Deus Ex Machina

seance

Excerpt from an old Project concerning the Ghost in the Machine.

File under: /Lostprojects*

*Tara Hill, Abstract / Outline / Ph.D.-Project, IXDM, Basel, 16.11.2014

Deus ex Machina

Facing ‘Spectral’ Interference: Towards a Hauntology of the ‘Ghosts’ in the Machine

 

I

 

Traditionally, in continental philosophy, the relationship of man and machine has been described in terms of mutually exclusive, binary oppositions – the most famous probably being the dualism of mind and matter, in which the ‘sacred’ human spirit – conceptualized as sort of an ‘élan vital’ – in its animated human corpus designs a device as means to a certain end, thereby usually rendering a sequence of discrete functions (or later: computations) automatic or industrial. trademark traits of measuring the effectiveness and economic value then would be their utility or usefulness as auxiliary tools, thereby ‘outsourcing’ and standardizing procedures of human handicraft to several automatized steps (though usually still operated by human beings, but in a more remote, abstract, centralized way of operating: one might label said machine-handling ‘at a distance’). machines, then, understood in a broader sense of the term, according to the ‘credo’ of instrumentality, functionality and rationality/rationalization would be key instruments of humanity’s rise above their species, key reference of the establishment of culture, key figures in the rise of mass society and engineering throughout the modern ‘industrial’ age or ‘fordist’ era and its specifics, i.e. processes of rationalization/industrialization. the key significance of the concept since the dawn of ‘enlightenment’ even (which in itself has become closely interconnected to the arrival of the ‘electronic’ age, aka ‘l’illumination’) – as a sort of spectacular u-turn – led to the view of the body (as well as organic matter) as ‘machinic’, actually successfully turning the paradigm shift from idealism to materialism into an ideology of matter as ‘machine-like’. dystopian tales of this reliance or even dependency on machines usually just swapped the roles of man and machine, thereby ascribing agency and domination or power to machines and passive dependency, on the other hand, to the hapless, oppressed human victim who witnesses his own transformation into a ‘guinea pig’.

 

II

 

but nowadays, in our age of post-postmodernity, late capitalism, neoliberalism, intelligent design, software apps and life-hacks (or even A. I.) this predominantly ‘modern’ concept increasingly seems downright dated. not only are machines today regularly operating on their own, in their own semi-autonomous space or even ‘biosphere’, often themselves regulated by even more, even ‘cleverer’ machines for checks and balances, a lot of them also handle tasks, that no longer resemble a fixed ensemble of human work sequences but massively transgress the potential of human labour, however skilled. a lot of the innumerable machines in our everyday-life have become far too complex for the usual, regular user to understand them albeit partially (apart from their concrete ‘functions’ and the handling of their ‘interface’), and therefore seemingly continually grow to ‘outsmart’ us humans. along with the profound impact of this realization and insight, new theories have flourished, which search to problematize and further differentiate this man-machine ensemble, e.g. the historical ‘decentering’ of the ‘subject’ of humanity. yet even if one challenges the traditional view of the man-machine-relationship with a, for instance, highly differentiated, posthumanist and thoroughly postmodern-anthropological approach such as bruno latour’s ANT (actor-network-theory), thereby levelling the playfield between human and non-humant agents/actants, i.e. machines and men, on a structural, semiotic level, a lot of the fundamental concepts still persist, and a lot of its framework still continually returns to ‘spook around’ or even haunt us as a witness of the ‘olden days’, before ‘machines’ took over most of our duties.

 

III

 

in this ph.d. project i will emphatically und fundamentally challenge this ‘common sense’ view of the man-machine-relationship from three different though densely interwoven, critical viewpoints:

 

first, i will argue, that the dichotomous distinction between man and machine is not deducted from the seemingly fundamental opposition of mind-matter or spirit-corpus but, as as a first and foremost analytical differentiation, actually lies solely in the frame of reference. a machine therefore should equally be able to describe the interaction of ‘living’ organic matter as well as computational processes (cybernetics) or industrial-mechanical devices. to demonstrate this i will make use of deleuze/guattari’s geophilosophical concept of ‘desiring-machines’ which does not ascribe or prescribe ontological features to machines, but sees them as assemblages or devices of (inter-) connectivity: in short, interfaces, determined by the complex array and interplay of forces/desire and (stratified as well as living/organic) ‘ordered’ matter. the distinction thereby is drawn between ‘states of chaos’ (state-of-flux/flow state/stream of consciousness, plateaus of intensitiy, the ‘body without organs’/chaosmos(e)’ (understood as an anarchist-positive, life-afforming force) and ‘states of emergent order’ (processes of stratification, hierarchization, territorialisation, arborification, ‘capture’) the latter assuming a vectorial quality or directed interplay of forces which also – through means such as the ‘war-machine’ sowing ‘dis-order’ or ‘becoming-other’ – can be reversed or disrupted:

a very basic model therefore would be an electric circuit which can serve both ends (free flow, pinpointed energetic activity, friction or shortcuts/blackouts). a big advantage of this theoretical concept in my opinion lies in its intermediary function: it locates itself in-between classic mind-and-matter-conceptualizations (by still distinguishing between the ‘wish’ or desire and force as a renewed notion of a certain kind of ‘élan vital’ or ‘chi’ (aether) and its constant couplings and reconnections within ‘real’ assemblages, i.e. ordered matter/strata) and more radical, nonhuman(ist) or scientific approaches (in its refusal to reduce machines to ‘dead’ or an-organic matter, on the contrary describing human life and bodies from an unborn baby up to the ‘socius’ as machines aswell), and at the same time a basic theorem and frame to understand life with absolutely no need of either ‘subjectivity’ or ‘society’.

