Infrastructure

ocean-storm-clouds

 

 

The essence of a channel is to transmit, to disseminate, to yield a flux. The problem of knowledge is correlative to constructing an adequate channel for the reception of an idea, the “proper medium” for a thoughts’ proliferation. Expressed in this way the “idea” is only an ideal problem, which in reality takes on an unsettling and radical complexity. The pure and implacable universality of the idea gives way to the realization of the innumerable fissures and leaks comprising the real — and quite organic — larval origin of thought. 

A kind of thought which, to be sure, still does not issue from myself, and which is neither memory nor imagination, but is rather a thought which breaks through, which traverses me. Hence the universal is always shot through with contingency, a pure implacability which rests precisely upon history, upon the conquering, the decimation of nomad flows indecently refusing to conform. The drive to systematically master desire, for a generalized and radical constructivism, the subtle and uncanny “inner” dynamism of our age, is bent upon a wholesale transformation of the fundamental essence of humanity. 

The breakdown of this machine, this doom upon the universal, is perhaps capable of reproducing itself virally — even as a snapshot of an image of thought in the very process of decomposing (and in relation to which all philosophical gestures seem but supplications, and — so much more rarely — vindications.)

A new medium always is, it must be, painstaking crafted: for once forged, a channel exists only the precondition of a flow, and even upon the continuity of the flux. 

I want to think the concrete peculiarity, the absolute singularity of any channel as such. The continuous flow of water through the machinery of a dam, of a pipe; the unending drift of signals across our always-on global information networks. 

The channel faces every military risk imaginable: takeover, subversion, blockade. But it also faces every theoretical risk imaginable: hyper-specialization, perversion, madness.

Yet the truth is that a channel is only and always a meta-channel, an assemblage, a channeling machine blending very different channels together, and which itself forms a channel in relation to even greater such channels. Whether of water, cement, metal pipe, twisted cable or realized in the very trembling of air molecules, the channel compels us to turn towards what remains, what is not swept away by the flows. 

This entry was written by Joseph Weissman and published on Friday, January 2, 2009 at 7:51 pm. It’s filed under channel, communication, flux, idea, knowledge, machine, network, system and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

11 thoughts on “Infrastructure

  1. Mark Crosby on said:

    Just read this AFTER posting yet another comment at LARVAL SUBJECT’s “Objectile and AGERE” thread, on what I call the Ennead of Engagement. This post is purely implacable! BUT, here’s a comment on the following:
    “A new medium always is, it must be painstakingly crafted: for once forged, a channel esists only [upon] the precondition of a flow, and even on the continuity of the flow”. Really nothing wrong with this, it just seems that the problem with speaking of “a flow” (or, of speaking about “relations”) is that it has already assumed that the channel is given. In reality, any channel must be constantly (painstakingly) maintained and utilized, or there will be no flow.

    Much as I thrall on Reza’s rat-infested “exhuming machines”, the chances of guerrilla metaphysics being secretly piggybacked on channels of authority, or conducted through abandoned channels that the rulers are no longer monitoring, as some absolute alternative, seems near to null? To use any channel, you become subject to its ‘terms of use’..

    On another note, though one relevant to the work of this blog, I wonder what Graham Harman sees as so horrifying in Deleuze’s “falsified Leibniz of ‘the fold'” (from the LS thread mentioned above). Deleuze, of course, is not the inventor of “the Leibniz of ‘the fold'”. As you guys know, Michel Serres is. So, what is it about this ‘folding’ of Serres & Deleuze that disturbs Harman’s object-oriented philosophy? Is there anything fundamentally at odds with the goals of speculative realism here?

    Thanks for keeping the channel open – even though most customers never express appreciation for the service! mark

  2. Of course! Thank you for your comments.

    I would agree that there’s “near to null” chance for metaphysics to become mainstream. But I wouldn’t say this is really the “problem,” or at any rate, the problem of philosophy “today.” Thinking connects with an outside, with the earth itself. Hence, thought can seem like the practice of a restricted minority. But I think there’s a problem with this kind of interpretation, right? Everyone thinks, thought is universal; WHAT is thought may change but the channels themselves remain. Like language, it is an immanent, concrete process — essentially experienced as a natural ability and “completely” shared by everybody.

    Thought is multiplied, and not merely limited, by the process of communication, by language. What if metaphysics is enacted as conversation itself? If the ‘energy’ pressing us towards new dimensions of thought is somehow correlated with listening, with speaking? If thought (metaphysics) is not simply and negatively conceived of as “bounded” by language; if conversation is metaphysics itself, as a relationship with an other who is absolutely separate — thus another who faces and yet escapes us, who both demands a personal response and also nullifies our presumption of primacy.

    Does the very structure of the process of language — speaking, listening — tell us much more than we suspected (that is, does indicate the essentially plural nature of truth?)

    At any rate, Mark, thanks again for your remarks.

    Joe

  3. I partially edited your original post, as a sort of experiment. I wonder how you feel about the result…

    Channels transmit.

    The problem of knowledge is: how do you construct a channel capable of expressing it? Ideas are ideal problems; the reality is complexity. The purity of ideas give way to the fissures and leaks of the real.

