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Authors
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Babak Afrassiabi
    • Babak Afrassiabi is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, he has collaborated with Nasrin Tabatabai on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
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      published contributions
  • Malin Ah-King
  • Memo Akten
    • . He is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is researching artificial intelligence, machine learning, and expressive human-ma
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      published contributions
  • Jamie Allen
  • S. Ayesha Hameed
    • Dr. S. Ayesha Hameed is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures and the Joint Programme Leader in Fine Art and History of Art Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, London. She received her PhD in Social and Political Thought at York University, Canada in 2008
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      published contributions
  • Sammy Baloji
  • Subhankar Banerjee
  • On Barak
    • On Barak is a social and cultural historian of science and technology in non-Western settings. He has been a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University since 2012. Prior to this, he was a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows. In 2009, Barak received a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. His most recent book is On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, 2013), and his current publication project, Coalonialism: Energy and Empire before the Age of Oil, is funded by a European Union Marie Curie Award and an Israel Science Foundation Grant.
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      published contributions
  • Anil Bawa-Cavia
    • Anil Bawa-Cavia is a computer scientist with a background in machine learning. He runs STDIO, a speculative software studio. His practice engages with algorithms, protocols, encodings, and other software artifacts and his doctoral research at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London was on complex networks in urbanism. He is a founding member of Call & Response, a sonic arts collective and gallery space in London, and a member of the New Centre for Research & Practice.
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      published contributions
  • Etienne Benson
  • Josh Berson
  • Jeremy Bolen
  • Paul Boshears
  • Benjamin Bratton
    • for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. Bratton is also Professor of Digital Design at the Eur
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      published contributions
  • Axel Braun
    • Axel Braun studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, and fine arts at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His artistic research deals with controversial infrastructure projects, tautology as an attempt to understand reality, and failed utopias in art and architecture. Currently, he is pursuing the long-term project Towards an Understanding of Anthropocene Landscapes. Recently exhibited works include Some Kind of Opposition (2016) at Galeria Centralis, Budapest, and Dragonflies drift downstream on a river (2015) at Kunstmuseum Bochum.
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      published contributions
  • Keith Breckenridge
  • François Bucher
    • s, focusing on ethical and aesthetic problems of cinema and television, and more recently on the image as an interdimensional field. His work has been exhibited at
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      published contributions
  • Lino Camprubí
  • Zachary Caple
  • Ele Carpenter
    • Dr. Ele Carpenter is a senior lecturer in curating at Goldsmiths, London. Her curatorial practice responds to interdisciplinary socio-political contexts such as the nuclear economy and the relationship between craft and code.
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Chubb
    • Andrew Chubb is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia conducting research on the relationship between Chinese public opinion and government policy in the South China Sea. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Contemporary China, Pacific Affairs, East Asia Forum, and Information, Communication & Society. His blog, South Sea Conversations (southseaconversations.wordpress.com), provides translations and analysis of Chinese discourse on the South and East China Sea issues.
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      published contributions
  • Louis Chude-Sokei
    • Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar currently teaching in the English Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. His academic interests range from West African, Caribbean, and American literary and cultural studies to a particular focus on sound, technology, and performance. His literary and public work focuses on immigration and black-on-black cultural contacts, conflicts, and exchanges. Chude-Sokei is the author of the award-winning book The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (2006) and The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Amy Cimini
  • Claire Colebrook
    • Claire Colebrook is a professor of English at Penn State University. Her areas of specialization are contemporary literature, visual culture, and theory and cultural studies. She has written articles on poetry, literary theory, queer theory, and contemporary culture. Colebrook is the co-editor of the series Critical Climate Change, published by Open Humanities Press, and a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Critical Climate Change. She recently completed two books on extinction for Open Humanities Press, Death of the PostHuman and Sex after Life (both 2014), and with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller co-authored Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Flavio D'Abramo
  • Ana Dana Beroš
    • chitect and curator focused on creating uncertain, fragile environments that catalyze social chan
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      published contributions
  • Pietro Daniel Omodeo
  • Rana Dasgupta
  • Filip De Boeck
    • Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa at the Institute for Anthropological research in Africa at the U
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      published contributions
  • Seth Denizen
    • Seth Denizen is a researcher and design practitioner trained in landscape architecture and evolutionary biology. Since completing research on the sexual behavior and evolutionary ecology of small Trinidadian fish, his work has focused on the aesthetics of scientific representation, madness, and public parks, the design of t
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      published contributions
  • Rohini Devasher
  • Jonathan Donges
    • Jonathan Donges is a postdoctoral researcher who holds a joint position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (as Stordalen Scholar) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He studies planetary boundaries and social dynamics in the Earth system from a complex dynamical system perspective. At Potsdam, he is Co-head of the flagship COPAN (Coevolutionary Pathways) project (www.pik-potsdam.de/copan). His published research includes work on complex network theory, dynamical systems theory, and time series analysis, with a focus on their application to our understanding of past and present climate variability and its interactions with humankind on planet Earth.
