I have never signed on to any political, ideological or spiritual position among those circulating on the right, like Prometheanism or Faustianism, in part because I would anyway have to translate these terms into originary ones, but also because professions of faith of any kind are at odds with my understanding of the consequences of the originary hypothesis, at least as I have processed it through Anna Wierzbicka’s primes and histories and theories of literacy like those of David Olson and others. I don’t believe in “belief,” or have an faith in “faith,” because these words already presuppose the declarative order—if asked what you believe and have faith in, your answer will be in declarative sentences or, at least, in single words whose meanings are constituted by declarative traditions (“God,” “truth,” “loyalty,” etc.). To inhabit the hypothesis is to have a different relation to inherited vocabularies, a zone between literalness and allegory, demystification and unreserved indebtedness to the Other. I know that all human interactions derive from a scene that can be dissected with such analytical precision as to evaporate all idealisms while at the same time knowing that this knowledge cannot be made fully explicit on any particular scene that already comes with its settings. A scene upon which others might be interested in the hypothesis will have its own terms and cannot simply be transposed upon the originary scene hypothesized, and one must be on and in that scene. And this would be the case for any name those on the scene give it, which implies a steady turnover in such names. So, if I’m pressed on these questions, I have to say something like, “I’m on the originary scene, gathering data as to its (non)closure.” But what I can speak about, in a way that I think addresses all those names in a way that meets the demand for self-reflexivity imposed by the hypothesis, is “scene stacking.”
Benjamin Bratton calls “the Stack” an “accidental megastructure.” Originary grammar, extending the successive emergence of speech forms, gives us a way of theorizing megastacking on the boundaries of intentionality. A very difficult standard of rigor is implicit in Gans’s derivation of the speech forms, one that I must confess I have not always adhered to: whenever anything new emerges, it does not result from an intention to create that thing. It results from something more “profound”—an attempt to resolve an anomaly within another system, using the means available within that system, in which the anomaly is resolved because the system has been transformed. Think about how a feeling and practice of an “internal scene” would be created: demands and commands, implicit and explicit, from the surrounding “external” scene, become increasingly difficult to comply with; it may even become increasingly difficult to know what counts as compliance. One’s attempts to fulfill imperatives, including those embedded more softly and indirectly in “expectations,” keep failing, and so one keeps on trying to correct for the previous failures (without, of course, any way of knowing whether one has correctly determined the cause of “failure”) by forming new responses, which are variations of already attempted response and imitations of responses of others to “similar” imperatives that seem to have “worked.” This is the kind of situation Gregory Bateson’s schizophrenic finds himself in—the double bind. It’s also the kind of situation the ancient Judeans found themselves in with the destruction of the temple and exile in Babylon. As one keeps finding new ways to follow the imperative, one changes oneself, but also the form of the imperative and the identity of the imperator. One may have mistaken the purpose of the imperative and therefore the character of the authority who issued it: maybe, for example, rather than wanting me to fulfill the imperative successfully, he wanted me to fail, so that I would be forced to inspect my thoughts and practices (precisely as I am doing now) so that I would become the kind of person worthy of being given such a heavy load of duty. And maybe the time frame of the imperative is lengthened—rather than an imperative that can be carried out daily by each individual as a matter of course, maybe it’s a long-term, open-ended imperative meant to be preserved and transmitted generationally. Nothing more than constant repetition of the imperative for oneself is needed for these transformations to occur. Within this new scene, a scene within the scene is constructed, an “internal scene,” in which one part of the “self” takes on the role attributed to the external authority with another part taking on the role of the failing, and hence inadequate, unruly, disobedient self who has been repeatedly chastised, directly and indirectly, by the authority. So, a form of inner reflection, inspection, training, discipline, etc., in which one comes to name parts of one’s self, and categorize one’s habits and desires, comes to iterate what were once attempts to obey external, explicit commands. Furthermore, this new internal scene can only be maintained through the construction of new external, public scenes, like religious sects that have arrived at a “higher consciousness” of their relation to God and set up a shared disciplinary space to develop and explore the vocabularies, grammar and constructions this new “consciousness” requires. And while all this is done with some degree of deliberateness, no one set out to create an “internal scene” or an esoteric sect. All these did was acknowledge anomalies, or paradoxes, within an existing set of vocabularies, grammar and constructions.
