[NetBehaviour] Adjacency, Pale Ontology

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Aug 24 06:00:21 CEST 2022

Adjacency, Pale Ontology


adjacency continuity contiguity neighborhood haptic
compression fissure inscription
(very rough draft, on the road)

I'm working on two fundamental ideas - adjacency (one next to
another, connected or unconnected; connected by touch, by
space or time; thwarted, disconnected etc.); and the
distinction, which I wrote about decades ago, between
inscription and fissure: a fissure is a division of the same
and the same, opening up as a result of weakness (split rock
for example); an inscription is a qualitative cut implying
code or alphabetics or transformations, catastrophe (re:
catastrophe theory) and so forth. To inscribe is to make a
mark (boundary, smear, etc.) that may even reference
qualitatively different materials or figures/grounds - one
doesn't "fissure" but fissures occur. If a diamond is cut,
it's the creation of a distinction, as well as a break. The
phenomenology of all of this is complex.

On the other hand, the images here reference adjacency, and in
particular, adjacency in time - plant material, debris,
leaves, stems, interiors, earth, and so forth, that remain
together - in this case as a result of fossilization, as if
what was alive is now hardened into the image of that, an
image invisible unless the matrix is broken open, in which
case there is also damage that destroys the adjacent.
Adjacency implies both sutured and sundered ontology - things
next to each other, which seems almost trivial - not
necessarily things in the ordinary sense - ideas,
abstractions, breaths, molecules, the problematics of gluons,
action-at-a-distance, and so forth. What is adjacent now might
not be adjacent _now._ The deconstruction of the adjacent, the
analysis, is both a sign of its weakness and universality.

The Pennsylvanian is part of the Carboniferous, 300,000,000 to
329,000,000 or so, million years ago. Back in Wilkes-Barre
yesterday collecting, not quite fossils, but matrices of plant
material compressed into barely recognizable forms. Shale,
coal, etc. plus what appear to be remnants of plant material.
I pick up these pieces, which had remained connected,
inviolate for this enormous length of time. Things that were
buried and warped adjacent remained such. The earth held them.
I pick up the pieces, examine them. You can see the patterns.

Suddenly that history is distorted, destroyed, fragmented,
permanently severed; what was adjacent is now part of human
history, inconceivably fragile and murderous (if the metaphor
might hold the slightest bit of truth). The connection can't
be reassembled; what knowledge (and what is the ontology /
epistemology of such knowledge?) is gained is at the expense
of a loss of identity and coherence that existed as implicit
inscription and structure for a fair fraction of the existence
of the planet itself.

This is what I see as a project now, the phenomenology of
adjacency, along with the other terms above - continuity
contiguity neighborhood haptic compression fissure inscription
- thinking of these almost absent or evanescent concepts that
might lead somewhere, at least for me - a slightly different
understanding of the destructuring of unbearable circumstances
we live in now. For life on the planet, its coherence and
stability, seems destined for an annihilation close to, if not
entirely, absolute; the world is increasingly described by
exponential curves which cannot ascend forever. Their bounds
are the bounds of resources on one hand, and radiations on the
other - radiations of viruses and nuclear material in relation
to the most fundamental necessities of our civilizations -
the stability of supply chains, climate variations far from
destructive ceilings, and so forth. The adjacent is neither
destructive nor "kind" nor suturing, and, thinking through
paleontology, it points to both connectivity and the almost
aleatoric/random processes that wear things down.

I'm not sure where this is going, yet, and it may go nowhere.
I'm writing at a friends' home in McLean, Virginia, the night
filled with astonishing buzzing confusion of insects, tree
frogs, perhaps others and any other species. It's late, I'll
stop now. I've been shooting images and videos, thinking how
I'll be able to work on this when time and space open up for
me. I don't expect this to happen, but I expect a detour which
may or may not occur...

Tue Aug 23 23:41:30 EDT 2022

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