Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Forrest Gump Rant

The single most impressive feature of this movie, in my opinion, is Tom Hanks's absolutely virtuoso performance, a performance that won him an Oscar and cemented his status as one of the preeminent actors of his generation. It's a performance that's so astonishingly good that, as one's watching it, one cannot help but to see it as exactly that, a performance, as artifice. You're constantly thinking, "My god! It's like he's really mentally impaired!" And yet, it's an artifice that is erected (ostensibly) in the service of idiotic ingenuousness. Such acting is exactly *not* what Forrest does. He can't lie, much less pull on another's skin and flaunt it like a dancer at carnival. Fact of the matter is, we wouldn't actually want to watch a movie starring a man with an IQ of 75. Which is also to say that we don't *actually* want Forrest Gump in our lives any more than we *actually* want a gross fucking pigeon pigeon feather to land in our box of chocolates. We want a perfectly performed imitation that we can use to reassure ourselves that we like persons of limited intelligence and unblinking earnestness, all while we *really* celebrate Tom Hanks's performance and the clever folks at Industrial light and Magic for computer generating such a lovely, lyrical, and certifiably West Nile Virus-free simulacrum of a feather.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Salsa Picante de Chile de Árbol

3/4 oz. (50-60) dried chiles de árbol
2 chiles guajillo
1 1/2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. shelled (green) pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
1/4 cumin seed
4 lg. allspice berries
2 cloves
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
1 scant tsp. salt
2 lg. cloves garlic, peeled & rough chopped
1/2-3/4 c. cider vinegar

1.)  Stem chiles de árbol, roll between fingers, and shake out as many seeds  as possible. Stem and seed chiles guajillo. In batches, in a coffee/spice grinder, grind the chiles to a fine powder.

2.) Heat an ungreased skillet over medium-low. Add sesame seeds and stir continuously, several minutes, until the brown and pop. DO NOT ALLOW TO BURN. Move seeds to a bowl to cool. Do the same with the pumpkin seeds, until they are golden and have popped into a round form. Allow to cool. When no longer hot, grind both sesame and pumpkin seeds in a spice grinder until they are reduced to a fine powder.

3.) Pulverize cumin, allspice, and cloves in mortar or spice grinder and add to a blender jar with chile powder and ground seeds. Add oregano, salt, garlic, and. vinegar. Process, adding water, a few tablespoons at a time, just enough for the mixture to churn evenly, continuing until it is a satisfying red-orange and is quite smooth when rubbed between your fingers.

4.) Strain through a medium-mesh sieve, working the mixture with a spatula, squeezing every last bit of liquid from the remaining seeds, skins, and sesame hulls. Add water, also a few tablespoons at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency, which should be just slightly thicker than ranch dressing. The original recipe called for another 3/4 c., but I typically find it is considerably less. Refrigerate and allow to sit overnight for the flavors to mingle. The taste will improve over the days and even weeks.

Should it prove too runny, allow the solids to settle for a few days and pour off the fluid that collects at the top.

[Adapted from Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican, pp. 40-41.]

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Favorite Salsa (Salsa de Chile Morita or Salsa para Barbacoa)

I thought I'd type up the recipe for my very favorite salsa, Diana Kennedy's Salsa para Barbacoa, from her Art of Mexican Cooking (p. 348). This is a fiery, tangy, smoky concoction intended to top barbecued lamb or goat but which goes wonderfully with any richly flavored meat or just served in a bowl with corn chips.

The recipe calls for dried chiles moritas, that is, red serrano peppers that have been smoked and dried, most familiar to American consumers canned in adobo sauce and somewhat misleadingly labeled as chipotles en adobo (actual dried chipotles, or smoked jalepenos, are a few inches long and a mottled tan color). What you should look for is small, sub-2-inch, coffee-colored dried chiles that, unless they are packaged totally air-tight, should smell very smoky. Ideally, the chiles should still be pliable and raison-soft, but if they have dried out some, they should still be fine.

To toast the chiles, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. For most chiles, you want to press them into the pan to flatten them out, but that technique doesn't work too well with the often-brittle chiles de árbol and the often-lumpy chiles moritas that this recipe calls for, so I usually just throw them all into the pan together and toss them around for a few minutes. They're ready when the chiles de árbol turn a lighter shade and become quite brittle and when, an minute or two later, the chiles moritas soften and their skin begins to pucker slightly and discolor. They should give off a spicy, smoky aroma as they toast.


