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<nettime> Note towards a foundational phenomenology of analogic/discrete
Alan Sondheim on Tue, 10 May 2005 21:47:18 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Note towards a foundational phenomenology of analogic/discrete

Note towards a foundational phenomenology of analogic/discrete 'domains.'

Until we understand the deep ontological and epistemological issues invol-
ving the analogic and discrete (digital), we will get nowhere.

It must be within the wave equation and its collapse that the solution to
these conceivable orders will be found.

Measurement = judgment, culture; the collapse is to the discrete. Wolfram
remains there; the wave equation and its ontology otherwise; Penrose on
the cusp of the dialectic; Hawking dismisses the problem through positiv-
ism. But the orders remain such, effloresce on the level of the life-world
where the digital exists under the aegis of fabrication, and the analogic
prohibits the jump-cut outside of mental phenomena.

Certainly it is within the collapse of the wave equation that the phenom-
enology of consciousness, the abstract and the physical, meet. Contradic-
tions appear almost across the board. Each tugs at the other.

One is unwilling to give up the primacy of the physical because of its
immensity. It is difficult, even from a platonic viewpoint, to comprehend
the immensity of the abstract as well - it pales by comparison. As for
consciousness, it seems the weakest of all, certainly the most fragile. It
is within consciousness that the annihilation and creation of historical
memory occur.

There are no events in the abstract. Consciousness and the physical are
temporal; the physical and the abstract describe spaces; consciousness and
the abstract describe networks. Within consciousness, from the network to
the membrane. Within the physical, from spacetime to its incoherence. And
within the abstract, axiomatics to their dissolution.

Mathesis tends towards rounding and the discrete (digital); consciousness
tends towards sharpening and the analogic; the physical world collapses
among them.

Perhaps the collapse is incomprehensible in terms of a unifying theory. I
agree with Penrose that both U and R are real physical processes. (I have
no proof of this of course; it _fits._) In any case measurement brings out
the artifactual nature of the digital, as well as the choice of variables,
tolerances, apparatus, etc., and all in relation to background noise.

Thinking gets to the bottom of everything. Thinking gets to the bottom of
nothing; it is both full, replete, and absent.

To think _fully_ the a/d divide/continuum (along with this infinite reg-
ress) is to assume familiarity with mathematical physics, phenomenology,
engineering, neurophysiology, as well as philosophy, aesthetics, computer
science. Without these backgrounds, analysis remains on the level of life-
world phenomena, the symptomatic. As the symptomatic expands, so does the
metaphoric superstructure; before long, one is off and running in any
number of useless directions as image builds on image. This is the wave
part of the phenomenon; the collapse is absent as testability recedes. My
personal danger is to avoid confusion on one hand, and these metaphoric
ruminations as anything but fantasy, on the other.

There are also the results in microsound, in digital audio reproduction,
in compression algorithms and raster scans at the limits, in the mathe-
matics of human cognition, in cellular automata. Expansion frays at the
edges; nothing is achieved. Just as confusion is the result of metaphoric
expansion, it is also the result of an efflorescence of roots.

( And it's in codework that the mix of analogic and discrete 'ordering,'
with resulting 'broken' image and imaginary, that the aesthetics of
expansion and collapse - of metaphor and binary for example - plays out.
In this sense all communication among organisms, participates in signal
and emotional contexting, reduction and aura.

Gestalt is both surplus and reduction. The inhabiting of text is analogic,
no matter the discrete (ascii, tcp/ip) elements (protocols) at work.
Between inhabitation and the seizure of the symbol lies anxiety, dis/com-
fort, the political.

The collapse of the wave equation, Penrose's U -> R, Bell's theorem,
_bother_ us. Communication leaks; the mechanics transform (in Irigarayan
terms) from fluid to mechanical to the uneasy gnawing of a _mix._ Think of
Kristeva's abject for example, or Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel's work. Think
of a kind of transitional object carrying the all-too-evident seeds of
decay within it, the teddy-bear leaking stuffing.

The bothering is political; we would do anything to erase it! Purity, the
sensual absence of corruption, is primary to governance, where, for
example, justice is forced into equivalence with law.

One should learn from the R Yes|No measurement that decision, at the
bottom, is independent. 'The best-laid plans of mice and men often go
astray'; and are _inherently_ astray. They are never plans until observed
- when the secret's out. Code hides and reveals, checksumming a relative
assurance of purity. Beyond that, there is nothing but plasma analogic,
and the digital grave. )


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