Jazz Thoughts

Postmodern Aesthetics

Before jumping straight into the (both critical & somewhat arbitrary) words of the title in two consecutive sections, I want to offer this brief opening: Obviously, the topic is impossibly broad, such that even if one accepts the orientations to be articulated by what follows, the text itself could still (conceivably) traverse not only various theoretical approaches, but a plethora of examples. The latter in particular would tend not only to accept or posit a typology (of format, sensation, etc.), but to involve more details than are warranted [1]: A basic goal here is to allow the details of an emergent situation to emerge themselves, but without positing their relationship in advance. After all, even if one accepts the "postmodern" notion, it remains far too early — at least in historical terms — to define its contours. One has only an opening.[2] Yet such an opening, i.e. consideration (or ongoing reconsideration) of our new (historical, artistic) reality is correspondingly urgent. There is thus a "chicken & egg" character to this investigation (& to acting today [4]) that's also related to the self-making character of aesthetic activity per se — as will also emerge below. Further sections will consequently interrogate hierarchical & ecological relations, as well as their technological mediation & consequent (newly) emerging forms of both control & life.[5] Per the (customary) limitations of the written format, the eight sections to follow will be written in the order presented, albeit itself a sometimes nonlinear order, and so may repeat (or recap) earlier notions (so as to be less dependent on prior reading). The (emergent) form of the topic itself makes further summary (largely) impossible, and moreover marks the (subsequent, sectional) segmentations employed as arbitrary.[6] (They have nonetheless been finalized before this writing begins.)

  1. The notion of exemplarity was already treated in some detail in What is familiar?. A further urge to eschew typology per se had already emerged (concretely) in Remède de Fortune, and continued to be articulated in subsequent articles, as (once again) it will be here. (This piece might also be characterized as audaciously brief, not unlike Basic mechanics of modernity. Perhaps it might even be said to begin where the latter, itself even more absurdly brief, left off — i.e. with shattered modern subjects.)

  2. One might characterize such a (basic) goal as getting out of one's own way, as a variety of theoretical or disciplinary issues continue to rain down upon the present from the clouds of history, including from the history of one's own thoughts....[3] Any real "opening," then, must be wrenched from the self at every instant, lest it be closed (or filled otherwise). So my personal situation becomes both limit & source, again to emerge. (And multiple "openings" were already taken to initiate an interrogation of the familiar: This is another, perhaps yielding a sliver of light....)

  3. That one's thoughts are not entirely one's own is, of course, a basic outcome of the sort of aesthetic capture we sometimes call learning.... And that "own" suggests property per se, particularly in its dominant liberal guise, must immediately be interrogated in this context: What one is or isn't, including "one," is a basic question implied throughout. (Such questions are often not well facilitated by the English language that I continue to use in this project... and so, such issues must be noted, hopefully not to the point of becoming tiresome, if we are ever to move beyond them.)

  4. This project thus enacts art-as-work itself — as articulated both below & already in Concepts of contemporary authority, such that it's also learning by doing.... (It thus both follows & repeats or extends an act of disinhibition.) Perhaps starkness will yield to (lush) possibility as it enfolds....

  5. That new forms of life might escape (former or ongoing or emergent) authority & control to forge new authorities is thus the basic premise here & indeed call to action. (Presumably this premise will be confirmed by what follows, at which point, it might be called into question again as circular... and probably "should" precess. As will, likely, my personal situation — via the basic aesthetic motion involved or invoked.) What can one do? And then, what can one do?

  6. The arbitrary & necessary qualities of making such cuts — as openings — was already articulated in Hierarchy as rupture. "My situation" then emerges both throughout (this space), and more specifically — or more polyphonically — in Perspectives (a chiseled piece relating as both summary & fulcrum). As any regular reader will know, my thoughts often involve music, which likely remains a touchstone here, but is not an exclusive focus or even (usually) a tangible orientation... but we will see (or perhaps hear).

(1)A/the postmodern

The term "postmodern" is often taken as pejorative — especially by modernists [1] — and so one might consider avoiding it: Other terms to designate "now" (including such a simple term as "now" itself [6]) could be used, so why use postmodern? From the perspective of authoritative discussion, the "post-" prefix is probably the most troubling, since it suggests lack of (full) arrival (& so of authority [7]): If we're in a new era [8], why is it only named in reference to a prior era? At least as they've been posited to this point, historical eras generally last for centuries, whereas we are only a few decades past our (posited) era break, so as suggested above, we are in the early days of a new era, and conclusions are slow to form (or should be made cautiously): That much seems clear, yet urgency does become increasingly palpable.... One might further ask if (these) notions of historical era ever really made sense, and indeed those sorts of questions are a feature of our times [9]: It is the postmodern, then, that rejects the coherence of the modern [10] along with its sense of history, such that as opposed to the universalizing narrative of modernity [11], one can begin to speak of many postmoderns.[12] In the spirit of many postmoderns, then, one could (likewise) speak (instead) of the poststructural, the postcolonial, the postimperial, etc. [13] — or any number of post-s: All point to a similar era break, however, and that break always (already) relates back to modernity.[14] (I continue to use "postmodern" preferentially here, both because it sounds more general, and so is more broadly evocative for the public [15], and because it originated around or within the other pole of our topic, namely aesthetics. That it implicitly interrogates history per se is also fortuitous for my general project....) As the postmodern rejects the modern, then, not only for its colonial imperialism [16], but particularly for its unilateral sense of "progress" [17] (& hence control), modern idea(l)s continue to persist & reject the postmodern in turn: Such an era break is thus not clean, and can be viewed as a conflict (or many conflicts), or as a rupture that embeds various (cyclic) repetitions as well.[18] One might further suggest that patterns of rupture & repetition forge history more broadly, such that era breaks are only a matter of degree [19], or indeed that "history" was largely a modern construct anyway [20,21]: History ends with modernity, then? That old saw isn't the point here, of course, since what happens (aesthetically, whatever that may be) subsequent to modernity is the focus — and that needn't concern history per se.[22] (In other words, history is merely an orientation.[23]) Moreover, if the yoke of modernity is lifting, what remains, i.e. what was "under" modernity and continues to persist?[24] Beyond what modernity (perhaps quite actively) suppressed, what of the formerly nonexistent? Does something truly new occur with the postmodern?[25] Taken together, and indeed taken together with our (lived & living) experiences of the postmodern as well, these questions do not suggest a return to earlier modes — a new medieval era or somesuch [26] — but rather an interrogation of what there is (i.e. of what exists & so the ontic — both perhaps only in the wake of previous devastation) & how that's perceived (i.e. its aesthetics) today. And moreover, some of what there is is also now in ruins... which can be (& are) perceived (aesthetically) too.[28]

Perhaps a summary of trends or influences would be desirable at this point, in order to observe or acknowledge more about the postmodern rupture (with modernity).... As noted above, I don't want to get into long & involved lists of details, and indeed want to keep this (impossibly broad) article relatively compact, but new (or newly intensified) contexts (or perspectives) for interrogation do present themselves: Perhaps most prominently, our era has involved not only colonial emancipation, which had long been figured racially anyway [29], but increasing calls for freedom from/for women [30], queers [31], people with disabilities [32], etc. Such (emerging) freedom stands in stark contrast to modernist paradigms of patriarchal filiation [33], but has also been countered (often simultaneously [34]) by various (renewed) mechanisms of economic repression: Labor conditions have widely deteriorated in the postmodern era [35], and per notions of a disembedded economy [36], people are increasingly subjugated not so much according to such designations (i.e. black, female, queer, etc. — although it does still happen quite regularly!), at least not legally, but via their (politically unaddressable) economic circumstances (which are usually grounded in the same history of exploitation [37]). In other words, they are (merely) integrated (nominally differently) into a similar system of exploitation, but one that claims not to be based (at least explicitly) on such differences.[38] For people in these & related positions, such a dynamic poses a dilemma (for action [40]) — or perhaps a paradox (for perception), depending on perspective — and relates in its exploitative structure to a (or, perhaps the) prominent paradox of the postmodern [41]: Is time speeding up or slowing down? There are arguments for both, and indeed the (seeming) paradox is easily explained [42]: The present seems to be moving very quickly (which recalls the intensifications of late modernity), because we are all asked to do more (to generate profits) faster.[43] And the present seems eternal because any real "change" has been declared to be impossible.[44] Yet change is also constant [45], and the real question of our times may be: Change for better or worse, and how do we (successfully) demand the former — including around the exact same (nominal) change? Confusion is widespread, in part because (including via persistence of modern progress narratives) one is asked to choose a single answer (i.e. wholly good or bad): Rather, these changes must be treated pharmacologically [46], so as to move past simplistic questions about whether the postmodern is better or worse, and so actively to seek a/the "cure" latent in such (or likely, any) change — not the (potential) harm. Simply put, we must demand the best outcomes from whatever happens: Is "post-" then a site of strength or weakness? It is potentially both, and indeed it demands that we seek new perceptions (& ultimately new laws [48]), in order to fill the theoretical (& increasingly legal) vacuum left in the wake of rampant change.[49] Perhaps an insurrectional aesthetics can lead us to a new "post-post" situation, then...? If that sounds too optimistic (or indeed too final [52]), then an insurrectional aesthetics (at least) figures ongoing resistance in the face of increasing (aesthetic) capture [53]: This is the most dynamic frontier of our times.

  1. The harshest criticism of "postmodern" seems to emanate from contemporary Marxists, particularly people who want to continue engaging Hegelian notions of progress: There seems to be a sense both that postmodernism was a conscious reaction (by the superstructure) in order to stave off communist possibilities [2], and that a grounding in modernity illuminates — or even makes possible — what still needs to be done.[5] (In terms of the break posited here, then, Marxists are nostalgic — and not for a real victory, but merely for a framework posited as leading toward an eventual victory. The limitations of such nostalgia become increasingly evident....)

  2. One cannot deny that forces of the superstructure (as Marxists might call them), or indeed of the rich-get-richer mindset, invented e.g. neoliberalism (& various related ideas) in order to further enrich themselves with both wealth & consequent economic power. However, they were reacting directly to the unraveling of colonial empires, i.e. to the most tangible end to the imperial (& thus modern) era. In other words, it was worldwide grasping for freedom — at least relative to the national form [3] — that brought these reprisals, which have basically amounted to subjugating national politics to economic dogma (& do so worldwide). If one wants to return to a comfortable Hegelian notion of progress, then, these historical shifts must be examined: Were people wrong to demand independence?[5]

  3. One might even frame the history of modernity around the national form, its rise, and its dismantling under postcolonial conditions: Simply put, as so many people around the world demanded their own nations [4], the protective value of such a (historical) structure was undermined by demands from international corporations & trade organizations, etc. (The national form has become a game to rig.) New forms of exploitation were sought, however, because the old ones were ceasing to function: So such a shift was emphatically not led by capital, although capital reacted quickly enough to lead various counter-narratives from there.

  4. Let us also not forget that many people who have demanded nations have yet to have them (at least in the contemporary era)....

  5. Some of the most outrageous stories of the independence era were those of newly minted world leaders turning to Marxists for advice, and hearing that they first needed to cultivate an oppressive domestic bourgeoisie, so that it could then be overcome! Such a response suggests both a stunning lack of imagination and a basic intellectual conservatism. We had people who were incapable of thinking the contemporary conjuncture flailing about trying to return to conditions (i.e. "stages") that they (thought they) understood. And we still do. (I discuss some of these theoretical issues more broadly in Legibility, spectrality, machines....) Such stories are ultimately about retaining European leadership, and indeed universalism (emanating from a center or interior).

  6. Whereas the present article does seek to interrogate aesthetics "now," such a simple term suggests neither context nor direction: The present inquiry thus concerns a context (largely) starting a few decades ago, and (presumably) continuing for a (perhaps) considerable period into the future.

  7. Such a "crisis of authority" had already been noted by Arendt et al. in the later twentieth century (i.e. between WWII & the full outcome of the postcolonial period): And I further interrogated (some of) these notions in Concepts of contemporary authority....

  8. The suggestion of a new era was famously made in these terms by Lyotard, and many others in turn, but as noted previously, I am largely following Braudel in the contours of positing this era break. (The coincidence that it occurred around the time I was born does suggest a point of vanity that has indeed colored my views as well. Of course, caution is always warranted: Most everyone believes that their era is a time of the most significant historical developments, despite that subsequent history rarely confirms such a view.)

  9. Continuing from [8], Lyotard had suggested incredulity toward meta-narratives as a defining feature of the postmodern: Indeed such resistance to "big picture" ideas presents a considerable barrier to an undertaking such as this one — arising as it does from a desire to describe the contemporary conjuncture in manageable (by length, if nothing else) terms, but without enforcing (or even suggesting) a general theme (or narrative). History, of course, has been (historically, including in the sense of historiography) packed with meta-narratives... perhaps has even been their primary locus (which one might link to patriarchy & filiation in turn).

  10. I explored such coherence already in Basic mechanics of modernity....

  11. As already alluded in [5], modernity had presented universal goals around progress, etc.: Whether that's about the (monotonically) increasing store of capitalist wealth, or the inevitable (Hegelian) march of class-driven dialectics, there is a specific goal toward which all do or should contribute in some way.

  12. However, in opposition to plurality per se, a single quantifiable & commensurable value (i.e. money, or more broadly, wealth) is then posited by (fundamentalist) neoliberalism (per [2]): We should not only have a single postmodernity, but it should come to a pyramid that's even more steep than in modern times... a "tall" order! (Anything less would be failure in modern terms.)

  13. I elaborated this topic a few years ago in Is postmodernism racist?, where I first sought to align the postmodern (& its sometimes pejorative connotations) with the postcolonial in particular. (Returns on the question continue in the affirmative, even since the article.)

  14. One could also ponder Schmitt's notion of "nomos" shifting from land to sea at the beginning of the modern era, and ask to what it shifts now: Maybe this is the era of the (nomos of the) internet? (That's one popular idea for a non-"post" designation.)

  15. That a term might be evocative for the public can of course be a dangerous situation for specialist discussion (or increasingly, for any discussion), and so one might not want to engage with such baggage. (Instead, I've found that e.g. the term postcolonial is rather unlikely to be misunderstood totally, but also tends to be self-limiting for people, such that implications are less often considered or explored further. Since I'm doing the exploration explicitly, then, perhaps this article should be titled Postcolonial Aesthetics, and I'm simply being stubborn in retaining the postmodern notion....) On the other hand, avoiding such dangers leaves baggage sitting around in public without attention or comment....

  16. That such a rejection involves a five century project like colonial conquest is precisely what differentiates it (as an era break) from the ordinary, generational rejection of parental preoccupations by their children. (New generations often undertake some kind of rejection, a process that might be seen, tentatively, to have intensified in the postmodern period. Such a shift might yet be short term, though, related to the era break per se.)

  17. Liberal modernism likes to present itself as improving everyone's material conditions, such that it posits itself as a close alternative to Marxist progress: Not only did European modernity long (bizarrely) claim that everyone would (eventually) benefit from pyramidal mechanisms concentrating wealth into fewer hands, but under late liberalism, that the so-called "multicultural" could accommodate everyone's distinctiveness into an overarching economic regime. This was & is basically an assimilation mechanism designed to strengthen the capitalist system by opening new markets, etc.: One might call it "domesticating difference."

  18. "Post-," with its implicit reference to the prior, thus embeds a dual structure of both overcoming the past & starting something totally new: These two views are subtly opposed (and indeed, play out that way in many artistic productions today). "Post-" thus suggests the "knife blade" of the present, constantly cleaving the future from the past: It's an image that seems both broadly applicable, and specifically of our time. (And some, e.g. Spivak, might say that every repetition is already a rupture anyway.)

  19. Even the relatively well-defined modern era — and this includes for people who consider it (or wish it) to be ongoing — has a traditional inflection around the so-called Enlightenment (a term I still cannot utter without a sneer), breaking into sub-periods, etc. Moreover (per Koselleck, and indeed Braudel), such cycles can involve multiple temporalities, and needn't be commensurable: One's perspective might shift, as one or another becomes more or less legible.

  20. More specifically, a unidirectional history suggested by notions such as "progress" should be figured as modern, whereas cyclical notions — with everything returning — had dominated previously. (Such a shift had already begun with Christianity, and specifically the unidirectional notions of messianity & eschatology: These were relatively novel, and slowly transformed into modern norms.) Koselleck further suggests that history only became "history" when it was oriented on, or interpreted according to (modernist or at least quasi-modernist) goals. One might even say the same of Braudel's longue durée itself (although Braudel attempted to let it emerge for itself — much as I'm doing here).

  21. One might note that anthropology (per se) is likewise a modern construct, and indeed the field itself is quite recent. It's also been (at least purportedly) about non-modern people, i.e. people who (somehow) live in other times. There's thus a sense of multiple temporalities that presents itself (anyway) in the face of such prejudice.... It's probably too simplistic to suggest that the postmodern is the proper time of anthropology, though. (Such a remark would only apply to "cultural" anthropology, though, since evolutionary anthropology remains a bastion of modern, progress-oriented thinking.)

  22. One should note, however, that history itself has an aesthetic quality. For the present topic, the aesthetic qualities of an era (properly "historical" or otherwise) are exactly the issue, such that "history" then returns as a source of (perceptual) mediation: In other words, people's perceptions of history (among other things) affect their everyday perceptions of many other things.... (There can thus be nothing "neutral" about positing a historical break, although effects can certainly be mixed.)

  23. It might seem disingenuous to claim history as "merely" an orientation, given this section early in the article, but at least from my perspective, it's necessary to define the field of inquiry. (One might further note that "history" once encompassed all of what became "social science" via disciplinary rupture in the late modern period.)

  24. In asking what persists "under" modernity, I'm largely asking about (times &) places where modernity was imposed by external forces, and perhaps (always) incompletely. Such a question is (presumably) less significant in regions where modernity actually formed (rather than having been imposed externally)... although it's probably a good idea to question whether modernity was ever really autochthonous, given its defining transcontinental orientation. (In other words, is modernity actually possible without the triple origin of the slave plantation?)

  25. Although it's often posited that the postmodern brings nothing new, but rather a pastiche of previous ideas, there is undeniably more commerce in ideas today, and so new combinations — beyond pastiche or hybrid, etc. — or innovations seem rather likely. (Although our top-down institutions often suggest a lack of ideas, as does mainstream media, observation of the worldwide public does not. But then, such observation involves new voices....)

  26. Criticizing modernity often leads to remarks suggesting that the critic wants to "return" to some earlier time.[27] (In my case, given my various medieval-oriented research & activity, such remarks are especially straightforward & frequent. Much of my interest in the medieval involves this exact topic, however: Having perceived the end of modernity, I wanted to be able to frame it more generally, by studying what preceded it, and hence its beginning.) Such remarks are (almost?) always intended to be dismissive, since they posit a basic absurdity, namely moving backward in time. It might be overstatement to say that I have no interest in absurdity, because the absurd can be quite illuminating sometimes, but even if there's something impossible being suggested here, it nonetheless involves acting in the present. (I won't disclaim the impossible either, since per Butler et al., much of our ordinary economic demands are figured as impossible today anyway — and they don't even involve time travel.)

  27. Note also that I made something of an inverse claim beginning in [1], namely that insisting on modernity itself articulates a desired return to past conditions.... (That Marxists want a "return" so as to continue change also seems absurd to me, but then, if we can actually eliminate hoarding wealth etc., I won't be complaining about absurdities! Unfortunately, a "many approaches" solution isn't workable when the approaches are not only directly opposed, but when one posits its own universality....)

  28. Indeed, Hartog identifies preservation of "heritage" as itself a crisis of (our) time (and so, presumably, of late modernity). The world becomes a museum? (That would seem to figure the opposite of a "progress" orientation, and be more in line with the concerns of [26], such that one begins to observe moderns themselves retreating paradoxically into the past....) Such a situation marks (global) identity in crisis? (To reassert the contemporary moment, I might further ask how e.g. genetic engineering figures heritage.) For Hartog, these questions involve "regimes of historicity" rather than e.g. conjunctures, such that they might coexist, as the modern & postmodern surely continue to do....

  29. The construction of "race" as a social category began in earnest only with modern world conquest, for instance. E.g. the racial triangle (per Hill Collins) forging USA (& to some previous degree, the Caribbean, per e.g. [24]) was subsequently adapted to circumstances around the world.... (I should also note "race" as a quasi-aesthetic category, a perceptual conclusion often drawn around arbitrary criteria.)

  30. Particularly since women are still considered to be necessary for (biological) reproduction (but for how much longer?), freedom for women — as figured e.g. by "fifth wave" — has become implicated (once again) with racial freedoms, etc. (In other words, white women have been casting increasingly? racist votes.) Women remain a fraught political category (at least in the West) precisely because of their (historical) role in reproducing (white) patriarchy: Some apparently still prefer that to an alternative.

  31. Although considered offensive by some, "queer" is increasingly the term favored by e.g. academic taxonomies. That said, homosexual & other non-binary sexual or gender behavior had been figured as especially pernicious by modernity, both in relation to native practices (to be suppressed — whereas, per [30], femininity was not regarded as a practice per se, let alone as fully suppressible) and to the filial reproduction upon which patriarchy was built. The queer conflicts directly with the latter — as discussed in more detail e.g. in Affine resonance.

  32. Much as queerness moves transverse to filiation (per [31]), disability challenges liberal (& so, as opposed to patriarchy, thoroughly modern) concepts of merit: How is or should one be "rewarded" in the economy for merit as a person with a disability? More troubling, what is merit? Able to do what? (The answer is clear enough for capitalists.) Whereas e.g. the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was passed only in 1990 (and so only within the postmodern era), disability is increasingly figured as both an urgent & decisive (economic) question today. (E.g. McRuer even suggests that neoliberalism & "austerity" are unthinkable without it. And "crip" is increasingly the term analogous to queer, although I chose not to use it in the body of the text....) Moreover, as the "able to do what?" question suggests, ability is ultimately an aesthetic issue (of values), and becomes increasingly unclear in a world of increasing technological mediation: The notion of "differently able" thus becomes far more concrete, including within a profit-seeking horizon. (One might suggest that such a notion was always concrete, due to aging, etc.)

  33. Indeed, modernity might be defined (as I did, in part, in Basic Mechanics) by its increasing ability to harness biology for profit, both via slavery, and more broadly via demands (& processes, including as exemplified by attacks on the feminine sphere in e.g. witch trials) for population increases: Modern power meant having more labor at one's disposal. As the situation for power, and so for labor, has changed in the postmodern era (such that labor is no longer considered scarce, but rather "surplus"), the locus of biological control has changed as well. However, whereas recent accommodations for e.g. abortion have increased freedom (in this case for women), one should note the forces of biological control on the (postmodern) horizon via genetic engineering, etc.: The possibility presents itself that postmodern control of biology could be even more repressive... such that modernity might seem crude by comparison.

  34. Political "compromise" these days (at least in the US) largely involves ceding long-term economic positions for gains in non-economic rights & "identity" recognition: Such rights are then set in opposition (via scapegoating, etc.) or merely allowed to wither functionally via the power of increasing economic marginalization. (The neoliberal world system entrenches itself further via such cycles.)

  35. One can certainly (& legitimately) ask whether labor conditions have actually deteriorated everywhere, and the answer is surely no. However, a new "ceiling" is being established, such that whereas "third world" workers might have improving conditions, the ability to "outsource" labor globally produces a dampening effect overall. (In other words, declining conditions are the goal, and that goal is accomplished in part by improving conditions for some, so as to strengthen a global system of exploitation that results in a further lack of alternatives for labor. Per e.g. the population growth mentioned in [33], as well as nascent "globalization," such a dynamic occurred in the early modern period as well: Obey or die!)

  36. A "disembedded" economy is basically Grossberg's characterization of the subjugation of political concerns (per [2]) to economic dogma. (Per Mouffe, one might speak of removing economic questions from political debate — i.e. from agonistic politics.)

  37. Inherited wealth (along with debt, private property, profit, etc.) remains one of the most pernicious legacies of the modern world.... (It thus remains a major locus of historical relevance.)

  38. Per [17], "multiculturalism" (& related terms) then emerges (theoretically) to figure such integration: Everyone is thus exploited "fairly?" One might also note the proliferation of "identities" today (including per [34]), and how such — often arbitrary, and isn't categorizing someone as "disabled" (per [32]) arbitrary anyway? — segmentation proliferates divisions around which to promote political divisiveness.[39] (It also strengthens a typological orientation overall.)

  39. Per Lazzarato, following Foucault, one (successful) innovation of neoliberalism has been recognizing the human tendency to cooperate, and actively seeking to suppress it. (This differs from classic liberalism, which had posited competition as more basic.) The production of negative affect thus becomes central to neoliberal governmentality.

  40. Of course, people do act, and sometimes courageously, but per the dynamic articulated in [34], such actions increasingly yield ambivalent outcomes — or worse, over time. (Indeed, contemporary action becomes ambivalent with respect to outcome more generally, especially for the interior, as cultivated by neoliberalism & explored already in Morality as aporia.)

  41. The question of time & its perception is found everywhere today: Note that, at least as posed, this is ultimately an aesthetic question, i.e. a question about how people perceive (or feel) time.

  42. Such a paradox of time is similar to the aporias invoked in [40] precisely because it positions the present itself as aporetic — as too short to grasp (or to dwell within), yet too long to overcome: It presents another double bind.

  43. As discussed in Practical listening, such a perception (or perspective) is largely that from the interior (of capital) — a more flexible term than "the West" as so often employed (including e.g. in [30]).

  44. That "there is no alternative" is the iconic Thatcherist cant, of course, buoyed in specifically historical terms by Fukuyama, but one might also ponder contemporary suggestions to live in the moment: Such suggestions were not only conceived as good advice to value (or at least experience) everyday life, but as remedies for excess (modern) futurism, etc. I associate such calls to prioritize the moment more with the previous generation, so perhaps they have faded today. Yet, there is certainly an irony here — or perhaps an illustration of how epochal changes (in mentality) can permeate life. So, what of the "omnipresent & omnipotent present" (in Hartog's terms) now? Has it been an improvement (thus far, anyway)?

  45. Even as (per the historical norms of [44]) one might suggest that the moment is inherently integral, and so resists fracture, Hartog has also suggested that the pace of change (including already during e.g. the bourgeois revolutions) serves to drive a wedge between experience & expectation, such that the (postmodern) present can never catch up to itself. (This seems inherent to era change to me, and so not to the postmodern in particular.) He further suggests that such a gap has been explained by history (in the past) — whereas an increasingly ahistorical present seeks to be explained by nothing but itself. (That historical ignorance serves capital is obvious enough, but perhaps we come to have another layer involved.) Stiegler, after Heidegger, suggests that we have even entered an era of post-truth — & our political contests certainly support such a conclusion, including that much more intensely since Stiegler formed it — and wonders on the future of knowledge.... (Such an orientation would really only seem to suit those of us doing knowledge work, however.)

  46. Although the notion of pharmakon (and so implicitly a pharmacology) goes back to Plato (supposedly from Socrates), my use of the term derives more directly from Stiegler, who uses it in particular regarding technological questions — a topic to be addressed explicitly here in a later section. (So I've set aside my disdain for imperial European philosophy in order to employ notions of pharmacology.[47])

  47. Stiegler has also suggested (in a fit of conservatism — to which anyone fascinated by the seminal philosophies leading into the Alexandrian Empire seems to be susceptible at times) that e.g. poststructuralism legitimates both neoliberal & libertarian "disruption" discourse, i.e. that it "disarms us," meaning that traditional weapons (against capitalist exploitation) are rendered ineffective. I would suggest in turn that such disarming is not due to poststructuralism itself, since it has (only) come to interrogate changing circumstances, but is due to those changing conditions themselves. (This is a crucial, epoch conditioning point related to the line of criticism initiated by [1]....) Moreover, I might suggest, particularly in the context of the present article, that creativity is inherently liberating. The lingering question, then (& it's also a pharmacological question), is about the consequences for others.

