Considering the Rough & the Smooth 5:

When a Child is no longer considered Scientist,
Science is mere Metaphysic

Translated by Zed ('dada didit') Morse.
Transcribed for the Internet by Bagatella Gambadé.

---------------------------------------------------------

CONTENTS
1. Play with your food!
2. There's no Accounting for Visual Art
3. Principles of Entanglement: Mobility and Spheres of Influence
4. Sea People and Ship-shape "Cities"
5. The Trickster: Not a categorical reification, but a processual personification.
6. Extradiction: The Spaces

---------------------------------------------------------

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

 

 

Play with your food!
The game is not obligatory, but play might be


We've "always" thought (at least since the enlightenment, although there are traces even in the book of genesis, and certainly the Greeks were just as guilty) that 'man's' function, the distinguishing character, "human nature", is the endeavor to "understand" the world, to be "knowledgeable". We "seek" wisdom, truth. Superman fought the good fight for truth, justice and the amerikan way. "Endeavor" is appropriate: from F. en devoir 'some to have', earlier 'in duty'; a serious and sincere effort (15th cent) toward ownership or debt. The root sounds suspiciously like "devour". But back in the day, knowledge referred to carnal games, at least until the "natives" discovered city life, where any knowledge can be had for a price or commitment, except, of course, Saturday nights, a special case of the famed "state of exception".

An idea which does not put quite so much distance between ourselves and the other planetary residents is Navigation (< L. navis 'ship' + agere 'drive'). What sets us off from the rest is only our particular methods of driving. Whether driving cattle or sailing ships, it's still the same 'game'. Cattle can smell water before you can find it on the map, and without the wind, sails go limp as a shriveled dick.

We are certainly no better at navigation than a goose or a salmon, just different, as they are from each other. Navigational art is the science of homo. It is fundamental to all exploration and adventure. Language itself moves and we often say we are moved by it. If we are close talkers, we can literally feel the wind on our face. Communication is a matter of navigating different viewpoints, not excluding those between the living and dead (see "oral tradition"). Navigation is in fact fundamental to art and science. Cartography is not. One cannot walk very far on a map. The map itself needs passed on once we have gotten to where we've arrived. Besides, we're always more concerned with getting back than with going. Think of your job and tell me I'm wrong. Map making itself was taught to us by the birds and the stars. What has our great wisdom given them? Parrots can say "Up yours!" and the stars have been blinded by jet fuel and, they tell us, cow farts.

Sure, we're all still concerned with our place in the world, but it was our naval-gazing ancestors who became lost without moving an inch and decided to construct a "utopian" new world where movement is not even required. Slave, beast of burden or machine, we rarely move ourselves beyond the perceptual horizon unless it is a spectator- or other commodified sport (or its 'impersonation'). Is it any wonder we are still lost when we bind ourselves so tightly to this archaic ancestor worship? Perhaps the birds and stars, those still left anyway, still have a thing or two to teach us.

From the perspective of a deterministic world governed by the blind action of forces, play would be entirely superfluous. But only play can make the destruction of the "absolute deterministic cosmos" possible, thinkable and understandable. The existence of play is a permanent corroboration from nature for the human situation beyond determinist logic. Animals themselves are capable of play, because they are something more than simple machines. If we joke and play, and we are conscious of it, we are more than simply rational, for play itself is a-rational..
– Johan Huizinga

The playing through of the participation of existence, playful existence, existence itself, is the free engagement with chance, uncertainty, what Huizinga called "tension". This engagement waters, germinates and yields the "euphoria" of play. One could also say the "self-reinforcement feeding back to continue or repeat the engagement or emulate it elsewhere". Regarding word-play, Emily Dickinson said "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." Roger Caillois spoke of the will to vertigo.

Seen as a system of co-nurturing contingencies (or "communication"), even the whirling dervish is not restricted to the notion of a temporary escape from the "reality" of geo-spatial constraints, only their provisional alteration. Physics is friend to all acrobats. It may be that play brings in the random element to any situation, the "swerve" which can change everything, and is thus a guarantee against stagnation. Huizinga suggested play is not a functional phenomenon at all, even if it has functional side effects. One of these effects is movement, and movement alters not only perception, but opinion as well: "I see by your yo-yo that it is possible to mock gravity!"

"On the level of manual dexterity there can be cited games such as cup-and-ball, diabolo, and yo-yo. These simple instruments merely utilize basic natural laws, eg. gravity and rotation in the case of the yo-yo ... to transform a rectilinear alternating motion into a continuous circular movement. Kite-flying, on the contrary, relies on the exploitation of [sic – 'engagement with'?] a specific atmospheric condition. Thanks to this, the player accomplishes a kind of auscultation upon the sky from afar. He projects his presence beyond the limits of his body. Again, the game of blindman's bluff offers an opportunity to experience the quality of perception in the absence of sight. It is readily seen that the possibilities of ludus are almost infinite."

"At one extreme [of the universe of play] an almost indivisible principle, common to diversion, turbulence, free improvisation, and carefree gaiety is dominant. It manifests a kind of uncontrolled fantasy that can be designated by the term paidia. At the opposite extreme, this frolicsome and impulsive exuberance is almost entirely absorbed or disciplined by a complementary, and in some respects inverse, tendency to its anarchic and capricious nature: there is a growing tendency to bind it with arbitrary, imperative, and purposely tedious conventions, to oppose it still more by ceaselessly practicing the most embarrassing chicanery upon it, in order to make it more uncertain of attaining its desired effect. This later principle is completely impractical, even though it requires an ever greater amount of effort, practice, skill, or ingenuity. I call this second component ludus."
– Roger Caillois

Mimicry and repetition give us its structural appearance – "game rules" are the situational boundaries within which play takes place. I'm thinking territory as well as perceptual, communicative and mnemonic horizons. Rules may also increase difficulty, which only bolsters uncertainty and keeps boredom (disinterest) at bay. Obviously, more dangerous play is made safer with rules else repetition must end when mimicry results in a massacre. But when rules are reified over and above the play itself, boredom, tedium and sabotage result.

For the game to survive, sabotage is incorporated as an appropriate game move if the game itself has been elevated over its playing. Wall Street is a good example of this process. So is a union-endorsed strike. As rules emerge from repeated and mimicked (albeit modified) behaviour, "cheating" cannot be said to precede it. Transgression, however, only means movement antipodal to the 'mainstream'. Sailors learned to simultaneously transgress and benefit from prevailing winds and called it "tacking", a détournement by any other name. The semantic extension in word-play gives us "tacky" and "tactful". In the context of work, not play, a game is organised around limiting and eradicating transgression. Warfare is another such 'game', usually engaged when the work goes sour (or South). The contradiction these set up is obvious: why play an un-fun game?

Play eliminates imposed contradiction altogether, and in this, plays sabotage on reason itself. On the playground, everything is possible, or at least worth a try. Without contradiction, that state which Nature and even Aristotle once abhorred (the former prevented it, the latter presumed it), that other "tension" existing betwixt and between (a state with which we are all highly familiar) also disappears. The first 'rule' of play is that it is free. Its first epistemic law is the principle of uncertainty. Its reinforcement is interest and surprise, resulting in perpetual motion which can be placed on pause at any time, provided the snarl of inertia can be disentangled. Be encouraged. Playful inertia is self-limiting. A superabundance of vertigo ends in blackout, particularly if we've been too engaged to eat, often a playfully inviting "pass-time" itself. We tend to learn our own limitations quite readily and without instruction.

Even animal gestures are context-sensitive. We could call them polysemous. For example, in one context, whether among dogs, goats or baboons, mounting is sexual. In another, and without any attendant confusion, it is an aggressive assertion, typically between males (dairy cows coming into estrus will mount other cows – this may play a part in synchronising estrus cycles among friends or siblings; perhaps a visual cue (commotion), a ruckus or fracas attracting distant bulls, a synchronising influence themselves). In rough and tumble play, mounting is neither. Necessity and a priorisms are not invited to this party. The gesture may even be a "zero-meme", waiting for the situational context to "discover" it.

Context supplies the semantic realm, and memory establishes semantic "rules". A less offensive term here would be "algorithmic patterns", aka, "cognition" (if only at an intuitive level). Chance makes it all poetic – Jung says synchronicity is meaningfully magical. Staunch rationalists, of course, those demanders of clarity and precision, forbid polysemy (even among 'animals', which I think is none of their f'ing business), which makes them strange bed-fellows for more nomadic poets. They might just as soon mount each other on the wall, horny or not. It's an old game between urban and rural hunters.

But Thomas Sebeok has pointed out that Charles Peirce came to the conclusion that play is essential to the construction of narative and in fact, the generation of hypotheses and to logic itself. We might just as well call imagination "free-play". It is a self-reinforcing "mental activity" because it brings about (is concomitant with) emotional activity:

Peirce has also commented on the relationship between such mental activities and more mundane practices. "There is," he writes, "a certain agreeable occupation of mind which . . . involves no purpose save that of casting aside all serious purpose" and which "I have sometimes been half-inclined to call . . . 'reverie' with some qualification; but for a frame of mind so antipodal to vacancy and dreaminess such a designation would be too excruciating a misfit. In fact, it is Pure Play" (6.458). One type of Pure Play, "a lively exercise of one's powers" with "no rules, except this very law of liberty," he names "Musement", and defines as a process by which the mind searches for "some connection" between two of the three Universes of Experience (viz., of "Ideas", of "Brute Actuality", and of "Senses" [6.455]), "with speculation concerning its cause" [6.458].

"[Musement] begins passively enough with drinking in the impression of some nook in one of the three Universes. But impression soon passes into attentive observation, observation into musing, musing into a lively give and take of communion between self and self [the internal dialogue or "stream of thought" – f.]. If one's observations and reflections are allowed to specialize themselves too much, the Play will be converted into scientific study...." [6-459]
– Thomas Sebeok, The Play of Musement.

