A. Jenn Sondheim on Mon, 26 Oct 1998 10:45:42 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> s/ms

Consent, s/ms' World, says

In Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores, Understanding Computers and Cogni-
nition, the authors, playing off Maturana's "Biology of Language," write:
"Language, as a consensual domain, is a patterning of 'mutual orienting
behavior,' not a collection of mechanisms in a 'language user' or a 'sem-
antic' coupling between linguistic behavior and non-linguistic perturba-
tions experienced by the organisms. [P] Maturana points out that language
is connotative and not denotative, and that its function is to orient the
orientee within his or her cognitive domain, and not to point to indepen-
dent entities." Thus we can speak of Umwelt, which connects with the mic-
roworlds developed early on by Winograd. The word "consensual" is employed
by Maturana, of course, but there are issues, right from the start of pol-
itical economy and idiolectical defense mechanisms: "I refuse to be under-
stood," said Julu, while Jennifer, thinking the same, refused to speak at

The positing of mutual orientation, which Maturana has been stressing for
decades, problematizes the truth-functional aspects of language, while
salvaging performatives for the processes of orientation. One might also
see the orientations among actants, which may be virtual or real or virtu-
al-real, depending on one's ontology, among other things/emissions. 

One might also bring a psychologized Bourbaki into play, considering such
orientations the result of partial mappings among mother-structures which
constitute fuzzy domains of fuzzy behaviors. 

Here is a Maturana quote from the book: "When two more more organisms
interact recursively as structurally plastic systems, ... the result is
mutual ontogenic structural coupling.... For an observer, the domain of
interactions specified through such ontogenic structural coupling appears
as a network of sequences of mutually triggering interlocked conducts....
The various conducts or behaviors involved are both arbitrary and con-
textual. The behaviors are arbitrary because they can have any form as
long as they operate as triggering perturbations in the interactions; they
are contextual because their participation in the interlocked interactions
of the domain is defined only with respect to the interactions that con-
stitute the domain.... I shall call the domain of interlocked conducts...
a _consensual domain._" 

Julu is turned out by mother-structure Nikuko in a rite that involves
consent and consensual construction of a world, or phenomenological hor-
izon; the stage is the sememe, offered, proffered, controlled. Julu is
always already within the theatrical scene, much as Brenda Laurel speaks
of theater in relation to human-computer interactions, and Jennifer might
speak of, in relation to Julu and Alan, Alan and Nikuko, of sado-maso-
chisms. These s/ms are part-objects, relays, micro-contracts among parti-
cipants, willing or not; they involve the impetus of one or the other or
both to remain within the game, which is always a game since it is the
rule-giving or rule-structuring of the real, in dialectic. Think of the
s/ms as lightnings across the sememe, _fissurings_ which pass as _inscrip-
tions,_ - in other words, divisions of same/same passing as epistemologi-
cal operations of classification: _x_ and _not x_ - or, more to the point:
Now! and Not now! 

What is marked is time, the impetus/impulse/inertia of _remaining in the
game,_ of language and consent: in other words, The Game of Remaining in
the World. 

The game involves consent. The game involves desire and s/ms. The game is
always partial, always close to breakdown, rupture, fissuring, splits and
splays which require further-culture to heal. 

There's no truth to the game; there are performatives. Every statement is
performative, and every performative, a statement. Everything _construes._

The game is all the truth there is, and for further truth, there are
events, defined (as I've pointed out elsewhere) as the union of attributes
filtered by k-ply intersections of descriptions. (For example, one has 20
descriptions of an event, with a total of 8 attributes; let k = 3, then
look for those attributes mentioned in at least 3 descriptions; take the
union of these attributes as a best-fit description of the event.) Attri-
bution becomes a primary focus - both for the constitution of meaning, and
the development of the appearance of autonomy vis-a-vis superstructural
symbolic domains: the real-virtual, or the virtual-real, take your pick. 

This is not to say that there is no asymbolic; in fact, consensuality
skirts the asymbolic and asymbolia, and may as well (best fit) be founded
on the same. Only that, when one moves into the realm of the virtual, one
is also confronted by issues of constitution, languaging, and protocols;
consensuality becomes charged and operative and, to the extent that it is
synonymous with handshaking, the only game in town. 