  48. Whereas law might seem to be rather far afield from aesthetics, and I certainly don't want to imply a specific institutional context, or indeed a typology of legal application in general, norms of behavior — for which laws are a general term, formal institutions aside — are in transition. Whereas some transitions involve more freedom, some involve more exploitation (& perhaps both), and so "law" in general must be treated pharmacologically. (And moreover, it seems likely that the opening derived from this epochal transition will soon close. And there are already plenty of acts around profit-taking, some of them novel, that need to be proscribed.)

  49. "Disruption" has come to figure a great deal of (very profitable) economic activity today, particularly around (the business of) technological change. (One might in turn relate today's disruption to the "disinhibition" associated with modern conquest, which Stiegler views as an unbinding of Eros & Thanatos, i.e. as a form of madness recurring today.) That such disruption should lead to a vacuum, including theoretically per [47], or legally per [48], is thus unsurprising: If "disruption" is to be folded into concepts of creativity, then, how might it unfold pharmacologically? Again the (stodgy?) notion of law presents itself... and in this case, might be figured via responsibility.[50]

  50. And, quite simply, the moderns (the conquerors, the profit-takers, the hoarders, etc.) have never really been held responsible. At the dawn of the postmodern, this is as much our heritage as anything else: Modernity might have brought some positive innovations (in technology, healthcare [51], etc.), but it also continues to dodge the consequences of its negative impositions. (At the very least, this situation skews public perception, and therefore aesthetics.)

  51. And even broadly (presumptively) helpful innovations, such as in "modern medicine," have a pharmacological component — beyond the explicit pharmacology of "medicine" per se — in that they suppress other modes of (effective, traditional) care while imposing a very particular (& restrictive) paradigm, and hence attitudes toward health & disease. (Given the ongoing concerns about access, not to mention the for-profit situation, one must openly wonder whether the priorities of modern healthcare institutions are so badly skewed as to become unhealthy, even for the interior. And overall results elsewhere are even more dubious....) The entire nexus of health & treatment requires rethinking, although that's largely beyond the scope here. (Technology will be a topic explored explicitly in an upcoming section, however.)

  52. I do want to be clear about universal goals such as "world peace." Any universalizing tendency will strengthen hierarchy (in general) & render some concerns or entities or relations invisible. Rather, conflict must be nurtured as a productive force, and not as a way to further entrench hierarchy. In that sense, conflict is not only inevitable, but itself basically pharmacological.

  53. The increasing ubiquity of media — especially media instigated for purposes of capitalist control — simply must be noted at this point: Increasing aesthetic capture is observable on a daily basis, whether in zombies stumbling around the sidewalk while staring at their smartphones in rapt attention, or simply in the way that "screens" are found in ever more locations, from gas stations to restrooms. At this point, such developments are mostly toxic (but apparently still profitable).

1(v): Aesthetics

Whereas there's considerable debate & uncertainty regarding "postmodern," involving both existence [1] & pharmacology, the notion of "aesthetics" seems almost too straightforward [2]: However, I want to consider the term carefully, in particular to differentiate perception from "philosophy." Aesthetics — & one might consider its (late modern [3]) opposite "anesthetics" [4] — designates sensation or perception, and that will be the emphasis here: What does one feel? How is it perceived? How are such feelings & perceptions conditioned by one's situation or (cultural [6]) context? These questions prompt or indicate (e.g. verbal [8]) articulation of one's perceptions, such that they are already a step removed from perception — let alone sensation [9] — per se: In other words, one must perceive oneself perceiving in order to articulate & communicate perception, and in turn (at least explicitly) one's preferences.[10] (The questions also jump too soon to "what," i.e. already suggest a something beyond feeling, rather than dwelling in sensation per se.) Perhaps less self-consciously, one might (also) indicate a preference implicitly through one's actions [12], and indeed preference for particular sensation(s) is an inclination or orientation that in turn conditions further preferences [13] via selective exposure.... That said, there's a danger of immediately obscuring such distinctions with so much verbiage, and so I want to pause for a moment (& so, please take a breath): What are you perceiving right now? Not the source of sensation, not the names for senses or feelings, not your (relative) enjoyment of them, and certainly not your further thoughts about them.... Pixels on a screen, for instance, and probably more?[14] And are you reacting to those perceptions? How?[15] Even such a simple recapitulation, particularly if it involves words, can very quickly take one rather far (again) from sensation per se....[16] OK, then: Whereas inclination already raises questions of prior inclination or orientation in turn [18], a notion to which I'll return shortly, discussion (per se) of perceptions & preferences often leads (implicitly or explicitly) to (historical) norms of philosophy.[19] Indeed (Western) philosophy, with its focus on written (or more generally, verbal) communication, and its corresponding branch of theory (in this case, "Aesthetics"), is exactly what makes talking about sensations & perceptions so convoluted: Descriptions are (always) already mediated by theory [20], such that phenomena are (automatically) obscured in favor of concepts. Moreover, phenomena are assigned to particular disciplines, within philosophy or more broadly, such that their contexts are (always) already established [21]: "Aesthetics" as a (traditional) discipline, then, not only confirms such typology, but establishes further typologies of its own: Not only are sense modalities (e.g. sight, hearing, etc.) segmented, but they are assigned their own "art forms" (e.g. painting, music, etc.) which are further segmented & typed, often down to the level of "good" & "bad.[22]" A challenge here, then, is to interrogate contemporary sensation & perception without invoking so much modernist (& prior Western) baggage — or to interrogate that baggage too, at least when necessary, rather than recapitulate it (typologically & otherwise).

As the historical domain of (European, philosophical) aesthetics, then, "art" was also segmented typologically, not only from general production [23], but into genres: Although it's not new [24], refusing a priori typological segmentation for art remains an important postmodern development [26]: "Art" is everywhere, extending far beyond traditional genres into industrial design & various (other) hybrid formats enacting new (pharmacological) relations: The ubiquity of "artistic" production thus serves not only to channel sensitivity in various directions [27], but to deaden affect more generally via overexposure.[28,29] Contemporary conditions thus demand different approaches to aesthetics, not only in the sense of managing one's own perceptions & attention (which becomes of increasingly critical importance [30]), but indeed in theoretical production: One might consider e.g. the rise of "identity studies," with their explicitly non-universal interrogation of cultural production [31], or the ubiquitous (& related [33]) sea of sexual imagery that dominates marketing practice — and so continues to underlie much aesthetic orientation.[35] That sexual imagery has come (again?[36]) to dominate public media (so as to orient public inclinations around profitable activities), further serves to interrogate religious aesthetics, both in terms of orientation [37] & outcome.[38] (There are, of course, also implications for sexual imagery beyond aesthetics per se....[39]) Moreover, as nominal religion becomes less consistent across postmodern societies [40], (liberal) consumerism seeks to inject new universals into the resulting fractures (& beyond them, whenever possible): One might begin to speak of a secular aesthetics, then, at least in a restrictive sense.[41] (This is where those "prior inclinations" are always reemerging....) So despite the increasing chaos of postmodern aesthetics (i.e. perceptions) per se, and despite rampant individually targeted marketing in turn, (liberal & now neoliberal) consumerism continues to operate from a universalizing (typological) position [43], such that abstraction dominates aesthetic confrontation [44]: In other words, although differences are posited (& harvested [45]), they remain unable to function as differences outside of a rigid & restrictive typology [46] (that moreover retains significant theological features [47]). However, although such trends in theory (& theology) are important to note, they once again take us rather far from sensation & perception per se: Amid aesthetic overexposure generally, then, to what might we actually be or become more sensitive? (Perhaps it's time for another pause....) How is sensation ordered, not at a conceptual level, but at a bodily level? Indeed, what about bodily experience of the wide variety of artistic production today?[48] As already noted, I don't want to dwell in examples, but between & beyond poles of tangible "art" [49,50] & intangible music [51], and together with emerging interdisciplinary (or hybrid) forms in e.g. industrial design [52], there are significant contemporary developments in photography [54], cinema [55], fashion [58], et al. — plus further aestheticization of e.g. food [60], sports [62] & history [63], as well as shifts in textual relations per se.[64] And all of this occurs, moreover, within a general context of change & inconsistency.[65] So how are these (many) productions perceived, and how might preferences be inclined, and in what relation to each other? (New forms & media, including hybrid forms, produce novel relations....) This & the "how" questions of the preceding paragraph invoke bodily ordering of sensation, and in turn (its) further inclination [66], and so, after this (probably unsatisfying theoretical & initial, practical) survey & orientation [67], it's time once again to start fresh (from the body).

  1. Note that one should not directly equate the existence of the postmodern with the end of the modern era, however. It's conceivable that they could coexist, and at least for now, to some extent they do....

  2. Aesthetics will nonetheless be approached as the "verso" or "left" of the postmodern (and indeed, perhaps of philosophy), meaning that any interrogation of postmodern is (always already) accompanied by an interrogation of aesthetics. (The meaning of such an assertion will hopefully be clear by the end of this article, if not this section.)

  3. De Sutter, in particular, describes the development of "narcocapitalism," around increased drug use, and then (medical) anesthesia in the nineteenth century: Twenty-four hour capitalism has received recent treatments as well, such that sedation (for workers) being developed in part to ward off the "evils" of nighttime illumination (another technical innovation, of course), night clubs, etc. was only the beginning. (In that sense, the expansion of capitalism into the night hours already had an ambivalent effect, from the perspective of capitalists themselves, that is, and so suggests a further pharmacology around sleep.)

  4. Not only is anesthetic a straightforward opposite to aesthetic (although spelled without the digraph) — & I want to emphasize this opposition, perhaps beyond what is reasonable or necessary [5] — but it also functionalized an intensifying mind-body duality, in which the former should be calmed so that the latter could work toward (more, always more) profits. (The anesthetized body, a novel development in the medical arena, thus comes to symbolize the worker of late modernity — now giving way to the robot....)

  5. It seems only too easy for people to fall back into (traditional) notions of philosophy when considering "aesthetics," & so I find the contrast with anesthetics to be particularly helpful when focusing on actual sensation (i.e. prior to various mediations). Note, however, that simple opposition does not exhaust the relation of anesthetics to aesthetics: The former not only nullifies the latter experience in particular moments, but serves to amplify or otherwise sculpt it in others. (Such an anesthetic baseline thus comes to condition perception more generally.)

  6. That aesthetic preferences are formed relative to social or cultural context [7] is straightforward enough (although not so straightforward that such a nexus doesn't require ongoing interrogation), but such conditioning extends even to perception, i.e. to what one actually sees or hears, etc.: We are trained to ignore some sensations & attend to others. Moreover, cultural confrontations can hinge on differing perceptions, such that e.g. Wagner discusses the madness resulting from imitating a culture (or person) that cannot be imitated (e.g. is not actually being perceived), to the point that mimicry as translation becomes a comparison of (nothing but) comparison with itself. In other words, relational structure itself might be deformed into something entirely different (or empty) by attempts at translation or impersonation, even when sincere, because the "end points" of such (presumptive) comparison might not exist: What you think the other is e.g. seeing is not what they perceive... it is something else entirely, and would be so to you too, if you perceived it. (Wagner goes further to posit a difference between reality & itself. In yet other words, misunderstandings are common.) Such confusing relational shifts might then forge perspectives beyond those previously cultivated or even admitted (e.g. according to liberal individuation).... Wagner calls this "expersonation," and suggests that it can involve exaggerated relations in turn (at least in an anthropological context). One can find discussion of incommensurability & hybridity that cannot be reduced to one or another in the postcolonial literature too....

  7. Per Descola et al., I am probably being lazy by invoking the notion of "culture," but do want to differentiate (in the simplest terms) between people's differing social contexts — rather than between people & "nature" in this case. (Elsewhere I will use "social" if it doesn't seem confusing in some other way.)

  8. That words are the privileged medium for articulating "aesthetics" might be fortuitous for a writer (such as myself), and this article will indeed be made from words & their connecting marks, but as it happens, such a notion has seemed especially problematic (at least to me) regarding aesthetics: Although I don't know the source, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture" is a remark I've heard or seen many times in my life, and although it appears to have been originally about disparaging the former, it didn't take long for people to take up the challenge & do the latter. And why not? That said, words have certainly been the medium for "philosophy" — although, again, must they be? — and have basically embodied or enacted the presumptive superiority of philosophy (as discipline) over sensation per se (and so, mind over body).

  9. Although I've already (partly) assimilated sensation to perception above, I do want to differentiate them: Simply, a sensation might not be perceived, but aesthetics already implies (via the Greek) perception. (It is thus subject centered, and not based in neutral physical emanations, such as the light spectrum or sound waves.) I would further differentiate perception per se from conscious perception, in that while the former allows action in turn, it needn't be actually articulated into something to be expressed (other than in a possible action, which itself might not be conscious).

  10. The sense in which notions of "aesthetics" might seem controversial today is precisely in the narrow realm of preference: One might have different aesthetic preferences, and the standard rejoinder is that such differences are inexplicable & so must remain uninterrogated. (In other words, different preferences are to be accommodated "as is" within a broadly multicultural regime, per notes of the previous section, and so without examining their origin or relations.[11])

  11. Indeed, when I get a "there's no accounting for taste" rejoinder in public, and respond that my work involves exactly that sort of accounting, people tend to become uncomfortable....

  12. Pace [9], of course one's preferences needn't be articulated at all — including to oneself — in order to function. (Since people frequently lie, even to themselves, preferences expressed via action, rather than words, are also likely to be more accurate. That said, lies involve relations too, and they can have consequences as well.)

  13. One should not assume that an orientation or (implied) preference is anything but a temporary (or immediate) situation, however, although it might not be. (In particular, if an orientation is not articulated, it is more likely — but certainly not assured — to pass without further effect. Yet unarticulated orientations can also prove to be quite resilient....)

  14. Once I say "pixel," I'm already a step removed from a speck of light, and even describing that as such, I'm a step removed.... A "screen" is already a conclusion about what one is seeing, etc. (Moreover, attributing a stimulus to sight is likewise a conclusion....)

  15. One might be perceiving pixels as forming words, and even thinking about what they say.... But one might also be shifting in one's chair, perhaps briefly turning away because of a sound or odor, etc.

  16. Even without words, asking about one's perceptions, even to oneself, introduces a doubling: For instance, if I hear a melody, even if I don't conceive it as a melody (let alone think about the "key" or whatever), but rather (as simply as possible) as sound, even if I repeat it back (perhaps to myself, perhaps only in memory) as sound (in response to such questions), I've introduced a doubling to perception. And now I have two things to consider, and pace [6], might be well on the way to madness... as [14] might already suggest as well. I've basically introduced a gap in (perceptual) reality, or a difference between reality & itself — in this case, (perhaps) from which to interrogate (that) reality.[17] (Rather, I'm attempting to avoid doing so by exploring, briefly, how very easy it is to be rather far from sensation per se when discussing sensation.) But which reality?

  17. And per the previous section, such a gap between e.g. experience & expectation has widened considerably via the machinations of post-Enlightenment modernity & into the twenty-first century. (One might even note, cynically, that this gap has become "aesthetics" per se, at least in the postmodern interior, such that the role of philosophizing "aesthetics" has been to distort experience itself via mediation by way of linguistically captured expectation.) This is also another place into which one might inject notions of living in the moment....

  18. I've already discussed the murky origins of such orientations in Religious inclinations, particularly via how or what we're taught, i.e. social (or cultural, pace [7]) context. (Such teaching extends prior to personal consciousness, and so can only be partially examined or revised subsequently: Pace the parenthesis of [13], such teaching is not always fully articulated, though, nor does it need to be.)

  19. More specifically, this paragraph might be described as relating to phenomenology, a development that emerged in the early twentieth century, but I don't intend to explore such an association in detail....

  20. Moreover, theoretical (philosophical) "Aesthetics" suggests itself as a kind of technology in the way that it mediates perceptions — usually so as to assure orientation of thought through & around a particular (historical) context. (Such theory is thus generally pharmacological....) Of course, language is already an abstraction, and so such mediation is largely unavoidable in a verbal medium (at least of any complexity).

  21. Since disciplinary authority only functions in the negative, such contexts are effectively policed typologically. (This is basically why academia is not known for fostering creativity.) And although they might seem significant at the time of their conception, disciplinary boundaries also generally turn out to be arbitrary.

  22. One might even suggest that aesthetics can be considered to be the "central discipline" of philosophy — as sometimes happens (recently per Harman, for instance), a notion with which I cannot really disagree, although I certainly want to rethink aesthetics per se — largely because of its (historically) strong typological orientation. (One might further note, in other terms, that modern aesthetics established itself as a "molar" authority, imposing itself on artistic production, rather than reacting to "molecular" creativity per se. In this, it's been unsurprisingly stiff & thoroughly disciplinary.)

  23. Although it's obvious, one should note that a tool, e.g. an ax, can be seen, touched, heard when used, etc. Conversely, a statue or ornament serves a purpose as well, whether glorification, decoration, simply occupying space, etc. (That such items were so strongly separated, typologically, is the result of many generations of abstraction, including rhetoric along class lines, etc. In that sense, segmentation of "art" per se probably occurred simultaneously with its theory.)

  24. Duchamp is perhaps the seminal modern figure to proclaim that anyone is or can be an artist, that an artist might simply do nothing, or that art & creativity involve far more than "objects." (Duchamp thus wanted to engage the "transvaluation of all values" [25], and even suggested — pace [4] — that uncontroversial an-art leads directly to an-aesthetics.)

  25. More recently, neoliberalism appears to have reversed the earlier twentieth century's (frequent) opinion that such art is value-less, such that physical art objects, even formerly controversial (non-traditional) productions, have become a kind of currency: In the same way that people might hoard gold in favor of fiat currencies, value is attributed directly to the "uniqueness" (or scarcity) of art, which is then hoarded in boxes in warehouses — i.e. stripped of its relations, and so of any hope of functioning as art. (Such an emphasis on scarcity is one response to the ubiquity of mechanical reproduction, pace Benjamin. And of course, under neoliberalism, such valuation is tied directly to stock markets, etc. via another chain of "transvaluation.") Such a phenomenon extends, moreover, to "collectibles" more generally, e.g. to sports memorabilia from unique moments, etc.

  26. (Per [24], one might thus regard Duchamp as one of the firsts postmodernists of the interior.) However, smoothness (i.e. the unsegmented, or unstriated) does not (fully) reign: Even Laruelle, who is probably the (oldest, living) "philosopher" most suspicious of philosophy, discusses "art forms" (sometimes typologically) according to (philosophical) principles of sufficiency, even though he criticizes that sort of method as well, and so (implicitly) seeks criteria by which to evaluate or intersect (artistic) productions. Laruelle does diagnose the imposed "deficiency" of art, however, according to its philosophical copy, i.e. its "aesthetics:" A specific production can never rise to the level of the ideal (which remains a thoroughly faux-Platonic notion), basically. (As usual, Laruelle contrasts the generic.) So he seeks a non-standard aesthetics which is not only creative in a (direct) artistic sense, but (theoretically) inventive as well (or one might say molecular, per [22]), generating "aesthetics" as a kind of (non-philosophical) fiction in turn. Such a "theoretical installation," though, does not specifically acknowledge or trace ubiquitous, non-segmented artistic production (or generalized art-as-work, again per Concepts of contemporary authority) across society, let alone perception per se... although it doesn't really interfere with doing so either. (And I do agree that "aesthetics" is generally a fiction.)

  27. Of course, marketing is the (relatively) new discipline charged with channeling sensitivity into (the most) profitable domains.... (Some have suggested that e.g. new relations between beautiful & sublime emerge from this situation: Although such an observation largely seeks to recapitulate Kantian aesthetic typology, the mass production of "art objects" together with the increasing fragility of "nature" does seem to signal an ongoing shift in their relations: Mere beauty becomes mundane, while the sublime becomes almost pathetic?)

  28. Since "overexposure" is a term from photography, this seems like a good place to raise the (traditional) semblance quality of art: Copies or depictions of something else remain ubiquitous — such that "doubling" (as invoked in [16]), proliferates both physically & noetically — and become far easier to produce via e.g. photography, or more recently via e.g. 3D printing. That the semblance enacts a particular relation seems obvious enough, but now such relations proliferate, including between doubles, etc. The result is not simply overstimulation, but a shift in value attributed to the semblance: It is no longer remarkable, and so no longer a pillar of creativity per se (although photography etc. can certainly still be creative, even if they usually aren't). In other words, the semblance quality of art shifts from a focus on creativity to being relationally mundane.

  29. Some have further suggested that the postmodern subject is an exhibitionist "aesthetic" subject, oriented toward the other as spectator & consumer. (Such a notion suggests internalization — perhaps unconsciously — of marketing paradigms, such that they reemerge through entrepreneurial presentation of the self....) The ubiquity of standardized affect then circumscribes its relational potential within a pre-segmented context? Whereas such a result is common, an exhibitionist retains the power to break (typological) boundaries, and that does (continue to) happen today. (So one might, once again, consider the situation pharmacologically....)

  30. More specifically, our attention is increasingly in demand, to the point of saturation — as explored in the extended opening discursus to Practical listening.

  31. Indeed it's been the norm for individual identity studies texts to interrogate specific artistic (or cultural) productions — whether ads, movies, novels, etc.... One might even note that valuing equality, a notion on which so many identity disciplines (implicitly or explicitly) rely, can be framed as an aesthetic matter itself: Why might someone value equality? How does such a preference form? What then of an aesthetic of inequality?[32] Such questions are usually left unaddressed.

  32. Celebrity culture remains strong in the contemporary era, despite that ubiquitous media might be used as well — & also is used — to illuminate non-celebrities (as opposed to the practical constraints of the past). Indeed, new forms of celebrity emerge, from sports (which is still a relatively recent phenomenon) to the pure image or brand: That these emergences continue to reflect the hierarchical organization (or demands) of modernity, and indeed postmodern neoliberalism, seems clear enough. (One can still ask: By what mechanisms are these drives toward inequality maintained? Some might be figured, for instance, via lottery — a basically pharmacological endeavor.) Yet, in principle, one could now depict everyone.

  33. One might even frame the emergence of identity studies as attempts to shatter traditional hierarchies of sexual attraction (& hence ultimately reproduction [34]). They are, of course, also about (living) everyday life amid various unacknowledged (& acknowledged) prejudices.

  34. Note that I (usually) use the term "reproduction" to encompass social reproduction more generally, such that e.g. adoption by gay men falls very much within that realm.

  35. Marketing has made powerful use of psychoanalytic insights into how sexual desire orients behavior: Such an orientation or inclination is channeled (per [27]) via (often quite sophisticated) aesthetic means toward its (profitable) targets. That "aesthetics" derives in large part from sexual proclivity dates already, presumably, to the nudes of antiquity & beyond....

  36. As just noted in [35], classical nudes were common, and indeed the (Western) medieval era involved more sexually explicit material (including similar basic nudes, of course) than is commonly understood: Whereas a prudish character is back-projected onto these eras (due to more recent easing of sexual restrictions), that was largely a modern phenomenon, especially around the Puritans (by whom it was then exported to the world, usually by force). (I have also already noted e.g. the basic sublimation involved in the Enlightenment dialectic with its co-option of biology....)

  37. Already per [18], preconscious orientation can be taken as basically religious, such that "religious inclinations" are explicitly targeted by contemporary marketing: Subconscious marketing (& political propaganda, of course) has proven especially effective, because it doesn't provoke (conscious) resistance. ("Identity" knowledges are then, in some sense, an unveiling of marketing or propaganda categories — not to mention, often involve reorienting prior religious aesthetics.)

  38. Although one can certainly contrast a Christian orientation toward external (transcendent) morality & the afterlife with a society oriented on indulgence & consumption (& significantly continuing the debt regime from that prior era), mystery remains an outcome of both: Marketing does not seek to illuminate its mechanisms for the public any more than does religion (although each has its initiates).

  39. For instance, the consumer dominance that widespread sexual imagery suggests is seemingly opposed to disciplining labor (where sexual incentives can become counterproductive, particularly on a large scale): For now, then, deteriorating labor conditions are met with increased incentives to consume, but for how long can the latter continue under conditions of increasing poverty driven by the former? (Neoliberalism seems to be answering that question with the rise of fascism, and an accompanying reinvigoration — so far relatively tentative — of eugenic policies... which are often justified in aesthetic terms, including pace [31]: Many possibilities have been presenting themselves, and most are terrible.)

  40. As social binding, religion (& its prior conditioning of inclination) was once a common ground, at least regionally, and so served to underlie a consistent aesthetic framework. It was thus known for its rigid typology, such that typology can be (& has been by me in e.g. Remède de Fortune) characterized as (explicitly) theological.

  41. Per the practical concerns of [37], I had already questioned notions of a non-religious aesthetic in Religious inclinations, although I also attempted (provisionally) to "figure secular spirituality via an art-intellect-Eros nexus of virtual abstraction." Such a nexus then links artistic production explicitly with erotic activity, but via the intellect — as secular [42] — rather than via (prior) religious inclinations. Although powerful, the limitations to such a (secular) nexus are found in the murky origins of subject formation — to be taken up more specifically in the next section.

  42. Note that e.g. Braudel considered the "secular trend" to be the long-term tendency of modernity... but was too early to (re)consider it in the context of the current era. (This notion was also a lingering form of universalism.)

  43. Such a position is, of course, an atomized subject position that's deemed inherently competitive & insatiable — rather, it's constructed (including per [39]) to be both. (The enforced, discrete character of the liberal or modern subject is critical to the typological scheme, which tolerates little ambivalence or blurring: For contemporary marketing & governmentality to function, people must be exactly what they are, which can be made more specific, but cannot bleed across types.)

  44. Taking up the strands of [6] again, "cultural confrontations" deform relational structures, such that an abstract posited equivalence simply might not exist: Whereas it's more generally understood that forms of expression (etc.) can differ, differences in perception per se are usually ignored or simply posited away for purposes of direct translation. (In other words, it's widely believe that e.g. if we're looking in the same direction, we're seeing the same thing. Such a conclusion is unwarranted in circumstances of fundamental aesthetic difference.) So to riff on Wagner, one might become an artistic production oneself by attempting to translate what one conceives as artistic production by another. (In Wagner's scenario, the former position becomes more clown than artist.) The most basic aesthetic confrontation, that of perception per se, is thus obscured by (theoretical or philosophical) abstraction positing a more fundamental correspondence: Wagner's "solution" to such an impasse is then equivocation (to which I will return).

  45. Harvesting difference is the basic (arbitrage) profit-taking mode of capitalism, including in the neoliberal era, where increasingly (& frenetically) differences must first be created (as noted already in Remède de Fortune & elsewhere), so as to be subsequently harvested.

  46. Per [10], it's even considered (generally) impolite to discuss (personal) aesthetic differences (i.e. preferences)... they are to remain "sealed" within their own internal structures, and referenced only typologically (e.g. by market niche): They can thus be insulated from agonistic politics per se. Conversely, to quote Religious inclinations again, "One might conclude that a rigorous typology is thus inherently unsatisfying to the regime of love." (In other words, love expands beyond rigid boundaries....) And so "love" remains an important trope of contemporary resistance... including when interrogating aesthetic preferences.