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      published contributions
  • Keller Easterling
  • Anna Echterhölter
  • David Edgerton
    • David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and a professor of modern British history at King’s College London. After teaching at the University of Manchester, he became the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London (1993–2003), and moved along with the centre to King’s College London in August 2013. He is the author of many works, including The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (2007), which argues for and exemplifies new ways of thinking about the material constitution of modernity.
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      published contributions
  • Technosphere Editorial
  • Sasha Engelmann
  • Lois Epstein
    • stein is Arctic Program Director at the Wilderness Society an American land conservation non-profit. A licensed engineer, she has served on a number of federal advisory committees, including a National Academy of Sciences committee studying oil and gas regulations, and, for twelve years, a committee focusing on oil pipeline safety. Epstein holds a Master of Civil Engineering with a specialization in environme
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      published contributions
  • Eberhard Faust
  • Jennifer Gabrys
    • Jennifer Gabrys is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, "Citizen Sense." Her publications include Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011); and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Elaine Gan
  • Oliver Gantner
  • Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann
  • Florian Goldmann
    • Florian Goldmann is a Berlin-based artist and a PhD candidate at the DFG Research Training Center Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge as well as at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies, both Potsdam University. His research focus is the utilization of models as a means of both commemorating and predicting catastrophe. In 2015, he took part in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. Goldmann is one of the founders of the research collective STRATAGRIDS and the author of Flexible Signposts to Coded Territories (2012), an analysis of football hooligan graffiti in Athens as a system of fluid signage.
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      published contributions
  • Mark Graham
  • Jacques Grinevald
  • Johan Gärdebo
    • Johan Gärdebo is a PhD candidate at the Royal Institute of Technology affiliated to the Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL). H
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      published contributions
  • Orit Halpern
    • Orit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. She is also a co-director of the Speculative Life Research Cluster, Montreal, a laboratory situated at the intersection of art and life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media (www.speculativelife.com). Her recent monograph, Beautiful Data (2015), is a history of interactivity, data visualization, and ubiquitous computing. www.orithalpern.net
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      published contributions
  • Eva Hayward
  • Gerda Heck
  • Florian Hecker
    • dio 3 as the broadcaster’s first ever live binaural broadcast. Recent major exhibitions
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      published contributions
  • Carola Hein
    • Carola Hein is a professor of the history of architecture and urban planning in the Architecture Department at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely on topics in contemporary and historical architectural and urban planning, notably that of Europe and Japan. Her current research interests include transmission of architectural and urban ideas along international networks, focusing specifically on port cities, and the global architecture of oil. Her books include Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Cities, Autonomy, and Decentralization in Japan (2006), and The Capital of Europe: Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004).
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      published contributions
  • Julian Henriques
    • Julian Henriques is the convener of the MA in Script Writing and Director of the Topology Research Unit in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to this, he ran the film and television department at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. His credits as a writer and director include the reggae musical feature film Babymother (1998) and as a sound artist, Knots & Donuts, exhibited at Tate Modern in 2011. Henriques researches street cultures and technologies and his publications include Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation, and Subjectivity (1998), Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing (2011), and Sonic Media (forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Hanna Husberg
    • Hanna Husberg is a Stockholm-based artist. She graduated from ENSB-A in Paris in 2007 and is currently a PhD in Practice candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.
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      published contributions
  • Sabine Höhler
  • Erich Hörl
  • Timothy Johnson
  • Peter K. Haff
  • Bernd Kasparek
  • Laleh Khalili
  • Alexander Klose
    • Dr. Alexander Klose studied History, Law, Philosophy, Art, and Cultural Studies. From 2005-07 he held a scholarship at Bauhaus Universität Weimar for his PhD project on standardized containers used in transport as one of the leading material media in the 20th century. Between 2009 and 2014 he worked as a research associate and programme developer at Kulturstiftung des Bundes. In 2015 in the forefront of COP 21, he co-curated Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18 – On Becoming Earthlings: 150 dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the Human at Musée de l'Homme, Paris. His latest publication is: The Container Principle. How a box changes the way we think (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Karin Knorr Cetina
  • Scott Knowles
  • Nile Koetting
  • Nicole Koltick
    • Nicole Koltick is an assistant professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is Founding Director of the Design Futures Lab at Westphal College, which is currently pursuing design research to stimulate debate on the potential implications of emerging technological and scientific developments within society. Koltick’s practice spans art, science, technology, design, and philosophy, and current work focuses on the philosophical, material, and relational implications of aesthetics as they intersect with emerging developments in computational creativity, artificially intelligent autonomous systems, robotics, and synthetic biological hybrids.