In saying play is free entails that it is not only freely engaged, but not confined. But this is only partly true in our situation of institutionalised competitive games, work and police surveilance. In town, play hides out in the interregnal, invisible space-time. So situated, it is neither secondary nor disinterested. It is said play is superfluous. This is true: 'of an abundant flow, flexibility, flowering, flourishing'. Play is in this sense, sacred, numinous and risky – right where it likes to be. All risk contains a particle of life, and life, play. To forthwith and finally end uncertainty and risk is to likewise end play ... "fun" is replaced by drudgery and "out of place" euphoria is subjected to medication. A playful worker is a saboteur. In this day and age, so would be a craftsman.

Shakespeare's "actors playing on a stage" is not a mere metaphor for experiencing life – if anything, it is the other way around. Context is everything. Or, everything is contextual. If it sustains our interest, we engage, mimic and repeat. These are more obviously choices than rules, except perhaps in retrospect. Recall Rabelais' single dictate: "Do what thou wilt!". To paraphrase Huizinga, "Even in the animal world, play breaks through the limits, obligations and necessities of mere material existence". Obviously, one still needs to survive while living, but not necessarily as a machine.

They also have it backwards when they say the machine transcends life (a peculiar outgrowth of that peculiar sentiment, "culture transcends nature"). In many respects, it has merely replaced it – it certainly hasn't made life easier like it originally promised. Ask Ned Ludd if he thought this was such a good idea! If you're still in doubt, why are there increasing rates of suicide (both planned and inadvertent) as the machine-work advances? The machine is not quite like the synergy of the beehive. Does the hive desire autonomy from the bee? Obviously, bees are incapable of playing political games.

There is much play in the world. So much is true. Yet reality is said (by the good doctor Freud) to oppose play, being so prone as it is to misguided (i.e., "childish") imagination. Either reality secretly hates itself (freudian, I'm sure), or it is no less constructed by the imagination than is fantasy (and don't call me an idealist! I think were I not a botched abortion, you would still exist). Reality becomes just another game of chance, mimicry or vertigo with situationally variable outcomes. The situation, local culture or niche provides the only limit to play for the very same reasons that pigs don't fly but birds do. Whichever is the case, what is more costly, a free play, a sold life or a purchased survival? Perhaps the good Dr. Faustus has already answered this question.

 

There's no Accounting for Visual Art
or 'The Art of Being & the Being of Art'

"I have captured this and externalized it, I have translated this emotion and injected the
translation into a medium so that it will not remain as bodily vibrations, so that I will not become it."

Some Questions of Taste

Life, the human condition has militated increasingly against the sublimation of reality in the Form of Art.

This sublimation is not primarily (and perhaps not at all!) a process in the psyche of the artist but rather an ontological condition, pertaining to the Form of Art itself. It necessitates an organization of the material into the unity and enduring stability of the oeuvre, and this organization 'succumbs' as it were to the idea of the Beautiful. It is as if this idea would impose itself upon the material through the creative energy of the artist (though by no means as his conscious intention). The result is most evident in those works which are the uncompromisingly 'direct' accusation of reality. The artist indicts – but the indictment anaesthetizes the terror. Thus, the brutality, stupidity, horror of war are all there in the work of Goya, but as 'pictures', they are caught up in the dynamic of aesthetic transfiguration – they can be admired, side by side with the glorious portraits of the king who presided over the horror. The Form contradicts the content, and triumphs over the content: at the price of its anaesthetization. The immediate, unsublimated (physiological and psychological) response: vomiting, cry, fury, gives way to the aesthetic experience: the germane response to the work of art.
Herbert Marcuse

Could it be that we overemphasize the "necessary" relation of "emotion" to art itself? Certainly, "therapeutic art" often lets the squirrels out of the cage – the "symbolic representation" is to be nearly as "satisfying" as actually throwing the coffee table through the window. This is authentic psychoanalytic sublimation: "the channeling of impulses or energies toward activities regarded as more socially acceptable". In chemistry, sublimation converts a solid to gas without an intermediate liquid stage. It is hard to find the sublime in either case, unless it is the flash of a spontaneous chemical explosion. Therapy has a long history alongside the inhibition of spontaneity, freeplay and, in fact, "free speech".

But could it be that art is also the medium propelled to hatch an emotion rather than to demonstrate, replace or bury it? Might any emotional response do if it takes us out of boring loops or constraining eggshells? Is it our own response (I, me, mine) or that of the other which concerns us? Obviously, "capitalist art" is interested in the other in as much as one's arting is only a down payment on food or other esteemed remuneration: Feed me / love me if you like my work! We dispassionately produce and exchange isolated use-values. Objectivity!

Take away teleological (in-order-to) projectivity (that is, "productive teleology") or economic (in-exchange-for) transaction – ah, but I repeat myself! – and we do it because it's fun, we do it and then it's fun, we do it only when it's fun.

Politicians insist on the motivating force of punishment and theosophists insist on our moral duties. Geneticists and historians call on the fates (deoxyribonucleic acid or the equivalent necessity of following the past to proceed beyond it, baby-step by baby-step – "No leaping"!). But leaving them all behind to fight amongst themselves for the moment, both behaviourism and aesthetics say we do nothing without encouragement, even when that "reinforcement" is immanent in the doing, whether or not there are spectators.

So distributing built-up stress ("release") is 'fun'. Encouragement from others is fun. Anticipation itself is fun. Distributing distributional art is also fun. The fact that even a release is shared demonstrates one's concern or interest in the other. In this sense, the picture (or poem or theatric) of the table crashing through the window demonstrates compassion or consideration of the implications of shattered glass (or broken shells). Only the concern for the other gives rise to the aesthetic (commonly called "personal") ethic.

For reproduction then? What looks fun is mimicked. What's been fun is repeated. Everything re-done occurs as redundancy. Everything undone is transgression. Detour. Originality. Both communicate

"a notion of a 'distortion of distortion' through which the mimetic is re-engaged in order to (sic) disrupt reified experience ... every generation is 'endowed with a weak Messianic power', a power to bring the reified experience of time to a sudden stop: to set off an alarm that will wake the dead."
– Allen Meek
Art is antithetical to science only when the latter eliminates possibility in favour of necessity. Science is art when it poses questions to linear reality itself. A good surprise and scientific breakthrough occur when reality throws you a curve. Art is play! Visual art is play with curves (although Cubists often play with squares).

Last night, my wife had a dream concerning linearity. Ensconced on a railroad track with an approaching locomotive, our options seemed clear: run like hell to avoid being overtaken or turn around with arms firmly crossed in opposition to face down and stop the train. This might result in a derailment, but likely not of the engine. There is also the option to step off the rails and do something else. Very likely, if we do not pause to think about the situation in a reflective and rational manner, this is precisely the move, the spontaneous flash, we would make. On instinct! As enframed as we might be by our situations, this does not mean we are beholden to them. Sometimes the objectively correct approach to objective correctness is detatchment. Disgruntled warriors call this "desertion". Not "desert", not "desertification".

What then is fun? The secretive, emotional (glandular) secretions (or electro-chemical explosions) which make us want to continue or to transgress? The favourable recognition of "vibrating" viscera? We say, whether performing or spectating, "I am moved". If this transgressing (or 'novel' recombination) is "true art", then it is not an activity just any civilised adult can undertake, take on, or overtake unless s/he utterly failed at home (TV) and school, damaged to the point of barbarity, which is also to say "unpredictability". Like an emotional outburst, free-play is forbidden in polite company! Barbarity is only the deprivation of adventure.

What value does any cultural heritage hold today if we are not connected to any experience?

... Let us admit it: this poverty of experience is not only of private experiences but of human experiences. Is it not therefore a new kind of barbarism? Indeed it is. We make this declaration in order to introduce a new concept, a positive concept of barbarism. Because where does poverty in experiences lead the barbarian?

It leads him ... to begin at the beginning, to take back things at the start, to make off with little from there, to build with the little he has.

... Humanity prepares itself to outlive, if necessary, culture. And the crux is that humanity must do this while laughing. It is extremely possible that here or there this laughter renders a barbaric sound.

– Walter Benjamin, Experience and Poverty

Adult art is not affective. It is an affectation. It is said children only doodle. Hence, we secretly agree, even insist that truly "good artists" live only on the fringes of society. Rebels. Rejects. We will pay them only when they die, lest they be devalued as "sell-outs". Hence also, the Dutchmen subverted painting into photography prior to the invention of the camera. Objective art needs no emotional attachments, only many years of toil and training. You graduate when you can capture the reflection of the entire studio (including the artist and his easel) in a teardrop on the portrait of the naked lady (~ Vonnegut, Bluebeard). What does the tear have to do with the great eye for detail portrayed by the painter, unless it is in the eye of the onlooker now thinking of something quite other?

From the point of view of aesthetics, is emotion only the variable state of approval or disapproval, residing anywhere from mild interest to explosive movement? Then what is art and what does it "depict"? In the nineteenth century, we would say the visual art is the attempt to capture (copy, pretend, represent) or deliver beauty or disgust. From the point of view of pantomime or artaudian theatre, is there something which connects audio (song or noise), visual (painting or sculpture), textural (rough or polished, "touchy", fabric), oral (poetry, prose), olfactory (invitation or exclusion from secret kitchen recipes enacted in a mixing bowl) or postural (dance, gesture) art beyond the mere word? Marcuse' word, "oeuvre" suggests the opus corpus or body of work. Form and function. In lieu of one's or another's experience or emotion, is art an instructional aid? The diagrammatic illustration for proper assembly of that which is yet to exist? Or sex-aid? A mnemonic device? Concerning moving pictures, can watching the film, Jim Thorpe: All-american, give the runner an added boost in his/her own upcoming event? How about Reefer Madness? In an earlier day, oeuvre (< oeuf) derived from an egg – more the idea of emergence than production is brought to mind. The hors d'oeuvre, literally 'outside (of) the work', is said to stimulate the appetite. For the culinary artist, wouldn't heure d'oeuf make more sense? Obviously, release from toil is not sufficient stimulation without the little pretties prior to the feast.

