Behind Machines

电子设备与孤独感是个很大的话题。Olivia Laing 的 The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone 在讲述 Andy Warhol 的第三章 My Heart Open to Your Voice 里描述和机器产生亲密感、躲在机器(或在今天应当是电子设备)后面的事的 Andy 找到了一个独特的视角。她这样写道

The photographer Stephen Shore remembered being struck in the 1960s by the intimate role it played in Warhol’s life, ‘finding it stunning and poignant that he’s Andy Warhol, who’s just come from some all-night party or several of them, and has turned on the television and cried himself to sleep to a Priscilla Lane film, and his mother has come in and turned it off’.

她这样总结道

Becoming a machine; hiding behind machines; employing machines as companions or managers of human communication and connection: Andy was as ever at the vanguard, the breaking wave of a change in culture, abandoning himself to what would soon become the driving obsession of our times.

这对于当代人和机器的亲密关系可以说洞若观火。以及

Over the years, he employed a range of devices, from the stationary 16mm Bolex on which he recorded the Screen Tests of the 1960s to the Polaroid camera that was his permanent companion at parties in the 1980s.

实在太懂了,让我重新回忆起那切肤一般的拍完一场球赛的孤独感嘛。

但其实更希望、或更好奇看到一层是关于自身的回答,或者说某种程度上已经被回答了:如果 Warhol 生在机器可以被更精确地赋予人格的日子里——早些日子只是编程,今天则是加入 AI ——又会怎样。从个人体验来说(可能过于极端),编程这一语言的习得及其思维方式的养成某些程度上进一步地使得社交的欲望萎缩了——

「Turned on the television and cried himself to sleep」就仿佛 60 年代版电影《社交网络》(The Social Network)开头 Zuckerberg 在愤怒当中写出 Face Mesh 的场景了。让我想到了我也曾有过那些个自暴自弃的当下,敲打着键盘写程序控制自己唯一能稳定操作和驯服其输出的东西的日子。

勇气

最近看了许多关于肺炎的报道、分析和讨论,但还是被回形针 Paperclip 的关于面对疫情的话打动了。

过去几年,中国平均每年有 8.8 万人死于流感引发的呼吸系统疾病,6.3 万人死于交通事故,3.8 万人死于安全事故。只要我们迈出家门,去工地,去写字楼,去流水线,风险就已经存在了。我们当然应该把倒霉的概率尽可能降低,但我们之所以赞颂勇气,是因为我们人类总是在明知风险的时候,仍然选择做我们该做的事情

偶尔也需要提醒自己,存在的每一天其实都是在书写关于世界的叙事,都是人类努力认识与攻克自身与自然这构造挑战的英勇史诗。

「解决问题」与「改变世界」

知乎用户贺师俊在回答怎样看待王垠的《我和 Google 的故事》?中提到王垠在 Google 经历到的种种不快,其实是来源于他「恐怕并不追求『改变世界』,而是一个纯粹以『解决难题』为『驱动力』的人」。于此,他反思到

其实我对这样的结果是很伤感的,我自己其实也是以「解决难题」而不是「改变世界」为驱动力的人,他的缺陷(比如「述(guang/wa)而(shuo/keng)不(bu)作(lian/tian)」)我一样有 —— 很多时候我倾向于,既然我已经想明白了,问题就已经解决了,剩下的事情(比如实作)不重要,我的时间和精力应该花在那些我还没想明白的事情上。

他又写到

这是专业领域最终一定需要某种共同体来评判的原因。尽管这样的共同体和所有人类组织一样,一定会有缺点,但游离于共同体之外的,很容易走向民科、玄学。「真理掌握在少数人手里」在绝大多数时候都是说说的,而且即使是特例,最终也必须得到未来某个共同体的追认。

这一对于「解决问题」与「改变世界」的反思对于身处于 Ph.D. 过程中的我是非常有现实意义的。

之前在于长辈的探讨中也有意识到「解决问题」与「改变世界」这一分野。许多以「改变世界」为目标的人最后去做了企业家,或者至少是去开发产品;而学术界则不乏享受「解决问题」的研究者,他们只是在恰到好处的时间节点开掘了一块曾经无人涉足之地而从此奉献一生。但说到底这两种乐趣并不应该是完全割裂的。在从前的许多年里,我做的许多事情并没有被真正 deliver 掉。想给自己 Ph.D. 这一目标也是想再给自己一个训练自己在共同体之下留下自己痕迹的能力。

关于抑郁的《深夜秀》

2019 年的电影《深夜秀》(Late Night)中,深夜秀 Late Night with Katherine Newbury 的主播 Katherine(Emma Thompson 饰)在长期受抑郁困扰。阳光的 Molly Patte(Mindy Kalin 饰)对这种抑郁的症状表示不解、充满敌意(toxic)的工作环境表示不满,她问 Katherine 曾经在节目中透出国抑郁症的一点是否是真的

Were you really depressed? Or was it just part of the act? […] God, why can’t I express my admiration for you?

Katherine 带 Molly 看了她的一堆金球奖,她的这样回答

No. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but your earnestness can be very hard to be around. […] Because successful people hate their own admirers, and we’re suspicious of people who compliment us.

