Friday, May 9, 2008

La Bella Menzogna

Questo è quello che si nasconde sotto 'l manto di queste favole, ed è una veritade ascosa sotto bella menzogna.

“This is the one,” says Dante in his Convivio, “that is hidden beneath the cloak of these fables, and is a truth hidden beneath a beautiful lie.” The poet is describing the allegorical mode of signification, which he considers superior to the literal mode of signification consisting merely of parole fittizie, “fictitious words.” Language, to Dante, is involved in a process of debasing the truth of the world which it describes, and, in its metaphoric application, becomes an algebraic variable in the factorization from a truth which is material to a truth which is knowable, or, to Dante, anyway, spiritual. Thus the fable, or the story, is merely a catalyst which, through the compound algorithm of a double interpretation, facilitates the ascension from the surface of the letter to an ineffable truth, and the fictive substrate undergoes an aesthetic apotheosis in the process of conducting this literary alchemy. Indeed, the allegory is itself a kind of arch-symbol composed of simpler symbols, strengthened through the perpendicular reinforcement of the words, which stand for the events in a story which never happened, and the corresponding analogy between the story as a symbol itself and the unapproachable idea which it represents. It would seem, then, that the beauty which Dante appreciates in the lie exists in its sacrifice, its willing submission to the truth, which is perceived as an aspect of a somehow higher level of signification.

But the consistently agreeable ideas of truth and beauty are not resolved in Dante’s religiously informed narratology. In contrast to the objectivity and supremacy of Dante’s truth, beauty is notoriously semantic, subject to the roving critique of the beholding eye. A rudimentary formula of aesthetics lies in this dichotomy: beauty, in opposition to the inalienable truth which oozes out of everything as knowable data, is beholden to the subversion done by fictionalization, by confabulation. Indeed, if, in order for a thing to beautiful, it has to be made, then the beauty must lie as much in the recognition of the process which created the thing as in the material substance of the thing itself, and we’ve been saying all along that writing is a process of information production. Given that revolution begins as fiction, then, and that the ultimate revolution is a kind of universal reversal which rewrites everything, the ultimate revolutionary project is the adornment of the whole world in a fictional bunting which will make it beautiful, and this is what we stand for, in the end, what we want: the beautification of the planet. It must then be recognized at the outset that beauty is fundamentally in opposition to truth, or at least to a certain concept of truth.

In his Semantic Conception of Truth, Alfred Tarski asserts that the idea truth only pertains to sentences: truth is not a property of reality, but a semantic or formal stipulation which is specific to the language in which the truth is claimed. What Tarski means is that the idea of truth exists in the context of the relationship between a thing and a statement about that thing. The world is the way it is, says Tarski, and statements about that world either do or do not correspond to the situations which they purport to signify: the fact or fiction of this correspondence is truth. On the other hand, Tarski simultaneously establishes that the idea of truth as it pertains to sentences within a language can necessarily not be defined within the framework of that language. Otherwise, what would come of the recursive ambivalence of a sentence like This sentence is not true? In order to resolve the paradox illustrated by such self-negating statements, Tarski resorts to the devices of an object language, which makes the statement, and a metalanguage, which talks about the object language: the specific statement of truth itself becomes a symbol in the vocabulary of the metalanguage. All statements, by virtue of being made, imply verity, and the factuality of falsehood of that truth can be established only outside of that system of language, through an algebra in which the statement “q” corresponds to a state Q.

It’s previously been established that information (and statements are information) comes into existence simultaneously with the situation described by the information. When approaching the information with the intention of analyzing its validity, though, the application of the metalanguage immediately triggers a chain reaction of semantic regression. The statement, which insists by virtue of existing on the truth of the content which it conveys, becomes itself the content of an overarching clause which in turn makes its own declaration of parity in the true-false bivalence:

I feel strange.
I say that I feel strange.
It is true that I say I feel strange.
He wrote, “It is true that I say I feel strange.”