Sur-illustration

Could it be art (visual or otherwise) is merely the play of homo ludens, superfluous to function or reason but incurring or generating possibly unintended, ex post facto functions and meanings. Should it not be called arting? Is this a visual analogue to farting only by way of a rhyming similitude but without the necessary release (emotional-gas propulsion) or projection (in your face) on completion unless it is prespecified as Fart Art? Dada would say they are probably the same and thus, the imbrication (overlap) or recapitulation is actually an interpenetrating redundancy. Such convergence of originalities is often called "mere coincidence" (or even "misappropriation"), but such is also the nature of the simultaneous orgasm producing a fertilized egg and a novel hen which only resembles mom and pop, unless "pop" goes to weasel in the hen-house.

But even dada respects gaseous diversity and does not present an identitical glob. Speaking of footwear and what it steps upon, Alfred Jarry said, despite their familiarity, "for just as no two turds are alike, there is a turd-cruncher for every taste". Bend over, light match. That's funny! But does it contain "soul", constrain it or merely let it loose in a fiery blaze? If art is to capture souls like a snapshot or mere sign which is the prison-confinement of a moment extracted from time (Henri Bergson; Walter Benjamin) rather than merely shelter them like the energetic potential in a diehard battery, what is the reflection but Peircean "thirdness" living in the interregnum between object (subject) and subjectifier?

If art assesses potentialities, it is hypothesis only. Or germ. An incitement, an enticement. The question may "wake the dead" far more readily than any casket, billboard or iron cage. Emotion is then seen as the aesthetic sense accompanying and reinforcing creation as well as the observation or reception of that art by others. No matter how contagious it appears, emotion does not move between bodies, it moves them. The m&m may be a material reward, it is the sweet salivation which encourages mimesis or reiteration. The candy itself may be unnecessary, as Pavlov discovered by substituting food with ringing alarm clocks. As important as it is, materialism is never enough. It's the ability to drool which aids the swallowing and digestion. Mars™ corporate advertisers have always understood this patamimetic principle.

PATAMIMESIS: The realization of total mimesis as the imitation of a certain ideal that cannot yet be lived by humanity on a widespread or commonsense basis just yet. But then I'm just returning to the idea of interregnum as the realized ideal of revolution lived out of sync from actual revolution...
– anonymous

Unlike a battery, I think emotion is not embedded in any painting. It is more a charger, a visual symbol, a metaphor, a spur to consciousness. It can take you outside yourself. Or immerse you where you stand. Objective art is an oxymoron. Rather, we should call that "sign painting", the behaviour of advertisement. In poetry, a diversity of meaning is generated. The artistic interpretation is symbolism. In advertising, the symbol is reduced to a singularity or sign, such that the diversity of possibility is eliminated. What might have been figurative is made literal with "correctness". Oh, how we still ridicule subjectivity!

If a promise is made, this is a sign of the thing promised only so far as it will itself cause the existence of its being, unless we are to regard it as a prophecy which is caused by that state of mind which will cause the thing prophesied to be carried out.
– Charles S. Peirce

Advertisement is art only when it dissimulates – the appropriation and recouperation of signs is the art of lying. Symbols are transfigured into signs which distract and divert, redirect and specify objects: "Its a fact, Jack!" Signs take on the aspect of law ("there is no choice" or "this is the best choice" or "this is the most taken road") rather than suggestion ("we could turn here" or ignore it and continue our journey). Branding is merely the simulation of diversity. We are exposed to a multiplicity of superficial choices between essential identities.

Expropriation is the 'distortion of distortion'; that which we usually call "détournement" is opposed to "recouperation", but the technique is the same. Like prophesy, this process is much more persuasive (and less troublesome) than reason or experimentation. But the expropriation of signs is merely the recognition of poetic meaning; it is a matter of receiving rather than taking, exploring rather than being taken. It asks the question "What if?" It opens up rather than restricts possibilities. It is distributive rather than exclusive. It negates both sacrifice and theft.

Art demands imagination. If there was a "strong emotion" experienced, it can only be portrayed after the fact, and must always be something less. But is this any different than any other "form" of communication? The interpretation may in fact bring out something more, a "profound recognition", but there are no identities in life, even if one is a Dutch master. I agree the artist cannot imbue beauty or disgust in the creation any more than poets can predict the meanings received from their poetry. The portrait of an innocent at the gallows will likely be experienced as just another banality to the hangman. If there is a connection, one "is only a faint vestige or shadow of" the other. What is only suggestive is never a commandment.

But I'm also old-fashioned. I do not remember it now – being old and sedentary – but I think there is beauty. I do not like loud and lively colours. Dark, shadowy, vague or implicative. What is implicated is a whole not present. Utopia. Diverse possibility. The sublime lives only subliminally, if at all. But it is not something sublimated. More accurately, it is germinated or it is suppressed. Beauty is never captured, it is experienced. It may be that loud music does not cause deafness but on the contrary, deafness (to subtleties) causes loud music. Nevertheless I still like it loud! I want to hear the tinkering cymbals with my elbow, silencing my brain's tinitus, and feel the bass-lines vibrate my gut. I may just be driven to dance!

"Our relatively modest concern was to establish the point that the inquiry into the beautiful had to do with an inquiry into a definite class of sensations, and not into abstract notions and associated ideas; and that that part of the "beautiful" which was not a sensation was an affectation, or misnomer."
Dora Marsden 1913

Maybe we are all Hippocrates' pretenders. Or is that pretending hypocrites: "somebody feigning high principles; somebody who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise"? Nah, we just want to have some fun and experience the occasional surprise. In the context of "we", sharing is implied by the having. The playful distributivity of playful distributivity comes across at no cost and without constraint. As to that natural artist, the child, everything sensual is experienced with emotional gas and more than a bit of guesswork. That is, as long as the emotional gate-keepers are kept at bay.

Introspection, as Wilhelm Wundt` explains, used to be considered (until the civilised christians taught us that inside is the home of the "evil seed") the inward sensation or rather, the sense of the innards. Appetites compose themselves into sense data coalescing at the location of grey matter: hormonal flux or "humours" migrating from vibrating viscera. It may be that inner communications respond to outer states (external imagery) to tell us we are hungry for this, but not that – a translinguistic dialogue or interplay between the inside and the outside, both pleasing and being pleased. Even Freud suggested the id is a collective of internal appetites and "drives", willful, but not a willful singularity.

And it is this id which is suppressed by civilisation so that we do not disturb others with our difference. The resultant (or emerged) ego, an illusion of the gray matter, is a political suck-up by definition, thus birthing democracy. But it tends now and then to resent this new proclivity to conform to the superego (collective consciousness) and reaction formation forms an overreaction of will (the sublimation of all emotion into a single drive – ambition), creating a higher-archic power over the social & physical environment in such a way that it is now to conform to us. The ego lives at the center of the universe. The actualisation of this hierarchic power gave birth to god-the-scapegoat to rationalise our own contradictory state, as well as the head of state, his personal representative. At this point, we are less reminded of Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx than Ludwig Feuerbach, who actually may have been on to something when he said

"(Art) is an assimilation fastening onto and taking up the soul, the singular productive and autonomous power of this content – a free assimilation, which is thus in no sense arbitrary, selective, or nibbling.

I am aware that the ideas engendered or awakened in me... do not obtain on high in the universal sphere, beyond the sensuous and the apparent, but continue to act in me creatively. They issue, so to speak, from the heaven of their colorless purity, immaculate clarity, beautitude, and unity with themselves, descending and taking form in an intuition which penetrates the particular, cancels [aufheben] and masters appearance within appearance itself.

...it is in no way popularization, and even less the translation of thinking into a blank intuiting, or thoughts into images and symbols..., being not yet detached and released from myself, throws but a glimmer on my work, is only present in me in a state of becoming, and perhaps will never come, at least through me, to existence.

Further, it is a question of overthrowing from its throne the ego, the self in general, which, especially since the beginning of Christianity, has dominated the world, which has conceived itself as the only spirit to exist... This ego spirit is to be driven from its tyrannical throne in such a way that the Idea [I read "imagination".] may be actual and may reign, that it may shine through all things as one light, and that the old empire of Ormuzd and Ahriman and dualism in general may be vanquished. This is not to be done, as has always been the case thus far in history, in the faith of a church apart from the world and turned in on itself, nor in the idea of one single substance, not generally in any way that involves a beyond, something negative, and exclusive relation to an other. Rather, it is to be done in the knowledge of reason conscious of itself as all reality [Realität], of reason single and universal, existing and knowing, actual, omnipresent, of reason unseparated from itself and uninterrupted by any difference."
– Feuerbach, Letter to Hegel, 1828

Marx, who included Feuerbach among "these pompous and arrogant hucksters of ideas, who imagine themselves infinitely exalted above all national prejudices" did not anticipate Einstein's later dictum which states that before we rectify our doing, we may have to change our thinking (or at least entertain the idea), lest we end up changing nothing but appearance. This is where the material figment of imagination is handiest.

For Feuerbach, being is doing and essence is not metaphysical abstraction but physical immersion. The essence of the fish is the river: "The being of the fish is its being in water, and from this being you cannot separate its essence." We would have no qualms hearing that water is essential to a fish! While fishing may be an art, fish art does not capture fish, only our imagination.

Only in human life does it happen, but even here only in abnormal and unfortunate cases, that being is separated from essence; only here does it happen that a man's essence is not where his being is, but also that because of this separation a man is not truly with his soul where he really is with his body. You are only where your heart is. But all beings, excepting cases contrary to nature, are glad to be where and what they are; this means that their essence is not separated from their being and their being is not separated from their essence. Consequently, you cannot postulate being as simply self-identical, distinct from essence that varies. The notion of being resulting from a removal of all essential qualities from things is only your notion of being – a fabricated, invented being, a being without the essence of Being. [Critique of Hegel]

Were we to mix equal parts Charles S. Peirce and Henri Bergsen, would we not have a likeness of Ludwig Feuerbach? But that would either necessitate time travel or sur-illustrate the possibility to disentangle oneself from the Superorganic Bloom.

