turkish chess : the invisible hand

… a ghost in the machine that plays chess…Does God play chess with the universe? And how does one figure in the future’s future? Walter Benjamin called the future, “the small gate in time through which the messiah might enter.” The game was rigged. It was a hoax. Inside was a hunchback expert chess player whom Benjamin likened to theology: small and ugly and to be kept out of sight and the puppet represented historical materialism or as Zizek said, ideology. But, if there was complicity with this “machine” that conceptually is to win all the time, what is our view of the future, and how does the machine change that view? The subject is exposed to a concrete situation and a universalized counterpart, but fails to reconcile the two. …

--- Poe:Perhaps no exhibition of the kind has ever elicited so general attention as the Chess-Player of Maelzel. Wherever seen it has been an object of intense curiosity, to all persons who think. Yet the question of its modus operandi is still undetermined. Nothing has been written on this topic which can be considered as decisive — and accordingly we find every where men of mechanical genius, of great general acuteness, and discriminative understanding, who make no scruple in pronouncing the Automaton a pure machine, unconnected with human agency in its movements, and consequently, beyond all comparison, the most astonishing of the inventions of mankind. And such it would undoubtedly be, were they right in their supposition. Assuming this hypothesis, it would be grossly absurd to compare with the Chess-Player, any similar thing of either modern or ancient days. Yet there have been many and wonderful automata. In Brewster’s Letters on Natural Magic, we have an account of the most remarkable....---http://www.eapoe.org/works/essays/maelzel.htm image:http://hightechhistory.com/2011/04/21/a-history-of-computer-chess-%E2%80%93-from-the-mechanical-turk-to-%E2%80%9Cdeep-blue%E2%80%9D/

…However, in one of his very late texts, he presents the image of an intellectual apparatus, Maelzel’s chess-playing “mechanical Turk,” with theology hidden inside, working the controls and winning the games. Either way, there was covert work on theology in concepts like mimesis and the nonsensuous similarity; but whether it was a rewriting of initial, theological ideas in new critical register, or a covert enacting of theology, remains an ongoing debate.) “On Language as Such and the Language of Man” is a document about the enigmatic multiplicity of words and languages, argued from a youthful “theological” perspective — theological, that is, in that the idea of God plays a prominent role, not that it is argued in a truly theological manner (in the way that can be seen in Scholem, for example, to say nothing of entire theologians like Buber or Barth):…

Osman Hamdi Bey. Read More:http://shankandmystify.tumblr.com/post/4745827744/osman-hamdi-bey-chess

…it’s the kind of theological argument that draws primarily on German Romantic poetic evocations of Biblical events for its sources. In fact, this writing, as with much of the very early Benjamin, is much less theological than Kantian; even the cadence of the German has a Kantian flavor. Under the rhythmic march of the rhetorical questions (“What does language communicate?”, “Why name them?”, “How does man communicate himself?”, etc.), a argument is being made which will reappear in “The Task of the Translator,” and, thoroughly transformed, in the theory of nonsensuous similarity. The early shape of these arguments is heavily circular, and what is germane to this study is what they circle: another facet of the mystery of similitude, the epistemological mystery of how we perceive that this thing and that are somehow related, that memories and emotions are evoked by them, that they seem to speak to us. Here, the element of mystery is specifically semiotic (and not linguistic; Benjamin is to any actual linguistics what a phenomenologist is to physics, probing how it is felt and understood from within). When we say that some thing has a sign-character, what do we mean? How is it that we give something a name? “If the lamp and the mountain and the fox did not communicate themselves to man, how should he be able to name them?”  Read More:http://finnb.net/a/b/writing.html

---"It's Movements Are So Life-like It Is Difficult To Believe It Is Not Endowed With Life" The Mechanical Turk was a haunted chess-playing 18th century automaton unveiled at the court of the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. It took the form of a bearded robotic oriental magician, brandishing a Turkish pipe and a reputed fiery temperament. It's mechanism remained a mystery for the entirety of it's existence. It is said to have defeated Catherine the Great, Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon during it's European and American tours. It was destroyed by fire in 1854. --- Read More:http://darrananderson.com/the-mechanical-turk/


There seem to have been a number of reasons. The Turk’s first visit to Paris, for example, coincided with the first public demonstration of a hot-air balloon by the Montgolfier brothers. If flying machines, which were supposedly impossible, could in fact be built, then why not a thinking machine? Mechanical technology was advancing quickly, the industrial revolution was getting started, and displays of mechanical toys of amazing complexity were very popular. The way in which the Turk was presented made a big difference too. John Gaughan, a Los Angeles magician, has reconstructed the Turk. And when you see it playing, even if you know the secret, it’s really convincing. It seems to tap into a really fundamental human compulsion to believe that it’s real. Read More:http://www.chessville.com/reviews/reviews_turk.htm
Thus, the automaton is already indexed to the history of the oppressed. This is a history made possible by the Aristotelian recognition that it is not merely necessity, but also contingency, and hence history and politics, that characterize the automaton. Secondly, in relation to the subject, it is important that the dwarf is hidden by a ‘system of mirrors creat[ing] the illusion that this table was transparent on all sides’. The mirroring effect is, as Adorno for instance has argued, the effect of ideology : the subject is posited as either in a state of complete hiddenness or in a state of complete transparency. Thus, the subject is either in the complete isolation required by immediate knowledge of itself, or alternatively the subject presents the future by instituting the law in its own image–that is, the two forms of metaphysical self-reflection that allow for an access to the content of the future. Conversely, because that secrecy is untenable, the mirroring trick is bound to fail. The upshot of both these aspects is that, when Benjamin says that the imaginary ‘philosophic counterpart’ to the Turk ‘is to win all the time’ in chess, the emphasis should not be on the winning, but rather on the failure of this formula–as it was manifest to Benjamin in 1940. It is a failure of a specific conception of the ‘philosophic’, a conception that manifests itself in the necessary and eternal conclusion of the expression ‘all the time’. A certain kind of philosophy promised that the automaton would abolish slavery and class division with the co-operation of a learned–a doctored–mind. But the mind is doctored also in the sense of ‘tampered with’ or impure, a mind infected with automaticity, contaminated with the doctored propaganda of power politics. The Doppelganger critiques the ‘doctored subject’, which is thereby shown to be unitary only as a result of a mendacity about its own disjunctions. Thus, the Turk may win at all times, but only in a realm of absolute loneliness, bereft of others, and hence a realm in which its only opponent would be a self-reflection in the mirror. This is a win resulting in complete failure.Read More:http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7043/is_25-26/ai_n28321347/

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