The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

September 2, 2009

Short prolegomenon to philosophy

Who hasn't noticed, in the midst of her dreams, that philosophy is already
a withdrawal? She begins with the intercession of consciousness, as if
from a distance; objects dissolve in a manner dissimilar to negation. For
negation already has its object, and all one begins with is a sense of
unease, that something might be missing; in this sense, philosophy begins,
and ends, on the peripheral. The peripheral of what? Think of philosophy
in this sense, modeled by the parallel transport of a vector in curved
space; what is thrown off is the slight dissimilarity of fit as the
circuit is completed. Everything is contained in this dissimilarity, which
effects neutrality, but is in fact the punctum of the world: what doesn't
fit isn't differentiable at this place and time, not now, not ever. The
withdrawal occurs among slopes; dissimilarity is the residue of such.

Dissimilarity implies comparison, more than one term, distinction, non-
integration. Here dissimilarity is against itself; the substance on one
set of slopes is equivalent to that on the other, but the suture twists;
in other words: the withdrawal of philosophy implies a twist. The twist is
not a knot; it doesn't (necessarily) turn in upon itself. Instead, it is a
twist in a metric which contains everything conceivable in eidetic reduc-
tion, and therefore announces presence, which can only be that, or rather
is fundamentally that, of gravity. With the use of a modified anthropic
principle in this regard, it's evident that gravity occasions philosophy;
it is of the order of a first occasion, inclusive of space-time and the
whole apparatus of the cosmos.

Let us think through the philosophy of a covariant derivative which occa-
sions both geodesics and the curvature of this space, announcing gravity,
but philosophically also announcing paths of least resistance. What are
the geodesics of a landscape of withdrawal? Think of these as tendrils
tending towards metaphoricity - for how can this alterity be understood
except as (inauthentic) alignments with the commonplace? Tendrils them-
selves, in fact the whole structuring implied here, exist as metaphor -
this implies a form of bootstrapping of comprehension, as it is metaphor
("withdrawal," "intercession," "dissimilarity") that has brought us here
in the first place. By which I mean, enabled us to reach this level of

Think of structure, number, types, as idealities, "as much" ideality as
anything else present in this wildness/wilderness. Think of the distinc-
tion, again, between immersive and definable structures - the latter
time-reversible if chaotic or relatively determinate, and time-irrever-
sible otherwise. Definability implies clarity, even if that clarity exists
only within definable tolerances; certainly the objects - eigenvalues or
quantum numbers for example - are clear as to association. Immersibility
implies otherwise; what's sought is thought, what's thought is sought,
embedded in consciousness, embedded in time, fuzzy. Neither position is
clear even in relation with the other; I tend to think of immersivity as
associated with the analogic, definability with the digital - but even
these meet and entangle at the limits, which pervade the whole.

This is the point: that where there is philosophy, there is contamination.
What is within or among or beyond the withdrawal, is entangled with a
dissimilarity, that, by its very examination, forms a knot; this is an
overlay among the twist, inhering or cohering with or within the twist.
While a knot may be entangled (specifically, a tangled line in three-
dimensional space) by passing ends through loops (which may take an
infinite amount of time in monstrous or fractal knots), this unraveling is
only an erasure of inscription beneath the sign of inscription; in other
words, it is thought itself, raveling and unraveling, as both operations
become, themselves, raveled and unraveled, and so forth; there's no end to
the levels, to the thought of the sought or the sought of the thought.

What goes forth by day goes back by day intermixed with everything and
everyone, everywhere and everywhen, conceivable; one can continue philoso-
phy indefinitely, or abandon it, anytime, however philosophy is conceived
in the midst of the withdrawal of dreams, or the dreams of withdrawal. It
is that gnawed edge of the curvature of space-time, never aligned in flat,
Euclidean space, that keeps us going in whatever infinitesimal slice of
the cosmos we find ourselves in. And we can't go nearer, or farther, than
any of this, all we can do is continue writing and thinking, uselessly
inscribing - all the while turning inward, heading towards that horizon of
no return that might as well be black hole, geodesic, annihilation and

Short prolegomenon to philosophy ii

Others have demonstrated the absurdity of mathematical or physical model-
ing in philosophical or psychoanalytical discourse. If issues of capital
are on one side, and fundamental cosmological structure on the other, I
side with the latter. Hence the issue of parallel transport of a vector,
"borrowed" from general relativity theory, is problematic; what I need to
do here is translate this into a series of autonomous semiotic operations
that cover the same ground; these operations may be considered operators
in the sense that a discourse or sememe might be subject to them.

