borrowed words (power of the commons)

reagan's 3rd sotu

reagan's 3rd sotu2

reagan's 3rd sotu3

reagan's 3rd sotu4

reagan's 3rd sotu5

reagan's 3rd sotu6

reagan's 3rd sotu7

reagan's 3rd sotu8

reagan's 3rd sotu9

reagan's 3rd sotu10

reagan's 3rd sotu11

 

 

 

&&&

The source text used here is Ronald Reagan’s Third State of the Union Speech (delivered on January 25, 1984). Nothing has been added. This is not an effort to create a strawman Reagan but rather an experiment to show the creative, poetic, and theoretical potential within contextomy. Reagan was used because he remains a polarizing figure but also because State of the Union addresses are in the public domain. The power of the commons.

 

plague, superbugs, & the sixth extinction

The other day I saw a headline about a septicemic plague fatality and that started this process. Yesterday, this phrase “(To discredit, promote distrust, disuade, deter, delay or disrupt)” jumped out at me from an article on The Intercept and I began reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction. This morning I was reminded that a bit of garlic, some onion or leek, copper, wine and oxgall can kill MRSA and gator blood is even more potent. I started watching The Last Ship. From these disparate points, I began a thought trail that led to this:

[This will be an exercise in hyperstition, heuretics, and thoryvological associative analysis. The following is not meant to be true but æffective, not inherently factual nor necessarily faithful to the original context/intent. The quotes are kept intact and in, for the most part, complete sentences but they are robbed of their originary order and context and juxtaposed in disparate dissonance and harmony with intent bound by the above impulses and ideas, marked by the passing of this the 23rd day of the month. It is not a question of what it means but what it can do.] 

 

 

 

***

This is a textual machine designed to produce other machines. What mattered here wasn’t the author(s) or the means of textual production at all, but rather the circulation and the effects of the text in the world. This is, of course, a demand for complicity. I insist on your freedom. Your tormentors will be purified.

There were things in the text I hadn’t been expecting. Uncomfortable, complicating passages. The distortion of a text is not unlike a murder. The difficulty lies not in the execution of the deed but in the doing away with the traces. The thing is easily false. But the meaning, to this day, still escapes us. This is the lesson you forgot.

Of course, words fail.

***

I love you because there’s nothing else to do. A rage to live, an urge to goodness. Love.

The utterance threw them into confusion or rather angered them further, which often comes to the same thing. Who were these people who could live so placidly while the world fell into an acute global environmental crisis? In our era of natural disasters, climate change, global pandemics, and the ongoing specter of bioterror, we are continually invited to think about humanity in relation to its real, hypothetical, or speculative extinction. Yet to go back is to go forward into uncertainty and invention.

I think there’s still a small block of original quiet that exists in the world. Theory in itself did not free people to reach into a deeper area of sound. Noise also functions in the cybernetic sense, as a result of its viral functioning in the world.

On the universal face of the world, the grand old Pan, the son of all the dead, is dead. The previous habitation of space is a trace that may then go on to constitute it in the future, in its absence. No longer is there a here or appropriation; we live as transients or tenants, deprived of a fixed abode. There is no more space, no more history, no more time. In the end the black river would burst its banks to become a black sea whose centre was everywhere and circumference nowhere.

***

There is no stillness, only change. A movement unlocked my attention. It was a derelict. A relic of something nine-tenths collapsed. Nothing decays either, moreover; nothing truly perishes. In this case, chance as nonsense is visible in the very insignificance of its result. In neither case would one be left with anything except a radically dysfunctional wreck, terminally shut-down hardware.

***

There is nothing, and it cannot be known. Either I do not know the world, or I do not know myself. Nothing alive is ever quite in balance.

I know there is no boatman. It was incomprehensible to her: they didn’t want to know. By necessity there are other characteristics that are not accounted for, that are not measured, and that remain hidden and occulted. The shipwreck will preclude the apocalypse.

***

Without noise, all we do is repeat. The repetition of noise intoxicates as much as violence. Deep thick silence thundered from behind the closed door. And what he finds there is a terrifying abyss, where there is neither certitude nor knowledge, nor even a single thought – just a tenebrous, impassive silence. There was complete silence, intermittently broken by the faintest electronic sounds – something between a distant computer game and muffled speech software. It was like there was this hole in the quiet. Every living creature, animal and human both, was terrified by this cacophony.