Thus the commitment to truth as a semantic measurement with a possible modality leads to an armillary infinitude of parentheses and quotation marks. This is because the integrity, which might easily be construed as truth, of a datum is implicit in the datum’s existence: the information exists because something happened, and that information, read in a physical arrangement which is a direct result of the event which it describes, is an index to the event itself. This perpetual grasping for the reconciliation of a sentence which you read with a world which you see, which are both, in the end, only the present, the perceived and ephemeral surface of the situations to which they correspond, is what substantiates time by creating a progress, or perhaps a regress, of stages of semiosis ranging through phases of sign production and interpretation. It is not enough to say that the sign is merely sent and received; it’s the dilemma of truth which leads to belief in the past and a theory of the future, the elements of a conviction of the self as a continuous entity, are the things which make us conscious of existence, rather than merely existent. So truth describes the recursive operation which separates consciousness from whatever is not conscious, and is wrapped up in all the spiritual hubris which humanity assigns to itself.

Dante penned his Convivio at the end of the Dark Ages, prior to the Comedia, as a kind of critique of the Latin poets of antiquity and a development of the nascent humanist philosophy which would inform his later masterpiece. Now we stand at the dawn of a new dark age, which will seemingly be characterized by the same preoccupation with the documentation of everything which marked the golden era of Roman Christianity. Just as the medieval scholars assiduously recorded the minutia of their mundane ecclesiastical universe, the modern program of society seems compelled to be constantly chronologizing itself, creating an indelible empire of characters, numerals, and punctuation which, taken as a whole, provide the formula for a simulation of the universe in all of its states which exists in the world at any given moment. Underlying all of this informational prodigality is a preoccupation with the primacy of truth, coupled, perhaps, with a lack of faith in the semiotic mechanisms inherent in the universe. So, in a world which seems to always be short of everything, we face an encroaching glut of data.

The Fabulist reaction to this situation is a commitment, not to be perceived, at least wholly, as an anarchistic impulse, to a program of rigorous dissemblance. Just as the truth is always exploding into increasingly convoluted encapsulations of what is happening as it happens, the Fabulist revolution will be a fiction executed using an expanding and progressively more complex vocabulary of situations and phenomena. So many of the fictions which I read today are still like the transmissions of a probe on an alien planet, relaying the most rudimentary data about the world as it could be, offering little more than the forms and colors of the worlds which they describe. The new Fabulist fiction will be characterized by a much more sophisticated system of signification. Public figures and celebrities will be used as our characters: they’re already attached to images, histories, and personalities which offer more than any writer could care to describe starting from scratch, and we never really start from scratch, anyway, because every term is loaded with etymology and a history use. Likewise we will freely adopt the things that other people have already written, or refer to other writing through citations remitting varying degrees of transparency, or alter it as required by our own constructs. Wherever possible, we will use the most concise and replete version of the thing which we’re trying to describe, striving for a certain economy of language achieved through the multileveled embedment of things within term which become themselves things subject to subsequent abstraction. The result of this righteous linguistic banditry, in conjunction with other Fabulist principles which have been and will be described, will be a beautiful monstrosity of literature, a Frankensteinian apparatus of references, a gothic construction bristling with information and semiotic nuance. This formidable architecture, with semi-colons as sconces and vast, compound sentences for turrets, will be the site of the revolution itself, a diabolical linguistic machine which will be the generator of the legion of fictions which we’ll send out into the world in order to efface reality and make it something else, make it Fabulist.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Few Ways to Be in a Room

