Lukáš Likavčan and Cosmologies

I couldn’t participate in yesterday’s (18.11.2020) Digital Earth talk with Lukas Likavčan and the fellows, I was busy thinking over layers of subjectivity within a VR experience that is centered around the embodiment of the user, within a black male’s body. Targeted for the privileged white folks, supposedly this VR experience of putting on a headset along with some controls will help with racial bias and make them empathize with people whom they probably see in everyday life.

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Going back to the Zoom discussion, I may have done something slightly unethical just so that I can get my hands (or my virtual ears) on it by asking my brother to log in and screen record the session for me. This confession is in fact extremely unnecessary but I can assure that this thing will stay with me, please don’t sue me.

I’ve started reading the Introduction to Planetary Cosmology just around 2 weeks ago, and being honest I like the way it’s structured, not so much the language in which it is written. That might be something I experience even now as well that writing in a language that is not your native puts you in a gray zone where some words slide just like the way you want them to and some of them just don’t work and deep down you know it. It’s may be because my metric of judgement is based on the Northern American standard -does it even exist?- and even that is getting more and more obsolete.

So one of the core ideas that emerge from Western philosophy is the division of techne and creative acts. Engineering is in its core utilitarian and you shall not look for any creative endeavors within it, there is no need. Our hope with the turn of the first quintile of the 21st century is that this dichotomy will come to an end, they will unite, forming poetic engineering (we already have a wonderful group of people working in poetic computing so go ahead and give them some love). This generative pursuit of creation can be observed all around I would say, with the turn of every big museum having at least one new media artist exhibition within their yearly calendar.

So deconstructing this binary systems will require a multi-disciplinary framework. Since specialization dawned on around a century ago, maybe it is time to say goodbye to it.

One of the questions that was asked by fellows was the imagining of multiplicity of cosmologies like simultaneous multiplicities as Achille Mbembe, Cameroonian philosopher and political scientist, introduced in 1997. Although that term was coined by Mbembe, the concept of multiplicity was introduced to philosophy was before that.

Bergson and Husserl were the first ones to conceptualize multiplicity based on the mathematical theorem by Riemann¹ in 1889, but it was Deleuze (who Likavčan quotes apologetically both in his book and in discussion due to it’s misuse/overuse for the last decade) along with Guattari who formed the major part of the theory and further developed it. For Deleuze as he wrote in one of his early books Difference in Repetition (1968) the concept of multiplicity has to do with representation. When we choose and ideal among many representations of the same thing, the unity we assume from it actually causes non-representation if we apply the same for humans. You can choose and ideal chair among five chairs in the room and compare them among each other but applying this to individuals is problematic. Subsuming multiplicity under unity is significantly blinding ourselves to the actual reality. Here Deleuze suggests changing the order, subsuming unity under multiplicity.By doing this you actually are opening the valve of livelihood into life where constant shift within paradigms and minor changes create a circular structure of adaptation and reorganization. The dynamism turns it into a living breathing being. This can be applied to science itself, Deleuze claims. Science being the static repository of knowledge where the fluidity is disregarded and disliked, can be challenged by Bentley Allan, Assistant Professor of Political Science (which also happens to be one of the inspirations of Likavčan) and his theory of Scientific Cosmology². Moving the scientific method within the realm of cosmology might seem like a bold move, and it sure is, but with today’s advancements in biomimetic technologies³ where science itself starts to look more like “us” and given among all adjectives the last one to describe our being is “static” there may be some sense in that.

Another reason to consider looking at science through the window of cosmology is the constitution of knowledge systems and the power they house within. Since Francis Bacon, knowledge is equal to power: power to govern, power to manipulate. Knowledge being the scope of one’s living, grasping it in a solely static mean is suffocating it.

There still are many façades to the talk and the ideas mentioned but I will stop it here for today. One final thing I want to add that was not mentioned was the work of Isaiah Berlin. For some of you who know if only through his essay of the Hedgehog and the Fox but the key concept he introduces was value pluralism. The nonsensical pursuit of finding the true value between agents, based on the assumption that there is a “truth” out there, blinds us from the relativity and multiplicity of values that can coexist within a society. I’m not here to disregard the complexity of accepting this theory and certain difficulty of implementing it in everyday life, I just think that it is worth the try.


[2] Allan, Bentley B. Scientific cosmology and international orders. Vol. 147. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

[3] Living Machines: A Handbook of Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, eds Tony J. Prescott, Nathan F. Lapora and Paul F. MJ Verschure, (2018).

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Researcher in affective computing, consciousness and the mind. Also happens to cycle, a lot.

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