– Id Liberation Front

 


REFERENCES NOT CITED:
see
Matter and Memory by Henri Bergson
A Guess At The Riddle by Charles Peirce
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin
From Labor to Creativity and Back by Igor Chubarov
Art as Form of Reality by Herbert Marcuse
Benjamin, the televisual and the "fascistic subject" by Allen Meek
Détournement as Negation and Prelude by Guy Debord and Gil J Wolman
Reappropriate the Imagination! by Cindy Milstein

 

Principles of Entanglement
Mobility and Spheres of Influence


Spider Grandmother weaving the world with beams of light

Introduction: The Hours

Base-60 numbers, 360 degrees in a circle, 7 days in a week; all from Sumer around 2500 B.C.
    The Sumerians were great innovators in matters of time. It is to them, ultimately, that we owe not only the week but also the 60-minute hour. Such things came easily to people who based their maths not on a decimal system but on a sexagesimal one.

    Why were these clever chaps, who went for 60 because it is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30, fascinated by stubbornly indivisible seven?

    ... The Sumerians had a better reason for their septimalism. They worshiped seven gods whom they could see in the sky. Reverently, they named the days of their week for these seven heavenly bodies.
    – The Economist, Dec 20, 2001
I don't think the divisibility of 60 was the primary reason the Sumerians developed a sexagesimal number system. Divisibility was a convenient coincidental consequence.

I think the Sumerians developed a sexagesimal number system from the periods of the two slowest moving of their seven sky gods. Jupiter and Saturn take approximately 12 and 30 years, respectively, to track through the Zodiac. The observant Sumerians knew this. And the least common multiple of 12 and 30 is 60!

In 60 years Jupiter would go through 5 cycles and Saturn 2. We have 5 fingers on each of 2 hands. Playing with the numbers, in both cases 5+2=7, the number of sky gods. The gods reflecting themselves in our anatomy?

The product of 12 and 30 is 360, the number of degrees in a circle; did the Sumerians define the 360 degree circle? Dividing the Zodiac into 360 parts means Jupiter would traverse 30 degrees in a year and Saturn 12 degrees. Thereby coupling the periods of the gods Jupiter and Saturn.

The Sun tracks through the Zodiac in one year (obvious to the Sumerians). Jupiter would track 1/12 of the way in that time. Why not divide a year into 12ths, e.g., 12 months; then the Sun tracks the same distance in one month that Jupiter tracks in one year. Thereby coupling the periods of Jupiter and the Sun. And since the Sun would then track 30 degrees along the Zodiac in a month, why not divide the month into about 30 days? (12 months/year and ~30 days/month probably came a lot later than the Sumerians, though).

But why 24 hours in a day? I like this explanation:
Steve Stephenson
    hour (h or hr) [1]

    a traditional unit of time, equal to 60 minutes, or 3600 seconds, or 1/24 day [2]. The custom of dividing the daylight into 12 hours goes back at least as far as the Babylonians, who liked to divide units by 12 because groups of 12 are easily divided into halves, thirds, or fourths. Originally an hour was 1/12 of the time between sunrise and sunset, so summer hours were longer than winter hours. Later, when people wanted to express times at night, it was natural to divide the night into 12 hours as well, making 24 hours in the day. Only after the invention of mechanical clocks, around 1300, did hours became equal intervals marked by clocks. The word comes from an ancient Greek word hora which originally meant a season, especially a religious season, and hence a "defined" period of time. In the Christian church hora came to mean one of the services held at seven specific times during the day, thus establishing the word as marking subdivisions of the day.

    hour (h or hr) [2]

    a unit of angular measure used in astronomy, equal to 1/24 circle or 15°. Objects can be located in the sky in a coordinate system in which the equatorial plane is the same as that of the Earth. In this system, the latitude coordinate is called declination and is measured in degrees from the Equator to the poles, just as latitude is measured on the surface of the Earth. The longitude coordinate, called right ascension, is measured in hours from the longitude, traditionally known as the First Point of Aries, at which the Sun appears to cross the Equator on its northward journey in the spring.

    Russ Rowlett, How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement

Rhymes of Ancient Mariners

Every picture tells a story don't it.
Rod Stewart
And it may very well have been Malay seafarers from Sumatra who taught Sumerians their Astronomy. It should be obvious that Egyptian Horus preceded the Greek Hora and our own Hour, but perhaps not Hera nor hospitable heroes on roving horses. The spread of ideas and their labels does not require the assumption of conquerors, missionaries or explorers donning pith-helmuts and notepads. How do we still justify our intuitions? "It came to me" or "A little bird told me". News travels faster than a speeding bullet, it is said, particularly when it is relayed by the wind and does not have a limit in its ballistic trajectory. Signal fires and lighthouses work on the same principle, as long as one can achieve a lofty enough viewpoint to extend the visual horizon. At night, a star is a good substitute for a lighthouse, a celestial souce for serious signs. A note on an arrow flies only slightly further when fired from a high spot, but word of mouth can circumnavigate the earth in perpetuity. Distance is not a suitable argument for misconception or mistranslation of a signal, only the entropy of our own perception – misinterpretation is easy enough face-to-face. Every story changes with the telling unless it is presented as a formula, and even then there is a degree of uncertainty. Sometimes stories are learned in a specific way or they lose their point

...or acquire a new one altogether. Sometimes there are a hundred versions existing in a hundred spaces, yet each points in a shared general direction. One tale might point to so many possible directions, like a spinning needle on a crazy compass, we call it babble, after the famed city. But is it nonsense or a gift of multiple choice? Another's language is always easier when one is immersed in the same context. An hieroglyphic and a propitiously pointing finger, the index, always help.

So suppose pictographic writing was once immediately available to speakers of any language, as long as orally transmitted stories were "vertically" passed on and horizontally shared as a key to their decipherment in the same fashion that illustrations today help de-cypher a text? Vico had no problem with the idea that writing might precede speech. Even a dog seems compelled to sign its name on a fire-hydrant. At any rate, the "form" itself of a poem or song might be recognised and provide a trigger for cross-referencing and remembering the "content", the story's meaning. It may even help locate the homeland of the teller, if repeated on a basis of the regularity of known elements, like whether the "written" star has seven or eight points. We come to learn where to turn our tiller. A compass is the talisman of every tillerman, but prettty useless without the accompanying tales of distant ports. But leave it to the British Imperial Navy to shoot the albatross which only happened by to verify the navigator's calculations of land nearby (see Coleridge).

Some Cherokee say they did not invent their "alphabet" ("talking leaves"), but received it from travelling kinfolk whom they hadn't seen in perhaps 500 years, coming East after a long drought in the American Southwest, letters from home relayed by long lost clan cousins. It was easily transfigured to correlate with the local as well as the surrounding "White-Man" language. The Japanese readily incorporated Chinese characters as their own, but in simpler form. The Chinese took it back after one of their many revolutions, those periods of social unrest in the articulations between dynasties, to provide a "Simplified Chinese" script after poetic discourse had been replaced by the modern, a feat which ironically produced generalised illiteracy handy to esoteric aristocrats, to be countered by a reduction in the number of characters more folks could memorize more easily. The other irony is that the new egalitarian alphabet narrows creative possibilities like a high, opaque fence, particularly when neologisms are mistaken for malapropisms and gramatical "correctness" is legislated.

Obviously, if one is searching a specific island within the vastness of the Pacific ocean, a designatum precisely matching the design can be pretty important. But one should not confuse the discourse between sails and the wind with the dialogic utterances between speakers describing the event. Sailing is a negotiation with physics. The monologue is always a narrative, request or a command. It can be ignored if one has a different destination in mind. The thing with translation, this thing all dialogue entails, is the identification of commonalities, not differences. Language is not at base a game of antagonism. Disagreement exclusive of persuasive politics is the recognition of alternative choices. One can always decide on a different island or another discourse.

Between 2,000 and 1200 b.c., revolutionary sailors literate in celestial navigation helped crush every western empire (and just about every other community in the process) except Egypt, which still understood what they were up against, having once been sea-going fishermen themselves and retaining the knowledge suitable for use in naval tactics. Even so, Egypt became for the first time in a long time, circumscribed, and had to concentrate its growth upward rather than the old outward familiar to every empire out to extend its city limits with a less than gentle gentrification. "Gentry" was fast becoming a notion of "the owners of land" rather than kind kindred of gentle nature. For the gentry, uncomfortable on the outside of their own fences, "Gentile" applied to "everyone else", particularlly travellers.

Phoenicians avoided the spread of their navigational science to city-denizens with impiric ambitions by adopting a phonetic script such that writing was no longer readily translated from one language to the next (to this day, we can place their language – just about any body of water connected to the Mediterranean – but cannot read it without engaging in academic battles), assuring that the catastrophic events on the Nile Delta would not be repeated elsewhere by uppity coastals choosing not to participate in their renovated oceanic distribution system of partying in every port after dumping barrels of olive oil or trinkets from far places. To friendly groups, they shared their script, but since the characters refer to locally produced sounds rather than to distributable ideas, the secrets could be maintained. A phonetic script without vowels, tone or accent is infinitely adaptable to differences of dialect. Those looking for a visually recognisable graphic will leave in complete confusion, witnessing only weird squiggles or geometric symbols.

Could it be that this thing we today call writing was birthed in the attempt to communicate across languages, and the phonetic script was developed when they got what they'd wished for, and then thought better of the idea? Be careful of what you wish for!

