... A note on Sondheim (fading, exploding, fading)...
One of the more ambitious stuff going on here is the attempt to formulate answers to analyses like the one from Alan Sondheim below (see http://www.anu.edu.au/english/internet_txt/net4.txt for the complete source text).
'Answers' is a bad word, however, it's more a matter of writing into this kind of text floating on the dim moonlit field where art meets with philosophy on a common ground of howling fear and throws it's inward gaze back onto society, deflecting despair from the individual to the unresponsive dull mass of internet text users.
A question, rather, of materialising on absent readership through vanishing authorship (absent because 1: text on the internet remains to a large extend unwritten until it is printed, or till the industry finally comes up with a 'materialising' screen rendering, visualising the traumatic aspects of text in an efficient way, and 2 because the medium itself hoaxes its 'users' into consuming text, clicking and sucking it in as a liquid, a visual hybrid that loses or even contradicts the inner voice of the author, she herself on the brink of losing her touch 'n feel of the word itself, of the flow that language was before she hacked into this stream of unconsciousness, plugged herself into the mediating apparatus that allows her to spit it out at formerly unknown speeds), throwing the linking-fading-exploding-fading-linking machine forward from an installment, an instance of temporary arrest, of banking 'gained' points that is at the same time a sign of its own deficit, throwing it away from the freezing body into a haltering rhytm someone else might sing to, or curse in.
There's a lot in that text that i can agree to, if you want opinions, it's mainly the basic concept of GRANULARITY that i must refuse. I tend to believe that granularity is a regression to a primal but fictional atomism that can be avoided. "Fictional' to be understood as any human act of representation or of perception itself, fiction as that process that we actually need to deal with the real to avoid the abyss of reality itself. Human mind cannot bare too much reality, so the atomism itself is a primal need of humans, but in our human state of being we constantly deny it as well, as our desire is towards a complete annihilation of fiction and thus of any refraining concept of atoms or grains or points or whatever you want to name the singularity. We need singularity, because that's how our brains work, much like we need(ed) gods or Lacanian Objects, we construct singularity from the absence of it, create it by being here. So it's there all right, and at the same time it cannot be there, because that would immediately lead to global arrest, an instantaneaous fixation of reality, or, as Sondheim suggests here, a rewrite of the same into the same. We have nothing to write but that which we write into. There is no text beyond the text we live in.
This may be all going beyond a ontological or philosophical point of discussion, because there are lot's of things that suggest that in ways similar to our recently discovered ability to destroy the physical earth (Hiroshima-denial of pending eco disasters) or simply the scale of effect a 'slight' carelessness on the part of our entrusted worldly powers can have (oops Bophal, 'xcuse me Tsjernobyl, you were saying Rwanda?) we are now becoming capable of creating networks of distributed 'intelligent' computing that could effectively disrupt reality as we know it on a global scale and rule out any 'normal' process of human perception, leaving us in a black hole in the great void.
Optimists tend to fill this void with projections of better futures, in fact the other day i found a copy of a leading scientist's doctoral thesis in a second hand shop, bluntly inscribed with the words "The only history that interests us is the history of the future". It doesn't matter who that scientist is, suffice it to say that it's someone in a position to pour substantial amounts of corporate money into what used to be respectable scientific research. What does matter is his reference to an 'us' that justifies his bluntness, taking the reader of this inscription into a thrusted circle of "those who are enlightened". Even if that 'us' would only exist in his overenthousiastic, self-indulgent prickness or in the paranoic minds of folk like the three hackers in the X-Files, the threat is symptomatically a clear and present danger.
Our world as we have built it is perhaps blindly walking down the path of the Great Modernistic Project lead by such people blinded by the sudden advancements in certain fields that they paranoically think is all of their genial doing into believing the earth was inhabitated by ill-trained and dark-brained barbarians before they or their tutors came along, a utopian nightmare leading, for anyone who cares not to dismiss the entire human history for an instance can clearly see, either to the zero of a finite silence (Beckett) or the big 1 containing all and therefor nothing (Joyce). Once you start tampering with ontology itself ( the Zeus project for instance is one of those area's where business logic threatens to invade reality, and no-one seems to know or care what they are plugging into which machine, no-one is worried by the idea of an ontology, however primitive in its conception, gaining dominance and therefor arresting power (define your freedom like we do or die) by it's allegance to the very core of business activity), you should be aware of what you're getting into.