There is to be a third section of this blog, dealing with the conception, execution, and outcome of as of yet unimagined undertakings which we Fabulists will be undertaking, and I assure you that there are big things in the making. If we had it our way, we would never even come inside. The Fabulists are, after all, a hardy group of rebel-philosophers, actors, men and women of action. But in the end, we’re also faced with the ongoing crisis of actually needing to be somewhere, and this primary problem introduces a succession of secondary conditions imposed as much on us as by us involving things like sustenance, health, and equanimity, maintained, respectively, through aggravating but necessary amenities such as food, warmth, and comfort: it becomes a whole cascade of things, when we are precisely trying to get away from things and become more immersed in processes, in events. My abbreviated and unacademic survey of relevant literature suggests that this is the typical course of events when like minded insurgents get together. To be sure, we enjoy participation in what one might call situations as much as the next group of dissidents, but the truth is that, due to some incalculable combination of diminutive resources and organizational incapacity which approximately equates to a general shortage of wherewithal, we seem to be, for now, spending the majority of our time very much outside of any kind of situation, but otherwise very much inside. To an extent, I fear that the short history of the Fabulists could probably be delineated in terms of the spaces which we’ve occupied, and not by anything which has, in the historically notable sense, happened. If we had it our way, we would do away with those parts of ourselves (most of them) that tie us to the world of things and become sheer impulses fulminating like a power surge through the circuit board at the surface of the material universe, sheer actions, conscious processes with only the most basic components necessary for volition and enactment, liberated from the entrapments of corporality, solar powered.

Information is always made out of something, though. This is not necessarily the same as saying that information is a type of matter in the way that concrete, building, or abode are things in the world, or even that thoughts and emotions are information: information is the currency which conducts these things from place to place in the universe of processes, and, like an ice cube or a well-lubricated snake, it is slipping or slithering away from us step by step each time we try to grab it, melting, molting layers of signification right in our hands. Take this room in which I sit, for instance, which is a shabby place completely suitable for the antisocial types of things which I’m doing here, but which still remits a degree of nuance, in terms of geometric complexity, variation of surface, or facilities providing platforms for a battery of actions which in their turn suggest a progression of perhaps infinite subcategorization. I try to pin it all down with this word room, but now I’ve simply replaced the arrangement of forms which I inhabit with another one which I see on a screen. Next, but only in my mind, learning quickly and cautious now of the representational litter which is accumulating in my space as a result of my reckless semiosis, I move back a level and try to hold the word room strictly to myself, strictly as an experience. As soon as I’ve done this, though, I find myself once again grasping, this time at such intangible agents as photons and oscillatory disruptions of the air. Glimpsing beneath this most elemental mode of transmission, I can briefly glean the workings of a diabolical homunculus in the form of an arrangement which must be a simulacrum of the room which I intended to define in the first place, existing somewhere in the asymmetrical murk of my own brain which is like a mound of perpetually moist clay: like the room, my brain is tawdry and cluttered; like the room, it seems to be a spatial arrangement of reducible units; and, as with the room which I sit in now, I find that in order to decipher the projected room in my brain, I have to start all over again with a new process of definitions and divisions. One room, I am in, and the other room is in me; shouldn’t there be an I with a room in him in that inner room? I abandon the project just in time to avert a telescopic crisis of recursion.

In this way, symbols are signposts which seem to always be leading to other symbols, to the point where, if we’re fortunate enough to ever arrive back and find a familiar sign unaltered, we might have to conclude that the significance of information is determined entirely by its relationship to other information. But this is problematic: information, after all, still must be made of something, must correspond, at least as an associated property, with something which makes the information the way that it is. After all, of what use would knowledge of matter, with all the exertion, danger, and pain of moving, overcoming, or circumventing it, be to us feeling specters if not as a vehicle for us to know things and say things? If nothing else, matter has this alphabetic property, as the thing out of which we can construct our statements about things. Thus, to the degree that there is a material world, the experience of it is mediated by information, and bijectively, all information is associated with some sort of matter. Everything which can be read, or seen, or known, or in any way delivered from and received by a system which interprets signals from beginning to end floats on a material vehicle, an arrangement of matter which is read to mean whatever it means. It has already been established that information is the product of processes or events which exhibit a degree of uncertainty, a degree of probability. These events, having happened, effect a new arrangement of matter in the universe, an arrangement which necessarily could not be entirely foreseen. This new arrangement is itself precisely the material substrate of the information, the substance of the sign which is being read.