 

second, i will resort back to the axis spinoza-nietzsche-foucault which i have already outlined in my master thesis to circumvent the classic shortcomings of more systems-theoretical or cybernetic concepts of power relations and reframe it according to two vital elements of my own project: power, understood as arbitrary interplay of forces, will be explicitly used in its energetic and electronic context, as the possibility to affect and be affected through ‘sparks’ of force/desire. at the same time i will attempt to open and establish a bypass to derrida’s concept of ‘différance’ as a more complex model of the problem of ‘presence’ and ‘absence’ in terms of a ‘currency’ of ‘alternate’ currents, which will lead us to the much cited ‘ghost’ in the machine.

 

third, i will make use of derrida’s promising theorization of ‘spectrality’ and ‘hauntology’ to challenge the shortcomings of conventional concepts of functionality on this very topic. this is especially important to my project, as it problematizes the concept of ‘functionality’ itself, understood as transparent successions of causal relations with certain means and ends. epitomizing the role of the ‘advocatus diaboli’ i will argue much the opposite: first, that functionality is not ‘normal’ , but only the norm in ideologically biased arguments, a second-order perception so to speak, and therefore an abstraction and reduction of the real, imminent forces at play, and second, that concepts which act complementary or ‘complicit’ with functionality and cater for the seemingly isolated incidents of ‘breakdowns’ and ‘emergencies’ or such as ‘malfunction’,’fault/failure’, ‘short-circuits’ or ‘interference’ are fundamentally and intrinsically part of machines, or with a slight hyperbolic edge ‘at its core’ as they do not themselves obey to the human logic of rationalization – as much as we’d like to conceptualize machines that way. logic therefore constitutes a hermetic ‘outer’ or ‘beyond’ to machines, and is not inscribed in their ‘dna’, even though we usually simplify this ‘chain of command and causality’, when we regularly make that assumption (in a sort of collapsing-the-map-with-its-territory-mistake). the machinic logos, as i will argue, is an emergent order with autopoietic as well as electromagnetic features, and does not usually comply with humanist or cantian notions of reason or rationality – in this respect, ‘Frankenstein’ and all these terrifying accounts of machines-come-alive is spot-on.

 

IV

 

after these three crucial, introductory ‘axioms’ i will examine the consequences of this train-of-thought and apply my theoretical stances to several other theoretical concepts as well as – in a final, separate step and practical investigation – models of practice in form of a critical re-interrogation and open, theoretical dialogue. to begin with, i want to clarify the effects of my approach for pervasive and ubiquitary concepts such as ‘design’ and ‘creativity’, or more basically spoken: ‘innovation’ and ‘invention’. therefore, i will follow the alternate and minoritarian sociological and anthropological tradition all the way back to its modern ‘roots’ and trace this specific ‘school’ to gabriel tarde’s concept of hypnotism, imitation and innovation (which also was a central influence on latour’s ANT) and also, later (semi-) reformulations during the short era of the collège de sociologie as well as other key anthropological thinkers. i will then consider certain classical pioneers of anthropologically founded and ‘informed’ (cultural) media and design studies such as marshall mcluhan or vilém flusser which seemingly offer a fresh and daunting perspective on notions of creativity and innovation. i will also consider specific philosophers from a more systemic (yet open and feasible) theoretical tradition such as whitehead (and russell), bateson, von foerster et al., and trace the evolution of certain concepts into the related realms of a history of science, perception and technology, as conceptualized by michel serres et al..

 

after a brief ‘interlude’, which signifies a necessary excursion into the realm of cybernetics, physics and electrical engineering to clarify certain notions and concepts with the help of maverick rogue genius nikola tesla and, also, buckminster fuller, i will set out to adopt and use this focal ‘electromagnetic’ knowledge (on possibly ‘ghostly’ or ‘spectral’ features of alternate currents affecting both organic and anorganic matter and machines through the magnetic ‘vectors’ of desire/electric impulse) on the nature of the ‘spark’ of ‘desire’ (understood as flow or flux according to the ‘BwO’in deleuze/guattari, or the ‘ghost’ in their machinic assemblages). finally, i will proceed to the final emphasis and focal point of the project which will center on the practical aspects of my own reformulation of the machinic relations and its intrinsic qualities as well as its features in building assemblages and networks (nodes and hubs).

 

V

 

i will then try to put the hypothesis (the one i will at that point already have fully verbalized) to test and assess its theoretical as well as practical advantages and shortcomings. my aim is to demonstrate the benefits of such a concept in an experimental and explorative setting (small-sampled case/field study) in three deliberately very different and diverse settings, as in its basic reformulation it should thus ‘work’/’function’ and produce insight for all three examples .

