events readings

Philosophy Without Nature — 3 Sept 2014

Information and Thinking – Michel Serres

Jules Verne L’etoile du Sud — precious gems

Immanuel Kant — the Sun Ego

  • billiant mirros sparkling flares… exhcnaging millions of inforatmions about themselves 
    • Kaprow quote about the computer 
  • the things of the world have the ability  reflect itself
  • Vernes cavern — the vision the universe has of itself
  • “I am a diamond”
  • Matter and mirror, media (support) and messages
  • I do not see any different between reality and representation 
  • Materialist versus spiritualism
    • Atoms encode — they are material but they are also sign
  • They encode, we encode, they count, we count, we speak, they speak. Knowledge is thus the ability to listen and to translate the scattered languages of things. They usually speak mathematics. 
Round Table:
  • Rosi Braidotti
    • Calvina — Six Memos for the Next Millennium — “the lightness, the rhythmic speed” – stands outside the flux of time… 
    • Serres is post-anthropocentric – flat ontology with a realist method
    • Profound ontological pacifism – with a knowledge of science as a great evil (thinking materialism without ideology) 
    • Style is not a rhetorical device it is the method
  • Francoise Balibar
    • The use of language in physics conferences… e.g.: 
  • Simon Glendinning
    • Classic cosmopolitanism – every other is my fellow (horizon of humanity)
    • De-centered humanisms
    • A responsibility to those not yet born
  • Mark BN Hansen
    • Whitehead – We’re the hosts for agents. 
    • Serres – no argumentation, not speaking from a position of privilege (speaking for others)
    • Flat ontology / Speculative Realism – 
    • (Zielinski’s comment about Kittler’s removal of the
    • Serres different than speculative realism as the ’things’ are not the enemy
    • Matter and information as non-dialectical — all things express other things 
    • “Any object can become the subject of other objects” 
  • Rahel Jaeggi
    • There is a difference between thinking and storing information
    • Distinction between what bees do, versus what people do when they work 
    • Not just referring to something but knowing that you refer to something
    • “I don’t blame the stone when someone throws it at me”
    • We’re human being that take responsibility for events 
  • Paul Ziche
    • The challenge is what distinguishes this text from naive scientism of 1800’s
    • The image of the starry sky — is familiar to Kant (symbol for the sublime, which precisely transcends knowledge)
    • Compares the starry sky to to the Verne cavern (the softness of the sky, the hardness of the rocks/crystals) 
    • Genesis: Its just too simple to say lets move from matter to information
    • Matter and mirror
Discussion
  • Derrida — No justice seems possible or thinkable without the principle of some responsibility

  • Romanticism — Why is romanticism so bad? Could this be a positive comparison?

Latour & Technology 
 
Shane Denson
    • We’ve Never Been Modern — ‘intermediaries’ versus ‘mediators’
    • Expansion of media
    • Hansen: “medium as an environment for life,” “marks an originally correlation of technics and thought, one that comes ‘before’ history and that is for this very reason… “ —> We Have Never Been Natural 
    • Stiegler “co-originarity” of technics and the human – epiphylogenesis
      • human life is unthinkable without technics
      • non-genetic evolution
    • Hansen “medium is environment for life” – a “transduction between the organism and the environment that constitutes life as essentially technical”
    • Quasi-autonomy view of technical and human evolution
    • “reciprocal (though asymmetrical) indirection” (302) — humans are concretely grounded through the body / physiology  
    • Medium naming the link between the human and the technical
    • Cinema as tertiary memory – stores experience 
    • Primary retention: immediate experiential process / Secondary retention: memory activated afterwards (Husserl) 
      • Hearing is not absolute / second audition is always different 
      • Tertiary memory is what allows us to discover this — that is, the presentation of a ‘recorded experience’ 
      • Temporal experience is problematically ‘mass produced’ as in ‘live television’ – where experience is present as tertiary memory 
      • Hanson responds that Stiegler reduces primary intention 
      • Salanskis – retention 
    • Stiegler prioritises mneotechnics —over the human (a kind of fatalistic ‘sucking of the human’ into the machine)
    • Tertiary memory – technology – might have its own form of embodiment that is marked its own material boundary between discrete object hood and environmental flux. 
    • For example film has a referential and non-referential side
    • The technical as also sitting between the unmarked environemnt of material flux
    • Merleau Ponty (flesh) — Viviane Sopjek — 
    • “As a body that does and then learns to think”
    • Question of Ontology: the cognitive phenomenal realm is embedded in the material realm — representation is a part of reality (Serres) 

Rumen Rachev

    • Onto-speculative theories
    • Matter of Care and Media Natures 
    • Software studies
      • application
      • network
      • code
    • How technologies arises — How software come to be perceived as software and how software actualise itself through material practices 
    • Coal Fired Computer – mining and energy
    • Crystal World – reselling
    • Maria dela Bellacasa ‘Matters of Care in Technoscience: Assembling Neglected Things’ 
      • Matters of care: “what care can actually mean for the thinking of things and how this notion involves doing and intervening”
      • Barcuh Gotlieb 
    • Software Mediatures — mining process of media and how it evolves into technologies
      • Investigating high-tech media culture is entwined with a variety of material agencies…
    • Google Black
    • Software matters
    • Questions: 
      • The digital is a principle — not material? But the development of the digital is brought about through materials — in terms of how software develops… 
      • Code and Spaces — the human ‘experience’ of code is not of these elements, not of the ‘gold’ in the pcb, etc.

