Any act of signification aims at changing the field of probabilities within which it is situated. I’m working with the assumption that the traditional model of how this is done, which is modeled on face-to-face conversations on a shared scene in which the interlocutors advance reasons expected to convince the other, is defunct—assuming anything ever really worked that way, outside of small groups comprised of highly knowledgeable individuals who share common understandings. In other words, we can drop the whole “Enlightenment project” based on public discourse and the triumph of the better, more reasoned argument. The model itself, a single scene small enough and leisurely enough for each participant to have his say, is in such contradiction with existing imperial conditions as to disqualify that project. Of course, Walter Lippman was pointing this out a century ago. Then, the alternative was elite gatekeepers who developed expertise in framing, releasing and controlling information provided to the public, which is the origin of the “mainstream media.” One argument that emerged along with the internet is that decentralized communications and the possibility of unfettered peer-to-peer interactions revived the Enlightenment model, but there’s no reason to think that can scale up beyond a single Discord or Reddit page, assuming it’s even operative there. It’s better to follow the observation that just as most images are not produced to be seen by humans, most text is not generated to be read by humans so that, as Rhea Myers points out in
I appreciate your comments. I guess I was stuck on thinking how one knows that one is shaping the algorithms or sustaining the threshold, allowing us not to disturb the originary distribution. I certainly appreciate that good government must somehow reproduce its inheritance, a long reiteration of an original nomos. And that we must know we are sustaining the threshold when things take and work without descending into retributions. Stuck in the meta language of literacy, I guess I am too indebted to desires to "see" this now. Thinking about this in terms of indebtedness certainly helps - and you are right that we can't get too far ahead of ourselves in staging our bets, least of all when we are not talking within an established institutional or team framework.
Trent's comment about tribal chieftains reminded me of an old Scottish joke. The clan warriors are out on campaign and they are settling down for the night. The chief finds a rock to serve as a pillow. The clan stare at this in amazement: "A pillow!" and quickly lose faith in the toughness of their chief. Maybe that is a specifically Presbyterian joke, though who knows when you start with the creamy centre. Anyway, where so much of our religion has been run over by a democratic spirit, so that now we have descended to a self-appointed priesthood of victims and "allies", Adam is right to question Western traditions' capacity for rebuilding the centre. But here's another question I have from rereading this post. What does Bouvard mean when he says "Various sects might have answers... but what would make them compelling to the infrastructure? They'd all be better off with the idiom laboratory I'm working on.... The idioms are paradoxical and performative - they serve the same purpose as the old commonplaces, to effect transitions from event to commemoration, which is also the narrative function of God". Is this a suggestion that religious communities would be generally better off, internally, members networking with members, within markets in singularized succession, church heads choosing their successors, reducing or translating their discourse to these idioms built out of the semantic primes? Are we to assume that religious scenes must go the way of the Enlightenment project and Big Scenic thinking, and for the same reasons given at the post's outset - the affordances of the new imperial infrastructure - or is this more simply a suggestion about how they could influence the infrastructure, the algorithms when feeling a need to broaden their focus beyond in-house scenes? Maybe new "religions" of resentment donation could be constructed but how could the old survive such a shift? Well, you do say it is time to dump the Axial age assumptions... If you set about to singularize events, to make debt markets out of them, to unpack the declarative black box, are you any longer a "sect" however much involved in the paradoxes of the sacred?
I like Trent's idea of showing politicians what one is advocating is the same as their concern, with just a supplemental idiom that can win the market. Anyway, I would love to one day see an example of how Trent and friends are forcing themselves to trade in ostensives and imperatives.
On the one hand: "You are always modelling decisions that sustain the threshold above which the originary distribution would be disturbed irremediably and the threshold below which the vendetta, endlessly recycling violence, would re-emerge"
On the other: "There's a style of argumentation here, one which absolutely eschews a default model of social order that is being violated by whatever abomination we see in front of us at the moment."
Now modelling a juridical decision is not quite the same as modelling some idealized nomos, so I'm not crying about some contradiction; yet I'm wondering how one imagines maintaining THE originary distribution without recourse to imagining any default order, now that we have (don't we?) a (mal)distribution shaped by a return to the vendetta, the corruption of the juridical by resentful assertions of victimary rights. You have of course often had recourse to the formula, "From each according to his means to each according to his needs", with the needs of the producer being forefront. So that could entail all kinds of productive betting on the future.
Yet, what I can't quite imagine is how one can push bets to the close to fifty-fifty situations you suggest; as we delve into modelling decisions, in any juridical renaissance, aren't we also going to be unavoidably motivated by a resentful sense that we need to get beyond the present-day return of the vendetta, the occupation of many offices of the (deep) state by those who claim a victimary right to be there? Can these "folks" be simply retired away over time in a cascade of close bets or succession rituals (or does it have to be en masse, a la Yarvin, or maybe the new Trump?) without us imagining at least something of a societal default in which, say, those more inclined to Western disciplinary traditions, often by dint of their ancestry and upbringing, or by force of "sociobiological" (reproductive) imperatives, will be again a good share of the producers whose needs we need to serve? However, your comments on descriptions/prescriptions remind me of Gans' Chronicle on the Dao of Language. So maybe you are opening up to non-Western traditions as a way of doing in the victimary, in the non-revolutionary spirit you so importantly develop.