1 lb. tomatos verde, husks removed, rinsed
5-7 chiles moritas, toasted
10 chiles de árbol, toasted
2 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped.
2 tbsp. rough chopped white onion
1/4 tsp. dried oregano, ideally Mexican
1/8 tsp. cumin seed, toasted
3/4 tsp. salt

1.)  Put tomato verde in a pan, cover with water, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, reserving cooking water.

2.)  Crumble dried chiles into blender or food processor, removing about half the seeds as you do so. Add all remaining ingredients, except for the tomato verde, along with 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water. Blend very thoroughly, until nearly smooth. (Some bits of chile skin will survive, but pay no mind).

3.)  Add the tomato verde and blend briefly, just enough to break them up. It should retain a good deal of texture. Serve warm.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pollo en Mole Rójo Sencillo

(Chicken in Red Country Mole,
adapted from Diana Kennedy's "The Art of Mexican Cooking," p. 224)

The Chicken
1 lg. chicken (3.5-4 lbs.), cut into serving pieces, with giblets
1 sm. white onion, rough chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
water or light chicken broth to cover
salt to taste

The Sauce
2 oz. (about 11) chiles guajillos
2 oz. (about 7) chiles pasillas
2 oz. (about 5) chiles anchos
6 tbsp. lard or cooking oil, divided
5 oz. (1 rounded cup) hulled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
6-7 c. chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
3 whole cloves
5 peppercorns
salt to taste

corn tortillas

The Chicken
1.) Put chicken, onion, and garlic in pan. Cover with water or light chicken broth. Salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until nearly tender (not cooked through, about 18-20 minutes.
2). Drain and measure broth. There should be 7 c. If not, make up to that amount.

The Sauce
3.) Remove stems from chiles. Slit open and remove and discard seeds and veins.
4.) Put chiles in a pan and cover with water. Bring to simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
5.) Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. lard in frying pan. Add pumpkin seeds and heat over med. until all have swelled and popped. Set aside.
6.) Into blender, add.5 c. broth, garlic, and spices. Blend to thick, textured paste.
7.) Heat remaining oil in heavy pan. Add seed paste, and fry over med. heat, turning and scraping constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
8.) To blender, add 1 c. broth and half the chiles. Blend very thoroughly. Add to pan. Repeat with remaining chiles. Use only enough broth to release the blender blades. Add to pan.
9.) Return pan to med. heat, stirring and scraping occasionally, 15 minutes. Add remaining broth and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
10.) Add chicken and cook until tender, the sauce dark red w/ oil beginning to pool on top, about 15 minutes more.

11.) Serve a portion of chicken with lots of sauce, steamed corn tortillas, rice and beans.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Peking Duck with Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy

Serves 2-4, with white rice (probably 2)

If duck is frozen, begin defrosting, ideally, 5 days ahead.


1 Pekin (Long Island) duck, 5-6 lb., giblets removed

Spice Rub
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. fine grated orange zest
1.5 tsp. coriander seeds, lightly toasted
1.25 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
.5 tsp ground pepper

3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, etc.)
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

.5 cup thin sliced cucumbers
3-4 scallions, halved, and then quartered, lengthwise

10-pack Mandarin pancakes


1) Combine spice rub ingredients in spice grinder and grind fine.
2) Prep duck: remove neck, feet, wing tips, and remove excess skin around neck and rear openings.
3) Score the duck fat all over -- breasts, legs, wings, and back -- in a crosshatch pattern, every .5 in., being certain not to cut the meat.
4) Rub 2/3 of the mixture in the duck cavity and the remaining 1/3 over the exterior.
5) Set duck on a rack placed over paper towels to air dry in the refrigerator, 24-48 hrs.

