Copying Machines: Taking Notes for the Automaton

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Step 3 : We will try to mark the state pairs, with green colored check mark, transitively. Step 1: All the states Q are divided in two partitions: final states and non-final. Step 2 If all the outputs of Qi are same, copy state Qi.


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If it has n distinct outputs,. Step 3 If the output of the initial state is 1, insert a new initial state at the beginning. So, we divide b into b0 , b1. This is only a preview. Download the document. Load more. Search in the document preview. Automata Theory. Automata Theory i About this Tutorial Automata Theory is a branch of computer science that deals with designing abstract self- propelled computing devices that follow a predetermined sequence of operations automatically.

An automaton with a finite number of states is called a Finite Automaton. This is a brief and concise tutorial that introduces the fundamental concepts of Finite Automata, Regular Languages, and Pushdown Automata before moving onto Turing machines and Decidability. Audience This tutorial has been prepared for students pursuing a degree in any information technology or computer science related field. It attempts to help students grasp the essential concepts involved in automata theory.

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Automata Theory iii Automata Theory iv Automata Theory 1 Automata — What is it? An automaton Automata in plural is an abstract self-propelled computing device which follows a predetermined sequence of operations automatically. Denoted by S. It can be finite or infinite. Hence, it is called Deterministic Automaton. As it has a finite number of states, the machine is called Deterministic Finite Machine or Deterministic Finite Automaton. Deterministic Finite Automaton. Automata Theory 5 In NDFA, for a particular input symbol, the machine can move to any combination of the states in the machine.

In other words, the exact state to which the machine moves cannot be determined. Hence, it is called Non-deterministic Automaton. As it has finite number of states, the machine is called Non-deterministic Finite Machine or Non- deterministic Finite Automaton. Non-deterministic Finite Automaton. Advanced Search…. Copying Machines Taking Notes for the Automaton Author: Catherine Liu. Rickels, author of The Vampire Lectures. Appropriating Technology Vernacular Science and Social Power Explores how outsiders reinvent, rethink, and apply new technology in often subversive ways.

Residual Media Explores what happens when new media become old news. Valmont and Merteuil participate in disseminating mechanical preju- dice: they often dismiss their victims as stupid by means of a mechanical Introduction xiii analogy. This makes them distinctly modern and familiar to us, especially after we have examined so many examples of such derogatory characteriza- tions of the machine in contemporary criticism. Many of the concerns addressed here can be identied with issues that became pressing in the penultimate decade of the twentieth century.

It seems more and more obvious that no matter how much we would like the debates of the recent past to disappear, they continue to haunt us by violating the periodizing boundaries that have been set up in order to keep us all in our places. For some of us who came of age in the eighties, in- spired by a certain kind of theory now marginalized as high, we have survived only by refusing to see ourselves either in the lost glory of the past or in the pious complacency of the present.

This work is testimony to such survival, and as such it is an ambivalent object. I hope that this book partici- pates in the urgent thinking through of the eclipse of both literary theory and the literary object. This is a question that this chap- ter hopes to answer in a provisional manner; the arguments presented here will be worked out in the rest of the book in a series of readings, of both pri- mary texts and secondary debates.

De Mans point is rather modest at rst glance: he suggests that the grammar of a text labors tirelessly to produce interpretative possibilities that are relatively impervious to the intervention of the authors intention or the interpreters good will and intelligence.

In confronting the semantico-grammatical autonomy of a text, de Man seems to inevitably proceed toward a showdown with something idiotic about writing and reading. A particular and even peculiar textual idiocy can take the form of referential detachment, gratuitous improvisation. As others have made clear, de Mans power as both critic and pedagogue was based in large part on his own fascinating ability to reproduce a high degree of detachment in intel- lectual, pedagogical, and political relationships. Throughout this book, de Man will be read as a symptomatic gure of the institutionalized study of literature.

In order to be able to better ac- count for the impact of his work on the crisis in literary studies, we are going to read him with and against a tradition of literary criticism that has 1 Chapter Doing It Like a Machine been mostly resistant or impervious to his work. The trajectory of this analysis will lead us back to a theoretical genealogy of the machine, and es- pecially to the gure like a machine. It is the machine, after all, that re- curs in de Mans own work as a crucial figure and then reappears in the criticism of his work, and the work of deconstructive critics in general, as an embodiment of the infernal principle of both repetition and detach- ment.

