Systems vs Stories

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I had a dream last night …. Rarely are dreams interesting to anyone but the dreamer, but I’m going to talk about this one.

I actually had two dreams, but only one I want to write about here. The other I wrote in my dream journal.

This particular dream involved me in conversation with another person. I dont remember who this person was or really what we were talking about. I only remember that he admonished me (it was a he) about not suitably distinguishing between systems and stories.

I am reading a book on animism and in one of the earlier chapters there is a discussion about the problem most anthropologists make when they create a system rather than understand a story. I have not gotten to the part where this is made concrete, but my interpretation is as follows.

Anthropologists see cultures with different systems, systems of kinship, systems of exchange, systems of knowledge, and so forth. The criticism is that in creating a system something is lost. That there is something in the story, in the mythology that we miss when we create a system.

Systems are lower fidelity. Like the expression goes – the map is not the territory.
Systems are quantitative in a sense, they are perhaps a graph theory representation on a phenomena. Mythology and stories are embodied. Style is a body, structure is a body. In creating a system the body is stripped away. The musclss ,the sinew, the nerves, all we have are the bones.

Why do we want to make a system? Well because then we can embody it from our perspective. But perhaps instead we should try and transform our bodies to enter the system from the perspective of the stories that express the system.

We can say something like mythology is a system, rather than (or in addition to) this myth expresses a system justice. How can we enter the mythology? How must we transform ourselves? The map sometimes gives us a way to understand and communicate the path.

More Covid Worlding

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This is the second to my last my deep dive into Identities Journal. My computer has started working again and my next deep dive will be into flux.  When I wrote this a few days ago I wrote “I am writing a lot today, because I cannot surf the web. I think a truer statement has never be written and now I understand my main issues in life and the source of my procrastination.”  Upon reflection I see how true this is, because now that my internet is back on I am just 

But let’s proceed – with Levi Bryant’s a world is ending. So Bryant begins with a meditation on Kant, that in order to think coherently there has to be unity of apperception.  Unfortunately Bryant cannot experience this coherence – he is fragmented so he will write fragments. 

Let’s just start there. A year or so ago I went to my shrink and was talking about how I yearned for coherence. Why is this a value? Good question. I always had it as a value, but I never really adhered to it or lived according to it.  Perhaps i should get rid of it.

Likewise, perhaps the Kantian unity of apperception was useful for a particular world. The world of the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution and modernity. But perhaps now we can throw off the shackles of internal coherence and embrace multiplicity.

Bryant says he can only write in fragments because his thinking is fragmented. But he is not the first thinker to think in fragments, the first person that comes to mind is Nietzsche – the post modern philosopher. This is perhaps who my shrink was thinking of when he prompted me to interrogate my values and engage in a transvaluation of values (we actually talk like this).

So what is going on in these fragments? They are meditations and reflections on the past, on past memories, on past interpretations of philosophers, on ideas that Bryant is trying to graft on to his understanding of this world. 

Ok so I keep saying world worlding, this is a new world. Bryant obviously has read the same people I have read and have come to the same conclusions a world has ended a new world has begun. I dont know if worlds have ends. I think worlds are eternal but perhaps their portals close to us, or to some of us, perhaps we need to create new conceptual apparati to enter those worlds. 

But for sure, a new world has been created. Perhaps this world has always been here, the world of the pandemic. But I would venture to guess that the world of the black plague was not this world, with our statistical models, epidemology, viral theory, zoom conferences, fake news, internet, etc.  So I would say yes Levi -this is indeed a new world. But we cannot really get here yet. We are like stuck in a space suit, or like in those domes constructed on Mars in the Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson. 

Like in the Mars Trilogy, we are not quite sure what this world is going to be yet, there are a bunch of little communities starting with their own ideas and practices. This is what Bryant’s fragments are, they are outcroppings on the surface of Mars. But what we need to do in order to inhabit this new world is to terraform it. 

What are in these outcroppings or musings? There is a discussion of Here-ness of Open-ness, of Badiou, of essential workers, shopping, wildness.  It is hard for me to follow, these categories do not provide any conceptual framework for me either.

Let me digress for a moment, in these blog posts which are all digressions really, but skepticism -and the belief that the sun will rise tomorrow,… Lets remove prediction from the realm of science. Science originally was meant to be explanatory not predictive. If it science does not predict correctly then it is possible that the explanation is not correct but to consider science as a mode of prediction is to say that science is augury. 