It is not therefore accurate to state that the symbol which conveys information is selected independently from the process which it describes, which is to say that it is not apt to expound upon the arbitrariness of the sign. The impression of arbitrariness seems to arise out of the role of choice in the conscious generation of systems of signification. But the choice which is apparently exercised in assigning a meaning to a symbol is only a symptom of the prerequisite of probability which is the condition, not the result, of the production of information. The tentative but crucial existence of choice in the universe in the first place depends upon a reality which is full of uncertainties and corresponding decisions, and the suggestion that this choice is the incipient binding which sticks data to the events which they describe invokes that very same homunculus of spaces within space which nearly dragged me into an oblivion of parallel mirrors in my meager attempt to define merely the room in which I sit a few paragraphs earlier. In fact, in the end, it is the phenomenon of deciding which results in the production of information and of symbols, but this choosing really just describes the virtually inscrutable decisions which instant by instant make reality what it is, resolving a future of possibilities into a history of information. There’s a correspondence between this choice, which is described in terms of psychology and cognizance, and the seething of elementary, alphabetic particles, described in terms of wave functions and action potentials which is happening instant by instant on the level of quanta in the physical universe.

So when we think about the problem of the nomination of this room, we see that my issuance of the information room is the result of an ongoing and convoluted process, and that this identification, while not predetermined, is also not independent of a storied history involving other rooms, things like rooms, words like room, and a variety of other factors stretching back to long before the birth of human communication, back to the seminal instance of uncertainty which has, like a contagion, spawned all subsequent uncertainties and every consequent datum: instant by instant, each new revelation of information has corresponded to a rearrangement of the material universe on which the information is predicated, until, as the chain reactive tendrils of that first moment bifurcated, stretched, and entwined through time and space, the individual dynamics of each new event became too complex to conceivably parse, and reconstructive linguists had no choice but to resort to invocations of arbitrariness. Moreover, considering that matter is affected entirely by its interaction with other matter, and that information rides this matter, floating on the surface of the material universe, it is natural that, from the semiotically informed perspective of a sentient navigator, it should seem that it is the information, accessible to the empirical apparatus of consciousness, which is causing the events which are in truth merely the ongoing play of the underlying material substrates which will continue to produce information as long as matter exists and there is uncertainty in the universe. To say that a writer, a human, or any propagator of a process reacts to information is to say that this agent reacts to the experience of the matter which underwrites the information, a statement which itself encapsulates a definition of information. Likewise, to say that there is matter, just to have matter, to indicate something either ostensively with an extended finger or linguistically or representationally, or even just to feel it, just to be in a room, is to commit semiosis, because an arrangement of matter cannot come to pass without remit a correspondent datum. So matter and information cannot be separated, and at the same time this infrangible bond cannot be described as arbitrary.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Pit

When I was two or three years old, my family threw me into a pit one day, and, not knowing how to get out or where, having been abandoned by my own people, I would go if I could get out, I’ve remained down here ever since. It’s true that at first I revolted against my captivity, but this pit is policed by a vicious constabulary which relishes the forceful application of the billy club to the brainpan of any dissident, repeated until you learn better than to try to rise up anymore, or else until you no longer can. For me, though, cryptic perfidy has always come more easily than outright resistance anyway, so I lay on the ground and placated my body, all the while rebelling in my mind, stitching the lucent string of the memory of something outside through the umber gloam which has become the governing shade of all my subsequent experiences. But this pit has proved to be a deep, intricate, and ensnaring place, full of distraction and seduction, and, strangely, nearly as diverse and populous as one would have presumed the world outside to be. The corridors and caverns of the pit are sometimes so vast that they feel practically unenclosed, and there is a certain risk of acclimation: I sometimes secret a conspiratorial glance to a comrade as we pass each other at some remote and unmonitored outpost, and am met with a kind of obsidian incomprehension which signifies that this other captive has abandoned his cognizance of his imprisonment without foregoing any of its misery.

