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Language as Technopoly: Invisible Technologies

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Language as Technopoly: Invisible Technologies

  1. 1. Invisible Technologies Language as Technopoly Dilip Barad An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics Baroda, Gujarat (India) 28-30 Jan., 2013 www.dilipbarad.com www.dilipbarad.blogspot.in 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 1
  2. 2. Whose body language speaks of self-confidence? 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 2
  3. 3. With which colour-pencil is the cat on the cup drawn? 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 3
  4. 4. Let us check general knowledge: • What is Jawaharlal Nehru’s son’s name? • ‘Save The Girl Child’ 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 4
  5. 5. Ideal Indian Woman 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 5
  6. 6. Do you believe in racism? 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 6
  7. 7. What’s wrong with answers? 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 7
  8. 8. “I’m sure, We’ll enjoy working together”. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 8
  9. 9. The language in conversation leads wife to believe . . . 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 9
  10. 10. Why she thought what she thought? See, how language conditions our world view! 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 10
  11. 11. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 ‹#›
  12. 12. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology • - is a book by Neil Postman published in 1992 that describes the development and characteristics of a "technopoly". • He defines a technopoly as a society in which technology is deified, meaning “the culture seeks its authorisation in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology”. • It is characterised by a surplus of information generated by technology, which technological tools are in turn employed to cope with, in order to provide direction and purpose for society and individuals. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 12
  13. 13. Invisible Technologies – Neil Postman • If we define ideology as a set of assumptions of which we are barely conscious but which nonetheless directs our efforts to give shape and coherence to the world, then our most powerful ideological instrument is the technology of language itself. • Language is pure ideology. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 13
  14. 14. Language as ideology: Grammar its tool • Divide world into subjects and objects (binary oppositions) • Instructs us about time, space and numbers, and forms our ideas of how we stand in relation to nature and to each other – mirage of meaning! • English grammar – subject always acts – verbs are their actions – and objects are acted upon • Aggressive grammar – made to think world as malignant rather than benign – pushing and attacking one other. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 14
  15. 15. Deeply integrated ideological agenda of language • A special effort and training are required to detect its presence. • Unlike television or the computer, language appears to be not an extension of our power but simply a natural expression of who and what we are. • This is the great secret of language: Because it comes from inside us, we believe it to be a direct, unedited, unbiased, apolitical expression of how the world really is. • Machine is outside of us – easy to see its functioning – but Language! Difficult to detect its mechanism. (General Semantics helps us.) 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 15
  16. 16. No Petrol / Diesel Day – 14th Feb • Fight against Govt’s policy to liberalize price of Crude oil. • Ecological reasons – Save the Environment! • Ambush marketing of Valentine’s Day! • Cultural attack? • How does a culture-shock matter in an era of Globalization? 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 16
  17. 17. Neil Postman questions ‘Question’ • Should we celebrate ‘Save the Girl Child’ on 14th Feb or 14th Nov? • The form of question even block us from seeing solutions to problems that become visible through a different question. • Questions are like computers or televisions or stethoscopes or lie detectors, in that they are mechanisms that give direction to our thoughts, generate new ideas, venerate old ones, expose facts, or hide them. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 17
  18. 18. Example of ‘questioning’ • Structure of any question is as devoid of neutrality as is its content. • The form of a question may ease our way or pose obstacles. Or, when even slightly altered, it may generate antithetical answers: • Two priests asking Pope if it was permissible to smoke and pray, at the same time. • Priest 1: “Is it permissible to DRINK while PRAYING?’ • Priest 2: “Is it permissible to PRAY while DRINKING?” 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 18
  19. 19. Word controls our worldview • “. . . although all observers may be confronted by the same physical evidence in the form of experiential data and although they may be capable of ‘externally similar acts of observation’ . . . A person’s ‘picture of the universe’ or ‘view of the world’ differs as a function of the particular language or languages that person knows.” (Qtd. Penny Lee in Bruce Kodish’s What We Do With Language – What It Does With Us. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 19
  20. 20. The Interpretive Communities & the Context– Stanley Fish • ‘A speaker is never not in a context. We are never not in a situation . . . No sentence is ever apprehended independently of some or other illocutionary forces”. (Stanley Fish qtd. W. Ray – V.S. Seturaman. Introduction. Contemporary Criticism) 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 20
  21. 21. Mr. A (tom, dick and harry) married Ms. B (jill, jane and julie). • • • • • So and so Minister married some Beautician. Amitabh married Rekha. Katrina married Ranbir Salman married Daisy Sania married Shaoib. • Khan hits ‘om run! 2/20/2014 21
  22. 22. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 ‹#›
  23. 23. Conclusion • The technopoly of Camera – a machine - in this video does not allow us to comprehend the ‘truth’, the ‘reality’. • Similarly, there are several invisible technologies – which Postman considers as ‘mechanisms that act like machine but are not normally thought as a part of Technopoly’s repertoire. • Neil Postman calls for an attention to them (i.e. technologies in disguise) precisely because they are so often overlooked! 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 23
  24. 24. To conclude, I make two statements… • Language does not communicate… • Language is used to ‘condition’ mind (identity), not to communicate… • If you do not agree with me, the first statement is true… • If you agree, second is true… 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 24
  25. 25. Finally, • To be effective communicator in 21st Century we should have two characteristics: • One, while communicating keep all our senses open (including common sense), so that none can exploit and subjugate us, esp. political language. • Second, learn the skills to use language to voice the unheard voices. 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 25
  26. 26. Thank you www.facebook.com/dilipbarad www.twitter.com/dilipbarad 20/02/2014 An Advanced National Workshop in General Semantics: 28-30 Jan. 2013 26

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