Notes to self moral dimension of media geologies: 

  • One direction: the morality of production and the development of industries which exploit worker 
  • Second direction: the morality of material complexes of technology creating the ‘coding sweatshops’ 

Notes to self development of theories that absorb both the materiality and human experience of technologies 

  • There are always questions which speak of the gap between the material and experiential (e.g.: if we speak of the ‘material’ structuring of the digital for example)… but… There are many forces keeping this from occurring 
    • we cannot experience ‘multi temporality’ / ‘multi spatiality’ 
    • technologies are built (scale, integration) to resist ‘experiencing’ them
  • Note that this is what constitutes the problem of the ontological/epistemological divide. There is a mistake in the potential of objects to reveal themselves as they’ve been separated into an aesthetic (representation, immediate) and production — this is what analysis of the ‘practice’ of the technological helps in breaking down the onto/episto divide. That is, making software, is a way of understanding how we create ideas. The world is there to teach itself things. 
  • e.g.: Programming a low level circuit board allows you to understand the material substrate of software – the chip gets hot when you render too many objects on the screen – just as creating a clay pot would lend an immanent (internal, emergent) account of the object. 
  • Imagine a world in which you made everything you had, everything you used by yourself. You would not only have a full, and careful account, of the sorge (care) and  elements, but you would 
  • So this claim, that we must account for ‘both levels’ of the experience of technical objects (how they are made, and their cultural effects / human-deception) is a certain form of blindness to the practices which forge them, which are implied in the sensible but do not arrive there, always.

Moritz Gansen

    • AIME — 10 month extension — An Inquiry into Modes of Existence
    • Anthropology of the Moderns (We Have Never Been Modern) 
    • Overt philosophical orientations — 
    • Prince and Wolf — LSE — like a dog following its prey and 
    • Finally he could be a philosopher, sociologist, 
    • Etinne Souriaux — modes of existence — 1943
      • The manners of being of the diverse beings
      • A work of aesthetics?
      • Metaphysics is one of an ‘art of existence’ and ‘mode to be made’ (masterpiece to come in AIME) 
      • Souriaux lecture – the existential incompletion – ‘everything is given to us in a half light…’ – ‘everything is work to be made’ – sketches and drafts – everything demands its own accomplishment
      • Instauration – the creating of things (not the restoring, but the founding) 
        • White supremacist magazine 
      • To exist means to be in a fundamental way – to be in a specific manner and mode (planes of phenomenon, synaptic being) 
      • (Like AIME) leaving spaces for further modes of being 
      • Anti-hegelian, opposed to metaphysical machine: “We must beware of the dialectical fascination”
      • Orders and hierarchies bring into relations different modes of existence 
    • What good is philosophy that doesn’t contribute to your life
      • This proliferation as instauration – virtual / actual / becoming 
      • The virtual – calls out for its own instauration
      • Tiny instauratory acts (artists, painters, etc.) 
      • Everyone bears a certain responsibility to the virtual — they are never simply accomplished or given… 
      • Beware of which reality you pay most attention to — it judges you.
    • Simondon starts with a originally unity whereas Souriaud begins with plurality 
    • Philosopher is a dog ancient greece
    • The Great Instauration — Bacon
    • Genealogy — Bergson & William James … The Pluralist Philosophies of England and America … Stengers / Deleuze 

Critique of Forms of Life — Professor Rahel Jaeggi, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 

  • Hannah Arendt and the realm of the human
  • Practices are described 
  • Practices are situated (playing hide and seek versus hiding from the police)
  • Practice suppose a common horizon of interpretation (bundles of practices – which can and do transform) 
  • Practices are materialised 
  • Someone must be responsible — 
  • Immanent critique – transformative but rooted in an internal perspective 
  • Arendt — “one can never survive bare”
  • Hegel’s analysis of the modern bourgeois family
  • Problems are in a particular way self-made 
  • Problems call out in ways in which the practical side of the world requires 
  • The meta question – one can recognise if a process has succeeded in the ‘deepening of experience’ 
  • Ethical learning process 
  • Hillary Putnam – pluralism
  • Experimentation is the only path to new solutions 
  • Robin Celikates — Forms of Life — cultural shaped forms of human coexistence
    • Structure, Struggle, Progress 
    • Forms of life are embedded in material — can we account for this embeddedness in the form of practice theory? 
    • Bundles of practices have sedimentary elements which are not transparent or known by the forms of life which undertaken
    • Emphasis on system-like character 
    • It must be possible to blame or praise a person — this is difficult … 
      • Marxist analysis’ success was to recognise those structural dynamics – it wasn’t just a group of rich people sitting in a room saying, “lets’ try and convince the poor to be exploited…”
    • Problems / Solutions (instead of needs / satisfaction) — focus on learning processes 
      • conflict and oppression cannot always be described as ‘learning’? (e.g.: the fall of S.A. apartheid cannot be described as learning) 
    • Vulgar Hegelianism — “progress is just what has lead to us”
events phd readings

Les nouvelles technologies — Serres (2007)

Mais si on perd, on gagne. La main en perdant sa fonction de marche quadripède, a gagné en universalité. On a perdu du formaté, et on découvre de l’universel. “L’homme est une bête dont le corps perd” (comme une casserole qui perd de l’eau par un trou, le corps de l’homme perd).

