Friday, June 14, 2013


Alea jacta est.
A lea the jackal ingests.

Where to begin? I could tell you that I had an interest in any work from Zone books. And that because of that interest I had placed Paul Auster's translation of Pierre Clastres' Chronicle Of The Guayaki Indians on the lower level of my rather large night stand atop some other materials, so that at my leisure I would take it up and begin to read it. Last night before I entered sleep, I had ventured to read it, making my way at least through the part of the introduction where Paul Auster notes his own troubles with the work, and mentions that Pierre Clastres had died in a car accident in the mountains.

This morning I saw this:

And I wasn't sure if I'd ever heard of Manfred Mohr, but his work certainly seemed familiar, and the more I read, the more I liked him and his work, as after all, I am a digital artist, and this person was one of the first people to call himself that. I started to make a collage in homage to him, and had more or less finished, when my Photoshop program crashed. It crashes a lot now, because.. It's a long story, involving my own laziness perhaps, perhaps the story is really about the politicality of design. I could tell you now that last night I also read a sad story from The Chronicle about the various methods of Guyaki abortion, and their reasons. So, having become inured to crashes and losing work, I simply folded my hands in my lap, and either kept on reading about Mohr, or, at some point went out looking in Google for the place where Pierre Clastres had died. I found that P.C. had died near Gabriac, Lozère on 29 July 1977. Gabriac is a commune in the Lozère department in southern France. On google maps, I found that the street view for this area is not available. I can tell you that I also noticed that the white roads depicted in this area look a great deal like the figures in many of Manfred Mohr's works eliciting this essay. Let's see those comparisons now before we continue. Our interest in the protein like folds of the roads stretching in all directions from Gabriac. As soon as I saw the phrase, I thought, "Gab react" (to) "Loose Ear," or "Lo, Seer" (sere). I could tell you that.

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Now here are some the figures of Manfred Mohr:

These first two make the best approximation, but the next image was what led me back to thinking about syntaxis.

If you are unfamiliar with my concept of Syntaxis, it is in essence a model of human reality whereby the 'realpolitik' of thinking and acting are conjoined to perform a model of computational constructionism. Syntaxis is basically, in a literary sense, the human 'timing-chain' of fate, or 'how reality unfolds'.. I don't recall exactly how I came upon the term the first time, but I have stored that it means 'essay' in Latin. To verify that idea this morning I poked around and found first the entry on wiktionary:


Etymology: From late Latin syntaxis, from Ancient Greek σύνταξις.
Pronunciation: (UK) IPA: /sɪnˈtaksɪs/
Noun: syntaxis (uncountable)

(obsolete, grammar) Syntax.

(geology) A convergence of mountain ranges, or geological folds, towards a single point.
"The melting and assimilation of the country rock" [The Penguin Dictionary of Geology, D.G.A. Whitten and J.R.V. Brooks]

(crystallography) Syntaxy.

As there was a link from the Latin to the Greek, I looked there as well
and found more:

Ancient Greek

Etymology: From σύν (sun, “with”) + τάξις (taksis, “arrangement”)
Pronunciation: (5th BC Attic): IPA: /sýntakʰsis/
(1st BC Egyptian): IPA: /sýntakʰsis/
(4th AD Koine): IPA: /sýntaxsis/
(10th AD Byzantine): IPA: /sýntaksis/
(15th AD Constantinopolitan): IPA: /sí̃daksis/

Noun: σύνταξις (genitive συντάξεως) f, third declension; (suntaksis)

an arranging, putting in order

array, arrangement, organization, system, order

composition, treatise

(grammar) syntax

body of troops, contingent

company, troupe

covenant, previous arrangement

tribute, levy

subvention, pension

It was at this point, that I noticed once again the strength of the term, especially in its modulation from discrete forms of arrangement to arrangement itself, but also specifically in its relation to 'folding'..