6) 4 hours before serving time, remove duck from refrigerator so it comes to room temp, 1 hr. After 45 minutes, pre-heat stove to 325º.
7) Place duck, breasts down, on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 1.25 hrs. Flip duck, breasts up, and continue roasting, another 1.25 hrs.
8) Meanwhile, prepare garnishes and combine ingredients for glaze. Prep ingredients for bok choy.
9) Check for doneness. The thigh should pierce very easily and should register 175º on an instant read thermometer. Drain rendered duck fat.
10) Raise oven temp to 525º and glaze duck breasts and thighs with .5 the prepared glaze.
11) Once it comes to temp, return bird to oven, 5 min. Glaze with remaining glaze and roast for 5 min.
12) Transfer duck to cutting board to rest. Prepare stir-fry. Microwave pancakes according to manufacturer's instructions.

Stir-Fried Bok Choy


1.5 lb. baby bok choy

2 tbsp. peanut oil

2 tsp. minced ginger
2 scallions, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 pinch ground pepper


1) Prep bok choy: Cut off 1/8th in. from stem ends. Slice across in .5 in. slices.
2) Combine ginger, scallion, & garlic.
3) Combine salt, sugar, & pepper.
4) Heat oil in wok or large frying pan until just smoking.
5) Add ginger, scallions, & garlic. Stir-fry 30 sec.
6) Add bok choy and seasoning. Stir-fry until white parts are just tender.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Just doing my part to keep Google's search results honest by linking to


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thomas Keller's "Buttermilk Fried Chicken" from _Ad Hoc at Home_

Serves 4-6

NOTE: Begin preparing brine at least 24 hours (ideally 48) ahead.

Two 2.5 to 3 lb chickens*
Chicken Brine, cold (see below)

*This is on the small side, esp. in most grocery stores. I've found that Whole Foods's very smallest birds usually just make the cut. Otherwise yous might need access to a good Farmer's Market. Smaller birds ensure a proper brine and a good meat to crust ratio.

For Dredging and Frying

Peanut or canola oil for deep frying (Gonna need a lot -- I usually buy it by the gallon at the local Asian market and reuse it a few times.)
1 qt. buttermilk
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper


6 c. all-purpose flour
.25 c. garlic powder
.25 c. onion powder
1 T + 1 t paprika
1 T + 1 t cayenne
1 T + 1 t kosher salt
1 T + 1 t black pepper

Ground fleur de sel or fine sea salt
Rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnish

Additional materials

Candy thermometer
Dutch oven or other heavy pot
Big freakin' stock pot for brining


1. Break down each chicken into 10 parts (2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 breasts that are then sliced in half). Add to brine, and leave set for EXACTLY 12 hours. Remove, rinse, & dry. (Chicken can be held at this point, refrigerated, for up to 1 day.)

2. 90 minutes before beginning frying, remove chicken from fridge and allow to come to room temp & sort by cut, putting breast pieces into the bottom of a bowl, followed by (in order) wings, drumsticks, & thighs.

3. Fill pot (I use a heavy, cast iron Dutch oven) with AT LEAST 2" oil, BUT NOT MORE than enough to come 1/3 the way up the pot. Heat to 320º. A good thermometer is absolutely necessary. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Combine coating ingredients in a large bowl, then divide between 2 bowls. Pour buttermilk into 3rd bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper. Set up a dipping station: 1.) bowl of chicken parts, sorted; 2.) bowl of coating; 3.) bowl of buttermilk; 4.) 2nd bowl of coating; 5.) parchment-lined baking sheet.

5. Just before frying, dredge thighs in 1st coating bowl, dip in buttermilk, drain, dip in 2nd bowl, set on parchment-lined baking sheet.

6. Add thighs to oil, adjusting heat to maintain 320º temperature. Fry 2 minutes, undisturbed. Then move pieces about, flipping to ensure even frying, another 11-12 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the next cut (in the first case, the drumsticks) to be fried.

7. Transfer cooked thighs to cooling rack, skin side up. Check temp then repeat, first for drumsticks, leaning these on end against the thighs to improve oil drainage.

8. Turn heat up to 340º and coat the breasts and wings. Working in batches, lower these into the oil and fry for 7 minutes. Transfer to rack, skin side up, sprinkle with salt, and allow to rest for 7 minutes. Turn off heat.

9. Arrange chicken on serving platter. Add herb springs to (still hot) oil and allow to fry till crisp, a few seconds. Arrange over chicken. Serve.

