Life as an Extreme Sport

Knowledge and Trust

Knowledge induces belief, belief in what one sees clearly or in a coherent and consistent account that supplies evidence or proof. Trust, which is as compelling as belief, is not produced by knowledge. In trust one adheres to something one sees only partially or unclearly or understands only vaguely or ambiguously. One attachces to someone whose words or whose movements one does not understand, whose reasons or motives one does not see.

Is it all the things that are known that encourage the leap, in this one instance, to adhere to something unknown as though it were known? Is it not because of a long past tried and true that someone becomes a trusted adviser? Is it all that one knows about laws, the institutions, the policing, and all that one knows about the values, the education, the peer pressure of individuals in a society that induce one to trust this individual met at random on a jungle path? But the more one knows about a tried and true adviser, the more clearly one sees that every act of loyalty opened an opportunity for disloyalty. The more one understands about the laws and programming of a culture, the more clearly one understands how they are imposed upon, but do not eliminate, can even provoke, impulses contrary to them.

Trust is a break, a cut made in the extending map of certainties and probabilities. The force that breaks with the cohesion of doubts and deliberations is an upsurge, a birth, a commencement. It has its own momentum, and builds upon itself. How one feels this force! Before these strangers in whom one’s suspicious and anxious mind elaborates so many scheming motivations, abruptly one fixes on this one, at random, and one feels trust, like a river released from a lock, swelling one’s mind and launching one on the way.

…The act of trust is a leap into the unknown. It is not an effect of ideological, cultural, historical, social, economic, or ethnobiological determinisms. But trust is everywhere – in the pacts and contracts, in institutions, in forms of discourse taken to be revealing or veridical, in the empirical sciences and in mathematical systems. Everywhere a human turns in the web of human activities, he touches upon solicitations to trust. The most electronically guarded, insured individual is constantly asked to trust.

-Alphonso Lingis, Trust, Typhoons pp. 64-66

the camera eye

I’ve been spending some time thinking about photography, since I hope to do a photo project in the upcoming weeks. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the difference between the digital camera and a film camera. I mean, yes, there’s the obvious difference, and then there’s the ability to erase with a digital camera. You can take the picture until you’re satisfied with it; some would consider this a bonus, others (say, Zizek) would likely argue that it’s allowing a representational reality to flourish. But what I was specifically thinking about tonight was how a digital versus film camera is used. A TV commercial, adveristing Wal*Mart’s online film processing (upload your digital pictures to pick up film in store in an hour), was showing a mother photographing her child by holding the digital camera away from her, so that she could see what was on the screen instead of looking through the “viewfinder”. You can’t do this with a film camera; you have to hold a film camera to your eye, and to allow the camera to become an extension of you. All you see is through the camera; with a digital, you still see the outside world as you take the picture; it’s no longer an augmentation of self, but a mere tool. It changes the function and purpose, and I wonder how it changes the use.

The 2005 Summer Institute in the Humanities

For health reasons, it was necessary for me to stop blogging for a while. That’s hopefully under enough control that I can get back to this. And with that, I should like to state that I was recently awarded a Mary Gates Endowment to attend the 2005 Summer Institute in the Humanities. In addition, I am also a Mary Gates Scholar, and will be a participant in the next Undergraduate Research Symposium at UW.

Perhaps self-evident, but this is what’s going to be (and really, already has been) on my mind for a while.