[NetBehaviour] Confusion Entanglement, philosophy, poetics

Alan Sondheim sondheim at gmail.com
Mon Apr 27 20:04:46 CEST 2020

Hi, the image was taken in the evening in downtown Providence, a block from
us, twilight lighting. I wanted to create an almost afterimage, something
not quite there, in relation to the text and the difference between
protocol sentences and the inert real, which of course is absent from the
image. This ties into the issues of facticity the text discusses.

Best, and thank you!, Alan

On Mon, Apr 27, 2020 at 1:50 PM Max Herman via NetBehaviour <
netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

> Hi Alan,
> I like this image -- though it is surprisingly frustrating to look at, as
> if I'm losing my sight, visual tinnitus? -- and the ideas in the text.
> This past week I've been reading Hofstadter's *Godel, Escher, Bach*,
> chapter 4, titled "Consistency, Completeness, and Geometry" and it has also
> been confusing.  He discusses Godel's incompleteness theorem, Bach's
> unfinished "The Art of The Fugue" and his "Little Harmonic Labyrinth,"
> layers of stability in visual perception, and explicit vs. implicit
> meaning, also including an old-time print of a labyrinth.  A lot of content
> for one chapter!
> I also noticed that the book's subtitle, "The Eternal Golden Braid," is
> also E-G-B.  In chapter 4, he writes of Bach's use of B-A-C-H in the third
> theme of The Art of the The Fugue (H being A I assume, G+1).  Such a
> shifting of orders is part of set theory, which sometimes interprets the
> set [A, B, C] as different from the set [C, B, A], just as the set [2, 1]
> is seen by some number theory as different from [1, 1, 1]
> My reading of the Hofstadter was prompted by a wish to read some of the
> many books cited in Calvino's *Six Memos*.  I read and re-read *Six Memos*
> often, because it is the basis of my annual project (third this year)
> called *Solstizio Calvino*.  It is a recurring project based on a few
> simple elements: the *Six Memos*, the summer solstice (solstizio
> d'estate), brain scans, and the images in the Special Collection of the
> Hennepin County library (which includes some great Piranesi prints as well
> as astronomical and geographic maps, some of which date to the 17th
> century).  I started the Solstizio in 2018 in part to reflect on the idea
> of what the unwritten sixth memo, of which we know only the title
> "Consistency," and that it was to have discussed Melville's short story
> "Bartleby the Scrivener," might have been about had Calvino not died before
> finishing it.
> In my quest to find clues about what "Consistency" (from the same root
> *sistere*, to stand, put, or place, as solstice) might have been about, I
> was surprised this month to see the title of GEB's chapter 4.  So many
> close resemblances, along with the multiple mentions by Calvino of GEB in
> the *Six Memos*, convinced me there is something there.
> I contacted Dr. Hofstadter with this hypothesis, and he replied yesterday,
> stating that he had never heard of it, nor has he read the *Six Memos *though
> he is aware of the book.
> This to me does indeed resemble a strand in the Eternal Golden Braid, a
> message from Calvino meant for Hofstadter, but meant to be transmitted not
> by Calvino himself, but by way of Hofstadter's compatriots and fellow
> citizens, by we Bartlebys of the USA.
> Calvino left us a puzzle to work on, like most teachers do.  They do not
> solve it for us, whether kung-an or equation.  The working out of it is,
> indeed, the point.  Each puzzle solved leads to another, and another, the
> metamorphoses of all that exists, indeed an E-G-B.
> It remains to be seen whether this letter from Calvino will ever reach its
> destination, or rather go to the dead letter office at which the Bartleby
> of Melville, the great interpreter of US impossibility and blindness,
> worked to his irretrievable shaping.
> If anyone has any comments or questions for Dr. Hofstadter, or colleagues
> who know him, I would be happy to relay your messages to him.
> Very very best regards,
> Max
> Notes:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del,_Escher,_Bach
> ------------------------------
> *From:* NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on
> behalf of Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour <
> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
> *Sent:* Monday, April 27, 2020 5:30 AM
> *To:* NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <
> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
> *Cc:* Alan Sondheim <sondheim at gmail.com>
> *Subject:* [NetBehaviour] Confusion Entanglement, philosophy, poetics
> Confusion Entanglement, philosophy, poetics
> http://www.alansondheim.org/language.jpg
> "I'll throw this out there," Carlton said,
> "and see what, if anything, emerges."
> 1. Confusion entanglement: etymological impulse, poetics rooted in
> roots
> Why this return to (linguistic, word) roots by so many of us, myself
> included?
> What grounding does this give us, rooted as it is, in fairly recent
> history; no one returns to an originary language.
> Language splays, hourglass, for example Johnson's Dictionary at the
> waist.
> Looking for example at Assyrian cuneiform: so many languages
> constitute the writing, from Sumerian through Mitannian, Assyrian
> itself: polyglot. Even the Tanach has its polyglot moments.
> A poetics of metaphoricity is produced, rooted for the rootless.
> But the rootless wanders off, distanced from sound and the