***

Following the shaman into the cave. We’ve never lost any of that. We are swept on by a whirlwind which dates back to the dawn of time; and if this whirlwind has assumed the aspect of an order, it is only the better to do away with us. The world was spun out of a blade of grass: the world was spun out of a mind. Except never to see or feel that black river that cannot be crossed, but flows like a nothingness through the hole of you. Chaos? Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, chaos is being yourself. The seduction of the arbitrary alarms us. Thought that stumbles over itself, at the edge of an abyss. It is a kind of mysticism that can only be expressed in the dust of this planet. After having sought to be a sage such as never was, I am only a madman among the mad.

***

While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by the darkness and find the true light. Our luminescent, naked bodies dissolve into a swarm of obscure creeping things, and we are a mass of glutinous coiling worms, endless. How we would conduct ourselves if dragged to its depths, where eternal darkness is punctured only by its bioluminescence, remains to be seen. We do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive luster to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or an artifact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity. Something strange slowly washed over and enveloped me like the black ink of an octopus, as I stood there in the stand, and I felt above all like screaming out the story of my experience, such as they were. The man who has never imagined his own annihilation, who has not anticipated recourse to the rope, the bullet, poison, or the sea, is a degraded galley slave or a worm crawling upon cosmic carrion. For now, at least, it is only with its help that we can hope to orient ourselves in the darkness of the abyss.

 

***

Once again he felt that he had crossed over into a space where the real world had taken on all the qualities of a dream, becoming as glossy and surreal, as unlikely and beautiful, as stuffed to a dark sheen with ungraspable meaning. What spell had been cast around me to make my hold on reality feel so tenuous? I didn’t know if the noise had been part of some dream I’d been having or a real, external thing. A world whose margins would become capricious, but this caprice would not refer to any hidden intention. Rather, it involves the generation of memory outside of and apart from any possible experiential event. Dark traces of the past lay in his soul, ready to break through into the regions of consciousness. That interference covers the sense with non-sense by scrambling it and making his words into waste, or by covering it up with other words. It was as if I was in a madness and a frenzy and a depression that older and wiser peoples may once have denominated the descent of a god, which seized me and for which, though I had no control, I am nevertheless to blame.This truth law has no more reality than the world. Roaring dreams take place in a perfectly silent mind. Now that we know this, throw the raft away.

***

Flux is.

***

Do you think the emptiness of the sky will ever crumble away?

***

***

Sources (in the order by which I claimed them):

Kim Stanley Robinson, Forty Signs of Rain

Justin Clemens & Helen Johnson, The Black River

Michel Serres, Malfeasance

Critical Art Ensemble, Marching Plague

Vilém Flusser, Vampyroteuthis Infernalis

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows

Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization

E.M. Cioran, A Short History of Decay

Jack Kerouac, The Scripture of the Golden Eternity

Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism

Eugene Thacker, An Ideal for Living

Quentin Meillassoux, Science Fiction and Extro-Science Fiction

Ed Keller, Nicola Masciandaro, Eugene Thacker (eds.), Leper Creativity

Quentin Meillassoux, The Number and the Siren

Joe Morris, Perpetual Frontier

Nick Land, Fanged Noumena

Steven Hall, The Raw Shark Texts

Eugene Thacker, In The Dust of This Planet

Eugene Thacker, Starry Speculative Corpse

Eugene Thacker, Tentacles Longer Than Night

sonic / filmic / liminal

these are not good work.

or, I am not in a position to judge them as such.

but they serve a purpose. They exist to make a point, or attempt one. I like them well enough.

I am not particularly inclined towards image work. This has long been a disappointment for me. I haven’t taken to cameras, though I have owned a few. I am terrible with figures (both photographic and pictographic). My pacing seems wrong. But I like what I do with sound.

Sound by itself, especially that which I am calling my post-noise work (post-noise in the sense of post-rock. it comes after and is informed by foundational noise artists but is not of the same tradition, cannot approach noise in the same manner), likely creates interesting visual imagery in the mind’s eye. It is likely not what is herein paired.

And it is that pairing, that forced juxtaposition that is meant to be focused upon here. Images out of focus, repeated, permuted, stalled that are forced into conversation with sonic elements that drift, that also permute but differently, that do not align. What is the reason? Why these images? Why these sounds? What does it all mean?

I make noise to be liminal. To test boundaries, to recognize and trace boundaries. To raise questions that cannot yet be answered. The abyss is calling. We lack perspective. One must enter the vortex, knowledge (even knowledge through madness) is necessary for life. These videos seek one such liminal zone, one such barrier island, one such no man’s land. Do they find it? Do any of us?