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      published contributions
  • Nik Kosmas
  • Matthijs Kouw
    • Matthijs Kouw joined the Rathenau Instituut, The Hague, in March 2016. He holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Amsterdam as well as a PhD from Maastricht University. In his PhD thesis, Kouw describes how and to what extent reliance on models can introduce vulnerabilities through the assumptions, uncertainties, and blind spots concomitant with modeling practice. He was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), during which time he acted as a member of the Dutch delegation for plenary sessions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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      published contributions
  • Matija Kralj
  • Kei Kreutler
  • Lars Kulik
    • Lars Kulik studied biology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He received his doctorate on the development of social behavior of rhesus monkeys at the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He lives with his family in Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Richard L. Hindle
    • Richard L. Hindle is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research focuses on patent innovation in landscape related technologies, from large-scale mappings of riverine and coastal systems to detailed historical studies on the antecedents of vegetated architecture. His work explores the potential of new technological narratives and material processes to reframe theory, practice, and the production of landscape. Recent works include the articles “Levees That Might Have Been” (2015), and “Infrastructures of Innovation” in Scaling Infrastructure (MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, 2016), and the exhibition Geographies of Innovation at UC Berkeley (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Hannah Landecker
  • Brian Larkin
  • Bruno Latour
  • John Law
    • hn Law was a professor of sociology at Keele University, Lancaster, and the Open University, Milton Keynes, and a co-director of the Economic and Social Researc
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      published contributions
  • Yoneda Lemma
    • ents from one fiction to another. She has exhibited her work at V4ULT, Berlin; Le Cube, Par
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      published contributions
  • Esther Leslie
    • t theories of aesthetics and culture, with a particular focus on the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. It deals with the poetics of science, European literary and visual modern
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      published contributions
  • George Lewis
    • my of Arts and Letters, New York. He has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Chicago, since 1971. Lewis’s work as composer, electronic performer, installa
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      published contributions
  • S. Løchlann Jain
  • Donald MacKenzie
  • Stefan Maier
  • Chowra Makaremi
  • Annapurna Mamidipudi
  • Laura McLean
    • Laura McLean is a curator, artist, and writer based in London. She is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and Sydney College of the Arts, where she later lectured. She has also studied at Alberta College of Art and Design, and the Universität der Künste Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Eden Medina
    • Eden Medina is an associate professor of informatics and computing, affiliated associate professor of law, and adjunct associate professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research and teaching address the social, historical, and legal dimensions of our increasingly data-driven world, including the relationship of technology to human rights and free expression, the relationship between political innovation and technological innovation, and the ways that human and political values shape technological design. Medina’s writings also use science and technology as a way to broaden understandings of Latin American history and the geography of innovation. She is the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (2011) and the co-editor of Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America (2014).
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      published contributions
  • Anne-Sophie Milon
    • Anne-Sophie Milon is an artist and a freelance illustrator and animator working and living in Bristol, UK. After completing two Masters in Art, she has recently concluded the program of experimentation in Art and Politics at SciencesPo (SPEAP) in Paris.
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      published contributions
  • Gerald Nestler
    • Gerald Nestler is an artist and writer who combines theory and post-disciplinary conversation with video, installation, performance, text, code, graphics, sound, and speech. He explores what he calls the derivative condition of contemporary social relations and its paradigmatic financial models, operations, processes, narratives, and fictions. He is currently working on an “aesthetics of resolution” that maps counterfictions and counterimaginations for “renegade activism,” which revolves around the demonstration as a combined artistic, technological, social, and political practice. Nestler holds a practice-based PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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      published contributions
  • Daniel Niles
    • terial, millenary and momentary—that their knowledge takes, and, finally, the significance of this experience to our understanding of t
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      published contributions
  • James P. M. Syvitski
    • James P. M. Syvitski is Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) at the University of Colorado Boulder. From 2011 to 2016, he chaired the International Council for Science’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society toward a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. His specialty is the global flux of water and sediment (river and ocean borne) and its trends in the Anthropocene. He works at the forefront of computational geosciences, including sediment transport, land-ocean interactions, and Earth-surface dynamics.
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      published contributions
  • Luciana Parisi
    • Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD program in Cultural Studies, and Co-director of the Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information theory and computation, complexity and evolutionary theories, and the technocapitalist investment in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Her books include Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004) and Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013). She is currently researching the history of automation and the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.
