts, and sciences. We could add religion that probably came as belief in the supernatural and in a higher level of determinism as soon as Homo Sapiens developed language that enabled him to start his trip on the road to conceptualization.

We are, within this Puritan Common-wealth, at a real round about in history. There are several roads emerging in front of us and choices are both free and determined by the context. It is true we have not reached yet the declaration that “all men are created equal” (US Declaration of Independence, 1776) nor the next declaration that “all men are born and remain free and equal in rights” (Les hommes naissent et demeurent libres et égaux en droits) (French Revolution, Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, 1789). Thomas Hobbes only states here that all men must be treated with equity. But therefore the treatment of all men is supposed to be similar, which implies differences are not due to their inner essences or statuses. We are here on the road leading to the assertion of the equality of all men, and today we should say of all human beings.


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