 

music courtesy of Delta Brainwave Society

film courtesy of Delta Brainwave Society

 

a glitch of psychic crumbling.

For many people, if anything is representative of the art of noise, it is ambivalence.

Joseph Nechvatal’s Immersion Into Noise is a somewhat ambivalent book. It is the contrary to the noise abatement treatments of noise – it is just noise as art. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Unfortunately for me, many of Nechvatal’s claims of noise as art run contrary to my own (I do not believe that Rococo or Baroque as busy and complex as they are are in any way ‘noise.’ Intentional complexity is not noise it is complexity. The two should remain separate.). It is then, mostly the theorization of his introductory pages that resonates.

Noise may break some connections, but connections will always continue to grow in other directions, creating new thoughts and new affects.

Nechvatal is not alone in recognizing the creative power of noise. But it is theorizations of noise like Nechvatal’s that set themselves against the blasé readings of noise as just an annoyance to be toned down, a decibel level to be reduced to an acceptable non-hearing damage inducing appropriate levels. On one side of the coin noise is simply an annoyance, offering nothing and demanding everything. On the other side, the possibility of creation, new thoughts, new avenues, the very possibility of the new. Indeed:

This creative art of noise draws us closer to our inner world, to the life of our imagination with its intense drives, suspicious, fears, and loves – that which guides our intentions and actions in the political and economic world.

This is an approach to noise that is wholly other than the noise abatement campaigners. They rail against airplane noise, traffic noise, piped music, and the neighbor’s dogs and stereo. Nechvatal glories in exactly what the campaigners revile:

But for noise to be first noise, it must destabilize us. It must initially jar. It must challenge. It must initiate a glitch of psychic crumbling.

It would seem that bridging these gaps might be impossible. Noise is, after all, a complex concept with overlaying theories that cannot and will not harmonize.

the genesis of the parasitic pollution (noise in Serres)

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.

or waste”

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. 

disruption:

The noise temporarily stops the system, makes it oscillate indefinitely.

complexity:

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.

 turbulence:

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.

the trace:

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.

 

quotes from:

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-DibonStanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2011. Print.

___. The Parasite. Trans. Lawrence R. Schehr. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. Print.

the humor of truth: Isabelle Stengers’ Cosmopolitics I

the power to talk about the world independently of the relationships of knowledge that humans create.

Isabelle Stengers’ Cosmopolitics I has only one review on Amazon that basically amounts to: “this shit is hard.” That a single two-star review might be steering potential readers away from the work is disappointing because, while Stengers is dense, the text is incredibly rewarding.

The question of the relationship between a text on science studies and a stumbling progression towards a Paranoiac Noise Theory may not be obvious from the surface but the links, indeed, are present. Science is a question of knowledge and authority. And thus:

If learning to think is learning to resist a future that presents itself as obvious, plausible, and normal, we cannot do so either by evoking an abstract future, from which everything subject to our disapproval has been swept aside, or by referring to a distant cause that we could and should imagine to be free of any compromise. To resist a likely future in the present is to gamble that the present still provides substance for resistance, that it is populated by practices that remain vital even if non of them has escaped the generalize parasitism that implicates them all.

What is noise but knowledge that is unrecuperated into the system? Knowledge that resists the “obvious, plausible, and normal?” What is paranoia but a means of recuperating noise, of finding significance in that which is defined as insignificant? And thus noise and paranoia gamble on the present just as Stengers suggests.

Let us use our illusion.

Every living being may be approached in terms of the question of the requirements on which no only its survival but also its activity depend, and which define its “milieu.” And every living being brings into existence obligations that qualify what we refer to as its behavior: not all milieus or all behaviors are equal from the point of view of the living; and the difference is especially relevant when we address those obligations we impose on the living in the name of some knowledge we wish to obtain.

The question that Stengers brings up (not knowingly, perhaps) is a question of use and misuse. In directly questioning the move from experimental physics to theoretical physics is opened to the approach of the paranoiac.

There are no neutral narratives.

Can one appropriate her discourse? Rip, remix, and rewrite her questions of knowledge production and authority outside the scope of science and science studies? To take her work and, as a fellow philosophical refugee, use it (amplified through an 8×10 stack) to question other discourses, other authorities, other modes of knowledge production?

Are the means I give myself, the approach to practices in terms of requirements and obligations, appropriate to the problem I want to bring into existent practices, namely, the escape from a generalize polemic that puts every practice in a position of disqualifying and/or in danger of being disqualified?

Because, as she notes:

The true subject of description is now a disorderly multitude.

