Saturday, 8 July 2017

Association (10 year anniversary revised text*)

I would even say that this infection of the human which contaminates ideas that should have remained divine, far from believing that man invented the supernatural and the divine, I think it is man’s age old intervention which has ultimately corrupted the divine within him. Artaud (1938)
We like the writings of mad poets. We like how their words are made to go about naked of all nuance. There is no pausing in their stark usage, except perhaps, only a slight hesitation where they gather their resources and push on so as to achieve an even starker formulation. 

We are grateful to the mad poet because he extracts simple and absolute forms from that which we had previously considered to be a tangle of complication. 

We do not seek meaning in the mad poets’ writings, we know that their intent is meaningless, beyond even themselves. Even so, we are drawn to them, and perhaps the reason for our attraction is because of this state of consciousness that they achieve outside of meaning. 

Where meaning is absent, patterns of perceptible points become apparent in the scene. The pattern of points replaces the procedures of meaning and organises a different level of response. These points are the intense features of the scene, they are immediately recognised by the poets. 

Landmarks, as topographic points of intensity, will draw attention the moment meaning is suspended. They are visited and revisited as if they had been forgotten, they are compulsively returned to, rediscovered and reinvested in. They attract, over time, reinvented rituals and reinterpretations of the rituals. In the movement between these constant points there is described a territory, there is demonstrated a pattern.

It is not meaning that we find compelling in the mad poets’ words so much as a pattern of engagement in the world. Their writings uncover the basic forms of perception which we all use but from which most of us derive too complex and apparently formless meanings.

The simple shadows cast by Artaud’s words are similar in effect to those that neolithic structures make upon the landscape. The shapes thrown are basic, rudimentary, primitive and therefore eternal, generative, irreducible. 

We find the found forms in the mad poets’ works, in the pattern described by their works. And in their works they found the forms they found within themselves. In their works, the stone circles and the poetic injunctions, we find what they found in them. 

They found the found forms, and in them, we too find the found forms. They arrived at the patterns inherent to speech and to structure from which they set out when making speech, and making structure. 

And we arrive back where they started before their works and find again in them the forms and patterns which we too must set out from. The circle, the excavation, the erection, the line.

We do not find meaning in patterns, we only find pattern. It's all a recording. It is because we have pattern that we will later fall into meaning. It's all a tape. We return to the world those forms which we make and with which we are already saturated. 

We repeat the patterns in the world which we find within ourselves so that we might then recognise these forms and know ourselves through them.

We recognise the forms so we recognise ourselves through the forms. External construction of patterns in the world permits our further engagement in the world. 

From realisation of the first pattern we derive a second pattern that we are then impelled to realise. The second pattern becomes the territory from which we may return to the first pattern or venture towards a third. 

Journeys, pilgrimages, compulsive returns, from and to topographical features are driven by the inherent meaninglessness of pattern. The world of pattern is all landmark and no referent. We are drawn by structure, by shape. We are repulsed by structure, by shape.

For us, there is no ‘angry god’ in the volcanoes. There is no tempter in the desert. There is no serpent in the orchard. There is no intelligence in the depths, no affect in the sky. Meaning is a reading of a world that begins from estrangement. 

Wherever we are denied the topographical (or geometric) element of our existence, we create meaning. Where we are denied the mountain, we cower before an angry god. Where we are denied the desert, we encounter an agency of temptation. And so on. 

Meaning refers only to denied territories and forbidden patterns. We produce meaning as compensation for exclusion. The tendency to fall into meaning, and out of pattern, is a constant of aggregating consciousness (even if it is a process that may also be disrupted). 

We re-enter a forbidden place by our recalling it in our memories. We return to it ‘in our dreams’, in our evocations, by our conjuring up of its features in our mind’s eye. Don Genaro returns eternally to the mountain he will never return to, and which he has never left.

We combine a territory’s memory-suffused structures with the processes of our consciousness and thereby change it for ourselves. As we pass from a register of pattern to one of meaning, we transform the territory, through remembrance, into our map of its features which then, in turn, come to symbolise our exclusion from it. 

