Serres begins his work on the parasite with a parable. Perhaps we shall too. A stolen parable, the work and words of another. But a false and fictional other, a man outside of and beyond time. The ever unique Philip J. Fry:
It’s just like the story of the grasshopper and the octopus. All year long, the grasshopper kept burying acorns for the winter, while the octopus mooched off his girlfriend and watched TV. But then the winter came, and the grasshopper died, and the octopus ate all his acorns. And also he got a racecar. Is any of this getting through to you?
Futurama 1×07, “My Three Suns”
What can be said of such a parasite as he speeds off in his racecar?
And with such noise…
In the beginning was the noise.
And so we begin. Noise is an important issue for Serres. He crosses boundaries, disciplines, raising questions, questioning methods. And noise runs through it. Like a river. Let’s fly fish.
Noise destroys and noise can produce.
Silence, a discrete tenant by contrast, is only a momentary lull.
Serres draws the closest to the theorization of noise that I seek. As he transgresses boundaries, writes in parables, and waxes poetic he approaches the essence of the complex composite that is noise.
Noise is a question of wealth and power:
The more wealth a man or a collectivity amasses, the more noise they make, soft but also hard; the louder the noise and the racket, the further their visual and acoustic productions or excrements will spread, the more hard power they have.
Now everywhere and all the time we hear sound waste, the rubbish and refuse of engines, ventilators, air conditioning, waste disposal units, reactors, grinders, tuners that saturate the old pugnacious cesspit world of the owners.
The noise temporarily stops the system, makes it oscillate indefinitely.
Theorem: noise gives rise to a new system, an order that is more complex than the simple chain.
the relation to chaos:
In the beginning is the noise; the noise never stops. It is our apperception of chaos, our apprehension of disorder, or only link to the scattered distribution of things.
the background of information:
The noise, the background noise, that incessant hubbub, our signals, our messages, our speech and our words are but a fleeting high surf, over its perpetual swell.
Noise is a turbulence, it is order and disorder at the same time, order revolving on itself through repetition and redundancy, disorder through chance occurrences, through the drawing of lots at the crossroads, and through the global meandering, unpredictable and crazy. An arborescent and turbulent rumor.
Noise, you see, is also the trace of the observer. There is noise in the subject, there is noise in the object. Meddling in the phenomenon, the receiver introduces or produces a certain noise there, his own, for no one can live without noise.
and without contradictory:
Noise has no contradictory. The contradiction of a noise is a noise. The noise has no contrary. The space of a noise has no complementary, no outside. Logic is drowned in the noise. Of the prelogical or the antepredicative I know only the noise. And the fury.
Noise for Serres is an infinitely useful, infinitely mutable concept/construct. It flows, it ripples, it disrupts. It is the parasite, the pollution, the genesis. It is the background of all things, the necessary of relations, the corruption of power and the power of corruption. If not for Serres poetic language (and perhaps some translation barriers) it might be that he suggests some of the answers to the question of noise as such/in itself. He certainly is able to put the term, the concept, the metaphor to use. So what then of the octopus, his girlfriend, and that racecar?
We must introduce into philosophy the concept of chaos, a mythical concept until this morning, and despised by rationality to the point of being used nowadays only for discourses on madness.
Serres, Michel. Genesis. Trans. Geneviève James and James Nielson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. Print.
___. Malfeasance: Appropriation Through Pollution?. Trans. Anne-Marie Feenberg-Dibon. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2011. Print.
___. The Parasite. Trans. Lawrence R. Schehr. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. Print.