Google Is Alive, It Has Eyes, and This Is What It Sees

Beautiful art by Samuel J Bland, digital collages composed from google image searches. Lacking intuition, the algorithm finds surreal patterns in mundane images. Mechanism in the articulation of a stuffed woodcock, the echo of a tiger from a fuzzy orange object in a plastic bag, these images percolate up through the digital froth of images and haunt these other, everyday objects, visual ghosts.

As I wrote before, when we imagine alternative/artificial intelligences, we tend to fixate on symbolic consciousness (i.e., the Turing Test) at the expense of what Lacan calls the imaginary, that layer of consciousness closer to animal ethology and the machinic. Consciousness emerges not just out of language, but out of a constant processing of images and environmental stimuli. Give the AI sense, then engage in a constant and distributed Turin reality-testing (Turin avec Freud), and see what emerges.


“From Sovereignty to Ethopoiesis: Literature, Aesthetics, and New Forms of Life,” The Comparatist 36 (2012): 86-106.

My article in The Comparatist is finally out. It is essentially a distillation of the methodological argument of my dissertation, though stripped of all the particular literary contexts with which it is developed there. It shifts the scene slightly, and focuses on the question of “sovereignty” that appears in Foucault’s early writings on literature, a concept he shares with Derrida, and that both take from Bataille. I highly recommend the rest of the articles in the issue as well.

The essay traces what becomes of this idea as it evolves into “the final Foucault,” where ethics is related to treating being as a work of art. In it, I also try and distinguish the specific discourse of “literature” from an aesthetic function that often, though not always, resides within it. A passage, not random:

Considering the domains of archaeology, genealogy, and ethics, this aesthetics would be defined by the virtual production of new subjects of enunciation in discourse around which practices can be actualized as new forms of life.

Emphasis original, &c.