File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0104, message 52

Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 23:32:43 +0100
Subject: Re: The differance that makes a difference


Little to respond to the below as it is reasonably accurate - except a number of
replies are required - in defence of the differend that exists between the
writers on the list and Lyotard. This being the strange non-addressing of
Lyotard's statements that the sciences below 'represented' either a continuation
of the 'subject of history' the manifold destiny of humanity to avoid the great
death that awaits the earth, or the postmodern fable that suggests that humans
are 'mistakern in believing they are the motors of development with the progress
of civilisation and consciousness' those things which we believe are the
products of man (see below) are not so - we are the affects of these conditions
of complexifying - the result of this is probably somewhere inbetween. It
remains unacceptable to believe that we humans are the centre of things, we are
of course 'not the center of the world, not the master of discourse....'  The
theorists [turing, Watson, crick, weiner and so on ] listed below in some way or
another cling to the all to human desire for human beings to be at the centre of
things. I reject this specism...

The use of noise to define and introduce the excess that constitutes art has a
long and considereable history.Related to the work of Lyotard, Eco and perhaps
most specifically to Serres. Noise introduces the disequilibrium that is
required to avoid the construction of closure. It introduces openness into the
closure that is so often striven for. Noise is not entropy but the precise
opposite. But how...

Information: we have two stations and a channel. They exchange messages, but a
third element is necessary and exists to introduce chaos, disequilibrium and
openness into the communication, noise. It articulates the death of the monad in
its place the chaos of the collective, art, philosophy, science what they all
have in common is noise - disrupting the smooth transition so beloved of
politicians and related experts from this state to another. A social function is
an identifiable variety of ignorance usually intelligently disguised as
expertese. Consider the operations of vets and farmers in the UK - in the
interests of animal welfare they slaughter 750Kb of sentient beings - perhaps
one day this act will be regarded in the same way as the genocidal slaughter of
humans is now regarded. The noise in the event is that in these post-modern days
external discourses leak into the mainstream and disrupt the purity of the
ignorance. The noise from outside kills the required harmony, the death of
meaning is not the only benefit here. Lives are saved, just not human ones, but
as said above... Every social function judge, scienctist, philosopher, teacher,
psychoanalyst to artist that is classifiable in some hierachy of classes exists
in the cloud of its own ignorance. This appears at the moment of the inventoon
of the black boxes at either end of the communication channel - noise is the
third that disrupts the purity of the exchange.

On one of the university courses I once attended a lecturer (Norman Revell used
to say 'keep the white noise down please...') the white noise was a pure
signifier of the questioning of the validity of the irrelevant discourse. Norman
would never have accepted that Popper was wrong about both Marx and Frued -
Popper argued that they did not discover a general equivelance - science for
dear old Popper required the ability to be falsifiable - but he did not see that
money and the economy can be falsified its called counterfeiting (Groucho -
Karl's younger brother however spilt to beans) - Marx did not state this and see
the potential chaos here but it cannot be denied that they discovored general
equivelants - theories cannot be rejected simply because they are always true as
Popper would have it, (Marx and Lyotard both have elements of this) - the
theories always work because they function outside the realm of the true and the
false, Marx supplies the constant noise against which our society functions,
Lyotards joke of intersteller escape supplies an excess, a noisy irony   which
critiques and questions our society...



hugh bone wrote:

> Eric,
> This is a very broad and to the best of my knowledge substanially accurate
> summary of what we are talking about.
> I will make a few comments at **
> > 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.
> **Shannon's work had to do with humans sending coded messages to humans, and
> it fit with the messages computers send within their
> structures as well across wires, cables etc.**
> >
> > As a very short recapitulation of the topic, consider the following
> > events.
> >
> > 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.
> **Genes were not nearly as well understood when DNA, RNA were discovered as
> they are now.**
> >
> > 3. John von Neuman applied the concept of information to the new science
> > of cybernetics - the study of communication and control in organism and
> machine.
> **Norbert Weiner wrote his  "Cybernetics" book soon after WWII.  I don't
> think either he or von Neuman applied it to organisms.**
> >
> > 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 singularity.
> **Once upon a time there was a big bang and hydrogen, and then helium, and
> then other chemical elements until only 14, or 15 billion years later, 116
> elements had self-organized themselves and populated the universe. Note the
> small number of elements compared with tens of millions of species that
> self-organized their appearance, and (most of them) disappearance from
> Planet Earth.
> It began with maybe a few dozen atomic particles in the hydrogen atom.
> Information, (apparently not Shannon or genetic, nor the info that folds
> proteins) caused atomic particles to play their roles.
> Understanding the info that folds proteins is a new puzzle for Science
> although it may be as old as life itself and has no need of humans.**
> > 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.
> **Just saw a PBS documentary on the human genome.  It said decoding the
> genome, which is linear four-letter sequences, is simple compared with
> understanding proteins the genome orders to be made.  Proteins are complex
> three-dimensional substances which must be precisely folded.**
> >
> > 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.
> **If memory serves, this is in "The Postmodern Condition"**
> >
> > 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.
> **Yes, emulating some aspects of Japanese production became fashionable.**
> >
> > 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.
> **I would say it's more a matter of
>  1)who owns a country's natural resources, real estate, and means of
> production, and 2) how effectively owners of a country control the
> legislature, courts, and government agencies who determine the terms of
> employment and the taxes workers must pay for the privilege of using others'
> property to earn a living.**
> >
> > 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.
> **For instance?**
> >
> > 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
> > arrive-t-il.
> >
> > 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
> > aesthetics.
> >
> > "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
> > understand". **Too much in one mouthful.**
> >
> > 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. **Much too much**
> >
> > The blessed abide in disequalibrium!


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