For critics of de Man, if the text cannot be compared to a machine, de Man and his disciples should be. De Mans detachment implies an act of reading distinctly at odds with the ideas of many literary critics. The conicts within literary studies that de Manian intervention produced are based on the fact that critics can no longer proceed as if there were a consensus about the object of their study. The rift appears immediately when critics on one side of the divide use the very gure of the mechanical or the machine as that which is anti- literary, and not just nonhuman.

The Cartesian prejudice against the ma- chine is difficult to overcome, but most recently this particular myth of the Enlightenment based on the idea that the human being and the ma- chine were to be differentiated in a radical way has been redeployed by critics of literary theory who defend literature in the name of its singularly nonmechanical qualities. That de Man could so offhandedly and so lightly dismiss the grammar of a text as being machine-like is, for theorys crit- ics, only the beginning of his error.

The consequences of not addressing the implicit denunciation of the machine have far-reaching ideological consequences that have yet to be examined.

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Let us take the case of leftist critics of the midcentury like Paul Bnichou, whose work on the French seventeenth century must certainly be regarded as a strong political intervention in the tradition of French lit- erary studies of the classical era. His work in Old Regime French literature was groundbreaking insofar as he was able to offer a powerful alternative to the airless nineteenth-century historical accounts of the period. His Man and Ethics: Studies in French Classicism offers a powerful reading of classical authors like Molire, Corneille, and Racine in light of the radical social changes taking place in seventeenth-century France.

If his work is opposed to the monument of French literary criticism that is Guy Lansons Histoire de la littrature franaise I8, , it is because Bnichou revises Lansons notion of history by introducing the notion of social class and class struggle into Lansons grand historical narrative. Bnichou is in Doing It Like a Machine 2 many ways the first historical materialist to take up a careful analysis of this century of the consolidation of not only the French nation-state, but French culture in general.

It is very surprising that in Le Statut de la littrature: Mlanges offerts Paul Bnichou, a Festschrift published in his honor in I,8:, there appear a number of instances when both Bnichou and his followers feel the need to defend themselves and their work against the work of the theorists. The answer to this question is not a simple one, and it demands a careful examination of his assessment of the activity of the literary critic in his Rexions sur la critique littraire. I shall cite him at length: We are not manipulating bodies or machines; we listen, we interpret, we confront signals and wills.

Our concern is to do it with the least amount of error possible; our criteria for truth, inevitably approxi- mate, and rarely providing for certainty, demand to be handled with care and rigor, and they must at the same time be protected from all fantasies that claim to have forgotten man. Upon further reection, however, any kind of dialogue between the work of the two critics disappears. While literature, according to Bnichou, must be handled with care, literary critics are not allowed to use their handswe are not manipulating bodies or machinesor any parts thereof.

Literary critics have to be all ears. A literary text is not a machine, and literary critics are not mechanics.

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Bnichous very polemical Rflexions sur la critique littraire is haunted by the ghost of a Cartesianism that insinuates itself as the force of reason. Bnichou describes his historical materialism as a kind of sociological criticism that abjures all method, but his distinctly anti- materialist approach to reading the literary text is obscured by the almost unrecognizable denunciation of the machine as a gure of an antiliterary matter.

In his historical materialism, the literary text itself is what is de- materialized as a series of signals and signs. The way in which Bnichou describes his approach to the literary text, however, resembles Lansons insofar as both critics conceive of the liter- ary text as an expression of the authors individuality. Bnichou defends this idea against what he and his followers call theory. It is in this act of self-erasure that we can see the traces of a ghost-writing, dictated by Descartes him- self. Bnichous arguments are shaped by the rhetorical figures of a sys- temic Cartesianism, the first sign of which is obvious in his explicit re- fusal of methods and methodologies as so many forms of prejudicial approaches to the literary object.

Bnichou describes Marxist, psychoanalytic, and structuralist critics as having strayed from the path to the truth by taking bewildering and dis- orienting detours prgrinations dpaysantes. Bnichou, on the other hand, is always trying to orient himself toward the light of truth. The best way to approach the truth of literature is by following an implicitly Cartesian itinerary, that is, by refusing all method and abandoning all previously learned systems as prejudice in order to confront the literary object in all of its luminosity: It was necessary to forget the system as such and work without prejudice while orienting oneself in the chosen direction.