It doesn't help much if you do like lot's of these scientists do, negate everything before or after Hartman because it's of no immediate use (they can see) and go on from there because you are evidently succesfull. Of course ontologies on a strictly logical calculus work better and faster, mathematics was doing pretty good too till Gödel and Russell came along, so on our way out let's quietly dump all those awkward quantum incertainties as well, shall we?.
Of course such ontologies can almost effortlessly (3 to 5 years, starting last year, not even that many buckets of dollars requiered if you get your talent cheap in the east) be brought to rule the world ('rule' in both it's governmental meanings, setting out and being the mental rule), and 'naturally' object oriented software programming is the way to go if you need fast successes.
It's rather the question if humanity needs that kind of success and if, indeed, that great Beyond is not a place were we are banned from for a reason, told ad nauseam by countless holocausts to get away from, a pre-human writing on that blemished wall inside that thick skull of ours. What we urgently need is perhaps more an ontology for engineers that relates to them in understandable terms of 'best practices' what they are in fact doing in an ethical perspective, or more effectively, what they are bringing down upon themselves. Or should i be singing the joy of accomplishment here? Drive my bike through the living room and cry out triumphantly 'look mummy, no hands!'. Trust the clever people with the power and the money to show it? I am stupid, and like any self-respecting artist slightly deranged, i admit it freely, but not that stupid, nor an utter crank. Code is text, many people dealing with code don't even realize that, and if the IT business academics want to abolish history how could they realize the true power of text, once unleashed, like they "Unleash" all those thick useless Bibles on a new programming language every five years, because the old ones have become too complex for youngsters to learn in 24 hours, and therefor economically inefficient. Recycling is for assholes, let's dump that shit, we are history. Eschatological alright.
What i can think of in my ignorance, positively: I consider Derrida's research into negative theology a very interesting escape route here and the Deleuzian Leibniz rewrite a good starting point of fabricating alternatives to the dominant logistical ontology approach.. I hate to use the word but a minimalistic deconstruction of the current programming paradigma's, the text we feed our machines with, can be manufactured relatively easily, it wouldn't 'do' much but demonstrate that it can be done, but results may come equally spectacular when sufficient resources are applied to such processes. It's a question of finding a singular impossibility, an example that prooves beyond doubt that just by using a different ontology and applying that to another set of semantics, you can create something that is not within the scope of infant Zeus and the likes.
A nice grail to be hunting down after hours, so in a way you could say that, like for any artist who is serious about her business, saving the world is a harmless hobby i like very much and a nice side effect of my symptomatic 'convoluted' condition and the obscure poetry with its ideosyncretic and eschatological tendencies that condition creates with or without my consent.
Or to slip out another back door: in the end it's perhaps a good thing that there are so many hackers around, only it would be better if a few thousands of those would start hacking into ontology, break into the fabrics of semantic webs and leave some of their own cobwebs. Just another code, really, only too bad much of the goodies is in French only (you don't go 'n translate your cool Linux stuff to windowz and let everything get corrupted, now do ya?).
Now go away, you have not read this, i don't exist, i want to write some outdated poetry for another non-existence, neither of us in need of being right about anything.
Last update 9/06/2005 20:59 GMT+2
HERE's the Alan Sondheim text, from internet_txt4 @ http://www.anu.edu.au/english/internet_txt/net4.txt
INTERNET TEXT partial summary
"Au voile qui la ceint absente avec frissons" (Mallarme)
I address the problem of ELECTRONIC SUBJECTIVITY by virtue of several
threads, all concurrent. I continue this addressing, each thread
writing and rewriting the text, a continuous-production or discourse
against the grain.
The GRAIN, GRANULARITY, is a physical reality both classical and
quantum-mechanical, a physical reality whose appearance is that of the
grain: letters on a bleak field, the grains of granite and
photographic film, beach-sand, the granularity of the retina itself.