Today, it would seem absurd to suggest that a written script for one could be read in any other language. But writing could be called pragmatic art – the graphic is less a visual representation than an index to a contextual region. Any textual symbol placed in a context and repeated over "time" and across observers will be appreciated. The key to decipherment lies in the shared stories and their rhythmic forms within spheres of influence – that is, distributive fields of communication – and common (and predictable) elements within the script. The relay of relative reality ensures that the compass can travel further than the navigator. The polysemy of symbols ensures the possibility of quantum leaps, also known as "independent invention" which historicists like to call "co-incidence" from similar structural contexts. It is likely only a self-generating harmonic emerging from what is cacaphonic babble to any but our own ears.

The enlightened explanation for similar symbols found or homophonous sounds hanging around geographically disparate groups is "anomaly". Meaningless co-incidence. Incidental and inconsequential. Only temporal verticality or flat contiguity is recognised by the modern mind, else there is posited an outburst of significant subconscious structure – the "common" archetype returned to express childishness or insanity only discovered through the proper interpretation of another's reaction to ink blots cured with appropriately placed electro-chemical shocks. This is, after all, science and the age of "reason", an apt euphamism for "excuse", "apology" or "accusation", forgetting that every proposed boundary is the center of someone else's circle.

Our own compass, a scientific device suitable for orienting a map or boat so that the meaning of "cardinal" directions can be shared is depicted as a circle bisected twice by four right angles and then again, projecting an octave of eight named choices among 360 possibilities. The needle does not only orient the map to the planet but allows forgiveness for our every swerve. It provides for our rehabilitation and return. Cornyer symbolism than this appears in every religion.

The background picture becomes a cross or star within a circle, not too dissimilar to the Babylonian map illustrated here. Obviously, Greeks preferred floating pie-charts. While we may trace an historical connection to Mesopotamia, cultures across the globe utilise such a symbol in graphical discourse. It is not the only way to portray direction. Nor can we say the Babylonian originated its use. And how we still define folks by the number of points on their star, stars on their flag or the configuration of stars at the longitude and latitude at the time of their birth. But why stars in the first place? The symbol is a chi-rho, a spider's web with strategically placed beads of dew, a wagon wheel. Every answer is appropriate. I happen to like the bit about our movement beneath stars no less than their movement about us and the stories told, woven as by a spider creating a web. We speak of webs of lies but only networks of information, as if nets do not also entrap.

You can count on it!

In a distributive (communicative or "communist") system, no culture (small c) is autochthonous. Yet this movement guarantees autonomy with no catastrophic perturbation to distributivity. It is no irony.

For example, Proto-Indoeuropean is a language which existed in time but not space. I can say this even while insisting that the notions of time and space are inseparable. A paradox? An hypocrisy? No. No one ever spoke this language yet it is constructed from dateable utterances across a large spatial expanse retaining and exposing an accurate semantic system built upon commonalities. It is a relative language. That it is a theoretical construct does nothing to its "truth-value" until one tries to pinpoint specific geographico-temporal locality and enclose it in a fence. Modern Indoeuropean languages did not "grow" from it. It is not an original unity like Babylon, from which diversity sprouted, despite what historical linguists might tell you. Neither was Babylon! Eden exists only in myth-time.

Proto-Indoeuropean represents a collection of semantico-phonetic exponents shared along a continuum of utterances like the top row of beads on an abacus, octaves in a melody or prime numbers in a sequence of digits. Like the dingle-berry quippu which an unshorn sheep wears on its ass. Are they talking knots or mere co-incidence? Surely, for a sheepherder, they're saying something, not only like where it was for breakfast, but whether it was worth the effort to breed out the ability for an animal to shed its winter coat and whatever became of those sheep-shears.

"Without quantum mechanics, there is no Newtonian physics;
Without Euclidean geometry, there are no dynamical, synergetic systems;
Without indeterminate chaos, there is no ordered regularity;
Without the absurd surprise, there is no predictability;

...And vice versa."
– Lao Tse, paraphrased

You may play the abacus or quipu like a guitar – with your hands, not your brain. The fingering and the image and the scapular poem or shanty match the pattern of fingering the sound (of notes & melody) and the sung words -- the interaction is the memory -- meaningful instantaneity. Hum a few bars (get me started) and the rest comes together. Not a semantic system but a poly-sensorial integration establishing or predicting turning points, or decisions emerging at the loci of the harmonic.

The twists and turns of some poetry demonstrate the non-euclidean logic of an abacus delivering an answer as a simultaneity to your posing the question with no calculation whatsoever. On an abacus, the solution is emergent simultaneous with the completion of the problem. Question = answer.

It demonstrates the absurdity of quantifying a primary value of supremacy of the directional or original one over the other, the absurdity of the nature-nurture controversy, the priority of invention over discovery, the historical philology of a word and its cognate over an accidental structural similarity or fluke of diffusional borrowing, less along lines but across spaces.

Finally, it annihilates the necessity of demanding a singular (par excellent) designatum for every signifier or design for every sign, an older origin for every destination ... an old lesson taught by every trickster.

The Antagonistic Deictic

According to Herodotus, the Greeks were inflamed when Heliocentric Helen, the daughter of a local chief who had other plans for her, ran off with a visiting "Phoenician" sailor after the party. Her behaviour would have been no surprise coming from any other daughter, as was once their own custom. Proprietary parents still often confuse elopement with kidnapping despite the "fact" that the words can't even be made to rhyme. Today, that which has neither rhyme nor reason is subject, not to awe or wonder but to hostility.

There need be no necessary antagonism involved in the concept of raid. It provides possibilities beyond the expectations of customary channels. A raid may be anticipated, sometimes enthusiastically, a period of heightened excitement. At times it is almost carnivalesque: a dramatic and ostentatious event bringing an element of chance to any forthcoming decision. A Kwakiutl chief described the Potlatch as "fighting with property" and marriage as "making war with the bride's relatives". For us, this is a unique sense of the words "fighting" and "war". Well, gazing through our own lens of competitive rivalry saturating the cosmos, we may answer "And your point is?"

Modern or 'institutionalised' warfare begins when the semantic entanglement of raid and party (potlatch) become disentangled, even though we prefer parties which endorse uninvited "crashers" or surprise appearances. Hence, our own "raiding party" or "political party" live right alongside "birthday party" in the official lexicon. We have the host of a party, our bodies are host to parricidal parasites, we fear ghosts will be among the invited guests or another will visit only in the guise of friend. Political agendas are always hidden beneath a platform, a special kind of characterillogical armour. Then there is the hoarding of wealth seekers of fortune protect from hoards of barbarians or hosts of hostiles surrounding our gated community or bunker. One digs in to avoid misfortunate events or damage to our "cool". Some prefer the company of hosts of angels over military regiments on horse or afoot. In Goethe's Faust, the angelic chorus spoke with the same poetic form of disyllabic, almost pyrrich foot as the regiment of soldiers monotonously marching through town. The author here exhibits a certain impish sense of humour. Or was that my own transiliteration?

The semantic entanglement found in homophony illustrates the possible uncertainties we may expect from any situation. "Be careful what you wish for". "Shit happens". The problem of too short a stay by visiting ethnographers recording customs from exotic others is the confusion of possibility, likelihood and law. In what we call "patrilocal" societies, we expect a couple will move to the husband's 'village'. It doesn't always happen, it is only recorded in the emic (customary) metanarrative. One has that option, and if nothing else comes up on a regular basis, we will see a trend. It may be a trend without our observation.

From the "exotic other's" point of view, tradition provides security: there is always an option or help is on the way. Should a child lose a father, the avunculate ensures the mother's brother will take his place (unless other arrangements have been made – and this part always seems to live in parentheses). In patrilocal arrangements, the husband's brother might take on this role. This is not a law until that culture incorporates absolutist hierarchy of rigid authority: most cultures have no room for orphans and widow(er)s.

Locality is no synonym for archy (except perhaps in the Japanese game of Go, in which the victor controls space itself). That defines the state, whether secular or theocratic. Otherwise, it is not a law or a necessity except from the perspective of an observer used to such things as being themselves "regulated" on a daily basis. To call statistical regularities "laws" only justifies one's own submission to legal institutions or a perceived necessity to disentangle nature prior to moving about in it. Quantum physics illustrates that even materialism enjoys no privilege over "transgression". Pataphysics focusses on flukes and the regularities of absurdity and the absurdities of regularity. In "point of fact", the world rarely obeys our expectations. If it did, there would be no questions and we'd all speak the same language empty of content – the language of Zombie, not Sheep.

 

Sea People and Ship-shape "Cities"

City bad, country good. Well, sure! At least from where I stand. On the other hand, there is so much hostile reaction against the standard critiques of the city and an idea of democratic civilisation, in the spirit of the Jainist epistemology (which originated in the country), there must be something to it. There is a problem to be criticised within our own sedentary or land-lubber perspective from three thousand years of associations with empires which moved while we ourselves could not.

We've heard for so long that pottery and large containers are a sure sign of sedentism. It seems so reasonable. You just can't take that kind of stuff with you when you're always on the move. Well, not unless you have a boat and a dock near the warehouse where you can park it.

It is our perspective of the bronze age "settlements" capable of housing thousands, even tens of thousands without defensive fortifications or artefactual signs of military police. On the contrary, we find structures called "temples" or "administrative centers" which are increasingly being re-interpreted as warehouses and aestheto-mathematic centers of learning and artistry for broad distribution, whose epi-tome in the Mediterranean is represented in the five major palaces among ninety Minoan port-towns on Crete's coast dissecting the island like a five-star compass. Lothal In Dravidian India, Caral in South America, "cities" whose ship-shape floor-plans appear as if designed by sailors used to the kind of orderly spatial arrangements necessary on a confined ocean-going vessel. Not even cities so much as five-star resort hotels. Particularly, gift centers complete with theatre, street rodeo, classical instruction for the kids and news from around the world. Potlatch centers.

