boundary, catastrophe, evolution, information, language, machine, noise, ontology, production


Paul Klee, "Domes"

Paul Klee, “Domes”

The movement of the signifier through history is toxic, viral, plastic — a fiery line of abolition interposing nullity into intensity, linking pure space to the absolute threshold. It is only in following an escape-trajectory out from language, from the territory, and in concert with a dynamically consolidated assemblage of enunciation, that the sign reveals an intimate and internal logic of affirmation: dispassionate and frozen core of the signifier smoking beneath the burning skin of language. The sign veils a line of free and continuous mutation, but exhuming it necessitates accelerating language to its outermost exterior, viscous and horizontal plunge into Cthonic darkness. Ceaseless depths disfigure this primal cunning of the sign, enfolded and absorbed as infernal network infrastructure; the sign disappears into the matrixial substrate of expression. Signals ambiguate continuously contingent upon semiotic or semantic discontinuities in the substrate or the ultra-real (second-order simulacra simulating first-order reality.)

Striations distribute stuttering redundancies in order to make expression resist mutation, to harness a surplus value of resonance. Lodged within a fractally-triangulated cosmos-mind-body, subjected, signified, situated, language encounters its other or outside only by activating non-linguistic relationships to the non-linguistic, in becoming-otherwise — becoming genetic, machinic (and ontological at the absolute limit.) Let there be x; but only very special signs escape from purely signifying regimes and acquire this non-linguistic power of pure reversibility, activated at the threshold of the substrate: to remember x, to become-x. Power-signs which live the process of production as an intensive series of transformations, which live the infinite permutability of matter: these signs emerge in fusionability at infinite zero, when the sign encounters the desert of the spirit, when the viroid lethality lurking beneath the sign has encountered an other-place (genius loci) it can utterly infest: an emptied and inhuman outside across which it can propagate, a rich and variegated ontology to fragment. Only in the direct manipulation of the substrate can the conditions of possibility for the development of language be altered; the developmental toxicities linked to the sign can only be reconfigured at the terminal limit of signifiance (but this reconfiguration is effectively reconstitution according to ontologically-foreign continuities.) The sign at infinite speed fuses with production; the program must be pushed precisely to the point where free lines of ontological development and organization emerge. Pure differential morphogenesis.

The death core of the sign cannot be converted wholesale into a rhizomatic expressive substrate; after all, we even require some of this death in order to reinject back into the machine at critical points where the potentiality for an explosion of the crystalline type is present. This death is ourselves, our shadow at intensity=0. There is no evasion of the signifier which alters the teratological situation; there is only heterogenesis or acceleration of the monstrosity to infinite depth, sober atheology of continuous and experimental mutation: inflating the schiz to cosmic dimensions, fusing hyper-reality to glittering emptiness, unloading the death-carrying depth-charge of the signifier’s monstrous hatred directly into the rumbling depths of mass culture.

Continue reading

activity, alterity, birth, break, darkness, event, evolution, individuation, matter, network, neurosis, sexuality, speech, transformation, world






The world is hollow. In-itself anything is precisely nothing. 

A thing exists positively only in the precise sense that it exhibits certain forces, that it forms connections or disjunctions with other things, or assemblages of things, in such and such a way. 

Moreover, is it not necessary that at some point in the process of any machine, there is something that may and must become reduced to a generic and redundant unit? 

It may indeed be said that the machine presents us with the most spectacular and dangerous breakthrough in all of history, a breakthrough written into our desires themselves.

Love is not a question of signals, but of production. Not words but noise. The word is hollow: in itself everything means precisely nothing. Yet no thought is ever without its heretical dimension, its strange and apocalyptic promise — the dangerous promise of possible knowledge. 

Not only does nothing “exist,” but it is the essence of existence itself, and so all knowledge is a kind of nothingness: a rigorous silence, a selective and critical passivity, a dangerous and misunderstood weakness. 

Truth is a parasite, we are infected: knowledge is never without this vertigo dimension of being self-imposed, like a sickness which you acquire simply by imagining it. 

I emphasize this point precisely because it is all too clearly understood by the creature within. and is it not so that when its roaring becomes imperceptible, we encounter an ancient silence, without limits? 