    Thought doesn’t start with a self, but rather traverses it. Universality is always shot through with contingency, resting on a history of non-conformity. The drive to master desire with systems, with constructivism, is bent on a wholesale transformation of the essence of humanity.

    The breakdown of this machine, this doom upon the universal, is perhaps capable of reproducing itself virally — even as a snapshot of an image of thought in the very process of decomposing (and in relation to which all philosophical gestures seem but supplications, and — so much more rarely — vindications.)

    A new medium always must be painstaking crafted: a channel exists only in flux, and through flux.

    I want to think the concrete peculiarity, the absolute singularity of any channel as such. The continuous flow of water through the machinery of a dam, of a pipe; the unending drift of signals across our always-on global information networks.

    The channel faces every military risk imaginable: takeover, subversion, blockade. But it also faces every theoretical risk imaginable: hyper-specialization, perversion, madness.

    A channel is always (and only) a meta-channel, formed in relation to greater channels. Whether made from water, cement, piping, or cables, or the trembling of molecules, channels compels us to turn towards what remains, what is not swept away by the flows.

  4. Thanks, Clare. You seemed to have cleared away many obscurities from the original!

    Regarding rights, as far as I’m concerned all my material is copyleft (except obviously for any translations) — so detournement is always welcome.

    Incidentally, you might be interested in Decoys’ remix of some of our articles (http://decoys.typepad.com/decoys/fractal-ontology/)

    Joe

  5. Clare Quilty on said:

    I’m particularly interested in whether you think – as the original author – that the remix has lost important things, cadences, points of concern…

  6. I’m not really sure how to put it.

    I am glad that you liked it enough to want to (re)write it…

    But I’d be gladder to hear what you thought about it.

  7. I too experienced nomad flows indecently refusing to conform once, but a course of antibiotics cleared it right up.

    Okay, perhaps being an arsehole is not the best way of getting one’s comment published, let alone contribute to a discussion. Allow me rephrase, then: I too wonder if you see in what Clare has done a useful subtraction of obscurities, or a threat to the integrity of the original propositions. Is the post’s rhetorical framing – its writing style and the heaping of metaphors therein – something that can be divorced from meaning, in your estimation? Does this say something about channel, or about the (creative) process that leads you to formulate insights?

    (I won’t give you my opinion, but I find it interesting that Clare left intact the image that I found most arresting: the breakdown of a machine that may reproduce virally, like a snapshot. Does the choice to use a triple mixed-metaphor have anything to do with the overt meaning of the post? Insofar as you claim to be traversed by thought, how would you characterise your level of control over the language you employ?)

  8. Sorry for taking so long to get back to you! Thanks for your questions.

    I like Clare’s work. The poetics of the work have been radically evacuated, and a semi-linear thought process exhumed from a messy assemblage of words. It’s a beautiful (re)writing: it provides clarity through distillation and while yes, there may be a “betrayal” in some sense of the underlying energy of the work, this kind of subversion by subtraction is also precisely what I’m talking about: when everything is swept away, what remains? I think Clare’s piece speaks closely to the asymmetry in the relation between the channel and the signal.

    I am not quite sure how to respond to your question about the relationship between poetic enframing and philosophical content. I think image and reality infect one another; that, ‘real’ meaning (actual thinking) is necessarily bound up with ‘confused’ images (poetic flights). I think meaning entirely depends, but in a very rigorous sense, upon one’s point of view — truth is the supplement itself: a Thing which wasn’t ever there which suddenly and terrifyingly becomes always-already here.

    I believe (as I’m sure you could guess) that there are senses in which philosophy and poetry are very close and nearly identical, and senses in which they are diametrically opposed. In all cases closer interfusion should always be cautiously undertaken, which is not to say it should be without joy.

    Joe

  9. I believe (as I’m sure you could guess) that there are senses in which philosophy and poetry are very close and nearly identical, and senses in which they are diametrically opposed

    I’m not a philosopher, and I don’t read as much contemporary philosophy as I should. I was fortunate enough to see Derrida speak in the early nineties and was struck by how his prose stile in oral delivery took on different nuances and became infinitely easier to understand – even for somebody with little or no French. The timing was the thing, the pauses in his speech. I find it a lot harder to understand him on the page and in English translation, and despair whenever I come across English-speaking philosophers who write in Derridean, or Foucaltian, at the expense of clarity of thought and purpose. I dream of a contemporary philosopher who could revive the dialogic tradition of Galileo or Plato – but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

    ‘Things should be as simple as they can – but not simpler': I’m not saying write philosophy that a six year old could understand. Much less forgo the joy. But there ought to perhaps come a point when the ‘poetic enframing’ needs to be interrogated, dissected and possibly discarded, if what it achieves is to conceal as opposed to reveal the ‘philosophical content’. So long as you admit – as I think you have – that a distinction can be operated, however provisionally and uncertainly, between the two.

  10. I realise that I might be coming across as supremely arrogant and unhelpful by the manner in which I’ve posed the question, if not its content. So can I clarify that I’m really interested in what your perspective might be, given you guys have an interest in current philosophical debate and (crucially) translation?

  11. Pingback: Place Hacking » Blog Archive » Geographic Fractilisation

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