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      published contributions
  • Lisa Parks
  • Matteo Pasquinelli
  • Karen Pinkus
    • w York. She is also a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Ithaca. Author of numerous publications in literary studies, Italian studies, critical theory, and environmental humanities, Pinkus is also Editor of the journal Diacritics. In her latest book, Fuel (2016), Pinkus thinks about issues crucial to climate ch
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      published contributions
  • Giulia Rispoli
  • Sophia Roosth
    • t when researchers are building new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. She holds a PhD from the Massachuse
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      published contributions
  • Arno Rosemarin
  • Rafico Ruiz
    • afico Ruiz is Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. He studies the relationships between mediation and social space, particularly in the Arctic and subarctic; the cultural geographies of natural resource engagements; and
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      published contributions
  • Kim Rygiel
    • f International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. Her research focuses on border security, migration, and citizenship in North America and Europe. She investigates how citizens and non-citizens engage in citizenship practices and challenge notions
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      published contributions
  • Dorion Sagan
  • Isabelle Saint-Saëns
  • Birgit Schneider
  • Sever
    • SEVER was developed as a speculative design project by Francesco Sebregondi, Alexey Platonov, Inna Pokazanyeva, and Ildar Iakubov during the New Normal postgraduate program at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. SEVER seeks to intervene into current Arctic debates by disturbing the landscape of the region’s possible futures
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      published contributions
  • Jens Soentgen
  • C Spencer Yeh
  • Nick Srnicek
  • Lizzie Stark
    • Lizzie Stark is an author, journalist, and experience designer. She is the author of two books, Pandora’s DNA (2014), exploring so-called ‘breast cancer genes’ and her first book, Leaving Mundania (2012), which investigates the subculture of live action role play, or larp. Her journalism and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, the Daily Beast, The Today Show Website, io9, Fusion, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere. She holds an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has organized numerous conventions and experiences across the US. Her most recent work is as a programming coordinator for Living Games Austin, and as co-editor and contributor for the #Feminism anthology, which collects 34 nano-games written by feminists from eleven countries.
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      published contributions
  • Lucy Suchman
    • ology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lancaster, UK. Her research interests within the field of feminist science and technology studies are focused on technological imaginaries and material practices
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      published contributions
  • Kaushik Sunder Rajan
    • echnology studies, and postcolonial studies, holding a special interest in the global political economy of biomedicine, with a comparative focus on the Un
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      published contributions
  • Jenna Sutela
    • Jenna Sutela’s installations, texts, and sound performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Most recently, she has been exploring exceedingly complex biological and computational systems, ultimately unknowable and always becoming something new. Her work has been presented, among other places, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and her writing has been published by Fiktion, Harvard Design Magazine, and Sternberg Press.
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      published contributions
  • Bronislaw Szerszynski
    • Bronislaw Szerszynski is a Reader in Sociology at Lancaster University in the UK. Szerszynski’s work has developed across several themes, including the role of Western religious history in shaping contemporary understandings of technology and the environment—typified by his book Nature, Technology and the Sacred (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
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      published contributions
  • Elisa T. Bertuzzo
    • Elisa T. Bertuzzo studied comparative literature, sociology, communication, and media studies and holds a PhD in urban studies. She was a curator and project leader with Habitat Forum Berlin, including for the project Paradigmising Karail Basti (2010–16). Bridging discourses from the fields of cultural and urban studies, her research focuses on the everyday life facets of urbanization and settlement in South Asia. On that topic, she published Fragmented Dhaka: Analysing Everyday Life with Henri Lefebvre’s Theory of Production of Space (2009) and runs her multimedia project Archives of Movement (since 2012), which deals with the everyday life of temporary labor migrants in Bangladesh and India.
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      published contributions
  • Gregory T. Cushman
    • Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas.
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      published contributions
  • Nasrin Tabatabai
    • Nasrin Tabatabai is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, she has collaborated with Babak Afrassiabi on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Ksenia Tatarchenko
    • dies Institute, Geneva University, specializing in the history of Russian science and technology. She has held positions as a visiting Assistant Professor of History at NYU Shanghai and a post-doctoral fellow at the Harriman Institute, Columbia. Most broadly, she studies questions of knowledge circulation to situate Soviet developments in the global context. She is currently writing a book on science and innovation cultures in Siberia provisionally
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      published contributions
  • Katerina Teaiwa
    • Dr. Katerina Teaiwa is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History & Language and the president of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies. Her main area of research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. Her work does not only span academic research, publications, and lectures, but also manifests itself in other formats within the arts and popular culture. Her work has inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of Pacific phosphate mining through Banaban dance. In 2015, she published „Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba“, Indiana University Press. She is currently working with visual artist Yuki Kihara on a multimedia exhibition for Carriageworks in Sydney.