Maui'i in Polynesia, Tlingit villages in Northwestern North America "canoing" to Frisco and even Mexico, the Mound-building culture extending from Florida through Great Lakes Canada, there was such a communicative web around the North rim of the Atlantic, connecting Europe to Newfoundland just as littoral peoples were distributed on the rim of the Pacific, a potlatch culture of sorts through the Caribbean between Florida and Brazil. Ancient Malay seafarers sailed to New Zealand before the Maori, to Madagascar, India and Arabia. We find Pacific Island chickens in Chile before the Christ-Conqueror Columbo was born. Along the Gambian River in Africa, through the region of Atlas on maps for Herodotus extending past Portugal to Northern Britain, across the North Sea and down the Danube or Volga. Along the Red Sea or Persian Gulf to Ethiopia, and across to India, well into Austronesia or up the East Coast whose rivers point toward Central Asian Steppes.

There is no point of origin once Out-of-African Boatmen made it to Australia, but that was already established in the beginning, a tale which by virtue of distance, can never be precisely calculated. Anaximander's map may be the more accurate once we assume the West hemispheric periphery, something early Babylonians had already incorporated. No map should be taken any further than figuratively.

There are many more maps. Across the great plains of Wyoming or Mongolia, ancestors of Berber or Bedouin, Shoshone or Sarmatian, whose symbiotic boats had four legs when two wouldn't do, equally partook in the entangled diffusion where only ideas can travel the speed of light by virtue of relay, express relativity. But the desert is easily circumscribed and routes interfered with and travelers must be wary of marauding city-folk patrolling their own periphery. Walls and fortifications, of course, alter the coarse of any moving commodity. If walls keep out more than the water or desert, one can be sure party-goers are not welcome.

What sea-goers have in common is littoral (coastal) and navigable river-mouth epi-centers. More importantly, they have sea-worthy water-craft. What is even more important is that home-base is more of an ideological epicenter, literal and literary, a territorial epicenter which anchors meaning, always a sinuous connection. One knows who they are by the relative positions of the star they were born under. Habits are predictable but only to those familiar with auspices or reading the fjords or finding oases. I have called these nascent cities potlatch centers. A ship which stands still and whose cargo sails the seven seas. They are resort spots one can retire to in old age or whatever apprenticeship inclines one to stay. For the most part, these cities which could house thousands rarely had sedentary populations exceeding a hundred or two. For the most part, the agriculture surrounding them supported crafts or fed other regions, as their own diets came primarily from the sea. Grain and fodder fed nomadic pastoralist's livestock in the off-season – at least until the empire-icists moved in.

Divination, Destination, Orientation

What this all means is that "Bronze Age" sailor-folk were not circumscribed but participants in a global news net moving about with trigonomadic mathematics. The sea at your back is quite the random background for secretive escape or dispersal, as long as you can find its oases or desert islands, when confronted by regimented hoards wielding pointy broadswords. Talking knots, counting boards, the rosary and scapula, abacus, hieroglyphics, the staff and cross or kula shell with beads attached were useful to line up celestial angles like heavenly angels or megalithic landmarks. The songs whose rhythm and meter identified articulation points in stories which reappear globally. It could be that these represent not strange unconscious archetypal symbolism but an integrated panlinguistic communication system.

Seals and "coins" were graphic identifiers of givers (hosts) and giftees (guests), although, like in Proto-Indoeuropean, that distinction may not have been linguistically valid. Claim tickets? Or perhaps just souvenier portraits like baseball cards. These were not trade empires until subjugating empires or iron-age marauders from their emerging city-states interceded with tit for tat justice, back-scratching feudal favoritism, the exchange economy of hegemonious antagonism resulting from a too-literal interpretation of "city limits". The attraction of any gate or party is found in its infinite crashability. The global revolution against empire which occurred variably around two thousand bc resulted in the retrogressive iron age by twelve hundred bc with the loss of cosmetic and poetic reference but retention of the calculator. They had set out to destroy the totality which empire corrupted too hastily. Fortunately, they missed a few spots, even with advancing industry artificially articulating time and space with the alarm-clock juxtaposed to the magnetic compass-needle in thirteen hundred, a.d. The technological novelty is only found in weird juxtaposition. Time-reckoning, direction-finding and the alarm certainly precedes civilisation, no matter how one defines it.

By the thirteenth century, the catholic's muse, Michael's reminder of rosary was altered by Marionites insisting it is useless without the scapula, the reference point, the cross-point of focus. Like the Arabic 'ilm al-raml, the "science of the sand" useful for "divination", Greek sailors had already noted the sighting instrument is useless without celestial navigation tables. Pirates had their shanties, like Arabians and their tallies, tales told to sailors during night's festivities. Iroquoian Wampam (beadwork) recorded messages or relayed "historic" events in accord with the lay of the land, whether poetic song or physical geography. The Inca's quipu cross-referenced a color, coded with symbols woven into the fabric of his clothing. Prior to the imposition of hierarchic patricity, "Inca" more accurately referred to "accountant". There are always songs and dances, poetry readings hyper-entangling mathematical reckoning superimposed over fields of randomisation. Today, we call it hoojoo or magical thinking because the stories or their correspondent keys are lost.

But we place great weight on our own geomantic systems of hermeneutic divination such as rorschack inkblots or personality tests which operate on the same principle of exposing ready-made theories of order (such as personality types) to random events – the numbers on thrown dice (random number generators) illustrating recursive patterns corresponding to a theoretic construct. There is a theoretical body of "verse" used by some vocational counselors to advise aspiring job-seekers based on their favorite color. The color chosen is thought to be an index of one's personality, like the I Ching or Yoruba Ifa, a large body of wisdom, oral or written literature together with a system for selecting the appropriate passages from it. Such tests are used by the U.S military, which goes on to ridicule Baubiologie as "pseudoscience" when it discovered that modern building materials are toxic to human life. The industry does not like us to question such materials as formaldehyde or dioxin emanating from our air-tight, climate-controlled homes. But doesn't "real" science question the great indeterminancy to seek patterns, patterns which are previously pointed by the theoretical orientation?

Any attempt to disentangle the universe (however it is logically or mathematically bounded) will result in an absurd artificiality. It comes into existence entangled, and it will always remain so despite our efforts to simplify matter or materialise simplicity.

Perhaps it's time to reconsider the simple stability of the permanent city and start thinking on where we will go for an entertaining facility. Empires create nothing but universal truth. They co-opt, contort, mis-take and distort. And then swear by it. For a time, every hotel resort exhibited hospitality. The Central Asian nomads knew well and endorsed the motto:"(Com)unity through diversity". A perceived or divined pattern should be a surprise, not an atrocity. Such an idea can only be corrupted by sedentary hierarchy. Fredy Perlman's "Octopus" of commerce is the free movement of commodity between settled humanity where the only mobility is demonstrated by nobility fracturing into complexifying bureaucracy and all labour is migratory (but only from one ghetto to the next) accommodating the free aristocracy immune to struggle and toil because they do not stay immersed in unsacred waters which, if you linger too long in high number, whether spiritual or euclidean or isolating iron-age mentality, deliver you only from sinuosity unto plague.

"Can you read the fjords?"
– a discordian scandinavian

 

The Trickster:
Not a categorical reification, but a processual personification.


AMBIGUITY AND INVERSION IN LANGUAGE AND RITUAL

When Alice in Wonderland says, "I can see nobody," and the admiring response to this linguistic ambiguity is, "My, you must have good eyes,” we all immediately understand the joke of the absurd play on words as well as on structural principles and see beneath the even deeper level of lampooning general principles of logic. All of us, irrespective of cultural background, seem to enjoy this kind of play with logic and structure, which enables us to escape the prison of the cut-and-dried rule-governed realm of deductive principles: yet we can only escape the prison by applying the rules of paradox through acknowledging these rules. In other words, we use the rules in order to show that a strict adherence to them leads to absurdity.
Klaus-Perer Koepping[1]

In all lands, the Trickster is foremost a teacher. Raven taught us that our speech originates in mimicry and showed us not only the location of fresh carcasses or goose eggs we might share in the eating, but more importantly, that the world is not always fixed in black and white. A close inspection of his cousin, the blackbird, will present one with all the filmy colours of a spreading oil slick.

Spider taught us the notion of cordage, baggage, weaving and also trapping. More important than this was the idea of extending our horizon by attending to even the most inauspicious of vibrations.

Coyote taught us to follow the animals and learn their habits if we get hungry. That it's alright to appear the clown. More importantly, that gender or species distinctions are less consequential than we give them credit. To illustrate the point, "he" turned himself into a pregnant dog and followed us around till we called her part of the family.

Snake-Which-Looks-Like-a-Stick (the ubiquitous "stick snake") taught us to be careful of what we grasp and then gave us the idea of poisoned arrows, effective at a distance against the biggest of thugs.

Of course, it is said Prometheus gave us fire, but not until our world started to get very cold. For this compassion, the "gods" sent vultures to eat out his guts. On the other hand, this might have been our one feat of ingenuity. Moths have regretted our new-found specialty to this day, and to avenge their dead ancestors who fried in the flames, wreak havoc on our fabric hoping we'll chill out or go away.
 

COYOTE STEALS FIRE[2]
From Nicola Valley...

From the top of a mountain, Coyote saw a light far away to the south. He did not know what it was. He defecated, and questioned his excrements. They said, "That is fire." He made up his mind to go and get it. Many people accompanied him. Fox., Wolf, Antelope, and all the good runners went with him. After travelling a long distance, they reached the house of the Fire people. They told them, "We have corne to visit you. to dance, to play, and to gamble." They prepared for a dance that night. Coyote made a head-dress of pitchy yellow-pine shavings with long fringes of dry cedar bark reaching to the ground. The Fire people danced first. The fire was very low. Then Coyote and his people danced in a circle around the fire. They complained that they could not see. Then the Fire people made a large fire. Coyote complained four times. and finally they let the fire blaze up high. Coyote's people pretended to be very hot,. and went out to cool themselves. They took up positions for running. Only Coyote was left. He danced about wildly until his headdress took fire. He pretended to be afraid, and requested the Fire people to put it out. They warned him not to dance so close to the fire. When near the door, he swung the long fringes of his headdress across the fire, and ran out. The Fire people pursued him. He gave his head·band to Antelope, who ran and passed it on to the next runner. Thus they carried it in relays. The Fire people caught up with the animals, and killed them one by one. Only Coyote was left. They nearly caught up with him but he ran behind a tree and gave the fire to it. Then he changed himself into dung. The Fire people looked for his tracks, looked up the tree, and examined the excrements. They could not find anything. They caused the wind to rise and the burning fragments of bark that had fallen here and there set fire to the grass. They said. “Coyote will now burn up." A heavy smoke arose, and Coyote escaped. The fire spread all over the country, and burned up many poople. Coyote caused a heavy rainfall and a flood, which put out the fire. After this the fire was in the trees, and grass and trees could he used for making fire. For this reason dry cedar-bark carries fire, and can he used for slow-matches. For this reason also, pitch·wood ignites easily, and is used for starting fires. Since then there have been smoke and fire in the world, and the two are inseparable. Smoke is always a sign of fire, and wind rnakes fire blaze up. For this reason people blow on fire.
 

