Breadcrumb trails

It’s difficult to parse asemic horizon without going over the whole thing; but the following previously-unpublished fragment cuts directly to the soaring strings.

My last text introduced (not accidentally) a non-concept, the scenario. The scenario is a framing device. It sets up some patch of the Situation for some human drama, which is surely contrary to theory’s constitutive apraxia. What it frames is diegesis (two drunk girls making out for/at an objectifying gaze). What the frame is made of, that’s interesting.

If this appears to you as a repetition of the idea of the seduction of theory, you get a prize. But in a perverse way the seduction of theory is in the diegesis, it’s a fourth-wall-breaker that reminds you of the frame. It reminds you that vatic discourse is ludic discourse. Even as someone is getting handsy with your brain it reminds you to push them away gently and reassess the ongoing scenario.

You were told that there would be something something Bolsonaro here. We knew this was a huge structural story to be told. What we didn’t realize at first is that Jair is nondiegetic. He’s not the college girls kissing, he’s a technique of musical mood overlay or camera movement or some such movie magic. Bolsonaro is a lens by which the constitutional crisis gets told.

No, no, not just that. Bolsonaro is the only lens by which the constitutional crisis gets told. You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free. (April 2019)

What happens now is that the story of the “Brazil opera” (by comparison to our previously-vaunted “space opera”) can no longer be told.

The rhubarb to the effect that history is written by the winners holds only within certain proportions: past a certain scale, the “losers” cease to even register and Whig history dissolves into perennial philosophy. Traces of such a dissolution can be found here and there — in puzzling historical controversies (bimetallism in the United States; or the Religious Question that dogged Peter II of Brazil) that are in effect unintelligible to our present time. Indeed it’s easier to deeply recognize what Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar went through than to feign superficial understanding of Comtean religion in turn-of-the-20th century Brazil.

Winners do often write losers into history as they see fit. But history is pregnant with countless revisionisms. They might now topple the government and arrest the man and his ravaged guts.  Present and future countercurrents may in turn try to retell this story, to put everything in such a context that the downfall seems to never have happened anyway, like a soccer goal by offside rules. But Bolsonaro’s politics can never be whole without the Truth (like left politics can never be whole without the People).

I don’t think Bolsonaro knows this. I don’t think he knows how much his actual political project (as opposed to whatever he might morph into now, courting parliamentary support in the so-called Centrão and getting dragged by swampy quid pro quo presidentialism) depended on it. Robbed of his truth-rain, Bolsonaro’s story is probably going to be up-serted into a generic macunaímic narrative of fruitless challenges “from the right” (or even some further signifier yet to be pro/duced).

The constitutional crisis vanishes. Journalists applaud the very Supreme Court-led inquisition that no more than  a year ago had censored them. A victor’s history  without losers emerges: nothing of any importance has happened! This is what Moro’s Brutus-like stab is supposed to say — should anything happen, good or bad, the show (the continuity of the diegesis) must be aborted; the very theater must be “deconstructed” starting immediately, even if so gradually that it doesn’t really show.

 

Jairwave (2018-2020)

Brazil’s relatively large (if well under-proportional) weight in international affairs notwithstanding, you may still not be informed that Jair Bolsonaro dun goofed.

His anomalous character — his glitch — had been chipping away in small pieces in the last baker’s dozen of weeks. But this is something different now. It isn’t in truth-rain. It doesn’t pose the Big Questions that had kickstarted this blog.

I have to say — I’m grateful to him for having provoked this whole thing in first place.

I took enough care that I wouldn’t be embarrassed when Jair’s intuitive tenure in power came to contradict Jairwave, das Rettende; when it came in alignment with Macunaíma. I mean, he’s not particularly intelligent, is he? It was never — ever — argued that this meathead would take us to General Axiology. Not even in deleted texts or drafts. Too divisive. Not how it works. Theory will be fine! Theory is (mostly) fine!

Only one thing is left to pick up from the ground, to rinse off and reset: truth-rain.

Truth-rain is relatively well received (much in excess of the rest of my conceptual framework) in theory-talk Telegram chatrooms. But now it runs the risk of drowning in metaphysics; of accumulating  dependencies on ontologies of presence/absence that do precede symbolic truth-valued discourse, but make our philosophical underpinnings both bloated and brittle.

This, of course, has to do with the fact that normality (I’m tempted to coin “nomality”, but resist) in politics has been restored. Whatever happens next in Brasília is unlikely to be interesting.

What will be the next anomaly we ride on?

Glitchy

I.

asemic horizon continuously hesitates to comment on salient, event-like anomalies because it cultivates a particular conceit called “theory”. The intellectual import of this conceit is that, in theoretical work, an all-consuming effort is placed on making sense of salient structure-like anomalies. The philosophical import of this all-consuming effort is that systems thinking implies there is a single structural anomaly — that salient structure-like anomalies must always/continually reproduce themselves in a system-like anomalous homeostasis.