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      published contributions
  • Terre Thaemlitz
  • Jol Thomson
  • Claire Tolan
  • John Tresch
  • Etienne Turpin
    • Etienne Turpin is a philosopher, Founding Director of anexact office, and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the PetaBencana.id disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. He is the editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Tim
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  • Asonseh Ukah
    • Asonzeh Ukah is a sociologist and historian of religion. He joined the University of Cape Town in 2013 and previously taught at the University of Bayreuth (2005–13), where he also earned a doctorate and habilitation in history of religions. His research interests include religious urbanism, the sociology of Pentecostalism, and religion and media. He is Director of the Research Institute on Christianity and Society in Africa (RICSA), University of Cape Town, and Affiliated Senior Fellow of Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth. He is the author of A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power (2008) and Bourdieu in Africa (edited with Magnus Echtler, 2016).
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      published contributions
  • Underworlds
  • Sebastian Vehlken
    • Sebastian Vehlken is a media theorist and cultural historian at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Permanent Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS). From 2013 to 2017, he worked as MECS Junior Director, and in 2015–16, he was a visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, the University of Vienna, and Leuphana. His areas of interest include the theory and history of computer simulation and digital media, the media history of swarm intelligence, and the epistemology of think tanks. His current research project, Plutonium Worlds, explores the application of computer simulations in West German fast breeder reactor programs.
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      published contributions
  • Vladimir Vernadsky
  • Ben Vida
    • Korea, Australia ,and Europe at such institutions as the Guggenheim, New York; Centro Pecci, Prato, Italy; STUK Arts Center, Leuven
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      published contributions
  • Davor Vidas
    • Davor Vidas is a research professor in international law and Director of the Law of the Sea Programme at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway. He is Chair of the Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group. Vidas has been involved in international law research for over thirty years, focusing since 2009 on implications of the Anthropocene for the development of international law. Among his books are The World Ocean in Globalisation (2011) and Law, Technology and Science for Oceans in Globalisation (2010). He is the editor-in-chief of the book series Anthropocene (Skolska knjiga, Zagreb), launched in 2017.
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      published contributions
  • Kalindi Vora
  • Jennifer Walshe
    • porary Arts, New York; DAAD Berliner Künstle
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      published contributions
  • Hannes Wiedemann
    • Hannes Wiedemann is a Berlin-based photographer. He studied at the Ostkreuz School of Photography, Berlin. For his project Grinders (2015–16), he followed the American bodyhacking community, a small group of people across the United States working out of garages and basements to become real cyborgs. Recent exhibitions include NEW PHOTOGRAPHY II (2017) at Gallery ALAN, Istanbul, and HUMAN UPGRADE, with Susanna Hertrich (2016), at Schader-Stiftung Gallery, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt. www.hanneswiedemann.com
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      published contributions
  • Elvia Wilk
  • Cary Wolfe
    • Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and Founding Director of 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University, Houston. He is the author of What Is Posthumanism? (2010), a book that weaves together principal concerns of his work: animal studies, system theory, pragmatism, and post-structuralism. It is part of the series Posthumanities, for which he serves as Founding Editor at the University of Minnesota Press. His most recent publication is Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in Biopolitical Frame (2013) and earlier books and edited collections include Animal Rites: American Culture, The Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003) and Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (2003).
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Yang
  • Jan Zalasiewicz
    • Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester and Chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. A field geologist, paleontologist, and stratigrapher, he teaches and publishes on geology and earth history, in particular on fossil ecosystems and environments that span over half a billion years of geological time.
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      published contributions
  • Anna Zett
  • Sander van der Leeuw
    • ionships, and complex systems theory. He investigates the preconditions for and the practices and role of invention, sustainability, and innovation in societies. He has done
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      published contributions
  • Liv Østmo
    • Liv Østmo is one of the founders and current Dean of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Kautokeino, Norway, where she researches and lectures on the subject of multicultural understanding. For the last eight years, Østmo has worked with traditional Sámi knowledge and she is currently working on putting the finishing touches on a methodology book about the documentation of this knowledge.
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Papaver somniferum

Addiction, a Technology Mediating China and Europe

By looking at opium at a historical intersection between Western European culture and Chinese tradition, philosopher Paul Boshears examines how various concepts of addiction have come to define human relations to things—including the world itself—and frame our understanding of what human intelligence can be.