The prevailing condition here in this pit, which, like a map which matches its territory point for point, is roughly concurrent with the proscribed world, but much worse, is a system by which all the inhabitants of this place are torn between the diametric forces of a crushing social apparatus: on the one side is the fear of authority, and on the other is the desire to comply with the public will. Between these two psychological dynamos, the entire spectrum of ulterior motivation in any person’s life can be delineated. The fear of domination and punishment, with all its intimations of confinement, mutilation, and death, is balanced by the projection of the self onto the imagined consciousness of everyone else which we are all always committing. This model of social existence reflects a formulation of the human in which the individual unit of humanity is divided into a self which is private and a self which conjectures how it’s perceived by everything outside of it: this public self, informed by varying faculties of perception and interpretation, is influenced by an idea of what other people think, while this private self evinces a certain adversity to all modes of pain. If the individual can truly be diagnosed in this way, then what else can make men and women behave like they do?

The Fabulist cause is hence confronted with a dilemma: as revolutionaries, we are naturally compelled to resist something, but in analyzing the forces which act on people’s lives, we find that in resisting one element of suppression, we cannot help but abet another. Are we to adopt an authoritarian stance, and design a revolution geared towards the subjection of the self to the collective genius of an executive governing body, or are we to advocate loyalty to the lurching, spectacular mania of the mob? It’s a question which is almost too boring to face. In this pit, this simulacrum of a conjectural reality, this stageless theater in which the audience plays at aping real life with a zeal which is so exacting as to be hyperreal, we Fabulists gladly accept the role of a pariah who, having been scorned by the jeering public, turns to spit in the face of the very deputy who comes to protect us: for a moment, we provide these dialectically opposed factors with an occasion to overlap in unanimous revulsion at the vague but multi-sensory insinuation of the properties of excrement which our existence suggests to them. We are, in essence, the dog which bites the hand which feeds it, and then, not letting go, will rip it off the limb to which it’s attached if we’re not beaten into submission first. How could we be tamed to sit attentively in the lap of authority and receive the caresses issued by a velvet glove, or, alternatively, choked with a spiked collar and drooling with a deranged ochlocratic hunger, become the mascot of that other mindless tyranny of carnivals and riots?

We have a foothold here, though, in the substance, elemental and immutable, of our doctrine, which will allow us to rise about three feet closer to where we need to be. This revolution is ecumenical, is inclusive in its oppositions and objections, and will eventually effect a universal reversal through the exponential stages of the chain reaction which is already beginning: the impulse to rebel is apodictic, arising out of its own necessity to exist, and therefore, as I’ve already proclaimed, begins as a fiction of the way the world could be. As a movement which starts as information and then becomes phenomena, this revolution necessarily happens first in the realm of communication and expression which is the particular domain of the public. Indeed, where authority has recourse to the stockade, the rack, and the gallows, the public deals in the currency of knowing, and it is the desire for things about us to be known and to know things about others which pulls at us from that side.

Therefore, this is a revolution which will be broadcast openly and staged transparently. Not only our ideologies, but also our methodologies, our proceedings, our accounts, and all our other intimacies will be played out in public, in full view of the world. The vehicles of our revolution, itself a monstrous commitment of expression, will be language, image, music, fashion: the accoutrements of society which operate as the phonemes of self-identification will be appropriated by our movement and charged, perhaps arbitrarily, with values which are relevant to our project. It is possible that the authorities, recoiling at our audacity, will try to stop us. We’ll take a sign, like a hat, an anthem, or a thesis, and, like grey goo or an aurified banquet, it will be turned Fabulist; the government will ban our signal, and, in so doing, charge the very object of its censorship with significance, but we will have moved on. Anywhere there are things, there are also expressions, and we can take the most rudimentary alphabet and say what we have to say: we could build our entire rendition of an empire out of a chain of yeses and nos.