Meaning is always the subjective reproduction of a vestigial territory, as an ideal of consciousness, at the point those recalling it become aware they are categorically denied access to its interior. 

Our later returns no longer arrive at topographical patterns but are driven by an impulse to find the locus for a trace of our selves. We desire our own tethering, becoming our own scapegoat, to the meaning, to the tradition, which we are certain is a designated site, a point of origin or entry, that we have ideally located somewhere in the wilderness. We listlessly traipse between the stations of the poets. 

It is from the organisational principles of pattern that we learn how only found objects may be found. Lost objects will not be found as they belong to the domain of meaning, which is also the domain of loss. 

Lost objects resist finding. The function of meaning is to relinquish lost objects which only exist in order to be relinquished. And meaning is the perpetual compulsion to relinquish lost objects (which never degrade but bob insistently like a floating island on the sea of meaning). 

Pattern is contingent, accidental, fleeting. The found objects of the domain of pattern, even as a structural (constituitive) call and response between an exterior and interior, do not necessarily persist (the patterning of patterns which is determined by a given redundancy is not necessarily always there). 

A church tower at dusk is a lost object, suffused with meaning, functioning as the output of an unprocessable defeat. It is all a recording. The breeze through a field of barley is a pattern, a found object found. It is all a fake. And only what is found, because it is completed, may be completely erased.

There must be found objects out there before we may find things. There must be lost objects in here before we may lose things. This is the basis of all the possibility, and potentiality, of all reproduction. 

Just as 'Christianity' was operational before there was Christianity (a problem set in Purgatory by 'Dante' to 'Virgil'), and just as there was 'capitalism' before there was capitalism, and just as there has to be 'communism' before there may be communism, so the rules of every domain are set as a practical return along pre-existing pathways to recognisable features. 

No domain will survive if it is dependent upon willed collective activity alone. All elective relations, stripped of compulsive reference, and thus structured redundancy, will be found lacking in reality - a chronic affliction of all radical and schismatic experiments. 

It is only through derangement, our own and that of others, that we may again recognise our proclivity for marking out meaningless patterns. Amongst the lapses of memory, the slips of meaning, we again make out the rippling echoing forms. 

For a moment, we find again the found forms that we have carved into the external world and which are carved into us. But already too late, and even as we try not to remember them, the patterns laying over patterns, we begin again to employ them as the means by which we will appropriate ourselves, and ourselves in the world. 

*Originally published in 'Species Being and Other Stories' (2007) 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Fragments of night 2

