The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

March 12, 2005


Code and Codework ii, coding, encoding, confusion

Coding is a process, aptly named; the field is open or let us consider it
open, a dispersion in which goals are paramount but may not exist as the
program wends its way into momentary stasis, occasional completion. It is
the traditional 'death of the author' given open-source; it is never-
ending; like a markov chain, it is determined in part by what came before,
it may move elsewhere, cancel, disappear. Input is remote, disparate; is
the objective, whether of a command, line, subroutine, routine, program,
module, language. The objective is the focus on whatever is at-hand, and
whatever is at-hand, the input, is encoded. Encoding is parasitic on both
code and object - on code, as a process or operation, and on object, as
transformable entity, within and without which code is entangled, inhered.
A code constructs code; an encoder is all input; we have spoken elsewhere
about the relationship of output to input; what is encoder output is
already lost in transmission, has fled elsewhere. Perhaps _I encode,_ and
perhaps _it encodes,_ thereby lies all the difference, the distinction
among con/structures, con/structions. In part codework is self-devouring,
between or among coding and encoding, part operation and part residue;
part symptom, the expressivity of disease; and part the struggle, what
appears as struggle, what is not struggle or is inauthentic struggle, of
the origin, originary content, to retain its sememe, in spite of all
filtering, or magnified and not diminished by such filtering. These terms
and my use of them are of course arbitrary; one might use encoding to
reference the act of program-creation and coding that which operates on
input, with all the phenomenology of input already indicated. I choose a
distinction between these words in order to articulate a distinction
within the field; otherwise we are off again into unnecessary obscurity.
As for the _element_ of a code, there is a sign or sign-function, there is
a process drawn from tables or closed lexicons. As for the _element_ of
encoding, there is none; an input may, in relation to the encoding
program, be fit (in the sense of harmonization) or not; in a sense it does
not matter, as encoding is matterless, codeless, just as coding is
mattered, albeit the ideality or cyberneticization of matter. Again it is
a difference which makes all the difference, as in Spencer Brown. One
might also say that coding is the creation of a detemporalized structure
by means of temporal operations (on the part of humans or otherwise), and
that encoding is the detemporalized operation (detemporalized by virtue of
the black-box) on input, creating a temporal difference between input and
output, t1 and t2, different in every (parametric) way. But this is
somewhat sophistry; certainly a program is a detemporalized structure. But
wait, for the input and output are there to-be-used; they exist most
likely within the matrix of the human; they are _employed._ The employment
of a program - and a program may devour itself or other programs - is also
temporalized, but the program itself, unused, a series of commands and
other materials, is only a static articulation. Nevertheless, the static
articulation may be always in the process of constant self- or other-
revision, and time moves on. Let us say then that coding is the operation
on code and the production of an articulation, and that encoding is the
operation on input, within which code is irrelevant - even if code is
foregrounded, even if code crashes, the input is destroyed, garbage in /
garbage out on any level. The difference is subtle, but perhaps there. One
might like encoding then to Husserlian internal time-consciousness, and
coding to formal and linear (parallel or non, clocked or variable, etc.)
time. Or the other way around. Or the meeting of the two, as code may be
input, code may be encoded, code may code. Still, we might say this, that
encoding is the _disappearance of the code,_ and coding, its _promulga-
tion._ Entanglement occurs at all levels of operation. DNA encodes, but
encodes what? Itself, input/output material blind to DNA/RNA? DNA codes or
encodes DNA as well. Tacit knowledge (Polyani) resolves nothing, but plays
a role: use a screwdriver long enough, and it disappears from the hand -
all that remains is the interaction with the screw. Too much is made of
code, coding, encoding, decoding; not enough is made of the disappearance
of code - not as universal subtext of capital, but as a necessary corre-
late to our functioning in the world.


==

- apologies, but this is crucial - please read as:


                                                  Perhaps _I code,_ and
perhaps _it encodes,_ thereby lies all the difference, the distinction
among con/structures, con/structions.



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