We have never been asemic 3: harder

I have less time today, but want to leave a couple of notes anyway.

“Asemic writing” refers to a genre of writing. English is overly flat here; On grammatology offers the syn-chromic term écriture which serves us much better. Asemic writing blazes past the boundaries of what Grammatology terms “logocentrism”. It does so not for moral reasons — not because they’ve found Grammatology to be persuasive, let alone epochal — but with ethical purpose. There’s something true about the idea of logocentrism, particularly if qualified (as Derrida himself repeatedly does) as an essentially moral concept, almost everywhere devoid of ethical implications. Asemic writing is itself the ethical project, and needs no prior moralization to stand. This is meant very literally: whether volumes of asemic writing find economic and physical standing on my bookshelves is quite independent from whether Grammatology has any standing. Indeed, the word asemic may be the singular chromic stand it takes: no, it’s not in opposition to anything “semic”, it’s… that which you see in the works of Tim Gaze and Rosaire Appel.

Muddled as it is (with a quality that seems to begar the attention of a world-class literary editor to really shine), On Grammatology still manages to sound prescient, if only because it appears to develop its polemic of the écriture while still unaware of both asemic writing and computer code. Each of these escapes the circle of “logocentrism” by purely chrematistical means; if any new chromaticity comes out of computer languages, this happens at a higher level of abstraction. That this higher level of abstraction is identifiable with a “higher axiology” in some consistent higher/lower or larger/smaller gradation of axiologies is one of the chromaticity shifts I hope to eventually induce through these writings.

Then: theory may as well be a “praxis of intelligibility”, but asemic writing and computer code are both leaps into the unintelligible. You’re not supposed to understand computer code at first glance; an experienced software developer will be able to identify major structural features (and this with the help of automatic multicolor annotation and 2D indentation conventions), but if it was at all possible to “reason about a program in your head”, as demanded by the Dijkstra doctrine, you wouldn’t need the chrema of computers (even if you did use them as conveniency devices). I claim — and this is admittedly a vatic proclamation rather than a theorem — that theory similarly needs to work at the frontier of intelligibility but remain outside of the reach of casual-glance understanding. There are no shortcuts; every time I’ve tried to use clickbaity polemical matter as models, I’ve made strategic mistakes in the longer-run scheme of things.

This short text may as well be our n-th “gente introduction to asemic horizon”: hi, this is theory, and ideally it should make you perplex enough that your nose bleeds. I’m acutely aware of our failures in this respect. But as GPT-2 once said, after munging my écritures, we have no choice but to become stronger stronger stronger and do all the other things.

I hope I’ve managed at least to induce a mild headache here.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s