 

first, i will apply the conceptual framework to an often untended field of research: sound studies. thus, my aim is to focus exactly on complex and difficult-to-conceptualize arrays (assemblages or dispositives) of sound design in contemporary electronic, i.e. ‘techno’ music. key aspects of the field study will discuss the interplay of forces at work and the effects/affects of certain machinic, electromagnetic impulses (e.g. delta, theta and gamma waves) and stimuli on the audience or listener (or more precisely: ‘user’), thereby possibly shedding some light on the actual, immediate interaction of ‘music’ (frequencies, rhythms and vibrations), bodily movements (sensations) and (subjective as well as social) ‘consciousness’ (narrative levels) and emergent ‘spectral’ machinic assemblages and networks that follow from these mutual and interdependent display of  ‘affections’. (for instance, meditation, hypnotism and technologies of ecstasy, without hereby assuming a simplified cause-and-effect-relationship.)

 

second, i will try to outline the possible impact on a potential study of certain social media and its intrinsic networks of power. thus, i will trace a select few of minoritarian, yet high-profile blogs and their own, emergent order of a complex ‘web 2.0’ consisting of hubs and nodes in a high-profile, yet up to now at the same time more or less ‘secretive’ or ‘hidden’ realm, such as for instance grassroot-based resistance and activist networks like ‘Anonymous’ or ‘whistleblower/wikileaks’-databases (this part is to be further elaborated and substantiated – my specific goal will here be to hopefully show certain advantages and (r)evolutions or redevelopments of the model in a more conventional, ANT-inspired network-analysis – more specific to follow). is it possible to speak of ‘Anonymous’ as a form of ‘A.I.’ or emergent phenomenon, maybe even in the sense of a ‘sentient’ being (like e.g. reza negarestani demonstrated with his highly polarizing yet pretty much jaw-droppingly-convincing conclusion of the sentience of ‘oil’ in his brilliant manifesto ‘cyclonopedia’)  

 

third, and very probably the most precarious endeavour of them all, i’ll try to put my own focus on ‘hauntology’/’spectrality’ in machinic assemblages and cybernetics to test in one of the most debated and dangerous (pseudo-)scientific battlegrounds: the realm of ‘nun-human entities’ and ‘sentients’ aka ‘ghosts’ itself. my working hypothesis of course will be a very grounded, non-esoteric one: that alot of seemingly spectacular ‘apparitions’ or ‘poltergeist’ phenomena can in fact be traced back to electromagnetic interferences and resonance (‘echo chambers’) which lead to ‘emergent’ phenomena such as mass-panic/hysterics or ‘new-age pilgrim tourists’. a systematic approach with an analysis of a small sample of accounts and renditions might serve as empirical base to show how until now ‘blackboxed’ phenomena in scientific discourse could possibly greatly profit from an inter- and transdiciplinary approach to so-called ‘psi’-labelled activity without aiming to ‘debunk’ or ‘reinforce’ alternate, mythological or religious beliefs, but by simply attempting to thoroughly analyze the phenomena with the means of an extended, reinforced ‘post’-ANT-approach. (maybe similar to neuroscience now offering a convincing, but by no means complete and exhaustive explanation of OBE’s and near-death-experiences)

 

to avoid falling into epistemological traps the explorative ‘field work’ will carefully focus on the drawing of a preliminary ‘cartography’ assembling all potential machinic and non-machinic ‘agents’ and the currents between them. if the theoretical framework outlined in the first part of the project will in fact – as i expect – prove to offer interesting and exciting insights on the interplay of forces at (net-)work within such phenomena it might offer a promising new outlook into such much-debated topics and fields of research beyond the usual lopsided idealist/materialist-reductionism. a complex analysis of the different currents, forces and vectorial-desiring ‘sparks’ should then open up new connections and interrelations and portray nodes and hubs as well as trace effects/affects on several different analytical levels: thus enabling a broader post-anthropological, interdisciplinary approach in the tradition of ANT predestined to draw revealing or even surprising conclusions (just as the scholars of the collège de sociologie managed to depict on the subject of ‘sacrality’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘witchcraft’ in the 1930ies/40ies). will we be able to locate and picture the ‘ghost in the machine’ by rendering the ghost itself ‘machinic’?  

 

VI

 

In the final chapter i will not only summarize the theoretical stances and preliminary empirical results as well as possible practical benefits of the approach, but also offer a thorough discussion of the shortcomings and problematics of such a theoretical-practical framework crossing (or ‘short-circuiting’ and thereby ‘bypassing’) lots of different subjects and sciences. finally i will attempt to ‘map’ out a diverse synopsis of possible further study fields and area’s which might directly profit from such a critical post-anthropologist project, thought of as constant ‘work in progress’ (james joyce), forever inspired by the electric ‘sparks’ and ‘currents’ of the constantly evolving spectral-desiring ‘hu-machine’.

 

VII

 

bibliography: key literature

 

Attali, Jacques:  Noise: The Political Economy of Music (Theory and History of Literature, Vol. 16)

 

Bataille, Georges: The Accursed Share. New York: Zone Books, 1988/1949.

 

Baudrillard, Jean: The Ecstasy of Communication. New York: Semiotext(e), 1988.

 

Bateson, Gregory. (2000 / 1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

 

Bateson, Gregory. (1979). Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences). Hampton Press.

 

Bateson, Gregory., Bateson, MC (1988). Angels Fear: Towards an Epistemology of the Sacred. University of Chicago Press.

 

Bateson, Gregory, Donaldson, Rodney E. (1991). A Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Harper Collins.

