A glossary

 

I wrote this for a friend.

This overview of asemic horizon’s technical terminology (known as “space opera” to earlier readers) follows an order that’s specific (such that it supports a series of contrasts and comparisons) but not special (in that no particular concept or term is anterior to others).

THEORY is the theory of generic structure. This is a recursive definition (the theory of the theory of the theory….) — and also defines GENERICITY as the remainder term in a truncated infinite series. Grosso modo, theory works by appealing to higher and higher orders of genericity: it therefore saves us the pain of working toward particulars. Before the Hölderlin story emerged, the motto of asemic horizon was “notes on structural affairs”. This remains a decent description of the functional role of theory throughout our project.

The SITUATION is the Whole Thing. Up to a certain point in time there were attempts to codify a “metaphysics of the situation”, something that still litters the earlier texts; by now, the word refers to a generic stand-in for metaphysics — a protocol — establishing certain desiderata for metaphysical theories. These desiderata are also not specified in technical terms, but revealed allusively across theory. Meta-level discussion of the Situation is often referred to as the “Heidegger story”; but this name implies fewer and weaker links to Heideggerian thinking proper than “Heidegger theory” would. Instead, this word pattern (the Tarski story, the Hölderlin story, etc) points to something that emerges as a presentation of theory rather than something that flows from theory itself.

The key “Heidegger story” feature of the Situation is INTERFACTICITY. Facticity is a sister word to contingency. My facticity is that about me which is fact (and mere fact); this glossary’s facticity is characterized by its linguistic infrastructure, the technology that supports it, the particular situations in which it emerged. One way of characterizing interfacticity is seeing it as the machinery of interactions between particular facticities, i.e. the infrastructure that supports the apparent merger of all facticities. But each facticity is also pure infrastructure: the interfacticity is the machinery of the world. A less clear (and possibly easier to grasp because of it) way to approach the subject is to start from intersubjectivity (maybe following Buber) and expand into the entire world through a kind of faux panpsychism — while at the same time removing agency and protagonism from everything in touches. There’s also the option of building from Heidegger 1927 directly, but that would seriously derail us into philosophical analyses no less important for theory, nor more critical than the water plumbing amenities that make writing theory possible at all.

If we continue to (somewhat embarassingly) stand by the name “Heidegger story” we might analogize interfacticity to the “Being” of “Being and Time”. Thus we sometimes decorate references to the Situation or situations with timely terms like “ongoing” or even “actual ongoing” (which is to say, taking place in a time structure that has already been actualized and produced). This doesn’t imply that the Situation is equipped with a global timeliness — despite the empirically-supported existence of something that flows at the rate of 1 second per second, simple phenomenological examination tells us that all that we now call infrastructure (electrical currents, currency speculators, geological folding, the wind in your hair) to take place in idiosyncratic TEMPO structures, not flowing but CLICKING. A vague, luminiferous awareness of interfacticity can then be developed by documenting (for the next few seconds in which you look away from this text) the polyrhytmic interplay of clicking tempos.

More generally, interfacticity (and, therefore, the Situation) is fundamentally de-presented. By this we mean: like infrastructure in the classical sense, interfacticity is fundamentally invisible (until something breaks down). In contrast, a SCENARIO is fundamentally presented; in the generic case it is PRODUCED (a technical term: to produce is to make appear) by presentations as disparate as ideologies, narratives, lecherous fantasies, theoretical claims. The infrastructure that supports a scenario is known as DIEGESIS (a term appropriated wholesale from film theory); we’re aware of it because it so often chokes or breaks down, at times even on purpose. Diegesis is necessarily supported by a dizzying array of self-effacing technologies. This machinery produces, as a free bonus, a dialectics of storytelling tool/story being told that might become important as we try to place agency-presentations in or out of the diegesis.

Diegesis also gives us a method and system for appropriating bits and pieces of Lacan (genericized into a theory of reflexive structures equipped with a mirror stage); we can explain more accurately and succintly that interfacticity is de-presented by hanging the Situation on the order of the Real and scenarios on the order of the Symbolic. The major task of social theory then becomes to produce (gentle reminder: to make appear) a genericized Imaginary in the EC-STATIC (that stands beside themselves) scenarios that engage the lecherous desires, intellectual curiosity, political motivation (cue Zizek voice sample: and so on, and so on) that push people, these particulars we try to avoid, into engaging with AXIOLOGIES — and that may push them, in the limit, to engage with GENERAL AXIOLOGY.