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The critics who have gone astray are hallucinating they are the ones susceptible to chimeras. Perhaps they are in fact dream- ing, while they are manipulating a phantom text, all the while being duped by an Evil Genius under whose spell, like drugged mechanics, they tirelessly travail. They are heavy-handed in their approach to the text: they are the ones who manipulate and mishandle. Perhaps they even take a too-intensely hands-on relationship to reading and thereby forget to listen and watch for the signals and the voice of the authors ghostly, but tenacious, will.

Perhaps handling is manhandling here: the critics job is one that can only be per- formed with no hands. The text is a fragile vehicle that transports the signals of the authors will, and not some stupid, empty machine. Bnichous Cartesianism is the promulgation of a method that aspires to set itself up as the highest order of reason: it is the only thing that is immune to ideologies that seek to de- form and manipulate the literary object. Other methodologies violate the sanctity of the literary object by producing an ersatz text whose reading serves only the purposes of ideology.

Bnichou, like so many French academics trained in the art of the rsum, so success- fully incorporates the rhetoric of Cartesian reason in his literary criticism Doing It Like a Machine 4 that he appears to be defending reasonableness itself against the deformers and reformers of literature, who only seek to further their own causes at the expense of the text itself.

Predictably, in the Cartesian system the machine appears as the gura- tion of all that literature is not. In the metaphorical language of Bnichous own text his antimethod reveals itself as a genealogy of morals that de- ploys itself against the machine. Literature is organic, evolving, saturated with the will to communicate. The machine is a mechanism of compulsive repetitions; it is hermetic and autistic; it is dead matter. As such, it is an ugly harbinger of death, and on top of it all, it is vulgar and stupid. After having shown us how others have gone wrong in the study of literature, Bnichou has shown that it is absolutely necessary to apply the handle- with-care label to literary works.

To follow his arguments to their logical conclusion, however, in order to avoid any kind of manipulation of litera- ture, one should simply keep ones hands to oneself. With the intervention of the hand, the danger of manipulation and abuse arises. Textual harassment or interpretative molestation is only one of the crimes of which a bad critic might be accused. The critic must be ever vigilant about securing the truth of the authors presence in his work, which is a work of the spirit and not of the body.

Instead of manipulating corpses and machines for critics are neither undertakers nor mechanics , we must watch for signals and wills critics are closer to the model of the psychic or the clairvoyant. The good critic does not force or manipulate the text; he peers into it as one would into a crystal ball. One waits for signals from the dear and departed, on the watch not for signs for that already is too material but for signals of the absent onea tapping on a table, the tipping of a painting.

This descrip- tion of what might be called reading is the result of Bnichous applied his- torical and sociological materialism. The handling is mishandling, abuse, a manipulation, and violation. The intervention of the hand in Bnichous account takes place as an act of clumsy prestidigitation. Manipulation is always what is at risk, when we take a hands-on approach to reading. This is only one aspect of the theo- retical intervention in literary criticism that Bnichou nds reprehensible.

Paul de Man has been accused of many crimes, only one of them being the Doing It Like a Machine 5 abuse of literature. There are those whose objections to his work take the form of a purely biographical condemnation: more sophisticated critics like John Guillory nd that his techniques of literary analysis exist in an un- consciously mimetic relationship to bureaucracy. De Manian procedures of reading thus amplify, exacerbate, and also clarify at the same time a very precise conict that takes place within the eld of lit- erary studies and in institutions of higher learning.

The machine is like the grammar of the text when it is isolated from its rhetoric, the merely formal element without which no text can be gen- erated. There can be no use of language which is not, within a certain per- spective thus radically formal, i. All texts follow a grammatical logic that produces certain inter- and intratextual combinations having nothing to do with the will of their authors.

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Reading for such moments of radical formalism is perhaps reading like a mechanic, but it also gives an entirely different place and weight to the question of uncertainty. In fact, the gure of the machine in the text liberates writing from a relationship of instrumentality vis--vis the spiritthe esprit.

Bnichou moralizes against such reading by deni- grating both the hand and the machinecatachrestic gures that we will return to again and again in our readings in the Old Regime in order to understand how notions of working with literature and working in lit- erature function. Bnichous resistance to theory notwithstanding, it is he who gives us access and real insight into a reading of French moralist La Bruyre. In the work of the latter, however, we will encounter a denunciation of the ma- chine that draws a relationship among the categories of the automaton, the courtier, and the idiot.