So we might go in circles here, says Julu. As long as you are chained to
me, replies Jennifer, new at the game, but shaved and ready as the perfect

(The pain of the world, says Jennifer? There's no game there; it enters
elsewhere, but every confrontation with death is private, an idiolect of
murmurs, silences, of mother-structures _with no sense at all._ She purred
[reminding one, said Alan, that wounded cats may purr as well, cats' bell
tolling in the distance. And the bell? An s/m. And the purr? an s/m too,
as every thing, non-thing, as in nothing, word to the mother "as well."].)

ii s/m

Think of an s/m as a linkage within a domain presumably consensual, an
information-domain in which information is transmitted. Consider infor-
mation as that which is translatable; in other words, information is
defined by modes of translation. (For this reason, semiotic difference
constitutes information regimes - but there are other such regimes which
may not be semiotic in character). 

The linkage may or may not have a source and receiver, may or may not be
of the order of control. Consider control a linkage in which one actant
directly or indirectly modifies the the domain of another. The nature of
this modification results down the line in a transformation of material
and/or neurophysiological conditions. 

Think of an s/m as ill-defined, partial or part-object, essentially viral
in nature. An s/m is below the memetic level, circulating in the midst of
the order of drives. An s/m is always already theatrical; the stage is
that of the mother-structures which are sub-structural. All communication
begins and ends on this level; all communication participates in the play
of stage and desire. 

And think of dispersions as sprays or emissions of s/ms, which may or may
not be packets, may or may not be addressed or addressable, may or may not
be clutter/histories. 

We build a model in this way, said Jennifer. Of what, said Nikuko, and "Of
what?" asked Julu and there was little, if any, answer. It was this lack
of response that constituted an s/m, or one of any number of protocols of

iii s/ms Typology

mouth or word to hole	inscription to slit	implement to substrate
hole to mouth or word;	slit to inscription;	substrate to implement;

(a,b) leverage a--b;	fulcrum to lever	virtual particles
                        lever to fulcrum;	virtual particles;

feces to surface	orgasm to sign		leash to desire
surface to feces;	sign to orgasm;		desire to leash;

wound to suture		pain--pleasure;		violation to meaning
suture to wound;                        	meaning to violation;

sign--meaning;          fissure--inscription;	skin--flesh;

vowels to consonants	hole--hole;		part--part;
consonants to vowels;

cut to sign		abjection--froth;	object--inscription;
sign to cut;            abjection--liquid;	fissure--disappearance

iv s/ms couplings and linkages

mouth speaks in couplings from implements to hole and abjection, meaning
falls across leverages from skin to orgasm, signs float across fissures
and inscriptions, violations cross from sutures to wounds, feces speak
across surfaces and desires, leashes cross slits and substrates, desires
mouth linkages of fulcrums and implements, implements mouth couplings and
linkages of leashes and substrates, flesh chains fissures and sutures,
vowels transgress consonants and disappearances, slits couple leashes and
froths, implements link foams and speakings, fissures mean, inscriptions
foam, abjection floats cuts and liquids, violations and objects couple
feces, objects inscribe, liquids mean, cuts fissure mouths and linkages,
signs froth and foam, liquids flow across leverages from skin to orgasm

v s/ms: The Argument

Communication is the mutual orienting of consensual domains, providing
consensuality is problematized. This orienting is in the form of linkages
and couplings. Think of a linkage as [A][B] where A' implies [A'][B'] and
think of coupling as [AB] where A' implies [A'B]. Orientings are composed
of s/ms, part-objects which might be related to sado-masochisms in which
tension and control, a political economy, appear. 

Orientings cross party lines, wrack across epistemes, transgress ontolo-
gies; there's the real-virtual, the virtual-real, there are real and
virtual particles, interweavings, interpenetrations - not to mention the
ontic regions of mathematics, psychoanalytical entities, applications and

It's all constitutings where one might conceive of orientings as meaning
and entity generators as well. (It's all anything you want it to _be,_
said Jennifer, which is just about _saying_ anything you want it to
_mean._ And left it at that.)

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