And conducting that disorderly multitude towards a revolution (articulating Dr. Gonzo’s rising sound) is a question that must remain open, that cannot be closed, that recuperates the remainder even as it (inevitably) excludes, selects, and chooses.

Nevertheless, they are strange poets indeed, for the power they have of asking questions that, by right, should be of interest to all humans, of making discoveries on our behalf, and announcing the truth of the shared world, obviously constitutes on component of their passion.

all quotes from:

Stengers, Isabelle. Cosmopolitics I. Trans. Robert Bononno. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010. Print.

Helmhotz appears.

Composed while listening to Fishtank Ensemble, Woman in Sin.

A certain delirium: on Noise, Water, Meat

The trouble is that noises are never just sounds and the sounds they mask are never just sounds: they are also ideas of noise.

So begins a series of meetings, approaches, interactions with texts, with noise, paranoia, truth, control, and authority. As I work my way through these texts towards my exams and dissertation, I will be working through associations, links, commonalities, and synchronicities. Noises, one might say, that cannot help but signify (when played loud enough).

Douglas Kahn lays out in his introduction to Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts a definition of sound that is rather broad and encompassing:

By sound I mean sounds, voices, and aurality – all that might fall within or touch on auditive phenomena, whether this involves actual sonic or auditive events or ideas about sound or listening; sounds actually heard or heard in myth, idea, or implication; sounds heard by everyone or imagined by one person alone; or sounds as they fuse with the sensorium as a whole.

This argument has a certain hollow ring to it (if one might be permitted to play with it, or strike it forcefully with a mallet). It seems constructed, as introductions often are, to tie together disparate elements of a text that would not be otherwise unified, to project into the text a clarity that the text itself lacks. To wit, Kahn’s text is long and sprawling. To what end do the questions of water and meat add to the question of noise? To what end are William Burroughs’ writing on the word virus and Artaud’s screams connected to noise? To noise as the suppressed, the outside, the unwanted, the meaningless that maintains meaning? Why are imagined sounds and ideas of sound treated as part of Kahn’s definition when, despite the length of the text, actual sonic events and practices are not fully explored? It is not that the connections are not there or the associations lack meaning and import, but there is a question of focus, of scope. There are limitations, but if one wants to philosophize with an amp@11 one must begin where one can.

Noises haunt. For Douglas Kahn, noises haunt the arts as they are suppressed, sought, elevated, silenced, and imagined. There is, indeed, a spectral reality to noise, a shifting hauntology, an absent presence that once found, once remarked upon signifies and thus fails to be noise after all.

it is only what is made of noise, of the history of noise, that must explain itself in the face of the possibility that there is no such thing as noise.

But what then is noise?

The existence of noise implies a mutable world through an unruly intrusion of an other, an other that attracts difference, heterogeneity, and productive confusion; moreover, it implies a genesis of mutability itself.

But what then is noise?

This repeated question is not meant to diminish Kahn’s work. For he does, indeed, offer several working definitions of noise. It is meant, rather, to highlight that definitions of noise are always working definitions, contextual, situational, limited.

So the definition of noise might be regarded as of far less importance that what can be done with noise, how noise might be used to challenge norms, regimes, power structures (those that would impose a definition and enforce an exclusion).

Thus, the grinding sound of power relations are heard here in the way noises contain the other, in both senses of the word.

Though the rhetoric of emancipation is an easy trap.

Subvert the Norms! Noise for Everyone! Democracy is Noisy! 

The statements are true in the way that slogan are always true and never falsifiable. Can noise be emancipatory? Certainly. Is it inherently? Not in the least (c.f. the LRAD).

Kahn is aware of this and goes to great lengths to point out the subversion of emancipatory rhetoric in one of the Great Saints of Noise: John Cage.

When he hears individual affect or social situation as an exercise in reduction, it is just as easy to hear their complexity. When he hears music everywhere, other phenomena go unheard. When he celebrates noise, he also promulgates noise abatement. When he speaks of silence, he also speaks of silencing.

Noise is a tool. Noise is a metaphor. For Kahn, it is a means of understanding a certain period of avant garde art that he seems particularly taken with (his water and meat metaphors are less developed though still focused on a particular subset of the arts). Kahn does however challenge several sacred cows (making fine steaks), give a detailed (if sprawling) overview of the possibility of noise and silence, and serves as an important introduction to the theory of noises and Noise Theory.

 

 

all quotes from:

Kahn, Douglas. Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2001. Print.

Helmhotz appears.

Composed while listening to KTL, IV.