Taylor and I are pleased to present to you the initial results of an ongoing experiment: recording our theoretical jam sessions, so we could capture our thinking more immediately. We invite you to take a listen.
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.
How to think the infinity of the city, where all is fire and shadow? How could we hope to see into its opaque and terrible darkness; or hope to enjoy a view unblinded by its brilliant light? A city explodes into a world; perhaps under the tension of this polar opposition — fragments under the weight of its multiplicity — becomes a cosmos, all streams of flowing light and immense structuring voids…
The dromology at the heart of the city is a politics of speed at once micro- and cosmopolitical — exposing the shocking noological paucity of the city, the blank and empty image of thought which powers urban modernity; it perhaps allows us to take stark measures of the stakes, to grasp the violence which had to be done to thought to permit this way of life. The “noology” of the city is, shockingly and even obscenely, the pious ontology of the void, at once theological and capitalistic — empty schemata, a form without shape, living without ideation.
“[U]topia is a fictive representation of an ideal social structure…”
Michel Serres names heaven the rejoining of the rational and the real. Is there not truly a disquietingly infinite distance between the celestial dream of this adjoining and the hell we have made of the world? What then is the utopian? A first provisional approach might highlight temporal disjunction, utopia as uchronia: a no-when as well as a no-where; utopia denoting a world, a city, a life (but also a thought) to come. What then is this “to come”? It denotes the trace of a critique of political temporality; in a cautious deconstruction it becomes possible to make concrete the sense in which the future itself has a future. Utopia, not only forcelosed place but also time out of joint. Yet its virtual assembly is inspiratory, and therefore even transgressive since it tends to engender unforeseen but dangerous speeds and forces. Within any city whatsoever, the pathway to utopia is already present, but crossed-out, erased, blocked. The “to come” is therefore a denatured future involving radical transformations of psychic and social faculties. The utopian involves the unleashing of presently imperceptible potentialities.
Theory 1: Epigrams and Involutions
“When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.” Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake
“We have to learn to think differently — in order at last, perhaps very late on, to attain even more: to feel differently.” Nietzsche, Daybreak, II.103
“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.” Montaigne
Preface. These collected epigrams, my thoughts of the morning — and occasionally late evening — this collection of azure and gleaming obsidian birds, I give to you today. If only you could have seen these terrible thoughts, these wicked birds in life, in joyful flight! I give this gift also to mark a break from this work, this first theory, this Theory 1 — for some of it is now alien to me. We are still becoming. Another theory, to refocus and amplify the first; incipit the second!
With infinite love,
Joseph Weissman, July 22, 2012 C.E.
“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.” (Montaigne)
Protocol. Perhaps one dimension of the aesthetic appeal of the mechanical is in the ‘purity’ of the interleaving of dynamisms — the quality of being a kind of ‘moving’ and even ‘living’ diagram that excites certain sensitivities. Each machine is already a manifold network of various configuration-spaces (involving significant mechanical, environmental, logical factors, etc.) — its singular and intricate behavior produced ‘simply’ by becoming activated and operated. I ask: how was it possible to lay out a common plane where signs and objects, code and data and things and people could all participate ‘democratically”?
Everything unfolds as though some master plan were pre-existent, as though the very organization of society, language and thought itself implicitly support a certain orientation, a certain set of virtual borderlines and existential territories establishing a kind of plane of consistency. The capitalist mode of production engenders the conditions for a radical destruction of the consistency of classical plans in place of a generalized decoding of flows; that is to say, flows of words, devices, actions, passions, people, all swept up into a decoded ‘polyvocity’, a collective elocution of a machinic assemblage complete with black holes and lines of flight, bursting with fractal islands of knowledge and complexity. The network illuminates.
In the duplicity of beauty there is the strange trope of a presence which is the shadow of itself, of a being which, anachronously, lurks in its own trace. (Levinas, Otherwise than Being)
Loyalty to Earth! There is a primordial immanence of the body, a primacy of lived experience; natural-and-spiritual forces are firstly constellations of singular point-signs, assembling lines of flight or death, and merely falsified (explicated at best) through signifying abstractions incapable of unleashing — and in fact devoted to nullifying — their chaoid variability. The Earth, whose infernal and howling depths unground the transcendence of organic representation, purifies the living death of abstraction through oblivion.
Consider the transcendent death-carrying agency transmitted by the sign, its inherent duplicity and danger. Signals hide virulent spiritual and natural forces beneath their opaque transparency, imperceptible and uncanny agencies strategically and fiercely engaged in combat against the tyranny of heaven.
The speech of angels would be the unvoice of the Godhead, the planetary annunciation of a regime of point-signals (logospheres) ungrounding or self-awakening. Desertification indexes fiery pathways to aridity, holey spaces desiccated by an eternal fire. Consider Heraclitus’ paradox of the inescapable proximity of warmth and dryness: “[h]ow, from a fire that never sinks or sets, would you escape?”
For the destiny of matter is to be swept up and conjoined to a differential field of explosions, overturnings — to be thrown into a combat zone. Continue reading