We are all upset. We thought all these things/ technology we had in the modern world would prevent bad things from happening. That we would be able to control the future. This is magical thinking. Maybe magic exists and maybe we can control the future. Obviously nothing we have done so far has let us to believe this. Maybe this is the time for fragments. 

 

Theory in the time of covid19

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Probably the only thing worse than being a close talker during the covid19 epidemic, is being a theorist.

The only way to recover is being a meta-theorist, . Welcome to my binge commentary on all the articles in Identity Journal, since it is the only thing in my browser when my internet went down.

Now we continue with Wark’s Theory in a Pandemic. Should we feel bad about theorizing covid19? After all, if we are theorizing then we are not sick, we are not treating covid, nor are we unemployed and starving. We, who are theorizing, are privileged. This is neither good nor bad it is a state of affairs that allow us to theorize.

What is the purpose of this theorizing. For some people it is to buttress their ideologies. But I read Wark as saying Be Speculative! Do not use covid19 as proof for a point of view but an opportunity event – a completely new thing. It is a rupture, in a good way, like when you pop a zit and all the puss comes out and you do not get staph infection (because it is the time of covid19 and you will surely die if this were to happen).

Why do theory in a crises? The answer is not necessarily action, praxis. Even Wark backs away from this, although he does acknowledge there is something action related to theory in a time of crises.

What I believe the call to action is techne. to act – or really to CREATE- poesis. I bet you thought I was going to say techne, well I almost did. But really we need poetry. We need the space of imagination and making to understand how to co-create this world and use our conceptual apparatus created in theorizing to create space for praxis in the world. Even if the theorists are not doing the praxis.

We have the movement from theoria to poesis to praxis, or from theory to poetry/world building to action.

We do not do theory to know, like to know how to cure covid19. We do theory to create new categories to make knowing, acting, building, etc possible. We do theory to understand how to world during the epidemic, and how to world after the epidemic.

One of the questions I have been asking is what sort of world do we want to build when this pandemic is over. But perhaps that is the wrong question. Time does not stop.Life does not stop. And perhaps the pandemic will never be over, just like AIDS and cancer were never cured, and the war on drugs was never won. How do we world with pandemic?

What do our bodies feel like, how do we touch other bodies, what do our minds feel like, what do our emotions feel like, what is it like to be separated from something (a disease) that is nothing but physical for those who encounter it?  The pandemic event is upon us. It is now up to the theorists to create the concepts and spaces that constitute this new world. Then we can all act in it. 


System Poetics: Genres, Autofiction, Theory fiction

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Years ago when I was a filmmaker I would say to my partner that if we wanted to make narrative/fiction films (as opposed to documentaries) we should make genre films. In some ways I thought it would be easier to make a film within these constraints and that it would be easier to find an audience.

By genre I mean something like a western, a rom com, a horror movie. It is a hylomorphic story, where there is a clear distinction between the structure and content. Even “high concept” hollywood films – like searching for bobby fisher meets best in show, is hylomorphic. I am describing the bones of the film with out fleshing out the content. Genre films make it particularly easy to do this.

This is what Quentin Tarantino – he transforms genre films. You think you are watching a western, but the form and content are interdependent and the the form definitely does not follow the logic of the genre you thought you were watching.

My collaborator and I ended up not doing a genre film, but something super weird – probably because we did not think in genre formats and our desires and interests are to porous (read the previous post on boundaries).

But is a genre a system? Is narrative a system – like Aristotelean drama? I was telling my shrink a dream last week, and he said to me that Jung said dreams follow a 3 or 4 point story arc – similar to the idea of Aristotlean drama. That is a particular system.

Operas and plays that end in a marriage are comedies in death a tragedy. What about Beckett and Waiting for Godot. Is this a new genre? Is this transgenre? What is the system that this play is part of?

When I read Hanzi Freinacht The Listening Society, I was aware I was reading a hybrid work. This is not a traditional philosophical text or even social science text. Other hybrid works include autofiction like Crudo – which I love. Auto fiction is autobiographical fiction. I don’t believe this is a genre, unlike say magical realism which I do believe is a genre. There are tools to auto fiction, tropes and tactics. But it is like each author is playing a different chess game, using the same moves in different patterns.

