This blog focuses on the key concepts of mnemotechnology and thought control, as introduced in Stiegler’s ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’ and Pamoukaghlian’s ‘Mind Games: Science’s Attempts at Thought Control’ (2011). Thought control is also touched upon in Dalton’s Youtube video ‘e sense.’ While these concepts immediately stood out to me as interesting, I have contextualised them in terms of my own experiences in order to acquire a more thorough understanding.
Stiegler simply describes mnemotechnics as the externalisation of our memory. However, mnemotechnology more specifically relates to our growing dependence on technological forms for memory. One of my friends (let’s call him Steven) was recently perusing Facebook when he came across the internet meme ‘Sudden Clarity Clarence’. Just to clarify, an internet meme is a virally-transmitted social idea or concept that is propagated via the World Wide Web. These memes usually feature a photograph accompanied by a witty/appropriate caption. When Steven discovered this particular meme he noticed that the male in the background kissing the blonde female looked suspiciously like him. He then realised that the main figure in the foreground (Sudden Clarity Clarence) had a striking resemblance to his friend ‘Louis’. Upon doing some research into the background of the meme, Steven realised that the photograph had been taken on the first night of the 2009 Schoolies festival held in Queensland. Steven, Louis and their friend ‘Nathan’ (who is partially visible in the top right corner) had all been in attendance at this event, thus confirming that it was them in the photograph.
This realisation highlights the heightened role media technology plays in manipulating one’s memory and sense of self. Steven has no recollection of his intimate experience with the young lady in the photograph, presumably as a result of typical Schoolies alcohol and recreational drug abuse. However, as a result of photographic and online media the moment has been captured and broadcasted to a mass audience. This meme caused the subjects in the photograph to reconsider their own perception and memory of the Schoolies event, something that they had previously taken for granted. Steven and Louis also experienced an identity crisis as they struggled to consolidate the ‘selves’ in the photographs with the ‘selves’ they are familiar with.
In ‘Mind Games’ Pamoukaghlian discusses how mind control has developed since its origins in early Communist China. Meanwhile, Dalton’s video ‘e sense’ illustrates the idea of the ‘extended mind’ by showcasing a brain-computer interface experiment. Both of these sources reminded me of the ‘mind ball’ game I participated in at Bodies: The Exhibition in New York last year. As can be seen in video below, the two players are required to wear a headband with electrodes, which are connected to a table top. The electrodes have been wired up to a biosensor system, so the winner must maintain a calm sense of mind to move a ball to the opposite end of the table via Electroencephalogram waveforms.
In correlation with my own experiences, these readings demonstrate that a mutually influential relationship exists between human thought/memory/experience/sense of self and technological forms. Technology like online media can have a prominent impact upon an individual’s recollection of events and perception of themselves. At the same time, the scientific phenomena of thought control enables brain activity to make its mark upon technology.
Dalton, S. (n.d.) ‘e sense’ <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTtri5jGDc>
Pamoukaghlian, Veronica (2011) ‘Mind Games: Science’s Attempts at Thought Control’, Brainblogger.com, December 28 <http://brainblogger.com/2011/12/28/mind-games-sciences-attempts-at-thought-control/>
Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’ <http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis>
Image and video
Sudden Clarity Clarence (2001) <http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/263433-sudden-clarity-clarence>
Mindball on ABC (2007) <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dJwvjq6eik>