[NetBehaviour] The Structure of Reality, 1976-77

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Mar 27 15:19:12 CET 2019

The Structure of Reality, 1976-77


This is the main theoretical work I wrote in the 1970s. I was
reading a lot of Wittgenstein and the philosophy of mathematics;
I met Hans Freudenthal and Marvin Minsky, was part of a systems
group at Brown, read a lot of phenomenology as well, and was
fascinated by category theory, which I didn't really understand.
I could do some programming in Pascal and Basic, including early
works in electronic literature. I taught at Hartford Art School,
RISD, University of California at Irvine, Nova Scotia College of
Art and Design, etc. I was in the Paris Biennale, and Kathy
Acker and I made a tape which was shown at the Whitney and Yale.
I didn't really understand a lot of the math I was trying to
work with, but I felt the ontology of the world was ultimately
networked and networking, in other words, non-materialist. NSCAD
published my Structure of Reality in 1976 (I think through David
Askevold and Ian Murray); then it was reissued by Williams
College through Lauren Ewing in 1977. These were bound xeroxes.
I used precursors of the text in the Acker tape. Recently I was
asked for a copy of the book - someone is using it in a study of
her work. Azure and I made a copy of it. I still reference the
material in it, although there are serious errors throughout. I
have only one copy of the book left, hence the xerox. It's a
large pdf - about 169 megabytes, but it's easy to download or
peruse online. The beginning's difficult, but there's a lot of
literary material in it as well. (There's a transcription of a
talk I gave on it at NSCAD in Artists Talk: 1969-1977 by Paul
Greenhalgh, Peggy Gale, et al.)

Do take a look; you can ignore the diagrams and math; the gen-
eral direction should be fairly clear - fundamental operations
which characterize the real; a tripartite phenomenological
scheme; etc. Hope it brings a little pleasure and perhaps much
confusion (at least as much as it did me at the time).

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