File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0104, message 49

Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 22:08:31 +1000
Subject: Re: The differance that makes a difference


Don't forget Wolfram's Class rules, which I paraphrase here from Mitchell
Waldrop's "Complexity". 

Wolfram's Class I describes a case of stasis, a dead system that has run
down to a single "point attractor".  The Class II rules also reach stasis,
but in a number of different locations, and are said to be governed by a
set of "periodic attractors".  The Class III rules go to the opposite
extreme, producing total unpredictability, chaos: these rules are governed
by "strange attractors".  The Class IV rules are the most intriguing
because they produce something in between the stasis and the chaos, that
is, coherent structures that propagate, grow, split apart, and recombine in
an unpredictably complex way. Other analogies have this "in between"
structure in common.  A further
four cases are reported:

In dynamic systems:	Order   >   "Complexity"   >   Chaos
In matter:		Solid   >   "Phase transition"   >   Fluid
In computation:	Halting   >   "Undecidable"   >   Nonhalting
In artificial life:	Too static   >   "Life/Intelligence"   >   Too noisy.

Perhaps with this in mind (?) Lyotard suggests that Kant's Critique of
Judgment should not be thought of as the third or last Critique, but the
nascent "middle" one, because its purpose (whether that is achieved or not)
is to serve as mediator between pure reason and practical reason.  It is
proper, after all - as Lyotard says in Kant's voice - to introduce the
faculty of reflection between understanding and reason in order to provide
the indispensable supplement for this project.  

>From this I would be tempted to argue that the sublime be reassigned as the
indispensable supplement between form and unform, that is, between Class I
and Class III. Therefore: Beautiful   >  "Sublime"   >   Monstrous 


At 08:22 PM 4/17/01 -0500, Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:
>Steve, Reg, Don, Hugh and all -
>Steve has written some provocative posts on the subject of information
>in response to Hugh, Don, Reg and others.  While there is no doubt that
>Shannon gets credit for formulating the science of information while
>working (if fuzzy memory serves) as a engineer at Bell Labs, I would
>maintain that what made information so sexy in the fifties was the
>connection made by others with biology, cyborgs and Darwin.
>As a very short recapitulation of the topic, consider the following
>1. Alan Turing created among his many prodigious inventions, the Turing
>test - namely, and simplifying to the extreme, the behavioral question
>that if a subject could not distinguish between the responses of a
>computer and the responses of a human, then the question of the
>difference between the two became somewhat moot. 
>2. Watson and Crick were able to apply information concepts to genetics
>in their formulation of the transmission of DNA in sexual reproduction.
>3. John von Neuman applied the concept of information to the new science
>of cybernetics - the study of communication and control in organism and
>4. The Macy Conferences which applied these concepts to the social
>sciences and included figures such as Gregory Bateson, who famously
>defined information as "the difference that makes a difference" and
>situated information in a biological/epistemological context he was to
>later describe poetically as "Steps to an Ecology of Mind".
>Using the concept of information as it currently tends to be applied in
>contemporary theories, information becomes equated with negentropy as
>the self-organizing property of a complex system (organic or inorganic)
>capable of sustaining itself in a state of disequalibrium.  In this
>formulation, God may be described as the principle of self-organization
>in the universe; synergistically enhancing the various modes of
>I agree that the reason the concept of information is so popular today
>is probably due to the way it echoes the current dominant modes of
>production. It echoes Marx comment (which I can't remember exactly and
>must paraphrase here) the cotton gin gives one kind of society and the
>steam engine another.
>Be that as it may, the interest in information is also tied to the
>insight that the ability to process information effectively, to
>determine by means of pattern recognition, what is and isn't
>significant, impacts considerably on the continued survival of the
>complex organism.
>This relates to Lyotard's argument in "The Differend" concerning the
>organization of temporality as a closed system (capitalism) versus an
>open system (what Lyotard calls the event - the arrive-t-il).  Who will
>control the data banks is perhaps the central metaphysical question par
>excellence that Lyotard raises.
>It is interesting to me to consider the trends of business literature
>over the past decade in the status quo writings from Peters, Senge,
>Handy and others.  They all converge in emphasizing that for a business
>enterprise to succeed in today's economy it must become a quasi-organism
>(what Senge termed a learning organization).  There is an implicit
>recognition here that the previous mode of organization, derived from a
>mechanistic Fordist philosophy which is hierarchical and centralized is
>now inadequate because it cannot adapt quickly enough to relentless and
>ongoing change.  There is a need for organizations to de-layer,
>decentralize, empower workers as self-directing teams etc. etc. in order
>to become successful.
>This shows, on the part of management, a recognition that an information
>economy drastically changes the nature of our social organization. This
>very strategy is an attempt to dominate the spontaneous orders which
>compose themselves around information and control them by design and
>from above in order to capture the surplus value that such organization
>of information offers.
>The counterstrategy on the part of labor is not simply to resist, but to
>develop new organizations of information that elude such control by
>continuosly proliferating multiple centers that elide and envelop the
>existing forms of control.  
>Which brings me round to the question of art which I believe is also
>intrinsically tied to the question of what Lyotard names the event, the
>Steve has argued that art is related to noise.  My response is that, to
>the extent information is noise, it is simply not noticed and therefore
>cannot be art.  Art must foreground this noise in a certain way to
>render it audible, visible, tangible even as it resists being absorbed
>into a system of discourse, a mall of signs.  Art always is the
>difference that makes a difference.
>John Rajchman has made the following comments about Lyotard's
>"For Lyotard, by contrast, aesthetics became more a gay science,
>concerning more with a time to come rather than a compendious philosophy
>of history, a restless activity that starts in those
>incommensurabilities in our practices or agreements which ensure that
>the language one ends up with in thinking is never the same as the one
>from which one starts, since it translates something as yet unspoken and
>never completely understood.  With this weakness (this impouvoir as he
>called it) there then goes a whole art - one might say an ethic - of
>breaking with those with whom one nonetheless identifies, while exposing
>oneself to the singularities of those one nevertheless tries to
>Esctatic networks with branching and bifurcating nodes through which
>sublime feelings pass and reverberate across a matrix of complexity.
>Difference demands a response and thereby creates the inexplicable event
>that rocks your world. 
>The blessed abide in disequalibrium!


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