 

Benjamin, Walter: Illuminations. New York: Schocken, 1969.

 

Delanda, Manuel: A Thousand Years Of Non-Linear History. New York: Zone, 2000.

 

Deleuze, Gilles: Bergsonism. London and New York: Continuum 1966.

 

Deleuze, Gilles: Difference and Repetition. London and New York: Continuum, 1968.

 

Deleuze, Gilles: Spinoza. Practical Philosophy. London and New York: Continuum: 1970.

 

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. 1972. Anti-Œdipus. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. Lane. London and New York: Continuum, 2004. Vol. 1 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 2 vols. 1972-1980. Trans. of L’Anti-Oedipe. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit.

 

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. 1980. A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. London and New York: Continuum, 2004. Vol. 2 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 2 vols. 1972-1980. Trans. of Mille Plateaux. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit.

 

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari: Kafka. Towards a Minoritarian Literature. London and New York: Continuum, 1977.

 

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari: What is Philosophy? London and New York: Continuum, 1990.

 

Deleuze, Gilles: Postscriptum on the Societies of Control. October, Vol. 59.1992

 

Derrida, Jacques: Specters of Marx, the state of the debt, the Work of Mourning, & the New International, translated by Peggy Kamuf, Routledge, 1994.

 

Derrida, Jacques (1997). Of Grammatology. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

 

Derrida, Jacques (1981) Positions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

Derrida, Jacques (1981) Margins of Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

Derrida, Jacques: Given Time 1: Counterfeit Money (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1992 [orig. pub. 1991]).

 

Douglas, Mary: How Institutions Think, Penguin: 1986.

 

Douglas, Mary: Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, Penguin: 1966.

 

Dundes, Alan. “Binary Opposition in Myth: The Propp/Levi-Strauss Debate in Retrospect”. Western Folklore 56 (Winter, 1997): pp. 39–50.

 

Durkheim, Emil: The Elementary Structures of Religious Life. Chicago: University Press, 1912.

 

Eliade, Mircea: Shamanism and Archaic Technologies of Ecstasy. Princeton University Press, 2004

 

Eliade, Mircea: The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History. Princeton University Press, 2005.

 

Flusser, Vilém: Into the Universe of Technical Images, trans. Nancy Ann Roth, University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

 

Flusser, Vilém: with Louis Bec, Vampyroteuthis infernalis. Eine Abhandlung samt Befund des Institut Scientifique de Recherche Paranaturaliste, Göttingen: Immatrix Publications, 1987.

 

von Foerster, Heinz: “A Predictive Model for Self-Organizing Systems,” Part I: Cybernetica 3, pp. 258–300; Part II: Cybernetica 4, pp. 20–55, with Gordon Pask, 1961.

 

von Foerster, Heinz: “Biological Computers,” with W. Ross Ashby, In: Bioastronautics, K. E. Schaefer, Macmillan Co., New York, pp. 333– 360, 1964.

 

von Foerster, Heinz: Cybernetics: Transactions of the Sixth Conference, (editor), Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation: New York, 1999.

 

von Foerster, Heinz: Understanding understanding, a volume of von Foerster’s papers, published by Springer-Verlag, 2002.

 

von Foerster, Heinz, with Monika Broecker: Part of the World. Fractals of Ethics – A Drama in Three Acts. Heinz von Foerster’s most extensive biography, 2002.

 

Foucault, Michel (1970) The Order of Things. New York: Random House.

 

Foucault, Michel (1972) The Archaelogy of Knowledge. New York: Harper and Row.

 

Foucault, Michel (1979) Discipline and Punish New York: Vintage.

 

Guattari, Félix. Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics. Trans. Rosemary Sheed. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984.

 

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. Empire. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard UP, 2000.

 

Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri: Multitude, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard UP, 2004.

 

Horkheimer, Max and Adorno, Theodor (1972; 1947) Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York: Seabury.

Latour, Bruno: Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., USA, 1987.

 

Latour, Bruno (1988). The Pasteurization of France. Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., USA.

 

Latour, Bruno: “Where are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts”, in Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change, edited by Wiebe E. Bijker & John Law, MIT Press, USA, 1992, pp. 225–258.

 

Latour, Bruno: We Have Never Been Modern (tr. by Catherine Porter), Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., USA, 1993.

 

Latour, Bruno  Aramis, or the love of technology, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., USA, 1996.

 

Latour, Bruno. (2004) “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern”. Critical Inquiry, Vol. 30, No. 2., Winter 2004, pp. 225-248

 

Latour, Bruno: Pandora’s hope: essays on the reality of science studies, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., USA, 1999.

 

Latour, Bruno: Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy (tr. by Catherine Porter), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., USA, 2004.

 

Latour, Bruno, with Peter Weibel (eds.) Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

 

Latour, Bruno Reassembling the social: an introduction to Actor–network theory, Oxford ; New York, Oxford: University Press, 2005.

 

Latour, Bruno (2010). The Making of Law: An Ethnography of the Conseil d’Etat. Polity.

 

Latour, Bruno Whose cosmos, which cosmopolitics? Comments on the Peace Terms of Ulrich Beck, in: Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y. (ed.): Kultur und Gerechtigkeit (= Kulturwissenschaft interdisziplinär/Interdisciplinary Studies on Culture and Society, Vol. 2), Baden-Baden 2007.