> presumptive specificity of signs.
> Our psyche, if such, our minds wander here, among, as if length of
> time past results in a cultural depth that perhaps translates into
> broken philosophy? Think of Heidegger's roots reflected in the
> shattered mirrors of Torah coverings, mantles. Without language, no
> facticity; what's left is the muteness of the real. So then
> language.
> So then within language, truth and its problematic develops, almost
> as an illness.
> A plague of truth functions, debate in ancient India, logics, the
> 613 commandments of the Torah.
> Truths lay, lie, in the realm of language, always there.
> Mathematics, mathesis, something else again, and the same.
> Logic breaks loose, reflects a world of structures, not the chairs
> and tables of platonism.
> The hardness of structures that uncannily relates to what the
> visible world tells us through its signs reproduced and reduced to
> the bare minimum.
> The worlding of structures, categories, however called and culled.
> It's the culling that tends towards problems, politics, religions,
> as one climbs up Weisskopf's quantum scales.
> We're back in the world of roots, meristemation.
> The disconnection here is radical; mathematical structures
> reference abstractions rooted in abstractions, sets to categories,
> in the future somewhere along the line perhaps, the outliers of
> fundamental physics.
> This is far afield. Mathematical manifolds and physical realities,
> so there!
> The lifeworld is loosened, disconnected to the extent that logic
> becomes internalized, truth values are interwoven with linguistic
> categories, everyone knows that, but it's a mess in space and time
> and a mess on any other conceivable level.
> The etymological impulse is rooted in this, unraveling a mess that
> is fundamentally unravelable, that continues everywhere within the
> fractures of history, geography, what's left of consciousness.
> 2. hall of mirrors
> A hall of mirrors reflects nothing but itself; sooner or later,
> quantum effects dominates. Place an observer within, and everything
> collapses. Place a light source within, and everything collapses.
> The fault lies with us, not with the stars. The stars have no
> language. Are we sure of that?
> It's in these twists that philosophy lies, as in a bed, as in the
> impossibility to tell truths or untruths. Philosophy is always
> theology.
> I write myself into corners; I do not right myself out of them.
> In other words: a mess. Nonetheless there is something 'to be said'
> for the resonance of truth in sound. See for example, Guy Beck,
> Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound or Andre Padoux: Vac: The
> Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras. Resonant with
> Buddhism as well of course. But these are truths of the numinous;
> what does one do with facticity: smoke/fire or the jar on the hill?
> And in what language?
> For example, an etymological impulse that places a- as negative or
> negation in Sanskrit (already I get this false). And of course it's
> common place to say that negation exists only in language, that
> it's performative in this sense.
> Is this true? Somewhere von Foerster writes about learning and
> perhaps culture all the way down, amoeba learning to avoid, and
> passing this knowledge on. What is the language here? Is there any?
> I think through all of this as it seems that music as anything
> listened to from any sources mirrors the world in an uncanny way:
> how is this? For one thing, sound is always modified by the spaces
> it ...sounds... ; space resonates, the world is mirrored thus. And
> one may listen for repetition for example, for structure, for
> source, for the absence of source. The motley phenomenology of the
> world. And ...
> 3. confusion entanglement: etymological impulse, poetics rooted in
> roots
> Why this return to (linguistic, word of mouth) roots by so many of
> us, myself included?
> "The assertion of 'one language' appears to assuage the case of
> ambivalence for the Mimamsa school and brings us back to Ellul's
> general distinction between the realm of Reality which is visual
> and the realm of Truth which is nonvisual and only mediated by
> language or the Word: 'Anything concerned with the ultimate
> destination of a human being belongs to the domain of Truth....
> The word must always remain a door opening to the Wholly Other
> [and] an indicator of ultimate answers.'" (Beck, p. 60.)
> Forgetting the theology of "ultimate," "Reality," "Truth,' what's
> striking is that truth is mediated, I would say _originated,_ in
> and by language.
> ("The sound resonated through the canyon, just as light itself,
> scintillated and reflected from a myriad of surfaces, rough and
> smooth, at all angles and colorations. Travis went deeper, into an
> inconceivable world of sound and light, the scutterings of
> creatures everywhere around him. Briefly disoriented, he continued
> on. Everyone experiences everything from different angles, he
> thought. There was no end to it, just as there was no end to his
> thinking.")
> Of course, thinking of language as a physical phenomenon,
> vibrations within or without a physical or space-time medium, then
> there's the question of reading. But I prefer to leave it at that,
> going back to the question of the etymological impulse in poetry
> and elsewhere today; I'll leave it at that as well.
> ...
> +++
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