I began with the idea of constructing a closed curve on a surface; I now
transform this into an _inscription_ in the classical sense, which, as a
phrase or sentence for example, inheres within a fuzzy domain of discourse
- in other words, the inscription _translates_ one way or another - it is
a discursive moment among many - it has no particular bounds, but it has a
subject, or rather it "subjects" for different subjects, it behaves as a
fuzzy operator. Thus every inscription is _dynamic._ Now consider a
circumscription of a particular inscription; this does not mean that an
inscription is a member of its circumscription in the sense of a set, but
that, for some grouping within some socius, the circumscription carries an
inscription with it. Inscription: "This sentence is a tree." Circumscrip-
tion: "I consider the inscription 'This sentence is a tree.'" Again,
circumscription: "We consider, for the purposes of analysis, whether 'This
sentence is a tree.' can adequately represent the potential of a sentence
referencing, not a mathematical tree (where it might apply to grammar for
example), but a physical tree, an oak for example."

So a circumscription in this sense is a reinscription of, pointer towards,
or objectification of, an inscription: it is a mentioning which is also an
operator. Oh there are so many loopholes here! Close them up!

Now consider the space of the semantic domain, discursive domain, sememe,
within which this is an occurrence. What does it mean to create a closed
curve in relation to circumscription?

Well, one way, you might think about an analysis which seems complete - an
analysis as a space-time event, from which one proceeds. In this sense,
the analysis is constructed as a temporary totality in memory, that is,
within the discursive enunciation and phenomenology of the subject, who
proceeds from this.

All of this is construed to some extent as a rough guide to cause and
effect, classical domains, limitations, vectors, enumerations of relation-
ships, organizational structures (Knuth for example after example). By
classical domain, I mean the closure that occur in the distributive laws
of Aristotelian logics; I imagine even Bohm's implicate order follows
through here.

So that I can think of inscriptions, circumscriptions, and analyses, all
as dynamic objects with porous and fuzzy boundaries, with a "sense" of
closure, which lends itself to phenomenological psychoanalytical analyses
"beyond" in the sense that the Lacanian objet petit a is "beyond." Let us
assume that there are namings, meanings, intentionalities, and semiologies
within consciousness that open even for Husserl, reams of text and the
appearance of _something being done._

The closures are twisted, which means, here, that moving through an analy-
sis or circumscription always arrives _somewhere else_ that is inherently
at odds with what was perceived to be an origin or originary inscription.
The sememes or discursive formations themselves are non- Euclidean; they
are simultaneously vectorized (in the same of trees) and n-dimensioned
with n > 1, which means there are closed 2-spaces, 3-spaces, and the like,
of interpretation. These spaces are striated, multiply interconnected, not
smooth, possessing singularities - a kind of topological foam. So on one
hand, there is the _appearance_ of closure - on the other - the continuous
and inherent opening, spewing within and without (in the sense of fractal
current transports) any region, an conceivable circumscription as well as
the circumscription of circumscription, and so forth.

So from the beginning to the end of analysis, I return to somewhere else
with a twist which, in this case, does not permit the recuperation of the
original inscription. What does this "somewhere else" tell us? For one
thing, it is here that the play of deconstruction occurs - within the
foam-like curvature of inscriptive domains, however defined. For another,
the modeling itself parallels that of the World Wide Web's holarchy, in
the sense that tangled skeins can never be recuperated, but continue a
journey which is _impossible to bring to closure, impossible to bring to
an end,_ no matter how exacting the analysis appears to be. In yet other

One is always beside oneself, one is never a totality nor a shifter, nor
that of the other, but always elsewhere, elsewhen; "I is not an Other" but
always a twisted opening. Look at the periphery - the twist becomes
visible, and analysis collapses - even continuous Freudian analysis -
there is never a mark to be found, there is no demarcation. While the
space of relativity is classical in the sense that it's topologically
coherent, the space of discursive formations, of enunciation, of the self,
of analysis and self-analysis, is inconceivably complex: Every analysis,
every critique is _a priori lost,_ - at the same time tending towards the
uncanny/fictivity of _an_ originary inscription, _an origin,_ as if the
word were Word, said anything, made anything at all.