If we think of substances and practices that are said to be addictive—certain types of drug, video poker, and so on—as possessing an agency to which users or practitioners submits themselves, we are thinking of them as something like an alien intelligence. Frustratingly, what intelligence “is” is generally assumed to be recognizably like the human mind. So, when searching for alien intelligences or artificial intelligences, the assumption is that intelligent beings will reveal themselves in a universally recognizable way. This is the flaw of a certain kind of panpsychism, which assumes that minds are universally the same. But we know that our own minds are the result of our brain’s processing the sensory data our organs are designed to register. Would we be able to recognize intelligent behavior from an organism whose mind is the result of some other process?This is the question Ian Bogost asks in “What If Thinking Machines Are Already All Around Us?,” Edge, 2015, http://edge.org/response-detail/26211.
This question of intelligibility is a familiar question for those who study culture. In its simplest terms, culture is the concept used to discuss what humans choose to do with things. The substantial differences between cultures are, in essence, technological ones.
There are no nouns in nature, to paraphrase philosopher Ernest Fenollosa, isolated from one another in an empty space; rather, there is a complex of related materials that differentiate themselves in the performance of their relating to one another.Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound, The Chinese Character as a Medium for Poetry: A Critical Edition, ed. Haun Saussy, Jonathan Stalling, and Lucas Klein. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008, pp. 51–52.
To think of what a substance is is to think about the nature of “things.” Things are the meeting points. They are coterminous and intelligible insofar as they are this particular thing here when they are not being that particular thing over there. In Northern European languages and almost silently in English, we still have vestigial elements that illustrate this orientation toward the universe: the legislative bodies of several Scandinavian governments convene to form an Alþingi, or its cognates the Folketing and Storting—the people’s house, the great assembly.See Gísli Pálsson, “Of Althings!” in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds.), Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005, pp. 250–57.
In the United States, a politician’s speech before a gathering of voters is a “stump speech,” but in the United Kingdom it is a “husting” (house thing). This “house thing” is the place where we gather, and based on what our meeting affords, we act. It is possible to recognize a similar impulse in the term “cohort,” from the Latin co- and hortus, which describes the band with whom we share our garden. “Substance” points toward the essence of a thing, and we claim to have the “gist” of the matter—but gist is ultimately the place where we lay down. Gist, the habitual place of resting for birds, comes to the English language through the Old French gîte, itself from the Latin jacēre, I throw, as in Caesar’s famous Alea iacta est (“The die is cast”) at the crossing of the Rubicon. Oxford English Dictionary, “gist”; Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, “gésir”; Dictionnaire illustré latin-français.
Within those walls we are cultured and cultivated and mutually formed by the company we keep.
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Combined image of Beer Street and Gin Lane, 1751. Source: Wiki Commons.

Lest the reader argue that this etymological foray was immaterial, allow me this defense: substantiating a claim is to corroborate the evidence, which requires establishing a relationship between the testimonials. “Etymology” itself is derived from the Greek étumos, that is, what is true or real.
There is no genuinely alien cultural project. As we become conversant in the ways in which a culture is practiced, we find what philosopher Thomas Kasulis refers to as “holographic entry points” into that culture.Thomas P. Kasulis, Shinto: The Way Home. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004, 20.
The ways in which we understand our relationships to things enables us to pass through the gates of unknowing and thereby effect our own reorientation.
A contemporary analogue of “substance” in Chinese is wuzhi (物質), as expressed in a phrase like huaxuewuzhi (化學物質, “chemical substance”). Lest we be too comfortable with this seemingly straightforward translation, let us examine what is at work in those Chinese characters. With the first pairing, huaxue (化學), we see that the characters can mean what is intended by “chemistry,” but the phrase literally refers to the “study of changes.” But the phrase huaxue (化學) did not originate in China; it was introduced by the Protestant missionaries in the second half of the nineteenth century with the publication of the London Missionary Society’s Shanghai Serial. The next character, wu (物), means “thing.” Since ancient times, the synecdoche wanwu (萬物, literally, “ten thousand things”) has connoted all matters in the cosmos. But what kind of thing is being referred to in this instance? Here we are referred to the kind of thing that is zhi (質), which can indicate “matter” as well as “hostage,” as in the phrase renzhi (人質), or to pawn. Such a potent material, one that could hold us hostage, that places us in the debt of another. At the same time that these Protestant missionaries were coining this terminology, another was also being generated: “addiction.”
Originally coming from a Latin legal term, to be addicted was to be indentured, being literally spoken for in advance (ad + dictus) because of a debt one owed to another. The impulse toward the measurement of human behavior and physiology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—such as in the nascent social sciences of anthropology, sociology, criminology, etc.—was simultaneously also the measurement of cultural differences.See, for example: Peter K.J. Park’s Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon, 1780–1830. Albany: SUNY Press, 2013. Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014. Justin E.H. Smith, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2015.