Les nouvelles technologies : révolution culturelle et cognitive (video)

Transcription-de-la-conférence-Michel-Serres-INRIA-Lille-2007 (transcript)

readings

The Real World of Technology, Ursula M. Franklin

Americans and Nature 

“Sometimes I think if I were granted one wish, it would be that the Canadian government would treat nature the way Canadian governments have always treated the United States of America — with utmost respect and as a great power.
Whenever suggestions for political action are placed before the government of Canada, the first consideration always seems to be “What about the Americans? They may not like it. They may let their displeasure be seen and felt. They may retaliate!” And what about nature? Obviously nature does not take kindly to what is going on in the real world of technology. Nature is retaliating, and we’d better understand why and how this is happening. I would therefore suggest to you that, in all processes of planning, nature should be considered as a strong and independent power. Ask, “What will nature do?” before asking, “What will the Americans do?” 

“ Maybe what the real world of technology needs more than anything else are citizens with a sense of humility — the humility of Kepler or Newton, who studied the universe but knew that they were not asked to run it.”

  • Alisdair Grey’s stories about the Art School and the tunnel

first phase – exuberance and enthusiasm  “In this phase technologies create human bonds and a sense of excitement in people who feel grateful to be part of such wonderful, progressive times. The voices of reservation sound like disgruntled skeptics, fearful of change — like the old lady who said that if God had wanted us to fly, she would never have given us the railways.”

second phase – concretisation and domestication  “After this phase, with its flights of imagination, human contacts, and excessive hopes, a new phase appears. This is the phase of the stern father saying, “What do you really want to do when you grow up?” This is the phase of growth and standardization of the technology. From here on the involvement of people, whether workers or users, is drastically reduced.”

“There’s also the language of computers to support this image of harmless domesticity. One speaks of booting up and boilerplates; one talks about mouse and menu. The user has the feeling of choice and control, of mastery and a comfortable relationship with the machine and with other users.”

second phase – industrialisation and exploitation – “But this phase will not last. Behind that pink fluff one already sees the features of global restructuring. The changes in the workplace are there and it is not the workers who exercise control. After you’ve looked at the gushy computer magazines, you may want to read Heather Menzies” book, called Fast Forward and Out of Control,6 in which she speaks about global restructuring in terms of the Canadian economy and Canadian workers. If one doesn’t watch the introduction of new technologies and particularly watch the infrastructures that emerge, promises of liberation through technology can become a ticket to enslavement. I’d like to remind you of one example of the doubtful promises of liberation by a new technology. The case is focused, direct, and drastic. Let’s look at the introduction of the sewing machine.”

 

Women and Technology

Feminine coping skills versus growth skills

From “When Old Technologies Were New”

  • p.212:  “Informal entertainments were sometimes spontaneously organized by telephone operators during the wee hours of the night, when customer calls were few and far between. On a circuit of several stations, operators might sit and exchange amusing stories. One night in 1981 operators at Worcester, Fall River, Boston, Springfield, Providence and New York organized their own concert. The *Boston Evening Record* reported: ‘The operator in Providence plays the banjo, the Worcester operator the harmonica, and gently the others sing. Some tune will be started by the players and the other will sing. To appreciate the effect, one must have a transmitter close to his ear. The music will sound as clear as though it were in the same room.’ “A thousand people were said to have listened to a formal recital presented through the facilities of the Home Telephone Company in Painesville, Ohio, in 1905. And, portent of the future, in 1912 the New York Magnaphone and Music Company installed motor-driven phonographs that sent recorded music to local subscribers over a hundred transmitters.”

ANOTHER SILLY TYPING ERROR
The nature of typing is such that
there are none but silly errors to make:
renowned only for pettiness
and an appearance of stupidity.
I don’t want to make silly little errors;
I want to make big important errors.
I want to make at least one error
which fills my supervisor with such horror
she blanches and almost faints
and then runs to the manager’s office.
The manager turns pale and stares out the window
then resolutely picks up the phone
to page the big boss at his golf game.
Then the big boss comes running into the office
and the manager closes his door
and hours go by.
The other women don’t talk
or talk only in whispers,
pale as ghosts but relieved it isn’t them.
An emergency stockholders” meeting has to be called
about which we only hear rumours.
To make sure I don’t accidentally get a job
with a subsidiary, allied company or supplier,
I am offered a choice of either
fourteen years severance pay or early retirement.
A question is asked in Parliament
to which the Prime Minister replies by assuring the House
most typists only make silly typing errors
which only rarely affect the balance of trade.
The only time I get to talk about it
is when I am interviewed (anonymously) for an article
about the effect of typing errors on the economy.

The separation of knowledge and experience 

  • “We talked about the separation of knowledge from experience that science has brought. In its wake came the rise of experts and the decline of people’s trust in their own direct experiences.”  (aesthetics as experience – Raciere) 

“There is nothing essential in the magnification of the obvious.”

ideas readings

The Test Drive – Avital Ronell (2005)