Remembering in my reading certain notions of Baroque perspective and the fold, I went looking for texts. In Gilles Deleuze: Vitalism and Multiplicity By John Marks I found this (ppgs 75-77):

Returning to the work of Manfred Mohr I found this Essay: Alea iacta est by Mihai Nadin.
You can read it here. What I was happy to find at some point was a reference to a published text by Mohr which by relation to the current period in which I find myself seems prescient:

As pervasive as randomness is, we still do not know too much about it. As a theoretic construct, it is quite slippery. As a reality of existence, it often makes life look like a vast lottery. The aleatoric, another name for randomness, is wedded to the Latin Alea jacta est, The dice are tossed. Well, Manfred Mohr knows a lot more about randomness than do those who wrote the Treatises on the topic. His first "study" of it resulted in a charming book, Le Petit Livre de Nombres au Hasard (Paris, 1971, Edition d'artiste), the output of a random number generator. This is concrete poetry at its best, no longer semantic games or word-image translations, but the embodiment, in elegant succeeding columns, of what randomness (also evoking the notion of hazard) is: the impossibility to infer from what was to what will be. In some ways, randomness is a reaction to determinism. When computers first attracted attention through their potential use for art, the consensus was that while programs can describe the algorithmic component of art, intuition could only be modeled by randomness. Bense obviously made this point (in his Aesthetica), and so did his entire "Stuttgart School." Across the Atlantic, A. Michael Noll, working in the Speech and Communications Department at Bell Laboratories, manipulated lines and shapes, allowing the random number generator to modulate the boring world of order. My own interest in randomness came via historically acknowledged examples of permutational art (Mozart remains my favorite example). They also came through Tristan Tzara, whose genius for provocation and innovation led to the Dada movement and its many consequences in the aesthetics of the modern and post-modern.

What the author does not seem to pick up on is the subtle reference to Stéphane Mallarmé (if indeed Mohr even intended that). That reference of course, would be to Mallarmé's Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance), a work which has recently been investigated by the philosopher Quentin Meillassoux in his The Number and the Siren. Here is a quote from Barry Schwabsky's essay on the work:

In particular, Meillassoux makes clear the poem’s relation to Mallarmé’s reflections on politics. This is all the more crucial as the poet is sometimes made to seem nothing more than a fabricator of crystalline literary baubles. Mallarmé was convinced that the civil state had need of a civil religion, what might be called a post-theistic secular Church. “Mallarmé thus considers as impossible a strict neutrality of the public domain that would reserve all spiritual impulses for the personal sphere alone,” Meillassoux points out. “There must be a common elevation.” Though Meillassoux doesn’t mention them, one thinks of the civic festivals promoted by the Jacobins in the wake of the French Revolution — for instance in Strasbourg, 30 Brumaire, Year II of the Revolution, when the cathedral was proclaimed a Temple of Reason and a choir of 10,000 voices sang hymns to this new deity under the sign, light after darkness. The Book of which Mallarmé dreamed—and which he presumably could not write because by nature it would have had to have been anonymous — was to be likewise the instrument of a new godless religion. Poetry, in this dream, was to be “a diffusion of the divine,” writes Meillassoux, “as opposed to its representation (the Greek scene), or its presentation (the Christian Parousia).” What might be surprising is that Mallarmé’s political thinking is directly tied to his position on the “crisis in verse” of his time, the break between classical versification, above all the alexandrine, and free verse, and the attendant ambivalence as to how classical verse should be pronounced on stage. Accordingly, although “Mallarmé sees in meter the condition of a ceremonial and public poetry,” each individual, explains Meillassoux, may “introduce a principle of uncertainty into the reading of the verse.”

I found this final line to be wonderfully intriguing, as randomly it seems to unite (possibly) the divine (as a diffusion into poetry) with something along the lines of the Baroque perspective
shown in the quoted text above:

This then, is a further echo of Syntaxis, formally a noun, but one whose construction ensues by being a verb. That its contemporary form should relate by 'folding' to both geology and crystallography can only strengthen the case for its use as a philosophical concept. Syntaxis illustrates perfectly a diffuse and yet 'formal' object of randomness. It also presents, and in a sense is cognate to the divine, as a transcendent figure. We cannot calculate the unfolding of events in any meaningful way except as a contingency rooted in known variation, but as Deleuze shows, this object  remains transcendent. And even though Leibniz's characterization of the monad of substance now seems more literary than useful as a physical model, it does in fact stand, for most of our calculations and theories of the most intimate spaces of matter (string theory) are still in the process of being fully worked out. We still inhabit a kind of epistemic outside to substance (matter).

But it is funny in a way, and not in a haha way. I started this meditation with the sad fact of Pierre Clastres death. And there is a deadness to this final line, "Unfolding only serves to open up another fold." It sort of nullifies difference with difference. It seems to say that creativity is, in the end uncreative, This wonderful baroque perspective, or the divine as diffused within the poetic, and also, yes, syntaxis, seems ever damned to 'simply vary'.. In a way, this is like seeing an image of the Tao, or if pi were to become a droning noise. But these are simply projections. It is in the definition of the tao that I think we may find more interest as poets, or artists, people, or even, believers, as tao signifies not only 'way', 'path', 'route', or sometimes more loosely, 'doctrine' or 'principle', but it is also used as a verb for speak, vox, voice, oration.. But this simple understanding of geological actuation as a voice, and voice as path has been algorithmically enhanced in the last few decades. The best way to illustrate it simply would just be to show you:

Here is a 'random' string of characters:


and here is what happens when your cat steps on your keyboard


and then there is this line which represents the use of language.

