Four Birds Mixed media on paper (Catheryn Austen)
Openness only comes in the imperceptible recesses of infection: A faceless love. (Reza Negarestani)
Michel Serres never fails to remind us of something simple and indispensable. It is that all relationships are founded upon noise. In the beginning, there is noise, not silence. Even the simplest words arrive much later; and, at any rate, our words are still noise. The din and clamor of the many is sometimes frightful; and Serres’ work can be singularly terrifying. But Serres’ reminder is highly rational, even a joyful reconsecration of science.
Serres delights in showing us old meanings of new words, and vice versa; but it particularly to this word, noise, and its French cognate, parasite, that he gives unique expressivity and sonorousness. One of the primary meanings of noise in his work is chaos: the pure multiplicity behind things, without any pre-existing order or organization. All our knowledge is an organization of unorganized noise; noise is being-in-itself. In this context noise can also mean static, a cross-signal or lawless irruption, witnessed in the chaotic permutations introduced by chance into a flow of information, perhaps even from another physical system entirely. Static can also mean stationary, the white noise which persists even in the stillness of non-existence: in this sense noise also stands for the ever-present background noise, the racket and din of human and inhuman machines, over which it is often necessary to speak loudly in order to make oneself heard. Noise means that no system is without turbulence for very long, that there is always chaos, multiplicity and deviation; in short, there is always a parasite, always background noise, always depth and darkness beyond order and disorder. No system is an island, without relations, above the sea; but there are islands of ordered relations upon an ocean of noise. The universe is turbulence, but — and this is the strange and subtle turn — the converse is not true: turbulence is not universal, but local. It is absolute and relative at once: the violent sea becomes calm, a top falls, an earthquake ends. Still there are always larger forces, larger closed systems tumbling into chaos. Every system is an image of a system free from turbulence, an abstract or virtual composition. But reality is always chaotic, always in minimal deviation from every possible model: everything is in motion; everything falls.