rhizomes.06 spring 2003

Alan Sondheim

12:55pm up 2 min, 1 user, load average: 0.31, 0.19, 0.07 USER TTY FROM LOGIN@ IDLE JCPU PCPU WHAT root tty1 - 12:54pm 0.00s 0.46s 0.05s w

Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist. Ogden: The world is everything that is the case. Pears/McGuinness: The world is all that is the case. Die Welt ist die Gesamtheit der Tatsachen, nicht der Dinge. Pears/McGuinness: The world is the totality of facts, not of things. Ogden: The world is the totality of facts, not of things. ... Die Tatsachen im logischen Raum sind die Welt. Die Welt zerfallt in Tatsachen. Ogden: The facts in logical space are the world. The world divides into facts. ... Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, daruber muss man schweigen. Ogden: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. Pears/McGuinness: What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence. (From beginning and end of Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ogden translation 1922, Pears/McGuinness translation 1961.)

[1] TLP describes a Dostoevskian crystalline world divisible into facts. The German is clear; the motto to the book, by Kurnberger states, in translation: ... and whatever a man knows, whatever is not mere rumbling, and roaring that he has heard, can be said in three words.

[2] TLP portends ideality. The world is logical, mathematical, capable of clear division. Logical space is the space, I would assume, of the natural numbers, if not the integers; as Russell says in his introduction, TLP presents, inscribes, a finite mathematics -- there's no room for the continuum, and proof of the continuum hypothesis was far in the future.

[3] The translations are different, almost never radically so, but different nonetheless. There is a residue in German such that both English versions converge, but often never meet. The sememes are equivalent, but only to a degree; translations are almost never one-to-one.

[4] In this logical space of facts, programming, and protocols, there is always a wavering, always room, always doubt, critique, and I would say desire as well. Never mind that this wor(l)d breaks down, evidenced a few decades later by Godel, Tarski, Skolem, etc.: Coherency, living within the safety-net of mathesis, matrix, maternality, remains a dream of humanity. DNA coding, cryptography, hacking the world -- all appear to guarantee that everything is possible.

[5] Computer languages are logical; computers are presumed so, but aren't; protocols are logical as well; logical spaces may be compared to drive-space; garbage-in, garbage-out; and so forth. Hacking depends on a closed world with closed loopholes; the loopholes themselves are coherent, logical, _there._

[6] Codework, code writing, rides within and throughout the logical world, as a disturbance, a sign of things to come, both extension and breakdown.

[7] Where does the content lie? Is it in the translation of code into messiness or residue? Is it in the interpretation of residue? Or perhaps, and herewith a criticism, is it in the wonderment, confusion, and novelty of the residue itself?

[8] Is codework a minor art, minor literature? What is the point of repeatedly shaking the scaffolding -- if not the emergence, in the future, of an other or another approach, or an other, being or organism, for which codework now both provides augury and its weakness as portal/welcoming? For what is come among us already no longer speaks the world of logical facts, just as computers are no longer large-scale calculators, but something else as well, something unnamed, fearful -- that fearfulness already documented by, say, Cruikshank in the 19th century.

2:20pm up 1 min, 1 user, load average: 0.33, 0.18, 0.06 USER TTY FROM LOGIN@ IDLE JCPU PCPU WHAT root tty1 - 2:19pm 0.00s 0.42s 0.05s w

[9] Codework references the alterity of a substrate which supports, generates, and behaves as a catalyst in relation to its production. To this extent, codework is self-referential, but no text is completely self-referential (sr); things waver. So for example 'ten letters' and 'two words' and 'english' may be considered sr -- but only to the extent that the phrases are presumed to apply to themselves. Extended: 'This sentence has thirty-one letters.' -- 'This sentence has five words.' -- 'This is an english sentence.'

[10] What is the residue? What are the sentences 'about'? On the surface, letters, words, language. This is an additional or diacritical relation- ship to sr; if one, for example, didn't know English, none of these would make sense.

[11] All sr possesses a residue -- an _attribute tag._ In codework, which has a component of sr, the tag may be plural, muddied -- the world is never presumed complete, total. Codework is not an instance in this regard of mathematical platonism or Godelian-platonism; if anything it relies on the breakdown of the ideal, pointing out the meaning-component of computation, program, protocol, even the strictest formalisms.

[12] Early on Whitehead pointed out that 2+2 = 4, but only in a certain formal sense; in fact, the equation implies an operation or unifying process; within the 4, the components are combined, their history lost. Strictly, '2+2' and '4' are equivalent; within the symbolic, they differ -- for that matter, in terms of thermodynamics as well. This domain is expanded by codework, which endlessly interferes.

[13] The danger of codework is in its delimitation; it tends to repeat; the works tend towards considerable length; automatic generation can flow forever. Sometimes it appears as maw-machine emissions -- text in, modified text/partial code out. Sometimes it extends language into new uncharted territories. Sometimes it references the labour and/or processing of language. Sometimes it privileges the written over the spoken, or portends the spoken within a convolution of stuttering and close-to-impossible phonemic combinations. Sometimes it appears as a warning against the all-too-easy assimilation of linguistic competency.

[14] Sometimes it breaks free, relates to the subjectivity behind its production, the subjectivity inherent in every presentation of symbol-symbolic.

2:37pm up 18 min, 1 user, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00 USER TTY FROM LOGIN@ IDLE JCPU PCPU WHAT root tty1 - 2:19pm 0.00s 0.44s 0.06s w