Monday, May 30, 2005

Space, time and interconnection bits:

the indivisibility of cause and effect

interpenetration of opposites

dynamic simultaneity


the compression of time and space, time dilation

"Capital by its nature drives beyond every spatial barrier. Thus the creation of the physical conditions of exchange -- of the means of communication and transport -- the annihilation of space by time -- becomes an extraordinary necessity for it." (Marx, Grundrisse)

'For Massey, "space-time" is a "configuration of social relations within which the specifically spatial may be conceived of as an inherently dynamic simultaneity."'
(Drew Whitelegg, "The Big Squeeze: The Time and Space of Flight Attendants Since 9/11", citing Doreen Massey's 1994 Space, Place and Gender.

Network as an expression of juxtaposition and simultaneity, as counterposed to linear and temporal. Found on the Internet: "We are at a moment ... when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein" (Foucault, 1986; found in "How Space got its groove back: Geography and poststructuralism", lecture notes by Deborah Thien, University of Edinburgh).

Social relations as the interconnections within the social network. Some asymmetrical ones, in terms of social power: Property-propertyless, boss-worker, man-woman, white-black, urban-rural, etc. (Links have a direction property)

"This 'perceptual revolution' was the result of the fracturing of perspective into multiple viewing points in the early years of the 20th century. It creates a "new perceptual field" that is "'multiperspectival and environmental'" (Lowe 14) and where linear perspective comes to be replaced by the disorientation of navigation in simulated and multidimensional space. It creates a new way of looking appropriate to the speed, shape and space of the network as it exists in the instantaneousness of now time. By uniting space and time within the framework of vision, it also takes the onus off the 'female' as the guilty chaotic element within a binary, devalued (by the patriarchy) spatial system. And, in fact, rather than privileging the temporal aspects of the system, Doreen Massey argues that time is an emergent property of a network's spatial dimensions (268)." (from Quantum Feminist Mnemotechnics: The Archival Text, Digital Narrative and the Limits of Memory by Carolyn G. Guertin, University of Toronto; emphases mine)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Today the Phil the mailman delivered a copy of Jack Hirschman's Arcanes, a French/English volume of nineteen or so of Jack's "Arcane" poems. Jack Hirschman is a great soul, poet, artist and revolutionary, a case of the "prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house" in that he is better known, received, appreciated, or so it seems, in Europe that in the U.S. Here are a couple of links to Jack's poetry:

"Poetry for a New America"
Il Narratore (includes some audio files)

Anyway, in the introduction to Arcanes by Gilles Vachon, something leaped out at me. Vachon identifies "arcane" as coming from the Qabalah tradition (here's my rough translation):

"The 'arcanization' is a fundamental enterprise of the Zohar (a remarkable 13th century mystical text by Moses of Leon), which affirms the principle: divine secrets are found in all texts and in each letter of the Bible. One knows that this position on symbolic writing interested many investigators of the spirit, from de Lessing to Tzara, with Netwon, Kafka, Borges and Andre Breton in between... [and this part is sketchy] (Recall that Jacques Derrida owed to the Kabbalah many of his intuitions about textuality and multiple meanings (?plurivocité?), that Jack Hirschman and others discovered, and that, like Maurice Blanchot, were inspired by the vision of symbols and textual interpretations. [il en a été conforté dans sa vision des symboles et son herméneutics])

(In the mystical Kabbalah/Qabalah tradition, meaning is assigned to each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Further, numeric values are assigned to letters, so that words have a numeric value, and so some added meaning may be seen to exist between words of the same numeric value. Each letter is attributed to one of the 22 lines, or paths, connecting the 10 Sephiroth on the mnemonic Tree of Life (a kind of spiritual network diagram, with Tiphareth, the central sixth Sephiroth, as a superconnector or hub). Each letter has also been attributed to one of the 22 Major Arcana or Trumps of Tarot. Per Regardie, Cordavero describes the Sephiroth as "vessels of force or categorical ideas through which the consciousness of the universe expresses itself".)

Jack wrote an essay in 1971 called Kabbal Surrealism "trying to put together the many strains of French Surrealism, Negritude, North American poetics and politics, along with the sort of hip kabbalism I was involved with" at the time.

What struck me was this idea of divine or inspired writing not being specific to Hebrew or the Bible, but to any inspired writer, to the artist. The process of conveying meaning via text, where ideas are stored in ink-on-page, to be re-created in the mind of the reader, with levels of meaning, and meanings that may be hidden on first or second or fiftieth reading, and then revealed not because you now have the secret decoder ring, but because you understand things differently, "the understanding of a person is conditioned by his or her capacity to understand" (from "The Food of Paradise", in Indries Shah's Tales of the Dervishes). The power of poetry. For the reader, diving through the text, reaching that which inspires, and being inspired thereby.

