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Re: <nettime> There are only Vectors [2x]
Elnor Buhard on Sun, 16 Mar 2003 08:18:00 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> There are only Vectors [2x]


>> (iii) Virtual vectors: which leads to a question - can vectors be virtual?

>> (iv) Mathematization of politics, or politicization of math? 

one thing that has always struck me, watching this dialog on vectors over
the past few months, is how many mathematicians must be rolling in their
graves, or rolling their eyes, as they read this fuddled talk about
'vectors', when it is pretty clear that many other mathematical terms
('mappings' comes to mind as the most apt), would be well suited to
describe the processes that are currently classified with the term
'vector'.  

but i've always thought that this language exists because the connections
that vectors describe live somewhere in the abstract space of human
consensus.  all of the strengths of vectors, the newly-minted currency of
the post-material universe, live somewhere out in a fuzzy world that we
have constructed, and only exists because of our conventions -- they exist
only as much as mathematics, and no more. 

so, when i read nettime, and i see 'vector', i do _not_ think of 3-tuples
of numbers, or elements of a Banach space.  i do not think of the slight
generalization of the concept 'number' that my mathematical voice whispers
in the back of my ear.   i see 'abstract, non-material, math-ish thing'.
so

> "surely power has always had a vector"  -->  "surely power has always
relied on non-material math-ish conventions between people" 

> "the vectoral class"  -->  "the class of people that use social
agreements, curry favor, and talk a lot of hot air to gain an immense
amount of power... because they abstractly define that power"

> "commodity game of the vector"  -->  "the game of re-arranging abstract
relationships and deals to get what you want"

and finally, 

>"The vector puts all resources on the same plane of calculation. The
control over resources is much more about the control over the relevant
information, allocation management and so on."

enters my head as -- "a lot of things can be controlled by being good at
this math-ish game"

the idea that any of this has foundation anywhere in contemporary
mathematics, or jibes with pre-rigorous uses of the term in early natural
philosophy, is simply daft.  even this 'fixed and indeterminate'ness is a
loose connection at best.  my response to this, as other times when i see
literary types hijacking mathematics, is at first to think that this is
some vain attempt to hijack the legitimacy of more rigorous disciplines.

but this confrontational attitude never really gets me so far.... (in part
because i think social theory is as legit as hard science - if only because
it's so hard to know when you're right as a theorist) thus i have come to
understand vector, as being a way to talk about something that connects
somewhat conceptually distinct elements with manipulations of the structure
of human consensus.  (i.e., social games).  like good physics, these
abstract principles eventually have a material effect.... but only at many
of levels of abstraction away from the original vectorial decision and act. 

best-
elnor. 

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