To define noise is to presuppose that noise exists.
To define noise is to demarcate. To create the borders of a territory, to mark liminal zones, and to declare an outside. That line of demarcation necessitates noise as the outside, as the other, as a necessary line of flight. But without the initial process of declaring a zone of influence, an inside/outside, presence/absence, pattern/randomness binary there would be no means of understanding noise. Noise, at present, is only understood in the negative, in the relief. It is understood in its opposition to sound, its opposition to music, its opposition to signal, its opposition to meaning, its opposition to the desired and desirable.
How, then, does one come to deal with a concept that cannot be dealt with a priori? Must noise always be carefully framed before it can be discussed? Is it always a case of “noise could be this, this, and this, but I will define it thus …” Is that an issue? Surely it is not a stretch to presuppose an Other, to presuppose division and conflict. Life would seem to demand such a presupposition. What is more prevalent in our worlds than noise, division, conflict, disruption, randomness, and the failures of order, structure, planning, and dreams? But that merely dictates the value in studying and understanding noise. It does not give us a noise before the line. Perhaps there is another means. Serres points a way.
Or, what is there before the first division? What is the background against which meaning is spoken into being? What is the primal chaos if not noise? This creates its own problematic. It raises the question of origins. The possibility of a prima causa. And while many may not accept noise as the Prime Mover (to think that chaos might become a Prime Directive – an eternal 小林丸) it does speak to the question of the primal chaos as raised in numerous creation myths. But the idea of the prime chaos has never been about the origin of the chaos or the origin itself, but rather the origin of demarcation, of the creation of marked and unmarked spaces: namely, of the exclusion of noise.
In the beginning was the noise and the noise was cast out.