Nobody now living remembers meaning. And that is not to say meaning is what came before all of this, it was just the point of departure for everything that followed, up to and beyond the suppression of meaning. Because of meaning, the rest of it (including the end of meaning). Certainly, there was also 'something', if it makes any sense to refer to it, before meaning but it remains remote and undetectable. Before the first is meaninglessness, which may be referred to but which also escapes all reference. This is not an argument for the state of meaninglessness belonging to 'before', nor for the 'after', the sequence beginning with meaning; it is only a tracing of the path of that which falls out of the world. Even though there was something remote before the first, the true first was meaning. But then something happened to meaning and it was no longer meaning but had become significance. Or it did not change into significance but was ousted by it. Or rather, the gap that meaning left was filled, and of course altered, by signification. Something happened to meaning and it began to slowly corrupt, or it immediately collapsed, and then there was significance. Perhaps meaning was captured by another order of sign relations which is to say it became ill and it quickly, or slowly, became 'sign relations.' Perhaps meaning was just a 'primitive' form of signification. Our utopian instincts cry not, but we don't know for sure. We imagine that meaning is not quantity; we infer that where signification is, meaning isn't; these meagre fragments must suffice. Why did meaning perish? We don't know. All we can say is that the Enlightenment is the name for the appearance of a system of abstract representation (where depiction, portrayal, likenesses and so on had been, representation now stood). Did the Enlightenment 'kill' meaning? It seems unlikely, the agent of change is rarely also its beneficiary. It is possible that meaning had decomposed up to two centuries before Enlightenment tendencies emerged. Nobody noticed, nobody marked it, nobody remembered. After meaning, signification emerged within the general framework of representation. We have not assigned a meaning to meaning because we cannot remember it, nor would we recognise it if we did. The system of representation cannot itself be represented, nor can it show what it has suppressed except by representing it - everything represented is something represented and not something else; everything signified is something signified, and not something else. Nothing that is not of our world may appear within it. Then, how do we intuit or refer to that which falls outside of our systems of communication? That cannot be told. All we know is that meaning died. Being a system of alienation it too has become alien; we know of its history now only because we could not have arrived at this point without having passed through a 'necessary' meaning stage. But we still remember signification and so we may attribute significance to it. By signification we mean the system of sign relations whereby a relatable quantity is indexed to the circulation of its abstract indicator in the world. Every system generates its symptomatic displays of epiphenomena and here  the system of remote equivalences which supports, and is supported by, signification, raises the spectre of nonsense to greet the new horizon upon which the interchangeability of all terms became established. Nonsense is the operation of a doubled stochastic method whereby random units are selected environmentally by random method. The profound hilarity generated by 'chance meetings' (once called 'surrealism') where all meetings are chance meetings and all meetings are also systematically contained (and therefore algorithmically certain to occur) is, if not the last exertion of the meaning faculty, then a high quality reproduction of it. The capacity for nonsense is muted under the inexorable weight of possible combinations of terms and even its late and trivial forms (such as googlewhack) have shrivelled since probability perfected itself and sublated gambling into its mere representation. Today, there are no wagers, only losing bets. Then, just as meaning collapsed before the advance of signfication, so, as it became increasingly saturated with data, signification deteriorated upon the riparian shore of its own Lethean waters. As nonsense is to meaning, a transitional form generated within the ecoclinal terrain of representation, so 'information' is to signification's withering away before the data-form. 