I feel lucky

Posted in Google by Deputy city editor on May 30, 2007

The great enormity

Google seems miraculous and we all use it constantly but should we trust it? Is it “stupid”?

Jacques Alain Miller, disciple of the psychoanalytic philosopher Jacques Lacan, in the Nouvel Observateur, grapples with Google and declares that it serves a “meta-function” of “knowing what there is to know” according to a translator’s gloss at Antigram.

I’m not convinced. Google is very useful even though it is neither as omnipresent or omni prescient as advertised. Google isn’t God.

Google’s ambition is nevertheless to know everything and perhaps for all its deficiencies, it comes closer than anything else. But we know it can’t be trusted, don’t we? Is it a coincidence that Google rhymes with Babel?

Miller, who is himself a psychoanalyst, is enchanted by the symbolism of the Google query in which one is taken from the stark simplicity of the Google home page to the transference of a flood of data, in which he perhaps sees some simulacrum of a sexual act of fulfilment (Miller is, at bottom, a Freudian, and French).

One click… and bingo! Void flips into plenitude, concision to verbosity. Every hit a winner,” Miller gushes. C’est comme ça. Or perhaps Miller hasn’t quite figured out how it works.

Invoking reflexively the role played by Google as “other,” Miller posits the Google monster as a “Great Enormity” and while I am not sure what this means it does sound scary. Mainly it is distressing to see Miller out of his depth.

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