a nonsense of objects ; further quick notes


This is an entirely experimental post. As I have stated on several occasions I could at best be considered an amateur in philosophy. I don’t say this to deflect in advance any criticism I may or may not attract but simply because I think it should be understood by this that I do not consider this post to be a statement of truth. Its just an experiment in the form of some notes. This, as with the prior post, is merely an attempt to understand.

17. A cyberbody can be replicated or distributed over many computers; can inhabit many computers at the same time. If the Cybersphere’s computers are tiles in a paved courtyard, a cyberbody is a cloud’s drifting shadow covering many tiles simultaneously.

-David Gelernter, The Second Coming’

1. I would not think that we could admit that an object, in order to be an object of its own, could be replicated. There may be objects remarkably similar to it but, for obvious reasons, those objects are not it, could never be it, however close the approximation. Objects in the age of digital reproduction remain singular in their excess of external relations, even as they are multiple in their actualisations within any given set(s) of relations. So we may score out the ‘replication’ from the above.

2. Objects can be and are distributed. They are distributed in both time and space, in relation to themselves and to other objects. As askin to distributed systems we recognise that objects are autonomous of each other, in their inexhaustible virtuality, but that they nonetheless enter fields of interactions of various kinds. Unlike distributed systems there is no reason to assume that objects do so on the condition of attaining some ‘goal’ or another. Objects may act but there is no reason to posit that they do so according to something like will or intentionality (at least, not the with the bulk of objects).

2.1. Objects are distributed over other and through objects. Just as for the distributed system it is computers which interact through a network, here the objects interact through those fields of relation which have been variously called assemblages, meshworks or simply networks. These themselves form other objects, which are no less or more ontologically significant than their autonomous components.

2.2. In particular any object’s virtual being, that kernal which remains excessive of all interaction or ‘communication’, will be variously distributed in and across other objects by virtue of existing as within or as emergent from other assemblages.

3. The Cybersphere is that which computers are distributed across just as the assemblage is that which the object is distributed ‘across’ and which is itself a further object.

3.1. If the mereological elements of the compositional unity named the assemblage are tiles in a paved courtyard then the object’s virtual being is the shadow of a cloud.

3.2. The tiles in the courtyard are those things upon which one can get a firm grasp. Footfall on a paving stone is certain, whereas the shadow of a cloud is something vague, nebulous, and never truly renders the cloud’s materiality. As such each manifestation of an object’s virtual being is a certain blossoming of that virtuality spread over and among all objects with which it communicates.

The transformation of the term interaction/relations into communication might seem bothersome but I think this is only the case if we retain an understanding of objects as passive rather than as actants. As actants objects are said, in Levi Bryant’s expression, to propetize themselves. An object’s properties are not something that belong to or which happen to it but instead an object performs or acts to manifest itself in such and such a way, with such and such properties, these particular qualities rather than any others.  Just so, communication might be one or two way but it is also something involving at least more than one communicator. Perhaps this is how objects ‘talk’, if this is not too anthropocentric. Everywhere, in their acting to manifest, objects are communicating with one another and communicating only themselves, whilst always keeping something silent.

If I haven’t gotten mixed up then the opening quote might translate like this:

The virtual being of an object is or can be distributed over many manifestations of that virtuality; can inhabit many objects at the same time. If an object’s compositional-objects are easily grasped by one another this nonetheless does not exhaust that object’s own autonomous virtual being.

Here I am reminded of Schlegel’s remarks on republican speech, which also bring to mind Levi Bryant’s phrase “democracy of objects”, that that speech is one which is ‘its own law and end unto itself and in which all the parts are free citizens and have a right to vote’.

End of nonsense.


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