Chicken Brine (for 10 lb. of chicken, roughly double what's needed for the chicken recipe)

5 lemons
12 bay leaves
1 bunch (4 oz.) Italian parsley
1 bunch (1 oz.) thyme
1/2 cup clover honey
1 head garlic, halved through equator
1/4 cup black peppercorns
2 cups (10 oz.) Diamond Crystal kosher salt*
2 gallons water

Combine all ingredients in a (very) large pot, cover, bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring to dissolve salt. Remove from heat and chill completely (at least overnight). Brine can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

*If not using Diamond Crystal, weigh another brand to exactly 10 oz.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pulpo en Escabeche

Hi all,

I recently pickled some octopus and there was a call for the recipe, so I thought I'd post my source, from the incomparable Diana Kennedy's militantly authentic The Art of Mexican Cooking (p. 199). The flavor is wonderful, and the presentation is absolutely show-stopping -- tiny purple-pink baby octopi, their little tentacles curled up by the cooking, mottled with black ink spots and set off by green peppers and surrounded by the scents of vinegar and onions and Mexican oregano. I served them as appetizers, straight from the pickle (as Kennedy suggests), but they would look wonderful slightly warmed and served over white rice.

The Recipe:

4 tablespoons fruity olive oil
2 pounds cleaned octopus*

4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
sea salt to taste
1 large white onion, cut into thin rings
1 small green bell paper, seeds and veins removed, diced
1 teaspoon crumbled oregano, Yucatecan if possible [I subbed Pueblan oregano.]
3 California bay leaves, roughly broken up [or add a fourth European bay leaf]
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 chiles güeros or Fresno or wax chiles, charred [over a gas burner or under a broiler, turning regularly] and kept whole, unpeeled [I used Hungarian.]

1 cup mild vinegar [Pineapple's most traditional. I used white, though I think cider would have improved it.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan, add the octopus pieces and garlic, sprinkle with salt, and toss, almost stir frying, for about 5 minutes. [I might have overdone this step slightly, as I was using very small octopi, which I kept whole, on which see note below. A mere minute or two might have been better.] The octopus should be tender but al dente. Transfer half the octopus and juice to a small, deep enamel or stainless-steel pan. Cover with half the onion rings, the green pepper, half the oregano, and the bay leaves. Cover with the rest of the octopus and the remaining ingredients, and continue simmering, covered for about 10 minutes. Taste for salt and set aside for at least 2 hours or overnight.

*A note on cleaning octopus: I'm really not clear on the best way to do this (though I imagine there are YouTube videos to e, but the three main points seem to be: 1) remove the ink sac and organs from the tubular "head" space (this was already done on the octopi I purchased from Pete's Fresh Market on Cermak, just west of Western, 2) dig out the hard beak from it's mouth hole on its bottom, and 3) dig out / slice off the eyes. I tried to keep the little critters as whole as possible for presentation's sake. Kennedy stresses the importance of obtaining octopi that weigh less than a pound a piece -- mine weighed in at only a few ounces a pop.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Boeuf à la Bench

Beef Braised with Onions, Mushrooms, and Sino-Franco Flavors

yield: Makes 4 servings
active time: 15 min
total time: 2 3/4 hr


• 1 (2-lb) well-marbled boneless beef chuck pot roasts (1 1/2 inches thick)

• 1 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 tsp. cinnamon,
• 2 tsp. ground all spice
• 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
• 1 tsp. grated nutmeg
• 2 tsp. ground coriander
• 1 tsp. ground sichuan peppercorns (toasted, ideally; you may need to grind them in a mortar and pestle, or, failing that, a bowl and a glass)
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp ground black pepper

• 1 lb onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise (4 cups)
• 1 lb mushrooms, in 1/8th inch slices
• 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2 star anise rounds
• 4 dried facing-sunward chiles (Chiles de arbol might be substituted.)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.
Pat meat dry. Stir together spices for rub in a bowl and rub all over meat.
Spread half of the anise, half of the chiles, half of onions, and half of garlic in a dutch oven and arrange meat on top. Spread remaining anise, chiles, onions, and garlic over meat. Tightly cover dutch oven with foil and roast, turning meat over after 1 hour, until meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours total.
Skim fat from pan juices. Slice meat across the grain and serve with onions, mushrooms and pan juices.