'Information' first appears as the raw material of signification, the stuff of decision making, and is apparently captured and channelled by the citadels of strategic consciousness. But institutions of the state, and the commercial para-state, the general apparatus of imperial circulation, little suspects that the logical expansion of information involves the eventual expulsion of both signification and its sign relations. Information is the willing and 'useful' form data takes in the world of signification. Then, as it saturates the capacity for strategic thinking (too many combinations, too many paths, too many outcomes) it begins to burst its constraints, and at last escapes into its own life-world. The requirement of signification for redundancy (and by implication the transportation of messages between sender and receiver positions) becomes inefficient wherever data is already immanent to, and thus autonomous from, any conceivable act of subjective 'retrieval'. Data 'advances' where processes for relating are supplanted by the relating process itself. It exists always just beyond the capacity of strategy to deploy it; its elusive proximity is the rough edge that erodes all containment of its flow within 'channels' - data is realised as the systemic expulsion of use value, a regurgitated pellet or husk, from world-production. If meaning is the tool that extracts sociability from simple immanence, then it is later incorporated as such by the machinery of signification as social relations transform themselves into abstract systems. And if significance is the apparatus of production within the regime of circulation, then data is the return of abstraction from the regime of signs to immanent process 'at a higher level'. Data is robotised nature, digitised matter. Where the death drive of data has suppressed signification, all units become already immanently related all of the time, the tendency of its system is to a 'telling' silence. Data discharges energy from its system where immanence implies rest not 'flow'. There is no traffic, there are no messages, there is no distance, there are no relations. Then, the tragedy of the end shall not be located in the end itself but in the end's seeming willed conformity with the familiar traits of the end: failure of organs, infirmity, dispersion, amnesia, corruption, retreat, weakness. Upon reflection, we might prefer for the end to arrive in youth where it could be met from an apparent position of strength, where what is fated to die would die in a state of amor fati. But no entity chooses the terms of its own incorporation. Affirmationists, such as the devotees of accelerationism, will be undone by the infernal stagnation of data in the same state of wretched unpreparedness as everyone else. We might prefer it if meaning had committed suicide at the beginning, derailing all that has followed. We might also comfort ourselves, in contemplation of 'end times' motifs, by imagining that we would know when to pull the plug before things got out of hand. But integrated decisions are a function of operability and it is rare to recognise incipient impairment without also adjusting to it and thereby revising the category of what is intolerable. The line in the sand will always be redrawn, it is a play that implements the rule where adjustment must always compromise principle. And the days pass. The cycle of the sequelae of meaning, deriving from a retrieved ur-state of undetectable meaninglessness and drip-feeding into an imminent state of post-signification data autonomy, has been either gradual or rapid, but always relentless. It has always operated subliminally as the changing, unchanging ground for those perpetually  adjusting to it. Positive feedback in environmental systems becomes its own anaesthetic. The truth of an epoch, which is inseparable from its recognition, always arrives too late for awareness to divert process from its fated conclusion. Such truths are abandoned by their epochs in retreat and become monuments in retrospect, autotomic tails thrashing about as verdict, as summary, as tab on a file in another system's directory. The tragedy of the death of meaning is not that it should die but that it meets its end through a representation of chatter, a travesty of chatter, instigated by computer mediated technologies categorically hostile to chatter itself; the hard-programming of such technologies is directed towards nirvana, the horizon of absolute silence, to the domain of for-itself data.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Slogan to be distributed at Spain's democracy camp:

