The Hidden

Posted on March 1, 2009 in doubling

Occasionally the surface of language which we inhabit (and whose promises we fulfill or not) take on a slightly less burnished quality. The everyday seems a bit less reflective, a bit more perplexing. Under the right circumstances poetry can have that effect (though to the extent that it has to announce itself as such, the effect of ‘peering beneath/through the surface’ may be diminished; I’m fully aware that this terminology is not re rigeur these days and that all we are supposed to have are a gradually escalating/descalating series of imbricated structures proceeding through micor- and macro-scales. I suppose there is little yet in the physicalist spectrum that would lead us to think other wise.) But language may be another matter, so to speak, a peculiar combination of matter and anti-matter whose point of rupture can everywhere be felt and no place where it can effectively be focused on, purely and simply as itself, outside the regime of the necessities of communnication.

I am reminded of the possibilities that language holds encoded in its structure, by a recent article (here) in physics site where in words are modeled after entangled quantum states, (what they call ‘spooky action at a distance’ after the quantum spukhafte funverkungen of Neils Bohr) and seems to say basically that all words are somehow tangled together and speaking one may somehow elicit a great many others. I will leave it to others to try tosay how reliable such ascheme may be for further exploration, but it does leave the door open for various other weird phenomena e.g., the reverse speech effect (record a speech, play it backward and uncannily there seem to be sections which are intelligible and whcih seem to undo the meaning of the promary speech.

Lest one be though a complete kook, the last years of Ferdinand Saussure’s researches involved the anagrammatical properties of language. In his case, a study of an ancient poetic form called the Saturnian in which poets encoded a name (gods, patrons, etc) into the words of the poem: a message within the poem. Apparently he became disturbed by his findings (they existed only as a large series of notes and weren’t published in his lifetime); presumably by the poetic, verging on the mystical, taking precedence over the pragmatic. As Julia Kristeva put it, “poetic language adds a second, contrived, dimension to the original word” said second language “transgressing the rules of grammar” at the point where “reason strives to hold madness back to the limit of its own truth.” (Sylvere Lotringer, The Game of the Name, a review of Jean Starobinski’s book on Saussure’s collected and assembled notes, Les Mots sous les Mots, published in 1971.)

But what if there are anagrammatical moments when the contrivance, the method of secondary poetic/prophetic inscription, becomes obscured or even occulted? When the question of who, if anyone, has overlaid one text to another becomes problematic indeed and a secondary structure WITHIN the primary text seems to come alive on its own accord, even haunted by an aspect for which an accounting is hard to come by. That is, Sassure’s hunt for an ‘authorial intent’ was to bear no fruit because this (somewhat anomalous) structure of language itself somehow contrives to write on and beyond itself, as in Heidegger’s notion that ‘language speaks us.’ There psychoanalysis has found fertile ground. One wing of this ‘monoblock’ thesis of language led to post structuralism and deconstruction. You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the academic language but this can be spooky stuff as can be seen by the bible code folks, reverse speech advocates, steganography, and in fact all areas where there is a surface and a hidden, encrypted substrate. Popular culture is filled with examples

Within this doubled ‘substance’ there is another question of authorial intent: the coding is put there by human agency; the coding appears as an ‘accident’ of structure (whatever/however accident could be said to operate in such circumstances; off hand I can think of no convincing explanation/proof of the way those two levels would communicate with each other, although I suppose evolutionary biology would contend that the relation between phenotype and genotype has been taken care of. This is not exactly what I’m thinking of, but this is: a code written upon the DNA code. I’m also reminded of the failed attempt by William Newbold to find meaning in the scratches of the penstrokes of the writing of the Voynich Manuscript. It seems that pursuit of an uncanny encrypted world fosters its own form of madness.) And the third possibility would be that it was placed by a non-human agent. The last does not fit any measure of scientific correctness with the exception of the faint possibility of an alien consciousness somehow placing a code.

Anf finally to place somehow in juxtapostion here, the idea of ‘telepathy’ and ‘text’ as a massaging of the quantum field effect as postuated above. I would point to the lastest issues of the newly revamped (?) Oxford Literary Review’s issue on telepathies which I enjoyed tremendously but which may of little use for someone attempting to solve something.