Note: Flavor improves with a day or two in the fridge.

[Adapted from Gourmet's November 2005 recipe for Braised Beef and Onions.]

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Imagery Debate, Pt. 2 - Kosslyn v. Pylyshyn

Following Pylyshyn's paper, many psychologists came to the defense of mental imagery, most notably Stephen M. Kosslyn. Over the following three decades, Kosslyn and Pylyshyn (as well as allies on both sides) would conduct a debate over the relationship between propositional and imagistic content in mental processes. Though both sides presently declare themselves victors (of course), the reality of the matter is somewhat hazier, but also more interesting and more fruitful, than a single set of laurels could indicate.

The debate was conducted on many fronts simultaneously and involved many innovative experiments. To cite just one example, Kosslyn and his collaborator Steven Schwartz responded to Pylyshyn's fears that homuncular sensorium implied a logical paradox by creating a computer simulation that incorporated internal representations of imagery from which propositional content was, in turn, derived. Doing so eliminated Pylyshyn's in-principle objections to the infinitely regressive nature of homunculi. Those interested in more detail and other experimnets are encouraged to consult either Michael Tye's The Imagery Debate or Howard Gardner's The Mind's New Science. Instead, I want to approach the debate with some imagery of my own.

In order to do so, I consulted the bibliography of a major, late-career book on the debate by both Pylyshyn (Seeing and Visualizin: It's Not What You Think, 2001) and Kosslyn (Image and Brain: The Resolution of the Imagery Debate). I then noted every example of either author citing a paper of which he was himself the lead author. Because Pylyshyn is somewhat less prolific than Kosslyn (a function of his running a lab at Harvard), and also because Kosslyn, by mid-career was almost always lead author, whereas Pylyshyn often granted that honor to his frequent co-author and active image debate participant Jerry Fodor, I include Fodor-Pylyshyn collaborations as well. I then dumped the each set of papers into a single .pdf which I in turn fed into IBM's free text visualizing software Many Eyes. I have included links to bibliographies for each author that I compiled in the comments feed.

I first created a wordle, which creates a visual representation of the most common words in a body of texts. Doing so produced the following image for Pylyshyn's work:

Compare that with the wordle of Kosslyn's work:
The first thing one notices is that Kosslyn uses "image," "images," and "imagery" considerably more often than Pylyshyn, but this is perhaps to be expected. Pylyshyn wanting to prove that mental imagery doesn't exist, so one can hardly expect him to use the term as much as Kosslyn, who is defending its existence. The more interesting aberration is the prominent position that "hemisphere" has in Kosslyn's wordle, whereas it does not appear in Pylyshyn's at all. Closer inspection (using Many Eyes' Word Tree Generator) revealed that Kosslyn used the term 521 times, or once every 107 words (an absurdly high rate). By contrast, Pylyshyn uses the word exactly once in the 146,810 words of his articles. "Come, Watson!" I thought. "The game is afoot."

So what's so important about hemispheres for Kosslyn, and why is Pylyshyn ignoring them? It turns out that much of the detail of Kosslyn's work that focuses on how the brain structures the relationship between imagery and propositional content involves identifying processing that occurs primarily in the left hemisphere (where more propositional processing happens) or in the right (where more imagery processing occurs). For Pylyshyn, the distinction is moot because images are ultimately reducible to computation anyway. For him, Kosslyn's distinction merely shows where the epiphenomenon is generated. This distinction arose, I think, because Pylyshyn's belief (following Chomsky and Fodor) that the mind need necessarily be computational, led him to be less interested in empirical evidence about the brain itself.

Interestingly, Kosslyn credits Pylyshyn's critiques with urging him and his collaborators to refine their understanding of how the relationship between these subsystems were structured. Ventriloquizing Pylyshyn, Kosslyn pondered "Does the claim that image representations are depictive imply various paradoxes and incoherencies?" He responds that
Addressing this set of issues was no mean task. My strategy was to take advantage of the abundant evidence that imagery piggybacked upon a a theory of high-level visual perception. This approach allowed my colleagues and I [sic] to develop theories of specific processing subsystems, and helped us to hypothesize where these subsystems are implemented in the brain. (Image and Brain 406)
Kosslyn, it seems, attributes much of his own successto having been prodded by the Pylyshyn the gadfly philosopher (Kosslyn, btw, is currently a dean at Harvard where he also runs an eponymous research lab and holds a chair dedicated to William James; the prodding seems to have worked quite well). More importantly, though, his research platform has proved more influential than Pylyshyn's, though the latter author remains highly respected as well, having recently won France's prestigious Jean Nicod Prize.