All actions result in expression, and all systems of government permit expression to a certain degree and restrict expression to a certain degree. The authorities can ban everything that has been said, but they can’t ban everything there is to say, because everything that exists can be said, and, as has been illustrated in the theoretical section of this blog, wherever there is action, there is information; so whenever something is said, it is said in a way. It is impossible to separate information from the method of its production, and things are often expressed with fists, tools, weapons: these, too, are instruments for rendering information out of matter, and these things too are within our immense arsenal. The revolution is facilitated, rather than motivated, by the fluidity of expression, and the unbound conduction of information is therefore necessarily the primary practical objective and the desideratum of our cause. This line of reasoning can be taken to a concrete conclusion which might as well be called the first pronouncement of the Fabulist Uprising, and which would go something like this:


The revolution itself remains, at this date, a nascent fiction, a matrix of confabulation through which a primordial genesis of new, irregular situations may arise. It is the map which dictates the territory which it describes, the descriptor which mandates its object. It is through this device that we will now begin to build, phrase by phrase, a ladder made of emended, justified rungs, jointed by acrostic pegs: ascending this ladder line by line, building it return by return as I go, I’ll drag myself out of this infernal pit once and for all.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Semiotic Roulette Wheel

It is true that the Fabulists are not, at present, a well funded outfit. In light of this, and perhaps also hinting remonstratively at the evident overabundance of time and an accompanying dearth of organization which is epidemic amongst our ranks, someone recently suggested that the Fabulists endeavor to raise money through gambling, for surely, any organization which has unambiguously aligned itself with the forces of probability should, under the very auspice of such an alliance, prosper in games of chance. And indeed, it is true that the Fabulists are immersed in probability: uncertainty is the dynamic at center of the Fabulist cosmology, and we are already up to our necks in the consequences, never entirely foreseeable, of the things, and, in particular, of the words which we choose. The fallacy that the physical universe appreciates irony, though, is akin to that scrofulous strain of determinacy which insists on a certain rigidness in the material world, immune to the deterioration of expectations which is a symptom of predicting and knowing. You might say that only a percipient with a consciousness and the apparently connected capacity for knowledge can really appreciate the significances which sometimes arise in the coincidence of a set of outcomes. I would not say that, though; in fact, in the true Fabulist spirit, I would reverse that idea and say that a universe full of information must necessarily result in perceptive entities exhibiting an imperfect degree of certainty and a penchant for irony.

All information is the outcome of events associated with a degree of probability, which is to say that data only arise from situations which are not certain. By turning this statement around, it becomes self-evident: if the complete outcome of an event is absolutely certain, then all the results pertaining to that event, including any miscellaneous data which are themselves results, are known beforehand. Since the premise of information is itself epistemological, the information can only really be said to have come into existence in the instant in which it is first knowable. Thus, by the time a datum is associated with a predetermined outcome, the information already exists: the knowledge of it is implicit in the certainty of the event which it indicates, and we need to look back to the last germane outcome which was merely probable to discover the actual origin of the information.

The literary implication of this reasoning is that a text, which is really just a kind of bestiary of symbols, is the product of some process fraught with uncertainty. The writer’s role in the production of a text is, by this model, as the engineer and operator of the process. Like the architect of some ingeniously or infernally prevaricated marble shoot, the writer sets the process in motion and then culls the results into a field of compatible data in the form of a text. Any consequent text is only one aspect of one possible conclusion to the process, remitting a likelihood which could just as well be associated with the outcome of a horse race or a lottery, and the mechanisms encompassed by the term process include the entire procedure from the inception of the project through to the physical production of the document and everything else leading right up to the optical nerves of the reader. Indeed, in this sense, one might argue that processes are only ever ongoing or ending, never really starting.