Simply put, general axiology is the largest possible axiology. An axiology (classical ones include aesthetics, ethics, economics, etc) is a theory of what is valuable and how to valuably obtain it. Axiological thinking enables us to abstract away human action entirely and operate at the level of governing dynamics. The axiology-centric theory of asemic horizon is therefore said to be APRAXIC. It’s not concerned with particular events taking place in the world, but with the structure (axiological, diegetic, interfacticitous) that enables arbitrary/generic action. Being a full axiology, arriving at general axiology also implies a theory of how to valuably obtain everything valued by general axiology — something we call the get-rich quick scheme.

General axiology is the main story of theory — the praxic program that balances the apraxic character of theory is that general axiology may cease to be mere story and metastasizes over the Situation. There is some significant methodological irony here: theory goes through effort and anxiety to remain decentered, but suddenly acquires a North Star, an asymptotic utopia. It’s furthermore ironic, given the standoff-ish attitude of asemic horizon toward metaphysics, that this centerpiece comes to be coated in a kind of quasi-religious pomp. Indeed at some point a major story was the eschatology — how a limit point of total genericity was to flip over (a “switcharoo”) to total generality; but this should be considered deprecated by now; the core texts have been retired but some references may survive.

Talking about eschatology was fun, but it didn’t jive with our expanded awareness of time. The coming of general axiology was to come in the future, but we were fully unable to gain systematic awareness about clicking in the future. The future does not hang in tempo — it flows at 1 second per second, we’re told, but it’s made of contingency, not event. An interesting collision helps us here: in many languages, from ancient Greek to modern Romance languages, the words for “weather” and “time” are the same. The Greek word is KAIROS; because naval battles were such a core exemplar of contingency for ancient Greeks, it came to signify a kind of time related to opportuneness for action — finally, metaphysicians were caught dichotomizing CHRONOS (the 1 second per second thing) and kairos.

One might observe, finally, that time-chronos is useful in human affairs because it approximates tempo in reasonably regular scenarios: rathen than record particular raindrops orchestrating a downpour, you can measure an aggregate quantity of rain in an aggregate time interval and react accordingly. Search your hearts, you know this to be true: the use of time-chronos in, say, applied science and engineering, has nothing to do with the eventual discovery of an “arrow of time” by abstract physicists. Worse yet, the use of flowing time in practical social affairs is a weird appeal to quantitative science where in reality social convention dictates an ambient tempo (seven days a week, only five of which are good for trading).

This discovery of ambient tempo brings us finally to the initial insight that bought me (the interplay of “I” and “we” over the course of the texts is important; this is me now, a writer) a way out from uselessly trying to discuss particulars — something that’s extremely inefficient given my limited time for this project — and into “structural affairs”: the AMBIENT CONDITIONS OF TRUTH. This is a concept that superficially may seem to appeal to consensus and social construction, but in actuality tries to refer to a standard of authenticity and risk. Usages of “ambient conditions” (such as ambient tempo) have since multiplied, and “ambient conditions of truth” has been given the nickname of TRUTH-RAIN. By analogy, this latter synonym explains its praxic consequences: truth is not an object of epistemology, but an actually ongoing condition to which one might expose oneself (soaking wet in the rain) or take shelter from. This came from Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s campaign slogan, apparently taken from the Christian bible: … and you shall know Truth, and Truth shall save you.

This was the original Bolsonaro crisis: having entered the postmodern condition on November 15th 1889, Brazil wasn’t quite sure what to make of this — the Truth. Not surprisingly, then, Jair’s strongest supporters were Christian evangelicals — people trying to live in a community of Truth — while his hardest detractors were those committed to social-constructionist fads and allergic to the Truth. It should be clear, by the po-mo “Continental-flavored” style of these collected texts, that I’m much more similar to the latter. But they’re wrong: they’ve taken shelter from the ambient conditions of truth when the whole thing is right in front of their eyes: not Christian religion but the abject failure of pink-tide South American leftist governments in doing whatever they thought it was worth doing, and worse yet, the abject failure of their theories of Brazil. Even a year later, when the euphoria has died down and Jair is already imbricated in the usual presidentialist bullshit, it’s still out there, in the air, for anyone who cares to step outside and breathe it.

The historical development of theory flows from this problem. The “Heidegger story” (interfacticity, in more modern terms) developed from the problem of giving sense to these mass nouns (ambient, Brazil, left, right and-so-on-and-so-on); axiologies from the unwillingness to deal with this and that person or event directly, but wanting to speak from truth-rain. Tempo to give leeway to the indefinite complexity of the world, scenarios to think of generic storytelling (not just “narratives” — everything to which diegesis and its dialectics applies). There’s more — the Hölderlin story, which complicates  “salvation”, physique du rôle, sandwich dialectics… But I think this has covered the basics, or at least the basics I could linearize as a narrative.

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