On Being Tested

  • Blanchot: “the trial of experience”
  • “A structure of incessant research” as a “modality of being”
  • “Neitsczhe for his part introduces the experiment in the most personal among his books, The Gay Science
  • Neitzche’s ambivalence toward the test / experiment:
    • “With is future-seeing night goggles and his sensitive little radar ears he sensed that test sites would make the wasteland grow and foresaw the concentration camp as the most unrestricted experimental laboratory in modern history, a part of the will to scientific knowledge.” 
    • “At the same time, though time has stood still, life as knowledge, Nietzche hoped, would not be at best a bed to rest on or a slouch of leisure, but would embrace dangers, victories, heroic feelings. Neitzsche noted science’s capacity for making immense galaxies of joy flare up.”
  • “Testing, which could be seen as the thrownness of technology, traverses many sectors of existence and does not begin as an explicitly technological life form”
    • What does the first part of this sentence mean??  Throwness, in Heidegger “thrownness” or “facticity” is the “burdensome character of Dasein.” “It is and has to be.”
    • Perhaps “in its state of having been designed in time” (Zeitentworfenheit) (from Zootechnologies: Swarming as a Cultural Technique)
  •  the facticity of its being delivered over”: the factuality of its lack of quality, prosthetic technicity. This fact ality is also one of 

Why Science Amazes Us 

  • Blindness / Amazement — precondition of epistemological deficiency 
  • “At one point Nietzsche sees the experiment freeing us from theconstraints of referential truth. Science amazes him, though a reactive tendency to re­ duce itself to calculative efficacy also lands it squarely in his repertoire of illusions, dissembling interpretations, and masks. He redirects science to art, ligaturing an ancient complicity.”

PART 4 – On Nietzche’s The Gay Science

  • “The meaning of scientificity that concerns Nietzsche, and that can be seen to dominate the technological field in which we moderns exist, embraces the qualities of both destructive and artistic modes ofproduction, involving an ever elusive and yet at the same time tremendously potent force field”  (Pharmacon, Stiegler?) p. 156
events phd

Philosophy Without Nature — 3 Sept 2014

Information and Thinking – Michel Serres

Jules Verne – L’etoile du Sud — precious gems

Immanuel Kant — the Sun Ego

  • billiant mirros sparkling flares… exhcnaging millions of inforatmions about themselves
    • Kaprow quote about the computer
  • the things of the world have the ability reflect itself
  • Vernes cavern — the vision the universe has of itself
  • “I am a diamond”
  • Matter and mirror, media (support) and messages
  • I do not see any different between reality and representation
  • Materialist versus spiritualism
    • Atoms encode — they are material but they are also sign
  • They encode, we encode, they count, we count, we speak, they speak. Knowledge is thus the ability to listen and to translate the scattered languages of things. They usually speak mathematics.
Round Table:
  • Rosi Braidotti
    • Calvina — Six Memos for the Next Millennium — “the lightness, the rhythmic speed” – stands outside the flux of time…
    • Serres is post-anthropocentric – flat ontology with a realist method
    • Profound ontological pacifism – with a knowledge of science as a great evil (thinking materialism without ideology)
    • Style is not a rhetorical device it is the method
  • Francoise Balibar
    • The use of language in physics conferences… e.g.:
  • Simon Glendinning
    • Classic cosmopolitanism – every other is my fellow (horizon of humanity)
    • De-centered humanisms
    • A responsibility to those not yet born
  • Mark BN Hansen
    • Whitehead – We’re the hosts for agents.
    • Serres – no argumentation, not speaking from a position of privilege (speaking for others)
    • Flat ontology / Speculative Realism –
    • (Zielinski’s comment about Kittler’s removal of the
    • Serres different than speculative realism as the ’things’ are not the enemy
    • Matter and information as non-dialectical — all things express other things
    • “Any object can become the subject of other objects”
  • Rahel Jaeggi
    • There is a difference between thinking and storing information
    • Distinction between what bees do, versus what people do when they work
    • Not just referring to something but knowing that you refer to something
    • “I don’t blame the stone when someone throws it at me”
    • We’re human being that take responsibility for events
  • Paul Ziche
    • The challenge is what distinguishes this text from naive scientism of 1800’s
    • The image of the starry sky — is familiar to Kant (symbol for the sublime, which precisely transcends knowledge)
    • Compares the starry sky to to the Verne cavern (the softness of the sky, the hardness of the rocks/crystals)
    • Genesis: Its just too simple to say lets move from matter to information
    • Matter and mirror
Discussion
  • Derrida — No justice seems possible or thinkable without the principle of some responsibility

  • Romanticism — Why is romanticism so bad? Could this be a positive comparison

  • Eceonomics / politics —
  • The generality of language — human ‘syntactic’ language
ideas phd readings

Black on Black — Eugene Thacker (2013)

 

 

Black on Black

  • The Metaphysical, Physical, and Technical History of the Two Worlds, the Major as well as the Minor.
  • Fludd published his work between 1617 and 1621
  • Et sic in infinitum — ‘And so on to infinity…’
  • “the nothingness prior to all existence” / “un-creation prior to all creation”
  • “a box meant to indicate boundlessness”
  • “neither a fullness nor an emptiness”

Robert Fludd

  • The state prior to creation (pre-individual) as ‘the mist and darkness of this hitherto shapeless and obscured region’, in which the ‘impure, dark, and dense part of the abyss’s substance’ is dramatically transformed by divine light.’

Paracelsus

Goethe:

  • If we keep the eyes open in a totally dark place, a certain sense of privation is experienced. The organ is abandoned to itself; it retires into itself. That stimulating and grateful contact is wanting by means of which it is connected with the external world…iii 

“Perhaps, and maybe this is being generous to Schopenhauer’s text, there is a retinal pessimism that secretly underlies colour theory, encapsulated in the notion of black as privation (Goethe), black as retinal inactivity (Schopenhauer), black as that which precedes the very existence of light itself (Fludd).”