The proposed solution never amounts to anything more than the incorrect formulation of its problem.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

On the aphoristic form as it is subjected to digital imperatives

What shall be lost from wretchedness if it is to be forced to express itself eloquently? Just as the function of the memento mori refuses its own tendency to mere ornamentation so the aphorism must resist its preference for reducing difficulty to palatability. We discover, finally, that it is inappropriate to capture affliction as a succinct motto - inappropriate because the bon mot will always falsify content in the interest of circulation - the aphorism is a distant, and rehearsed, approximation of speaking directly. Let difficulty be difficult. Nor is the neat and gleaming form of sub-commodity jingles (whether synoptic, metonymic or distillatory), the meat and drink of unpaid commentators, an appropriate means for reflecting upon the fractured world which is, by definition, chronically incomplete. Let distress be distraught. The aphorism should not seek closure in itself, nor express some rhythmic satisfaction with what it is, separated, completed, contented. It should not communicate tortured content in pleasing form. Let suffering, suffer. The aphorism on wretchedness should communicate wretchedly, the aphorism on suffering should also suffer. Distortion of form has become the only viable approach to distorted contents which is not at the same time an expropriation. Hitherto, the reactionary aphorist has sought to encapsulate one thing, one content, within its commensurate form and to write up the convergence as if it were found in natural law. The measure to which the aphorism is a reactionary mode, is also the measure to which it excludes the mess of its contraries. Let loss, lose. In itself, the aesthetic instinct towards clarity succinctly expresses the protocols for order afflicting the authoritarian personality. Seeking out distinct outlines in objects, the reactionary is constantly thrown back on confronting only that which is, and for whatever reason, already clearly delineated. The short circuit into affectedness and narcissism is a constant danger in reactionary discourse where empathy for the object is reduced to a stylisation.  Let sincerity, after all, be sincere. When confronted with the guillotine, which reduces the imbecile aspirations of the bourgeois state to its core mechanism, the  reactionary draws his finger about his collar, 'A letter for me? Drop it in the basket, I'll read it later.' Decapitation extracts a literary riposte in the form of the aphorism, and for that reason, the aphorism has always been a tool of the aristos.  The aphoristic mode has only ever appeared as a displaced acknowledgement of immediate danger. For that reason, the reactionary (one whose elevated status is reduced to a political argument for what is already lost) cannot allow himself to directly express his shame at the disarray from which he emerges, but instead plans a defence against the growing jeopardy of his situation by adopting the form of arch distance. Traumatic separation from  the flow of speech, where it is not massified as quantified  content, is driven into the truncated form of niche aphorism, which gestures towards summing up all that precedes but also all eludes it. The aphorism makes a show of cutting itself from those utterances which came before its performance as 'first' utterance - a move that suggests an unacknowledgeable severance of the aphorist from his world. As a perpetual emigre of the ancien regime, not of the world but for it, the aphorist compulsively reassembles fragments of discourse, as parts of a never to be mended pocket watch; every well-tempered announcement captures its moment lightly. And in reciprocation, the world relinquishes the aphorist, heavily. Behind its mask, the reactionary aphorism is a displaced grimace of terror. The aphorist's affected unconcern in perfecting his trivial, and detached, judgements becomes a sort of net that he throws over substitute objects, against which he stages well-executed practical jokes and ambushes, whilst the thing itself, the thwarting and convoluted world, his parent, his place, eludes him. And each little trap that he sets is a misdirection, a distraction, from the trap of history that has severed him from his sense of ease in the world, whilst also supplying him with the ubiquity of his form - this radically truncated mode of thinking clutched at by the ex-ruling class, discourse's portable property, which may be practiced in any cramped garret that must be made the best of. Then, every aphorism evokes a guillotine set up in the market square as glimpsed from this drawing room (soon to be divided up into flats for the paying off of tax arrears.) And every aphorist, a tragic sensibility, permitted only a forlorn and impractical hand luggage, standing at the point of departure, is unable, but convincing himself unwilling, to bring into his last conversations the terror, the horror at leaving, so waving a handkerchief to those at the window, not quite catching their eye, and who anyway, might not, would probably not, could certainly not, tolerate his blubbing. Oh, boo-bloody-hoo, was the motto of the hour, on the cusp of digital going fully automated post-intimate. There was a moment (or was there?), before affect fell into line with memes, when some humans tried to tell what it was that was troubling them - then, they were overwhelmed by the volume of all that interchangeable and counterfeited confessional blow-back (a hundred million bottles washed upon the shore). Then, even the critique of conditions, for circulation's sake, cleaved to inexorable truncation. Then, suddenly, nothing could be said that was not also a strategy for extracting something in exchange. And then, the aphoristic became inseparable from the soundbite. And then, everything was memes. And then, all that mattered was no feelings, but only 'smarts'. For everyone. The desire for things to be what they are supposes a fort/da mode of command, a savage hearted eminence issuing notices of summons and dismissals from its cot to the furthest ends of the kingdom. Quite early in pursuit of its own project, creative self-expression lapses from sleight of hand to self-misdirection. The late aphorism cannot derive comfort from reactionary propositions. And in refusing the aesthetic of detached pleasure in distinct objects, where separation is typically expressed as a break from, or decomposition within, an earlier condition, the later aphorist must formally 'socialise' outlines as these function as indicator of an object's content. Where the reactionary aphorism collapses under the weight of its growing meaninglessness, the later aphorism appears. This, the later aphorism, is neither a summons nor a dismissal of fatal essences but expresses a compulsion to uncover hidden and multiplying contradictions. Let ugliness be ugly, even as it strives to the contrary. In passing on the opportunity to say one thing, and unable to prevent itself from saying two things instead, it cracks its own formal integrity. The later aphorism is always expressed as a broken form exposing the bones of at least two antagonistic principles - in saying two things, it suggests the crowding in of yet unwanted others. It eschews the ideal of resolving the difficulties between form and content by means of condensation but, militating against its own concision, suggests the viral, whatever proliferates, and the dispersed aggregation common to all things appearing within the commodity apparatus. Then, suffering should not be communicated if it is not also shown to be conditioned, at least in part, by hope for improvement. And wretchedness should not be communicated as a distant unitary principle but must be exposed as a terrifyingly frayed knot of otherwise unknowable but always multiplying afflictions. For it to find better expression, the later aphorism should overspill its formal presentation; the break in its rhythm becomes, and this is the joke in the form, 'precisely' the leverage point on the content of its object. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Fragments of night 1

