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The past never happened

Apocalipsis's picture

This week's class discussion on Barad was very interesting as it posed various tensions. One of her biggest criticism is that people shouldn’t rely on moral judgments. She discusses the role of agency and how authors write text while the text also writes the author which leads me to question the role of power and who maintains it. Her basis of critique of Frayn’s play demonstrates that you can’t know all of the time, and that relying on content sometimes leads to points of ethics which doesn’t always lead anywhere. You can’t necessarily judge actions or intentions objectively because there’s no objectivity which ties into her discussion of the past which she argues never ends. I wonder what Barad would think about the concept of information existing even if it’s not readily visible or decodable. 




rubikscube's picture

decoding music

Since you both mentioned decoding information, I first thought of its relevance to a music score. Just an hour ago I returned from Greasepaint's performance of "Chicago," in which I was the orchestra conductor. In front of me I had the score, and it was my job to decode this information to give it's meaning not only to the musicians but also to the entire audience. In this case, the content was obvious to me, since I can read music and make sense of the different instrumental lines. I feel that the meaning was also clear because for most songs, the cast was singing along and continuing the plot of the show. But what about music that seems to have unclear content? There's a good amount of modern music that has a very clear, distinct meaning. But I sometimes find a problem with how this meaning is presented. The musical content can sometimes be free, atonal, broken sounds. Though there's no problem decoding the information through reading the music, the only way we know the "meaning" is by reading what's written in the program. I wonder what this means about decoding information that has unclear content but a distinct meaning?

shin1068111's picture

Distinct meaning?

The analogy you used pertaining to music seems to explain the problem with how meaning is presented. It reminds me of the class that we had to listen to two different types of music, one being classical and the other being punk rock, and were advised to present our thoughts on them. Based on the class experiment, I think we ended up concluding that information that has unclear content could be decoded differently depending on the decoder. Therefore, the "distinct meaning" does not play an important role when it is too difficult for the general public to reach a consensus for the distinct meaning.

MSA322's picture

Music and information

I must admit, I had same thoughts while watching the show, and watching you conduct the orchestra. I turned to my friend next to me commenting how music makes a big difference and adds a meaning or "flavor" to plays, shows, events, occasions.. it adds flavor to life in general. Music is in fact information being decoded by the conductor, to the various musicians during a play, adding meaning to the acts, scenes the audience is watching. It's quiet fascinating. What if the music playing at certain scenes doesn't match what exactly is going on during the scene, the audience would get a different "meaning" of it and would interpret it differently, leading to a misunderstanding of what actually is going on. This applies to real life, what if information we are given, and told is not correct, or misleading, how would our lives be different?

vgaffney's picture

Objectivity, Content and Knowledge

 I think your post is really interesting and brings up a lot of the tensions in Barad’s piece. I am really intrigued by the issues of objectivity, content and ethics within the context of quantum physics and philosophical thought. In your post you reference Barad’s criticism of relying on content in order to make judgments. I think this is an interesting aspect of her argument, especially within the context of her opening statement: “Matter and meaning are not separate elements”. She interestingly equates matter and meaning suggesting that something’s substance, its matter, and its content are intrinsically linked to its corresponding meaning and significance. In this sense to it seems that there is an inextricable relationship between content and knowledge and that, to a certain extent, we must rely on content in order to have knowledge. I can see why this approach would have interesting ethical implications, especially with the argument that there is no objectivity: how can we judge actions and intentions if there’s no objective lens through which to judge? I think your reference to her discussion of the past is interesting, as well as your tie in to information decoding—and the question of whether information can be decoded if the content itself appears to be absent. 

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