chance, cosmos, flight, Hermes, Serres, virilio


cloudy natural scene

Critique of pure laughter. Laughter plays madly through the body, as though suddenly accessing another layer of reality. The shock of the abstract. A pure line is embodied in the spatiotemporal dynamisms of the laugher — which are in the same ‘order’ as that of the joke… –Laughter shakes loose the world, discovering something which doesn’t belong; that which the world hides from itself. Things hidden since the foundation of the world (Girard has a book of this title.) —The laugh opens onto virtual events: pure space and time; modalities in the flesh. Laughter perhaps even regenerates the world, in a cosmic convalescence: the strangely familiar thing-beneath-things is shaken loose. —At the feast of the gods, laughter is inextinguishable (Serres’ Hermes).

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automation, becoming, difference, event, Hermes, noise, ontology


Sorcery. What is the limit of what a noise can do? A certain noise means extinction for almost all regimes — not only of signs; it is an explosion of intensity or desire which renders the channel inert, background. Semiotosis. Sonority refusing to yield a signal: noise induces a traversal of infinite depths which bursts the strata into pieces, rupturing the semiotic-discursive chains. Noise is also a pure becoming, the becoming-sonorous of an incorporeal field of virtuality. The elements of one or several assemblages are caused to pass into one another, initiating “unnatural” pairings. Noise is the friction, resistance of the assemblage against itself; it always already struggles with a tendency or power which means to control the channel and recode the outburst. The becoming-musical of noise is another development of this problem and involves inducing vorticial structures — establishing rhythms to respond to chaos, refrains to respond to the finitude of the strata. This is perhaps why music introduces us forcefully and as it were intimately to sorcery, direct contact with the Outside, and the annihilation of the judgment of God; refrains and rhythms awaken nomads and their warmachines.

Sorcery is an applied ontology of the depths, the extrusion of a probehead into the sub-depths of being — what passes beneath ontology, what escapes the functionalization-reduction of existentiality; it is thus an empirical investigation into what drives the apparently ‘natural’ deployments of political, legal, scientific, and mathematical hegemonies. Sorcery discovers beneath signs-particles a vorticial and monstrous “recursive” depth; it finds the cosmos inverted: the symbol is determined as that which the depths resist in favor of free expressivities, even as they are witnessed to spontaneously generate free sign-particles, ions of deterritorialization traversing the full body at infinite speeds and creating whirlwinds of reterritorializations in their wake. War machines and becomings are always already threatening to overtake the territory, to overcode the channel; there is always a more powerful molar regime threatening to interrupt our tiny molecular flow. The question of the line of flight and its attendant risks must be understood in both the military and theoretical sense simultaneously; becoming one or several lines means taking on nearly every risk imaginable. The problem involved in desire is machinic, a problem with the non-relation between the signal and the channel: alien everywhere, a nomad is a becoming-deterritorialized, an escaping and an escapedness-from-being into the depths or heights, and is precisely the differential element of two systems which cannot contain their elements. The parasite stands at the borderline between thought and being, permitting a cross-signaling across the infinite gap — activating the components of passage which permit a becoming or involution.

Sorcery discovers the noise and frenzy at the heart of the body — the parasitic-bacterial character which dominates terrestrial biota — and diagnoses the illnesses afflicting the full body, determines the resistant qualities of power to illnesses of various kinds. The sorcerer is the first empiricist in this sense — and the sorcerers’ secret (or dream?) has been to “watch only the movements,” to soberly identify components of passage; he is involved with measuring speeds, establishing coordinates on the plane of immanence. Nevertheless and perhaps uncannily it is also precisely this pure or ‘total’ empiricism which generates a transcendental coherence capable of acting as a relay for radically external powers. The full body resists parasitization by the desiring machines; its original state is blank, like the dancer’s pose and her grace; a potentiality which refuses to yield to possibility, merging desire upon desire into a sublime awakening into blindness. Sorcery is metabiological, metacivilizational — a matter of complicity with the anonymous. The full body is smooth, the surface protected from the violent probeheads of the desiring machines; and yet there are schisms — indeterminate zones where enough force can induce a breaking point, permit an encounter with the outside, which must still pass through a certain barrier. An attempted involution or passage cannot be determined in advance, the trajectory is essentially unpredictable; whether it will be a breakdown or a breakthrough cannot be known. First principle of caution.