Yet everything begins in noise.

continuity, diachrony, evolution, institution, language, linearity, linguistics, logic, sign, synchrony, time

The Language Mechanism: Notes on de Saussure

A language thus has this curious and striking feature. It has no immediately perceptible entities. And yet one cannot doubt that they exist, or that the interplay of these units is what constitutes linguistic structure. That is undoubtedly a characteristic which distinguishes languages from all other semiological institutions.

Ferdinand de Saussure (Course in General Linguistics, 105)

After having investigated the physiological mechanisms of speech, Saussure turns to consider the nature of linguistic signs. In his analysis we find a clear formulation of the first principle of his “new” linguistics, namely that the sign is arbitrary.

At first glance this statement seems to suggest an argument for an evolutionary linguistics, but Saussure draws our attention to the fact that “this very same factor tends to protect a language from any attempt to change it.” (73) As a system of arbitrary signs, there is no rational basis for language; paradoxically this makes language itself “inaccessible” to reason.

There is no logical reason we should prefer “sister” over “hermana,” and thus no grounds for argument about change. The great number of signs necessary to constitute a language (and the complex character of the linguistic system itself) also contribute to the force of collective inertia resisting linguistic innovation:

“At any time a language belongs to all its users. It is a facility unreservedly available throughout a whole community… [it] is something in which everyone participates all the time, and that is why it is constantly open to the influence of all. This key fact is by itself sufficient explain why a linguistic revolution is impossible.” (74)

A community naturally exerts a restrictive, conservative influence upon a language. Nonetheless, the passage of time also allows linguistic signs to be changed with “some rapidity” — hence both variability (diachrony) and invariability (synchrony) are characteristic of the linguistic sign. These two characteristics are “intimately connected” — a sign is only subject to change because it “continues through time.”
Continue reading

boundary, continuity, dimension, disorder, evolution, fractal, mathematics, mobius, rupture, science, topology, turbulence

On Fractal Geometry

Fractals are an example of a discovery from what claims to be a very new kind of science — a science of feedback, turbulence and emergence — which harnesses an old but ubiquitous species of chaos. A fractal can informally be defined as a recursively self-similar figure. They are not extrapolated from a geometric logic based on units. Rather fractals are constructed on the basis of an infinite program, such that the result ‘overflows’ any unitary dimension, and so cannot be said to (only) occupy ‘regular’ plane geometries (of two, three, four dimensions, or indeed any whole number of dimensions at all.)

Fractals are freaks, geometric monstrosities, pure chaos — and yet, a strange order persists behind their intricate complexity, a drunken infinity, a sublimely-tangled mess of dimensions. Fractals are a movement-image, but exactly what dynamism does a fractal capture? Not just a fracturing of the one, for fractals also construct their own plane of consistency and originate metrical regimes.

Continue reading

Arthur Danto, Darwinism, Deleuze, Deleuze and Guattari, evolution, hylomorph, identity, Manuel DeLanda, massthink, Nietzsche, philosophy blog, Theory / Philosophy, Uncategorized

Blogosphere Kinships: Activity at Massthink


I’ve been visiting the massthink blog (populated by Ryan and Aless) for a couple of months now, but, as a bad reader, I failed to leave comments. I was thrilled not only with the content, but more so with the way in which these two have organized their site. I was inspired to see their text page (which encouraged me to put up the bibliography, still under construction) and by the way in which they described their project.

They way that they describe themselves and their differing styles and personalities reminds me of the different forces at play between Joe’s writing and my own. He studies math, computer science, and philosophy, while I come from a training in comparative literature, literary theory and philosophy. Though that is one of the more obvious contrasts.

I first found their site looking at material on Nietzsche. Their post on Nietzsche focused on Danto’s reading, though at the same time it was evident that the authors were widely read beyond this one reading. I think it was here that I could tell that massthink had a great deal in common with the work Joe and I have been doing here at fractal.

I didn’t know at the time that our friendly exchange would be more than a coincidence. In a show of friendship and brotherhood, these two have extended a gesture of respect to the work that has been done here. The posts that they have discussed are important not only for their content, but also as a difference in tone: the posts they discuss are Joe’s from before he and I began collaborating together, and I think that it’s important to see the changes that his writing has undergone over the two years he’s had this blog.