The SUBJECT "au voile" or VEILED SUBJECT is defined by ADDRESS
(location, without which the subject no longer exists); RECOGNITION
(the activated ADDRESS opening and closing channels of communication);
PROTOCOL (the syntactic structure of communication); and REWRITE (a
continuous-production or reiteration of the subject, a flood or
EMISSION of the symbolic).
The EMISSION is a signifying; a SPEW is a symbol-dump, noisy and
granular, referencing the real exterior, transforming the interior
into an abject. EMISSION and SPEW are communicative occasions whose
analog is the set of GENERALIZED MEASURE GEOMETRIES, always but not
quite symmetrical, always reiterative. The Net diffuses and collapses,
differentiates and integrates, transforming smooth into semantic or
inscribed space, and back again.
The ontology of the Net is UNCANNY, an absenting or problematic
alterity; within the UNCANNY, FANTASM appears, the introjection/
projection (-JECTIVITY or the THROWN, DASEIN) of narratologies and
ACTANTS, "persons," neither present nor absent; these may be
ELECTRONIC SUBJECTS themselves, or a constructed IMAGINARY transmitted
and diffused. NARRATOLOGIES are the collapse of NET DISCOURSE into
remaindered patterns; the opposite is the MURMUR or STUTTER, the
irruption of "frissons" everywhere and nowhere at all. The imaginary
is addictive; Net users become USERS, circulating around specificities
fetishized from emissions, a collapse into the lure of the UNCANNY.
Here, POWER is what passes for POWER. If addiction is the obsessive-
compulsive neurosis of the net, WEB INVERSION is the psychosis,
transforming the body into its exterior, and its exterior into flesh
burned into the Internet itself, wires laid across the skin, the skin
speaking the hieroglyph of imaginary usage.
The DIGITAL DOMAIN is the dominion of eternal life, the dominion of
eternal REWRITE; information is never lost from generation to
generation, but always repeated and repeated absolutely. This is the
dominion of the clean and proper body, the introjection of burnt wires
producing always already a simulacrum of life guaranteeing continuous
discourse. There is no death; DASEIN becomes EMISSION itself. The
SCREEN is the only TERMINAL OPERATION; the screen becomes the EGO or
gateway, the surface of the addictive user. Everything is PERFECTION.
TRUTH and FACTICITY are occurrences, since truth tables are decided
only by ASCII or other decoding/encoding matches. What is true is
present. And what is true is also BEAUTIFUL since perfect and
perfectly clean, always a symmetry or lure.
The GREAT BEYOND is the horizon of the Internet, always farther,
always increasing circulations of the planet which short-circuit or
circumvent. At the edge of the GREAT BEYOND one finds the BLIND
PASSWORD "absente" beyond which is a null-set or zero file. ONTOLOGY
itself is absent; epistemology is viral, transformative. Nothing is
certain and nothing circulates.
PROPER NAMES circulate throughout the Net, the promise of TRUTH or
BEAUTY, the promise of emission. Such names are FANTASMS; every
possible world is every possible Net world in a continuous morph, and
every KIND is simultaneously a NATURAL and UNNATURAL kind. Thus TRUTH
is each and every occurrence, and who is to say that FALSEHOOD is not
the same? What is neither this nor that is foundation, gestural,
within and without the GREAT BEYOND, UNCANNY. The TERMINAL becomes
retinal but anonymous. Names MURMUR forever, lose identity. NAMES
never had identity to begin with.
The POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE NET constructs a class-consciousness
fuelled by reification-tendencies; everything is reification.
Teleology is defined by a FUTURE IMPERFECT in which reification
constitutes the IDENTITY OF THE SUBJECT ITSELF.
The FUTURE from the exterior results in the LAST SCIENCE FICTION STORY
in which the subject confronts the GREAT BEYOND. Narrative itself
disappears, replaced by PERFECTION. LIFE, once defined by MODULARITY,
has become SUBSTANCE, a REWRITE of the same into the same.
"Rien, cette ecume, vierge vers" (Mallarme)