Myth Time

Don Coyote, Quixote de la Mancha. Clown warrior and travelling hero hailing from the Stain in Spain. Clerical error, coincidence or "divine" inspiration from Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra who had nearly struck out at every previous literary enterprise? At one time, this book was translated into more languages and sold more copies than the bible. It seems to have struck a note back when popular demand might have actually meant something in the so-called "art world".

Back in the day, "Myth time" (and still today, "Dream time"), all the beings in the "world" could "communicate" with each other and anything they had, they came with – more "signs" of them (as in "index" or "attribute") than "possessions" (as in "property"). When "possessive" of themselves, Don Coyote tricked them out of what they had and shared it with the others. Of course, they didn't really lose anything in the process, but the world changed nevertheless. Coyote created teaching and learning by gifting or "redistribution". The consequences of this were not always good, as the trickster (creator, transformer, and general mischief-maker) himself was a bit of a bumbling fool and got himself into as much trouble as out of it.

In the breif narrative above, there are two senses of the "world":

  1. the world-exclusive, that is, the extent within their own horizons and that is all; and
  2. the world-inclusive, that is, the extent within their own horizons as well as beyond them – the unknown.

The very first line illustrates that Coyote has an elevated and therefore broader perspective: "From the top of a mountain, Coyote saw...". The collection of Trickster myths shows 'him' to be a world traveler. These are travelogues. Coyote, Spider, Raven, these are mere personifications which we translate into our own generic perceptual categories or rhetorical devices. The most interesting thing of the Trickster is that it cannot be confined in any box or pigeon-hole. The true world traveler is so over-exposed (so to speak), it cannot be seen (unless and as it wants to), it cannot be caught.

The trickster is a mirror living outside of euclidean space – the "space" of chance and absurditity – equally created and creating, self and other, reflecting and reflected. Steal this ideal: Anyone can turn themselves into dung! Even the dog knows to roll in an other's shit to mask its own smell and facilitate sneaking.

Now if (because of similar feeding patterns) the vultures which the gods sent to eternally punish Prometheus were but a euphamistic metaphor for ourselves, the recipients of this wonderful gift ...

Well, then what? To bite the hand which feeds you, to kill the messenger, shoot the albatross, it's all the same game. But every fire can back-fire. All gods are tricksters. And what does that make us but self-righteous gullible fools forever missing the point? Is the index of civility righteousness and morality? Prometheus is bound merely eternally.

The cure? To once and for all put an end to time itself, and to use an expression of Artaud, "turn it wrong-side out".
 

Bust out of your box and smash the clocks!
 

EPITAPH
Tale of Two Tricksters

We take things too, too seriously. How often are myths and legends mere pantomimic parody of Euclidean Aristocracy (The Royal Clownship), provided by the Trickster tales themselves: In Against History, Against Leviathon, Fredy Perlman (after Paul Radin), illustrated a Winnebago Trickster myth as a preventative tale (Apologue) meant to illustrate the danger of Rulership and its seductive entrapments. I am reminded of this Egyptian legend which seems well more parody than history:
Horus was told by his mother, Isis, to protect the people of Egypt from Set, the god of the desert, who had killed his father Osiris.

Horus had many battles with Set, not only to avenge his father, but to choose the rightful ruler of Egypt. In these battles, Horus came to be associated with Lower Egypt (where Horus was worshipped), and became its patron.

One scene stated how Horus was on the verge of killing Set; but his mother (and Set's sister), Isis, stopped him. Isis injured Horus, but eventually healed him.

By the 19th dynasty, the enmity between Set and Horus, in which Horus had ripped off one of Set's testicles, was represented as a separate tale. According to Papyrus Chester-Beatty I, Set is depicted as trying to prove his dominance by seducing Horus and then having intercourse with him. However, Horus places his hand between his thighs and catches Set's semen, then subsequently throws it in the river, so that he may not be said to have been inseminated by Set. Horus then deliberately spreads his own semen on some lettuce, which was Set's favorite food. After Set had eaten the lettuce, they went to the gods to try to settle the argument over the rule of Egypt. The gods first listened to Set's claim of dominance over Horus, and call his semen forth, but it answered from the river, invalidating his claim. Then, the gods listened to Horus' claim of having dominated Set, and call his semen forth, and it answered from inside Set.

But still Set refused to relent, and the other gods were getting tired from over eighty years of fighting and challenges. Horus and Set challenged each other to a boat race, where they each raced in a boat made of stone. Horus and Set agreed, and the race started. But Horus had an edge: his boat was made of wood painted to resemble stone, rather than true stone. Set's boat, being made of heavy stone, sank, but Horus's did not. Horus then won the race, and Set stepped down and officially gave Horus the throne of Egypt. But after the New Kingdom, Set still was considered Lord of the desert and its oases.

This myth, along with others, could be seen as an explanation of how the two kingdoms of Egypt (Upper and Lower) came to be united. Horus was seen as the God of Lower Egypt, and Set as the God of Upper Egypt. In this myth, the respective Upper and Lower deities have a fight, through which Horus is the victor. However, some of Horus (representing Lower Egypt) enters into Set (Upper Egypt) thus explaining why Lower Egypt is dominant over Upper Egypt. Set's regions were then considered to be of the desert.
Wikipedia

Immortality

Like the recent discovery that useless eaters are actually those at the top, what if we've gotten it backwards as to the early functions of intentional mummification? The word, "intentional" is suggestive of motivation, and it is only reverse induction to presume what was shares in every way what is if there is any perceptual (superficial) similarity when set side by side. It is predicting wholes from parts, "as it were", without the benefit of a time machine. Epistemologically, we are already on shaky ground. True prediction anticipates parts from pre-established or recognized (re-iterated) holes. If there is no similarity, authentic parentage is always suspect.

"Be that as it may", "at any rate" and "all things being equal" (the three epistemological loopholes: presumption, assumption and chance) ... "but let us proceed" (the playful loophole – "Screw epistemology"). Could it be that, at one time, on a positive turn, the mummification of the chief (or old girl-friend) was set about merely to protect a memory rather than a mummy from decay? The ritual surrounding the process is no less preservative than that surrounding the learning of a tale (to get it right and keep it that way), preventing a decadent story emerging from the telling. Suppose it was the practical demonstration that memory is immortal as long as it is expressed, no matter the condition of that which is remembered. "We are not dreaming, as you can clearly see: here is the evidence that what was is as substantial as what is". Hearing is always questionable, but seeing is believing.

Or was there a more negative connotation to the practice? To deny a tyrant immortality by preventing a return to the cycles, rhythms and metres of birth-life-death-birth, embalming the corpse during the dynastic interregnum by partying plebes parodying priests, and entombing his property or "grave goods" (once and for all) alongside. The predators, scavengers and worms, whose job it is to return the parts to the energetic cycles of biologic materials which clearly exhibits their eternal return (if only in the form of a lump of bird shit fertilizing a palm), the cats, snakes, jackals and falcons can only stand by and watch a poisoned meal with perpetual disappointment. A certain sense of "No more Bush!" is suggested. Or the mass celebration at Nixon's funeral. It gives hope that the next regime will be kinder. As that never seems to occur, the practice is intensified to the extent that today, every corpse is pumped full of formaldehyde, and we dream of eternal youth rather than immortality per se. Growth and development. It is oh so much more becoming than the mere life of being and decadent pessimism of "here today, gone tomorrow".

Or was it the mere mimicry of a mortified caterpillar, a wrapified pupa prior to its future metamorphosis as a merry moth? The Trickster as transformer? It's still a nature myth much resembling science with a sense of humor.

Of course, the modern cinematic wisdom interpreting the tale proclaims that the ritual was a scientific experiment to see how long it would take not only for spontaneous generation to re-occur, but the demonstration of a quantum leap of organs carefully sealed in jars, out of the jars, through the sarcophagus and back into the corpse to make the re-incarnation a structural-functional identity. Obviously, the experiment was interrupted by Nature's revenge: ravaging grave robbers who scattered the parts to the winds and industrial engineers with crazy intentions fueling their loco-motives for lack of local coal. Thank goodness for the recuperative efforts of muse-um-ologists for the eternal progress of science and literature, preserving the past to encourage the future. Progress changes nothing but the arte-, er, of-, er, super-ficial image of the present.

The first Egyptian big man was the menace, Menes who visited the Minoans. As long as there were merry mariners, there were no foreigners. We now know such: lunacy refers to the moon's influence on the big man's marri-age to a Peri-Mary from Persia and her many menses. To infer patriarchy is a quantum leap in logic, but that seems to be what happened. And I believe it for a minute! Weird words. Calypso is word play so that the gods "don't understand a word of it" ... but we do! Can there ever be a similarity between free association and intentional community?