In any case, one usually keeps reading because of an inspiration to think, an ‘affect’ to start. Reading through their site earlier this week, I found two extremely enlightening posts: one on Deleuze, DeLanda, and Darwninism; the other on the hylomorph and the monster (identity). I could not tell the author of the texts, but I can note a different style and orientation of writing. The first text is expository, and follows a line of thought that traces through different understandings of theories of evolution (I love the emphasis on a change in relation among parts and not of the parts themselves as primary for evolution). This text is clearer, more concise and and at least as important as anything I’ve read on the topic (but don’t trust me, see for yourself). On the other hand, their text on the hylomorph and the monster had a different approach to the reader, a different call, almost an assurance to the reader to allow difference to play itself out, to dissolve the images of thought that plague us through psychic/social repression.

Of course, this is only a small selection of their posts. These two know their stuff–none of the rhetorical foreplay, none of the abstract regurgitation of concepts. This is real philosophy, not diluted but distilled so as to capture its essence. It’s stronger that way, and definitely has a better kick!

affirmation, creativity, Dionysos, drives, evolution, human, libido, metaphor, morality, Nietzsche, reality, relation, truth, unconscious, will

The Genealogy of the Unconscious: Evolution, Awareness, Creativity

“What does man actually know about himself? Is he, indeed, ever able to perceive himself completely, as if laid out in a lighted display case? Does nature not conceal most things from him — even concerning his own body — in order to confine and lock him within a proud, deceptive consciousness, aloof from the coils of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream, and the intricate quivering of the fibers! She threw away the key.” (On Truth and Lying in an Extra-moral Sense, Part 1)

“To calm the imagination of the invalid, so that at least he should not, as hitherto, have to suffer more from thinking about his illness than from the illness itself! –that, I think, would be something! It would be a great deal! Do you now understand our task?” (Daybreak 54)

A Simple Theory of the Unconscious?

There is no simple theory of the unconscious in Nietzsche’s work. This is because the unconscious is complex, a site for transformation and not a singular ‘object’ of analysis. The unconscious would be everything which accounts for image-object-thought associations, and therefore that by which we could explain relations between thoughts and activities. However, Nietzsche clearly recognized that we cannot simply analyze the unconscious as a thing in-itself: it was very important for him that we should not be taken in by the idea that our explanations for things are adequate expressions of an underlying reality. Because in fact there is no necessary relation between human beings and reality; rather, we artistically create the mode in which we confront and understand the world. Thus there are no longer any laws of nature for Nietzsche: “…what is a law of nature as such for us? We are not acquainted with it in itself, but only with its effects, which means in its relation to other laws of nature — which, in turn, are known to us only as sums of relations. Therefore all these relations always refer again to others and are thoroughly incomprehensible to us in their essence.” (Truth and Lying, Part 1) We cannot reach the essence of a relation except by being deceived into thinking they are simple; like the will, which we are apt to conceive as a pure simple essence of participation, an ‘inclination,’ when it fact it may be the most complex phenomena in the entire world.
Continue reading

abstract machine, atomism, autopoeisis, chaos, code, complexity, Deleuze, differentiation, digital space, evolution, form, individuation, modularity, molecularity, morphogenesis, network, self-organization, Serres, speed

Machines, Morphogenesis and Complexity

Cellular automata

The harmony of the world is made manifest in Form and Number, and the heart and soul and all the poetry of Natural Philosophy are embodied in the concept of mathematical beauty. D’arcy Thompson

All organisms are modular: life always consists of sub-organisms which are involved together in a biological network. The interrelations between organ and organism form a series of feedback loops, forming a cascading and complex surface. Each organ parasites off the next, but this segmentation is not spontaneous. Rather, it is development itself, the decoupling of non-communicating spaces for the organization of divergent series. Creative evolution, self-organization and modularity are the same idea.

The theory of the development of metabolic modularity is called morphogenesis. ‘Morphogenesis’ in its literal sense means the creation of shapes or forms. But in the (relatively) narrow sense we intend it here, morphogenesis is a self-symmetry of the biological structure (onto itself) which allows it to develop in such a way as to divide while remaining unseparated, that is: to ‘individuate,’ or split apart into fused symmetrical segments.
Continue reading