Dirk Vekemans on Wed, 18 May 2005 19:40:03 +0200 (CEST)

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RE: <nettime> The Ghost in the Network

I am new to this list,please forgive my ignorance and my clumsy
wordings, i read  this stimulating text by Galloway & Thacker on Rhizome
(thanks to Geert).  I wanted to respond, tried first on Rhizome, made a
mailing mistake there, but i suppose this is the place to do so...

On the Ghost in network part, on the rhetoric of freedom in particular (I
quote the authors first): 
"Later, in his elucidation of Castells, he (=Lovink, dv) writes of the
opposite, a "freedom  hardwired into code" [4]. This gets to the heart of
the freedom rhetoric. If it's hardwired is it still freedom? Instead of
guaranteeing freedom, the act of "hardwiring" suggests a limitation on
freedom. And in fact that is precisely the case on the Internet where strict
universal standards of communication have been rolled out more widely and
more quickly than in any other medium throughout history. Lessig and many
others rely heavily on this rhetoric of freedom."

As with any rhetoric, this may be beside the point, and therefore pointing
towards it: regardless of the how's why's of software development,
regardless of its supposedly 'open-' or 'closedness', all software i know
has too much artificiality 'hardwired' into it, not because it efficiently
reflects a mechanic ontology and because therefore it is too much of a
machine to deal with organic processes, but because it isn't machinic enough
(cfr. Deleuze on Leibniz' critique of Descartes, Le Pli, p12) : we are now
noticing matter-shape interactions on macro levels (supra human if you want,
i hate these metaphores) such as the selforganisation of internet as well as
on micro levels ('below' our field of perception, although that topology
isn't sustainable either) that point towards a dissolution of that old
dualism in favour of multiplicity and Deleuze's 'becoming'. 

Matter unfolding into its shape and shape folding into its matter.

In the self-inflicted urgency that is very much the essence of software
development ( we need better software faster to 'regain' control of a global
process running wild, or at least to radically slow down some processes that
lead to quasi immediate annihilation), we are perhaps too much focussed on
the immediate results the object-oriented approach gives us. In doing so we
have ***rightfully***, i do want to stress that, disregarded alternatives.
Because we need results fast, ever faster. But in doing so, we are now in a
stage where systems need to be developed to run systems to run systems to
infinity: we are stuck in a hysteresis of developing cycles feeding itself
with ever more need.

The 'solution' or escape route offered here ('Unplug from the grid."
"Adhocracy will rule") is one that i have given considerable thought in the
past but always rejected. I have seen beautiful artistical results come off
it. I appreciate its inherent beauty, the arcadian attraction of it. But I
do not like the defaitism that goes with it. 

It is as much a solution as taking out your tent and go camping near the
Rocky Mountains for the rest of your life. You cannot unplug from the grid,
the grid is taking shape within you, within the micro-economics of your
friendly circles, within the micro power balancing within the machine-you. 
It is not a malignant ghost. It has nothing to do with good or evil and
certainly nothing to do with transcendance, although many religious
organisations base their very worldly power on that interpretation.
Mechanical machines will give us mechanical results, if left running by
themselves, i don't see anything 'bad' or devilish there.

Machinical machines, on the other hand,in the Deleuzian sense of 'machine',
would give us machinical results, and take the 'natural' flow of
matter-shape (in)formation along with them into the technology that enables
 I don't see anything 'good' or messianistic there either. It's just that
everything i can observe points in that direction, i wouldn't presume to say
anything like this with my limited knowledge if that weren't the case. Heck,
I just noticed mr Sondheim's work deals with some of the questions i'm
working on...

 So somehow I believe alternatives can be developed into working information
systems that could supplement and even unhinge our current critical
condition. I'm making some very modest efforts towards that with what i know
of programming and the semantical to ontological implications of poetry.

Before today,i didn't see where these things were being researched, but i am
entertaining hunches that process thought as expressed in the work of the
Leibniz-Deleuze-Whitehead trail in ontology could find its reflection in
working models of such alternatives and that our current practice of
object-oriented programming should be subjected to a critical analysis, not
because it's bad or malfunctioning, but because we need to understand how
the shape of it turns to matter there. And these programmatic approaches
didn't come into being all of a sudden, they built upon a dominant ontology
themselves (as Philip E. Agre points out in The Practical Logic of Computer
Work at http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/practical.html) and they are
modelled after them.
So we need to know how the transcoding process that Lev Manovich explains in
his 'The Language of New Media', the way how our daily interaction with
computer (networks) influences our strains of thoughts on every level, how
that really works, how it affects us and more importantly, how we could
affect it. 

 I think IT matters, if you want a slogan. Or computers need sex, if you
want a provocative one. And i think a lot of people should be doing this
kind of research, not just some halfwit poet from kessel-lo without any
resources, although of course i know a thing or two about how poetry works
and how semantical processes at work there could be correlated to basic
concepts in programming like recursive definition and garbage collection to
name a few directions my own wreckage is floating in. I'm happy to notice
some people are doing it here and with much more of the expertise required
to do so. One would need to take another go at AI from the point before it
went pragmatical, disassemble that and start rebuilding on, why not, a
better phenomenology of analogic/discrete (referring to mr Sondheim's last
post) although my guess is you do _not_ need to actually 'solve' any deep
ontological and epistemological issues to get anywhere: if you allow the
process of machine-building sufficient 'air-space' the 'text' will write
itself, much like a poem goes ding-dong when it has finished being written
and starts writing itself into reality. It is a process that dissolves time
and space alltogether, in a way, anyone who's had the experience will
testify to a sense of timelessness while writing/being ridden by and waking
up afterwards without any memory of the actual writing. There's nothing
mystical/romantic/visionary involved there, i think, it's just nature having
its way. Very deterministic in the end, i'm afraid, inasmuch as that freedom
is, epitemologically, a rather irrelevant question, only of (ab)use in
rhetorical games of power after the fact, post-mortem if you want and mostly
going on in equal bad taste as asking how it was after having intimate sex.
Anyway,i've noticed programming doing the very same chemistry in my cranky

In a modest way i am steering my shaky Cathedral of erotic Misery, a net
arty project at http://www.vilt.net/nkdee towards these goals. Just please
don't ask me how i propose to realize such alternatives, i'm just in the
middle of trying to formulate some notes that could lead towards a possibly
workable hypothesis in the best of scientific tradition, eventually. Anyone
is invited to join in the process of theory building, although at this stage
for the actual authoring stuff, i hang on to a very male and as yet
tyranical core authoring process, collaboration is nice but impossible when
there's nothing to collaborate on...
Very theoretically it could lead to results, following it's own recursively
defined flow or growth. Notes towards a supreme fiction, if you want Wallace
Stevens in the game, although his poetry unfolds far beyond his ontology.



-----Original Message-----
From: nettime-l-request@bbs.thing.net
[mailto:nettime-l-request@bbs.thing.net] On Behalf Of Alexander Galloway and
Eugene Thacker
Sent: maandag 16 mei 2005 18:56
To: nettime-l@bbs.thing.net
Subject: <nettime> The Ghost in the Network

The Ghost in the Network

In discussing the difference between the living and the nonliving,
Aristotle points to the phenomena of self-organized animation and

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