 ‘On the Black Universe’ — François Laruelle 

  • ‘Black prior to light is the substance of the Universe, what escaped from the World before the World was born into the World.’
  •  ‘As opposed to the black objectified in the spectrum, Black is already manifested, before any process of manifestation.’
ideas readings

The Concept of Infrastructure – Harman

Graham Harman — The Concept of Infrastructure

Heidegger’s Tool Analysis 

  • Theories about things are always not the things 
  • Things are not exhausted 
  • This is not a distinction between theory and practice — it is a distinction between humans and objects. It is not pragmatism — our relations to things comes through our use of them. This has nothing to do with consciousness and unconsciousness. Theory and practice both distort the thing – as it withdraws. 
    • Derrida comes out of Heidegger — trying to push against onto-theology
  • It’s not just that human’s can’t get the thing 
  • Islamic philosophy — fire burning cotton 
  • Any two things are not going to be able to make exhaustive contact with one another (from the black into the black – Fludd)
Kant 
  • The trick of German idealism — you can’t think the unthought because it turns it into a thought
  • Noumenon / Phenomena is actually internal to the phenomena

Objections — Against Objects

  • Undermining — by going downward to its pieces (atomism)  — cannot account for emergence. We can speak of things that are able to exist with their composite elements changing. (Emergence: When sum have some retroactive effect on its parts)
  • Overmining — More common in modern and post modern philosophy. Everything is language, socially constructed, power, event, effects… No substances. You cannot explain change this way: the real must be different from the actual. 
  • Latour — there is nothing hiding behind things — everything is relations (Whitehead, Dewey) 
    • Unformatted mass with no articulation … committed to the idea that things are determined by their relations
    • Industrial metaphor of truth — the ‘circulating reference’ between a line of actors which translate differences from one actor to the next.  Usable truth…
    • Occasionalism
    • Pandora’s Hope — Jolio links politics and neutrons — 
  • Tristan Garcia
    • The difference between the constituent and its effects is the thing
  • Harman
    • The thing is between constituent and its effects is the thing
    • The Third Table — Eddington
    • Artwork is not reducible to its physical constituents
    • The artwork is also not how it makes you feel 
    • Even when you create the object itself — 
    • The aesthetic works are better guides than the science — as they exist between undermining and over mining philosophies

Other Object Philosophies

  • Aristotle / Liebnitz 
    • Not good at dealing with nature / machines … complex elements 
    • Liebnitz — man is a substance, but a circle of men is not?
  • Kant
    • Tragedy of ‘not being able to access’
  • Latour / Whitehead tradition
    • Being able to talk about anything of any size 
    • Objects last instantaneously — the is no durability
  • Phenomenology 
    • Brentano (Freud’s Prof) — any mental act has a object, immanent objectivity ()
    • Kasimir Tardovski (Poland) — double up realities: copy in the mind and a real thing outside the mind
    • Husserl — didn’t like Tardovski’s mapping, as he wanted absolute knowledge. He kept Tardovski’s dualism but he pushed it all into experience (phenomena) 
  • Hume / Kant — they give the mind the notion of causation instead of God
  • Latour — secular ‘mediators’ allow — Frederick Jolio and the connection of neutrons and politics. There are different kinds of 
Critique
  • Not tearing things down — food criticism — Daniel Dennett makes fun of wine tasters — you need to get at things elusively in order to capture the spirit of things
Questions
  • Naive epistemology? No – relations. (Pan-psychic?)
    • Kant’s epistemological problem is a badly formulated ontological problem
    • Epistemology should be the rift between two relations, not a human problem
    • There should be one relation between entities – a general causal problem
    • Epistemology assumes that people and things is a radical rift
    • Just because I’m human and I have more access to the interactions between myself and objects, doesn’t mean I can’t access 
  • Latour’s politics
    • Latours a Hobsian
    • Never any court of appeal outside of the network 
    • Human society is mediated more by non-human entities than human ones (institutions, materials)
    • Carl Schmidt — there is no transcendence 
    • Publics emerge on an issue by issue  
events ideas