In practice, the arena of the literary process which is described here is often simply the writer’s own brain, but the brain is a wonderful probabilistic engine, converting the perceptible edge of hard reality into purer forms of expression through the exercise of its billions of equivocated circuits. As such, many writers find altered states of mind an efficacious technique of literary production. Some examples of this practice have included:

-Go to Africa, do a bunch of drugs, cut your book up, then paste it back together
-Get together with friends, go into a trance, and write whatever comes to mind

The Paris-based group Oulipo is a confederation of writers devoted to the production of literature through a battery of constraints, often of a relatively formal nature. Their goal is to use literary equations, usually applied on the scale of individual characters, words, or, at most, phrases, to generate a high degree of what they describe as potential in their output. Works generated in this milieu have included Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, which describes the same incident in 99 different ways, Georges Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual, which performs a mathematical dissection of the anatomy of an apartment building, and Raymond Roussel’s Locus Solus, which is apparently difficult to appreciate in English, though one might argue that translation itself is merely a further degree of constraint which can only enhance the potentiality of the resultant text. And what, in the end, is the difference between potential and chance? Every process remits likelihood, and, while Oulipo does not necessarily directly address or even acknowledge the random dynamic of literature, it is an organization which is tangled up in uncertainty just the same.

In this blog, I intend to examine the ramifications of the probabilistic nature of text in a most rigorous way, but, having staked everything on my own certainty in the fallibility of predetermination, I must necessarily set out with only a glimmering of what is to come. In the end, I suspect that every text can be calculated, so to speak, and associated with a degree of likelihood based on the various potentials of the process by which it was produced. At the root of this prediction is the idea that every information-producing process is a constantly bifurcating pathway beset with choices which are determined in the relationship between a writer’s brain and the corollary reality to which it’s rigged. What does it mean to say that some texts are less likely than others, though? Surely, in the neutral calculus of semiotics, in the lapse of truth which arises when intentionality evacuates information, one symbol cannot be better or more appropriate than another. I’ve become aware of the overwhelming degree of chance and choice associated with every word which I decide to write, and as a result, I can’t go on. With each keystroke, I take enormous risks of reducing my work, addled, as it is, by jargon and convolution, to such an infinitesimal degree of likelihood as to become incomprehensible. I lurch forward with premonitions of agnosia, fearing that every proclamation, apology, ransom note, and love letter I’ve ever composed is really just an obsolete betting slip.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Heuristicon

Every day begins poorly for me these days, and this morning was particularly bad. Having spent a period of several hours completely inert near the floor of a room which had, in the span of my somnolence, rotated nearly halfway around the axis of the planet through the shadow of deep space, I awoke in an agitated state of mind, full of angst and dread, terrified by the recombinations which the world may have adopted during my respite. Meanwhile, the revenants of some nocturnal trepidation were still drifting through my intracranial sludge like abandoned frigates coursing unmanned into harbor, but the evanescence of morphean memory deprived me of any substantial recollection of my nighttime contretemps, and I was stranded with only the sour vestige of an unaffiliated sense of detachment and dismay. I considered the many merits of mancipating myself to my bed, of cloistering myself within the confines of my preternaturally darkened room and forfeiting the day before it began. There was something insurgent in me, though: in the first moments of every day, the macromolecular detritus of my brain’s soporific activity fleetingly maintains a kind of grandiose delirium in my brain, making the most baseless aspirations seem, in those staggering instants, utterly feasible. Indeed, there was a flickering moment not too long ago when it seemed like today might be the day that everything started to work out. With this in mind, with my eyes half open, with astronautical bravado, I heaved myself out of bed, staggered to the window, gripped the patibulary cord which dangled there, and hoisted up the blinds, exposing my retinas to the solar bombardment from above and the dependent informational overload of the world below in order to ascertain whether or not today was the day that, without me, the revolution had begun.