These deviations among peoples informed and justified the codification and medicalization of human behaviors. To the extent that we can construct any coherent account of what is meant by the term “addiction” in English, a coherent conversation with China is required. In order for that conversation to take place, it will have to be mediated by opium, the fundamental hinge upon which the early relationships between China and the European West pivots.
Drug historian David T. Courtwright describes the era of discovery and dissemination of the world’s psychoactive resources (tea, coffee, opium, tobacco, coca, distilled spirits) as the “psychoactive revolution.David Courtwright, Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.
It is along class lines that revolutions in social habit were formed and reinforced in the wake of the psychoactive revolution. As costs decreased for coffee and tea (through the further refining and perfecting of mechanical processing) and sugar (thanks to the further perfecting of the chattel slave trade), what were once stimulant delivery technologies exclusively available to the aristocracy became more readily available to the working classes. And as bread and coffee and tea became more prevalent as the breakfast foods of workers, the days of the “ploughman’s breakfast,” based on low-alcohol beer, were growing short, and the further addition of sugar and milk meant the loss of calories previously consumed through the home-brewed beer could be recouped through the caffeinated beverages.
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Woodcut of drinking and vomiting. Source: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0

With the introduction of alcohol distillation technologies into Europe in the sixteenth century, caffeine and alcohol came together to stimulate and motor a flourishing drinking culture. To illustrate the extent to which European culture had become a drinking culture, philosopher Herbert Fingarette reports that throughout the eighteenth century the average colonial American consumed four gallons of alcohol per year, compared to the two and a half being consumed two centuries later.Herbert Fingarette, Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989, p. 14.
When the English first became familiar with tobacco use from the “New World,” the idea of consuming tobacco could only be understood as “drinking” tobacco rather than “smoking” it.
A contemporary conception of global commodity trade was born with the central role opium played in the European colonial era.
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The Chinese term for opium is yapian (鴉片), likely from the Arabic or Persian, and from this journey to China we’ve received into the English the term “yin,” meaning to crave, likely from the Chinese yin (癮), meaning addiction.Keith McMahon, The Fall of the God of Money: Opium Smoking in Nineteenth-Century China. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002, p. x.
No one is born with an innate knowledge of how to procure, manufacture, or consume opium; rather, one must undergo an apprenticeship in drug use—that is to say, addiction requires a social network.With this fundamental sociality required for addiction to be possible, let us note that when wishing to address a group in the Pittsburgh area of the United States, a group of others is summoned as “Y’ins.”
But in China during the nineteenth century, opium was more commonly called yangyan (洋煙), the “Western smoke,” and this lexically implicate Europeans, the yangren (洋人), or “people from the West.Although it should be pointed out that yang (洋) did not come to mean Europeans until the middle of the nineteenth-century; see McMahon, The Fall of the God of Money, p. 29n3.
Indeed, for Europe, China itself was a master object, a drug to be taken.
From the seventeenth century until the twentieth century, Britain was awash with opium, but it was the manner in which opium was consumed—the technical apparatuses, the postures, the clothing one wears when consuming opium—that marked the Asian as inferior to the European (even the drunkard was seen as more wholesome in comparison to the gender-bending, robe-wearing, opium-besotted Asian).McMahon states, “The debate that pitted opium against alcohol, in short, tied in with the debate that distinguished the remote and self-satisfied Chinese—who are ‘effeminate’—from the outgoing and progressive Europeans—marked as masculine.” McMahon, The Fall of the God of Money, p. 3.
The Chinese smoked opium; the British ate it in the form of laudanum. To the British observer, smoking was a luxuriant use of the psychoactive resources. Drinking laudanum was different: it was the proper technique for presenting the poison as a medicine. Chinese opium smoking was a site for sociality whereas an opium fiend like Thomas De Quincey maintained his solitude. The Chinese reclined when they smoked, the European was upright. The concept of addiction was forged in a cross-cultural dialogue between the European West and China.
We have a tendency to think of the transmission of germs, crops, and languages when thinking about the earliest phases of globalization, but what about the seemingly immaterial habits by which someone does something? The concept of cultural techniques, or kulturtechniken, developed among German media theory circles, describes the processing operations that coalesce into entities that then come to be thought of and reacted to as agents running those very same processes.Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, “Cultural Techniques: Preliminary Remarks,” Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 30, no. 6 (2013), p. 11.
As the concepts of race and modern medicine developed in the European colonial expansion, we can see how these fields of knowledge became significantly informed by the confrontation between two modes of cultural techniques for consuming opium: in the distinction between drinking culture (Western Europe) and smoking culture (the Americas and East Asia).
