David Weinberger is a senior researcher at the Berkman Center and “writes on the effect of technology on ideas.” He has several interesting books. Too Big to Know is one. I like it for a number of reasons, but primarily because it implies an ethics at the crossroads of media and world. In response to this book I wrote to him:
That the world as too big to know presents a "ruffle" on the edge of knowledge, and that ruffle is interconnectedness, something bigger than knowledge. I’m drawn to write you because, on first blush, your thinking has profound implications for ethics, identity, democracy and justice. It also has profound implications for how we act ‘where we are’ — because we must adopt this new consciousness in order to act well.
The ruffle at the edge of knowledge is not only composed of collaboration, of the proposal that to be human in this world is to be in snippets and to be comfortable as pieces of a bigger puzzle. The ruffle is also evidence of interaction. It’s the between-space in two walls of facing mirrors; comfort in our relationship to multiplicity.
In this way it is similar to what Pascal once wrote. At the edge of reason, of visual dimensionality, of Perspectivalism, in his Penseés, Pascal wrote:
So with pictures seen from too far or too near; there is but one exact point which is the true place wherefrom to look at them: the rest are too near, too far, too high, or too low. Perspective determines that point in the art of painting. But who shall determine it in truth and morality?
I think this is a great still unanswered question. It’s a question of the ‘value’ in relationship. Pascal was playing with the problem perspective confronts us with. Namely, it supposes a p.o.v. and reinforces it. We can quibble with the “perspective determines” part. But, what I like to think Pascal was saying is that perspective actually occurs in relationship to space — not the person seeing or the thing seen, but in points in space.
And with so many points of view perspective is refracted. It coalesces in enormity embraced — in proximity. There is the ruffle at the edge of something entirely different from knowledge.
“Our Proximity” is the working title of a book I am writing here. When it is complete, I will publish it as a collection of essays, images, video,interviews, and code. Love to know what you think here or @artsandideas