Autofiction is about expressing the ineffable subjective inner life or experience of the author. This is not as a metaphor (which would be a story), or entertainment (also a story). It is meant as a cultural object in so far as a particular experience if it has enough resonance with enough individuals represents a universal experience, not through the creation of a universal experience that everyone can find expression within.

The question is what systems, or rather what system poetics do I use to express a subjective inner life that another person can understand and connect with?

This brings me to theory fiction. This is another genre or is it. The highpoint of theory fiction for me is Simon Sellars’ Applied Ballardianism. The most famous is probably Reza’s Cyclonopedia.
The most recent one I have read is Spinal Catastrophism, which I had on my last trip to Atlanta and thus it has accompanied me into quarantine.

So if autofiction is cross system attempt to express a story as a subjective experience, theory fiction is to express an idea (or ideas) as a narrative experience or in some cases subjective experience. How do we communicate thoughts? Where do thoughts come from? How do thoughts grow? Why do I want to hear your thoughts? Stories should not have philosophical bones to pick, when they do they are theory fiction.

Is this space between genres or hybrid genres the space of system poetics?
If we think about Hanzi again, and use his language of system, meta-system (maybe), paradigm, meta-paradigm, what do these fall?
The system would be the genre, either philosophical or narrative. It has a set of set rules, values, and aims.

Meta-systems would be auto fiction, or theory fiction. The goals and rules are myriad depending on the reader or the part of the text. The structure is combined from different systems.

On the paradigm level the rules across all modes of storytelling, argument, communication, exposition, creation, dissemination are teased out. I want to stick the realm of writing instead of devolving in to the Gesamtkunstwerk of Wagner, or some sort of narrative singularity where all creation is the same. But perhaps it would be something like Dale Pendell’s 3 volume set on plants that mixes science, biology, programming, history, poetry, lists, memories.

A meta-paradigmatic writing. What would it be like cross over multiple Dale Pendell-like books. Each would be different, and paradigmatic in their own way. Maybe writing that proceeds like a mind virus – writing that is performative – writing that while not transcending its format causes the reader to transcend. But this is just one option for a meta-paradigmatic. And then I might have gotten all these previous Hanzi analyasis incorrect.

But back to theory fiction – I see it now. I have xray vision in to a story. Like hearing the first bar of a song and knowing the name, I can watch a film or read a story and understand where it is going and what the plot it. It no longer unfolds in time but in one moment of illumination. And this is what it feels like to watch a genre film or story, to read a well made play (ibsen), and now theory fiction.

Theory fiction is way more fun than reading traditional theory like The Critique of Pure Reason, although I do find my mind clearer after puzzling for 2 hours over Hegel. But maybe this is a way to improve theory fiction, or maybe theory fiction is trying to do something different.

But as the apprehension of a work happens in an instance, rather than over time, we will search for higher and higher levels of system poetics where we too can experience the unfolding of the work in time.

Reading and Writing Experiment

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A few weeks ago I was talking about how impressed I was when people would take a book or reading and then quickly summarize it and use it as a jumping off point for their own thoughts and imaginations.  This is beyond interpretation, or what I would call hermeneutics.  It is about a jumping off point for new ideas. 

We all have a more time to read these days with physical distancing and what not.  I have 

Thomas from a creative community I participate  finally can participate again in my art theory reading group – because it is remote! We are tackling Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit – in part to then read Brandom’s critique of PoS. I am going to do an experiment now where I attempt to summarize a text and use it as a jumping off point for my own thoughts. I am going to talk about the Preface, the intro and the first section – on Consciousness!

 

Method Or How to do philosophy

The preface discusses philosophical methodology. What does it mean to successfully prove a philosophical position or a philosophical system?  This is different than say proving the validity of a possible law of physics. Does it have to exist in context or dialogue with other philosophical systems (No)? Hegel talks about the difficulty of talking about a moment when you want to capture the entire process. I imagine a mathematical function and trying to describe the function rather than a point rendered by the function.

The discussion about how to write about this reminded me of theory fiction, and contemporary experiments in writing about ideas. How do you talk about something new? How do you talk about a complex process? How do you ignite interest in the reader so they undergo a transformation? All of this necessitates a change in style. In presentation. There is no binary form/content.  It is not that the medium is the message but the medium is the interface and I can only understand to the extend that the medium structures a story in a particular way. 