当然实际上并不止限于成功人士(successful people)之间,只不过成功的人更容易让人不解罢了。无法相信自己的成功、无法相信对自己的赞扬、持续地想要让别人接受自己对自己的那个不好的印象,恐怕是对抑郁症状况相当精准的概括了。

虽然整部片子的剧情只是差强人意,但这个对话之间对抑郁状态的刻画我相当喜欢。

战后艺术

在英文语境之下,每每读到对抽象概念的精确的具象化描述的尝试总让令我折服,让我觉得抽象的概念其实原来也并不是那么无厘头的嘛。纽约 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 2019 年夏季新展 Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection 上一段介绍性文字将战后艺术(postwar art)描述为「一套因战后暴戾与破坏而生的实验性艺术语言」的文字仿佛直击这一类艺术作品的存在目的。

The term postwar art has most typically been used to describe art created in the aftermath of World War II within a North American or Western European context. The advent of the atomic age – initiated by the United States’ bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945-and the atrocities of the Holocaust, perpetuated by Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, challenged artists and intellectuals to invent new languages and forms that could respond to the un-representable. The disjunction between Western ideologies and the realities of violence and devastation led many European and North American artists to embrace non-Western aesthetics and modes of thought.

In the visual arts, abstraction provided an experimental vocabulary with which to signify the magnitude of destruction caused by the war and the gravity of horrors unleashed by the nuclear bomb. It also offered artists an openended approach to envisioning other psychic or emotional states, as a respite and refuge from the harsh realities of the present. Simultaneously, figuration and performance art flourished, as artists sought to portray the radical fragmentation of the body-a result of the violence wrought against it and the environment, the cityscape, and the countryside. Art offered both a critique of and an escape from a war-weary world.

并不是因为创作于 1950–1970 它们才叫做战后艺术。

这样精炼表述之美,大概就是艺术史之美吧。

又到了快乐水的季节

郁达夫在《春风沉醉的晚上》这样写春夏之交的季节:

天气好像变了。几日来我那独有的世界,黑暗的小房里的腐浊的空气,同蒸笼里的蒸气一样,蒸得人头昏欲晕。我每年在春夏之交要发的神经衰弱的重症,遇了这样的气候,就要使我变成半狂。所以我这几天来,到了晚上,等马路上人静之后,也常常想出去散步去。一个人在马路上从狭隘的深蓝天空里看看群星,慢慢地向前行走,一边做些漫无涯涘的空想,倒是于我的身体很有利益。当这样的无可奈何,春风沉醉的晚上,我每要在各处乱走,走到天将明的时候才回家里。我这样的走倦了回去就睡,一睡直可睡到第二天的日中,有几次竟要睡到二妹下工回来的前后方才起来。睡眠一足,我的健康状态也渐渐地回复起来了。

又到了快乐水的季节。

音乐的听众、电视的观众和杂志的读者

在《滚石》(Rolling Stone)杂志的编辑笔下,电视节目正变得越来越像是当代的音乐文化,每一个粉丝群体,在变得越发分裂和孤立。《滚石》2019 年 4 月刊 Editor’s Letter: Goodbye to ‘Game of Thrones’

Game of Thrones had a global reach like nothing before it on TV. When you factor in illegal downloads and streams, the previous season was viewed by at least a billion people — meaning one of seven humans on the planet. “It does things you never expected TV to be able to do in terms of dragons flying and burning up entire armies, and zombies storming down a mountain,” says Alan Sepinwall, our chief TV critic, who has never missed an episode. “It’s viscerally thrilling in a way that almost nothing in TV has ever been before.”

When Game of Thrones debuted, back in 2011, TV was a totally different place. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon hadn’t begun to create their own programming, and the audience for great shows wasn’t splintered across niche genres and formats. It was actually possible (and enjoyable!) to keep up with GoT and other great shows like Homeland, Breaking Bad and Mad Men as they unfolded week to week. Now, dozens of original shows, docs and miniseries are dumped onto streaming services every month, and even the best of them reach smaller, fragmented audiences.

“TV is like the new music, and more than a little tribal,” says Rolling Stone entertainment editor Maria Fontoura. “Everyone has their favorite shows, and people judge each other’s taste by what they’re watching.”

李如一笔下的 Apple News+ 也在让杂志变得越来越像是音乐。《一天世界》博客 Apple News+

苹果最落后的地方是反复讲各种「最好」和「最有创意」。汇集最好的杂志,找最好的创意人来做最好的电视节目。她们没有收到风,最好的时代已经结束了。没有最好,也没有更好,只有各种各样的好。不仅没有最好,甚至最火都已经没有了。已经不再是 for the rest of us 的苹果不懂这个。

百科、博物馆、艺术史:一个微缩的平行世界

之前试着做维基百科类的网站词条的时候,就意识到:那种写完一个词条时的成就感,很大程度上与构建世界的成就感非常相似,只不过这个被构建的世界是个在虚拟空间的平行世界。在这个平行世界中的物件与我们所生活的现实世界的物体的子集有个映射的关系,而这虚拟世界中物体的关系由我们通过超链接编织而成。

今天读 Donald Preziosi 的《艺术史的艺术:批评读本》(The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology)的时候看到编者 1998 年撰写的开篇文章 Art History: Making the Visible Legible 中提到

Art history and museology traditionally fabricated histories of form as surrogates for or parallels to histories of persons or peoples: narrative stagings which served (on the model of forensic laboratory science) to illustrate, demonstrate, and delineate significant aspects of the character, level of civilization, or degree of social or cognitive advancement or decline of an individual or nation.

也意识到这种对于平行世界的构建同时也在博物馆学和艺术史学中存在,同样的,在百科构建中也会有类似于博物馆中「策展」(curation)过程的遴选所带来的对世界的一种「负责任」的支配感。

许多玩家在我的世界(Minecraft)等模拟类游戏中也能找到类似的乐趣。

对方法论的讨论实在是件有趣的事呢。