If you chart the three strings together

the high variation string will be topmost
then language
then the stuck key

Language in terms of usages of variation in expression 'performs'
a middle path, but languages vary upwards and downwards in the scale.
For instance, Fortran is closer to AAAAAAAAAAAAA than _)(UHghuvld_FH(UHEFU.

It seems sort of interesting to note that on Pierre Clastres' wikipedia page there is a sort of poorly written section on Anarcho-Nihilism. I say 'poorly written' because of the notion of legibility and standards which the text does not seem exactly to follow:

Following Clastres' theory of early societies having natural systems to prevent the centralization of power an anarcho-nihilist view of society emerges. Anarcho-Nihilism holds the belief that through Clastres' observations societies have both natural and rational ways to regulate power that do not conflict with either mutual self-interest or normal self-interest. As such Anarcho-Nihilism utilizes this theory in furthering views on Will to Power and the belief that societies originally regulated power disparities to prevent the rise of hierarchy, and should rationally return to this form of society. As opposed to authority rising from self-interest counter to Marxism anarcho-nihilism, like Clastres, argues that the freedom and self-interest of individuals instead prevents the rise of hierarchy and authority if individuals remain rational and guided by their own self-interest.

Or perhaps it is only missing a comma or two, or some capitalization?

Following Clastres' theory of early societies having natural systems to prevent the centralization of power, an Anarcho-Nihilist view of society emerges. Anarcho-Nihilism holds the belief similar to that which we see through Clastres' observations, that, societies have both natural and rational ways to regulate power that do not conflict with either mutual self-interest or normal self-interest. As such, Anarcho-Nihilism utilizes this theory in furthering views on 'the will to power' and the belief that societies originally regulated power disparities to prevent the rise of hierarchy, and should rationally return to this form of society. As opposed to authority rising from self-interest, counter to Marxism, Anarcho-Nihilism, like Clastres, argues, that the freedom and self-interest of individuals instead, prevents the rise of hierarchy and authority if individuals remain rational and guided by their own self-interest.

My point in bringing up this material is that it relates to variation and voice. While a sentence that illustrates anything at all, and is, say, more or less grammatically correct, whatever that is, tends to simply illustrate in formal terms the middle path of character usage which is defined (as per contingency) as "language"..

Music has a high level of variation like the fjhsofhsguhyfuf figure, and probably, higher arrangements of thematics, say, the news, or the history of philosophy, or human history itself
would also bear this mark of high variation.

Would this then not be a way of algorithmic ally analyzing the historical psychologem?
Or is the human mind, as transcendent, baroque perspectivality already understood
as music? If this is the case, then, would not conceptuality itself unite these figures:

high variation: anarcho
constant variation: nihilist
poetic: anarcho
musical: anarcho
musical determinism: nihilist

In other words, most of the ways we determine things are themselves determined by how we enjoin the categorical imperative.

There are only a finite number of written notes. Without deploying them, and just showing them, would that fragment exist in the middle variation or above or below. It seems to become contextual.

But one figure in this whole mass stands out for me, and it is stated very clearly:

I guess what I am trying to say with this essay, if only to myself, is that it seems as if matter itself is   Anarcho-Nihilist, and that our attempts at poetry or ideology, or anything, for that matter, is in that context. That substance itself represents an ideology, and so all our products, no matter the intention behind their production, either physical or conceptual, will necessarily be composed of that ideology. Call it music, programming, noise, language, whatever you like. It is the modulation of an Anarcho-Nihilist substance.

Wave upon wave, and fold upon fold, a smile
was borne upon the void, and a frown, viewed
differently, differentially.

1 comment:

  1. That was interesting, and largely beyond my pay grade. I get the constant feeling that something is hiding, as Dick put it somewhere, like a zebra in the shadows of the apparently random. Well, he didn't put it quite like that, but I can't put my hand on the book right now (one of the VALIS ones most likely). I do get pills for that. Not the losing books part, the sense of divine reality part. I like the infinitely complex smile borne upon the void rather a lot. Great for the head, that.


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