The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Inhering characteristics of matter, let us say substance.

Let us say substance without differentiation, by which we mean, cohering
matter, the phenomenology of the _same_ without transitivity (as in for
example Irigaray). One is always lost in the same. At the limit, one might
consider the same a manifold without geodesics, striations, closed upon
itself, windowless, sightless, catatonic. But this is only a limit, never
found, incapable of seeing or being-seen; it is the limit of death, the
maw that absorbs us all. Now to open it up a bit:

"RECAPITULATION. -- The common or essential properties of bodies are, Im-
penetrability, Extension, Figure, Divisibility, Inertia, and Attraction.
Attraction is of several kinds, viz. attraction of Cohesion, attraction
of Gravitation, Capillary attraction, Chemical attraction, Magnetic
attraction, and Electrical attraction.

The peculiar properties of bodies are, Density, Rarity, Hardness, Elastic-
ity, Brittleness, Malleability, Ductility, and Tenacity."

(J L Comstock, A System of Natural Philosophy, 1854 and earlier.)

Electrical attraction is of one or two kinds, positive or negative, aus-
tral or boreal. It is an inhering fluid which gathers, puckers, expends.

Shape comes: "FIGURE OR FORM _is the result of extension, for we can not
conceive that a body has length and breadth, without its also having some
kind of figure, however irregular._" Fractals come: "Some solids are so
irregular, that they cannot be compared with any mathematical figure. This
is the case with the fragments of a broken rock, chips of wood, fractured
glass, &c.; these are called _amorphous._" Inversion comes: "A single
grain of musk will scent a room for years, and still lose no appreciable
part of its weight. Here, the particles of musk must be floating in the
air of every part of the room; otherwise they could not be every where

What parts of the whole subtend figure, location, differentiation from the

Attraction might be said to construct the other, the other's construction
of the self, both and neither, imaginary, chimera. Gravitational attrac-
tion is like to like; magnetic and electrical like to anti-like, but of
the otherwise same; capillary, specific like to specific other, of which
both adhere to their essential characters; chemical, unary or mutual
transformation of specific like to specific other; and cohesion, like to
like or like to specific other.

The peculiar properties inhere. "RARITY. -- This is the quality opposite
to density, and means that the substance to which it is applied is porous,
and light. Thus air, water, and ether, are rare substances, while gold,
lead, and platina, are dense bodies." Today this is in fact density, and a
peculiar property in general might be considered that which is related to
the atomic or molecular constitution of matter, or rather the particle
constitution of matter, hence for example the neutron star, or rather the
constituating configuration of matter, hence for example the black hole,
or rather nearly decomposable phenomena, hence possibly dark matter or
strings, or whatever preserves at least the very weakest of phenomenologi-
cal structures in the true world and its descriptive messay/anysign.

From William Peck's Introductory Course of Natural Philosophy for the Use
of Schools and Academies, edited from Ganot's Popular Physics, 1873:

"Physics is that branch of Natural Philosophy which treats of the general
properties of bodies, and of the causes that modify these properties.

The principle causes that modify the properties of bodies are: _Gravita-
tion, Heat, Light, Magnetism,_ and _Electricity._ These causes are called
_Physical Agents._"

There are solid and fluid bodies. Bodies have mass and density. The gener-
al properties of bodies include Magnitude, Form, Impenetrability, Inertia,
Porosity, Divisibility, Compressibility, Dilatability, and Elasticity. Be-
yond Gravity, there are molecular forces which include Cohesion, Adhesion,
Capillary Forces, Absorption, Imbibition ("the absorption of a liquid by a
solid body"), Tenacity, Hardness, Ductility, and Malleability.

The book, "Peck's Ganot," is based on Ganot's elementary version of his
Traite Elementaire de Physique; I have the 3rd 1854 edition. Here, physi-
cal agents are as follows: "l'attraction universelle, le calorique, la
lumiere, le magnetisme et l'electricite." Under general properties of
bodies: "l'impenetrabilite, l'etendue, la divisibilite, la porosite, la
compressibilite, l'elasticite, la mobilite, et l'inertie." Particular
properties are those observed in certain bodies or certain states of bod-
ies, such as solidity, fluidity, tenacity, ductility, malleability, hard-
ness, transparency, and coloration; there is density, weight, various
forms of elasticity, etc.

Heat, steam, hydraulics, magnetism, electricity, fluids, gas: the world is
in flux, numerous solids are porous, some transparent to magnetism, x-rays
and other out of directly perceivable bandwidth radiations and receptors -
all challenge the muteness of amphiboles, some absorb others, some gener-
ate others, some construct others as problematic, some are coherent, some
inhere, some leak into Freud's hydraulic model, some are id-messy or

As I have pointed out, electrical fluid inhabits the spherical; the point,
punctum, drains it. Harboring matter is puckered, withdrawn. The fluid
seeps off in due time. It can be gathered in leyden jars, spewed from
voltaic piles (dynamic or galvanic electricity), generated from machines
(Wimhurst, von Guericke, etc.) with glass disks or cylinders or small
furnaces and stem or cat fur, pith, resin, tin foil (see the electrophor-
ous). It is social, the subject of "electrical recreations" led by men for
young women holding hands, sparking one another, hair stood on end, short-
circuiting jars and condensers. It's the men who electrocute dogs and
birds, test the apparatus against the limits of life and death. It's the
pith-man and pith-woman who jump up and down in funny embrace in a small
electrostatic entertainment. It's the woman who demonstrates the magnetic
swan to a small boy.

There's ectoplasm, outside the ken of these books, these models, as are
all sorts of spirits. Still, Peck/Ganot states right at the beginning:
"The Universe may be regarded as made up of _mind_ and _matter._ MIND is
that which thinks and wills; MATTER is that of which we become cognizant
through the medium of the senses. Science admits of two corresponding
divisions, _Science of Mind,_ or METAPHYSICS, and _Science of Matter,_ or

Three simple points from all of this: Much coheres, inheres, to matter;
some of what coheres or inheres is in problematic relation with an other
(general or specific); and much of these relatively early dialogs empha-
size a simplicity of fluidic substance and magnetic/electromagnetic
experimentation. While the science and technical characterization of the
world is clearly outmoded, the _phenomenology_ emphasizing a blurring of
static and dynamic, force and presence, circuit and stasis, state and
operator, and self and other, is rather sophisticated and uncannily
resonates with the messy and problematic distinctions among analogic and
digital/discrete domains, emanent and organic life, and real and virtual
as well as sign and anysign, all within the true world. We can't stop now;
we're just beginning to understand that the question isn't how many angels
are dancing on the head of a pin - the question is, how many angels are in

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