Short prolegomenon to philosophy iii

In the Zen koan there is a severing and no return; in the Oxherding images
there is a representation of this. The emerging geodesic is an opening
elsewhere and elsewhen under erasure and the twist is that evidence
which continues the duration of the novice until it is recognized that
what appears to be a setup is no such thing. The analysis is a perception
of the failure of analysis. In Tantra there is a similar occurrence with
generation and completion, a severance which is not a severance. Nagar-
juna's contradictions emphasize this on the plane of a logic which
nonetheless remains bound to its analysis. Without such, there is Tao one
does not contend with; Tao follows a geodesic. What is missing in all this
is the twist per se; the twist carries information, that of the semiotic
foam, information inherently tangled, but information that is not annihil-
ated. The physical gravity of space-time is presence as well; it is within
the fine-tuning of analysis that withdrawal and severance appear obdurate.
Neither withdrawal nor severance is complete; the twist, diacritical
curlicue presences itself in analysis or not in analysis. In relativity,
the twist is measurable, a measure of local curvature; in philosophical
analysis, it is the objet petit a, the horizon and so forth, which resists
annihilation, continues the project of being-human. What about the curva-
ture of space in the Flower Ornament Sutra? There must be some such thing
for perception to occur; even so the Sutra's insistent and continuous
exfoliation fills every void, as if one could talk of an energy-momentum
tensor at work. The geodesic clots, is slowed; perhaps this is the case as
well in any severance or jump; the ground, what one falls into or through,
is never as clear as it seems to be. Shades of Hegel's porosity come to
mind. And what comes to mind and disappears is mind, but always with a

One should be careful about rolling everything up into zero or one; the
fit is not a fit, harmony not a harmony. In a stringed instrument, tension
constantly varies, and decisions are reached, when something is in or out
of tune. The beat frequencies slow, but never reach the zero point; there
is always a literal twist left over, and on a quantum level the string
frequency must vary to some noticeable degree. What degree is character-
ized by both human perception and tuning, and by fundamental constants of
the universe. One always plays against noise, tuning (a) is never the same
as tuning (b), but neither is it zero nor one.

Short prolegomenon to philosophy iv

Analysis in this context says nothing whatsoever about physical theory,
its direction or relation to the humanities. It occurs as metaphor,
indicative of parallel operations within a critical phenomenology, but
also as an approach, keeping in mind the obdurate, the broken, the
wayward, and the lack of return; in curved space, a parallel transported
vector in general does not return to itself, a measure of curvature based
on dissimilarity. In theory, the object, like the author, continually
shifts against a foam-like holarchy of inscription and information. The
twist as kernel continually changes as well; thus interpretation occurs
within a hermeneutics of stochastic/chaotic flux. Philosophy never ends,
and one might well be suspicious of fundamental philosophies that reify an
obdurate positionality from which everything is generated; the holarchic
entanglement of information on the horizon of a black hole is indecipher-
able. I think of philosophy always plural, always broken, part-object
philosophies without end, that advance only to the extent that scientific
theory tends towards a form of increased knowledge. Philosophies continue
and constitute an endless dialog in retreat and circumscription, a dialog
of phenomenologies of being-in-the-worlds, ranging across inscriptive
fields and domains; every moment of stasis is deconstructed, and every
moment is superseded. Philosophy does not talk to itself; it talks to and
of the world, and ought listen: just as narratives are constructs useful
to make sense out of chaos with a surplus of contrariness and noise, just
so philosophical groundwork is useful, but undercut by surplus. One small
advantage of postmodernity was the recognition of the inherency and import
of undercutting; the "myth of eternal return" is found lacking, as every-
thing, everywhere, everywhen, twists and is always shattered, always
other, even if only to an infinitesimal degree. It is only within the
realm of quantum physics and below that absolutes reign, in the sense that
quantum numbers and fundamental particles are described by finite sets of
numbers, wave equations, probabilities, and the like. The combinations
among anything constructed from these - atoms, molecules, fields, and the
like - tend towards the foam; by the time one reaches the temporal or
spatial scales of being-human, it becomes impossible to return to, or
postulate origin. And _this_ is semiotically related to other spaces
embodying sememes, semiotic domains, and fields of inscription, however
defined; in short, they don't compute, except dynamically, lost like any
weather system, losing any philosophy.

(End of short prolegomenon to philosophy.)

"The twist is not a knot, but at least among the humanities, indecipher-
able! Otherwise there would be nothing left for us to do!"

(apologies for the sequencing of this)

Addendum to prolegomenon

It became clear to me, why wasn't it earlier, that the twist shares a
relationship with the abject, and with suture it is an almost-closure,
almost-alignment, that fails by the very nature of the world. The abject -
indecipherable, entangled - lies at the juncture of organism and analysis.
A lure, it's impossible to eradicate; it's of the nature of space-time
itself, for the twist is produced by _any_ circulation. This is, for
example, the meat underlying the virtual, which on one hand is a canopy,
and, on the other, is the very constitution of inscription. For we deal
with an entanglement of inscription, beginning with ourselves, which are
simultaneously everywhere, and nowhere, and in terms of phenomenology,
part and parcel of curvature. The "dirty little secret" of the world is
the world, which analysis flies in the face of, to the extent that
analysis insists it has any relation to the foundational.

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