  47. Continuing from [40], note moreover that (e.g. per Laruelle) logos itself (or later & more explicitly, Christ as logos) tends to flee toward theological horizons whenever provoked — such that contemporary aesthetic theory retains a strong (traditionally) theological dimension, particularly via its sense of typology (which remains strong). One might also think e.g. of rapture....

  48. Per e.g. [24] & more broadly via concepts of art-as-work, all (contemporary) production might be considered through the lens of "artistic" production. So I'm already making a concession by privileging these (mostly, but not entirely, historical) forms (& media) here, but feel as though it makes for a necessary (albeit brief) orientation.

  49. I'm quoting "art" here because it's both a general term for creative production & a more specific term for something tangible, like a painting or sculpture. That such production has become canonical for art per se speaks not only to tangibility, which suggests durability, but to exchange value (per [25]), and to the sheer (perhaps prior, per [28]) power of semblance: The (creative) locus of semblance may have been transformed, but it still exerts a strong influence over what's considered to be art.

  50. Early postmodern art was strongly associated with collage, which not only reflects an era of multiplicity (or simply change), but reasserts typology. Such an emphasis seems to be largely in the past now, however, and so one might turn to wondering about the objectness of such "art" and how it continues to move into the past via its persistence, something that allowed the "Renaissance" (of imperialism under modernity) to rediscover not only historical art, but history per se....

  51. Traditionally, as music was being made, it would disappear almost immediately, but of course today, we have not only music notation (which greatly predates modernity), but recordings as well. However, the era in which music seemed most "tangible" seems to be fading with the advent of purely digital formats (i.e. following tangible CDs), such that although it's increasingly repeatable (& everything seems to be recorded these days), it's less tangible again. That said, music is increasingly weaponized (per e.g. Muzak) as both a welcome & a "keep out" notice, such that its palliative qualities are also subsumed (or redirected) for formulaic deployment (& repetition). And given my own orientation, music is often lurking in the background of discussions such as these, but I certainly don't mean to suggest that it encapsulates contemporary artistic production in sum....

  52. Of course "industrial design" was established as a spur to profit [53] (e.g. with automobiles, now smartphones, etc.), but the mentality is increasingly ubiquitous, including in non-profit situations: One might think of urban planning, or civil engineering generally. (In these, design seeks to establish & mediate human ecology, continuing the legacy of habitat modification, which extends far beyond humanity....) One might also consider related fields of architecture & interior design: Both become increasingly generic in our era — with spectacular exceptions. (Mechanical reproduction becomes the norm there too, even as they continue to employ human labor.) In any case, these are multimedia or multimodal fields, indeed interdisciplinary & increasingly hybrid: So "design" becomes an exemplary postmodern "art" form or activity? Another basic trend, however, is the low quality of materials & the urge to cut every corner, such that dealing with the "economic" situation is increasingly the crux of "design" for both the for-profit & public sectors. (And considering that such disciplines are basically housing the body, as well as conditioning minute to minute environmental & social interactions, the reasserted trend toward cheap junk has a very tangible effect: Not only must items constantly be repurchased — increasingly with no way to repair, and often at even lower quality — but their shoddy quality constantly reiterates the sheer contempt that society has for one's everyday life.)

  53. Regarding for-profit use, an interesting economic quirk of our era is the dearth of arts educations (as public funding is reduced), meaning that design — or simply drawing something on a computer — becomes a scarce skill. Does this signal an arena for gains in labor rights? That seems unclear (particularly with automated design tools). Conversely, it seems that even the most ordinary graphic design might become elitist, because only people with resources can acquire the skills. Such a situation might be transitory, but then, a monopoly on the manipulation of affect probably does sound attractive to many people (of privilege).

  54. The photo is, of course, the principle domain of semblance today (per [28]): Although photography need not be so restrictive, indeed single-minded, it generally is, especially among the general public with its "selfie" craze. The sheer ubiquity of photography over the past decade or two is mind blowing — and it was surprisingly common already! It's easy to note the general self-obsession, but there's also the basic fact of mirroring & reflection that takes one (perhaps subtly) out of the moment, as well as a corresponding drive to "collect" images (sometimes even to the point of for-profit "collectibles" per [25]). Everything is made into semblance (to be exchanged)? Constant photography (& increasingly, filming & recording) also enables the surveillance society, and does so with scant resistance.... (I have long resisted this nonsense: I much prefer to live my life over pretending to live it for posterity. Perhaps such a notion seemed extreme when photos were more rarely taken, but now?) The ubiquitous "selfie" thus remains one of the principle trends of postmodern aesthetics.

  55. Film used to be in cameras (per [54]), but that's merely a niche now, and the term has come to apply more to "movies" or cinema, which is also multimedia or multimodal, and perhaps the signal development of twentieth century aesthetics: It relied on mechanical reproduction in order to show the same film all over the country (or world), thus displacing live theater not for practical economic reasons, but in favor of more control. But making (mechanical) pictures "move" also injected "real life" animacy into institutional aesthetic modulation, and proved to be broadly captivating (in the sense of governmentality, and indeed for marketing & propaganda). One is still in the domain of semblance, however — and mainstream film is still reluctant to stray from semblance, even now — but it can seem almost (aesthetically) real.[56] (The jerky motions of earlier technology had prompted e.g. Bergson on comedy, but such limitations are long gone....) Moreover, there is a particular perspective generally imposed (or naturalized) by film, and it's the passive perspective of spectatorship — less varied than theater, which did involve a similar perspective. (Thus the passive perspective has continued as a significant trend since the twentieth century, which also saw the rise of spectator sports.)

  56. Video games, with their interactive element, are the new frontier for cinema [57]: They bring (almost) an art-as-work quality, such that they've become very powerful at conditioning inclination & future aesthetic response. (In other words, one's own activity makes the game go, thus modulating both perception & behavior toward desirable ends....) One might go on to consider "virtual reality" more generally, which has powerful (albeit pharmacological) potential to (re)orient sensory perception (& thus behavior) around broadly "unreal" stimulus: Will these media continue to serve capitalism (as capture), not only for direct profit, but in how they yield inclinations in turn? No other possibilities currently appear on the horizon....

  57. The assimilation of video games to cinema is likely premature here (let alone betrays an urge toward modal "genre"), although similar (conceptions of) computer graphics have come to dominate both. (Which of course already takes cinema rather far from its roots in live theater.) There is an eerie doubling of the spectator position (of film) in the (canonical) first person shooter, however, such that the latter is positioned as active (even hyperbolically so). Such an opposing stance emerges not only from similar (for practical reasons) technology, but also from early video game environments that were thoroughly two-dimensional & provided little sense of bodily immersion: Indeed, one's activity, becoming increasingly involved, generates the sense of immersion. (Perhaps some people did feel as though they were already e.g. inside the pinball machine, or at least had flipper hands, but Pong paddle hands e.g. via dial controls?)

  58. Particularly if one includes tattoos & piercings etc., fashion is perhaps the art form closest to the body: It might be termed living sculpture, and can be almost "musical" in its daily ephemerality. Fashion is also a way to make identity statements, not only in postmodern "identity studies" guise, but according to (traditional) differentiations of class, etc. (Unusually, fashion was already apparently very important to Europeans when they embarked on world conquest.) Although the latter suggests an "interior" orientation or priority, fashion ends up being considerably more versatile, however, such that various otherwise marginalized groups are able to make their own fashion statements. (Fashion statements have also involved a close link to sexuality, again per the body, and sex has long tended to overflow class, albeit problematically.) Particularly with the selfie movement (per [54]), vanity seems increasingly available to all — at least if one ignores rampant (cultural) appropriation [59], and remains a consumer in good standing.

  59. Appropriation often brings outrage today, at least from some directions, but it's also an intriguing conflation of typology — arising of course out of multiculturalism per se. (I don't support someone profiting from the identity of someone else, but shattering multicultural typology is something we do need: Is any particular act more about profit or transgression?)

  60. Food remains a necessity, and of course its "aesthetic qualities" (in the strict sense of sensation) were always strong, but it's been aestheticized to a very high degree in the contemporary era [61], not only via elaborate presentations, but involving celebrity chefs, etc. (Necessity then contrasts with the traditional "uselessness" of art.) At the moment, we also appear to be enjoying an uptick in quality (at least in USA), however, as dangerous innovations like "trans fats" & sick farm animals are banished... but for how long? It's difficult to trust such a profitable & powerful industry, although at least the demons at Monsanto are on the defensive as I write this: That's something! However, with various laboratory interventions on the horizon (including e.g. growing "meat" in inorganic containers), not to mention mass extinction, it's difficult to be confident for the future: Where is the nexus between aesthetics & nutrition heading?

  61. Food is an arena from which one might argue that East Asia has already been postmodern: Aestheticization is (already) strong there. Moreover, one might argue that the food industry — via slave plantations, monocrops, etc. — created modernity in the first place. (In those terms, the "aesthetics" of food are far more central than e.g. Adorno dismissively notes: The mode of the latter also invokes a general dismissal of the transitory... which we all are.) The significance of food to both history & aesthetics (culture) in general thus cannot be overstated. (Indeed, one might consider its ambivalent theoretical status in the interior to be a marker of historical trauma & repression.)

  62. I've written about sports rather extensively in the past (& intend to do so again in an upcoming section here), but (among other issues) the institutional aestheticization of violence becomes increasingly critical to neoliberal governmentality: What could be more neoliberal than staging fake competitions? (Perhaps neoliberalism would be rather different without the prior, modern innovation of sporting leagues & international competitions, etc....) But there is far more to sports, including the production of affect more generally, the production of outcomes for gambling (as discussed in e.g. Affine resonance), and the enforcement of passive spectatorship (per [55]) within what is otherwise a physical activity. Sports also conjures "the event" (which is exactly what gambling seeks to mediate) over & over, as well as inflects the "collectibles" market (per [25]) & celebrity per se (per [32]). Its ubiquity sets an aesthetic tone for our entire era.

  63. Aestheticization of history was already noted above. Note further that, much like "news," history becomes entertainment (especially on television or the internet), and is increasingly stripped of (even a semblance of) factual content in favor of (neoliberal) fantasy. (E.g. "ancient aliens" genres are especially outrageous when it comes to obscuring the accomplishments of various peoples, and they seem to be very popular....)

  64. Such a remark invokes both a notion of text as archive, and written production (artistic or otherwise) per se: The former takes us away from the body, and so is not particularly aesthetic in that sense, but the doubled reflections of retention have increased considerably in the current era (i.e. with computer storage), to a point far beyond that of only official writing being preserved for posterity.... Beyond writing (often chatter) per se, there are huge photo collections (per [54]), of course, but such a "textual" or archival approach has been proliferating across media, to the point that trolling through historical media yields its own (new) forms of production. (Pace [50], there are thus ever more possibilities for collage, including multimodal collage.) And despite that the written word is, if anything, more ubiquitous, its status is changing: It's becoming more about slogans & iconography, such that the (modern) novel becomes increasingly a form of the past. It also becomes easier to transmit other media, such that forming words is less of a practical necessity (for transmission), let alone physically writing them: Writing retains its status in some arenas — such as "philosophy" as explored here — but that status may not remain in place for long, as practical considerations change. That we could be the last generally literate generation is very thinkable (& as a writer, I've thought about it often, and for decades, so this notion is not new). (And at some point, then, "text" stops being paradigmatic for archival retention....) Already, one must wonder if this (writing) project is an (empty) elitist exercise....

  65. Indeed, accepting a daily aesthetics of basic inconsistency might be the most significant trend today: The internet (with smartphones, etc.) is constantly changing, but so is medicine, food (per [60]), traffic, etc. etc. One might even conclude that Fortune is reasserting itself (after the modern hiatus), except that constant change is used as a strategy, not only for "shock & awe" (or "disruption"), but as a basic everyday source of fatigue for the public. There's always something else one is tasked with doing (as part of the entrepreneurship of the self, of course), but the means for doing what one already did are also changing (& will soon change again). Modernity had its notions of "progress" driving change, but now it's change per se as (frenetic) strategy (for governmentality, business advantage, etc.): It becomes a matter of keeping people from having enough knowledge or energy to act (other than as they're prompted), i.e. of dictating chaos to the haptic itself.

  66. It almost makes sense to speak of aesthetic "pretension" as (a general sense of) tendency, particularly since such pretension is a well-known phenomenon. However, I've decided against it, since the notion has had a classist undercurrent. Moreover, though, marketing has been attempting to answer the "how" questions raised here, and has considerably more experience in doing so. (Cultivating pretension has been one means.) Even beyond rampant photography, it's the mirror of marketing that has initiated & oriented so much doubling (per [64] & otherwise), to the point that we now live in a world consisting largely of simulacra (& to a far greater extent than when observed e.g. by Baudrillard).

  67. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call this section a (theoretical) disorientation: As a simple reprise, such a disorientation has been necessary in order to proceed, due to the sheer weight of history around (philosophical) aesthetics. (In other words, I want to engage the unfamiliar here.)

2A: Perceptual hierarchies

Sensation precedes perception precedes consciousness [1]: Aesthetics then forges the self according to close [2], nonlinear feedback [4]: Whereas basic bodily factors condition human possibilities [5], and even (perhaps) suggest physical hierarchy [6], general sensation is ordered for perception (& in turn for consciousness) according to learned factors [8]: Stimuli are carved or segmented from "a" generally multiple simultaneity, e.g. according to sensory modes, but also according to what is or isn't important (with "most" sensation [9] being ignored at any moment [10]). And according to modern norms [11], if the resulting perceptual hierarchy (i.e. the relative "importance" assigned to sensory input [12]) is consistent or stable, then the self is stable.[13] Consciousness — including of stability — then becomes a further aesthetic variable, such that perceiving perception (eventually [14]) yields identity. The doubling of conscious reflection thus serves both to tighten feedback & to intensify separation [15]: Doubles proliferate within such a hierarchy, however, such that reflection might come to figure a transcendence, i.e. (internal, rhetorical or ecstatic [16]) motion beyond one's actual (immanent, immersed) situation.[17] Moreover, transcendences might multiply, such that opposing one transcendence [18] — e.g. in an attempt to linger with immanent life [19] — can (easily) lead to another: Thus a temptation to be "more" than the self, (always) leads away from the self, but so might internal reflection (including notions of being "less"), in a sort of inward transcendentalism: The (immanent) self (with its resulting preferences) thus becomes something of a shell or surface, with unaligned escape vectors [21] pointing both inward & outward. As the complexity (& basic instability) of such an opening image should already suggest, self formation is thus conditioned by a vast array of (mostly ignored) stimuli & (sometimes reflective) perception, leading to/from a variety of directions [23]: "Aesthetic judgment" then occurs throughout this process, both more & less consciously [24], both forging & in relation to perceptual hierarchy. (It's always both, even if it performs the former only via confirmation.[25]) The ubiquity & rapidity of sensation (again, mostly ignored) thus drives an intense, nonlinear feedback process via selection (conscious & especially otherwise) that — at least in principle — can yield a wide range of perceptual hierarchies [26] & hence self-structures.[27] (One might then reject any perception that problematizes one's settled order, which is still never a priori....) So what can one say about such hierarchical structures under modernity & today? Once again in principle [28], this should be a "scientific" discussion: However, people (at least of the interior) have been too trapped within the presumptive correctness of their own (perceptual) hierarchies & self-images to do much general investigation [29], not to mention the inherent difficulty of recovering historical (perceptual) norms.[30] (All that said, I believe that more careful study is possible, and so these results do remain preliminary....[31]) If the modern (liberal) subject has been shattered [32], then, what of its (remaining or prospective) perceptual hierarchy? In order to trace or interrogate such a shift, one must consider (late modern & contemporary) developments in e.g. individualism [33], ocularcentrism [34], infant mortality [35], violence [37], & immunology [38].... And those are indeed (some) notions critical to understanding the modern-postmodern aesthetic transition, and moreover figure e.g. notions of privacy [39] & purity [41] according to (increasingly urgent) contemporary priorities. Such issues further figure contemporary history (i.e. narrative [42]), which is itself increasingly aesthetic (as already noted above), in turn: How do such differences in affective mapping continue to forge (social) aesthetics more generally (today), and indeed how might one design (i.e. with intent [43]) a mind and/or body?[45] (Beyond the crassness of contemporary marketing & propaganda, that's what one really wants to know, right?) Before returning to that question (in a later section), and after this (perhaps) somewhat dizzying (conceptual) opening, there is still rather more to say about the specific concerns of this section....

I had promised a fresh start "from the body," so it's fair to wonder where such a conceptual (or perceptual) opening leaves the body: How has it been constructed [46] or aligned, and what is changing? Reification of bodily form & its separation or atomization [47], a fixture of the modern (imperial) labor regime [49], has (generally) proceeded via typology, which has provided the legibility [50] required by (imperial & now neoimperial) power, and especially its concepts of filiation [51], and so has conditioned the (stockpile of) inherited wealth upon which it depends [52]: Typology has thus figured the broad hierarchical rigidity [53] upon which the modern regime & its predecessors have relied for their (general) machinations & impositions. And so modern coloniality emerged in turn as a rigid typological system [54], placing everyone & everything into (hierarchical) categories [56], such that typology came to figure modern violence in general [57,59,61], including in its national form: Indeed modernity had placed "nation" at the apex of a typology [62] — one that is now buckling under global pressures.[64] (Our era is thus witnessing a fundamental revision to historical typological schemes....) Moreover, (modern) national (& so international per se) typology had encompassed bodily typology (& hierarchy), such that one's labor (& allegiance) were devoted to & for nested categories (of power), with "nation" at the top: Bodily (& psychic) integrity, immunology & so identity per se, were placed at the service of "national" goals (i.e. the goals imposed by those in power), mainly around economic accumulation [65], and then eventually & increasingly, "total" war (i.e. the ultimate national immune response). However, in addition to changing the status of "nation" per se (i.e. the former typological apex [66]), neoliberalism (with its ongoing biologism) has not been content to continue relying upon the body as the smallest element of an international (laboring) typology [67], and so even beyond "blood" & "organs" (with their own nested typologies), "genes" have come to "enrich" & extend bodily typology in the contemporary era, and to do so as a more basic element (& sometimes across traditional divisions): Biologism has thus come to encompass & emphasize genetics, with respect to which the body is a "mere" result — a "result" that can readily be accommodated typologically [68] — but also (sometimes) interrogates & problematizes typology, even via encroaching medicalization [69], e.g. including (critical) forms of pharmacology & immunology (as here [70]). Yet despite a growing "molecular" emphasis, allocation continues to proceed via bodies (that is, when it doesn't proceed directly from neoliberal priorities [71]): Deprivation & scarcity, rights in general, are still defined according to bodily shares, thus relying upon (modernist, in its weakened "global" form) typology.[72,73] Moreover, as a genetic orientation comes to interrogate reification of the body per se, it does so not only while modes of (bodily) expression proliferate [74], but while the laboring body is itself increasingly deprecated according to the (profit-seeking) logic of automation: So the "genetic stockpile" becomes more valuable (to neoliberalism) than (laboring) bodies (if not already their organs) themselves? Such an assessment (still) smacks of rhetoric in a (global) labor negotiation [75], but reification of the body is certainly proceeding along different (although usually still typological) lines today, and such reification is — if anything — both more aesthetic & more socially mediated in turn.[76]

Modes of bodily expression proliferate along with identities [77], which arise from both perceiving perception (as above) [78] & reification of bodily forms or interactions (which, of course, are also perceived).[79] "Identity studies" have consequently become characteristic contemporary disciplines [80], such that critique of modernity (& so now postmodernity) increasingly revolves around differing perspectives: Although it's often (only too) easy to list various identity perspectives [81], i.e. as roughly parallel categories, such a "flat" listing not only suggests a simple typology (yet again), but fails to register the nonlinear interactions between contemporary identities, and so e.g. intersectionality was developed (largely by African American women) to interrogate interactions between & across (intersecting) "types." So although this discussion will (mostly) not be person-centered (i.e. example-based), I do want to consider different (intersecting) structural perspectives differently: Concepts of "race" largely developed with the onset of imperialism, such that (ongoing) racial issues strongly track postimperialism per se.[82] (One might even suggest that racialization directly strengthened typology in general, including e.g. in gender relations.[83]) Modernity had also intensified patriarchy [84], such that at least for the interior [85], feminism came to involve (& represent) critique of "traditional" typology more generally [86]: Bodily reification had already involved not only racialization, but a corresponding (& often reactive) feminization, which was frequently employed against the "colonial other" in general.[87] Considering that patriarchal modernity figured the feminine as inferior, such feminization figures a broader debilitation in turn: Bodily reification increasingly proceeded (& continues to proceed [88], obviously) according to profit-seeking notions of labor, such that "disability" comes to figure the postcolonial condition more generally [89]: One's humanity depends upon one's (profit-serving) productivity — if not (directly) via labor, at least via (biological) reproduction. (Again, this is the obvious modernist & now neoliberal perspective. Moreover, profit must always increase....) Heteronormativity thus entered to position queerness as another kind of disability [90], and further so as to undermine bodily critique of (modern) biologism in general.[91,92] Consequently, contemporary "calls for freedom" increasingly revolve around sexuality in particular, not only in terms of remediating its (explicit) debilitation [93], but according to standards of bodily (& so identity) expression more generally [95], especially around non-reproductive sex.[96] Increasing variety of sexual expression thus serves not only to proliferate (& trace or interrogate) identity per se, but to reconfigure aesthetic orientation more generally.[100] (And as already suggested, the orientation of "classical" aesthetics had already been implicitly sexual.[101]) Within such a frame, then, notions of race strongly intersect with postcolonial (or postimperial, more broadly) practices, which in turn involve feminization and/or queering [103] — according to a broad (pharmacological [104]) logic of debilitation. Postmodern neo-colonization of biology thus proceeds according to a (fraught) molecular logic, yet tends to seek (typological) molarity, yielding different (distinct) perceptions & consciousnesses in turn [105] — & indeed both (newly) different aesthetic priorities & (literal [106]) bodily stances: One can only conclude that the body & its perceptions are no longer merely presumed (to yield to discipline), but are being increasingly actively (internally) colonized.[107]

  1. Such a "primal scene" is well known, and already served to open Practical listening. So it probably becomes too easy to dwell on what seem to be obvious matters: Consciousness comes only later, although by the time we're older, we tend to think of it as coming first. However, by the time we begin to have consciousness, it's already been forged & conditioned by innumerable sensations & perceptions. (And even as adults, consciousness still comes last: First the rush of danger, then the realization of e.g. an oncoming bus.)

  2. "Closeness" is not only a matter of quick & repeated feedback, basically derived from guessing what's happening & observing if one's conclusions hold — the sort of "guesswork" that occupies perception on a moment by moment basis in infancy & beyond — but of direct dependence on another, most often one's mother [3]: Our sensory feedback is thus sculpted by another, already in the womb, continuing after birth, from which ever more social inputs come to enter our perception (after having done so, with far more mediation, prior to birth as well).

  3. That the mother is often also a source of food further figures food as central to aesthetic development (per the previous section), as it quickly becomes central to desire & so feedback more generally. (A variety of stimulus & feedback becomes tied to eating.) Moreover, the basic helplessness of infants (often, usually) induces the "love" relation as a sort of open excess, an unbounded desire to meet desire. (For the infant, such anticipation yields a sense of mystery, frequently buoyed by that excess.)

  4. There is increasing awareness that nonlinear feedback can yield vastly different outcomes out of very similar (initial) conditions — i.e. that it can be a "chaotic" system, mathematically — and even a (complementary) sense that personality etc. can be strongly conditioned by early experiences. Yet, particularly as fueled by late modern individualism (i.e. social obfuscation), we tend to dismiss the sheer scope of such (social) conditioning & its possibilities.

  5. For one thing, we are tuned to sense some emanations & not others, including e.g. within the light & sound spectra, but also beyond them (in e.g. chemical sensitivities, etc.). Moreover, there is a doubling to the human form, i.e. bilateral symmetry, that provides a crucial, internal sense of reflection — one shouldn't underestimate the importance of this physical fact for e.g. the way that (verbal) communication & conceptualization function. (And of course there is a range of ability in these arenas, including due to injury or age, but also from birth.)

  6. For instance, upright stance has suggested a kind of hierarchy, with the head on top, and the genitals below the torso, etc. Although those factors remain relevant, their importance around the modern-postmodern transition has less to do with actual human limits (i.e. sensations, in the terms here) than it does perceptions of others (which need not be conscious to be effective). (One might also note e.g. the relegation of odor to "lower" sensory status that's linked, perhaps, to upright stance: Smell might thus be contrasted directly with vision, which reached more corresponding prominence — again, morphologically, far prior to the modern period.) The extent to which "stance" directly dictates sensory order would appear to be far less, in other words, than the reflective evocations of perceiving each other & drawing conclusions.[7] (Smell actually remains quite powerful, for instance, despite rhetorical suppression.)

  7. For instance, it seems clear that the social status (often) awarded to height, while being based on a clear physical trait, is not associated with any actual consequence or ability (or at least very little, since we aren't e.g. giraffes). This is thus "pure" aesthetics, in the sense of human response to perception (alone), if not to (conscious) philosophy per se. (The simplicity of such an assessment also anticipates e.g. neoliberal fundamentalism more generally, as a single & easily quantifiable assessment of "merit" is so often sought.)

  8. Following [2] (& indeed [6]), one might consider that whereas attention to sound is viable in the womb — as is e.g. attention to chemicals (i.e. proto-smell or taste) to some degree, at least within the limited contrast of immersion — variation in light is rather limited, such that sight (for those who have it) is a novelty from birth. It largely (again, when possible) begins in (substitute) visual connection with the mother. Prior to birth, however, unseen sounds are the norm.

  9. Attempting to quantify "sensation" would simply introduce other learned (or social) factors, so as to determine what qualifies, how it's to be measured, etc. So such a statement remains rather loose (although commonly accepted).

  10. Note further that time itself is a perceptual conclusion, such that the notion of different moments — although "the moment" is an attempt to move outside of narrative per se — is already at a remove from sensation. (Separation of memory from event likewise indicates a conclusion, a conclusion that's not always accepted, e.g. not by Buddhism.)

  11. Expectations of consistency in one's perceptual hierarchy greatly overflow modernity per se, although expectations might also be conditioned by one's traditional role, etc. Moreover, such expectations are generally expectations of others: Who is acting normal? How or whether one's own instability might be perceived is another question, but it's likewise mediated by social expectations.

  12. It's important to note that sensation is not a "flat" domain from which one orders A, B or C as separate entities at any particular moment: Rather, how one perceives A affects how one perceives B, affects whether one perceives C, etc., such that perceptions are ordered in terms of other perceptions (i.e. in a nonlinear, dependent manner). In other words, in an ocularcentric world, what one can see has consequences for what one learns to hear (or indeed identify), etc.

  13. The notion of the self as a hierarchy (& indeed as a rupture) was introduced in Hierarchy as rupture — as was e.g. the significance of physical symmetry (per [5]).

  14. Identity is, of course, highly mediated by social interaction (& perhaps canonically so): One is oneself with respect to others, amid the chains of reflections characterized by e.g. "I see someone seeing me," etc.

  15. Indeed one might generate one's own reflections — & so perceptions — internally, with no (new) external sensation required: Such reflection might be a (healthy) learning opportunity, or it might lead to damaging perseveration (i.e. useless dwelling in prior perception). In either case, one revolves internally, away from a boundary (with the other), which might be strengthened as a result.