 

Maturana, Humberto / Varela, Francisco: Machines and living things. Autopoiese to do Organização Vivo. Porto Alegre: Medical Arts, 1997.

 

Massumi, Brian. 1992. A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari. Swerve editions. Cambridge, United States and London: MIT.

 

Mauss, Marcel: The Gift. Année Sociologie, 1896.

Mills, C. Wright (1959) The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.

 

McLuhan, Marshall (1964) Understanding Media. New York: Signet.

 

McLuhan, Marshall (1951): The Mechanical Bride. The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man; 1st Ed.: The Vanguard Press, NY; reissued by Gingko Press, 2002.

 

McLuhan, Marshall (1967): The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects with Quentin Fiore, produced by Jerome Agel; 1st Ed.: Random House; reissued by Gingko Press, 2001,

 

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1967) The Will to Power. New York: Random House.

 

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1977): Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Random House

 

Negarestani, Reza: Cyclonopedia. Complicity with anonymous Materials. Re:Press, 2008.

 

Russell, Bertrand: Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1918.

 

Russell, Bertrand: The Scientific Outlook, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1931.

 

Serres, Michel: “La réforme et les sept péchés,” L’Arc, 42, Bachelard special issue (1970).

Serres, Michel: In Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time: Michel Serres Interviewed by Bruno Latour, The University of Michigan Press, 1995,

 

Spinoza, Baruch de: 1670. Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (A Theologico-Political Treatise).

 

Spinoza, Baruch de: 1675–76. Tractatus Politicus

Spinoza, Baruch de: 1677. Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata (The Ethics)

 

Spivak, Gayatri (1987) In Other Worlds. New York: Metheun.

 

Tarde, Gabriel Les lois de l’imitation (1890)- Translated by Elsie Clews Parsons in 1903: The Laws of Imitation

 

Tarde, Gabriel: Les transformations du droit. Étude sociologique (1891)

 

Tarde, Gabriel: Monadologie et sociologie (1893)

 

Tarde, Gabriel: La logique sociale (1895)

 

Tarde, Gabriel: Fragment d’histoire future (1896)

 

Tarde, Gabriel: L’opposition universelle. Essai d’une théorie des contraires. (1897)

 

Tarde, Gabriel: Fragment d’histoire future (1904) – Transl. Cloudesley Brereton: Underground Man (1905)

 

Tesla, Nikola: “High Frequency Oscillators for Electro-Therapeutic and Other Purposes”, in Proceedings of the American Electro-Therapeutic Association, American Electro-Therapeutic Association.

– Daniel Blair Stewart (1999). Tesla: The Modern Sorcerer, Frog Book.

 

– W. Bernard Carlson (2013). Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age. Princeton University Press.

 

– Marc Seifer (1998). Wizard: The Life And Times Of Nikola Tesla. Citadel.

Whitehead, Alfred North: Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927–1928, Macmillan, New York, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.

 

 

DANCING WITH GHOSTS

ImageMain Stage at the revered Techno Festival Labyrinth in Japan 2010: Tipi-Design meets Funktion-One Soundsystem.

CAUTION: The following draft is but a first rough sketch of my PhD-project: any feedback is more than welcome.

 

THE GHOST DANCE PARADOX

 

CONCEPTS OF COSMOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY & COLLECTIVITY IN (POST-)COLONIAL & CONTEMPORARY ECSTATIC CULTURE(S)

This thesis aims to outline a contemporary common ground for subjects as diverse as Sociology, Cultural Studies, (Cultural) Anthropology and Philosophy by re-establishing its foundational topic as the question of what separates society (as a concept, e.g. the ‘socius’) from an undisclosed number of individuals. It will argue that in the age of post-postmodernism the dominating school of thought focusses (too much) on the role of the ‘neoliberal’ subject while prematurely excluding current forms of ‘collectivism’ (for lack of a better starting point; not used as a pejorative expression) which question/transform and maintain/reaffirm social order and the organization of today’s society.

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Widerstandsfiguren, oder: «Frei – nach dem Motto: Wer eine Scheibe einschmeisst, kriegt Freibier!»

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«Was ist Widerstand? Die Kunst, nicht dermassen regiert zu werden.» (Michel Foucault)

Sich die Widrigkeiten der Welt zu vergegenwärtigen verlangt einiges an Standfestigkeit, sofern man versucht, darob nicht gleich den Verstand zu verlieren (oder zumindest am Verstand anderer zu zweifeln). «Jaja», murmeln an dieser Stelle die Altersweisen: «Das Leben, oder besser gesagt: ein Leben ist nun mal keine gradlinige Entwicklungsgeschichte, sondern steckt voller Widersprüche, Fallstricke und Rückschläge.» (Einschub, frei nach Jean Ziegler: Sonst hätte die neoliberale Weltordnung uns längst den erhofften globalen Fortschritt beschert, anstatt allenthaben den Eindruck zu hinterlassen, dass wir uns auf direktem Wege zurück in die Zukunft eines Feudalismus 2.0 bewegen.)