Truth 

But what if you want is truth? If you want philosophy to become a science (since in modern times science has become the domain of truth)? For me this is a false aim and a false distinction. There are all sorts of movements these days to reject binary in terms of what people call the spectral, or differential. This is not to sink into relativism, but it is to A) remove t/f as the standard for the highest form of discourse b)acknowledge that the world exists on a multiplicity of levels and perspectives. We should take a note from Aristotelean ethics, where what is right depends acting as the situation (and individual) calls for. the proper action depending on the circumstances and the individual.

I asked in my group – is it important that we even talk about Truth. Yes! Hunter Replied! This the most important thing. But everything is Truth. Truth is where everything converges. Here again we go through the interface of language, or words, where we all have different interpretations of the same word.  I am not sure I share this definition of Truth.  But what ever that () is the convergence of all in the highest possible expression of all things in all dimensions (whatever highest is, or dimensions are) – I support. 

 

Time and Duration

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The future is not going to be like the last.

I had my weekly poetry group tonight. Now we are meeting remote – on google groups not discord (my favorite).

One of the books I have with me in physical isolation is The Penguin Book of the Sonnet. It is amazing. I highly recommend it. There are different forms of a sonnet – if you get the book (or google) you can learn more.

I have been working with a shakespearean sonnet which has 4 4line stanzas (of particular rhythm and rhyme) ie quatrains and then two lines ie a heroic couplet.

The shakespearean sonnet according to meredith:

This happens
Then this happens
But then something changes
And this is what it is now

I wrote a sonnet – like all my poetry it is channelling my inner sixteen year old.
My sonnet sucked. I read all the sonnets in the beautiful penguin book of poetry with amazing imagery and great depth and I felt so shallow and observational.

But hey. -I am going to write more sonnets -they are bound to get better.
A friend read a poem by C.D. Wright. It was about pee. I loved the repetition, the
use of simple words. It was a poem that could only be written after Gertrude Stein.

One of the things that I am reflecting on during this pandemic is time (and Bergson).
I always felt like I knew what the future held, in some vague way. I mean you never know, but in the clock ticks, and the schedules, and the calendars the past and the future seemed similar.

The last weekend before the pandemic I sat with a friend at an emptyish restaurant in Brooklyn. I spoke how I could not imagine what the next week would look like, but that we would not probably be eating in a restaurant in Brooklyn (I was right about that).

The future has no measurement for me now

What I am doing during the Pandemic

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In the first few days of the pandemic I found myself engaged in lots of virtual activity. I did not want to be alone and isolated. I got back on Fb on twitter etc. It was a lot of action without a lot of deep reflection.

I found myself in a whirlwind of activity without much good work or deep reflection. I’m going to pull back from that. In part because I feel like I am not accomplishing anything, and also because I feel a bit low energy.

Now I want to pull back, to do things i love doing, reading, writing, playing guitar, playing games with my kids, star gazing, nature bathing, watching movie with friends on discord, maybe writing some code…

I still have my job and my teaching responsibilities so there is a lot of work figuring out how to do these things in a new way. I was thinking oh I am going to do an online free coding class, or start 5 newsletters or whatever. But really I am going to use this time mostly to hunker down and go within myself.

Poetry and Movement

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This past week a friend of mine invited me to a poetry project / dance workshop with Yoshiko Chuma.  It was amazing, we danced, we wrote, we choreographed – everything felt very natural and spontaneous and an expression of each of our individual damons.

I have never been a dancer or particularly interested in dance. I remember as a young girl thinking that the other girls who were interested in dance were not very serious. (This was probably an accurate assessment).  This was also my issue with theater, and to a lesser extent, singing.

In the past few years I have been very interested in dance. It originally started around 20 years ago when I started to practice yoga.   I started to focus on how my body moved and become more deliberate.  I practiced different kinds of yoga, and then kung fu.

I  had self diagnosed myself with workout ADD (I have since thankfully recovered). But workout ADD manifests itself as boredom in the repetitive movements of the workout. I was able to recover in finding nuance in the movements themselves, and also getting lost in the repetition (the repetition becoming a mantra or meditative in their repetition).

However during my period of workout ADD I started Kung Fu. Kung Fu was fantastic because you were always working on new forms.  Most of the other kung fu practitioners were dancers. What struct me about them was their ability to remember moves and their ability to touch other bodies.