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So, the kind of “subjectivity” we would want is one that would maximize both sides of this boundary of intentionality: both the deliberateness with which the terms of an order are pressed into new forms of service through analogy, allegory, mistakes, experiments, etc., and the ability to wait and see what new sign will tie it altogether into a new scene. One thing we can say about any scene is that it has a measure, even if not immediately numerical, which is to say some form of symmetry, distribution of places, ordering of practices and so on. Anyone on a scene tries to maintain that order, but everyone trying to do so means continual recalibrations are necessary—these recalibrations are where models derived from other scenes enter as possible means of reordering—even previous iterations of the same scene. A proposal to align everyone just suchly involves an imperative, and we can speak of technics as the issuing of imperatives to order (we can use Bichler and Nitzan’s neologism “creorder” here) scenes, along with the making declarative of the imperative as its prolongation and penetration into the scene thereby generating new ostensives, i.e., realities resulting from the disruption of existing orderings. This involves getting everyone placed along with the construction of settings and furnishings as reminders and impersonal imperatives directing them to and keeping them in their places. Scientific and technological knowledge emerges from the quantification of the measure of the scene but requires more thoroughgoing desecration before becoming an independent logic in which measures can be applied to anything and you can start looking for more things and especially events to measure. The local sacralities must be smashed by the divine empires so that desecrated masses of people can be removed from any ritual order and made to serve imperial projects carried out under a unified intention; but the imperial sacrality, which confined abstract knowledge to calculating the correspondence between imperial ritual, succession and history and astronomical patterns, must also be smashed, first of all by the Hellenistic empire (which smashed the divine emperors of the near east after having already smashed their own sacral kings and replaced them with “democracies” and “tyrannies”) and successor states and then, much later, by the desecration of Christian monarchy in the wake of global exploration. Then it becomes possible to look at everything that has been constructed as something that has been constructed, and to find its measure, and then the measure of like constructs yet to be constructed. There seems to come a point when all of reality, human and natural, becomes viewable as constructed, i.e., as given to being broken down and pieced together again—this “revelation” can be lost, as was ancient Hellenistic science under the “philistine” Romans, but by now it has acquired a momentum that would require hard (but not impossible) to imagine catastrophes to reverse. And this means that every scene can be made to fit, include, take as a base, superstructure or conduit, and model any other scene, and that this is the powerful way of creordering today. I have compressed this condition into the concept of “data security,” a very everyday matter, of course (data security companies proliferate) but also a entry into “transcendence” insofar as one scene is the source of data for another scene which opens each scene onto all the others while making the problem of creordering them all perpetual. The tensegrity of the originary hypothesis as a scientific proposition lies in its identification of the particular form of data comprising the human scene: signs, or representations, as the deferral of violence; or, let’s say, measures of the potential intensity of mimetic violence in the form of measures taken to measure and therefore delay the succession of incremental intensifications.
“Measure” seems to me essential to thinking technics. Everything exists through a relation of reciprocal measurement with, ultimately, everything else. Perhaps the universe first took shape through reciprocal measurement of its parts. Measurement is simply the imposition of a mode of sameness on whatever one registers or is effected by. A wire carrying an electric charge must be constructed so as to measure and therefore conduct the charge in discrete “doses.” The charge, in turn, is measuring the material of the wire in passing through it. Placing one thing on top of another has the two things measuring each other, as evidenced by the impress each makes on the other, including over time. Doing justice is a form of measurement. Commemoration is measurement. Measurement is ultimately quantitative, but originally qualitative, because something must be that thing before it can be broken up into equal (i.e., the same) parts, or made one part of a larger thing. The balance or equipoise on the originary scene is a kind of measuring, each of all the others, with the center serving as the “scale” or “ruler.” The more intricately you measure the scene, and its relation to scenes it is stacked on, or that are stacked on it, the more precisely you can target one or another corner of the scene for measurement as a furnishing of the scene and the more, in turn, you measure yourself and, in and through your fellow measurers (your team), the more technology becomes co-constitutive with the human. One scene is a scene in itself and a furnishing of another scene, and in that way each scene provides a kind of unit of measurement for the scenes furnishing it and those scenes it furnishes. There are therefore various units of measurement, operating at various levels and scales, and they are variously and continuously measured against each other and in that case we could say that a technologized desire is interested in fittings, in what seems unmeasured, even unmeasurable, and in bringing some measure to it. Doing so will in turn open up new unmeasured terrains and properties.
Measurement provides for a kind of originary syntax of the world, as one thing “predicates” another by finding it to be same as itself according to way of turning it into units or a unit. Perhaps “fit” comes before “measure,” as “fitting” involves just finding the place of one thing among other things. And this originary syntax takes on reality through scene stacking, which is a recentering after all has been desecrated. We can know that the center is “really” nothing more than the self-generating vectorization and measurement of all of our convergent desires, with the desire to persist (live one with one’s desire in some manner) added on, and is therefore “illusory”; but we can’t do anything with this “atheist” knowledge because it can only be articulated on a scene in a way potentially intelligible to and sharable with others, which in turn presupposes the therefore never fully demystifiable center. And if the center can never be fully demystified, there’s no reason to continue to try, which only causes frustration, harm and resentment. The alternative is to fully flesh out the center as an articulation of stackable scenes or platforms which might program us forward immeasurably if we only donate our abilities and refine (measure out) our needs accordingly. What people like to call “spirituality” or “transcendence” is simply the sustaining of scenes, of scenes within and stacked upon scenes, acting upon scenes that resist closure by folding out into other scenes. One could speak about this in more familiar terms as the play of the world.
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