What really happened ("Truth") is always as uncertain as what's about to. There is no rational justification for familiarity or filiation (or its dis). Politics is too a banana! Creation is always experimentally experiential as all the experts are no longer around (see Peri: "in Persian mythology, a beautiful supernatural being descended from the "fallen" angels (aka "stars"), a graceful and beautiful girl or woman – Calysta from the apocalypsa). But that's another story altogether concerning the jackal (Coyoté's brother) Anubis' wife, Input, Earthly mother and high priestess of the heavens and their daughter, Qébéhout, the essential water which both guides and refreshes!

 

Extradiction: The Spaces

For our species, consciousness is a constant – it is ubiquitous. Some say this applies to biological organisms in general. The discovery of self-motivating molecules puts a question mark on even this distinction. Consciousness is equally tending or attending the environment, the other, the matrix (material environment) and context (the social environment).

What anthropologists call culture is the contextual matrix' (or matriculated context's) influence on the biological units we call "members". That there is a variable range of response demonstrates autonomy or will to transgress ('to move across or through'). Transgression and even error illustrate self-motivation. Some democratic sorts call all difference "error". Struggle occurs when there is a difference of opinion on the extent of the range of variability. This could also be called system tolerance and gives us the idea of "degrees of freedom" within a statistical distribution, a range (standard) of acceptable deviation.

The normative system therefore oscillates, reflecting omni-directional (mutual) influence. Movement is therefore also constant. This applies to cultures, local groups, sub-cultures, milieus, organisations and institutions. The social environment and material environment are entangled: there is food and there are feeders and sometimes confusion as to which is which. In judo, the push and pull are a mutual singularity, else the dance fails.

The ethos (world view, cultural ideology, theoretical paradigm) emergent from mimicry (automatic or spontaneous, 'positive' aesthetic response) and innovation (will to transgress or push the envelope) provides points of focus. There is a simultaneous tending and attending without any necessary contradiction or paradox.

The ethos whose Attention focusses on "making a living" narrows the field of perception to the material. We thereafter feel "forced by production" so name the environment itself "productive forces". To Tend and Attend to force is hereafter a duty or responsibility. Under control. "It's the economy, stupid" (- George Bush). Helpless. Hindered. Without agency. It is ignored (or placed in a separate box) that tending to living can also result in livelihood – intensionally. We in-tend to eat and drink and be merry. Tending is nurture. Encouragement. Rigid regimentation pays out consequences (punishment) so we confuse tending with tension. Reward becomes the avoidance of punishment. The soldier feints in the yard under too much attention. Was it an authentic physiological/metabolic response or faked to temporarily get out from under control, to be at ease? Both are likely possibilities, but generally speaking, the authentic collapse comes first.

Dialectics (the theory of opposing forces producing struggle, which in this case is synonymised with "movement" – see Engels) narrows the perceptual field even further, since the alternative to material has already been posed (a priori) as "spiritual" (or "ideological", which is thought a rigid attention to spiritual matters), and that is no alternative at all – no scientifically minded person (or Marxist) with any sense believes it (at least publicly). If they do, it is considered inconsequential, childish, mad or an example of non-overlapping magesteria, a contradiction which cannot be resolved: Aporia, 'without passage'. As with all contradictions, we are told to "keep still" or "live with it!"

Politics is thereafter the self-fulfilling tautology. There is no living, only production under the metaphorical or literal gun of custom. Politics paradoxically pleads for a profound rupture. We then call this "Thanatos" – the death drive. But we others want to live first!

Capital, our culture, provides that one can "make a living" in innumerable ways without any detriment to itself. In fact, it is called forth "for the greater good". We are told to change the way we make a living as a matter of routine, if only to maintain our interest. There's always another job, even making license plates in a factory prison or growing pizzas on a pepperoni farm. There's always a sacrifice, always a cost. So they (we) say.

What is necessary and sufficient for a revolution is a change in living itself. That would be cost-free but not without entanglements. A communist revolution still entails tending along with attending, but within a broader range of meaning. It is not an either/or proposition, despite all the bantering of econo-political theorists. Our world is handed back to us in a disentangled state, and then we are given a choice between isolated fragments. Re-entanglement can be a planned project. Introduce a little chaos and unimaginable order will emerge (and vice versa). This is the theory of dada. But without an aesthetic sense, interest, what does any of it matter?

Insurrection is a food frenzy and an orgy. Revolution is an apocalypse. Boxes can and do collapse. But first we need to peer outside them lest we be crushed as well.

Politics is the design layout for other people's lives. What goes right alongside it is the control (suppression) of intervening variables which eliminates difference – no subjectivity! These two factors make up the science-technology interface in its modern manifestation – the machine metaphor we have grown up to emulate for our own being and our lens for viewing all that is other. The elimination of chance is the negation of spontaneity (free-play). This "serious business" produces a democracy of objects – objectivity.

Freedom means taking your chances, seeking fortune (in its statistical sense of "that which is beyond so-many agreed-upon standard deviations from the norm"). This does not imply the negation of "removing obstacles or navigating around them". Beavers and even metabolising microbes do that, and we are told they have no ability for conscious planning at all. Asger Jorn might say "What's planning got to do with aesthetics anyway?" Who even makes plans any more but as a matter of delegation or relegation? Where else is to be found interest except in the predictability of on-line pizza delivery?

The ideas of emergence and synergy (even Aristotle spoke on this matter), on the other hand, demand variability and chance interventions. The Fates and the Furies. There is nothing chaotic about it. Neither is it mystical, as that only refers to what is beyond the baseline – the myth-time of great convergences and transformations (back when communication was not restricted to static forms of politically-correct selves sharing a specific socio-linguistic platform) – that is, beyond the perceptual horizon where predictability is always problematical. Control (manipulative meddling) and design are our greatest sources of arrogance, all so we can stand still and have the world come/be delivered to us. The dialectic of simplicity and complexity is no less absurd as that of order and chaos or certainty and probability. Different thinking is always the hardest to swallow, particularly when actual movement or passage is not part of our own aesthetic. Idealogical/political movement can be engaged without ever leaving your viewing moniter, free of perturbation.

But different thinking is possible: To wit, Charles S. Peirce, R. Buckminster Fuller, the bicyclist, Alfred Jarry. Even Nietsche promoted thinking with your gut now and then instead of good old Mr. Gray Matter all by it's lonesome. Were they all mad pomo wankers?

Stand on your head, think with your feet.

And we are back to shifting baselines. Every fundamentalism is only a snapshot faded by amnesiatic fluid. There was never a pristine Buddhism. Fundamental Nature is always just a product of the official intelligence residing in official spaces during office hours. The antipolitical notion is somehow enmeshed in the old ideas of "presocratic flux": no original substance, no pure race, no linguistic root, no correct form, no center, no pristine condition of any sort. The Golden Age was Greek myth-time. In fact, the Greeks were themselves interlopers into that territory long after their par excellent model of well-being, the Bronze-age Minoans had already shipped out.

Flux (or superfluity) does not signal chaos in need of remedy. Nomadism does not mean unpredictability or insecurity. Nomads have always moved comfortably within overlapping horizons of a perceptual/cognitive field and a physical territory. It is said tradition makes time stand still. But when time stops, space itself must move.

"There was never a pristine Buddhism"

How could there be? But there was in all terrritories a history, a framework of engagement which is being obliterated by an entirely different order of existence.

In most situations in history it remained possible for a smaller, ill-equipped, and less well organised society to defeat an invader (for example, the defeat of Rome in Scotland) because the territory being fought over was basically perceived by invader and defender in the same terms. This possibility for reversal no longer exists because the territory that capital is imposing has nothing to do with the history of what is already there. – FD

When the globalised metanarrative we call capitalist civilisation fragments, we are left all standing on a field of uncertainty. This only means it is the future which is liberated. It's not a matter of reversal or return, but possibility itself. Of course, the hinge here is just another article of faith. I accept the notion of collapse because I don't accept the notions of immortality or stasis. But there is some evidence. Our system is recapitulated in our technology (after all, the one makes the other), and that itself is daily losing its functional qualities beyond the limits of "planned obsolescence". Toyota syndrome is only a special case of Fendersen's last law of cybernetics: Increasing negentropy accelerates entropy of exentropic systems. At some point, even sabotage is no longer recouperable by insurance companies. It has something to do with extracting blood from turnips when there are no more frontiers (to) off-shore. "All bleeding eventually stops" (– Auntie Dave).

There are no liberators unless we authorise them. That is certainly a dangerous possibility as well. But there is no Nirvana unless perhaps in death or a parallel quantum dimension – the land of the Jin. That's not wherein we live. This does not mean we must envelop ourselves in a perpetual brutish struggle just because that is the direction the Iron Age revolutionaries and protestant reformers took. There are other models to mimic should we wish to break old habits. An extended family of beavers just invaded our pond and built a nice condominium. No one else, not even the mud-hens appear to mind. They seem to be spending much more time frolicking in the water and sunning on the roof than being busy with the grand struggle for existence. Fat, dumb and happy? Why not? We call it "well-being".

 


Notes:

[1]: Klaus-Peter Koepping , Absurdity and Hidden Truth: Cunning Intelligence and Grotesque Body Images as Manifestations of the Trickster, History of Religions, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Feb., 1985), pp. 191-214, The University of Chicago Press.

[2]: from Folk-Tales of Salishan and Sahaptin Tribes, edited by Franz Boas, Memoirs of the American Folklore Society, Vol XI, 1917 [download pdf].

This is no metanarrative, bible or recipe book (all euclidean, linear devices for sure), yet contains everything one needs to know for living in the region, as taught by the animal ancestors from all the various localities in the region from upper Canada and its Thompson, Okanogan and Columbia River headwaters, East of the Cascade range of the Pacific Northwest to the Rockies, the location of the megalithic Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn range in Wyoming which is located near the headwaters of Rivers which connect to the Shoshone and Snake as well as Powder and Tongue and across to the Platte which eventually makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico via Missouri and Huck Finn's Mississippi. Why are there mountains but for the rivers to be given birth, learn which way to flow and make it to "the great circle of the waters of the earth", not a destination but a renewable or cyclic duration? A revolutionary poem cycle.

BACK