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Sir Walter Raleigh smoking a pipe and being doused by a servant who thinks he's on fire. Wood-engraving, mid-19th century. Source: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0

The mark of being human is the mediation of our relationships to the universe through technologies and techniques. Our cultural practices are, essentially, our collective decisions to interface with things in a place. We become habituated to the effects caused by our techniques and technologies; they are our second nature. Through our uses of techniques and technologies, we come to understand ourselves in our habitat. More simply, our habitat’s where our habit’s at.
Addiction names a relationship between humans and technologies. Those technologies can be designed drugs, like marijuana and meth, or they can be designed interfaces like gambling at a poker table or video poker. It seems to me that one’s relationship to an object of addiction is a matter of habit and technical mastery. For example, one learns to “hold their liquor,” how to more adeptly inhale from a bong, how to gamble with greater aplomb. Underlying the logic of addiction is this question: What is the appropriate relationship to these technologies and media? Do we consume opium to replenish our qi (氣) and thereby become “hackers” of our shen (腎) circuit, as has been argued in traditional Chinese medicinal practices? Or is it the case that opium has an agency of its own, to which we cannot help but submit ourselves? Both positions are idealized and political, demanding a uniformity and consistency that is untenable. The majority of drug use is less than ideal—people forget to take their birth control, folks “mature out” of cocaine habits, grandmothers end text messages with “Love, Grandma.” The rhetoric of addiction masks this so-called vernacular use of these technologies,See Jacob Gaboury’s manifesto “On Vernacular Computing,” Art Papers, vol. 39, no. 1 (2015), pp. 42–43, and Brian Droitcour, “Vernacular Criticism,” New Inquiry, July 24, 2014, http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/vernacular-criticism.
assuming that all use is ideal use. The inherent message is that people are stewards of their physical-moral corpus and fail to observe the rules governing proper use of technologies designed around them.
Lacking mind, all things are dumb. But as we’ve just seen above, we know things are dumb because they don’t communicate to us. Unlike things, we are smart and can look into things and understand that they are actually really interesting. To paraphrase philosopher and psychologist William James, we’re the dumb clods if we neglect to identify those facets of things that are so wondrous.William James, “Making a Life Significant,” in Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2001, p. 130.
But what if there are some things that are actually smart and they’re trying to overcome us? It’s group entertainment to imagine computers and super apes revealing themselves to be secretly smart (“We should have known!”), and could we also imagine that other things like opium alkaloids are also secretly smart and trying to overcome us? Or ponder whether or not animals have addictions?
When I think about addiction, I tend to think of it as a human relationship to a technique or technology. The gateway-drug rhetoric points toward the career one cultivates in drug use but also masks the reciprocal action of the technology called “gates.” Gates disclose a relationship, not simply enclose a space. As historian and media theorist Geoffrey Winthrop-Young states,
We emerged, quite literally, from doors and gates.Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, “The Kultur of Cultural Techniques: Conceptual Inertia and the Parasitic Materialities of Ontologization,” Cultural Politics, vol. 10, no. 3 (2014), p. 387.
To the extent that the space is enclosed, what we better understand is that certain modes of relating between two entities are possible. How does this inflect our understanding of so-called gateway drugs?
In The Gateless Gate (Wumenguan, 無門關), we read an exchange between a Buddhist monk and Zhaozhou (Joshu in Japanese) in which the question is asked,
Does a dog have Buddha nature or not?
The famous response is, of course,“ wu (無),” which is a negation, but not a verb. In so responding, Zhaozhou avoids being ensnared in an essentialist argument; he is, in the words of philosopher Peter Hershock, able to
close the wound of existence.Peter D. Hershock, Chan Buddhism. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005, p. 85.
If I want to understand how a dog has Buddha nature (and the non-locality of Buddha nature), I have to scrap my attachment to being the sole possessor of what I assume is mind. And I have to scrap my attachment to what I believe a mind can perceive. Currently, how humans ought to relate to things is in part predicated on how intelligent a thing reveals itself to be to humans. If we arrest the habit of seeking human minds in things and instead try to relate to the experiences things undergo, might we have more robust and useful relationships with the cosmos?
Or is it the case that “mind” is an adequate term for grounding what makes being human so special? So utterly drunk on our own self-regard about the cosmic value of our intelligence, we experience moments of inebriation that throw us into questioning our assumptions about what sobriety actually is. Psychedelic experiences might be examples of this, but these moments of mind-annihilating sobriety can also accompany the use of other techniques, like sitting meditation, or spinning, or breathing. Is it possible to have a kind of relationship with technologies (which are of course kinds of things) beyond the self-regarding assumption that human minds are the yardstick by which intelligence ought to be measured?
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Two monkeys in feathered caps smoking tobacco. Engraving after D. Teniers. Source: Wellcome Collection. CC BY:4.0