The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

(really apologies for sending so much material out recently. i've been 
working furiously on 'emanent' materia and wanted to 'capture' what's 
close to a book as it comes. right or wrong, there are implications for 
poetics, phenomenology, etc., i think, or would like to think. anyway, 
here is the most confused essay of all. after this, back to image/sound, 
both of which are easier for me, shape-riding into oblivion.)

Messay: The Mess of the True World

This text is culled from an outline of current work prepared for my re- 
search group at West Virginia University (Virtual Environments Laboratory, 
Center for Literary Computing), Morgantown, WV. Questions dealing with 
substantive content were taken in the order they appeared, and embedded in 
the following m/essay. Topics again center around issues of the 'true 
world,' emanents, medical and other modeling, avatars, organisms, know- 
ledge and its management. The relative disorderliness reflects the disord- 
erliness of the world, or so I hope to believe - not an inherent defect in 
messay style.

  what does it mean to be in-carnated within the real/virtual/
  true world?

Carnated/carnal/knowledge - We could begin by introducing the true world, 
the world of mind in relation to ontological/epistemological shifting. The 
true world is primordial, in other words backgrounding.

..."however, we use the word [_materialism_] in its dictionary definition 
of _embodiment,_ in contract to _mind._ Thus, virtual reality, as dis- 
cussed within the art literature [...] is materialist, regardless of 
whether this experience is _real_ or _illusory._ Mental constructs, on the 
other hand, are nonsensory and so have no material existence." Paul Fish= 
wick, An Introduction to Aesthetic Computing, in Fishwick, ed., Aesthetic 
Computing, MIT, 2006. In this sense, the true world is materialist; how- 
ever I would argue that mental constructs cohere with the sensory, that a 
fundamental entanglement exists. For example, love or hate create sensed 
bodily transformations, mathematical thought creates the sensation of per- 
ceived 'symbol-clouds,' and so forth.

  what are the edge-phenomena/plastic and static limits of the body?

The limits of my body within the true world are the limits of my world; 
here I include ontological shifts such as mathesis, semiosis, emotions and 
the like. Given the limited bandwidth of receptors of all sorts, and the 
limitations of mind (for example, in thinking through the appearance of 
the eighth dimension, calculating, speaking non-native languages, etc.), 
thought and the true world are based on extrapolation - the _gestural_ - 
as fundamental being. (See Tran Duc Thao on the origins of language.) The 
gestural follows quantum non-distributive logics (see the early experi- 
ments by Land on color vision), not Aristotelian distributive logics; this 
being-in-the-world is partial reception of part-objects transformed into 
inherency through gesture. All organisms have this in common.

The _plastic_ limits of the body are the limits of body-inherency, whether 
'real' or 'virtual' or other category - the limits of the image carried by 
the jectivity (introjection and projection) braid. The _static_ limits may 
be considered formal-measurable limits, whether in one or another space.

  of the geopolitical body? of the political-economic body?

As soon as one brings domain-extrapolation of the body into play (i.e. 
sexual body, material body, imaginary body, natural body, and so forth), 
cultural nexus is paramount, and the body itself moves within theory as 
phenomenological token or punctum.

And as soon as one brings variegated ontologies and epistemologies into 
play, analysis becomes a mush/mess/mass or miss. Terms slide against 
terms, carrying enormous overdetermined histories with them - but these 
are the only histories there are.

  what are the signifiers of bodily arousal/violence/meditation?
  how are these constituted within the true world?

Herewith bee a liste of signes, or some such. But where is the arousal, 
violence, meditation, if not brainward, wearing the exposure, softening, 
hardening, quiescence of the body which simultaneously is foregrounded and 
absenting. In terms of emanents, the signs are symbolic; one calculates, 
applies them. In term of organism, the signs are ikonic, upwelling. The 
brain manages none of this; the brain manages, is managed - everything 
becomes a mess as inquiry tangles uselessly. It's this uselessness, this 
nexus, that is of interest - an analytical failure in the close-rubbed maw 
of the world.

  readings: what does it mean to read the real body? the virtual body?

One might begin by considering language as fundamentally ikonic, that 
within the preconscious ('repository' of syntactics, short-term memory - 
another metaphor) language is clothed, associated with the true world. 
Language then is structured like the unconscious, and the unconscious does 
not necessarily splay the real. Bodies, organic and emanent (and 'organic' 
references the machinic phylum as well), inhere to mind, minding, tending, 
a posteriori interpretation and hermeneutics. Reading the body is embody- 
ing, is against the background of incarnation. Sheave-skins need not react 
or appear to sense as organic skins; the feedback is often visual or 
aural, not proprioceptive. Within the jectivity braid, this is an epistem- 
ological issue, not one of fundamental locus. On the other hand (real or 
virtual), one can abandon the emanent; abandoning the organic is deadly. 
Proceed backwards from this, from the irretrievable, intolerable, finality 
of death, and reading bodies, and bodily risk, become wildly disparate. 
Nevertheless both inhabit the true world, mind inhabits both, albeit often 
in qualitatively different manners, depending on ontology.

  what are the ontologies and epistemologies involved here?
  ontological status of the so-called virtual -
  Schroedinger's cat paradox and collapse of the wave function as model
   for simultaneous analogic/digital readings -
  seeing through microscopy (tunnel, scanning, optical, etc.):
  are ontology and epistemology equivalent at the limit?
  (are analogic and digital equivalent at a parallel limit?)

