Frames /sing

kvond

The Operated Jew and the Thinking Machine

In support of the thesis that much of the Behaviorist inspired thought-experiment horror (Zombies, Swampmen, Inhumanly raised Marys, even soulless Chinese Speakers and HAL’s), in the field of Philosophy of MInd, is really a philo-sociological issue, and issue between the difference between a person and a thing, and the concordant fears of what might erupt if Behavior otherwise experienced to be coherent and “human” suddenly were exposed to be something both “less” and “more” than these, a reference: 

Eric Santner writes in his wonderful, My Own Private Germany: Daniel Paul Schreber’s Secret History of Modernity, of the story “The Operated Jew” which represents the very repressive projections which are involved in the case of such fears, the fear that what is more than perfect, seamless, is hiding a filth, flesh, or mechanism. 

“Published in 1893, “The Operated Jew” tells the gastly story of a Jewish medical student, Itzig Faitel Stern-a stock character in nineteenth century anti-semetic literature-who undergoes a series of surgical and orthopedic procedures in his efforts to transform himself, body and soul, into a true German…(113)

 “…The story culminates in the scene of Faitel’s wedding banquet, when, under the influence of alcohol and, it is suggested, anxieties about exposing his uncircumcised penis to his Christian bride, Othilia Schnack, Faitel’s body and soul regress back to their preoperative Jewish condition. The advent of the breakdown is signaled by the repressed linguistic repletion compulsion: “Those people who have a good ear could already hear could already hear now a few ‘Deradángs! Deradángs!'” Eventually Faitel’s entire “assimilation” comes undone:

‘Those people who remained behind watched with horror as Faitel’s blond strands of hair began to curl during the last few scenes. Then the curly locks turn from red to dirty brown to blue-black…His arms and legs, which had been stretched and bent in numerous operations, could no longer perform the recently learned movements, nor the old ones…Everyone looked with dread at the crazy circular movements of the Jew…Klotz’ work of art lay before him crumbed and quivering, a convoluted Asiatic image in wedding dress, a counterfeit of human flesh, Itzig Faitel Stern (Panizza, “The Operated Jew”)’ (115).

What lies beneath the surface of Behaviorist tellings of what constitutes “consciousness”, in the fears of those who protest that there must be something more than mere behavior, I suggest is something this most human of projective fears and capacities, that acceptable articulations will become malignant “speech particles”.   

 

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