These three terms function as predicate nouns in certain sentences in La Bruyres Les Caractres, and their mode of descrip- tive condemnation leads us back to what we could call the mechanical preju- dice. According to the historical perspective, by the second half of the seven- teenth century, the waning of feudal power is the material condition of moral pessimism.

As Bnichou emphasizes in his discussion of Pascals thinking, the automaton of habit or custom has very debilitating effects of habit on the autonomy of human reason. Materialism, as invoked by the Doing It Like a Machine 6 automaton of habit, deforms the integrity of human decision. The degrada- tion of the moral life of human beings has to do with the communicability of matter automaton and mind: The automaton can only inuence the mind because there is constant communication between the bodily ma- chine and thought.

In Pascals and La Bruyres seventeenth-century moralizing, the au- tomaton and the machine become conditions of critical thinking itself. In La Bruyres taxonomic system, described by Louis Van Delft as a kind of classical anthropology, the situation of each character in his or her appropriate place produces a moralizing topography. Mechanical repetition is the very image of moral and spiritual failure.

The machine is a crucial gure in La Bruyres critique of stupidity, complicity, moral failure, blind ambition, and self-interest: the futility and idiocy of the machine, the courtier, and the fool form the ground on which are founded the positive values of agency, intelligence, and probity. The ma- chine works in this text by posing in various places as the very figure of tautology: it is censured because it produces nothing but more self-serving mechanical motion.

The explicit intention of La Bruyre is pedagogical, and this intention is framed in an imperative that, according to the author, should apply to all linguistic interventions: One should not speak or write except to in- struct; and if it should happen that one pleases, it is not necessary to regret such a thing, if pleasure serves the acceptance of the truths that are meant to instruct.

Pleasure may be produced as a by-product, but producing pleasure should not be the intention of the writer. However, this pleasure, once pro- duced, can also be useful in mitigating the unpleasant effects of a truth that is difcult to swallow. Pleasure as a secondary effect is acceptable; the au- thor is not obliged to deny its place in his work.

Pleasure allows truths to insinuate themselves more effectively because it allows thoughts easier entry into the mind of the reader or listenerin a sense, pleasure performs Doing It Like a Machine 7 a courtier-like function, the only purpose of which is the lubrication of certain channels of the transmission. However, La Bruyre thoroughly condemns orators and writers who write only in order to please: The ora- tor and the writer cannot overcome the joy of being applauded; but they should blush at themselves, if by their discourse or their writing they had sought praise.

Pleasure cannot be the final or primary condi- tion of writing or speaking. It is necessary to write and speak of unpleasant truths at the risk of displeasing. If in the process one manages to produce pleasure, it must happen despite oneself. La Bruyre leaves open the possi- bility that pleasing ones readers can happen, sort of as a side effect of ones explicit will to instruct.


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But the paradox of pleasure is that it is only accept- able when it is produced as an unintended secondary effect. When it is the result of explicit intention, then it should only make us blush with shame at our own pleasure at pleasing. Pleasure of any sort in relation to discourse and writing is invalidated if there has been a will-to-please. Once produc- ing pleasure for pleasures sake is possible, then an infernal mechanical process is set into motion whereby the pleasure that the author experiences in pleasing his audience motivates him to only please: the will-to-please would then usurp the place of the will-to-instruct, and everyone involved would be blushing with shame and pleasure.

Jules Brody suggests that Les Caractres distinguishes itself by proposing an examination of a new realityan order of superciality that the text ex- plores by metabolizing and imitating its very form: From this time on, be- cause the world is nothing more than surface, the real substance of writing will be this superficiality by means of which style makes itself homoge- neous with its object. Writing about superciality means writing supercially: the metaphor of surfaces with- out depth, however, can also be understood as leading toward the literal surface of writing itself.

Writing would not be possible if it were not possible to imagine that signs could be imprinted on surfaces without depthand that meanings could proliferate horizontally rather than vertically. Van Delft proposes that we think of this as a typographical model. If we think of these two analyses of La Bruyre together, we can understand the text as Doing It Like a Machine 8 both topographical and typographical. Surfaces, after all, are what offer themselves up to be read, and when we are accused in English of reading too much into things, we are accused of having punctured the surface of a text with our overreading.