Reza Negarestani — Speculations on Anonymous Materials

Symposium: Speculations on Anonymous Materials – Reza Negarestani

  • Understanding of systems has changed 
  • The new understanding of a system… You do not need to understand the system by way of factoring in … a certain form of essence. All you need is two things, the behaviour and functional organisation. Technical understanding of a function is that functions are abstractly realisable entities.
  • Functions allows for an understanding of the system that is no longer chained to the idea of constitution. System is understood as a functional integration with stabilised causal components that are inferentially linked
  • System of functions, and properties that need to be amplified in order to be detected
    • “…the totality of the system is an illusion, all there is in an integration of functions”
    • This is the program of ethics – i.e.: “know thyself” – the experimental or interventionist tendency in philosophy. The self is a substance, that needs to be ‘worked on’
  • Defining explanation by the invention of causation 
    • invariance
    • ‘explaning’ the shadow requires dealing with it’s cause
  • Manipulation becomes constitution – intervention 
  • Simondon: Orders of Magnitude (reminds here of the different scales of materiality)
  • Foucault: The aesthetics of existence
  • The new understanding of a system… You do not need to understand the system by way of factoring in … a certain form of essence. All you need is two things, the behaviour and functional organisation. Technical understanding of a function is that functions are abstractly realisable entities. 
  • Functions allows for an understanding of the system that is no longer chained to the idea of constitution. This is functional organisation. System is understood… as a functional integration. A system has stabilised causal components that are inferentially linked by way of functions. This is navigation between causally stabilised components, mechanisms of the systems, in order to escape from the constitution it was supposed to belong to.
  • Understanding of behaviours is directly linked to what function is, in a technical sense. Behaviours are linked to tendencies — abstract properties that are responsible for the behaviour of the system… And you cannot identify them unless you amplify them. So there is a certain form of ‘intervention’ involved.
  • “Manipulation becomes the very understanding of constitution” – making sense of ontology means tampering with ontology 
Questions
  • There are different ways of generating epistemology and ontology at the same time as it’s dealing with experiential knowledge that the perceiver is implicated in. The technologies of the self … are very different (letter writing, dream analysis, etc.). There’s a difference between a practice and intelligibly… There is experience that the perceiver is implicated in
    • Seneca / Foucault — ethics as a design of conduct that manipulates self 
    • In art, you don’t have intelligibility — you have material inferences, but you do have a form of refinement… 
    • Art has multi-modality — but these things are of course implicated in the design, engineering worlds…
  • To know yourself – epistemic ethic — fallibility of materials 
    • System of functions, and properties that need to be amplified in order to be detected
    • “…the totality of the system is an illusion, all there is in an integration of functions”
    • This is the program of ethics – i.e.: “know thyself” – the experimental or interventionist tendency in philosophy. The self is a substance, that needs to be ‘worked on’
readings

After the Media… — Zielinski (2013)

“But even if we managed to promote not only heterogeneity, but diversity articulated into a mesh- work, that still would not be a perfect solution. After all, meshworks grow by drift and they may drift to places where we do not want to go. The goal-directedness of hierarchies is the kind of property that we may desire to keep at least for certain institutions. Hence, demonizing centralization and glorifying decentralization as the solu­ tion to all our problems would be wrong. An open and experimental attitude toward the question of different hybrids and mixtures is what the complexity of reality itself seems to call for.” — De Landa (1997), available online at: http://www.t0.or.at/delanda/ meshwork.htm. – p. 196

Not all pro­ cesses of centralization inevitably lead to dictatorship. “Hence, demonizing centralization and glorifying decen­ tralization as the solution to all our problems would be wrong.”154  — p. 211

The theoreticians from the USA’s East Coast differ markedly from the one-time computer hippies of the West Coast who with their metaphysics of telecommu­ nication, their strange theologies of absence of the body while at the same time propagating hedonism and drug use, dominated the 1960s and 1970s and to a large ex­ tent also made Silicon Valley possible.

Once again, allegories and metaphors of living organisms have to serve as technological products. Organismic analogies surface at regular intervals in the­ oretical discourse at junctures where things threaten to get seriously unclear. Life serves as a concept for harmonization — is not nature the model realm which is full of differences and at once identical with itself in its heteroge­neity? 

Clouds & Twitter

The techno-imaginary clouds, as linked offerings of computer hardware and software resources, do not fos­ ter cloudiness but instead its opposite: the transparency of the actions that take place in its environment.

In the same way birdsong (Twitter) is a singularly inappropriate com­ parison for an activity and a service in which online ac­ tivists consent to the compilation of statistics about what they like to talk about the most, their political and cultural interests, what they spend their money on, and so on. In a popular variant this concept of a collective culture of databases, generated by swarm like superorganisms, disas­ trously draws from a model of society which was believed to exist among ants. p.199 

Social and cultural daily life is now replete with fractures, fragmentation, and discontinuities. It is high time to considUer NdiffIeVreOnt fiCguAreLs of therapy.

Artistic processes or media works do not really interest the aforementioned French authors in contrast to Derrida or Deleuze. In his profound study of the painter Francis Bacon, The Logic of Sensation (1995), and in his treatment of individual photographs or philosophical thoughts on time and cinema, Deleuze has written an exquisite and implicit theory of art and media. The only explanation that occurs to me as to why aesthetics, as a vague field of activity, has become so en vogue for certain thinkers is that, above all, art is again being celebrated as a refuge in which insurrection can still take place and unfold. Nan­ cy’s concept of vestigium, of “residue,” in which possibly Rancière’s “undecidability” finds itself, corroborates this assumption.159 

For now one is certain with a curious determination of one thing; namely, the breakup of all dependabilities, gravitas, consistencies — especially with regard to the subject. Although it has lost “its last bastion, namely, to be the fundament of knowing” at the latest with “the objectification of German idealism.”160 Self-disempower­ ment and self-flagellation. 

Agamben: 

His formulation “pure means,” as the “inviolate place of expression,” we could substitute with the notion of pure media — with­ out causing any epistemic break — which determine the “new condition of objects.”  

“What hampers communica­ tion is communicability itself.”169 Agamben refers to the ongoing work of separation of artificial connections in his later text on the dispositif as a process of “desubjec­ tification.” This is now so far advanced that the prob­ lem with dispositifs cannot be “reduced to the question of their correct use.”170 Those who argue that it can merely reveal they are the products of the media dispositif in which they are captured. 