  16. Rhetoric surrounding transcendence (also) varies considerably between (& within) different cultures & social systems: For one, there's the matter of whether it is a (quasi-)permanent or transient state.... And for some, transcendence is not an internal matter, or at least not merely so, but is to be reflected by social expression (e.g. hierarchy) as well.

  17. Per [8] then, unseen sound often figures a transcendence — mirroring the eruption of visual sensation at birth, an event that does involve "escaping" one's prior situation. (Escaping a bad situation, even momentarily, might also become urgent & so I don't want to figure escapism as inherently problematic — although the need for escape does, by itself, suggest a problem.)

  18. Pace [16], why might one want to oppose transcendence? Although (pace [17]) one might sometimes desire (voluntary) escape from one's life, transcendental (today, often neoliberal) forces tend to push one away from immediacy, i.e. away from actually living & into being controlled. (And transcendental rhetoric, designed e.g. to encourage obedience to the state or respect for the rich, was already a commonplace of modernity — and indeed of many times & places.) Moreover, transcendental rhetoric tends to elevate some people over others — and unless that's you (& it's far less likely to be than implied by that same rhetoric), you'll be worse off (perhaps in a variety of ways) for it.

  19. Per Dubilet then, immanence is never one's own (since possession involves another transcendence), but precedes & exceeds us. Dubilet further contrasts kenosis or self-emptying (i.e. an ethic of sacrifice) to an ethic of transcendence [20]: Leaving divinity (per se) aside, one might simply ask how the (general) social good is actualized through oneself. (The good does usually involve living one's life, often in straightforward fashion.)

  20. For Laruelle, the specifically christological question of kenosis leads directly (or, perhaps indirectly, through quantum mechanics) to his concept of superposition: Christ thus becomes fully divine & fully human in a superposed relation without lack (or transcendence). Such an ethic of superposition (& hence, perhaps idiosyncratically, kenosis) thus figures Laruelle's generic: It's not a transcendental or type (which Laruelle figures as prisons), but rather what remains (as "empty") after (such) relations are stripped.

  21. It's important to note that whereas outward transcendences might point in very different directions, inward transcendences do not necessarily align either: There is thus no (singular) core, but only a surface (for the self) — since it's always already based in external relation (i.e. perception, etc.). (A diagram is tempting, but I'm not the person to draw it: Imagine a shadowy & vibrating translucent sphere, with vectors pointing out in all directions, and not simply lines, but twisting ribbons of mutual cross-reflection. And now imagine similar ribbons drifting inward as well, some aligned with the external vectors, and some not, terminating or not terminating, at some arbitrary point....) Of course, portraying such vectors as "escapes," as I did above, & not merely as relations, is a (perceptual) conclusion.[22]

  22. Generically (e.g. per [20]), these vectors are indeed relations (particularly since aspiration is a kind of relation) — with the surface of the self emerging in contour (& equivocating) via (their) superposition.

  23. Relationality is not necessarily directional, at least not prior to perceptual mediation, and so it would be improper to distinguish "to" & "from" at this point....

  24. Increasing consciousness of (one's own) aesthetic judgment per se then becomes a skill be be acquired or honed. (I.e. to what is one actually attracted, versus to what does one want to be attracted?)

  25. In other words, (even established) perceptual hierarchy is always at some risk of degradation, such that it's constantly being reforged by aesthetic judgments that (presumptively) confirm it — else it might change. (Similarly, memories are overwritten during acts of recall, and so might drift....) Hierarchy thus depends on regular performance — hence the ubiquity of propaganda, etc.

  26. One's perceptual hierarchy might change, of course, whether suddenly (e.g. losing one's eyes) or over time (e.g. variation of acuity with age, although changing acuity alone is not necessarily enough to change overall alignment). In principle, it could change considerably & fairly quickly — perhaps even in calculated fashion, according to e.g. a meditation regime — but rapid change is often figured as insanity. (So again, outside of particular roles or circumstances, such hierarchy tends to be quite stable. Indeed, even subconsciously, most people seek to maintain their internal hierarchies.)

  27. One might distinguish sensory priorities per se from e.g. other quirks of personality, etc.: This is not an arbitrary distinction, as conformity to expectations of perceptual hierarchy, as derived from & dictated by social setting (e.g. defining the terms for "insanity"), is a widespread social demand, within which "quirks" (or other differences) might be accommodated.

  28. The distinction between "principle" (or virtual, in some usage) & actual that I continue to need to make here (given the difficulty involved in introducing the subject) is another aspect of (conscious) reflective doubling: I find it tedious (& challenging), but the need arises from our inability to grasp the beginnings of perception or consciousness (or indeed sensation). In other words, such "unwinding" is a reflection of our general perceptual circularity (& so is another kind of feedback operation).

  29. Anthropology has probably been the most fertile discipline for exploring social differences in perception, and has indeed yielded insights, although that seems to have happened almost incidentally: Assumptions about other people & their senses of perception needed to be challenged, and over time, in order to make such progress possible — probably in spite of most (Western) anthropologists themselves. However, there have been some notable successes, as defined by increased understanding of different hierarchies.

  30. Again in principle, if one were able to move (at least somewhat) outside of one's own sense of selfhood & perception, one could conceivably design a testable framework, in order to construct a broader taxonomy. However, there are multiple problems with such a suggestion: Taxonomy (or typology) comes with its own theoretical biases, such a framework would be tentative (at best) and would need to precess according to its own (nonlinear) feedback, and any particular (standardized?) "test" setting would in turn mediate results.

  31. Yet again, whereas some laziness in this matter can certainly be attributed to me, the situation has been constructed over many years: Western modernity (with its twins, imperialism & capitalism) was explicitly constructed as universally applicable, not only to the consistent & self-same "natural" world, but to the (always already) liberal subject as well. All else has been systematically (although not very competently) obscured for decades & centuries. (And moreover, a preliminary & iterative approach, based once again in ongoing feedback, is the only means for forging better conceptual analyses: One must seek conceptual breadth prior to any familiar narrowing, particularly so as to circumvent limiting assumptions, and such breadth has been lacking....)

  32. And Basic mechanics of modernity had already concluded with a shattering, there around the tension of personal-universal (i.e. certainly not generic superposition, per [22], which is neither), as already noted in the opening above....

  33. E.g. Schuller suggests that e.g. the US was less individualistic regarding subject formation in the nineteenth century, i.e. that discoveries in genetics (together with its accompanying, explicitly politicizing practice, eugenics) suggested a kind of individual immutability that didn't exist before: That people might take up traits, fluidly, from a variety of influences & relations had seemed normal. (One might also consider how e.g. "free speech" concerns require beliefs to be articulated & externalized — i.e. consciously separated from implicit feedback loops — in order to be protected according to the norms of liberal society: In other words, differences have become more specifically individual & explicit — also making for clear marketing profiles, from which they are harvested.) Today, difference itself becomes atomized & further individualized (e.g. in "fifth wave" etc.)....

  34. Schuller further suggests that ocularcentrism only truly arrived in the 20th century, at least in USA, which had previously prioritized touch. (And one can wonder regarding the relative position of US indigeneity in this regard, i.e. the extent to which the nation's perceptions were yet truly Europeanized — otherwise it's a curious observation, to say the least.) Ocularcentrism nonetheless dominated some scenes prior to others, and continues to function as a general characteristic of European imperialism (including for its human typologies, etc.) Is it actually ascending in our contemporary media world — in which e.g. touch & smell have been further marginalized (particularly on the internet)?

  35. Likewise (in analogous relation to [33]) heteronormativity came to figure biology more prominently in the twentieth century, largely because of declining infant mortality, i.e. the burgeoning possibility of not seeking family according to "multiple heredity," i.e. of becoming more selective (& so "straight") regarding reproductive possibilities. (In other words, prejudice became more practical for more people.) The need for family connections, especially so as to support oneself economically, declined during the twentieth century, and so like food (e.g. per [3] & beyond), infant mortality is one of the signal figures of the late modern-postmodern transition: Its reduction had been a priority for modern medical science, due largely to biologism & the importance of labor (to economic status), but now it's on the rise again — despite increasing resources devoted to the medical industry. (Differences in mortality around the world are merely equalizing — not on an individual basis, of course, but internationally — under globalization?) Economics aside, however, experience of mortality mediates the excess of love [36], thus inflecting primal feedback & so (perceptual) hierarchies in turn.

  36. Mediation of excess need not involve death, of course, but can be the result of a wide range of anesthetic options today, if not (simply) of overwhelming sensation in general (especially in these days of nonstop media saturation).

  37. Han suggests that as the disciplinary society extends itself further into the self, violence is increasingly internalized as well, such that it seems to "disappear" in favor of widespread depression: The entrepreneur of the self is thus dangerously "free," to the point that "freedom" itself becomes a source of (self-)discipline & angst. (Han's analysis of the changing nexus, or topology, of violence might also be insufficient: In some sense, even outside of the self per se, violence is simply more pervasive, including as widespread entertainment, and so becomes less remarkable: It "disappears" in plain sight, even as some people continue to experience it quite clearly.)

  38. There has been a theoretical trend to consider individuation according to immunology, i.e. that what is "separate" from oneself is constructed over time via intense (& ongoing) feedback, even at the chemical level — & indeed that all (biological) individuation can be understood in these terms. Such a notion can even be extended to cultures & social systems per se, which maintain their own independence via "immune responses" such as war, etc. At least in the latter sense, then (e.g. per Han, et al.), we have become increasingly post-immunological, as the social system absorbs & incorporates everything (per Baudrillard): However, such an assessment is now seeming premature, as different forms of segmentation are sought (e.g. so as to facilitate the harvesting of differences, and so in turn postimperial profit), and "immune suppressants" are becoming an explicit norm of our era (even beyond pharmaceuticals per se). What is the changing locus of immunity on the internet, for instance?

  39. With the expansion of neoliberal capitalist profit-seeking into all corners of life, privacy has become a bigger concern, but also increasingly perverse: Although it took a while to fully articulate, privacy was the very foundation of liberalism, particularly around private property & private profit — private knowledge [40] being important only to the extent that it might contaminate private property (e.g. with concerns from the public), or alternately, facilitate private profit. (In other words, privacy per se basically yielded, or preserved, profit.) So it's little wonder that the liberal media (of the interior) has taken up this (specific) banner in the face of greater intrusion, but why care now? In short, monopolization has threatened to eliminate "private enterprise" to the point that "entrepreneurs of the self" would be left with a mandate but no domain of operations — & restricting knowledge (of others, i.e. increasing their privacy) is the only such restriction viable for liberalism: After all, the media would never urge restrictions on profit or property! In short, there's been a pharmacological reemphasis of secrecy, an early pillar of capitalism, including in the form of trade secrets, etc. (Such a situation would appear to raise neoliberalism's own pharmacology as well, to the point that it might poison itself: It's already been forced to praise stupidity, making destruction that much more likely in the face of a challenge, such as climate... but really any challenge that might require knowledge to resolve.)

  40. Per the various reflections & mediations invoked by [14], to speak more broadly, semiosis serves as an intertwined basis for immunology: One must know what is & isn't oneself, or rather discover such a boundary (as various organic processes do) along the way. (The basic "warfare" behind immunological discourse thus suggests the entropy of the semiotic-entropic dual — a notion from Stiegler — as well: One could fall apart or otherwise become undone without such practical knowledge.) However, the semiotic position can suggest another transcendence, i.e. of being external to an object of study so as (per the priorities of [34]) to look at it, and in turn can suggest dialectic motion: Such motion is based upon segmentation of the self, and hence is not (broadly) ecological. Rather, semiosis must continue to apply directly to the self (to which there can be no direct access via transcendence) as well.

  41. In mentioning purity, and the ascendant fascist political movements largely aspire to purity (eugenic & otherwise), I must once again raise an explicit contrast between (late modern) anesthetics & aesthetics per se: It's animation & excess, the performative forge of ritual & ritualized activity that drives the nonlinear feedback of individuation, and so an increasingly anesthetic world (including per [36]) places individuation into doubt. Such doubts might remain largely on the horizon, as long as capitalist marketing relies on the generation of differences in order to generate profits, but do these differences remain real? The notion of anesthetic purity thus presents a razor, since (neoliberal) fascism insists on such differences as very real.

  42. Notions of "the end of history" are certainly one way to refigure (contemporary) narrative, but per [10] (& as noted in a prior section), time also seems to move faster than ever: This (contradiction) is a matter of perceptual hierarchy, and changes in narrative senses of time (including around the internet, which up this point has been content to count in dreary, repetitive & standardized seconds) may come to figure the aesthetics of our era more broadly. (Moreover, one might figure the entire primal scene, per [1], as a matter of personal narrative & its unpacking: There is a growing sense that such a scene has run its course, but yielding to...? Again, one suggestion has been a basic disruption to individuation, but such a suggestion arises from within modernist circles....) Contemporary urges toward purity — per [41] — also render such narrative concerns that much more fraught, as imposing a single narrative remains a neoliberal priority (as it had been for modernists).

  43. This seems like another important place to emphasize art-as-work, i.e. not only its importance & authority for individuation per se, but as an open mode for nonlinear feedback (per [4]): One might thus come to design oneself.[44] (Note moreover that art-as-work arises with the self & so is not external, per some concerns of [40] — or indeed "inside" the self, per the imagery of [21]: Its target is the dynamic surface of boundary & alignment, e.g. immunologically or transgressively....)

  44. That perceptual realignment is possible is actually quite obvious: An injury, for instance (already per [26]), can be overcome. Indeed, it's not uncommon at all. Undertaking such realignment as a matter of choice is perhaps another matter, but what constitutes "injury" is also unclear in a world of such intense, nonlinear feedback. (One might even suggest that modern subjects are always already injured....)

  45. Per Religious inclinations, one might note moreover that liturgy is itself public work, i.e. the working of relations: Public sculpting of selves has long been an explicit religious issue, replaced under neoliberalism by mandatory entrepreneurship — i.e. by another kind of (religious) sculpting.

  46. That the body is (at least partially) constructed socially has been a commonplace of critical literature in recent decades. In the terms here, whereas the body absorbs sensation, it's only through perception & then consciousness that it's perceived in turn (& segmented) as a body. (One might also consider how "marking" the body has been part of many traditional rituals, such that pre-modern people have already embraced a sense of social construction of the body: E.g. one becomes one's gender through rite.) Prior to such segmentations, it's simply a part of undifferentiated sensation more generally.

  47. I've already broached immunology (per [38]), and it's become a prominent paradigm for bodily (as well as social) separation [48]: And if we're becoming post-immunological, what does that say for bodily integrity, even when simply walking down the street? Stimulation (& "messaging") accost us across all interfaces, including internally (via disciplinary norms): What does "being healthy" mean under these conditions? And is it even meaningful to be healthy under conditions of social atomization, i.e. with immune response increasingly internalized, rather than functioning at a broader social level? (Health becomes increasingly self-referential & individual under the terms of mandatory entrepreneurship....)

  48. The prestige of immunology as a social or psychological paradigm seems to be on the decline of late, although increasing knowledge of the human microbiome might argue for the opposite trend: Our bodies are not self-contained units at the cellular level, and indeed immunological response does differentiate internal cellular (or viral) entities, with which we (nonetheless) might effect a symbiosis.

  49. That the body should be (strictly) aligned for labor (& obedience) became the norm under the late modern industrial regime, and those conditions persist: E.g. "mental health" is largely defined (e.g. via the DSM, which derives from military concerns & priorities) as the ability to labor regularly & "productively," and so to subordinate oneself to capitalist demands. (E.g. De Sutter even notes that the late modern regime came to "functionalize by dysfunction" — i.e. to deprecate the mind in favor of bodily atomization, per [47], so as to produce working units.)

  50. Legibility, spectrality, machines explores this & more: Hierarchical power requires legibility in order to impose itself, i.e. it must perceive its domain of operation clearly — or else impose such clarity (on all concerned).

  51. Affine resonance discusses modern concepts of filiation, particularly as opposed to (indigenous) American affine relational priorities: Further to the concerns of [50], filiation has been (re)imposed by the modern imperial order so as to maintain clear (legible) hierarchy, particularly over historical (or narrative) scales — so as to yield, in turn, the inherited wealth without which capitalist segmentation cannot function.[52] (Tangentially, filiation was also a significant issue for African American slaves, who used bodily ritual to reconfigure the trauma of being stripped of filiative identity. Their concerns with filiation are thus of the Old World.)

  52. Let me be clear: The hoarding of wealth from generation to generation is the basis for the ongoing, exponential differentiation of "capitalists" (who might nonetheless seize or control already-hoarded wealth, without having inherited it, at least under extraordinary circumstances) from laborers, and is used in turn to support the large-scale (profit seeking) projects that have come to define capitalist imperialism. Although they don't use the term "hoard," even capitalists agree that such (inherited) hoards are essential to their (economic) system.

  53. Hierarchical rigidity — fascism — is articulated according to strongly aesthetic contours (both today & in the late modern period), including per Further notes on fascist aesthetics: Aesthetics per se becomes fascist under such a regime, such that it's employed, e.g. to enforce filiation (per [51]), as a means of enforcing hierarchy more broadly. In other words, aesthetic theory (& its practice) has been used to strip (some) relations, thus rendering others as more prominent, or indeed as "the only alternative."

  54. The basic us-them typology of colonial systems is undeniable, but aspirations for full-fledged & non-contradictory [55] typological imposition were not generally met: Indeed, hybridity (or equivocation), which undercuts typology, appears to be a fundamental outcome of such imposition. (Why? Because people's basic perceptions could not be completely controlled. So is that changing?)

  55. Recall that despite its many contradictions, modernity is (officially) averse to contradiction — or anything that overturns or problematizes its rigid pyramid scheme. (This is where it calls itself logical or scientific, even as such arguments usually fade into a strident, "Do as we say or else!" ... i.e. violence, or else yielding to some other sort of consistency-troubling dismay.)

  56. It's worth repeating here that modern industrialization was broadly inspired by the colonial (sugar cane) slave plantation, with its clear (atomized) roles.... (I don't know to whom to attribute this important observation, as it appears in many places in the critical literature.)

  57. Even analogical relations are inherently hierarchical, placing one term with respect to another. I've also criticized dualism more generally, particularly for its tendency to favor one side (of a duality): One might fend off broader hierarchical rigidity — or (categorical) typology — via a muddled dualism, cycles of pluses & minuses for instance [58], but such an approach (i.e. the usual post-modern approach) leaves a variety of mini-hierarchies (not to mention dualities) intact.

  58. The imagery of [21] is suggestive of just such a muddled dualism, for instance (particularly if the diagram differentiates colors around & across its vague "spherical" boundary), there deriving directly from self-other: One might even consider "unwrapping" the diagram, such that kaleidoscopic right-to-left reflections dominate its planar surface, further segmented from top to bottom, while the shell of the self snakes a jagged path from left to right. Then consider reducing each bounded region, alternately, to black or white (i.e. binary)... rather, consider that the resulting "checkerboard" is not quite regular enough for that, in principle requiring five colors, but in practice yielding a variety of (metaphorically "logical") patterns & shadings....

  59. Recall further that (per [50] & [53]) (imposing) legibility is a form of violence: Rather, legibility might be momentary from any particular perspective, but is held in place (is made rigid, as a system) only through violent imposition. Legibility is then a requirement for a broad (i.e. beyond the legible-illegible dual) typology.[60]

  60. However, typology does not guarantee legibility: As in [54], the "pyramid scheme" of typology does not necessarily reflect actual circumstances, such that beyond its (violent) imposition, it might serve to obscure: Under such circumstances, hybridity or equivocation etc. might provide more insight, i.e. legibility. (Modernity was largely incapable of adopting such a shift due to its religious beliefs in hierarchy & demand for rigid us-them control.) One might even conclude that typology functions as a veil — often in the service of control, but perhaps not.

  61. I had started to call for a general critique of typology, within a feminist (& later queer) horizon, in Remède de Fortune (an article interrogating modern "economics" at least partly from a premodern perspective), but as this project has continued, I've increasingly taken up that call myself, rather than leaving it to others (as I had originally intended or expected): Whereas (perhaps) it's welcome that I take responsibility for my own suggestions (albeit, pace the danger of speaking out of turn), such an orientation does reach something of a climax in this section — and so (perhaps) becomes too idiosyncratic or repetitive for some readers. Hopefully, though, working through this line of thought will prove worthwhile nonetheless: After all, it's typology that underlies e.g. patriarchy, etc. (One must first divide men from women....)

  62. Modernity also established the nation as territory-based, rather than people-based [63], setting the stage e.g. for contemporary "immigration " debates.... (Modernity also established a typology of peoples, but folded into a typology of lands. Resources were to be extracted from both, but according to a "legal" emphasis on territorial occupation & land exploitation per se.) Moreover, such a national typology (encompassing each of us, etc.) revolved around narrative identity, such that history (often) defined a nation (only) according to its past. What then of (premodern?) societies without history? Today, they very well might have no territory....

  63. One might thus conclude that modernity marginalized family-based typologies (of filiation), and indeed it did so to some extent. However, the national typology has often incorporated familial forms within itself, rhetorically & otherwise. (The nation could also be said to refigure family, which has at times been its explicit goal.)

  64. Whereas one might cite twentieth century attempts at forging viable pan-national organizations such as the United Nations, today "globalization" is largely driven by multinational corporations that use the restrictions imposed by national forms in order to position themselves more advantageously with respect to e.g. labor & consumers. (Then there's e.g. the World Bank etc., and the financial typology they represent, again independent — or parasitical — with respect to the national form.)

  65. (Perhaps obliquely) per [49], it's thus argued (e.g. by Pateman & Mills) that "property in the person" (i.e. our self-ownership of our own bodies & labor) leads to further subordination within the national pyramid, i.e. that self-"ownership" is conducive to maintaining a broad typology, and must be abandoned or rethought. In other words, wage labor is the form of art-as-work most compatible with typological subordination & reification (of bodies, etc.), and so the mandatory entrepreneurship of neoliberalism has only exacerbated the situation (in part by setting a very low "market" value on our bodies per se). So what of non-marketable bodies instead? Today, any such shift becomes highly pharmacological, given that protections are generally afforded (only) "to the person" & according to the norms of property — one of modernity's most pernicious inventions.

  66. Note, of course, that the powers of "nation" are being deprecated precisely during an era in which indigenous people have had success claiming "nation" status. (Such a relation goes in both directions: Not only does deprecation of nation result after the fact, but the status becomes less protected, since it'll be exploited by predatory international organizations anyway. There is thus an unwinding, a typological realignment.)

  67. And any international labor(ing) typology is also going to involve geological resources, the resources obtained from other biological entities, enjoyment of scenery, etc. (Note that, although it's not traditionally observed as such, resource use is just as "aesthetic" as passive observation of scenery. And the latter does make demands....)

  68. Per e.g. [33], individual autonomy thus comes to be undermined according to (machinic) notions of genetics. (Genetic self-"ownership" is also a pharmacological problem along the lines of [65].) Of course, the body had already been turning into a collection of organs: Beyond blood & vital organs, there is cosmetic surgery, etc. (And I don't want to emphasize the novelty of the latter, as there are various precedents.)

  69. Beyond its general & (often) problematic orientation & service toward typology, a clear issue with contemporary medicalization remains, for instance, its insistence on focusing on a particular sick body, rather than the broad circumstances & relations within which (& from which) such sickness (or, one might say, incompatibility) arises. ("Medicine" has become very narrow in this sense, emphasizing "correcting" — e.g. per [49] — individual health on a case by case basis.) In brief, a significant retort to e.g. "Let's cure cancer!" is & should be, "Stop giving people cancer!" (This is another razor for "modern science.")

  70. Whereas medical analogies might seem particularly apt in the face of rampant biologism, (pace [58]) they themselves have a pharmacological component: One takes up the language of contemporary modernism in order to critique modernism? (It's dangerous, but sometimes helpful or maybe even necessary.)

  71. (I had already discussed the notion of allocation games, perhaps the canonical neoliberal interaction, in some detail....) An example, perhaps more to the point here, is medical inequity — particularly around the flow of organs, and now genetic research — which is escalating rapidly in our era: Perhaps more directly than ever, a subset of bodies is being kept alive at the cost of others.

  72. It would be naïve to suggest that typology is merely being recapitulated: Rather a typological shift in the attribution of value (intentionally) marginalizes rights-bearing entities (i.e. bodies), which adjust only later & in reaction. (Any sort of lag in this sense is converted to profit.)

  73. Moreover, scarcity suggests "excess" in turn (including e.g. the excess of love per [3]), and it's the excess of any particular entity (over its assigned place) that ultimately explodes typological conformity. (However, once again, any such reconfiguration of scarcity & excess — e.g. around need — presents not only a duality, but a strongly pharmacological component.)

  74. As the previous section noted, fashion (& e.g. tattoos etc.) has allowed for a greater variety of individual (bodily) expression in the contemporary era, & across a wide range of populations. Moreover, possibilities for expression have proliferated across media, especially on the internet, now including e.g. collecting & displaying memorabilia, etc. (One might even suggest that art-as-work is increasingly targeted at the body per se, and particularly because of "ownership" issues, including per [65]. One increasingly has the right to little else....)

  75. And much of world politics today does seem like a labor negotiation... driven by "union busting" in the broadest sense. (So "differences" once more take on a pharmacological edge.)

  76. That the body & mind are (socially) pliable is simultaneously denied & used to increasing effect by marketing & propaganda: As a result, bodily identity is both more variable & more reified in turn. Reification of identity makes marketing easier: There's no need to consider change, or at least not change originating from outside of marketing impulses. And basic denial is an increasingly popular (albeit paradoxical) technique for increasing efficacy — it can remediate resistance, sometimes beyond what even seems plausible (& perhaps to a point of paralysis), based on what people would prefer to believe.

  77. Although identity can be framed immunologically, e.g. around bodily & psychic integrity (as per above), broad "identity" also involves an arbitrary coalescence, i.e. of a multi-body grouping around some definitional property. Whereas such coalescence can involve self-directed (e.g. collective) perception, it's often initiated (externally) or assigned (outright) by power — especially today in the field of marketing — from which it will subsequently (likely, at some level) be perceived (perhaps as interpellation) by the people involved. Moreover, such identities continue to be forged typologically, especially by power, such that they can be set in opposition (e.g. via the scapegoat mechanism & otherwise). Identity then becomes a (molar) form of self-ownership under the fraught (& increasingly neoliberal) terms evoked in [65], such that the phenomenon remains thoroughly pharmacological.

  78. As previously noted (e.g. in [14]), perceiving perception can involve only the self or also others: In order to coalesce, one's identity is mutually perceived, but conflicts can certainly arise: "I'm not what you think I am" remains a frequent contemporary feeling. (In psychoanalytic terms, identity is constructed via lack, i.e. to fill the void that often arises within a social dynamic. Indeed, one might already say that, per the speeding bus of [1], consciousness is only ever in reaction.... Not knowing what one is — or in turn what one wants — then becomes a particularly contemporary kind of insanity.)

  79. Indeed, reification of bodily form (& interaction or expression) largely proceeds according to the perceptions of others, e.g. according to the terms of Difference into definition: Expression is thus mediated by (mutual) expectation, such that it becomes a molar phenomenon around identity per se.