If texts, people, and meanings can be described as having depth, we must think of that depth as being one that will only be acknowledged, not plumbed. It is still, in so many circumstances, con- sidered better to be deep than shallow.

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The topography of typography offers up a model of reading that we will try to elaborate. Here is a copying machinewriting that traces in its style the object of representationthat makes sense of what it is copying by cre- ating a new typography. One of the subjects of superciality that La Bruyre hopes to isolate from the topography of the court is, of course, the courtier. It is not insignicant that the courtier and the idiot le courtisan and le sot are the two characters who are described in mechanical gures.

The courtier of the seventeenth century is no longer Baldassare Ca- stigliones man of learning whose presence at court is justied by the hon- orable desire to put his learning and wisdom at the disposal of his prince in order to serve the city or nation-state. He is the craven man of ambi- tion who has no inherent qualities or innate abilities. He is only lubri- cious: he is all will-to-please, and his pleasing does not only produce for him the pleasures of being praised, but also the pleasure of seeing his own interests advanced at court.

He serves no one but his own cause, yet his futile machinations lead him absolutely nowhere: With a watch, the gears, springs, and movements are hidden: nothing appears but the needle, which advances imperceptibly and completes its turn: this is the image of the courtier, and it is all the more perfect insofar as after having traveled his path, he often returns to exactly the same point from which he began. While the courtier believes himself to be advancing, his movement only marks the passage of time.

The courtier must always be in movement, but every move is absolutely calculated and calculating. Although he may believe that he is making a kind of linear progress toward a higher position at court, amassing more power and inuence and prestige, in the image pre- sented by La Bruyre he is, in fact, turning around in circles, in circles that mark the passage of time until death and Final Judgment, when all Doing It Like a Machine 9 his efforts will be shown to have been in vain. It is in the double meaning of the verb savancer that the irony of the image of the courtier rests.

Savancer describes both the passing of time and the improvement of ones position. The courtier believes that he is getting ahead quil savance and he is, but only because he is marking time on the face of a watch: The image of the moving hand is, as Bergson has shown, essential to the representation of the non-qualitative time of the mathematical sci- ences. This is the context within which not only the organic life of man is enacted, but also the deeds of the courtier and the action of the sov- ereign who, in conformity to the occasionalist image of God, is con- stantly intervening directly in the workings of the state so as to arrange the data of historical process in a regular and harmonious sequence which is, so to speak, spatially measurable.

In his description of the temporality of court life, however, the po- tential intervention of the sovereign is invoked. The despair and melan- choly of La Bruyres mechanical courtier are founded on the meaning- lessness of time for the ultimate Clockmaker of the Clockwork Universe, God himself. For God, time is innitely expandable He is the innite and innitely contractable passing time has no signicance for Him. Mark- ing time for God is ultimately a futile activity.

In Benjamins take on the Baroque courtier, it is the potential action of the King, the stand-in for God himself, that places an absolute limit on the courtiers actions. The sovereign can always reset the clock, as it were, slow down and speed up time and force history into a logic that will serve him.

The courtiers efforts to curry favor with the sovereign and advance his own cause will amount to nothing with one simple gesture of refusal and rejec- tion: for to occupy his place, many others are waiting. The courtier plays this serious and melancholy game la vie la cour est un jeu srieux, mlancolique , and it is his actions, his movements that keep time at court, that guarantee the numbing regularity and monotonous rhythms of this entirely ceremonial life: he is waiting for the intervention of the sovereign, who will either consecrate his efforts or send him into oblivion.

Doing It Like a Machine 10 Doggedly faithful to obeying the rules of a game he cannot hope to win, the courtier is a creature of discipline and despaira machine, then, whose movements copy the marking of time itself. It is in both his own dis- ciplined regularity and his understanding of the predictability of human nature that the courtier is the object and subject of intrigue at court. In German tragic drama or mourning-play Trauerspiel , the courtier is the character who plots and sets plots into motion, for he is the sovereign in- triguer who is all intellect and will-power ,,.

In the inevitable futility, however, of his machinations, we see represented the impotence of intel- lect exercised in the court of any sovereign. For Benjamin, the courtier is more a figure of tragedy than a figure of evil: he is two-faced. It was in Baroque Spanish theater that this dual nature was fully realized: [The courtier is] the intriguer, as the evil genius of their despots, and the faith- ful servant, as the companion in suffering to innocence enthroned ,8. It is the combination of intellect, insight, and absolute dependency that makes the courtier such a fascinating character, one of the more neglected and important figures in Benjaminian thought.

