The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 29, 2011


Insoluble Cases


I've just solved the case: Here's how it happened. (Monk)

I began by thinking of the collapse of books, literature, theory: not of
carry-over and interoperability among file formats, electronic productions
or reproductions, but of the splitting and fragmentation of text and
theory, the reduction to what I've considered elsewhere as radiations and
dusts. Thus fundamental physical theory might just reduce to competing
structures producing equivalent, if not identical results; in which case,
the concept of the fundamental becomes moot through its splitting into
entangled at the top, but deeply incompatible at the bottom, predictive
and coherent constructs. So it goes, just as video, for example, has
abandoned long-form for splits and bites/sound-bites that will continue to
shrink. The world's buzzing confusing itself coheres and continues to grow
and every genre, form, classicism, or medium disappears; even the voice
channels into text, text into abbreviations, abbreviations into augments,
augments into part-objects, all against and within the massive violence
and poverty of the coming-to-age-and-end of a species literally dying for
a singularity, other than dying.

Consider new media, practices shadowed by their own future anteriors,
constant redefinitions and tropes from simulacra through vectors and
speed, back into the forests of signs and spectacles. Everything is plural
and always already has been, which cripples the monotheisms of explana-
tions, explanatory power, and the power that pervades them. Power is
always a becoming, a leverage; now and forever, power splatters among
gangs, hackers, corporations, languages, exploits, patches - and patches
themselves are the new sutures, designed, not to hold subject or subject-
ivity together, but to bridge monetary gaps in structures ultimately
doomed to obsolescence or collapse. I've thought long about this, about
the idea about this and about ideas and idea; these thoughts as well
transform, are transformed, through radiations. Think of such as literal:
how much gadgetry now speaks to itself through collocations and designated
bandwidths, just on the desk or threshold? And think of such as content,
not in the sense of McLuhanesque media, but in the dissolution of such
media, everything parceling within electromagnetic spectra that begins and
ends, usually, with something physical, some manifestation of receiving/
receiver and transmitting/transmitter. Think further, transmissions of
receivers, receivers of transmitters, transmissions of transmitters; you
get the idea, get hold of the idea, and the idea bifurcates chaotically;
in the end you get nothing, you're swallowed by the waves, by the
particles constantly in circulation. There's no room for the strictures of
genre here, for the long-form that's already rusting, corroding at the
ends, at both ends, throughout the long-form which requires patience,
silent, and grounding that's inconceivable at this point/plane/dimension.
For the long-form needs stability just like accountancy; it's the world of
classical economy, classical accountancy; it requires memory and the
stability of memory, things that can't, ever, be hacked, things that one
can return to, two or three hundred pages or notes earlier; this isn't the
case (for that matter/s, the world is no longer the case/s, if it/they
ever were) - these arguments and edifices that built up, that led nowhere,
that promised monotheisms, monotheories, that carefully laid themselves
out (when not laying bodies) - these buried their internal violence,
excreted it out the other end. All, everything here, requiring a respite
from slaughter, extinctions, exponentially-increasing populations on the
fast-track, these intrusions into the social, which now constitute the
socials: the strings of the world are pulled by children, and the
children's children, and ultimately nothing else matters. The children too
dissolve into radiations and dusts, Fukushima and Chernobyl, but also the
scatterings of local wars, gang insignia, temporary autonomous zones with
a vengeance. There are pollutions, mostly invisible, everywhere, permeat-
ing the world with the stench of death always already disappearing before
it's presence is felt; we're all embedded like journalists in guerilla
operations among the enclaves of a collapsing planet. It's too late for
anything else, but it was always too late; we lived in momentary stases -
of goods, apparently stable economies and weather patterns, that are once
again on the fast-forward track. Our books, films, symphonies, portend the
culture of death which inheres within them. We're watching ourselves
disappear, and this isn't towards the prosthetic or viral, but rather the
prion or unstable nanobots: as the atmosphere turns against us, nothing
happens but fundamental ontology that mirrors and collapses within itself.
And that's everything - in a sense, what used to be called 'anomie,' as
long as anomie hearkened back to an inconceivable, inauthentic Eden of
coherency that never existed in the first or any other place. Think of the
anomie of anomie, anomie as nothing but the word itself, the inscription
that's half read, half-disappeared, transformed by the fall of internal
empires that still seem to hold us as one, together, or in multiplicities,
or whatever groupings you might think still hold within occasional dream-
ing. Whatever else, culture appeared thick, with inconceivable depth -
this is the Castanedan theater, or the primordial or the aboriginal
habitus, epics and virtual worlds emerging out of it, oral traditions
miraculously holding forth for generations and so on. We believed that,
just as we believed the moment from oral to written or written to oral, or
the primacy of inscription or of things, or of orderings, or of axiomatics
- even those that were admittedly insecure at the edges, Godel numberings
for example tending towards the disappearance of moorings. See what can be
accomplished at a distance, through a telescope or prime number investi-
gations, but then there are always the problematics of other number
systems, multiverses, families dangerous and out of control just the next
block over. The thick was always a sheave, was always abject, always
required control. Culture not only buried abjection; it consolidated the
thing floating on top of the muck, cleaned off the shitty bottom. It
answered, it had answers, if only anti-oedipal. But abjection comes with
the corpses of extinctions, with local wars, hacking, pollutions. But no,
it doesn't come with these at all; it's always been there, what's been
fundamental are the dusts, the pollutions, the radiations, the muck that
Plato wanted to bury, that D&G dug up again and rubbed in our faces: now
those faces are gone as well.

