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<nettime> Re: Code and its Double [2x]
Alan Sondheim on Mon, 16 Feb 2004 13:44:03 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Re: Code and its Double [2x]



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   Re: Code and its Double (in relation to brain asymmetry)                        
     Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>                                              

   Re: Code and its Double (in relation to brain asymmetry)                        
     Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>                                              



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Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 08:27:34 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: Re: Code and its Double (in relation to brain asymmetry)


On Sun, 15 Feb 2004, noemata wrote:

> 15/02/2004 05:07:11, Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} PANIX.COM> wrote:
>
> OK, they're separated, but you wouldn't have the one without the other.
> A running, invisible code alone is meaningless, like text/residue alone is
> blind. As code it would not be interesting I guess, it's the doubling,
> interweaving, and/or collaps of the two that's essential to code (I'm using
> 'code' and 'codework' interchangingly).

Why meaningless and why not interesting? I was part of a Brown U systems
group years ago and it was precisely running and invisible code that was
of interest to them.

At least as I see it, code and codework are not interchangable at all,
btw.

>
> >It's the 'double' expression that troubles me - there need not even be a
> >relationship among surface code and performative code -
>
> But code always has the two sides of performance and surface, they're inherent
> and essential to code to a greater degree than other arts. The relationship is
> always there - if it's invisible or 'blind' it might only mean it's not
> interesting as code(work).
>
There need not be a surface once a program is compiled or interpreted.

When you say 'interesting' you're already limiting this to your own
interests. For example, some of my .exec works are 'lost' as to the code
(they're compiled and I deleted the code), but hopefully the works are
still interesting as such. Not everything is panoptical.

> >Why impossibility of self-reference? I'm thinking of obvious counter-
> >examples, the glider in life for example that can reproduce itself.
>
> I'd say because it's mattered. Only the model, or pure code, could be strictly
> self-referenced. But by code(work)'s double-nature there's always matter,
> space, residue.

Code has material foundations, but again - this 'double-nature' - I think
you're creating a metaphysical reification that's problematic. Have you
looked at Eco?

> >What you call shadow and the material you call 'double' I'd call aura or
> >residue or detritus.
>
> Maybe refering to the same, but the words imply something passive, mere
> generated, and/or surplus matter. A point in bringing in the brain model is to
> view the residue as a processing in itself but of another kind than the code
> processing:
>

But then it's not a double. And the residue need not even be tethered to
the code - look at John Mesken's work for example. In fact a great deal of
the time it isn't. Or Mez, where there isn't an underlying code for the
most part.

> - Brain asymmetry summary: From these basic ideas about distinct
> functions of the two hemispheres has arisen the idea that the
> hemispheres represent two distinct modes of cognitive processing (see
> Springer and Deutch).The left hemisphere operates in a more
> logical,analytical,computer-like fashion,analyzing stimuli input
> sequentially and abstracting the relevant details to which it attaches
> verbal labels.The right hemisphere is primarily a synthesizer,more
> concerned with the overall stimulus configuration,and organizes and
> processes information as gestalts,or wholes.*
>
> Comment: Brain asymmetry correlations to codework, jot version:
>     - Left hemisphere - time, analysis, language, symbol, code, text,
>     instruction, execution, .....
>     - Right hemisphere - space, synthesis, matter, text, data, ambience,
>     context, surface, code, diffusion, .....
>
> Regarding codework these are the two sides of what you call code and residue.
> And like the brain you better have both to make some meaning out of things -
> like the left alone is meaningless and the right alone is blind. These are
> just two sides of codework, so what is residue in one state could be code in
> another, and the code is obviously residue in another state. That's something
> special to codework in relation to other artworks, that the residue can be
> code in another state, while, for instance, the matter of a painting would
> have to stay matter.
>
I don't think that it simplifies this way at all.

> >_Running_ code doesn't have a shadow - in a sense it's ideal or pure
> >process riding in silicon valleys...
>
> OK, but pure running code is meaningless, it's like tautology, A=A. On the
> other side - pure filth, residue, shadow is blind. Are they interesting as
> codeworks

Pure running code is meaning to whom? Again you bring up issues of
'interest' and 'meaning' - in relation to your own interest and meaning.
And A=A btw is atemporal; running code is not. Again, 'shadow is blind' -
but there is no shadow; residue need not have a base, or even a
relationship with code.

I don't know the protocols (that well) that I'm using in second this -
i.e. the TCP/IP stack - but it better be running or you won't receive
this.

- - Alan


------------------------------

Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 01:17:39 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} panix.com>
Subject: Re: Code and its Double (in relation to brain asymmetry)



On Mon, 16 Feb 2004, noemata wrote:

> >Why meaningless and why not interesting? I was part of a Brown U systems
> >group years ago and it was precisely running and invisible code that was
> >of interest to them.
>
> Then it wouldn't be invisible? If running code produces something it isn't
> invisible would be my answer.
>

Well, the results were visible. The 'idea' was a system-theoretical
analysis of a computer running a program - to determine at time _t_ what
the physical state _s_ of the machine was. It turned out that the more
complex the program, the less _s_ was determinable; in this, it mirrored
brain research in which functions are 'blurred,' non-linear etc.