Umso mehr verstärkt sich dagegen, je älter man wird, scheinbar der Eindruck, dass sich einzelne Lebensabschnitte wiederholt auf absonderliche, ja absurde Weise zyklisch ineinander verketten, und dabei gewisse, vermeintlich längst beantwortete Fragen oder gelöst gewähnte Probleme, so stetig wie das sprichwörtliche Stehaufmännchen,  kaum vermeintlich verflossen unverdrossen wiederauftauchen. Klar: Jeder Abschnitt bleibt natürlich für sich einzigartig, jedoch findet man sich, ähnlich einem Escher-Bild, am Ende irgendwie doch regelmässig am selben (oder zumindest einem ähnlichen) Punkt wieder wie Jahre zuvor.

(*Regieanweisung: Lachkonserve aktivieren*, oder etwas poetischer formuliert: *Irgendwo in der Ferne einer anderen Dimension lachen Buddha und Hindu gerade herzlich über diese wenig neue Erkenntnis*)

Gilt also frei nach Goethes Faust (und der Devise ‘Millionen mit der Lektüre malträtierte Maturanden können nicht umsonst gelitten haben’): «Da steh ich nun ich armer Tor / Und bin so klug als wie zuvor?» Wenigstens nicht ganz, wenn man sich an den guten alten Nietzsche hält (was ich bekanntlich gern und oft tue). Denn nicht umsonst war die «ewige Wiederkunft» für ihn eigentlich die Grundlage höchster Lebensbejahung. Schliesslich meint ‘zyklisch’ ja nicht, dass man stets im selben (Teufels-) Kreis feststeckt (neudeutsch: ‘same shit, different day’), sondern dass man sich im Leben vielmehr in einer Art ‘Spirale’ (hoffentlich nicht nur abwärts) fortbewegt.

Quasi, zweckoptimistisch formuliert: Die ehemalige Spiral-Bindung einer schweisstriefend und übernächtigt in letzter Sekunde kurz vorm Nervenzusammenbruch noch abgegebenen Abschlussarbeit könnte sich hier im Web 2.0, wo jeder ein Autor ist, sofern ihm in seinem virtuellen Speaker’s Corner ein paar Gutmeinende und Geduldige (oder auch nur Gelangweilt-auf-den-Bus-wartende) Aufmerksamkeit schenken, potentiell unversehens in eine Spirale inspir(al)i(si)erender Anschlüsse verwandeln.

Deshalb habe ich mich (frei nach dem Motto: ‘Ein Versuch ist’s wert, und sonst tröste ich mich mit der pessimistischen Attitüde, ich hätte es ja sowieso immer schon besser gewusst’) dazu entschlossen, meine Lizentiatsarbeit hier (voll unüberarbeitet und ganz ‘Creative Commons)’ ins Netz zu stellen, bevor mein Notebook die alte CD-ROM demnächst dann eh nicht mehr lesen mag.

«Who Cares?» fragt sich spätestens hier der Berufszyniker zu Recht – oder galanter formuliert: «Worum geht’s denn – und warum sollte mich das überhaupt interessieren?» Ganz einfach gesagt geht’s darin um die grundsätzliche Frage, wie Widerstand möglich ist; oder etwas genauer: Inwiefern man in unserer heutigen Gesellschaft wenigstens theoretisch noch so etwas wie Widerstand gegen die herrschenden Verhältnisse leisten kann.

Die «Antwort» (in Anführungszeichen; denn eine abschliessende Antwort auf diese Frage kann man natürlich nicht geben) kommt hier möglicherweise für manche allzu abstrakt und eher elfenbeinfarben daher. Und ist, so aus der Distanz, bestimmt auch nicht voll und ganz über jeglichen Zweifel erhaben. (Apropos: Wer Hilfe beim Verständnis des teils eher anspruchsvollen theoretischen Duktus braucht, soll sich bitte jederzeit unverblümt melden!)

Auch wenn die meisten theoretischen Entwürfe zwar zumindest als ‘praktischer Handlungsleitfaden’ unmittelbar jedem Selbsthilfe-Ratgeber und erst recht jeder ‘How To’-Blog-Charta (‘tl, dr’-Fraktion, I’m looking at you!) gegenüber hoffnungslos unterlegen scheinen: Ich bin trotzdem überzeugt, dass der Umweg über die Philosophie längerfristig nachhaltigere Ansätze bietet, um angesichts einer zunehmend aus den Fugen geratenen Welt nicht gleich völlig zu verzweifeln.

Warum? Diese Frage würde ich gerne mit einem der persönlichen Lieblingszitate meiner Liz-Arbeit beantworten:

«A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.» (Massumi in Deleuze/Guattari TP: xiii)

Der erste, der also – von dieser Arbeit beflügelt oder zumindest (teil- oder mit-)inspiriert – irgendjemandem irgendwo ein betonhart widerständiges Konzept durch die Scheiben schmeisst, bekommt von mir Freibier spendiert – versprochen! Schliesslich sagt man nicht umsonst im Volksmund so schön: «Scherben bringen Glück.» Beim unermesslichen Scherbenhaufen, der sich derzeit vor unseren Augen global aufzutürmen scheint, bleibt nur abschliessend zu sagen: Hoffentlich. Ansonsten: Scheibenkleister.

Lizentiatsarbeit als PDF (Creative Commons, kein Common-Creative-Copy-Paste!):

«Widerstandsfiguren»

Morphing the Matrix

Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth – nothing more.

Lila: What if I would prefer not to take any of your seemingly bitter pills, o’ truth-holder?

