Keller Easterling on Knowing How

“Keller Easterling: Knowing How / We are very good at “knowing that”—pointing to things and calling their name. In our most primitive moments we even regard this cumulative identification as a primary form of knowledge. “Knowing how” redoubles that knowledge. It is the ability to detect the unfolding interplay between things as an information system. We are accustomed to the abstractions of information systems—languages, DNA or codes for digital devices. But we are less attuned to the ways in which information resides in the lumpy, heavy objects of our world—not only living beings but everything from the smallest object to buildings and cities. We are more aware of their name than the repertoire they enact. It is harder to unfocus eyes and see not only the object but the matrix of activities in which the object is suspended. It is harder to see the ways in which objects are computing, exchanging and generating information. Using a series of simple examples, “Knowing How”rehearses the ability to read this matrix as an infinitive rather than nominative expression.”

2 responses to “Keller Easterling on Knowing How

  1. I’m only about halfway through, but the first part of the talk brings back to mind one of the Lot 49 excerpts you recently posted:

    “She looked down a slope, needing to squint for the sunlight, onto a vast sprawl of houses which had grown up all together, like a well-tended crop, from the dull brown earth; and she thought of the time she’d opened a transistor radio to replace a battery and seen her first printed circuit. The ordered swirl of houses and streets, from this high angle, sprang at her now with the same unexpected, astonishing clarity as the circuit card had. Though she knew even less about radios than about Southern Californians, there were to both outward patterns a hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning, of an intent to communicate.”

    • indeed, there is some method to the madness…
      wouldn’t take these kinds of speculations too literally but intrigued as to how they might help (or not) to think about new ways of responding to what is happening.

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