> Retracing my argument somewhat, it rests on a notion of 'code' as
> something inherently two-folded. It doesn't have to decode, the two
> sides doesn't have to be present or interact - but to regard something
> as code is to regard it as two- fold. From that I use the analogy of
> brain asymmetry to see how code correlates to cognition.

There are two types of code - perhaps that's the issue here. First,
there's code as a symbolic translation, usually one-to-one - the short-
wave 'numbers' codes, for example, morse-code, etc. These are static in
the sense that given a text, there can be an accompanying code; one has
                             text <====> code
- - i.e. it goes both ways. The second type of code, the program, is static
but is interpreted dynamically, and 'operates' dynamically. Here there are
various layers - from the code the program's written in, to interpreted or
compiled code to machine code, etc.

Codework conflates both and renders the semantics of ordinary language
problematic; it also conflates dynamic and static codes. The work itself
is static to the extent that it's written (in this sense, hypertext is
also static); it's dynamic to the extent that it _references_ processing
and may itself have not only been processed, but it's processing program
may be part of the surface content.

> >There need not be a surface once a program is compiled or interpreted.
>
> It's still two-folded as program and code in its potential.
>
On the order of virtual particles, one might say that an executable for
example has a potential code which is its generator.

Again, this is where I think confusion appears - the difference between,
say, a perl program or script, and morse code... (A lot of what I do by
the way involves the latter type as well, with figlet, banner, caesar, and
other codings, including substitutions, which lead from a one-to-one
structure to a many-to-one, often irreversible.)

> >When you say 'interesting' you're already limiting this to your own
> >interests. For example, some of my .exec works are 'lost' as to the code
> >(they're compiled and I deleted the code), but hopefully the works are
> >still interesting as such. Not everything is panoptical.
>
> Executable code is still two-folded, could be reverse engineered. etc.
> It's the code as notion, treating something as code.
>
Possibly, but I can conceive of code that can't be reverse engineered; I'm
not enough of a hacker to know if such exists or not.

> >Code has material foundations, but again - this 'double-nature' - I think
> >you're creating a metaphysical reification that's problematic. Have you
> >looked at Eco?
>
> I probably should look into Eco then. In my view it's not metaphysical, it's
> apparent that code has the two sides.
>
I'd say more that 'code' in general has any number of sides, including
fractal, even on a formal level. I once defined a hierarchical system with
alternating 'immersive' and 'definable' levels - the d-levels were
reversible, much like morse/alphabet - the immersive were experiential and
temporally-bound. I think now of code as 'dirty' or with the potential of
dirtiness/abjection - a way to get beyond unary, dyadic, etc. -

And the dirtiness can be manifest in surface, or even within operability
(although in a sense all running code is clean and operable); I've always
been fascinated by extraneous commentary in code, by the ability of one
language to call on another, etc. etc. In other words, I find the 'clean
and proper body' (re: Kristeva) problematic - it literally touches on
Celine.

> >> >What you call shadow and the material you call 'double' I'd call aura or
> >> >residue or detritus.
> >>
> >> Maybe refering to the same, but the words imply something passive,
> >> mere generated, and/or surplus matter. A point in bringing in the
> >> brain model is to view the residue as a processing in itself but of
> >> another kind than the code processing:
> >>
> >But then it's not a double. And the residue need not even be tethered to
> >the code - look at John Mesken's work for example. In fact a great deal of
> >the time it isn't. Or Mez, where there isn't an underlying code for the
> >most part.
>
> OK, we'd have to be more exact to settle the 'double' it seems. There's
> still the notion and treatment as code which is the basic and which is a
> two-fold treatment. I'm using 'double' as the brain's double processing.
> And the two-fold treatment is analoguous to the brain asymmetry which
> was referred to - the left hemispehre is treating as
> instruction/language/time and the right as data/matter/space - somewhat
> like the two-fold of code.

One thing I've wondered about - although I have no source whatsoever for
this - whether the brain dichotomy is this pronounced. I remember seeing
some articles problematizing this, but I have no idea where...

>
> I don't know how helpful this was in closing in - maybe there'll be
> problems specifying it in more detail - it's an analogy which correlates
> to some point and might give some ideas on how to view code.
>

I agree. There are several ways to go. I've used the immersive/definable
distinction before, in detail. Peirce uses a triadic system, etc. Saussure
with an enormous descending future (Lacan, Greimas, etc.) tend towards
issues of signifier/signified. There's not so much a double but an
osculation of sememes I think. It goes on and on. If I remember, Eco does
have a somewhat formal system. We might approach through two sources -
formal cryptography on one hand, and definitions of programming languages
on the other... But that's my approach, and I'd be curious further how
this correlates with yours.

One thing perhaps _critical_ here is the _pun_ - which is almost always
itself the butt of jokes, and disturbing in so many ways. And the pun of
course is two-fold, challening the surface of language, disrupting it,
derailing what Maturana called 'the mutual orienting of cognitive
domains.' So I think that codework partakes of the qualities of the pun...

Alan -


>
> - Bjorn
>

http://www.asondheim.org/ http://www.asondheim.org/portal/.nikuko
http://www.anu.edu.au/english/internet_txt
Trace projects http://trace.ntu.ac.uk/writers/sondheim/index.htm
finger sondheim {AT} panix.com


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