So the ontology, the epistemology, the ontic, the episteme, dissolve, and
there is no yielding to a new order, though there might be chaos. I think
of this as 'neither A nor B,' 'not both A and B,' dual and Sheffer-stroke
lending themselves towards Pales of no concern, maybe A and B just go out
like lights, maybe they disappear, maybe they were never there in the
first place, maybe they're our dream of stability. How simple it all seems
until we look for constant, the thick again, so we can speak, make sense,
as if it were more than possible to make sense for more than a little
while, more than the occasion on the corner, the chance meeting, the
unknown disease or bullet fired in the dark. All of this is up for grabs,
sites/cites/sights of contestation, but it should be clear by now that
contestation itself, on local and global levels, among tendrils and
temporary holarchies, is what roils, what roils within the abject, what
provides no clear footings, anymore than currency or human exchanges.
Things are beginning to run out; more likely than not, the singularity
will be one of scarcity, not the fecundity of technological answers that
promise immortality to those enclaved lucky few able to afford them. It's
just a matter of time before immortality as well is swallowed up; even
cryogenics depends upon the thick, upon basic stabilities, in order to
propagate itself and the species with the wealthy few.

So we're left scattered among augmentations, inscriptions, the arrogance
of chic - and among inconceivable pain and beauty as, not only empires,
but the very elements of culture dissolve. And we can discuss these
things; if social networking is the current paradigm, the radiations and
problematic of paradigms will leave us for some brief moments when we
might pick up a book, for example, just to feel the weight of it. But more
likely we'll be listening to tunes of our own mirrored creations, as long
as the power stays on. (Wait, this isn't right here, this trope.) There
won't be tunes or books; there might be implants. They might last for a
while. There might be fetishisms of all sorts, driven not by power, but by
Lingis' lust, abject and oozing. There might be splits. There will be
scarcity. There won't be long-form. There will be momentary stases,
strange attractors. There won't be life-spans; there will be fallout.
Dusts never die, carry no information, infiltrate driven by no will of
their own or anyone's. They increase. The appearance of the future of the
world is Maya. The future of the world is graffiti. That's where it will
happen, the warnings to vacate the area, that something poisonous and
deadly is just around the corner. That's where the thick ends up - with
such unspeakable pain, with such death, that words not only fail - they
never existed in the first place. And not even that's guaranteed.


Phenomenological History of the World

 	"Are you also puzzled, Socrates, about cases that might be thought
absurd, such as hair or mud or dirt or any other trivial and undignified
objects? Are you doubtful whether or not to assert that each of these has
a separate form distinct from things like those we handle?
 	"Not at all, said Socrates, In these cases the things are just the
things we see; it would surely be too absurd to suppose that they have a
form. All the same, I have sometimes been troubled by a doubt whether what
is true in one case may not be true in all. Then, when I have reached that
point, I am driven to retreat, for fear of tumbling into a bottomless pit
of nonsense. Anyhow, I get back to the things which we were just now
speaking of as having forms, and occupy my time with thinking about them.
 	"That, replied Parmenides, is because you are still young,
Socrates, and philosophy has not yet taken hold of you so firmly as I
believe it will someday. You will not despise any of these objects then,
but at present your youth makes you still pay attention to what the world
will think." ...

Plato, Parmenides, 130 c-e, trans. Cornford.

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