The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Some notes sent to an email list that might be of interest here -

Just some general comments - First, I'm not sure what the distinction is
between linguistic and non-linguistic. Second, related, I tend to see
culture all the way down - i.e. one might think through cultures of
reptiles, etc., and even further, plants like dodder or slime molds might
also be susceptible here. By culture I'm referencing passed on learning
that's not encoded or is only partially coded, and learning that leads to
non-determinist responses. Third, I think that language is always already
within and without bodies, that bodies are inscribed, and that inscription
is basic to organism. Heinz von Foerster said roughly the same thing in
terms of negation and Shahn Majid develops this in the sense of Venn
diagrams that are based on inscribing boundaries between x and ~x. If one
might look at fields and patterns, these meld within inscription. There is
no brute knowing, there is certainly 'muscle knowledge,' but that also is
within languaging as ball- and guitar-players know. Perhaps languaging stops
at the bordering of pain, certainly death, but pain is inscribed as if
within and without the body, simultaneously centered and decentered, and
death is transparent to inscription.

One surely thinks through intelligences, knowings, fields, and it's hard to
pin these things down. One thing comes to mind, probably as untrue as any of
the above - that labor is externally inscribed, and play internally so - one
might walk away from play, change the rules, delete, just as any
superstructure's always wobbly? But labor - I mean one might not even know
all the rules, and this ignorance is at a cost (having been let go from
university once or twice, not to mention other jobs, I'm as sure of this as
I am of my own neurosis which blinds me).


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