  80. E.g. Wiegman prefers the term "identity knowledges — in that the disciplines focus largely on knowledge derived from bearing and/or embracing an identity — but also notes that their disciplinarity generally involves or invokes failure, in particular that of bearing (typological) oppression, i.e. "not fitting" into the dominant group. (And queer theory is especially associated with notions of failure, particularly since Halberstam.) The "field imaginaries" (in Wiegman's terms) of identity disciplines thus tend to involve a (perhaps utopian) hope to overcome (marginalization or worse), dating to civil rights campaigns, etc.

  81. Although I do often find myself making lists, I've also attempted a highly (& simultaneously) nonlinear interrogation already in Perspectives.... (Framing identity knowledge in terms of perspectives can also shift consequent interrogation, implicitly, away from the body per se, and so such a danger must be noted here.)

  82. And e.g. Moten has invoked clear anti-typological sentiment in his recent concepts of "blurring" per se, as well as the suggestion of "consent not to be a single being." (The latter, in particular, suggests related concepts of kenosis & superposition along the lines of [20]. One might further suggest that Moten is not simply proposing a newly revised immunology, but rather noting actual realities from African American history.) There is also a distinct concept of doubling that runs through his recent work, evocative of postcolonial (i.e. non-USA) notions of hybridity, etc.

  83. For instance, Schuller suggests not only that gender (or sex, as she puts it in a nineteenth century context) largely emerged as a function of race, but that binary sex was "both cause and effect of reason." In other words, "reason" or rationality was simultaneously defined as masculine & (racially) superior, just as white women (in the US, at least) were to be protected (per the dictates of rampant biologism) from miscegeny. According to Schuller, white women were then the reservoirs of "excess sentiment" (including in the sense of [3]), leaving white men free to "be rational."

  84. As discussed already in Basic mechanics of modernity, the early modern period saw widespread suppression of "female knowledge" in & by the West, largely in the service of growth-oriented biologism (but also according to more direct economic motives, such as confiscating property, or even as part of global conquest strategies where women constituted the most effective resistance).

  85. That women are basically necessary to the perpetuation of families (and so populations) has made them (obviously) essential to patriarchal regimes, such that they occupy an interior (or literally familiar) place: So although women could be (further) marginalized, they could not be expelled (from the interior), leaving some (internal) critique intact. However, this "familiar" situation, and the divisions retained as a result, is exactly what's created so much (ongoing) dissonance between (white) liberal feminists, and various (groups of) women of color worldwide.

  86. E.g. Wiegman has suggested that feminism is itself a basic critique of traditional disciplinarity, such that it problematizes knowledge production in general, and so authority (which had been figured as always already masculine) per se. (Of course, per [85], critique of patriarchy was embedded differently in indigenous & colonial contexts, such that interrogating authority can sometimes be figured as returning to tradition.)

  87. That the "other" of modernity was feminized is a standard trope, and basically proceeded according to the dual logic of feminine irrationality (per [83]) & naturalness: "The native" was both closer to "nature" & irrational, and hence "feminine." (That an excess of affect or animacy was also attributed to "the native" was part of the same dual process. And such attribution is very much alive & well today for various people of color, at least in USA.).

  88. E.g. McRuer & Puar have (most recently) argued for the centrality of disability thinking (& indeed intentional debility, etc.) to globalization politics. (In terms of entrepreneurship, most of us can be figured as disabled anyway, at least in very gross terms. After all, we are not billionaires, and don't have their economic abilities....)

  89. Although I do embrace the (pharmacological) relevance of disability logics for (global) politics today, it's also important to note that "disabled" began as an ambivalent marker of status: In other words, it was assigned to people who deserved (social) support despite an inability to produce (according to the modes demanded). And such a pharmacological edge maintains in questions regarding social safety nets, etc.: Does "disabled" mean to be supported or to be discarded (as unsupportable — actually, as unprofitable)?

  90. And remember that homosexuality (& other forms of what we might call "queer" today) was literally figured as mental illness, at least since the late modern period.

  91. One should note queer critique as not only being of the body — & so susceptible to the same (pharmacological) logic of feminization as applied to natives (per [87]), the disabled, etc. — but as affecting an excess, thus (sometimes) positioning queer & indigenous within similar cross-currents (& indeed especially within the historical context of the Americas), such that e.g. notions of "hybridity" can potentially figure either. (In this context, disability might also be figured — perhaps paradoxically — as affect deficit, thus providing further bodily critique of typology.)

  92. Queerness also poses a challenge to modernist notions of temporality & narrative, which are largely based in the biologism of (the) patriarchal family & its reproduction: There is thus a sense of "lived disjunction" (per Rifkin), or being out of time, that reflects both queer & colonial contexts. (Such a basic temporal challenge to the "pyramid scheme" of modernity needs to be emphasized, and indeed the historical severity of modernist reprisals underscores this point.)

  93. Psychoanalysis has thus had a strongly pharmacological impact, on the one hand having (explicitly) recognized the importance of sexuality & sexual drives to human development, but also having constructed another framework within which to pathologize those drives: In other words, a normalizing impulse has served to undermine the potential liberation deriving from acknowledgement of the importance of sexuality.[94] That such an impulse bears the imprint of the hierarchy at work in the original setting for psychoanalytic practice (namely late modern patriarchy) is unsurprising, and so broader (pharmacological) applicability involves escaping the norms dictated by that setting — which although deeply embedded in the discipline, remain largely contingent.

  94. Moreover, perhaps paradoxically, psychoanalysis — which arose from clinical practice, i.e. (explicit) desire to cure (or at least remediate) — has also served to render interiority as relatively more immutable (in parallel to [33]), due to its own identifications & interpellations: Much like memory, then, one's (inner) aesthetics are (only) confirmed in the retelling? That would seem to render therapy unable to help anyone, which does remain a common trope of criminal justice mentalities, etc. (When it comes to specific perceptual hierarchies, one might also note the explicitly aesthetic, acousmatic effect of the invisible voice of the therapist... functioning in part so as to mimic the superego, at least according to Freudian structure.)

  95. As noted in [74], identity expression & so sexual expression, have increasingly tended to be marked explicitly on the body, whether via "fashion statements" or tattoos. And covert signaling has often given way to open display — perhaps a (paradoxical) defense against the surveillance society. And again as noted, such display is in pharmacological relation to issues around "ownership" of the body, etc.: In that sense, sexual identity becomes both commercial & fungible, such that its importance for ongoing marketing (success) has served to insulate (its) expression from otherwise repressive (modernist) biologism. (Such self-expression might thus be said to assist with typological segmentation.)

  96. Crucially for modernist thought, whereas reproductive sex proceeds according to dialectic logic (i.e. 1+1=3), non-reproductive sex (per [92]) presents no such (machinic, future-oriented) narrative (& no such objective outcome): It thus presents a different (even static) interrogation of dualism, such that its basic "incompleteness" (as frequently attributed to sex [97]) is not filled by production, but only by its (own) aesthetic (i.e. sensual) quality. Attempts to "capture" sex per se as some sort of outcome — indeed as a relation (per Lacan) — then lead to its disappearance as a discursive entity (per Zupancic et al.). The (hypothetical, or desired) "union" of sex, or erotic impulses more generally (i.e. the "not-two"), might then involve transcendental (i.e. phallic) or kenotic logics — i.e. alternately the overcoming or the annihilation of difference — that queer sex (in turn) might nullify a priori.[99]

  97. Evolution & genetics in general might even be framed as attempts to explain the lack at the heart of the sexual drive [98]: They posit broad purpose & outcome — beyond "mere" aesthetics. (Sex also persists in such a — highly mediated — frame as an inescapable artifact of nature. Moreover, at least in "couple" form, it doubles bilateral symmetry, figuring a kind of four-fold of its own....)

  98. One might also figure the "excess" of love as reciprocal to sexual lack, i.e. as surplus against void — but not in directly opposable (or commensurate) form (much to the chagrin, or at least dismay, of many). (Yet, per terms of [73], excess might still problematize typology & indeed need or desire....)

  99. Recall that capitalism largely functions by (positing if necessary, & then) harvesting differences, such that annihilation of difference presents a problem for (neoliberal) economic exploitation — & indeed for (all-important) marketing (& voter!) profiles. (The dream of some, of course, is a uniform fascist state: I guess they'll worry about "profits" later.)

  100. When considering the drives (e.g. per [93]), sexual aesthetics takes on an overarching, structuring role — i.e. inflects perceptual hierarchy in general. Such an observation is perhaps most obvious — or at least most persistent across generations — in reproductive selection (which may be quite arbitrary, if indeed consistent, e.g. per concerns of [7]), but inflects (aesthetic) identity in general: Proliferation of (sexual) identity & (consequently) bodily expression (per [95]) is thus one of the most powerful aesthetic trends of our era — & comes to span the (global) postcolonial situation.

  101. Pace the pharmacology of [93], psychoanalysis has spurred the recovery of various (traditional) sexual implications [102]: Shattering hierarchies of sexual attraction (& so reproduction, including social reproduction more broadly) thus becomes one of the most potent & far-reaching aesthetic shifts today. (With the internet & virtual reality, we have only seen the beginning of these developments.)

  102. Of course, psychoanalysis has also been widely applied by marketing, etc., particularly around sexual inducement. (It should be noted, generally, that latent sexuality is often more powerful than sexuality explicitly perceived & so perhaps tamed. Tangentially, in that sense, e.g. identifying the sexual core of many art works — or other social productions — thus serves to anesthetize them.)

  103. Queering, particularly as opposed to racialization (but also feminization, in many cases), or indeed colonization or debilitation (especially as extended to physical maiming per se), is also undertaken (particularly per the narrative anti-biologism of [92] again) with increasing — perhaps pharmacological — intent by those to whom it's applied.

  104. Contemporary logic of debilitation is pharmacological precisely in that it strives to force bodies not to be disabled, i.e. to conform to the demands of (both economic & reproductive) productivity. It prompts questions in turn, however: What is ability? Ability to do what? What is actually important today? These are obviously questions with very broad (e.g. political) relevance.

  105. For instance, considering sensory modes (the contours & segmentations of which are also socially mediated), how must one sense something to believe that it's actually there? See it? Touch it? Hear it? Smell it? Does it matter what? (There is more bodily variation on this point than many people seem to realize, and not only among people who have obvious physiological differences....) And beyond sensory confirmation (which exposes hierarchy directly, at least on a case by case basis), what of "something" one never notices? Who does notice? Further, such questions take on a new (technical) importance with the rise of "virtual reality" in all its modes: Already, does what one sees on the computer exist? Are internet trolls people?

  106. Physical stance had already been mentioned (in [6]) as a conditioning factor for perceptual hierarchy: Now one might ask how e.g. identity, including as disabled, affects a stance that in turn affects consciousness & aesthetics. (The end result of "preference" is thus, once again, highly mediated through a complex chain starting from sensation....)

  107. For instance, one need only consider the active flood of marketing & propaganda, increasingly tailored for individual effectiveness: One might thus conclude that neoliberal power is developing its own kinds of superposition & intersectionality — as broad forms of (aesthetic, perceptual) colonization & capture. (And that such an aesthetic battle increasingly takes places "inside" ourselves.)

2A>a: More on subject-object

Perceptual hierarchies involve not only segmenting sensation according to e.g. sensory modes or self-other [1], but according to attributions of importance deriving from conclusions about the sensory field. In modern (Western [4]) terms, (presumptive) impact on the self (& so significance for the self) derives (at least in part) from (attributed [5]) causal interactions within the perceptual field, such that ("the" [6]) "other" is segmented (conceptually) into a variety of "objects" (e.g. as in these quotes) — which not only interact, but may also be attributed self-like subjectivity (via analogy) in turn: "Subject" then becomes the (generalized) perceiver or actor within such a grammatical arrangement [7], whereas "object" becomes what is perceived or acted upon. Leaving aside (external [8]) attributions of subjectivity, then, what are (the) objects? Specific assessments of objectness certainly vary [9], but within this grammatical (& interior, i.e. Western or Northern) horizon, objects of perception are generally identified or defined according to either (attribution of) agency (or animacy [12,13]) or (knowledge of) historical morphology.[14] (Although the former might yield an attribution of subjectivity in turn, it first yields coherent segmentation [15], and so basic objectness.) Many [16] of our perceptual objects thus derive [17] (directly) from either biology [19] or human production [20]: They are not "given" [21], but rather arise from the work of perception & consciousness [24] — if not explicit (industrial) work. (In other words, one generally perceives something to be "separate" because one already knows — or thinks one knows — how it was made, or how it was grown, etc.[25] Although alternately, one might simply be overwhelmed....[26]) Objectness is thus often (or usually [27]) socially mediated. In particular, non-biological production (work) invokes notions of labor, alienation & commodity reification (as indeed biological production might as well), such that objects become a source of distraction & enchantment [28]: Fascination with objects [29,30,31] might thus come to invert the grammatical arrangement by which the subject has (posited, formal) power over the object [33,35] — even possession of the object.[36,37] (And one might further figure object drives in general as involving, perhaps illusory, possession.[39]) Grammar aside, however, (segmentations of) objects arise from perception (via sensation), and so "objectness" is (also, always) an aesthetic question [40,41]: What is perceived & how? (Why these specific objects?) Moreover, (even explicit) artistic production involves a variety of relations to objects & objectness, from persistent [42] & perhaps unique [45] artifacts to ephemeral sound [46], from concrete semblance [47] to (interrogating ephemeral) relationality per se.[49,50,51] Especially via the latter pair, one might thus observe that art(-as-work) often interrogates objectness per se (among much else), rather than regarding segmentation as given a priori: Moreover, not only does language itself (always already) have an aesthetic quality [52], but relationality (grammatical or otherwise [53]) can also be inverted [54] (perhaps artistically), such that subject-object (or foreground-background) might be said to equivocate.[55] Indeed, via (its) relationality, art(-as-work) might invoke or illuminate the basic arbitrariness of (object) segmentation per se [58] & the (grammatical) duals from which it derives or to which it yields: How might (such alienated) objects (then) be reembedded (or re-hierarchized) into an economy or ecology?[61] More to the point (& hopefully without further alienation), what of many simultaneous worlds, many segmentations, many ontologies? In order to perceive them (or at least, in order to respect them), the "given" quality of objects must be interrogated & called into question (aesthetically, i.e. perceptually, as well as artistically, i.e. via production) [62]: Questions of equity & equality thus increasingly involve questions of ontology, of what exists (or alternately, of what to create), i.e. of what are (meaningful or relevant) objects today.[64]

  1. Self-other will be treated in more detail in the following section. Indeed, one might describe the subject-object dual as a decentering — in some sense, a generalization [2] — of self-other: Notions of "subject" then take on the character of an excess over sensation [3], some degree of freedom of agency....

  2. Although it often makes sense to speak of self-other coming first, at least conceptually, determining the limits of the self — especially as regards notions of agency, responsibility, etc. — depends on other sensory procedures, such that (once again) the self-other boundary is forged according to iterative & nonlinear feedback. (Such an outcome then mediates further perception, also iteratively.)

  3. Subjectivity implies agency or even disinhibition, then? Subject-object basically becomes a reframing of Western (rational) dominance over nature, the latter taken as "objectivity" per se. (In modern terms, it's said that individualized subjects perceive the same general object, nature.)

  4. One might also consider e.g. Melanesian concepts of segmenting wholes, from which any "object" is only partial. (What constitutes a discrete entity might also be interrogated via e.g. Western concepts of musical note, a previously discrete system more recently subjected to various blurrings & resegmentations via timbral or spectral procedures: A "note" might now be said to have depth & body, rather than functioning as a simple musical node or point.) Such segmentation might also involve different notions of the self-other dual: Refiguring liberal notions of "self" indeed seems critical to a more ecological perspective.

  5. The attribution of causal interaction is then basically the domain of Western science (among its other investigations). That such causality might not be (at all) obvious then becomes both premise & conclusion — although reconsidering premises accordingly often lags considerably behind the arrival of the conclusion. (The incoherence of Western causality is largely beyond the scope of the present discussion, although it will indeed be revisited in the next section.)

  6. Let me further emphasize that the sensory field is (originally, developmentally) both perceptually & conceptually singular... only to be subsequently divided, perhaps, somehow.

  7. And it must be emphasized, as well, that subject & object are indeed grammatical constructions that are not shared by all languages. (So whereas such a dual seems incredibly obvious & meaningful to most Western readers, it might be alien to other situations.)

  8. In other words, as already noted above, the process of perceiving one's own subjectivity (i.e. forging consciousness) is different from that of attributing subjectivity to others, which generally proceeds only via analogy (i.e. via perceiving traits associated with a subject position, and so as mediated by prior experience).

  9. In cognitive psychology (or indeed linguistics), "chunking" refers to such grouping of sensation into various (perhaps non-physical) objects: E.g. people with autism are known to approach objective chunking very differently. (In other words, "assessments of objectness certainly vary.") Such differences underline that the "objects" of perception, i.e. its segmentation, are not immediate, but rather are conditioned by sensory (which vary, both organically & according to injury, etc.) & conceptual processes — which are also cultural.[10]

  10. One might further suggest that "agreement" regarding objects is mediated according to social cues & pressures: One is inclined to "chunk" like everyone else, at least absent some specific impediment? (Such hypothetical agreement certainly aids communication [11], at least in principle. Of course, presumptive agreement where none actually exists can lead to further confusion.)

  11. Note, of course, that one (usually) learns to speak a language that already exists: One is expected to learn its concepts, its objects, and not to develop one's own. (For Lacan, this is basic alienation via language. And note further that he regards the subconscious as language-based, in a generalized sense.)

  12. Animacy is more elemental, perceptually, than agency, as it basically involves a segment of the sensory field moving with respect to the rest, but while retaining a coherence of its own. (This is particularly the case in the visual field, where e.g. small animals are often perceived via motion. However, even visual perception of coherence can vary, as e.g. with a cloud.) Moreover, notions of animacy go on to figure human subjectivity quite broadly, as e.g. some people with disabilities are consequently figured as subhuman due to their reduced movement, etc. (One might thus observe that the subject-object dual has never been rigid, particularly as e.g. "natives" were regularly perceived as closer to objects by modern imperialists.)

  13. Of course, in animist societies, animacy per se figures object segmentation more broadly, such that it's attributed widely. (In contrast, not to dive too far into typological schemes, in this case from Descola, but totemic societies might consider something to be all of one substance while others would consider it to be segmented, including via animacy....)

  14. Perhaps this is an oversight on my part, but I was unable to find a general term related to how something came to be in the shape or form it's in, without resorting to terms from biology. (Morphology is also a linguistic term, and found e.g. in archeology, which might actually be the closest analog for these purposes.) One might speak instead of knowledge of an object's engineering (or indeed economics), its provenance, etc.: Where did it come from? How does one know? (And so, why is "it" perceived coherently as an it?) What was involved in its production?

  15. Per [12], basic attributions of coherence (i.e. of being a discrete object) can involve perception of some slice of sensation acting independently & in concert: Once again, such perception is socially conditioned, both according to notions of ontology & of action per se.

  16. Outside of these two categories (i.e. agency or known historical morphology), one might consider e.g. a rock: It needn't have derived from human activity (although it might have, if only to break it loose), but it does suggest a clear sense of separation: A larger substance, e.g. the geologic stratum, broke into pieces (often via unremarkable, but not specifically known, forces). It thus might (depending on context, social or otherwise) be perceived as separate.

  17. Such an attribution (i.e. of derivation) involves a further conceptual leap, since objects of biology are still produced as objects. (In other words, biology is a highly mediated discipline.) More simply, they are named by people.[18]

  18. Naming is thus taken (e.g. by Levi Strauss) to be a basic form of violence, i.e. of stripping (hypothetical) subjectivity (or agency) from an object. Moreover, naming confirms separation, at least of self-other, in part by invoking a relation of transcendence (& so of authority) between oneself & what's being named: The resulting conceptual stability might then be considered pharmacologically....

  19. That biology continues to figure this discussion of perception — including terminologically per [14] — is largely an artifact of broad modern colonization of biology (among other domains), and so now its subsequent interrogation & disarticulation. (In other words, the topic seems unavoidable, even though I had no explicit intention of discussing biological colonization here. That's worth noting, again.) Of course, in some sense it's unremarkable that biology would continue to condition human thought....

  20. One might even say that the self derives from human production: Moreover, perceiving oneself demands or constructs a distance from oneself. (The object is thus excluded from the subject, even when they overlap physically & otherwise.)

  21. Notions of "object oriented ontology" (& so also of some intertwined concepts of "speculative realism") thus tend to ignore the means by which (perceptual) objects are actually produced, and so to treat them as givens. (Whereas one might take biology per se as given, its segmentation is likewise produced via investigation, including per [19].) That such an a priori arrangement is socially conditioned — in this case, according to norms of Western modernity [22] — must thus be emphasized, particularly as such object manipulations are used to justify "objective" conclusions: What are & aren't "objects" is very much a matter for debate in these terms.[23]

  22. The ubiquity of mass produced objects has given "object assessment" a very specific flavor in late modernity, and now postmodernity. (In other words, it's increasingly "obvious" because objects are produced already as such, i.e. as mass commodities.) Needless to say, this situation is novel.

  23. One might even suggest that e.g. the object of this particular article (or study) — & the opening paragraph of Section 1A had already named an "it," i.e. an object of perception — is produced only via work. (This study can thus be said to fall within the Western paradigm per se, perhaps within its "human nature" frame — although I'm deconstructing both terms.)

  24. Work itself thus produces or (re)confirms perceptual hierarchy. (And work is often directed at an object — but usually not at perceptual hierarchy per se, which might nonetheless become such an object....)

  25. Consider an image (& in fact, it's here in my room right now, although it's mostly not mine): A cherry wood coffee table, assembled from pieces & stained, covered by a tablecloth sewn at home from thread & fabric, with a variety of (industrially manufactured) cups & bottles & pottery figurines (made by my daughter) & papers sitting on top — dozens of all these things, piled in a heap with batteries & plastic toys. (My partner is very messy.) I see this colorful (& dense) conglomeration as a collection of distinct objects as described, but how & why? I'm not checking to see if I can physically separate these objects, and in some cases I can't (at least without breaking them, or finding appropriate tools), but I know they're separate (at least conceptually), because I already know a lot about them, i.e. how they were made, where they were purchased, etc. (That's "historical morphology" as I'm using the term.) Instead, say, imagine an object that looks very similar, but was carved from a single block (i.e. only by removing material) & cannot be separated physically (without breaking): Perhaps I could be fooled into believing that the latter is the former, or perhaps I'm already fooled.

  26. So whereas objects are usually segmented according to the familiar, and what is unfamiliar might be invisible, sometimes the latter forces itself into consciousness & is then perceived explicitly as unfamiliar, as something to which one must take notice (& perhaps adjust), at least momentarily.... (Indeed, such bracing unfamiliarity has been one mode of artistic production.)

  27. Per the chain beginning with [9], and figuring linguistic alienation along the way, of course there are still many disagreements regarding objectness, even within a milieu. (Such disagreements are often ignored or suppressed.) However, in many social settings, even one's internal objects of perception will be subject to mediation via dialog (& indeed via joint attention per se).

  28. Per Lazzarato channeling Duchamp, it's specifically "belief" in an object that grants it authority, and so gives it the power of disinhibition: Including per [3], Christian disinhibition is then figured via trans-movement between human & divine, via belief in & (e.g. numinal) object relations with the latter. (One might frame such belief in objects according to faith in one's objective segmentation, i.e. faith in how one perceives the world. Such faith in perception was, of course, explicitly grounded in theology by Descartes.)

  29. Of course, commodity reification is already an explicit Marxist concept intended to explain how alienated work can go on to exert fascination over the worker (now as consumer).... There's little reason to expand on that topic here, however, particularly given its (Hegelian) origin in imperial philosophy (not to mention its status as well-known, if not accepted), but the parallel must be noted.

  30. Further on imperial philosophy, notions of "das Ding an sich" exhibit just such a fascination, but have moreover served to divide the world, in particular according to outcome & intent (in what I've dubbed the Kantian gap, which might further be figured as basic failure of typology): Not only do "we" become separate (dispassionate, i.e. emotionally stunted, or "disinhibited" in contemporary anti-modernist terms), but our actions lose their targets. Rather, outcomes withdraw into the murky world of objects in need of (subjective) interrogation.

  31. The (specific) articulations of psychoanalysis date only to late modernity, but Lacan's "object a" — as in the heading for this section — involves perhaps the clearest articulation of object fascination (as) going to the very heart of self formation: Although it certainly invokes subject-object grammar, and so might not translate to social situations in which such grammar is not imposed (or is imposed rather differently), as generalized object(ive) of the (sexual) drives, "object a" projects an overarching & inescapable influence on modern (liberal) subjects. (In this sense, per Zupancic, "the subject" is a contradictory effect of the basic lack that the object hypothetically satisfies, i.e. that emerges in seeking the object.[32])

  32. And I generally find it to be quite helpful to read these "object oriented" studies according to anal & phallic fixations... they are often transparently scopic (i.e. shifting across the Lacanian anxiety parabola), for instance. (Separation of "the object" is of course primal, including during the work of birth itself.)

  33. Subjective power over "objects" also invokes the master-slave relation (which came to format many modern relations, including via industrialization, and including the political relation [34] e.g. per Arendt): E.g. Moten then basically figures African American performance as "resistance of the object" and further figures resistance as practice, such that blackness is itself embraced as anti-. (One might analogize such an assessment to "reclaiming" the term queer, as black has generally been figured as the negative opposite of white: Blackness has thus had little choice but to figure resistance.)

  34. "Object relations" thus come to define political struggle more broadly, such that (once again), contemporary politics (increasingly) takes on the character of a labor negotiation.

  35. Laruelle also interrogates the status of the victim, usually figured (at least implicitly) as object (but not of knowledge), such that victimization is increasingly employed for (instrumental) political objectives that never serve victims: He thus suggests that e.g. intellectuals are to be superimposed on victims, defined & judged by victims, forging a new victimology. (One might also note Wiegman's basic concept of Object Lessons here. And as Moten & others have observed, not only does the object speak, but the commodity speaks: Laruelle's "superposition" is thus far from theoretical, at least in principle.)

  36. Possession is, of course, a neoliberal obsession: Land, oil, money, genes... all are to be possessed as private property, and exploited accordingly, so as to gain more. (Possession thus figures a kind of transcendence, i.e. of constantly elevating oneself, often in illusory ways — & indeed in clearly unsatisfying ways, even according to the terms of neoliberalism itself, since no amount of wealth is ever sufficient.)

  37. One might further figure eating as canonical possession, i.e. as actually incorporating the substance of the object into oneself.[38] (Indeed, the mother & breast are canonical objects, or "partial" objects per Klein, of self-formation, i.e. of self-separation, as suggested in prior sections.)

  38. The "culinary" thus comes to define a kind of canonical, transitory aesthetics: Food itself might e.g. be interrogated further as transitory (aesthetic) object within ecological circuits. (This is not what Adorno had in mind when raising the specter of culinary aesthetics. Rather, he was clinging to a timeless idealism.)

  39. A particular sort of (fantastic) possession was already figured (in Lacanian terms) by [31] (& the, often pathological, drive is indeed to possess "object a"), but what of contemporary fascination with object relations (& so ontologies) in general? Many derive from a desire to possess the planet itself, i.e. to take control & impose e.g. environmentally friendly policies. (Whether one agrees with such a program or not, it certainly involves important notions of possession.) Illusions of possession may then allow objects to control one in turn (as in, again, "object a").