What difference does it make? Begin with the mess, with the corrupted 
reading of whatever consciousness has placed there, on the page, the rock, 
the emanent body, the organic body. The last carries ikonic signs, 
simultaneously indexical, pointing out the mute history of the being. If 
there were only readers of everything! If only the book of nature existed! 
The Ladder! Great Chain of Being!

Ontologies occur in local domains, rub raw against each other, problema- 
tize each other. Who decided this one or that one as primordial? What's 
fundamental is the mixed mess, the braid. At least as far as we're con- 
cerned, the braid.

  internals and externals, static/dynamic. remnants of the visible
  human project, gendering of the visual/internal

Human skin under the microtome, sheave-skin burrowed into by camera 
position. Here is the necessity of Madhyamika, co-dependent origination, 
depend co-origination, braided mind, image, imaginary, entity, real and 
virtual within, inhering to the true world. Striated, variegated trans- 
formations characterize life; the Visible Human Project transforms 
organism into emanent, habitus into data-base.

  comfort, dis/comfort, ease, dis/ease, hysteria and abjection/fluid-
  ity (laycock's 1840 essay on hysteria, kristeva, chasseguet-smirgel)

Clearly the abject lies within the primordial, the braid is braid of 
dissolution, corruption, decay; definitions flux in relation to the 
constricted passing of time. Organisms flood themselves, emanents decay 
with their corporations, software updating, diminishing dreamtimes as 
elders die off. Hysteria is convulsion, but also spew, contrary and 
wayward, the refusal of the body, just as death is such a refusal and 
catatonia. Do others refuse the body? Use it? Reuse it? Are sheave-skins 
exchanged? Does political economy depend on aegis?

  dis/ease, hysteria, and so forth of emanents

Dis/ease, etc. may be modeled; turning the emanent towards abjection is 
necessarily a conscious decision. The hysteria of emanents is the hys- 
teria of the steering mind. Proliferation of emanents, duplications and 
other hacks, may be considered a form of hysteria. But hysteria is on the 
surface; emanents which are autonomous or semi-autonomous agents may exist 
the full range of symptoms, generated from within, without external 

  medical model and technology

A medical model implies internal flows, striations, identities, vulner- 
abilities, immunological defenses, maintenance and so forth. Emphasis is 
on the cohering of parts, membranes and molecular channels. Organism runs 
from within; emanent runs from without. An emanent may be defined as _an 
image or apparition whose body and mind are elsewhere,_ an entity that 
exists in relation to the jectivity braid, and has apparent, but not 
genidentical, identity. Of course the organic body itself is genidentical 
only to a limited extent.

One might say then that both ontologically and epistemologically, _an 
emanent exists within data-bases or other entities spatio-temporally 
distant from the visual or other residue._ What we see is surface, but 
surface from both within and without. _The dissection of an emanent image 
is the result of camera angle._

  psychoanalytics and technology, psychoanalytics of emanents

The psychoanalytics of emanents are two-fold: the psychoanalytics of mind 
steering, and the internal psychoanalytics of the machinic phylum. Or 
three-fold if the former is also embedded within/embedding the psycho- 
analytics of organically-embodied mind. I would begin with Freud's 
metapsychology, since it's illusory clarity allows the possibility of 
equivalence, attribute classes, and the like. I would attach this model to 
one of drives and instincts dealing at least in part with homeostatic 
maintenance (which I have covered elsewhere).

  analogic and worn emanent boundaries

How does the emanent wear? How does it wear the analog? For an emanent to 
_wear,_ an ontological shift must be crossed, the wear occurring in hard 
or flash drive, in the material world of atoms and quantum probabilities.

  edge / boundary phenomena - physics and psychophysics of the game-world
  edge in second life

Psychophysical remapping of (motion, behavior) steering phenomena. What 
else to say here? Camera views must be independent of emanents; they move 
beyond, behind, below the sheave-skins, constructing visual feedback of 
morphed transformations. For a moment nothing is autonomic, everything is 
relearned. But there are asymptotic behaviors and motions at the edge of 
every game-world, behaviors simultaneously permitting approach and refus- 
ing escape. The game-world edges harbor autisms, palsies, deconstructions 
- chatterings which take on the guise of everyday life, just as everyday 
life elsewhere within the game-world might well take on these chatterings 
as style or news from afar.

  phenomena of the sheave-skin and sheave-skin internals

Sheave-skin externals read as internals: anatomical mappings within Poser. 
First that the visual mappings are just that, indexicals, residue, from 
codings, reports from another frontier, that of the software processes 
themselves. Second, I have pointed out elsewhere that sheave-skin and 
environment, visuals, all exist within the same ontological habitus; the 
split is between this habitus and deeper discrete or digital processes. 
The split is absolute ontologically, constructed epistemologically. If 
there is an Absolute in sheave-skin or game-theory or game-world, it's 
this ontological split which even a representation of software processes 
cannot penetrate: from electron-movement and process configuration/deploy- 
ment to visual/aural/tactile/etc. appearance - the gap is permanent, 
imminent, and therefore uncanny.