Morpheus: You will die of starvation, fading away into obscurity slowly and miserably, like other malevolent scriveners before you – so it’s either Melville or Belle Ville, baby!

Lila: What if the answer to the question is not ‘either-or’?

Morpheus: What answer? Just take a goddamn pill!

Lila: But what if I neither want to awake in my bed to believe some fabricated fairytale nor go down your little rabbithole and follow you into your definition of wonderland?

Morpheus: Are you out of your mind? No one ever dared to suggest such an obviously absurd opinion to me before, not here, not in any other hollywood blockbuster screenplay. You don’t get to choose any other, self-made or made-up option! Who do you think you are? I’ll tell you who you are: You’re a nobody! I, on the other hand, could turn you into a superhero!

Lila: If taking neither pill means death – what happens if I take both?

Morpheus: Now you’ve obviously gone completely insane! Really, you must be stark raving mad. Sorry to tell you, but you’ve lost it, Lila! What happens? You will go crazy!

Lila: As to you I already am, it seems…?
Well, in that case: Don’t mind if I do.

(swallows both pills, then – seemingly enthralled or even entranced – breaks into chant, humming a loose, lew’d carol)

For as matter of fact: I already knew
That carefully mixing both red and blue
Creates its own magical colour called lilac:
Lone path to pursue with no way to turn back

A symbol of passage, between old and new!
Thus, phantom of mass-age, with all your a-do,
Go sell your old made-up morphine wonderland
To those who will follow you yonder, as planned.

Yet for me your ‘solution’ seems a shallow hole
So I won’t let myself transform into a mole
I’ve therefore arrived at this final verdict:
From this very moment I’ll write my own script.

Die Kunst der Ekstase

Vor einiger Zeit fiel mir mehr oder weniger zufällig Nietzsches erstes Buch «Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik» in die Hände. Es ist das Werk, mit dem sich Nietzsche die Chancen auf eine klassische universitäre Karriere endgültig verspielte, und das heute als kaum mehr gelesenes Frühwerk meist höchstens noch als Fussnote und Randnotiz in Erscheinung tritt.

Worum geht es? Nietzsche stellt sich darin die Frage, warum ausgerechnet die griechische Tragödie eine so fundamentale Rolle für unsere westliche Zivilisation spielt. Sehr vereinfachend gesagt, ist Nietzsche der Ansicht, dass sich die tragende Rolle der Tragödie nicht aus den übrig gebliebenen, dramatischen Texten erschliessen lässt, sondern dass man sich die griechische(n) Tragödie(n) vielmehr als ein performatives Ritual vorstellen muss, dessen Grundlage die Musik bildete, und dessen Texte (aufgrund fehlendem Transkript der dazugehörenden Musik) nur einen kleinen Einblick in das Wesen der Tragödie (über-) liefern (und bestimmt nicht das, was ihre zentrale Stellung erklärt). Mindestens so sehr, wie in der Tragödie kulturelle Ereignisse und religiöse Heldenmythen verhandelt wurden, war die Aufführung der Tragödie nämlich ein rauschhaftes, ekstatisches Fest.

Ein Fest, dessen zentrale Position sich dadurch ergab, dass darin der Gegensatz zwischen den für Nietzsche fundamentalen Prinzipien jeder Kunst und Kultur auf fruchtbare Weise verbunden wurde: das Prinzip das Apollinischen und des Dionysischen. Während ersteres (frei nach Apollon, dem Gott von Kunst und Kultur) als hohe «Kunst des Scheins» quasi durch die ‘Illusion der Kunst’ eine gewisse Klarheit über das menschliche Dasein hervorbringt, und damit ungefähr dem, was wir bis heute als ‘hohe Kunst’ verstehen, entspricht, bewirkt das Dionysische (frei nach Dionysos, dem Gott des Rausches) das Gegenteil: den Verlust der Klarheit und die Verschmelzung der Individualität in der Ekstase.

Für Nietzsche bedeutet letzteres, die (tatsächliche) Wirklichkeit des Lebens via Rausch soweit zu erfahren, wie es einem Menschen überhaupt möglich ist, ohne von ihr zerstört also physisch oder psychisch versehrt zu werden: Es geht darin um die intensivste Wahrnehmung von Vergnügen und Schmerz, die einem Menschen ohne schwerwiegende Folgen zugänglich sind. Um dessen destruktives Element in Schach halten zu können, ist dabei die Form des Dionysischen zentral: Es muss in Rituale eingebettet und damit gewissermassen ‘gebändigt’ werden.

In der Form der Tragödie, worum es Nietzsche hierbei ja als konstitutive(n) Text/Teil unserer Kultur beispielhaft geht, opfert man deshalb am Ende des Rituals rituell den Helden des Narrativ, um den Zuschauern/Mitwirkenden einerseits sowohl die Erfahrung der Katharsis, gleichzeitig aber auch eine rituelle Schliessung und damit die Rückkehr in den ‘Alltag’ zu ermöglichen.

Eingebettet in diese rituelle Form, führt die Tragödie daher – trotz der Entfesselung des ‘Dionysischen’ darin – nicht ins Chaos, sondern stärkt umgekehrt paradoxerweise durch die Intensität der gemeinsam erlebten Ekstase das Gemeinschaftsgefühl unter den Teilnehmern selbst. Das ‘Dionysische’ wirkt durch seine rituelle Form also schlussendlich nicht destruktiv, sondern gemeinschafts- und gesellschaftskonstituierend – ein so paradoxer wie fundamentaler Prozess, den – wie jeder Anthropologe bestätigen kann – jede menschliche Zivilisation seit der Steinzeit als fundamentales, gemeinschaftsstärkendes Prinzip kennt.