I do feel like my kinetic knowledge (or somatic knowledge), is the least developed of all my knowledge systems. Although like any area of knowledge, I do believe it is possible to improve on this and I think I have improved especially through my work in Yoga, and then Kung Fu, Tai chi, Ba Gua, and other athletics (kickboxing etc). I was always athletic and in many respects there is overlap between athletics and dance when you remove the competitive aspect. The motivation is perhaps what changes. It becomes less about winning and more about the practice, about the action and the ritual.

I have become in recent years more interested in dance and movement, as I mentioned before. Not just “dance” – like fine art dance, but dancing party dancing or just dancing around the apartment with my kids.  I think the seed was planted when I read Gurdjieff in my early twenties – but i dont remember why or how or what Gurdjieff even talked about with relation to dance – maybe something about whirling dervishes.

This workshop was beautiful and fascinating in that we were all creating our own language. Dance is a language.  Gesture is a language.  I think I have written about this before.  There are, of course, unconscious aspects to this language – movements that we make automatically or unthinkingly -and then there are conscious movements.

Our movements carry signatures of ourselves. It is in many respects the most unique and personal of all languages. In this workshop everyone came up with their own dances based on the same prompts and everyone had both their own unique way of moving but also their own unique way of perceiving the original prompt and drawing meaning (creating a translation) from it.

I could connect this to sensors, translation, transduction, somatics, meaning making … But I’m just going to leave it as is.

Also I have a new newsletter – It is about the relationship between computation and our perception of our inner life (the psyche) and how this relationship expresses itself in every day life.

It launches tomorrow.

 

 

Meditations on CI/CD and GitLab

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I have been doing these CI/CD and GitLab workshops and today I am writing a book proposal. I could use some feedback. I have a bunch of thoughts on this area and then Iw will propose some titles. But first thoughts

– Gitlab does for dev ops what git did for code. Configuration as code is nothing new – or even config files in repos. I can build off other repos that have ansible configs or jenkins configs. But having all these configs in one file like gitlab that is automatically integrated into the platform is an leap forward. For example, I forked the conference software yakbak and the fork came complete with the gitlab-ci deployment template. I could have deployed in the same way or modified (which I did) to deploy on heroku. In the past, the most automagic you get is a build or install script.

– Modern development tools:
These are things that gitlab or CI/CD depend on: git, docker, I a unix based editor, orms, testing frameworks etc.
These are also things that are integrated as jobs into your pipelne – such as linting, security (sonarqube)

– Modern development philosophy
Why CI/CD, the movement away from cost reduction to time reduction (speed/lyotard). Metrics, ways of working (git branching, artifact creation).

– And finally GitLab CI/CD itself. This would be a section would walk through how to use GitLab CI/CD, jobs, pipelines, artifacts,

Title possibilities:
Modern Software Development with GitLab CI/CD
CI/CD from first principles to implementation: A GitLab Approach
Down the stack

Self-Representation

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Yesterday I wrote about self reproduction and today I figured I’d write about self representation. I had this post in the queue for a week.

My questions about self-representation started last week. Well, really they started long before that, but they were really put into relief last week when I was at an ai met talk.  Someone was going around saying, oh are you from google, oh are you from mit, oh are you from Microsoft. I put on my headphones and started to read a book, in french, upside down, so no one would talk to me. How would I answer?

Maybe start with jotting down the way you represent yourself – Nitzan said.

That was good advice, and I do that below. But part of my problem was how do I legitimate myself. Nitzan built an amazing AI newsletter, that many of these professionals subscribed used.That is how he achieved legitimacy.  It is not a bad trick. I was thinking about doing a more targeted newsletter related to consciousness and computation.  This crystalized for me the other day, and now I have forgotten thec crystal.

I could say to hell with legitimacy and do some Jedi mind tricks.  I also suppose that I could come up with some way to legitimate myself among a bunch of AI researchers. But, really, this does not sound like a good reason to create oneself.

So who am I? These days I have been calling myself a programmer, because that is what I enjoy to do. However, that is not what I spend a lot of time doing, it is more an orientation to the world. It also does not explain what I am doing at various events I go to. Being a programmer is like being a cog. However, I chafe at the idea of being a hyphenate. I just want to be one thing.

Nitzan described me as a systems poet the other day. I sort of like that. It is so wacky it confers legitimacy. I sort of find it accurate. I am interested in the borderlands of computation, and systems in general. Poetry is the language of the border. When we dont have the exact words to describe something. It is the language that carves out new territories and pushes the boundaries out further.