Evidence of this may perhaps be seen in each author's continuing relationship with the iamagery debate itself. Kosslyn has, since the early 90s, stopped defending his approach and concentrated on elaborating its details, whereas Pylyshyn continued to make the case well into the 00s. Perhaps the most telling sign of how the debate was conducted comes again from Many Eyes. Returning to the Word Trees, I checked to see in what contexts each author mentioned the other. Here are Kosslyn's references to Pylyshyn:

Bee76008-4fa3-11de-84d0-000255111976 Blog_this_caption

You'll notice that of Kosslyn's 60 uses of the Pylyshyn's name, he most commonly references his antagonist in a bibliographic setting, as indicated by the commonness of his name being followed by a common and his initials, but that the lower part of the tree is full of words indicating that Kossylyn is rehearsing one of Pylsyhyn's arguments (e.g. "argues that," "wants," "claims that," "suggests"). Now consider Pylyshyn's references to Kosslyn:

Cceb8f48-4fa4-11de-be77-000255111976 Blog_this_caption

Pylyshyn mentions Kosslyn 138 times, almost twice as often as the other way around, but almost exclusively in a bibliographic context. One possible reason for this is that Kosslyn is, indeed, a more prolific author (again, a function of his running a research lab). This does not, however, explain the absence of contextual references. My suggestion is that this absence may be indicative of Pylyshyn's unwillingess to adapt his model to the criticism of his interlocutors. By excluding them from the explicit discussion, he does not need to frame the debate as a debate, but merely as revealed knowledge. He can occupy a set conceptual ground without appearing entrenched.

Intriguingly, Kosslyn, in recent years, has focused on digital visual communication. Though he has not turned to text visualization software like Many Eyes, he has analyzed strategies for presenting information in different graphical formats, most notably PowerPoint. The move toward engineering and toward applied uses for theory developed during the imagery debate also indicates that the underlying field has stabilized sufficiently to serve as a foundation for new structures.

At present, the debate has moved away from treatments of pure imagery and toward inquiries into more holistic models of perception. This is partly a function of improved research methods, such as head-mounted eye-tracking equipment and improved fMRI technology, partly a function of theoretical refinements, such as attempts by connectionist theorists to understand how the brain's massively parallel micro-structure influences its operation or of dynamicists, such as Tim van Gelder, to understand how the fact of mental computations occurring in real-time must constrain theoretical models. At the same time, Artificial Life roboticists such as Rodney Brooks were constructing robots that performed perceptual tasks with insect-level competency and no internal representations and no central processing whatsoever, offering a critique both to Kosslyn's interest in mental imagery and also to Pylyshyn's insistence in a computational model of mind. Meanwhile, an increasing willingness on the part of psychologists to pay attention to first-hand accounts of phenomenological experience has led to groundbreaking research on subjects ranging from synesthesia (as in the work of Richard Cytowic) to accounts of agency (as in the work of Evan Thompson). This drive toward more holistic descriptions of perceptions is seen also in the work of Alva Noë, who argues that perception, and indeed cognition more generally, must be understood as a fully embodied process; an argument extended to include extra-bodily technologies by philosophers like Andy Clark.

Our understanding of how vision functions is by no means finalized, and by reflecting back on the imagery debate, and the the terms by which it was conducted, we may be able to make more fruitful the debates that currently occupy researchers. The rivalry between Pylyshyn and Kosslyn was one of the most productive in the history of cognitive science, leading to voluminous new research and considerably refined theoretical understanding. Part of the reason for this was the very fact of its being framed as a debate, and part was the different disciplinary approaches that each party brought to the table. Though Kosslyn's position may have proved more influential eventually, it likely could not have done so without Pylyshyn's ongoing critique. In the end, it demonstrates a rivalry can, when conducted well, prove as successful as a collaboration.