At this point, the patient reader should react with skeptical reflexes: how can something that is so stable and wide-encompassing be characterized as an anomaly?

Baudrillard famously says that “the secret of theory is that truth does not exist” just as “the secret of gambling is that money does not exist”. Surely enough, there is money, but anomalously so — which is to say, without nomos, without law. Under “ambient conditions of gambling” money is fully disconnected — not only from the wide system of value that makes it money-like, but also from local continuity laws. In gambling, money is savage.

II.

A common objection (at least from the nonrandom input I occasionally get from readers) to asemic horizon’s signature approach to temporality is that physical simultaneity is a thing — it appears in the fundamental ontology of nature with meaning and consequence. This is very true, but not a substantial objection: we’re citizens of physics by force of metaphysical necessity, but also citizens of Uruk and economic systems and human systems of many sorts.

Classical physics (and note that the relevance of post-classical physical theories is contingent on them reproducing certain classical structures, at least at mesoscales) is the theory of phase spaces, and in the setting with the most metaphysical weight, spaces in which phase flows are reversible. This is terrible! Of course, since physicists are among the smartest apes the species has bred, they’ve managed to proliferate “arrows of time” in mathematics-drenched models of increasing abstraction and unintuitiveness. Which is to say: physics gambles with abstraction and occasionally makes bank, reaches empirical validity and even woos our metaphysical hearts with tales of worlds utterly unlike human experience. We should have great reverence for the sheer cleverness and power of these models — but not mistake them for theories of the world.

On the contrary, the pure irony of the topsy-turvyness worlds of post-classical (and especially quantum-based) physics trying to restore the nomos should be evident from the vantage point of our phenomenal, lived-in experience. Science cannot “drain the swamp” of anomaly. And heavens know that we are drowning in anomaly.

III.

If physics was the enemy of theory, it would be an extremely — almost to the point of indeterminate might — powerful foe. But theory does not aim nor dare to challenge it. Science lives in the realm of the Symbolic, after all — its goal is not to break through the order of the Real (much like the gambler’s goal is not to produce a sustainable cashflow), but rather to make sense of the natural world. Theory dwells on the Symbolic order as well, but in mad, anomalous fashion, alternating listlessness and euphoria. Theory is grand conceit: it proliferates entities and arguments founded on phantom hypotheticals in hopes of breaking free — on sucking the marrow of the Real, feverishly gambling episteme to win big. Contrary to Baudrillard, the secret of theory is that truth exists, but it does not exist in theory.

Theory is a bet on the glitch. It obsesses over structural anomaly because of the widespread perception that most of the world is anomalous. Most of real temporality is clicky tempo xor weather/uncertainty/kairos. Most of the agency in the world is contingent on axiologies over axiologies over axiologies over… Most meaning is in seduction and withdrawn enjoyment. Most communication happens through orchestration of extradiegetic technologies to make diegesis happens. Most of salvation and deliverance is third-order soteriology. And if killing is sex, it is so due to a paradox known as physique du rôle.

At some point, we should find ourselves gambling (metaphorically) with usefully complex market derivatives rather than crappy polymer-acryllic roulette in ersatz river-boat casinos. Then hedging operations. Then whatever comes on top of that. Eventually, general axiology.

IV.

So what of the coronavirus disease of 2019/20? It surely appears to be a glitch — while at the same time being clearly a cog in the machine, a region of the system, Dasein borelians and all that bebop. This is, again, because much of the system is glitchy. You’re sitting at a computer right now: notice how uneven its temporality, how unknowable in its automatic orchestration of archeological piles of cruft. Software engineering assumes glitchiness and occupies itself with mitigation. Interact mindfully with your computer, notice its near-organic unreliability, its incorrectness. The motto of our era is that “software is eating the world”: this means glitches are eating the world. 

Search your hearts. Or ask any software engineer.

The core anomaly of computers is that they’re actually useful. The core anomaly of the 2020 coronavirus disease is that its mostly harmless — while also being deadly almost at random. The mot du jour, “asymptomatic carrier”, expresses this incredible paradox: being sick — and contributing to the systemic illness — while not being sick at all. And this is a terrible glitch, one that careens us to a full-blown once-every-five-generations meltdown in the span of three weeks.

Theory is not particularly helpful in dealing with this particular anomaly. Tools (PCR testing) have been developed by science, but they’re being used incorrectly — testing the known-sick instead of random sampling the population to actually know what the hell is going on. At a higher level of axiology abstraction this might actually be thinkable — but the goal of theory is to shoot meteorically toward ultimate abstraction to deal with ultimate anomaly — in warfare, in chrematistics, in wisdom — hell, in seducing women, if that’s really what consumes you (it appears to be a common theme with my readers).

But we have to assume the anomaly.