The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

March 28, 2001


([{}]) (blurring the distinctions)

"Difference, being of the nature of relationship, is not located in time
or in space. We say that the white spot is 'there,' 'in the middle of the
blackboard,' but the difference between the spot and the blackboard is not
'there.' It is not in the spot; it is not in the blackboard; it is not in
the space between the board and the chalk. I could perhaps lift the chalk
off the board and send it to Australia, but the difference would not be
destroyed or even shifted because difference does not have location.

"When I wipe the blackboard, where does the difference go? In one sense,
the difference is randomized and irreversibly gone, as 'I' shall be gone
when I die. In another sense, the difference will endure as an idea - as
part of my _karma_ - as long as this book is read, perhaps as long as the
ideas in this book go on to form other ideas, reincorporated into other
minds. But this enduring karmic information will be information about an
imaginary spot on an imaginary blackboard." (Gregory Bateson, Gregory
Bateson's Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity.)

Perhaps it is in the nature of this particular difference to lie within
the imaginary, within an intentionality that fulfills a demarcative struc-
ture or domain: like all difference, it opens to continuous potential, to
worlds of fantasy, projection, introjection. Let us not stop with Austral-
ia; let us include, Japan, Mars, the depths of the ocean, the interiority
of the quark, the swimmerets of Jean-Paul the crayfish. I would argue that
meaning comes first, difference later - or that both are inextricable. As
difference slips from tally-board to concept, entity slips from red-dust
and sinter to constitutionality.

Let us think further of difference as carried, much as numbers are carr-
ied in addition or subtraction: leaping among columns. Then distance so
easily slides from this _particular_ difference to all difference, all
within the imaginary, that is, all constituted by the nub or slightest
anomaly detected or created by organisms immersed in always already sym-
bolic flow. Here is translation into information, 0 -> 1 or 1 -> 0, or in
a scheme which I worked out years ago, (0-1)0-(1-0)1, a hierarchy of
transforms. If difference is a consideration of temporality, it breaks
from strict logic, although memory may be carried as well, and there are
temporal logics. And what difference isn't, in the process of becoming-
difference? One moves uneasily among logical/hierarchical schema and im-
mersive counterparts - among substances and organisms sloughing into and
throughout ones and others.

A difference is that which makes a difference; what makes a difference,
makes it to one or another organism; what is the property of reading, but
the acknowledgment and presentification of difference. All else is the
non-purity of the mirror, the no-mirror and no-mind; difference itself
defers; deconstruction clutters (clatters). Not in Australia, this book,
hard to come by, exists in pristine condition; I would put out a call for
the author.

And imagine, for example, the mark on the board as a zero, encircling Jor-
dan curve, slightly raised from the surface, characterized as dust in the
first and last place, the board a slate, archaic: I imagine sea anenomes
or even stromatolites - why not - leaving their traces. Is a difference a
distinction without an observer? Years ago I wrote about landscapes, to
imagine one without a viewpoint, perspective - an absolute landscape, not
with infinite holographic positionings, but none at all: most of the uni-
verse surely is without a witness.

What happens to difference then? Surely, without a witness...

Back here - around the corner, down the street - What goes on in locked
cells? For whom? What inscriptions? (Does difference need maintenance, a
database? The phenomenology of the witness requires a degree of stability,
quietude, modes of dissemination.)


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact:

Generated by Mnemosyne 0.12.