  40. Coincidentally (as someone who takes credit for reinvigorating contemporary object interrogations, particularly around ontology), Harman was set to release a new monograph on this subject (Art + Objects), and I noticed it after I'd begun sketching this article (fortuitously I'd thought), such that despite expecting substantial disagreement, I was intending to read it by way of preparation — but that monograph has yet to appear & now seems to be withdrawn. Specifically (albeit previously), Harman defends aesthetics as "central" to philosophy: I agree, although I don't find much value in philosophy per se — even as (or, because) both philosophy & (modern) fine arts share a similar elitism. (And note that a statement about the centrality of aesthetics to object-oriented philosophy is already something of an inversion of my remark above.) I continue to find it strange that Harman insists that relational priority "reduces things to their pragmatic impact on humans and on each other" when it's so obvious that one doesn't know or experience nearly every object relation (& not even all of the potentially "pragmatic" relations). Perhaps more to the point here, Harman has claimed that a focus on relations is "no longer liberating." (Well it's safe to say that imperial philosophy has never been liberating, at least not for most people.... Perhaps if Kant were to see a therapist....) Anyway, I wasn't able to read more about what Harman had to say on this particular topic, but did want to note the abortive attempt.

  41. One might also consider Kane's interrogation of Schaeffer's remarks on sound production, namely as moving from the designation of a mysterious "object" as (perhaps acousmatic) sound source to sound per se as "discrete & complete" & so unbound from source — i.e. as object itself: Such a shift marks a disavowal of (originary) object relations, such that artistic (in this case, musical) production becomes not only about forging relations, but sometimes about severing them. (In Schaeffer's case, this involved working with taped sounds, disarticulated from their sources, and then rearranging them into unrecognizable combinations.)

  42. Notions of "art" per se as tangible object, whether painting or sculpture or tapestry or archway, predate modernity: Such notions are largely based on production, such that (artistic) labor produces an object — a persistent object.[43] One might then emphasize the "engineering" quality of such production, such that it fades rather seamlessly into the modern commodity. (However, such a shift or gradient has also undermined the basic artistry of production overall, in particular by segmenting art per se from general production: Every item produced remains "art" in some sense — but now it's mostly bad art.)

  43. Such persistence might involve not only maintenance in (historically based) collections — & contemporary "collectibles" take on a monetary quality related to exchange, an increasing issue for the contemporary art world, as objects are hoarded away from the public [44] — but (explicit) notions of decay, as in the "ruin" or even "heritage" objects more generally, the preservation of which both reiterates & interrogates the (historical) past. In some ways, lack of knowledge regarding the history of these objects — provided that there's sufficient knowledge to perceive them at all — imbues them with a greater power via unfamiliarity & mystery.... (Such power yields the "Renaissance" phenomenon, by which a sense of self-distance & discovery, i.e. reflection, launched the modern imperial era like a slingshot.)

  44. In other words, whereas the object persists, a crisis is perceived precisely because the relationality of art is severely limited by hoarding & seclusion: The relations the object is (hypothetically) able to forge or interrogate (specifically with the public) are not actualized. Such a situation, lamented widely even by object-oriented connoisseurs, makes for a stark (& contemporary) portrayal of the significance of relationality per se to art(-as-work).

  45. In the industrialized world, art has come to differentiate itself from the commodity specifically by not being mass produced. Yet, there is no particular reason that mass production facilities cannot be used artistically. (Well, there are economic reasons, driven by neoliberal thirst for profit....) Indeed, uniqueness itself becomes something of a fetish, and (per [43]) in turn the impetus for currency-like exchange of art objects. Moreover, uniqueness fades into uselessness, as the latter attribute comes to critique industrial production per se. In other words, in having been (forcibly) divorced from general production, "art" has sought other means of asserting its value, and those means have in turn minimized the impact of individual art objects, which have a necessarily limited orbit (including per [44]). (Such a focus on value by way of scarcity can also be considered pharmacologically.)

  46. Music has long been contrasted with "art" as being insubstantial, such that it's sometimes been said to be almost pure affect. (Of course, today there's mechanical reproduction of music as well, but in that case, the relevant "object" is not the sound per se, but rather the format or packaging, which must be reinvoked — in time — in order to hear it, with the actual sounding remaining ephemeral. Such a combination of persistence & ephemerality has also inspired hybrid formats, in which e.g. visual perception is mediated in time according to formal constraints around the art object, etc.) Although music might still be new, in practice, today it's often reproduced (mechanically) again & again.

  47. Parallel to its traditional objectness, "art" has also traditionally been about semblance: One paints or sculpts something in particular, preserving its image in the art object. (Such an impetus appears to date at least to cave paintings of animals... perhaps, per [37] or [39], depicted in order to invoke possession. Concrete semblance has also been employed for millennia in the name of displaying the watchfulness of a ruler, etc.) The age of mechanical reproduction has also refigured semblance, however, especially around photographic & phonographic technology (& now three-d modeling, virtual reality, etc.), such that — per [45] — even object-oriented art comes to aim for uniqueness over semblance (or else might become spectacularly non-unique, etc., by way of an entirely different interrogation...). Again, this is so as to invoke or display purpose or (neoliberal) value.[48] Art might aim for fascination, for instance, and thus (perhaps) also ideality, even reification per se: Uniqueness & semblance together suggest ideality, i.e. singular transcendence, which in turn (at least sometimes) suggests reification — although it might (again) be an interrogation of reification per se. (Indeed, one might pile relation upon relation without end, including via semblance.[49])

  48. Note that letting scarcity define value (according to "supply & demand" logic) is especially perverse in the world of art, where impact might instead be maximized according to maximization of relations: The more of something there is, the more connections it has, the more impact it has. (Note further that this obvious fact is not forgotten in the neoliberal world of propaganda: By choosing scarcity, art is thus marginalizing itself within the contemporary arena. In contrast, spectacular non-uniqueness often registers today as mere surplus.)

  49. Semblance already entails a basic relation of reflection or mirroring, such that relations proliferate, e.g. in orgies of photographic duplication. (Recall that reflection is one of the most basic relations of human abstraction in part because of bilateral symmetry. It's also an axiom of Euclidean geometry, meaning that it's posited there rather than derived.) Such an orgy might also be said to multiply perspectives.

  50. Whereas quasi-ephemeral music is often reproduced, its impact can also change on rehearing. Akin to looking at the same painting again, though, repeated listening to (the same) music is generally popular. (One might likewise e.g. film & rewatch the same performance art, which is otherwise similarly ephemeral.) However, what of repeating the same joke? Often, comedy does not translate or age: Although it can be repeated formally, its object tends to vanish with familiarity (and memories of comedy are usually not funny). So although the joke generally invokes some object, its real object is (relationally) elsewhere — not unlike "object a." (The joke thus interrogates lack, i.e. pokes at it, inducing recoil?)

  51. Farther afield, continuing an example from [4], one might consider e.g. kula, specifically in that objects (artifacts) brought into (the) gift circuit are not the object of kula: Relationships are.

  52. Of course, language is (usually) heard & spoken, often read, etc.: Its aesthetic quality is thus clear from its basic learning & deployment, such that language use & acquisition are (already) mediated by (individual) perceptual details, even prior to encountering (traditional) aesthetic genres, e.g. poetry or the (modern) novel. (Particularly in the case of poetry, one might also consider the direct linguistic interrogation of subject-object, i.e. the equivocation available via language itself. Per [50], one might also consider that comedic performativity, even slapstick, is based in signifiers, even as its form outstrips its content, such that comedy often interrogates objectivity per se — or ideality, per [47] — as well.)

  53. And pace (further remarks of) [40], subject & object are simply two ends of a relation. (In particular, art-as-work as relation can generate its own endpoints from the middle, specifically per e.g. the "relationscapes" of Manning, et al....)

  54. I've already discussed various means by which objects gain power over subjects (many of them, e.g. fetishizing commodities, having a long history in the critical literature): In many ways, such phenomena already involve subject-object inversion (along with various sorts of oppression, i.e. power over the other). More basically, though (or at least more grammatically), one might simply perceive the "object" as actor: E.g. the table causes itself (by its presence) to be seen.

  55. Per Wagner, meaning depends upon what isn't there as much as it does upon what is there, such that segmentation of objects (i.e. foreground) relies upon a background (or context) that's then normalized (i.e. generally ignored). Foreground & background might thus be made to invert or equivocate, such that other objects appear — depending on situation or perspective: In other words, "gaps" become objects [56], as (prior) objects dissociate [57] & disappear. (One might thus trace different relations, such that for Wagner, "not doing" — i.e. background — is first attention: I might characterize this as attention to segmentation per se, or even to pre-segmentation.)

  56. For McGowan, one of the basic features of humor is to reveal (such) gaps by filling them (suddenly) with excess as a sort of surprise: For him, comedic equivocation thus arises from Lacanian subjective lack — in a sort of recoil, per [50]. (McGowan further positions comedy between tragedy & pathos, which he says lean respectively more toward excess & lack.) Foreground-background inversion might thus be said (at least potentially) to yield or involve comedic equivocation.

  57. Object dissociation might be figured as directly opposed to reification, but is (it) dissociation of the object, by the object, or via another (perhaps artistic) object? (In other words, a different sort of reification might yet be involved.) Indeed, reification itself figures a kind of dissociation (i.e. of work or production more generally). There are a wealth of possibilities for forging or tracing such relations, i.e. for interrogating duals around reification, but (a) presumptive "independent" (or ideal) status for the object might well yield or trace nothing.... (Of course, obscurity — or spectrality per Legibility, spectrality, machines — is also in relation.)

  58. Continuing from [21], object segmentation is increasingly taken as given, not only due to mass production (per [22]), but due to contemporary technological conceptions: For instance, object oriented programming comes to dominate internet applications, and computer objects are always given, i.e. of known provenance (i.e. engineered). Even beyond language [59], our objects thus (increasingly) tend to be firmly in place prior to our own perception or consciousness, just as the computer knows how to compute because it (already) knows its objects: So the computer becomes a model or inspiration (for ontology, among other projects) today?

  59. Beyond the violence of linguistic alienation (per [11]) or naming (per [18]), contemporary language becomes increasingly rigid due to imposed object segmentation. Yet it becomes increasingly fluid as well (including per [52] & indeed per various neologisms or points of terminological confusion). How can it become both? In short, the increasing rigidity of object segmentation (and hence ontology, which largely remains trapped within modernist horizons) is met by a corresponding (indeed pharmacological) instability of expression, a basic (often subconscious, even psychoanalytic) resistance to the (imposed) linguistic objects.[60] One aspect of such (pharmacological) equivocation might be figured via (postcolonial) hybridity & related global conflicts: To what extent has (global) communication ever occurred? What of new languages (or is that only a matter for computers today)? Maybe language is not always already in place...? (These are crucial postmodern questions.)

  60. The basic contradiction driving postmodern language to become both more rigid & more fluid is that of neoliberalism itself, i.e. its founding deception (as directed at the interior, anyway, where such deception was largely welcomed): Suppression of (or rather, distortion of) communication among the public is necessary to maintain general deception, and such a dual has arisen from cultivating basic global proliferation of postcolonial ideas & expressions. In other words, confusion emerged necessarily from the postcolonial situation, and was subsequently cultivated & channeled (into specific, rigid formats) via (ongoing control over) global media. (Such a rigid-fluid dual then becomes pharmacological precisely in that its results become increasingly unpredictable, particularly via subconscious resistance & further proliferation of language, as noted.)

  61. And note that I've not only segmented this section from the previous section, to which it forms an appendix, but also from the next section, for which it is (something of a minor) introduction: As the latter suggests, I've concluded a need to sever "object" from "ecology" here (pace their prior pairing in Object ecology), not only due to concerns around possession (e.g. per [39]), but due to widespread confusion arising from the pairing itself (especially as articulated in [40] — but also, in part, [59]).

  62. Indeed, object ontology must yield critique of objectivity per se (including per its historical articulation, e.g. according to [21] & [33]) such that different objects, i.e. different segmentations, can yield different worlds.[63] (And whereas the latter might be related via equivocation, such relation is a matter of considerable effort, i.e. of art-as-work: Equivocating relation is never "given" either, despite various typological schemes promoted as providing or inducing automatic translation.)

  63. The universalizing tendency of modernity must thus be overcome, such that different worlds can not only exist, but coexist & thrive. (Such potential thriving is, of course, not limited to human social domains.) And "ontology" — like most of Western philosophy — has (so far anyway) maintained just such a universalizing tendency.

  64. And of course, one might finally wonder whether the subject-object dual is of much (explanatory, artistic, etc.) value at all....

2B: Ecology & embeddedness

What is or isn't part of oneself?[1] For instance, what does one need to live?[2] What does one affect? What can one affect?[4] Such questions interrogate not only notions of existence (i.e. as an entity [5]), particularly as embedded in a sea of sensation, but of capacity & responsibility.[6] Such questions also obscure the extent to which one merely reacts [7] & overstate (one's direct [8]) influence: Locus of self [9] extends quite far, in the sense that e.g. one's careless discards (i.e. trash) could be harrying sea creatures thousands of miles away, yet even conscious intent won't necessarily change the situation [10] — at least absent larger coordination.[11] Indeed, boundaries between self & other can be complex & evolving, and one is left to trace such (presumptive) loci via perception alone [12]: Moreover, one is embedded not only in physical sensation, but in language, such that language itself both involves & mediates perception.[13] Yet, even as it multiplies perception [14], language provides only a particular orientation toward (a subset of [15]) our (real [16]) ecology: Through language, the Other then becomes many others, as — particularly under the reign of modern individualism [19] — worlds are segmented & consequently available only via translation.[21] (One might even suggest that conscious learning occurs today only via translation.[23]) One thus learns of many "others" (only) as versions of oneself — as (necessarily deprecated) copies or reflections, or worse [25]: Exploitation in turn becomes a norm, as the other is not only segmented, but hierarchized.[26] As the modern regime breaks down under postmodern globalism [27], however, strict segmentation becomes increasingly illusory (& anachronistic [28]): One becomes multiple [29], hybrid [30], blurred.[31] Affects proliferate via various crossed & crossing perspectives.[32] (Affects collide.[33]) Different worlds appear, different worlds to which one has different relations, different worlds within which different "things" are perceived.[34] (Worlds continue to collide.[35]) Such differences then suggest new questions of exploitation & equity [36]: They might suggest, in turn, a new political ecology.[37] (In other words, they might suggest fuller & more robust models for political & artistic action.[39])

But how is one to perceive, how is one to know (what to do [40])? One learns, of course [42], but how? Broadly speaking, processes of semiosis [43] involve entropy production in a (pharmacological) race (or dual) between knowledge & destruction [44]: In other words, we learn (perhaps even our own boundaries) (in part) by destroying. Self-other then becomes not only immunological within the narrow domain of self [47], but pharmacological across a broadly complex ecology.[48] (Legibility itself was already pharmacological [49], and now becomes increasingly urgent....) How does one trace affect (or effects) then?[50] How might one cause or induce a preferred (pace pharmacology) outcome?[51] (One needs knowledge, but cannot always meet its costs....[53]) One might further suggest that pharmacology traces (or even defines) ecology more broadly [54]: What supports what? What destroys or inhibits what? (These are again questions according to notions of processes [55], whether biological, geological, social, etc. And answers are sure to yield more difficult choices in turn.[56]) So while semiosis in general can yield an immunological sense of self or society [57], how might it (itself) become more ecological?[58] (And then, how might self or society become more ecological in turn?[59]) And how has semiosis come to function within [60] or across societies?[61] Imperial modernity had clear answers to these questions [62] — largely around its priorities of expanding exploitation & hoarding wealth — and its successors retain a similar mentality, but what of designing something else?[63] Forging a real postimperial situation will require new perceptions, new ideas, new designs & new objects.[64] (This process has barely begun.) And moreover, such open-ended novelty cannot proceed from another hierarchical situation, i.e. via (alternative) ideological imposition (i.e. from elsewhere [65]), but must be discovered [66] (immanently) via art-as-work, i.e. through the everyday semiosis of doing.[67]

One's consciousness of oneself might become a (relatively static [68]) self-consciousness, however, further mediated (as a segment) according to social forces [69,70]: One thus comes to produce oneself consistently [71], including via (or against [72]) broad norms. Particularly under the modern (& now postmodern) regime, social norms also come to obscure (biological) variety [73]: One's place within a broader ecology is often regarded as given [74], even though ecological processes (& so entities) operate on a variety of scales [76], including internally [78], and involve a variety of (often, but not necessarily, conventional) intersections: What does one eat, for instance (or in turn, what eats one)?[79] Such conventions are then (actively) maintained (ecologically), i.e. via (plant or animal) domestication [81], or further via human hierarchy [82] per se. (And much of what the contemporary interior considers to be "necessary" remains a historical novelty, as there have been & are many other possible intersections....) Moreover, in the postmodern (i.e. neoliberal) era, such hierarchy has yielded (increasingly constant) demands for entrepreneurship (of the self), such that one's role [84] is increasingly hierarchized not only according to (personal) "success" (i.e. relative to a presumptive goal of hoarding wealth), but according to generally exploitative (i.e. pyramidal [85]) relations (increasingly) applied across an entire ecological spectrum.[86] (And such relations bring no ultimate success either, no end, only ongoing demands....[87] Neoliberalism is quite clear on this: Art-as-work should be about hoarding wealth, which involves cultivating an insatiable — & consistent — thirst for more.[88]) What of a new ecology of the self, then, i.e. a different ecology for art-as-work, i.e. a break from the modern pyramid? Art (working relation [90]) must forge not only new selves, but new ecologies: One might then speak (not of the art of entrepreneurship, but) of entrepreneurial art per se.[91] Considering the (urgent) need to experiment & renew, one might further embrace virtual art (i.e. fictions [92]), and in particular the broad relational capacity of virtuality.[94,95] (Aesthetic relations are often virtual, so yield a kind of virtual ecology anyway.[96])

A fully segmented subject position [97] — i.e. a rigid self-other locus, without interpenetration or equivocation — yields (increasingly severe) restrictions on (capacity for) ecological relation, however: These are the restrictions of modernity, and their resulting (or foundational) pyramid shape is an increasingly poor fit for a global world.[98] That much is obvious (to more & more people at this point), but not only does "pyramid scheme" figure the modern (& now neoliberal) economy, but contemporary perception & conception more generally: The basic nonlinearity of perceptual feedback is refigured into tree-like forms projected from the segmented self [100], such that not only are e.g. public & private institutions based on rigidly hierarchical forms [101,102], but concepts of individuality (i.e. segmented selves [103]) come to yield (immunological [104]) concepts of "privacy" that are (generally) oriented on (modern notions of) ownership.[105] Notions of "ownership" per se [106] then underline the violent exclusion that both supports & emerges from such a rigidly typological conception.[107] (In the latter sense, life itself, in that it doesn't fit the pyramid concept, has become a "general critique of typology....[109]") Moreover, "lack of fit" further propels increasing divergence between intent & outcome [112] — all while the modern pyramid scheme continues to fetishize outcomes.[113] Different concepts of segmentation, subjectivity & consciousness are (increasingly, urgently) needed [115], then (as perhaps already declared excessively here), and do indeed continue to present themselves [116], such that (at least on the theoretical level) one might begin to figure e.g. generic positions [117] & so even generic art [119]: Rigid production (& thus individualistic segmentation) of subjectivity continues to be refigured (at least conceptually or potentially) around ("non-productive") relational art, then, i.e. away from the object (i.e. the fetish good). Relational art might thus induce a sort of non- or anti-typological proliferation [120], even a basic theatricality [121], that continues to blur & equivocate in turn. (In other words, art-as-work operating relationally transverse to the segmented, typological pyramid can & does bring nonlinear feedback back to perception.[123])

Whereas segmented individuality (further) focuses perceptual feedback through a single point (i.e. through a singular self [124]), and so yields a (ramified [125]) linear structure, (an actual) global context involves fully nonlinear motion & feedback [126]: One might even come to speak of global circulation, and so ask what circulates via "ecological machine.[129]" What fits such swirling complexity (conceptually), and so how might it (or at least something else) be perceived or traced in turn? (What new conceptual machines might then be produced or invoked via such semiosis?) Affective circulation might be interrogated as encompassing not only perceptual objects [131], but life cycles in general [134]: How do ecological cycles intersect [135], or what might be said to enclose them?[136] (Does thought enclose them conceptually? No, but....) What of their summation (or superposition [140]) then, i.e. not just globally per se, but according to (limited) notions of "nature?[141]" (That various cycles interact in order to forge & sustain humanity is already clear enough: But what sustains those cycles, and indeed cycles of cycles? Where should — ecological — attention turn first?[142]) Further, what of (general) aesthetics versus instrumentality?[143] (E.g. how is the physical world perceived before or while it's being used?[144]) Moreover, what doesn't circulate [145], i.e. how does scarcity [146] emerge & function within & across (intersecting) ecological machines?[148] Scarcity derives not only from hoarding & over-consumption [149], but from explicit manipulation & deprivation [150,151] as well, such that equity comes to encompass broad questions of ecological (& so economic [152]) circulation — and so (again) questions of what circulates, i.e. of thingness [153] & affect.[154] (Indeed, deprivation & equity aren't so much about strict equality as about different processes & their internal needs [155], although suggestions otherwise do become popular neoliberal rhetoric....[156]) The many questions of this paragraph remain largely unanswerable, though (at least in general terms), and so require a variety of (immanent) investigations: And such (investigative) practice has already been figured via art-as-work, such that (relational) sustainability in general [157] comes to involve [158] "poles of tangible art & intangible music [159], ... hybrid forms in e.g. industrial design [160] ... developments in photography, cinema, fashion [161], ... further aestheticization of food, sports & history [163], as well as shifts in textual relations.[164]" (Such practice is, of course, not exhaustive, and proceeds in a variety of directions at once.)

If art-as-work (as practice) is to answer any of these questions, then, it's going to require creativity: Moreover, there's a basic semiotic process that accompanies (e.g.) design [166], an interaction between feedback (as limit) & intensity per se [167], such that creative activity can come to a kind of plateau.[169] (That the artistic creativity required today involves a "design" approach arises precisely from the capacity of the latter for nonlinear feedback, and so for forging limits — and so for respecting outcomes.[171]) Further, transverse relations already suggest a "queer" orientation [172] (i.e. relative to the typological pyramid), and one might then note (perhaps fortuitously) that queer theory (per se) also revels in extremes [174]: Queer intensity [175] thus not only "leaks" across types & so tilts fields of relations [176], but involves a (canonical) theatricality [177] that proliferates affects more generally.[179] It's often figured as promiscuous [180], such that one might then speak of promiscuous art [181] (e.g. of proliferating relations across types [182]): As (always already) immersed (i.e. embedded [183]) in a field of relations (social & otherwise), in other words, to what is one attracted at any particular moment? Such attraction need not be (explicitly) sexual, but does figure semiosis more broadly....[184] (And moreover, how might sexual drives be further or otherwise related artistically?[185]) If transverse relation is to be figured as queer relation, including beyond sexuality per se, then how might it (all) fit (together)?[186] What do relations span or generate, if not (always) a/the pyramid?[187,188] The simplest answer to these questions is indeed that transverse (i.e. queer) relations have always been implicit, if not (always) actual, and that transverse relations interrogate the deficiencies of the pyramid form, i.e. both expose & remediate the weaknesses of its typology.[190] That relations come to multiply [191] is thus a response to modern (conceptual) suppression, involving as it did (exploitative) biologism (as) intertwined (specifically) with heteronormativity.[192] Creative, transgressive relationality might then circulate (ecologically) anew....

That (artistic) circulation involves e.g. reflection & theatricality [193], does not (simply) yield equity [194], however: Rather, equity has come to revolve around "identity" (i.e. a mediated, molar quality [195]), such that segmentations (& their fit & translation [196]) reemerge (explicitly) into political discourse.[197] Molar segmentation then extends well beyond human social groups [199], i.e. into species-based segmentations that further figure planetary ecology [200]: Such collectives (molarities) necessarily collide, then, even as they are themselves products of semiosis.[202] Collective identities also generate their own histories [203], which not only (might) come to define them, but figure (a molar) politics as well.[204] Indeed, figuring (a) collective art-as-work [205] suggests not only collective autonomy & so design (of at least "local" [206] politics), but many collective designs.... Moreover, collective autonomy suggests notions of sovereignty [207], which might in turn suggest (specific) notions of (modern) nationhood, with its (usual) top-down politics [208]: Modern (immunological [210]) sovereignty might thus continue to suggest pyramidal typology in general [211], including via "private property" — which maintains a similar form....[212] So as to continue interrogating (postmodern, postimperial) equity, then, one can ask instead of a "molecular" sort of sovereignty, i.e. as emerging from (collective) semiosis per se [213], and as operating through or across (various potentially) intersecting ecologies: So what of multiple sovereignties (specifically) "over" multiple ontologies?[214] Ecologically speaking, what of multiple regimes of care?[216,217] One might then ask how collectives are (actually) embedded in multiple ecologies [218,219], and in turn how those (many) ecologies (ultimately) come to intersect at the global level [220]: Where & how do regimes of care collide?[221] There is much here to trace, then, and much does indeed circulate [222], such that many equitable (& inequitable) potentials continue to emerge from a variety of directions (i.e. not only via identity per se) — and so require (ecological) semiosis & cultivation in every (embedded) moment.[223]

  1. Recall that, per the opening to the central arc of this investigation, sensation precedes perception precedes consciousness: "Everything" thus passes through sensory apparatus, meaning through the self (at least in that particular sense), prior to being perceived as other.

  2. Although questions regarding the necessities of life do seem relevant to self-other segmentation, few people would suggest that e.g. one's legs are not part of oneself, despite that people live without them (perhaps for their entire lives). Such a question might suggest the most restrictive possible self-other boundary, however (at least if one insists that the self remain living during & after segmentation [3]).

  3. An explicit condition that the self remain alive might seem obvious or redundant, but death is very much a part of ecology: People (eventually) die, and moreover, they rely upon other deaths (including those of plants, etc.) for nourishment, etc. (Other entities rely upon the deaths of people as well.) So what one needs in order to live might be in direct conflict with the lives of (various) others. (And what is "living" anyway?)

  4. Possibilities (or potential) for affect should be considered to be quite open-ended, particularly relative to the actuality of affect....

  5. Notions of existence per se are (generally) rather more broad than notions of independent & segmented, i.e. circumscribed existence. In other words, what one "is" remains open-ended as long as one's affects & boundaries remain open-ended. (E.g. Descartes appears to have taken his segmented, bodily existence as a given, however.)

  6. Note that capacity & responsibility can change: Not only might they condition possibilities for art-as-work, they might be "worked" themselves (enlarging capacity, for instance) via art-as-work. (Note further that the same can be said of "the work of" perception per se, even absent production.)

  7. That one might be the tool of another doesn't mean that one has no effect, but it does mean that action itself is usually multiple: One is constantly moving & being moved (if not always literally), again within a sea of sensation & relation.

  8. Notions of "direct" influence are of course crucial to notions of control: To what extent can one choose one's effect? (To what extent is one conscious of one's effect at all?)

  9. "Locus of control" is a standard term from early childhood development, playing out around such acts (at least in typically developing children) as knocking food on the floor: Pace [8], I intend "locus of self," rather more broadly than control per se, to suggest the fullest extent of one's effects, i.e. down to carbon emissions (or wherever one's other molecules might end up someday), etc. And the latter is not a proxy for the former: One might want to affect the stranger with a smile or a wave, but does one want to control the stranger? (Should one?)