A sign-particle erupts from a refrain, from the nomad, from any ‘static’ wave of deterritorialization; even animals, molecules, the stars emit these tiny singularities that correspond without imitation to the constellations of becomings that traverse music, poetry, literature, painting. This molecular dimension of becoming is precisely the noisy determination of universal history, its contingency or continuous torsion into the asignifying; and it is through becoming-molecular that the operations by which sorcery ruptures the barriers of time become conceivable. The movement of the flows of desire correspond to existential coordinates, conditions of becoming of incorporeal virtualities — abstract machines. The vorticial or warmachine-like organizations of the semiotic, computational, financial, ecological, philosophical and sociodemocratic planes of development indicate the intervention of another order entirely — an abstract war machine driving the assemblage into a singularity.

The internet is a terrifying semiotic war machine, even a plane of development for warmachines. It is increasingly clear the parasitic-hegemonic dimensions of globally-connected communication/computation networks, integrated deeply into social life, may very well pass unrecognized until it is far too late. The critical question involves the rate of development of signifying regimes — the extraordinary pace of interaction between elements of the contemporary infosphere permit the collective enunciation not only of particular phrases or images but complex assemblages involving components of expression, partial forms, passage. Becomings sonorous, visual and hypertextual are relentlessly synthesized to construct ever more powerful singularities and vortexes, to ostensibly utilize in an apparatus of capture — but on behalf of whom?

Second principle of caution. Becomings do not come cheap, and involve pacts with radically external or extra-cosmic Powers. Here be demons. Memories/becomings-x involve metamorphosis, mutation, molecular revolution: relationships of movement and rest, accelerations and decelerations are taken to their immanent limits. The dangers are numerous and grave, especially those special dangers for artists and writers (the suicidal trajectories that are inevitable for every line of flight.) Of particular concern in the context of precaution is the issue of deviation, which sometimes means decay and degeneration; a becoming does not always yield a higher, “rarer” type. You cannot know, a heuristic principle of caution: noisy becomings are inherently beyond the grasp of ontological determination. They convoke the involution of unrelated assemblages, spontaneously interchange components and molecular flows, initiate a generalized decoupling of the perceptual, semiotic and affective-desiring orders. We cannot know in advance the sense or consequence of the becomings traversing the smooth spaces of our experiments. A becoming indicates an ulterior dimension to being itself: molecular, spiritual and natural forces emerge from beyond the psyche, beyond the cosmos — memory demands an encounter with a radical outside. The only rule is to be cautious in experimentation: to exercise a calculating prudence in response to the movement of the signifier across the chill black depths of infinite space.

empiricism, entropy, error, French Translation, Hermes, information, information theory, mathematics, negentropy, philosophy of science, sensation, Serres, Untranslated Theory

Translation: Michel Serres and the Mathematization of Empiricism


The following is a translation of Michel Serres’s essay “Mathematization of Empiricism.” from Hermes II: L’Interférence. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1972. 195-200. Original translation by Taylor Adkins 11/03/07.

The law known as Fechner-Weber’s law can be written S = K log I, and read: sensation grows like the logarithm of the stimulus[1]. The definition of Information, in the contemporary sense, can be written I = K log P, and read: information grows like the logarithm of the number of equally probable states[2]. Can the analogy of formation result in thinking the analogy of the alleged phenomena?

1. The notion of information is used in physics and communication theory in a way independent from the sense of the message that transports it. A succession of letters forming a word deprived of sense for whomever contains an easily calculable quantity of information. This magnitude does not have any relation to knowledge, in its traditional meaning. It is independent of the sense of the message, it is it thus of the observer.

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