The Secret History of Emergent Matter

Posted on November 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

I recently came across a blog site with the title “The Secret Gestural Prehistory of Mobile Devices” that so excited me that I was compelled to at least THINK about doing a post on the general idea (and of course often times the reason we find something fascinating is that it is congruent already with something in us)–and now I am actually writing something. Perhaps this will be ongoing for a bit, perhaps this will be it.

Two other bits of bibliography came to mind immediately. One is Jacques Derrida’s ‘Psyche-Inventions of the Other’ article and the other is Colin Bennett’s ‘The Dream Life of Prototypes.’

There are some deep holds of a particularly Platonic variety on all sides of this discussion, which especially for web events (a Deleuzian environs if there were ever one) makes it dangerous–or perhaps only self-fulfilling prophecy…which makes it precisely the phenomena under discussion: was ‘something’ there (available in some sense, present w/o being present) before it actually appeared. One would assume a sociological truism regarding the social and cultural conditions that must be present before an invention can come into existence but that doesn’t always seem to be the case, at least overtly, to wit, the ancient Greeks who had certain inventions (i.e. a rudimentary steam engine) but could never bring it into operability, consigning it to a category of parlor trick or toy. (I also think of the so called Antikythera Mechanism found not too long ago, sometimes called an astronomical computer as well as numerous other ancient ‘gadgets’ that never were able to form into a density enough to create a technological society per se: there must be another ‘space’ which forms before the thing itself appears.)

herewith a few quotes appropriate (i.e., ‘timely’ or ‘untimely’, both being of importance) or not:

ll cultures run out of time. Their states as programmatic states are only partial functions of their physical development in political and economic terms. Their economies may be quite sound, but if the psychic structure is incapable of producing new metaphors in terms of that thing called vision, they will certainly die.

To try and avoid such a systems-death, cultures generate closet subtexts rather like a liner carries life boats. Such boats are kept under wraps, and are hardly the subject of general conversation on board since they are reminders of the possibility that the strength of Nature may be far stronger than the strength of the most powerful ship or the most convincing paradigm.

If we see the lifeboats as anomalies, then we can see alternative thinking as hidden sub-routines and covert agendas which are kept sustained at a low energy level as semi-legal experimentation. The paradigm, as a form of information-life, keeps its options open therefore, ready to change the goal posts very quickly if it senses that resources and processes are becoming exhausted, emptied of metaphor by being deprived of fresh psychic resources, and therefore incapable of imagining beyond itself.

In this model, we have disembodied intelligence itself acting rather like a live foraging animal, using all the tricks and deception and camouflage needed to stay alive as an entity.


Therefore we may have to consider seriously the rather uncomfortable idea that pure information is forever an evolving and unprecedented form of life, complete with its own intention fields.


In these terms, parapsychology, metal bending, UFOs, and remote viewing, may be looked upon not as anomalistic areas within the traditional sterile “real” versus “unreal” debate, but as sub-routine options for a possible evolving world-modelling of belief systems. This represents the Post-modern view that sees the birth of anything and everything as a creation of an ideological flux within time-elements which are kinds of symbolic dream-theatres.

In this sense it is possible to conceive of “matter” as a form of information-life whose “body,” as it were, consists not of atoms, but of advertisements, presentations, shows, acts, and endless performances struggling for cultural prime time.

Colin Bennett

Those who are familiar with certain image theorists such as W.J.T. Mitchell’s What Do Images Want? will find a kindred spirit here when Bennett writes later on that certain images seem to have an almost-evolutionary strategy as information-animals grazing on the cud of belief, having evolved into pure techno art form“. Indeed, the idea of autonomous agents operating within the human sphere yet somehow not fully attached to that sphere has become almost a common place in modern life and culture, whether in the many varieties of conspiracy theories, or the object-oriented ontologists, going back to the dialectical image of Walter Benjamin, perhaps all drifting lazily outward from some sort of Leibnizean monadalogical concern. (I drag the monad into this because, well this is a blog after all, but I began to think of the very elegant book by Daniel Tiffany ‘Infidel Poetics: Riddles, Nightlife, Substance‘ which, while not dealing with the image as such except in terms of the poetic image, there is incredibly rich material dealing with the grounds of cultural constructions and the blurry topographies which “would seem to be the inevitable condition of a road that is also a way of singing or thinking”…and here also: “Like monads, works of art are forms–centers of reflection–which mirror all other forms. Hence the modern doctrine of formalism in the arts promises to deliver through reflection–through continuous experiment–a ‘peculiar affinity’ of expressive [i.e., ‘magical’] correspondence between forms [which are denied relations as objects]” and in general, the idea of the enigma and of ‘perception without consciousness’ in general. And in turn, in thinking of Benjamin, dialectical image, monad I am drawn to Peter Fenves excellent book ‘Arresting Language: from Leibniz to Benjamin’ and the chapter on Leibniz and the name: “Leibniz never ceased to investigate the relation of individuals to the species of which they are supposedly members”.)

And the Derrida article will have to wait. Thanksgiving and a two year old are competing for attention.