The courtier is mediator and intermediary: even in simply marking time, he is acting as a medium by which the movement of celestial bodies is made legible to man. After all, it is important to learn how to read clocks and tell time: it is not an in- nate ability. The courtier is both messenger and transmitter.

He embodies communication from a distance: his activities produce the innite distance that must separate the absolute monarch from his subjects. As in the por- trait of the courtier of La Bruyre, the courtier in Benjamin is the one whose failures are almost inevitable. Too dependent on chance and the whim of the sovereign, the fate of the courtier is never guaranteed by the extent of his renunciation. In the portraits of vile courtiers in La Bruyre, the courtier is willing to trade dignity, virtue, honesty, integrity, and happi- ness for a chance to succeed at court.

For the seventeenth-century moral- ist, this is absolutely reprehensible behavior; in Benjamins allegorical analy- sis, the courtier can be understood as a gure whose sacrice embodies a kind of secular saintliness and a kind of heroic renunciation. The courtier as communicator calls up the image of compromise itself: for it is, after all, the communication of base materialism automaton with the mind esprit that forms the very condition of Pascalian compromise.

One of the great courtiers in literature must also be mentioned here as a gure who crystallizes the drama of this life of intellects dependency on despots, the count Mosca of Stendhals The Charterhouse of Parma. Much feared, he is trapped into defending a vain and stupid prince from the violence of equally vain and stupid revolutionaries. The failure of the courtier allegorizes something about the failure of intelligence before the intervention of despots as well as the revolutionaries who would depose those despots.

Moscas fate demonstrates that the triumph of intelligence implies something about the impotence of the most experienced intriguer, the most experienced politician, the most sensitive lover in the face of the stupidity of a despot the Prince of Parma , the idiotic zeal of the revolutionary Fabio Conti , and the ingenuousness of the handsome young man Fabrice himself.

The courtier is the figure of intrigue and conspiracy: for La Bruyre, however, his mechanical regularity betrays his radical duplicity.

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To be a honnte homme or un homme desprit, one must be capable of being spontaneous, unpredictable, ingal in the sense of irregular. This spon- taneity is founded on the possibility of linguistic invention, a quality lack- ing in machines and animals. In Discourse on Method, Descartes proves the absence of the capacity to reason in animals and machines by way of their inability to produce a spontaneous linguistic formulation. Descartes writes in his correspondence with Morus that the language used by human beings is the unique sign and only mark of thought concealed by the body.

Even the most intellectually limited of human beings is able to arrange different words in such a way as to com- municate their thoughts. That the word represents presence of thought, presence of mind, and presence of soul anchors the differences between human being and animal-machine. Jules Brody and Michael Moriarty both demonstrate with great effectiveness that in La Bruyre, parole is sus- ceptible to all sorts of disruptions, and that these disruptions are signi- cant in the context of the Cartesian line drawn between animal-machine on one side and human being on the other.

When referentiality is de- stroyed and speech is no longer attached to thought, speech becomes physical, bestial, and mechanical: In order that speech can serve to distin- guish man from the reign of the animal, it is necessary that it be the func- tion of the intelligence and the will of the one who speaks and that it be recognized as such by the one who listens. In the case of the courtier, the referential power of his word has been completely undermined by the power of his ambition: Doing It Like a Machine 12 One can no longer expect candor, honesty, equity, favors, service, good will, or firmness in a man who, having devoted himself for a certain time to the court, secretly wants to make his fortune.

Do you recognize him by his face or by his conversation? He no longer calls things by their names; for him swindlers, impostors, idiots, and impertinents no longer exist: the one about whom he says what he thinks is the same person who might prevent him from getting where he wants to go: he thinks ill of everyone but speaks no ill of anyone. He unleashes torrents of praise for the things done and said by a highly placed man who is in favor, and for everyone else, he is aficted by pulmonary dryness.

Nomination no longer works in his signifying system, because his word no longer signies his thought. By refusing to call things their names, he rejects the designatory power of linguistic material, but in doing so he condemns himself to being able to signify only one dominant inner motivation, which is not so much a thought as it is a blind instinct ambition. This referential breakdown is described by Benjamins analysis of the linguistic breakdown in the language of allegory and Trauerspiel. Howard Caygill writes in this context, Language is reduced from the com- munion of expression and signication to a mediation between object and mind; between man and man.

