Uncategorized

Notes on Derrida’s “Structure, Sign and Play in the Human Sciences”

Derrida: “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”

From Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978): 278-93.

“We need to interpret interpretations more than to interpret things” (Montaigne).

Derrida refers to the history of the concept of structure and an “event” in that history (it should be noted that in this opening paragraph, Derrida himself highlights the bracketing of the term event in quotation marks to serve as a precaution). Even here, the choice of the word “event” is “loaded” with a “meaning” that structural or structuralist thought seems to preclude. Thus we would have to say this word “event” as though it were crossed out or sous rature (under erasure). And so, with these precautions and noting structuralism’s potential objections, Derrida chooses to speak of an event whose “exterior form would be that of a rupture and a redoubling” (278).

This rupture perhaps brings to mind what Althusser normally calls an “epistemic break”, insofar as Derrida notes how the concept and word “structure” are as old as the episteme of Western philosophy and intertwines deeply with the “soil of ordinary language”. In fact the word and concept of structure are metaphorically displaced by the “deepest recesses” of the episteme. Of course, Althusser attributes epistemological breaks specifically to Marx and the way in which ideological conceptions are replaced by scientific ones. Here, what concerns the notion of an “event” in the history of the “structurality of structure” is the way in which it has always already been at work and “neutralized or reduced” due to its spontaneous attribution of a center or point of presence, “a fixed origin”. The goal of attributing a fixed center to structure is in order to “limit what we might call the play of structure”. It is not to eliminate play but to limit it according to the “total form” of structure that the episteme has succeeded in warding off “the notion of a structure lacking any center”, which would represent “the unthinkable itself”. (279).

Continue reading

Standard
catastrophe, creation, escape, literature, micropolitics

Metafiction

Some inchoate thoughts on curvilinear transition and navigation between radically alien milieus.

Schoenberg : Xenakis :: Joyce : Negarestani

Cyclonopedia comprises a downward spiral into hyperstitional collapse or crack-up, alongside an outward spiral towards another universe. It may seem to perversely unfold a nightmare crypt of the death-drive, but this monstrous theoretical depersonalization is operating through the harshest singularities of space and time; it resounds in the howling of the magnetosphere, and echoes the cries of rebellion from the Core to the imperial Sun outside. Negarestani’s harrowing leper-creative legerdemain covertly unfolds gateways and meta-fictional portals; analyzed in the work in terms of worm-holes or vermiculations, gnawing consumption of solidus by void incursions that can only invade from without because they have also corrupted from within; the void’s infernal and instinctive will to devour solidity revealing the underlying softness of the solid, the internal decay and hollowness already growing and slicing matter-energy from within solidity itself.

Continue reading

Standard
affect, capitalism, creativity, machine

Malabou

Catherine Malabou has created a meticulous and profound new concept of the brain. Malabou analyses the functions which neuroscience has discovered, conducting a contemporary synthesis of neuroplasticity, crystallizing a new concept which acts as a curious new abstract machine with many parts. She names this concept plasticity after the plastic multiplicity of the brain; and one component of this concept expresses the brain’s power to learn and to heal, and even to reconfigure itself. Another component is transdifferentiation, or the power of life to remake and refold itself: the capability of certain (pluripotent, totipotent) cellular organisms to unfold into some or many other kinds of cells.

Continue reading

Standard
aesthetics, communication, mathematics, technology

Obliquity

Nils Guadagnin, Hanging stone, 2014 Mousse polyuréthane, bois, électroaimant, 28 x 28 x 125 cm

Nils Guadagnin, Hanging stone, 2014
Mousse polyuréthane, bois, électroaimant, 28 x 28 x 125 cm

Demodulation. There is always a monadic resonance to which a repetition is coupled in order to form a motor or compose an operational line, assembling at the limit a free phylum of machine interconnectivity. Every machine an operator or operand of another functional aggregate, assigned to an eternal repetition of variability, sweeping out a transversal trajectory through a self-constructing milieu of heterogeneous forces. The abstract machine injects new consistencies into turbulence, extruding flowing lines of fusion and mixture or extracting curved planes of development and organization; filtering out novel functions, concepts or compositions, refactoring or creating in contact with an outside. But does the abstract machine not express mutability in another way — by extending and exponentiating the variadic series of genetic practices (art, science, philosophy…)? Decrypting the image of thought again, in a virtual torsion of equal depth and power — art, science, philosophy, x…? Yet again is it not also the shadow falling upon the modulation of knowledges, eclipsing every enclosed topology determining discursive territories or structuring disciplinary forms? An abstract machine is indeed the shadow of a people to come, of a cosmic science-art-philosophy; unleashing at least in its virtual potentiality a deimaged and meteoric creativity, with a future beyond the terrestrial continuum of variadic practices and discourses.

Continue reading

Standard
assemblage, complexity, death, flux

Rivers

Jan Maarten Voskuil. "broken light blue", 2013, acrylics on linen, 120x90x10cm

Jan Maarten Voskuil. “broken light blue”, 2013, acrylics on linen, 120x90x10cm

The line of the river is a line of terraqueous flight; a flow flush with the substrate, conditioning and mutating its own channel, both wandering over the territory and slowly reconfiguring it, in a gradual mutation or decryption…

A river system is composed of intensive aqueous lines diffracted from a fusional substrate — a vorticial assembly of multiple planes of consistency in chaotic metastability.

Continue reading

Standard
acceleration, becoming, control, Deleuze, machine, Nietzsche, subjectivity, virtual

Technoscience and Expressionism

Alfred Muller -- Plaza Juarez, Mexico City 2006

Alfred Muller — Plaza Juarez, Mexico City 2006

Technology and Control

The technocrat is the natural friend of the dictator—computers and dictatorship; but the revolutionary lives in the gap which separates technical progress from social totality, and inscribed there his dream of permanent revolution. This dream, therefore, is itself action, reality, and an effective menace to all established order; it renders possible what it dreams about (Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense)

Gilles Deleuze’s indication of a certain affinity between technocrats and dictators seems prescient. By Postscript on Control Societies the new realities resonating between society and its machines, in the middle of technological acceleration and social upheaval, have become so intense that every interior is in crisis, and the entirety of society has to be organized to resist the eruption of these dreams into reality.

Continue reading

Standard