It had not. This is a blog about a revolution which is fictional, or else about a fiction which is revolutionary. After all, all revolutions start out as fictions of the way the world could be, conceived in the imaginations of the revolutionaries and acted out with that same crepuscular abandonment of reason which drags me to my window every morning. It follows naturally that the first step towards becoming a revolutionary is to come up with a theory of how to write. From the Magna Carta to the 95 Theses to the Declaration of Independence, all the salient points of history are nothing other than a constellation of documentation, and the sordid vicissitudes of violence and industry which have filled the space between one manuscript and the next are merely anthropology. Whether humanity is a web of mutually dependent identities, a situational expression of genetic codification, a teeming infection of matter, or whatever else, we’re all virtually drowning in an effluence of information which is rising without hope of ecology, and consciousness itself only floats on the surface of physical reality: we can only touch the perceptible symptoms of what’s really happening, and we inhabit the universe like impalpable specters rendered corporeal and vaguely volitional through some quirky quantum mechanical epiclesis.

The incongruity between a symbol and the thing which it represents is sometimes philosophically referred to as a heuristic, in that a heuristic is an index to an idea, pointing to it without being it. On the other hand, heuristics have also been used to describe a kind of apocryphal reversal of the scientific method, by which the traditional relationship of process and result are, somehow, switched. A heuristic suggests that data is the product of an analytic process, or that truth is an outcome associated with a system rather than with latent facts. Put another way, heuristics indicate that all stances exhibit verity, in that they reveal the mechanisms by which they’re produced, and in this sense, lies are as loaded with information as the forthrightness which merely exposes a credulous source. The idea of the heuristic is suitable to the polemics which will be laid out in this blog, in so much as I intend to describe a philosophy of confusion and confabulation which will ultimately propound a system of axiomatic reversals summarizing a general and prevalent complication of meaning and matter. The envisioned result is a Heuristicon, a kind of diabolic engine or pure process which will relentlessly remit unsanctified data, turning its symbols into the phenomena and their objects into media, heaping the most unlikely kinds of information upon the world and, in the process, contributing a critically massive element of entropy to the universe.

The first of these reversals pertains to the premise of revolution itself: this revolution is going to be the apodictic motive, not the result, of the polemics, ideologies, and programs which will flow out of it. This type of revolution is exculpated from the crude necessity of constant justification and from the interminable, reductive, generally vicious and subjective debates which inevitably arise in the face of these kinds of ontological challenges. The most essential revolution is thus a revolt against the very nature of consensual reality, an absolute rejection of the banal constraints which regulate the interrelationships and, indeed, the ownership of information, and which maintain the hegemony of the phenomenology of physics over the neutrality of data. It will be a revolution constructed out of words: language makes things in the world what they are, and the information, which is itself a name, comes into existence simultaneous to the event which it describes. Writers, with their ostensive authority of nomination, will be the brigadiers of this uprising, marshalling the language which they use to prefigure a general reversal in the universe.

I therefore propose a confederation of Fabulists, to institute the kind of revolution which will be expounded here in this blog and to inaugurate a new type of literature which treats text as a form of pure information, addressing writing not as a process but as the extrinsic creation of a process of which the document is a result. In this spirit, these several paragraphs here are not themselves to be received by the world as any sort of manifesto, but rather a scattered statement of the intention to produce, through some convoluted procedure, a declaration laying out the principles which, in being either embraced or trampled, will become Fabulism. Hereafter, with cosmonautical bombast, the Fabulists recuse themselves from the ardor of intending our entendres and meaning what we say, abdicating the burden of allegory and simile to the reading public and their tyrannical sense of democracy. Pushing a key, sliding a lever, turning a knob, we are going to sit back, and then we’ll watch the checkered scope of the planet as every piece on it flips from white to black: the Fabulist Uprising has begun.