Sedentary existence is also a journey. We only learn how far we have unravelled in crossing the distance back to what we once were. The inherent ability of every fraying life to return to an earlier position is strictly limited to an unknown number. Our habit of resilience, the will to elasticity, eventually must give out, at which point we cannot sustain any longer the claim on our past identity. A day will come when we find ourselves both too far out and too burdened down, and although we will remember the path back, it will be too arduous for us to take. On that day, the perpetual coming apart that, combined with the miraculous wakening back in our own bed, comprised every self's unique history, begins a new phase and takes over as our defining principle. Every alteration in our circumstance, from this point onwards, is decisively and irrevocably fixed as the fated platform for the next departure. From that day, every attempted return will arrive back only at the principle of there being no chance of return. A life, which previously had known both vagabondage and returning home, expenditure and recompense, is now all lived in its taking leave.

Friday, 12 August 2016

What Judas did as a content overflowing the vessel of what Ham did

It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal. 

Traditional society is conservative in the sense that it seeks to conserve its institutions over many generations. It is not conservative in the sense that it is less 'tolerant' of transgression than the Enlightenment state.  Traditional society is not tolerant at all, it does not reproduce around the principle of 'tolerance', and yet the abominations that it cultivates, all that may be contained and processed as 'man' in the reveries of God, far exceeds what the modern state recognises as human conduct. As a product of traditional society, Judas extended the logic of the Prodigal Son to the point of snapping the elastic tensions and rivalries generated by the paternalistic relations which routinely structure the small group form endemic to extra-state and para-state life-worlds. All that may be spoken and all that may be heard (the sum total of what God countenances) within the constraints of the small group is personified by the Prodigal Son, who remains eternally of the same dimensions as Ham son of Noah, an 'all' that is destroyed by Judas who stands at the historical threshold to state jurisdiction. It is Judas who introduces state dimensions into para-state small group relations. The exceptionality of Judas is not to be found in the scale of his vengeful behaviour towards that distant descendent of Shem, a scale that is of a common and fatalistic type, but in the compatibility of his intervention with state process. His betrayal 'takes things too far' in what can be understood at one level as the ordinary testing of boundaries which is the traditional role of the subordinate male. However, it also disintegrates the possibility of small group autonomy by exposing its contents to the scrutiny of external authority. Judas separates himself from mere prodigality by escalating his complaint into an abstract form: an invocation, or 'calling upon' the agency of the state. In later eras, the form of denunciation itself will develop further, its vengeful character replaced by the logics of propriety and appropriate ordering. But even at this early stage, Judas successfully introduces into the vendetta-scale conflicts of his milieu, a distinctly other register of social force, and thereby effects (without his intending it) the obliteration of his own life-world. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Back feeding

Historicist arguments for the conversion of past trauma into a pre-condition for progressive social transformation (the 'good' war, or the proletarianisation of newly colonised populations) always feels like betrayal.  History, under these terms, is then a matter of willing submission to, and identification with, the objective forces that have colonised the autonomy of past events. Retroactive omelette/eggs rationalisations may be presented as a 'project' only where commodity formations have already extended into, and thus polluted, everyday personal life events. Only those who have been personally damaged, may historicise. For these, 'progress' is demonstrated, in line with their metabolisation of domination's rationale, via a calculation of the historical usefulness of past sufferings. Traumas are fed back, like a regressing raw material, into the production of those 'rights' enjoyed in the present. Sequelae of the proposition, who controls the past, controls the present are realised in sentimentalist invocations of the agency of the heroic people; thus, 'people fought and died in the war for you,' is never anything but a mechanism of control operating within present relations in the place of 'useless' mourning for past losses. Where it is encountered, this manner of conflating different orders of agency (individual 'sacrifice' with state military strategy) is ordinarily merely enervating, but where it solidifies into a political position, 'The Long March', 'the Great Patriotic War,' it becomes dangerously transformed into a disciplinary attractor of otherwise unspeakable impulses. These inchoate, historically activated, tendencies, cathected towards some or other flag of convenience, are also then regimented, and set in motion - as correctives applied to unpatriotic inclinations.