  10. For instance, one might have no way to know that a trash receptacle will eventually spill into the ocean, or that a barge will sink, etc. (And crucially to this section, whereas one's discards can often be modified, the process of living does always involve discards & so their possible effects.) Of course, one can still make better & worse choices in these matters, at least according to some "reasonable" predictive method....

  11. So does the need for coordination suggest that one is larger or smaller than one tends to think (at least as trained by modernity)? It suggests both at once!

  12. That one must perceive self-other (for oneself), along with everything else, is not really notable: However, I must emphasize the embedded quality of such perception. One cannot step outside of one's life & achieve a totally different perspective, particularly not a universal or objective perspective, i.e. a (presumptive) god's eye view.

  13. I'd already mentioned the alienation of language & the violence of naming in the previous section. In the terms of this section, one comes to language already immersed in it & its affects. Indeed, one learns language together with learning perception & self-other. (This is why learning another language, even later, can interact so differently with one's perceptions, often lending far more perspective: Learning that was once fused together might separate & open to more possibilities.)

  14. That language multiplies perception should be immediately clear: It yields both signifier & signified, i.e. always a doubling. The relations of language involve new signifiers in turn, etc. Language can also be expanded in "formulaic" ways, e.g. with superlatives, even absent a signified. Language can then designate the hypothetical, etc. (In other words, language piles reflection upon reflection, including in relation to itself.)

  15. It's clear enough that different languages enable different expressions, which might in turn enable different perceptions. However, only a subset of what is perceived can ever be described, as reality continues to exceed language. (In Lacanian terms, the real always exceeds the world — of language.) Further invention of language then becomes a kind of conquest....

  16. Similarly to Lacan, Laruelle regards the real as "determining (over thought) in the last instance." In other words, sometimes one's crazy ideas — as expressed in (the world of) language — prove inadequate to one's actual situation.[17] (Notions of "reality" are often overstated, but I treat it as exactly this sort of surplus: One is never omniscient, and perceptual worlds are necessarily limited.[18])

  17. For instance, many people (including myself) believe that climate change cannot simply be talked away, i.e. by creating a different world (of thought) in which it doesn't apply: Reality, i.e. the planet itself, will ultimately have its way. In the meantime, however, people continue to be able to behave in a variety of manners regarding this issue.

  18. The "reality of science" is thus compatible with both Lacanian & Laruellian notions: In this sense, Lacan's "world" is simply the prior, incorrect scientific understanding, overturned by new information — i.e. by the real imposing itself somehow on thought & perception. (However, note that the Western scientific "real" tends to bring notions of universalism, which is not necessarily implied by this conception. One might even suggest that universal applicability is itself a scientific assumption: It's rarely treated as a hypothesis itself.)

  19. Of course, "individual" already suggests someone or something that cannot be divided: Such a conception has become further normalized as (liberal) autonomy comes to define conceptual (& so e.g. political) interaction. People are perceived to have their personal (private) bubbles that can intersect or impinge in only limited ways. (So under this model, individuality becomes a form of isolation.) Yet, even biologically speaking, human bodies are composed of many different organisms [20], such that one's physical individuality isn't actually clearly defined.

  20. Perception at the scale of microorganisms has been reconfiguring understanding of human biology at the cellular level, as matters of scale increasingly enter ecological thinking, not only in terms of the planetary scale that we (increasingly) affect by living our lives, but in terms of the differing scales of various organisms & how they relate. (One might even consider that some scales are basically transcendent with respect to some activity, such that notions of "transcendence" can reenter an ecological conception.)

  21. In other words, if I'm separate from you, how can I really know your thoughts? One might think of translation here in the "physics" sense, i.e. as moving a defined distance, in this case the distance between my perspective & yours.[22]

  22. Although such translation might not seem notable, it already suggests perceiving something in terms of something else: In other words, it becomes "translation" broadly speaking, ideas articulating to others as a sort of jigsaw puzzle, i.e. without overlap. So what might transversality come to mean within such an image? Moving "across" the puzzle yields more affects, more worlds....

  23. Per [13], one might even suggest that language acquisition is already a sort of translation: My perceptions are translated into your preexisting terms.[24] (And as Wiegman notes even of identity knowledges, "... what we share the most begins and ends in divergence.")

  24. Sensory modes (as previously discussed) are also translated between each other, often via language. One might then ponder aesthetic translation more generally: Although it's common to believe that one understands the perceptions of another, to what extent is that actually possible, particularly within such an individualistic domain (per [19])? How does communication function in such a scenario (including about art)?

  25. Whereas moderns treated other people as inferior, they treated other forms of life, let alone other things (i.e. "natural resources" etc.), as of significance only to the extent that they contributed to modern wealth production or enjoyment. (And such an exploitative conception only becomes more extreme under neoliberalism....) So it can be much worse — and of course, people were sometimes treated little differently from "natural resources" anyway.

  26. Hierarchy as rupture had already discussed how segmentation (there, rupture) tends to yield hierarchy....

  27. Perhaps the most obvious shift in modern typology under globalization has been the deprecation of the national form & its boundaries — but only with respect to the circulation of capital. E.g. Sloterdijk has generalized this (what I call typological) breakdown according to notions of bubbles (e.g. per [19]) or spheres eventually coalescing into a complex foam. (Sloterdijk also theorizes the globe topologically, by way of connecting mechanisms.)

  28. Calls for a return to modern typological hierarchy are indeed conservative, regardless of impetus. (This remains an issue for Marxism, with its modernist Hegelian basis.) At its best, strict segmentation is simply an outdated approach to new problems. (At its worst, it invokes layers of control.)

  29. Of course, one is already multiple: One might be son, husband & father. One might be an African American, or both citizen & soldier. One might be friend & lover, reader & writer, etc. Language multiplies relations in this way, and there can be many more.... (One might also note that these existences involve multiplications of perspective as well.) Unless one injects hierarchy, then, the world can become something of a jumble.

  30. Colonial hybridity has usually involved spatial collision, and so a sense of location or even confinement. (The prototypical postmodern collage might thus be said to derive from such hybridity, as segments of various origin mingle within one space.)

  31. This notion of blurring is, once again, from Moten. (Whether "consent" is really involved is another matter.) It makes good sense to me as a mode for typological critique more generally....

  32. Consider the proliferation of affect via the acousmatic situation, for instance: Sounds might provoke questions regarding their sources, which thus become conceptually separated. Segmentation of sense modalities thus yields segmentation of e.g. sound & production, such that each might take on (different) affective qualities.

  33. Beyond affective segmentation (e.g. via separation of sound & object per [32]), sensation is generally felt multiply, i.e. across modalities — and of course, various sensations usually impinge at once from a variety of sources. A kind of theater emerges, in which sensation might or might not be attributable to "characters," but in which thoughts of "source" (always) yield affective doubling that supports further (theatrical) staging in turn.

  34. Per the previous section, notions of "object ontology must yield critique of objectivity," i.e. of universality, and so yield different (simultaneous) worlds. What exists? What is known? By whom, for whom, for what? (What makes something "a thing" then?)

  35. So how might many worlds fit together? (Inspired by the Zapatistas, Escobar coined the "pluriverse" term: Language proliferates affect proliferates language once again.)

  36. Differences can be significant, but instead of (among liberal or modern) subjects per se, one might consider differences across e.g. pre- or pan-individuals: How might questions of self then interrogate exploitation? (What is the locus of exploitation, other than that between modern individuals?) Is one even equitable with oneself?

  37. The basic anti-disciplinary (i.e. in the sense of separate academic disciplines) character of this series (of essays) might even be said to align with the difficulties involved in self-other segmentation (generally), such that (newly) transverse disciplines must be sought, such that even boundaries of knowledge are crossed & conflated. (In some sense, however, ecology is simply a reframing of economy, both deriving linguistically from the Greek oikos, home.[38])

  38. So is "ecology" already stagnating in disciplinary terms? After all, the problem with "economics" is not its scope in principle, but rather the (traditional, modern) relations with which its space has already been (over) filled....

  39. "Differences" already suggest a sense of segmenting embeddedness per se, such that even multiple existence can come with a sense of hierarchy (including per [36]): Art-as-work might thus come to resegment, to reembed, in a kind of anti-hierarchical gesture (i.e. without recognition) that in turn refigures politics. In that sense, more differences only provide a broader domain for action.

  40. Even not-doing is a kind of doing, such that — pace [3], and maybe even after death [41] — one is always doing. And much of that doing probably isn't consciously chosen, but (as already articulated extensively in Morality as aporia) writing such as this does tend to revolve around or invoke consciousness & choice. (If such writing ends up involving "good" choices subconsciously, that's a good outcome too....)

  41. At a minimum, one's body, as waste, continues to affect others after death (and of course there might be memories, etc.). And one's choices in life might vary that effect, e.g. in how the body is treated after death, or even according to its prior content (e.g. metals, germs, etc.).

  42. Rather, one might not learn, but (per [17]) failure to do so can eventually — or rather quickly — involve serious (perhaps fatal) issues. (Moreover, at least in a general sense, all organisms learn or perish — or learn & perish only later: One might thus figure "natural selection" around semiosis.)

  43. As knowledge production, "semiosis" has a linguistic orientation, but I'm using it in a more generalized sense (following Stiegler [44]) to indicate integration of perception, i.e. sensory knowledge in applicable form. (In that sense, whether knowledge is conscious or not is secondary, although consciousness will inflect modes of applicability, and yields further mediation.) As a general process, then, it need not be formatted via language per se.

  44. The basic notion of a semiotic-entropic dual is from Stiegler, who thus makes a basic distinction between activity that generates "light" & activity that (only) generates heat, the latter figured as (canonically environmentally) destructive. Moreover, in Stiegler's terms, analogous to thermodynamic laws, semiotic activity tends to generate entropy as well, as when e.g. a scientific sample is destroyed in order to examine its internal structure. (He consequently calls for the negative production of entropy, or negentropy.[45]) One might then interrogate an activity according to how much knowledge or entropy it produces.[46]

  45. I must note that the "negentropic" can be a matter of perspective, such that while entropy is increasing in one world, it might be decreasing in another. (One might make a similar remark regarding the environment in general versus the living body, which can be said to store "negentropy" at the cost of increasing entropy elsewhere. One might then generalize such an observation across societies, which comes to describe modern imperialism — at least in some sense, i.e. as bolstering itself while destroying others.)

  46. So stupidity is our biggest problem today? (Stupidity is being actively produced by neoliberal policy....) Yes it is, but ameliorating stupidity (or simple ignorance, of which everyone is always guilty in various ways) still brings questions of entropy production, particularly within such a fragile environmental situation. Moreover, one can't simply overcome noise with more noise (which is itself polluting): Another approach is needed.

  47. Given that one is embedded in sensation, as previously noted (e.g. per [12]), forging or tracing (& the two can be indistinguishable) the self-other boundary becomes an iterative process: Immunologically, one seeks to exclude or even destroy the other, in a mode of both self-preservation & self-segmentation. (Such segmentation is not total, however, as e.g. different microorganisms inhabit our bodies, or as "foreigners" might inhabit our towns.) Notions of immunology then reflect both the basic complexity of this iterative process, as well as its (necessary, at least if even quasi-segmentation is to be preserved) ongoing quality.

  48. Immunology evokes biology (as well as medicine) once again, and might itself suggest a semiotic-entropic dual, namely knowledge (& maintenance) of the self-other boundary versus (potential) destruction of the other. The image has proven to be a powerful one for critical theory, particularly for its pharmacological qualities (& do note the current epidemic of autoimmune diseases, at least in the interior), but also in terms of the basic segmentation of living organisms: In other words, the world is not an undifferentiated biological "soup," but rather includes entities that maintain a separate (at least to some degree) coherence. (Immunology then becomes a general discipline for interrogating how such biological segmentation occurs or is maintained.)

  49. As discussed in Legibility, spectrality, machines, legibility itself (as conducive to knowledge or semiosis) can be imposed, and so e.g. often involves violence. Alternately, legibility might involve equivocation, i.e. might involve perceiving other worlds, other objects, other knowledges: Care might then tilt the (pharmacological) balance toward semiosis, but care (in any specific sense) is difficult or impossible without legibility.

  50. Relationality per se is not determining, so one must trace every relation: Simply noting a relation does not necessarily answer questions of exploitation, for instance (and straightforward rhetorical inversion of relations is a standard neoliberal trick). Moreover, relationality suggests a process from the middle that in turn produces its own endpoints (per the previous section), such that "reality testing" (or simply art-as-work) comes to involve semiosis of both self & other. (And one must continue to learn the self in order to trace its affects....)

  51. Causality is already a fraught topic, particularly given its Western history, and can suggest its own pharmacology of "easy answers" (together with rote assumptions regarding what causality can possibly entail [52]): I prefer to discuss "tracing" instead, i.e. the mapping of relations (irrespective of temporal fetishism). More recently, "speculative realists" (e.g. Morton) have suggested that causality is basically aesthetic, and I'm supportive of that approach: It's often more about sensations & feelings than (purported) rigor. So how might one "cause" something...? First via happenstance, but beyond that, via better understanding of one's (fully ecological) situation.

  52. And my own history in the scientific establishment included condemning conceptions of causality there, conceptions that were soon to be problematized by e.g. laser resonance in crystals: I wasn't quite booed off the dais (as I was when proposing to encrypt internet traffic at the network protocol level circa 1988), but it was quite an acrimonious exchange. (My actual response: "Causality is a stupid idea for stupid people." I wouldn't put it exactly that way a few decades later, but such an interrogation does extend back a while for me....)

  53. Per [44], semiosis (or knowledge) indeed comes at the cost of entropy. One can extend such a description beyond a thermodynamic analogy too, for instance, and into evocations of quantum uncertainty: Learning a particle's position involves obscuring its velocity, and vice versa. Broadly speaking then, investigation (even as acknowledged by Western science) affects its own domain, such that knowledge comes at a cost, perhaps even involves destruction. (Again per [49], legibility thus comes to involve violence.)

  54. For instance, subsystems of one's body must be in balance, without one overwhelming another. (And so bodily hierarchies are themselves something of a misnomer, and should probably be called bodily ecologies. I tend to use both terms, although they have different implications.) Various aspects of the environment (more broadly) must also be in balance, such that adding another (i.e. a pharmakon) might yield a new balance, not the total victory of some element over another — or at least not always. (A "medicine" — per [48] — should never dominate the body, for instance, but rather restore its balance: And in this sense, modernity is very clearly bad medicine....)

  55. Although it spans various (disciplinary) arenas, process thinking is largely about focusing on ongoing change, rather than on static objects, and so (per [50]) also becomes about learning by doing. (Farther afield, e.g. Wiegman & Nash suggest a kind of process-oriented intersectionality, such that forces of subjectivization continue to impinge: "Identity" becomes dynamic in such a context.) And it's not only that process "thinking" spans disciplinary boundaries, but that various processes don't themselves respect prior (disciplinary, human) conceptions (which in turn yields a particular kind of spectrality, as rivers might be said to run underground).

  56. We seem to be far past any point at which we could choose to preserve everything, various species & societies included. Something will have to go. (Such a necessity likely presented itself from the moment that the modern empire was established, but of course it was handled very differently under such a regime — and indeed still very differently now from what is actually needed, pace [17].) Note, moreover, that such choices will involve complex, nonlinear effects: What is most valued can be tightly bound to what is most feared, whereas the indifferent might be most easily saved.

  57. "An immunological sense of self or society" (per [47]) suggests (at least partially) known, negotiated boundaries or segmentations....

  58. Simply put, an immune response (by self or society, per [48]) might involve the destruction of the other: So how can the other be preserved as well? Is preservation of the other actually crucial to preservation of the self or society? (Modern semiosis has thus actually been short-sighted regarding its own needs, pace [3].)

  59. Note that, in this context, an "ecological self" or society involves not simply embracing whatever "green" trends are available (and one's choice of what's available, per [10], might be quite limited), but interacting according to non-hierarchical (i.e. what I'm calling ecological, pace issues of scale per [20]) relations, in other words with respect for various others. (Ecological embeddedness is thus a general notion, beyond concerns of climate change per se.)

  60. Semiosis within societies tends to proceed according to established conventions (as opposed to the equivocation often induced by cross-social communication attempts [61]), and so one might note any number of aspects, whether historical or emergent: Without undertaking an exhaustive listing, for instance, Western society (along with many others) not only requires the public concealment of body parts (e.g. genitalia, female breasts), but covers them in such a way as to emphasize their concealment (& hence future availability). Clothing for women in particular (especially in USA) thus remains relatively conservative (in keeping with its puritanical roots) in terms of actual coverage, but increasingly highlights (& indicates) sexuality nonetheless. In other words, sexual semiosis becomes formal (in keeping with the presumption & imposition of static roles, etc.), yet impersonal.

  61. As noted, social semiosis has generally included an immunological element, such that knowledge (of the other) is acquired both via & while prioritizing self-preservation, or in some cases (imperial modernity being by far the most prominent) self-expansion: Modern expansion did not involve only destruction, however, but also incorporation, i.e. (in biological terms) ingestion of the other (with various aspects eliminated as waste, to continue the analogy, but with some retained). Such expansion then refigured (or perhaps eliminated) the immune response of the other, and the resulting hierarchy thus inhibits translation. (In other words, as problematic as translation across "pieces" is, per the puzzle image of [22], translation between a single piece & the forces imposing the overall image is even more fraught. Further, translation across pieces proceeds only as mediated by such a presumptively transcendent imposition, yielding a basic barrier to ongoing cross-social semiosis.) Hence calls to proceed with semiosis according to basic embedding & situatedness, i.e. without being mediated by a transcendent position (which language often enters to provide, nonetheless)....

  62. Clear answers are, of course, very important to modernity: It's all about increasing production, increasing control, efficient structure, hierarchy & typology. Confusion might decrease production, and so "science" (as modern epistemology — when its results are not discarded as themselves inconvenient, that is) seeks clear answers. (Although the pyramid scheme underlying modernity is not common to all societies, desire for clarity is far more prevalent than modern propaganda would suggest: One of my favorite anecdotes, appearing in various sources, is thus how early Europeans in the Caribbean brought in clerics to use psychic "experiments" to determine if natives had souls like their own, while Americans were simultaneously conducting their own physical experiments to determine if Europeans had bodies like their own. It's a striking contrast, regardless of the supposed answers.)

  63. Escobar, in particular, notes the value of "design thinking" as a paradigm for co-constitution of self & environment: Industrial design has come to involve a variety of practical feedback mechanisms & iterative experiments, and Escobar further emphasizes the potential of community-driven design rather than expert-driven design: Whose feedback, whose (desired) outcomes? (And where does religion fit into a discussion of goals, particularly pace inevitable social embedding per Religious inclinations?) Might industrial processes yield something other than profit, then? (As different goals might already suggest, such notions arise within a horizon of multiple ontologies....)

  64. Per the concerns of this paragraph, design is them about semiosis — & follows similar, iterative feedback mechanisms. And as consideration of community goals (per [63]) suggests, design is also about relations: Relations between what? Per [50], the latter is part of (the) design, rather than a given. (One might also note ethology as specifically involving biological design by various creatures: Environments are thus often co-constituted, although many questions about their mutual relation remain.)

  65. Western society (at least in USA, although very likely everywhere) continues to cling to its top down methods, including or especially in the face of crisis: Arguments are increasingly about who is to tell everyone what to do, who is setting policy, whose ideology is supreme. If anything, learning among the general population is increasingly suppressed (as dangerous). So ideological imposition remains very much alive & well — & thoroughly opposed to bottom-up ("grass roots") approaches.

  66. So we embark upon a new "age of discovery," then, this time with little concern for "distance" per se, and hence for travel: Rather, new objects & designs, new relations, are to be discovered right in front of our noses — or indeed perhaps within our bodies. (I often figure such discovery as the aesthetic discovery of "use" via art-as-work — again as opposed to twentieth century notions of art as useless.)

  67. One might conclude that art-as-work is always already design, although the latter does suggest a more specific consciousness (& so a different approach to feedback). In either case, a process quality is to the fore. (And as simple as "process" observations might be, they nonetheless undermine the presumptively static, pyramidal character of modernity, including in its neoliberal revision. Of course, modernity did have its own priorities for process, rhetorically called progress.)

  68. Note that consciousness per se need not involve static conceptions of the self — although it does involve some conception of the self — even as static qualities are constantly attributed & reinforced (particularly by modern notions of hierarchical typology). One might even suggest that living consciousness rejects static attributions, and might even seek (actively) to undo them.

  69. Social mediation of the self takes on an increasingly discrete & image-based form via the "selfie" & the various "likes" & comments that it might engender. Indeed, social feedback (& hence mediation) might travel rather far afield via the internet (now, "social media").

  70. Social mediation of the self is also increasingly targeted by larger institutions & forces, such that (as noted in a prior section regarding "internal colonization" — which is really an aesthetic battle) propaganda & marketing become more & more individualized. (There is then very little co-constitution or feedback, per [63], involved in such a "broadcast" process.)

  71. That one produces oneself (e.g. while prioritizing consistency per se) has become a commonplace of this discussion: One might also speak of designing oneself (partly in the sense of co-constitution), or more generally of art-as-work (yet again).... (There are undoubtedly various forces today that would be more than happy to produce every self, specifically so as to optimize wealth production & extraction, such that producing oneself does become an increasingly urgent opportunity....)

  72. One is also quite affected by norms that one opposes....

  73. Modernity tends to layer social norms over its interpretation of biological norms: For instance, that people can only reproduce (at least in the biological sense) sexually leads to essentializing gender & gender roles (including according to norms of sexual orientation). Such layered normativity then serves to obscure the (actual) variety of biological activity.

  74. The "given" quality of one's ecology (or more often per contemporary rhetoric, environment [75]) is of course a consequence of it having (mostly) preceded one's birth....

  75. Indeed one might figure "environment" as denoting a static context, whereas "ecology" might denote a set of active processes. ("Environment" is not always given a static interpretation, however.)

  76. Not only do aspects of our general ecology operate at much smaller sizes, i.e. those of bacteria & other microorganisms, as well as much larger sizes, i.e. those of planetary & interplanetary systems [77], but according to vastly different time scales (i.e. durations) as well. Whereas human scales seem the most important to us, and for obvious reasons, these other factors do impinge on other scales. (They might thus be more difficult to notice or describe.)

  77. I certainly question the relevance of our interactions with interplanetary scales, although I can't deny that e.g. the sun continuing to shine is of crucial importance. I suppose that the real question of relevance here is whether we (can) affect those larger scales: It was once thought impossible to affect the Earth as a whole, as we now have (& as some people still deny), so perhaps anything is possible in this regard. Let's hope not: It's hard to imagine — especially with our current exploitative priorities — that our effect could be anything but negative.

  78. Particularly considering the speed at which microorganisms develop & change (i.e. their temporal scale), the microbiome of the body has received increasing attention of late (e.g. per [20]), and not only according to notions of "contamination," but those of symbiosis. (Further, one might consider the burgeoning field of technological implants, largely confined to the medical field at the moment, but apt to erupt into the general ecology at any moment....) One might then consider bodily ecology both as something of a whole itself & as in relation to general ecology.

  79. Eating & consuming are inherent to life processes, such that there is no "safe" ecology, at least not for everything & everyone. Rather, there are conventional "life cycles," such that particular entities tend to depend on particular others [80] (and such cycles indeed circle around, as in e.g. when human bodies are consumed by worms & bacteria), but the potential for different relations does not remove the relation of consumption or predation (or exploitation, one might say) from the general ecology. (Much like modern political economy, such dependence tends to be figured around notions of populations, and further by conservation, husbandry, farming, etc.)

  80. As noted in the previous section, "eating" figures both motherhood & canonical (object) possession: Transitory object relations thus figure culinary aesthetics, in turn, as ecological aesthetics. (The latter involves not only roles within life cycles, but ongoing processes more broadly.) Food & culinary aesthetics are therefore one of the leading postmodern vectors, particularly as culinary aesthetics alternates between illuminating & obscuring food sources — itself becoming a kind of general collage: Different relations thus appear & disappear, including between the two poles themselves (while the relations of eating itself remain more or less the same, despite generally increasing ecological consciousness).

  81. Indeed, the (domesticated) animal has figured human hierarchy, including by analogy, with "others" frequently rendered in those terms. Plants reside further down such an "animacy" hierarchy (as it's most often invoked), such that notions of animacy have come to figure human relations as well. (Regarding social segmentation more broadly, then, one might thus consider colonization of various plant & animal worlds according to similar terms & forms, including according to their translations & intersections.)

  82. Human hierarchies have yielded a variety of perspectives: One might even speak of animacy via notions of "performance" [83] such that "minorities" (as the most excluded & exploited are figured by modern quasi-democracies) are perceived as reinforcing hierarchical social conventions simply by their presence.

  83. "Minority performance" thus becomes a branch of performance studies per se, such that new discoveries (including per [66]) increasingly emerge from colonized positions more generally. (One might further figure performance as processual, in ecological terms.) Today such performance also involves notions of agency: Who says what one's life means? (Is "majority" a performance? I believe that we do know it... & majority "performance" usually means violence according to some pretense.)

  84. Indeed, a sense of "role" emerges as distinct from (immanent) life per se, such that a theatrical doubling (including via basic segmentation, per [33]) further multiplies (including per [29]) our selves — to the point that the self becomes a "contradictory effect" of (entrepreneurial) hoarding per se: Such a process then induces further segmentation, including (denial) within the self.

  85. I've already remarked upon modernity as having the shape of a pyramid, and such a notion (by itself) is straightforward enough. (It's also fortuitous — for the analogy — that the historical pyramids are rigid structures. That the image dates to & is associated with ancient times is simply one of modernity's many ironies, although particularly by the "enlightenment" era, various moderns did explicitly set out to mimic ancient empires....) And whereas e.g. large-scale (analogic) medieval societies did involve rigid hierarchy (including "divinity" in the person of the ruler), they were rather more discontinuous (as divinity already suggests) with their castes: It was the continuous scale of "money" that eventually served to forge a smooth social facade, rather than the nominal "ownership" of common wealth by kings.

  86. In other words, one not only (presumptively) wants to ascend the pyramid (per [85]), but the very process of ascendance tends to hold the pyramid (rigidly) in place — even as individual efforts are often undermined by forms of "bait & switch" — i.e. further solidifies hierarchy & (fully ecological) exploitation in general. In other words, we end up running in place & victimizing ourselves, and in particular extend such exploitation into ever more (ecological) niches in the process — a process that is then demanded of us again & again. (We thus come to objectify ourselves, circularly rather than pyramidally, via such global entrepreneurial activity.)

  87. One might contrast open-ended hoarding with religious outcomes, particularly as they so often figure finality via death. (The entrepreneurial self is to cheat death via filial inheritance.) Humanity has experienced many life goals other than to maximize wealth... and many forms of closure. (When is one even to celebrate an achievement? There is always more to do, and always more emptiness as a result.)

  88. Note, moreover, that hoarding is not production: Beyond exploiting labor (according to the older, industrial mode), neoliberal financial capitalism now consistently generates (nominal) wealth from nothing, making for an intangible "art." (Uselessness thus comes to define the glories of financial capitalism, itself emerging from the twentieth century as well.) An orientation toward "more" is also a future orientation, removing one from the moment [89]: Modern instrumentality has thus come to deny immanence, and inflect one back into (supposedly future-oriented, entrepreneurial) work. (Labor, i.e. "work" in general, has long suggested a future orientation, as the very concept delays any fruit, and has come to deny any prospective enjoyment as well.... Hence, at least in part, the glorification of uselessness in the late modern period.)