Well in writing this down the though doesn't sound so striking perhaps, or so new as it seemed at the time it popped up in my brain.

From an interview w/ Jack that appeared in the wonderful journal Left Curve:

Poetry is ultimately what belongs to all. That is, everyone is a poet. People still reject that idea only because they have never lived in the historical conditions where that truth is realized. That's one of the reasons I struggle for the material transformation of society, to bring about that spiritual consciousness of the fact that everyone is a poet. In addition, poetry is the expression that carries within its moment much more than that moment, pointing ever toward a future through its rhythmic cries and revealed heartbeats. (from Interview with Jack Hirschman by Marco Nieli)

In a testament to the power of ideas, here's this description of the Zohar:

Moses Deleon's discovery generally went unnoticed by the world. But it was a significant turning point for mankind, as the Light of the Zohar radiated into the world for the first time in history... [T]he energy emanating from its mystical text sparked the collective unconscious of a generation. The power of the Zohar propelled the world out of the Dark Ages. (from the Kabbalah Centre website)

Which is a way to see Jack's poems.

(Jack and David Meltner are giving a talk on the Kabbalah at City Lights in San Francisco, June 9, 2005)


"And what is the very essence of poetry if it is not this 'metaphorical language' -- this marking of the before unapprehended relations of things?" - Owen Barfield, Poetic Diction.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Goethean science / holistic science

"Goethean science" is a holistic approach to science (as opposed to analytical and reductionist), named such because of the method associated with Goethe and described in his science writings. The Goethean approach to the total process overlaps with the dialectical approach, of seeing processes not as a collection of parts, but as relationships and interconnections.

Here is a quote from Henri Bortoft's book, The Wholeness of Nature (subtitled "Goethe's way toward a science of conscious participation in Nature"), Lindisfarne Books, 1996.

"[A] relationship cannot be experienced as such in the analytical mode of consciousness. Since in this mode it is the elements which are related that stand out in experience, the relationship itself can only seem to be a shadowy abstraction to the intellectual mind. The perception of a relationship as such would require a simultaneous perception of the whole, and hence the restructuring of consciousness into the holistic mode... The perception of a necessary connection is the perception of a relationship as a real factor in the phenomenon, instead of being only a mental abstraction added on to what is experienced by the senses. The reality of a relationship, the necessity of a connection, is not experienced as such either by the senses alone or by the intellectual mind. Hence any attempt to understand this reality in terms of these faculties is bound to find that it vanishes from the phenomenon itself and appears to be only a subjective belief." (99)

[Note: My criticism of at least this part of Bortoft's book is that he does not say how or why there is a necessary connection in the phenomenon he cites as examples, like certain structures in mammals, only that there is such a thing.]

The Goethean approach is seen as a way around Hume's assertion that, because there is no sense impression from which necessary connection can be derived, "necessary connections" do not exist. For Hume, two events appeared "conjoined" (or in "constant conjunction") and that was it -- nothing "necessary" or necessarily "connected" about them, only something "habitually" seen, "contingent correlations".

I don’t see what Hume's problems was -- an experimentally repeatable phenomenon given the same conditions or field of operation, seems enough to perceive or know the necessary connection. As Engels wrote (in Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy):

The most telling refutation of this as of all other philosophical crotchets is practice — namely, experiment and industry. If we are able to prove the correctness of our conception of a natural process by making it ourselves, bringing it into being out of its conditions and making it serve our own purposes into the bargain, then there is an end to the Kantian ungraspable "thing-in-itself". The chemical substances produced in the bodies of plants and animals remained just such "things-in-themselves" until organic chemistry began to produce them one after another, whereupon the "thing-in-itself" became a thing for us — as, for instance, alizarin, the coloring matter of the madder, which we no longer trouble to grow in the madder roots in the field, but produce much more cheaply and simply from coal tar.

Setting aside Engels' sense of "things for us" and "making it serve our purposes", and the sort of objectification and alienation from nature that it implies, there are two methods here of apprehending "necessary connection". On the one hand, a Goethean, method arising out of non-analytic mental activity -- holistic, right-brain, intuited apprehension. On the other, a method arising from interacting with matter (call it "practice", "labor" or "production"; or "fiddling", "experimenting", or "hacking").

My interest in "necessary connection" has to do with "laws" as "necessary connections", and the bundle of laws present in a phenomenon (or network) is the law system. And the law system determines the behaviors, the nature of the network.

Although "network" sounds so schematic and technical.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Here's a link to the paper that I am giving at the Global Studies Association meeting in Knoxville tomorrow (5/13/05) on networks and globalization:

"Networks and globalization" (html) / (pdf)