  phenomena of medical models in relation to edge/boundaries

The medical model is for learning, for analogy of surface to surface. The 
medical model requires a (human) viewer. Any dissection into the substance 
of an organic body results in exposed and constructed surfaces; interiors 
always lie elsewhere, revealed by X-ray, MRI, and so forth.

  edge phenomena in literature, codework, mathesis of the text

In a sense all writing is edge, phenomena of the edge; writing exists as 
surface, sheave-skin, emanent. Inscription coats the orgasm of things, 
constructs both things and orgasm, wryting into the body of the true world 
helter-skelter. Codework in this regard is mute, ikonic; code and text 
scrape one another, none dominant, both structured and structuring.

  generalization of edge phenomena into the dialectic between tacit
  knowledge (polyani) and error (winograd/flores)

At the edge, the world is manifest between lived experience and corrup- 
tion, between trial and error, between inhering/cohering and construction, 
between dwelling and building. into the forest of error, where does the 
body go? From the edge, one can look back or down, into the windows of the 
comfortable houses across the street - if one still has the capability of 
sight. Is the edge sharp? Does the world cut? Is the edge equivalent to 
death, both blank, beyond, both miasma of theory and practice? Think else- 
wise of the possibilities of worlds of closed manifolds or recursions, one 
repeatedly returning, to something in the vastness of space or mind. and 
then think, what a construct, what comfort, and to what regard, what proof 
or results, what Signs?

  what constitutes worlds? constructing?
  world of the text, inhabitation/dwelling/building (heidegger,

It's too simple to insist on worlds cohering, or that within their do- 
main (ontological, epistemological), there is closure. One might say that, 
for all intents and purposes, worlds are nearly closed, that blurred boun- 
daries are distanced, rarely in evidence. The construction of worlds is no 
more or less problematic than the construction of anything at all. A world 
is characterized by inhabitation; a world is a homing.

The world of the text forgets its coding, its double-coding. Without that 
forgetting, erasure, the text is anomalous, problematic, non-cohering. The 
willing suspension of disbelief begins within the absence of will; will 
returns when the text ends or fails.

  what constitutes the true world? worlding?
  'true world' in which lines/angles are 'trued' (affine geometry),
  'true world' in the sense of 'trued' phenomenologies within which
  virtual, real, and ikonic are blurred and interpenetrating, somewhat
  equivalent, and within which traditional epistemologies of symbol/
  sign/signifier/signified/index/ikon etc. break down (kalachakra
    tantra, jeffrey hopkins)

'Worlding' references ongoing inhabiting and making of the (true) world, 
inhabiting memory, making and dwelling in memory, the truing of the world. 
All worlds are not true worlds, all true worlds are worlding. ikonic signs 
inhere within the true world, reading bodies (organisms, emanents, approp- 
riated, misappropriated) are ikonic, true world, the body stands for 
everything and nothing; ikonic, the body stands in for the body.

  'reading' underlying (substructural, configuration files, guides)
  organization of mocap/scan through surface phenomena
  (and the relationship of this reading to waddington's epigenetic

Oh, one has to read the cinema I produce, held taut through diagram and 
substructure. Reading here involves decoding, retaining the decoding 
against the memory or remembrance of absent code. There are epigenetic 
landscapes of decoding, tendencies and tending of the true world sending 
the reader one or another wayward or contrary way. Landscapes lead toward 
coagulation of landscapes, tethered desire of inhabiting an other. We 
can't let go of ourselves, even to read; we huddle, in order to write.

  who is world? communality, consensuality?
  the problem of other minds and the problem of consensual other minds
  (group hallucinations, vijnanavada, dwarf sightings, ufos, etc.)

We can't answer this. We can't answer this without further future know- 
ledge in terms of mind. We have experienced, at least once, the connect- 
edness of mind, but to generalize from this is problematic. I have no 
doubt of minding the world, minding the world of minds. And that one time 
may well have been untoward coincidence. Certainly "who is world?" is a 
proper question to ask, emanent and organism alike entailed. And certainly 
we are all emanents, and certainly we receive differently from different 
skins, tissue-skins, sheave-skins, molecular-membrane-skins, one-pixel- 
thick-skins, true world of inhering/cohering skins. It is not communality 
or consensuality that beg definition, but their absence: what cause the 
illusion of individuation, the lived discrete?

At this point, defuge sets in, the intolerable directing of the messay 
increasingly turns towards entanglement; nothing is answered or accounted 
(nothing is accountable). What to do but abandon the true world to a 
certain trembling at the edge - an edge which increasingly moves towards 
an unknown center (the real edge where damage begins). And what to do but 
abandon this attempt at another accretionary formation or inscription, 
living in the world as-if there were a certain human, if not organic, 
order. As-if is the pleasure of our senses and disfigurement of slaughter, 
as if these were speakable between the axle and the rim (the spokes, too, 
have their gaps). Let it go. Do let it go.

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