The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


The confused continuous action of daily life

[ To the Aphoristic Essay. Sometimes failure is a sign of limitation, not
of the one who failed, but of the subject itself. ]

In daily life, the continuous is ever-present, always accountancy. For
even the turning of a switch on or off from its opposite results in no
imminent and vertical surge, but an increase on the microscopic level. To
be sure, quanta move from one state to another without intermediaries, but
everywhere we find our measurements do not follow suit; statistically, we
are averaged out. If one has a gauge, for example a Watt governor on a
steam locomotive, one sees its continuity clearly. If one measures,
however, across this continuity, say by extrapolating or interpolating to
locate the precise degree of steam pressure, this requires a raster of
whatever tolerance, the application of an abstracted mathesis, so that one
might have, for example, pressure to the hundredth of a pound, thereby
ensuring a grid and result that would thereupon jump to the next
hundredth, at least in terms of human results, which imply the fineness
and tolerance employed. The bits of a digital recording are sloped pits
and there is always wear and tear. The interpretation on our listening
level is dependent upon the continuous motion of speaker and speaking
membranes of one or another sort. Everything dirties and the dirtiness
ensures that no order reigns supreme, that no order is an order, that
every order is an admixture of every other, that heuristics dominate the
affairs of the lifeworld itself. I cannot judge quantum mechanics, but its
effects, outside the world of experiment and potential wells, are both
analogic and digital, everything and nothing, and everything in-between.

You see I am confused, I lose myself in ignorance, it's clear these aren't
the questions to ask. I have for example no idea about the continuum end
of the spectrum of hydrogen, what's separable and inseparable, how this
interacts with strings, dark-matter, space-time foam, black holes, and
other theoretical entities. The Aphoristic Essay is clearly a relative and
fundamental ontology for the lifeworld. The digital is clearly artifact-
ual. It's bounded, theoretical, virtual, ideality, heuristics. The analog
is clearly day-to-day, as in the absence of jump-cut outside of dreams,
when the subject moves from place to place, and every place in-between.
The analog is always rough around the edges; the digital is always chosen,
always a choice - this tolerance and not that, this protocol and not that.
It's problematic however that the digital and discrete reference the same
domain, although one might say that the digital is drawn from the discrete
with zero tolerance, that is one might say that an ideal structure emerges
from, or perhaps even is emergent within, the discrete. A step farther and
confusion: does the discrete, for example, reference a raster? How does
Planck's constant play among the orders? Clearly or unclearly, once again
the wrong questions to ask...

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