Die Ekstase wird in der Tragödie laut Nietzsche wiederum nicht durch Text, sondern durch Musik erzeugt: die Tragödie selbst (als narratives Element) ist zwar Teil der Verschmelzung, aber ihre Wichtigkeit eher formal, d.h. als Teil der (apollinischen) Form zu sehen: Als Form, welche die Ekstase als formlosen Wirbel von Schmerz und Lust einbettet, und damit umgekehrt erst für ihren (verhältnismässig ungefährlichen) Rahmen sorgt. Warum aber an dieser Stelle dieser für viele sicherlich ‘hochphilosophisch’ anmutende Exkurs über die Kultur der Antike?

Ganz einfach: Mir scheint, Nietzsche habe mit dieser Erkenntnis gewissermassen den Nagel auf den Kopf getroffen. Dass ausgerechnet dieses Buch von Nietzsche bis heute so wenig rezipiert, also gelesen und diskutiert wird, liegt meiner Meinung nach gerade darin begründet, dass ‘Kunst’ bis heute zumindest im gesellschaftlichen Konsens mit dem ‘apollinischen Prinzip’ gleichgesetzt wird, und das ‘dionysische Prinzip’, das für eine jede Kultur mindestens ebenso zentral und fundamental ist, aufgrund dessen roher, potentiell gefährlicher und zerstörerischer Kraft, negiert, tabuisiert oder wenigstens als Folge oder Nebenwirkung banalisiert wird.

Genau darum scheitern aber die meisten Kulturtheorien meiner Meinung nach schlussendlich darin, den zentralen Stellenwert der Kunst, insbesondere der Musik in der menschlichen Gesellschaft überzeugend zu erklären. Und deshalb scheitern auch die meisten Erklärungsversuche dabei, ein Phänomen wie Techno, dessen Emphase so klar auf dem Dionysischen liegt, adäquat zu deuten, sondern schwanken zwischen dem Versuch, Techno in eine (wenig überzeugende) hochkulturelle, künstlerische Form zu pressen, oder als blosses, degeneratives Element der ‘niederen Künste und Instinkte’ abzuwerten.

SIE KÖNNEN ES UNTER IHREN PRÄMISSEN SCHLICHT NICHT VERSTEHEN, DENN SIE BEGREIFEN NICHT, WORUM ES DABEI GEHT. Die Erkenntnis, dass Ekstase nicht nur ein irrationales Bei-Produkt der Kultur ist, sondern umgekehrt gerade in ihrer rituellen Form die Grundlage von Kunst und Kultur überhaupt (!) bilden könnte – und Ekstase damit mindestens genauso ihre eigene Geschichtsschreibung, Genealogie und wissenschaftliche Forschung, also einen gesonderten Stellenwert in der Gesellschaft verdient hätte wie ‘Kunst’ – wird dabei (vorab aus politischen aber auch aus unglaublich naiven pseudo-kulturellen Gründen) bisher meist ausgeblendet.

Darum soll dieser Blog (gewissermassen als Antidot) voll und ganz der Kunst der Ekstase gewidmet sein – jener Kunst nämlich, die unser Leben schlussendlich mit Magie erfüllt.

Lila ❤

 

PS. Warum habe ich gerade einen Track von Portable zum Titel gewählt? Weil es Portable wie kaum einem zweiten gelingt, Form und Inhalt kreativ zu verschmelzen. Die Ekstase, die seine Tracks durch sehr ‘schamanistische’ und von seiner Auseinandersetzung mit den Stammeskulturen Südafrikas inspirierte, musikalische Elemente bewirken, werden bei ihm (im Gegensatz zu seinem eher im engeren Sinne ‘rituell’ orientierten ‘Bodycode’-Alias) nämlich vorab durch apollonische Elemente, sprich: sakrale, also spirituelle Mantras, in eine produktive Form gebracht.

Kurz: Die Ekstase entfaltet durch ihre Einbettung in dieses spirituelle, gemeinschaftserzeugende Narrativ gewissermassen tröstende, wenn nicht gar heilsame, kathartische Wirkung für jeden einzelnen Zuhörer/Tänzer – und ist damit, wie die oben behandelte Tragödie ein wunderbares Beispiel für die positiven, produktiv-kreativen Folgen künstlerisch-kultureller Artefakte, die seit Anbeginn der menschlichen Zivilisation existieren.

Die Kernaussage: Man braucht unser Leben nicht noch zusätzlich mit quasi-hochkulturellem oder pseudo-religiösem ‘Sinn’ (sprich: Bullshit!) zu erfüllen – denn unsere Kultur ist durch den fundamentalen Zwiespalt von apollinischem und dionysischem Prinzip (von den anderen, noch viel fundamentaleren, ‘natürlichen’ Prinzipen abgesehen, von denen hier später sicher noch mehr als genügend die Rede sein wird) schon mehr als genügend mit ‘Sinn’ erfüllt.

Deshalb – beziehungsweise,

in diesem Sinne: LIFE MAGICALLY IS.