An Exact Philology of Precise Things

We are thus sketching the concept of a philology of precise things that is as exact as possible. To the extent in which it already exists as a practice in the concrete form, our philology did not come out of nowhere. Our philology maintains certain indispensable links to the tradition of individual elements in this edifice of ideas, which I have outlined above for approximately the last fifty years. A very basic idea is the notion that language can also be understood as an artifact and that artifacts themselves are eloquent. Things thing, as Heidegger says, including technical things. Depending on their degree of complexity, technical devices of communication can speak volumes. That was one of the basic ideas that was always floating around in the Berlin Institute for Language in the Technological Age. A Steenbeck was not just a film editing suite for 16mm and 35mm film, but also an aggregate for complex narratives. In the course of discovering Structuralism, the idea that technical things can be “read” arose; not as an ideology but as a source of ideas for a basic method of working. The intense in­ terplay between the act of taking apart and putting back together again is not merely a possibility to make linguis­ tic systems transparent and transformable. If we master this technique it can help us to understand “the game of generating new knowledge” upon which “experimental systems” [the systems in which experiments are con­ ducted]174 are based, which in a variety of disciplines are referred to as research. Naturally, the arts that take up the challenge of experimenting are included here. 

For then we find ourselves in the midst of a cultura experimentalis, whose components are technological media.

In the course of discovering Structuralism, the idea that technical things can be “read” arose; not as an ideology but as a source of ideas for a basic method of working. The intense in­ terplay between the act of taking apart and putting back together again is not merely a possibility to make linguis­ tic systems transparent and transformable. If we master this technique it can help us to understand “the game of generating new knowledge” upon which “experimental systems” [the systems in which experiments are con­ ducted] are based, which in a variety of disciplines are referred to as research. Naturally, the arts that take up the challenge of experimenting are included here.

I advocate a philology as exact as possible of nonperfect precise things, which will be devised and developed to support communications with others, to facilitate them, to make them a sensational, even perhaps scandalous happening. This philology is not interested in the systemic function of things.

Heiner Goebbels used them as the springboard for his production Stifters Dinge (Stifter’s things) of 2007.

Coro Spezzato: The Future Lasts One Day (2009) the Sicilian artist Rosa Barba 

Yunchul Kim — Epiphoria

Yunchul Kim — OK

Borelli — astrolabe — mathematical, technical, philosophical aspects… 

It is above all Rheinberger’s achieve­ ment that an expanded conception of what science un­ derstands by an experiment has been developed at this institute. The research projects that the biologist and translator of Derrida’s Grammatology into German has initiated and implemented revolve around an idea that makes all the difference. Here the experiment is like a “search engine” that facilitates what could be described as a fortuitous finding. Starting from the premise that at the beginning of a project “one doesn’t know exactly what one doesn’t know” (otherwise one wouldn’t need to do the research anyway), Rheinberger sets up the lab­ oratory as an open and adventurous space of possibilities where provision is made “for producing unpredictable events.” By following a specific plan, differences or vari­ able aspects, are produced.

The idea of a space of possibilities where both the inputs and out­ comes are not unequivocally defined is as far as possible from a policy of cybernetic short-circuiting that distin­ guishes the cultural technique of testing. 

A history of science and technology that is open, via the culture of experiment, for issues of communication and aesthetics, is one of the possibilities in the immedi­ ate future to advance theories of the media. Perhaps the proponents of such implicit media theories will not be accredited historians of science, but is that important? For whom would it be important? 

David Link — Scrambling T-R-U-T-H

Today media technol­ ogy pervades nearly all scientific processes on a massive scale, particularly experiments, as well as other prerequi­ sites for producing, evaluating, and disseminating scien­ tific findings. To know one’s way around at the interface with media conditionality is no more scandalous today than it was to engage seriously, as a philologist-to-be, with Spaghetti Westerns, comics, or audiovisual maga­zines in the 1960s and 1970s.

Such an envisaged expansion can also have effects in the opposite direction. Media theory that is not only open to the history of science and technology but also deploys its philological expertise within these fields will likely be in a better position to understand communi­ cative processes and much more. For centuries, science and technology have played a pivotal role in these pro­ cesses. Media theory can also provide communicative processes with thought-provoking input and particular­ ities that are valuable additions in an age of undecid­ ed identities, of horizontal vagueness, of over-colorful and blatant spectacles. With regard to technical things of communication they could also be understood from the perspective that the best way to critique a book that has been written is always to write a better one. 

Jake & Dinos Chapman — If Hitler Had Been a Hippy How Happy Would We Be 

The Media Have Become Superfluous*

Detlef B. Linke, professor of clinical neuro- physiology and neurosurgery rehabilitation, whose life was, with tragic irony, cut short in 2005 by a brain tumor, said that criticism is no longer effec- tive because people are far too occupied with surviving the crisis. However, I am quite willing to accept its relative ineffectiveness, by which I also acknowledge my powerlessness. The position from which I believe it is still or is again possible to formulate criticism is located on the periphery, not in the center. This position can be found every- where new ideas have been developed, before they are celebrated as fashions and trends in the metropolises and centers, before they are matured as products and marketed as commodities or services. Let’s take a chance and try to reactivate a profoundly dislocated point of view again.

ideas

Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transinidividual – Combes (2012)

Introduction 

  • Three (3) Simondon works have been published 
    • L’individu et sa genèse physicobiologique
    • L’individuation psychique et collective
    • Du mode d’existence des objets techniques 
  • “Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transinidividual” originally published as Simondon Individu et Collectivite
  • Philosophy of Individuation is treated in this book
    • Largely overlooked for his work on technics — allowing us to “discover something other than cultural pedagogy”
    • The collective and the individual — prindividual to transindividual “by way of a renewal of the philosophy of relation” 