The word in transition, the linguistic principle of Trauerspiel, is an expression of the rupture between original expression and signification. The power struggle in which the mediator engages is identied as a void or a nothingness by the moralist. According to Barthes, La Bruyres parole points to something trou- bling: the word of the courtier is there, pointing at nothingnothing, that is, but his ambition.

The uttered word of the courtier is a movement calcu- lated in order to further his own interests. Moriarty has called this particu- lar relationship to language a linguistic pathology. La Bruyre describes the conversation of the man of the court as an imbalance of the ow of humors: on the one hand, he cannot master the uncontrollable torrents of praise that burst out of him in the presence of the favorites.

In the case of the idiot, however, his absence of intelligence dooms his word to a different yet similar form of emptiness: The idiot is the automaton, he is a machine, he is a spring; a weight dominates him, makes him move, turn, always in the same direction, with the same regularity; he never betrays himself; whosoever has seen him once has seen him in every instant and every period of his life; he is at most a lowing steer or singing blackbird: he is fixed and deter- mined by his nature, and if I dare say so by his species.

That which ap- pears the least in him is his soul; it is not active, it does not exert itself, it is at rest. The animal-machine is already an analogical monster that allows Descartes, in his letter to Newcastle, to de- scribe the migration of the swallows as the spectacle of so many flying clocks, all perfectly tuned to the changing of the seasons. The courtier communicates his submis- sion to the rhythm of courtly life: his submission in turn communicates his ambition.

He is readable as a character and therefore reproducible. He is a type. The idiot communicates perhaps nothing more than his stupidity, but his stupidity allows him to enter into analogical relationships with ani- mals, clocks, steer, and blackbirds. His character is his destiny; once named, he has an important function: he keeps time, along with the courtier, and while the honnte homme may be intelligent, you certainly would not want to set your watch by him.

The mechanical quality of each type allows for it to be immediately legible in the series of characters that populate La Bruyres text. Doing It Like a Machine 14 In Furetires dictionary, among the denitions of the machine is one that is important for our purposes: x. He set into motion all sorts of springs and machines in order to suc- ceed in this enterprise. This man is vulgar and heavy, he is a machine, he never leaves his chair.

The spring mechanism and the system of weights, pulleys, and levers that allowed for automatic movement are seen as both deceitful and stupid when compared with the authenticity and the intelligence of spontaneous speech. Returning to Brody: In considering the machineanimal or automatonas an imitation, or rather as a bad copy of man, Descartes was able to maintain, in his natural system, the tra- ditional, metaphysical hierarchy which guaranteed human autonomy in relationship to the passivity of the moved thing.

Bnichou depends on theology. In this case, the hidden dwarf in Benjamins automaton of historical materialism represents a theological respect of the difference between matter and mind. What allows for the preservation of metaphysically hierarchical rela- tionships in La Bruyres moralizing system is the attribution of certain machine-like qualities to different species of men. A moral hierarchy is thus created, and the autonomy of the homme desprit is radically differen- tiated from the submission of the courtier and the idiot to physical laws. The courtier is a bad copy of authenticity and the idiot a bad copy of intel- ligence.

The moralist is one who is unmoved by the venal ambitions of the courtier, and whose linguistic production is free from all base motivations in his aim to instruct in an absolutely disinterested way. Is it necessary to point to the suspicion under which the machine has op- erated and how this suspicion has to do with its duplicity and its stupidity? That machine-like, formal aspect of every textwhich resides in its adher- ence to conventionmakes it at once legible and deceitful. The censure of the ambition of the courtier in La Bruyre has to be reread in light of his Doing It Like a Machine 15 own nominative procedure.

If he indeed seeks to name, criticize, and con- demn the characters of his milieu in an absolutely evenhanded and disinter- ested way, there are a few disturbingly formulaic descriptions in his own text that are remarkably banal in their attery of the powerful. He does not fail to participate in the ritual attery of the king in the following passage the allegorical formulation is a familiar one in seventeenth-century France : The children of the Gods, so to speak, exempt themselves from the rules of nature, they are its exceptions. They expect almost nothing from time and years.