banquet, communication, epistemology, fractal, history, humanities, information, interruption, logic, matter, michel serres, narcissism, ontology, parasite, physics, power, relation, Science / Mathematics / Technology, Serres, symmetry, time, topology, turbulence

Science and Parasites: Michel Serres and the Unification of Human and Natural Sciences

Theorem: the history of science obeys the law of diminishing returns. The first attack on the narcissism of science…

Second: if we examine the set made of the problem and of the actions that transform it, there is no doubt that it is, at the beginning, more complex than the thing itself or the process. Clearer perhaps, yet more complicated. The question can then be reexamined in order to try to illuminate this new complexity and maybe, to transform it. Thus we form a set: the chain seems unending. The strategies of intervention, the interruption of the process or of the thing, observation that seeks to clarify, photon bombardment, the inseparable association of the knowers and the known–all make complexity increase, the price of which increases astronomically. A new obscurity accumulates in unexpected locations, spots that had tended towards clarity; we want to dislodge it but can only do so at ever-increasing prices and at the price of a new obscurity, blacker yet, with a deeper, darker shadow. Chase the parasite–he comes galloping back, accompanied, just like the demons of an exorcism, with a thousand like him, but more ferocious, hungrier, all bellowing, roaring, clamoring.

Have I described the elementary link of a system of knowledge or its pathology? I do not know. Anyway, it makes work, gives sustenance. One parasite drives out another. The second attack on the narcissism of scientists. The shadow brought by knowledge increases by one order of magnitude at every reflection.

Can we henceforth do without an epistemology of the parasite?

Michel Serres, The Parasite 17

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art, counter-symmetry, creativity, culture, difference, divinity, enlightenment, equilibrium, history, image, information, life, nature, noise, probability, revolution, Science / Mathematics / Technology, separation, symmetry, war machine

The Future of Information

In reality, goals are absent.


Rivalry is only a spectacle; it is the state of appearance. Equilibrium is phenomenal, and the distance is real. The law of opposition belongs to phenomenology; the law of irreversibility or of falling downstream is real. Behind all representation.

Michel Serres

A Genealogy of Modern Science
Science appears to begin with the Greeks: somehow, somewhere, a resentful pre-scientific impulse begins to criticize the unity of life and culture. Some say that before this interruption, there must be an alien infiltration (the arguments for Oriental contributions to Greek culture,) but ultimately the “true” source is irrelevant, for it is this real criticism, this faithful engagement with the material culture, with everyday life, that is at once of the greatest importance, that is the authentic germ of enlightenment (Greek or otherwise.) For this criticism already contains a larval critique of creativity, of society, and most important for the development of a scientific instinct, a criticism of divinity and images. By Plato and Aristotle, science will separate itself completely from creativity, from works of the imagination and from art. Plato’s criticism of images (what we would call “advertising”) is well-known; Kant’s rejection of the empirical as a source for truth reproduces the same critique in reverse. In short, it is by rigorously separating life and culture that science discovers itself positively (i.e., as this objective dissocation, this symmetrically dis-sociative personality.)

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certainty, chaos, complexity, creative, decay, ontology, Science / Mathematics / Technology, space, structure, symmetry, theory, time, universe

Symmetry within Chaos: On Science and Difference

Symmetric Relations

A scientific theory classifies phenomena based on a universal set of structural relationships. Experiments and theories which deserve the name scientific thus share a coherent set of properties. First, they are systematic, meaning that phenomena as presented possess certain structural or virtual unities despite actual or potential diversities. A fully systematic theory is also complete in that nothing is arbitrarily left out of the universe of discourse.

Events, spaces and processes are presented as approximating a mode of relation which is in every case either symmetrical or complementary, and possibly even transitive (symmetrical and complementary.) Consider the relation between two inter-connected processes A and B. A symmetric relationship could be as follows: A exhibits behavior x when B exhibits behavior x, and A exhibits behavior y when B exhibits behavior y. Complementary relations, on the other hand, could be (for example): A exhibits x when B exhibits y, and A exhibits y when B exhibits x. Complementary relations are characterized by a disjoint or heterogeneous symmetry which distinguishes them from the smooth or homogenous symmetries of the first type of relation.
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complexity, deviation, form, freedom, information, instinct, knowledge, origin, society, symmetry, utopia

No Utopia


It is characteristic of our age that we no longer remember how to feel utopia. To experience the absence of place, a break in the flow of time. But the utopian vision is not merely a smooth or well-organized space outside of history, beyond danger and death. It is also a powerful impulse, a primary affect of sociality. The aporetic flash of insight which is glimpsed in the symphonic vision of an actual utopia is so overpowering it actually exerts an unbinding force upon thought, deforming and deconceptualizing, breaking truth down into its rhythms. Utopia as commonly conceived is above all a logical place, a space where things make sense. But what if they don’t make sense to us anymore? A utopian thought imagines radical transformation, and accordingly is a thought which transforms thought, an image taken for a radical act. But there is no act, only images of free subjects. Only endless contradictions. But we forget they are more than contradictions. They are indications. The utopian thought is above all a directed thought, a thought of direction. We can’t remember how to point to ‘nowhere’. We should not allow ourselves to forget how to feel the irony of the utopian thought. We can only sketch the subtle complexity of this ancient impulse, noting this or that feature. A general utopian political project is a false ideal; it makes utopia an act, something hard, inert, dangerous. Futurism is false; we must be against the generic utopia. We must try always to see the more subtle, and political sense of nowhere.
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difference, flux, God, image, imaginary, individuation, insanity, logic, metaphysics, symmetry, void


Wild Magic of the Unbeliever (Dave Makin)

How much of our lives are caught up, inextricably, with the imaginary? A dangerous question only because it is silly, and stupid; why? Because it’s answer is both simple and impossible. For we know: none of it is imaginary, it is all real; and we also know: nothing is real, all of it is imaginary. A dangerous idea, a poisonous idea: there is contradiction at the origin. An unrest, a turbulence at the heart of being — not smooth immobility. There is origin only through explosion, individuation, hyperdifferentiation.
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