On Being and the Status of the One: From the Relativity of the Real to the Reality of Relation

  • Two kinds of being oft confused: “being is being as such” & “being is being insofar as it is individuated”
  • Critique of hylomorphism / atomism — they don’t approach reality prior to individuation
    • hylomorphism presumes that the individuated “form” and “matter” are always already
    • atomism obviously presumes the existence of atoms, acting to form assemblies
  • Being as being is not one
  • Individuation
    • Passage from preindividual to individual — unfolding, sweeping, ontogenesis
    • Being is more than one “can be taken as more than unity and more than identity”
    • Thermodynamics metaphor — meta-stability
    • Metastability refers to  the state and where the least purity impurity suffices to turn things or change the system drastically
    • “Dephasing” is a process “which is relative to other aspects resulting from other individuations”
    • not the appearance relative to an observer (phases of the moon) 
    • not the temporal movement of ‘progress’ (Hegel) 
    • but an “aspect that is the result of a doubling of being”
    • the example of cosmic (sun) and molecular (salts and soil) —> plant
    • the example of clay (colloidal) and a mold (parallelepiped)  —> brick
    • in each case form is wrought, the “irreversible direction in which individuation operates” is ‘information’   
    • “being always simultaneously gives birth to an individual mediating two orders of magnitude and to a milieu at the same level of being” p.4 
    • note this process is not exhaustive –  in each phase of becoming  individuals remain more than one
  • Transduction
    • mode of unity of being
    • specific method
    • mode of relation obtaining between thought and being
    • grounded in the structuration of a domain
    • “physical, biological, mental, or social operation through which an activity propagates from point to point within a domain, while grounding this propagation in the structuration of the domain, which is operated from place to place: each region of the constituted structure serves as a principle of constitution for the next region” 
    • crystals in aqueous solution 
    • individuation is always in operation
    • Immanuel Kant  epistemology does not function as operation as the knowing subject is also in the process of individuation
    • dyad: energetic condition/structuring seed
    • “thought itself is nothing more than one of the phases of becoming because the operation of individuation does not admit of an already constituted observer”
    • transduction is “a procedure of the mind as it discovers. This procedure consists in following being in its genesis, in carrying out the genesis of thought at the same time as the genesis of the object is carried out.”
    • for Immanuel Kant epistemology was about defining conditions and limits for knowledge, for Simondon  knowledge is accompaniment of individuated beings as they individuate
    • here is something of an account of a practice theory divide – “philosophy having forgotten to take into account the operation of the real constitution of individuals, thus focuses attention on the ideal constitution of the object of knowledge.”
    •  Also here is something of an account of the object subject to divide: “if knowledge rediscovers the lines that allow for interpreting the world according to stable laws, it is not because there exists in the subject a priori forms of sensibility, whose coherence [Latour: correspondence?] with brute facts coming from the world would be inexplicable;  it is because being as subject and being as object arise from the same primitive reality, and the thought that now appears to institute an inexplicable relation between object and subject in fact prolongs this initial individuation; the conditions of possibility of knowledge are in fact the causes of existence of the individuated being”
    • A NEW MODEL OF THOUGHT: 
      • “We ca and him him him him him himnnot individual sense of the term no individuation we can only individuate individually ourselves individually within ourselves” 
      • “In transduction metaphysics and logics merge”
      •  “being in thinking… Are two sides of individuation in Simondon”
      •   “individuation between the real exterior and the subject is grasped by the subject due to the analogical individuation of knowledge in the subject” (how knowledge occurs)
      • the resolution of this procedure – that is the quality of the analogy is what “guarantees the legitimacy of the method” and “the adequacy of the description to reality.” 
      •  the
    • Transduction is largely analogical – i.e.: it presupposes that we can have “correspondence” between two self-individuating entities.
    • Simondon was critical of the cybernetic mode of analogy of his time – which just ‘maps’ topological structure from one domain to the other, whereas analogy only works if, “the transfer of a logical operation is the transfer of an operation that reproduces the operative schema of the being known.”
    •  “this is why see Mono specifies that the analytical method, which posits the autonomy of operations in relation to their terms,  is valid only in so far as it sticks to an ontological postulate stipulating that structures must be known by the operations that energise them and not the inverse”
    • “we may speak of co-individuation of thinking and beings thus known, whereby the method gains in immediate legitimacy” page 10
    • Oposing structuralism and bad analogy: “structures must be known by the operations that energise them and not the inverse”
    • Note that analogy here as a method stems from the analogy of a crystal in aqueous solution (individuation of the milieu and the individual in correspondence) — which gives us  a kind of recursion where a “physical analogy” explains the procedure of things: “this circle of the physical and noetic”
      • Latour – AIME – p. 86:
        “And now, finally, we can talk about correspond- ence again, but this “co-response” is no longer the one between the “human mind” and the “world.” No, we now have a tense, difficult, rhythmic corre- spondence, full of surprises and suspense, between the risk taken by existents in order to repeat themselves throughout the series of their transformations on the one hand and the risk taken by the constants in order to maintain themselves throughout another no less dizzying series of transformations on the other. Do the two series some- times respond to each other? Yes. Do they always do so? No. If it is true that it takes two to tango, it is equally true that it is meaningless to speak of co-responding unless there are two movements in the first place, each of which will respond to the other—often multiplying their missteps. What the canonical idea of objective knowledge never takes into account are the countless failures of this choreography.”