  89. Might one eventually become content with the extent of one's wealth accumulation? Although such an outcome certainly seems to be possible for the individual, ongoing neoliberalism continues to suggest that satiation is impossible at the broadest levels....

  90. I have largely defined art according to the working of relation, and so art-as-work, but what of other relations between art & work? Is uselessness itself an art? (Can it function without relation?) What of an economy of art? How might e.g. reciprocity function within such a horizon, i.e. without commodity equivalence? (This would be far from a new situation, but is again quite novel according to modern theory.) What might then design the self?

  91. Entrepreneurial art is then art emerging into the world, making changes.... Per [39] (i.e. as a gesture), it might then reconfigure segmentation per se, and so objects, and so their ecology. However, gesture is more relational than productive per se, such that non-objects (& indeed non-subjects) might be reconfigured (relationally) as well. (What one can't fully predict, however, are outcomes. And sometimes, that's for the best.)

  92. Indeed it's telling that modernity — although it was far from the first society to do so — embraced the exploration of self via fiction [93], in particular via the novel form: Although its hold is now wavering, fictional narrative thus became the primary means of teaching (& so inflecting) self formation in the West. (What replaces it? Marketing profiles? "Comments" sections? Not that I'll have any nostalgia for the reign of individual narrative....)

  93. E.g. Laruelle embraces a fictional mode in part because it meshes with his notions of the generic, such that one doesn't exist via properties (e.g. the ontological quality of existence), but insists via effect: In that sense, the self (itself) is not so much a contradictory effect (per [84]), but a (spectral) potential. Fiction thus comes to figure virtuality per se, rather than (specifically) narrative form. (In other words, a self does not emerge from history, but rather lies beneath various superpositions.) Latour had proposed a fictional mode as well....

  94. Doubling — including via language (per [14]), or via the semblance in general — has long intersected art-as-work (as relation), such that virtuality has long figured aesthetic forms, going back to Greek theater etc. (Indeed, per [92], various virtual modes have figured artistic performance & ritual in general. After all, virtual relation is still relation, such that e.g. ritual performance forges a world rich in relations.) One has thus long been multiple (per [29]), and especially according to aesthetic exploration of self formation per se. As virtuality multiplies further in the contemporary era, one should keep this long history in mind....

  95. Of course, virtuality (including in semblance form) is no substitute for (the immanence of) life.... However, particularly via semiosis, virtuality can supplement life with new routes to knowledge. (Its "unreality" then figures, in part, its pharmacology.)

  96. The notion of a "virtual ecology" probably (already) suggests technological notions of "virtual reality," i.e. the internet & visors & motion capture.... (The next section will explore this topic further.) However, aesthetic doubling (including via language) yields a rich (virtual) relationality that is conducive to forming its own ecology (e.g. in the Lacanian "world" sense). Such an ecology involves a reembedding, i.e. a challenge to (modern & now postmodern) segmentation (& so individuality).

  97. Under the modern regime, a "fully segmented subject position" might extend far beyond the body to encompass exclusive access to "private property" of all sorts, such that a "private individual" can even "own" large swaths of the Earth & its resources (in a scenario that would simply be unthinkable in any previous society), and can dictate their use or non-use (even to the point of broad ecological destruction, and to a significant extent, even after death).

  98. Although pyramid schemes could be workable over extended periods, even at relatively large scales, as history shows (e.g. per [85]), the pyramid simply does not scale to the size of the globe. And its poor fit becomes increasingly apparent as the modern & now postmodern machine grows to encompass nearly everything.[99] Moreover, pyramidal thought has shown no ability to transform itself: It only thinks, and so speaks, hoarding & exploitation.

  99. For instance, conceptually, one might regard mini-transcendences as not particularly harmful, perhaps even useful sometimes, but at the level of transcending the entire globe — i.e. removing oneself from the circuits of chance or Fortune more generally — the deficiencies & stakes become more clear. (And then we end up with nonsense "suggestions" such as colonizing other planets....)

  100. Indeed the "poor fit" of tree forms (not that I mean to impugn actual trees, but it's a classic image!) is mediated by overlapping hierarchies around the self, such that the resulting contradictions are then internalized. (In other words, the segmented self is generally left with the work of rationalizing modernity.)

  101. That e.g. governments & corporations are arranged in pyramids, with strict chains of command, barely seems notable today, since the (military) form has become so institutionalized. One is thus not only embedded within (explicitly) hierarchical organizations for much of one's life, but "leadership" per se comes to mean the power to hire & fire (i.e. is about control rather than ideas or charisma).

  102. One is, of course, embedded in language more broadly, with its modes of alienation & violence, and indeed its typological structures. (Semiosis per se is even mediated by language — at least for most people.) Indeed, as discussed in the previous section, language is becoming both increasingly rigid & increasingly confused via its own pharmacology.

  103. Strong segmentation raises the question — including of translation, per [23] — of whether we can know each other at all: Do our segments even "fit" together? (If the pyramid no longer fits the planet, per [98]....) What is the shape of that fit, and are (fully) separate "bubbles" still possible? (Were they ever? What then of transverse fits, e.g. of passing through one another? And if segments don't fit together, how can they possibly translate? Moreover, what of the "pluriverse" of [35]?) How does the world appear through such a foam (e.g. per [27]) around the self & one's sensations?

  104. Immune response is about identifying (& so semiosis in general) & excluding or eliminating the other: "Privacy" then forges a larger locus around the self, encompassing many of one's affects, and (crucially) assigning exclusivity to various (object) relations. (Privacy is thus almost a buffer for the self, yet also involves strict control.)

  105. Per [97], "private property" was one of the great modern innovations: Everything must be owned — increasingly to include ideas, the virtual, etc. — such that everything is placed in strict typological relation within a chain of ownership (or a chain of command, per [101]). Property ownership is thus a significant application of & motivation for modern typology, itself rendering & supporting strict hierarchy via exclusion.

  106. And e.g. Balibar discusses just how novel (& indeed schizophrenic) Locke's concept of "own" was at the time (i.e. the era of both embryonic empire & property enclosures), leading to the figuration of consciousness per se as another sort of (owned) property....

  107. The basic rigidity of typology figures its violence clearly enough. However, it already emerges via learned perceptual schemes, such that it (often) comes to found semiosis per se, and therefore to format the iterative processes of self-other & life in general: One might even thus consider typology to be comic or tragic [108] — to be further interrogated by equivocation, at least in the former case. (Comedy is often anti-typological, whereas tragedy might deepen the resonance of types, or else shatter a system altogether.)

  108. Per Zupancic, for instance, the love encounter (or event) has an inherently surprising quality — almost as if it was believed to be impossible — that might in turn be figured as comic or tragic. (The relational significance of that distinction does seem to be vanishing in the contemporary era, along with irony, etc....)

  109. The pyramidal (or tree-like, pace [100]) shape of typology is felt as unsatisfying under various (life) circumstances, including around notions of exclusion from property (per the "ownership" typology observed in [105]) or general perceptual rigidity (per the semiotic inhibitions noted in [107]): And resistance to such (typological) notions might further be figured according to e.g. blurring (per [31]), legibility-spectrality (per [49]) & formal equivocation [110], or even via (quantum) superposition.[111] However, that strict typology is increasingly felt as "wrong" via the processes of living itself is (always) the most powerful critique: Does everything really fit its category or type? (Just how awkward is the fit? Does it allow for any real semiosis?) The postmodern world creaks & sputters under increasingly desperate attempts to insist that yes, it does....

  110. One might even suggest the equivocation of foreground-background inversion as a response to Oedipal triangulation (and in turn to the love event per [108]), and so to the framing of the real as lack. Suddenly the real might overflow? (It's usually sudden.)

  111. Laruelle's application of (quantum, per [53]) superposition in opposition to typology involves the generic (i.e. kenotic) position, i.e. quality-free entanglement at the "molecular" level. (There's thus no mixing or priority, but something like a different perspective through a stack of lenses.) It's thus opposed to a concept like hybridity, which is more of a molar phenomenon, and consequently more concerned with border regions & mixing (than with particles stripped of relations — which are also always already mixed).

  112. As noted so often previously, outcome-intent already forges a kind of gap, and indeed can be figured into a (failed) typology itself. Noting this gap, then, must come without further enforcing another (dualist) gap, and indeed, (per [51]) causality itself should be problematized, i.e. away from notions of intent. (One might then trace across such conceptual gaps via non-productive gesture, e.g. per [91]: Gesture might be said to emphasize a sort of bodily continuity that is otherwise lost in crossing from intent to outcome.)

  113. One might even figure (modern) intent as itself pyramidal, such that ascendance is always (implied) intent (& is enforced as such via recapitulation). A pyramidal process also implies — or entices — finality, according to its image of apex: Modern finality [114] thus comes to refigure eschatological finality (& other religious notions of outcome, per [87]), further to an Aristotelian nexus of split ends & means against a final telos (of salvation, in Aristotle's case via happiness as ultimate end).

  114. As noted so many times already, modernity craves outcomes in general: E.g. sports results facilitate gambling, differences are hardened & harvested for profit, economies pronounce their verdicts on winners & losers, etc. (And there's an ongoing thirst for more outcomes, wherever they can be found, just so long as they drive typological sorting....)

  115. Segmentation, subjectivity & consciousness are of course critical components to locus of self (or self-other locus), culminating in (perhaps non-agential) responsibility according to [9]....

  116. In the contemporary era, global creativity & "discovery" (per [66]) increasingly involve "minority performance" (per [83]): Being excluded has a way of unblinding one to the relations of the majority, particularly absent any benefit. (So the neoimperial world forging new exclusions, i.e. new ways to "sort" per [114], assures a fresh supply of new perspectives? Perhaps....)

  117. The generic position is figured (as undetermined, i.e. as lacking in properties per [93]) "under" the particular, which then coalesces only via superposition — and so is opposed to the universal. (The generic is not e.g. a set inversion of the universal, however, since it's not quite nothing: I suppose that one might compare to e.g. Badiou's topological ontology, but the latter approach hasn't resonated with me, despite a mathematical background in topology....) Laruelle then speaks of "generic science," e.g. of victims [118] (of which modernity knows many, including per the recapitulations of [86]), tracing indignation & insurrection in turn, and indeed emerging heretically (against the typological pyramid, and so against neoimperialism in general).

  118. For Laruelle, victimology might e.g. pass through the photograph, around which he observes an aura of pity projected by its actual nonexistence (i.e. its "mere" semblance relation). His "photofiction" hence refigures the technological assemblage of photography, including according to its (own) principles of illumination. (Victims might then be overexposed by events.)

  119. Laruelle proposes not only a generic science, but (a) generic aesthetics as a kind of fiction: His primary example has been via photography (per [118]), but the notion of generic art (i.e. without properties) suggests a further relational art, not only via superposed properties (per [111]), but according to the gestural qualities of [91] & [112]: One might think of "generic art" (relationally) as a fluid kernel of (typological) equivocation — i.e. as uninhibited & unimpaired by typological segmentation (i.e. boundaries).

  120. Artistic relations proliferate anyway (including virtually, per [94]), and relations transverse to typological categories (i.e. "types") are inherently anti-typological. Yet, what other relations might there be beyond simple transversality (or virtuality per se) — & well beyond the object fetish? (In other words, proliferation is straightforward enough, but what relations actually lead elsewhere, i.e. not only beyond a simple typology, but into a new world?)

  121. Sensory segmentation already presents something of a theatrical character (per [33], & perhaps even yields literal roles, per [84]) that artistic (relational) doubling can (then, continually) multiply. In what sense is such theatrical multiplication of (affective) relations simply noise, however? Does it serve the neoimperial pyramid, or act (out) against it?[122] (These vectors are often composite, rather relying on the generally equivocating virtuality of theatrical affect in general in order to produce new actual relations, which then emerge from a sort of random affective stirring....)

  122. When does affective proliferation become heretical (e.g. per [117]), then? Precisely when it ceases to confirm itself as itself, even as it transgresses (previously established) typological barriers, and so becomes other. (The anti-typology of comedy, per [107], does remain a seemingly ubiquitous form of social equivocation relative to entrenched perceptual hierarchies....)

  123. That the pyramid doesn't fit the planet (per [98]) has been "resolved" (by neoliberalism) by pushing its contradictions further inside ourselves (per [100]), such that in order to be free of the image & its forms, one must not only perceive (differently), but externalize the conception itself (rather than letting it linger as internalized entrepreneurial responsibility for the pyramid). How might one then engage translation across segments (perhaps via some sort of generic translation, analogous to the remarks of [119])? How might one not only reverse the (pyramid-shaped) flow, but enable its general (a-typological) circulation?

  124. For modernity (& now liberal postmodernity), the self is singular (i.e. not multiple per [29]) in much the same way that "nature" is singular — yet to be perceived differently (rightly or wrongly) by different (distinct) selves.

  125. Ramification then propagates tree-like (or, in three dimensions, pyramid-like) structures of thought. (One might conceive such branches as decision points, but always anchored singly.)

  126. Proliferation of artistic relations (per [120]) thus follows (or allows for) such nonlinear feedback, at least in principle. To what extent does (artistic) relationality then trace [127] the nonlinear situation in turn, i.e. allow for (conscious) semiosis & application?

  127. Although tracing every relation (per [50]) [128] is generally necessary in order to follow nonlinear affect (& so potential influence), to what extent does tracing itself become impossible within such a swirling context? (Is exploitation always obvious?) One might then turn to virtual relations, including per the histories of [94], semblance as model, or even to theatrical imagery (per [121])....

  128. What then of non-relation? One might figure non-relation as a sort of relation (including oppositionally, per [72]), but the status of non-relation has particular implications for segmentation per se (& so for the psychoanalysis of moderns...).

  129. The notion of ecological machine can be taken as analogy (or even as translation scheme, per [103]) [130], and is limited as such, but machinic qualities are more than merely figurative: Various processes — even within the most complex, nonlinear contexts — remain straightforward, at least within the smallest spaces (i.e. before further ramification, e.g. per [125]). One might e.g. perceive an ecological machine at the level of microbiology, with its various processes combining to form macroscopic entities & effects. (With the growing popularity of craft brewing, brewing metaphors present themselves, for instance. Again, whereas such a description might illuminate, it might limit as well.)

  130. Art-as-work relative to other art-as-work then figures "intersections," and so not only "fit" (again per [103]), but spanning (i.e. capacity to trace a space): Ecology might then be traced within a space of intersection, or as forged via spaces of intersection....

  131. The globe itself becomes a perceptual object (or conceptual object, e.g. per [27]), although it sits at the top of another conceptual hierarchy, such that one must also consider relationality at various scales [132], and according to various modes.[133] (One might thus say that the globe exists differently from everyday objects, i.e. those on a more human scale.)

  132. Not only do microorganisms increasingly figure ecological thinking (e.g. per [78], but also per the machine of [129]), but (also per [76]) various scales come to forge developing ecological notions & relations: The globe operates at a particular size, but involves a multiplicity of temporal scales, from the epochal down to those of e.g. some trees & fungi, down to those of people & various animals, and in turn to those of bacteria, etc.

  133. As the previous section noted, "aesthetic" object perception (& so its relationality) ranges "... from persistent & perhaps unique artifacts to ephemeral sound, from concrete semblance to (interrogating ephemeral) relationality per se." Such modes might be applied to environmental perception more generally: Does a conceptual gap remain when perceiving ecology versus perceiving "art?" (Of course, notions of instrumentality continue to figure ecology in general via notions such as "creation science" etc. The "artistry" of the world is thus part of a longstanding discussion, and such discussion does figure human limitations.)

  134. Whereas the limiting qualities of analogy (per [129]) are significant, and whereas biological appropriation has been the most active mode of modern exploitation — yielding conceptual biologism (as frequently discussed already) — biological interrogations lend a particular legibility to ecological circulation, as biology remains the domain & discipline via which such processes have been most actively perceived (so far). One might thus trace biological cycles on a variety of (perhaps incommensurate, per [128]) scales. (And pace [132], human temporal scales are perceived rather differently on the individual level, versus on the "genetic" level via filiation & species-life.)

  135. I've already figured (e.g. in [79]) eating & consumption as "intersections" of life processes (e.g. generally, per [130]), i.e. for the eater & eaten. Such intersections might then invoke desperation on both planes. They might further yield extermination, again on either plane.

  136. The notion of "enclosure" relative to life cycles & their intersections might seem arbitrary (at least beyond globality per se), but please do consider this (anthropological) example in some detail: First, that a cycle might enclose another suggests dependence, e.g. (canonically) on the mother (i.e. while in the womb). E.g. traditional Melanesian masculinity [137] then refutes & disclaims such dependence by forging a broader "enclosure," i.e. the kula cycle: According to this example, one might then generalize tracing (per [127]) into the realm of virtual cycles.[139]

  137. According to the Melanesian context, these (sexual) enclosures are indeed gender-based (forms of circulation). However, although one might criticize the inherent duality of such a system [138] — & Melanesian masculinity is viewed as generic, i.e. as capable of forming supersets (e.g. armies), as opposed to the situated idiosyncrasy of the feminine (all per Strathern) — it doesn't come with essentialized personal gender. (It's simply two forces to which one might differentially align.) Such notions also interrogate Laruelle's notion of generic (as without properties), but one should still note the "generic circulation" that emerges (without necessarily being tied to human bodies) via kula.

  138. One should also note that such opposition is figured via enclosure, rather than intersection, and so supports independent worlds... at least until the point that masculine & feminine do intersect (especially in the child, i.e. in Western terms, the dialectic). (Such duality is figured differently, although still not hierarchically, e.g. by the well-known yin-yang symbol....)

  139. In other words, virtuality is far from a postmodern novelty. One might even suggest that modernity eschewed it, or employed it only very specifically, largely for reasons of simplification & control: Relations are (or were) always "in danger" of proliferating outside of the pyramid.

  140. Once again (per [117]), superposition yields a generic, i.e. non-hierarchical, result — rather than prioritizing particular formats (or perspectives) for biological circulation. It doesn't exclude, but proceeds via entanglement (i.e. ecologically).

  141. Pace [131] then, not only does "nature" come to extend to various scales (i.e. within or beyond humanity), but comes to "fight back" in the form of ecological disaster: Natural beauty & ugliness thus come to extend beyond figurations of the sublime, such that e.g. sunshine & rain become "aesthetic objects" in both a straightforward perceptual sense, and in the sense of need. (Nature had, of course, long been figured as capricious, including per the concerns of the parenthesis of [133], so such intensification might in turn be figured as revenge against the demands of modernity per se....)

  142. Many societies have employed notions of transcendence in order to answer questions regarding primacy of attention. As figured here (likely far too monotonously), though, such pyramidal forms eventually come to outgrow (the) ecology itself — at least if they're tasked with infinite growth, as they are under modernity. One is then faced with immanent conclusions, which tend not to be nearly so settled (or a priori): This situation marks a basic challenge, one to which modernity was unable to rise. Moreover, the (attention) question is unanswerable in general terms: One might better ask where attention does turn (despite the unsatisfying resonance of that question in instrumental terms).

  143. E.g. the Heideggerian four-fold continues to operate not only according to instrumental interrogation then, but also according to a deep nexus of familiarity: In turn, one might speak of (Deleuzian, or posthumanist) deterritorialization, but one runs the risk of disembedding oneself — not only in terms of "use," but in terms of (liberal) rights discourse, etc. (Such notions of instrumentality were already ramified by the interior-exterior dual of imperialism anyway, and that dual reproduces itself within the four-fold.) One might then seek equivocation or inversion along the lines of [110] in order to forge an adequate postmodern aesthetic.

  144. "Use" is, of course, a sort of perception — or indeed semiosis. (Modernity had rather specific ideas on a perception-instrumentality nexus, and tailored the former to suit the latter. And modernity has further figured such a nexus as inevitable, according to its own notions of disinhibition....)

  145. Contemporary environmental aesthetics tend to involve notions of fragility, i.e. preservation, but such preservation is further figured — against generalized use — as a kind of scarcity: Scarcity or shortage might thus halt circulation, and might even induce hoarding in turn. (One might even thus credit modernity with first having perceived the basic scarcity of global resources.)

  146. I've noted scarcity as a "principle of influence" in the past (i.e. via Cialdini, as articulated in Hierarchy as rupture), and observed that scarcity is often produced "artificially" (as well as that money is sometimes figured as its proxy [147]), and that it largely operates transverse to reciprocity — which itself increasingly vanishes under neoliberalism. (Scarcity is thus not only compatible with the pyramid form, but figures desperation — including per [135].)

  147. That money continues to be figured as "scarce" under financial capitalism, i.e. now that it's produced spontaneously from nothing (according to basically biological processes, as already interrogated prior to the modern era), thus continues to be one of the most basic contemporary untruths.

  148. If "pharmacology traces ecology more broadly," (including per [54]), it's semiosis that interrogates scarcity, perhaps even producing it pharmacologically (i.e. as byproduct, such that interrogating scarcity can produce more scarcity). Moreover, notions of scarcity might induce an immune response (per [104]), such that it can actually incite hoarding (per [145]) or further predation (per the self-preservation of [47]) — since immune response generally occurs at intersections (such as via resource competition, or its further ramifications).

  149. And "conspicuous consumption" remains a symbol of status in the interior, and so serves to bolster the pyramid, even as it's been increasingly problematized by advocates for a more ecological mentality....

  150. Considering the present topic, one might consider art to be — at least at times — deliberately scarce. (Reactions to industrial production tended to underscore scarcity as an alternative value, along with paradoxical uselessness.) Might one speak of a scarcity of affect in turn? (There have already been many suggestions that the postmodern condition narrows affective response....) So one is increasingly deprived of beauty, since it's hoarded, perhaps even despite an otherwise ample supply? (So hoarding might simply be for the purpose of confirming hierarchy, rather than in reaction to any real scarcity.)

  151. One might further consider the pharmacology of ecosystem optimization, at least as it's conceived according to modern economy, such that scarcity is increased in some dimensions while production is (greatly) increased in others. (One might also consider the reduction of resilience & so the increased risks produced by "optimizations" such as monocrops, etc.) As generic practice then, struggle might thus yield more struggle (at least absent a broad semiotic basis in favor of a particular optimization).

  152. In these terms, "economy" basically means restrictions on ecological or affective circulation to particular domains of (commodity) exchange. (E.g. breathing has yet to be commoditized, but remains very important ecologically. Likewise e.g. laughing in the affective domain.)

  153. Basic questions of ontology, i.e. of both legibility & segmentation, thus enter once again (as per [34]). What might make not just for an equitable distribution, then, but for an equitable ontology per se?

  154. Pace possible (postmodern) scarcity of affect (per [150]), creative doubling continues to yield powerful relations of virtuality & indeed theatricality (including pace [127]), such that circulation can certainly be — and often is — intensified under postmodern conditions. (Propaganda & marketing are able to circulate very quickly & effectively, for instance.) So does or might such excess further figure art-as-work?

  155. Simply, not everyone needs or wants the same things.... Whereas such an observation is already obvious enough in human terms (pace the basic commonalities of humanity), it's even more clear across the biological spectrum: Ecological sustainability is not about providing every species & ecosystem with the same resources, far from it (as e.g. what sustains one might kill another), but rather understanding how each actually functions & intersects. (And indeed the "each" remark already suggests a presumptive segmentation that must be interrogated as well.)

  156. Indeed the presumption that demands for equity are demands to make everything homogeneous is both a basic refusal of creativity (especially per [116], rather than according to a hierarchy defined by "specialists"), and a kind of obfuscation. (One must then situate actively within such a presumptive contradiction, so as to trace & nurture the necessary relations of difference.) One might note, more simply, that neoliberalism often forces the wrong things into circulation, including such rhetoric...!

  157. If immunology can itself be figured as pharmacological (particularly around intersections, per [148]), what might be e.g. a sustainable immune response? What does immunology become at the global level? (And I ask this in immanent terms, not according to "Star Wars" ambitions....)

  158. I quote here (more or less) from Section 1v (in the body, that is, not in the notes to follow)....

  159. Questions regarding the tangible & intangible become questions of relationality: One might further ask whether the scarce can proliferate relations via intangible circulation. Moreover, how might the ephemeral (continue to) figure general ecological circulation? In what is it actually (perceptually) embedded? (These & other questions can then be figured via artistic production per se, potentially via non-relation as well, per [128].)

  160. Indeed, sustainability enters the industrial world as a design principle, not only in the transdisciplinary sense (which continues to be important for circulation generally), but according to various particular practices: How might e.g. cities be designed both to support & segment human ecology, say, provided that such segmentation is desired? What (other, artistic) relations might be involved? (Architecture & even civil engineering, or urban planning per se, increasingly involve a wider variety of relations, including ecologically....)

  161. Per [160], ecological sustainability in fields such as photography, cinema & fashion generally emerges today from design principles, and around sourcing materials or disposing of waste. All three, however, have sometimes adopted explicitly ecological stances in their basic messaging & production, such that their products might in turn further ecological relations elsewhere. Of course, this need not occur, and often doesn't, at which point resource extraction & waste disposal continue to dominate relations for these industries: Most involve toxic chemicals (including computer hardware, if e.g. one is to eschew physical photo prints), for instance, so how might such passions further channel ecological relations?[162]

  162. That (ecological) relations might be "channeled" is a notion that seems to point away from nonlinear circulation: Such a figure of speech further evokes causality, and so warrants this disclaimer: One might instead simply consider proliferation & (psychoanalytic) excess per se, and indeed how such imagery might come to redefine segmentation in general, i.e. via affective (i.e. passionate) production. (Moreover in principle, outcomes could change so much that notions of "channeling" become meaningless.)

  163. In particular, although aestheticization of food has entailed (pharmacological) change in a variety of directions, such relations might be emphasized (pace [162]) so as to invoke further ecological intersections & interrogations. (In other words, aestheticization has become an entry into thinking about food relations beyond only taste & direct physical satisfaction.) Similarly, aestheticization of history potentially allows for the embrace of many histories (just as sports embraces many outcomes, although not usually simultaneously).

  164. Textual relations are (of course) the basic domain of this project, and as already noted, the status of the written word (together with its implications & relations) continues to change rapidly in the contemporary era: From Twitter-based "discussions" to (its) slogan-based politics, words become both weaker & more forceful, such that one is often able to make do with (far) fewer, yet they might become increasingly meaningless as well. (So what might a "sustainable language" be like in these terms? What of sustaining linguistic variety per se? Indeed, what of an ecology of languages and their relations?) One might thus continue speaking of a narrowing of affect, then, per [150], or indeed of the proliferation & circulation of particular atomized forms (i.e. of the smallest segmentations of logos [165]).

  165. The (written) word lingers as (implicit) proclamation from authority, and so figures legacy (i.e. filiation) per se — not so unlike the (other, dialectic) child of intersection (of [138]): This is the logos of the son (& is in need of refiguring).

  166. The basic semiosis of design was already noted (in [64]), but do note that semiosis intertwines "design" (i.e. feedback-based creation, per [63]), as both product & foundation (or prompt). (In other words, design & semiosis are co-constitutive, as ethology comes to demonstrate more generally.)

  167. Intensity itself becomes pharmacological [168], such that as relations intensify (including per [154]), they might become more creative or destructive (or both).

  168. Another obvious "natural" analogy, in addition to e.g. the microbiology of brewing (per [129]), is fire: Does it renew the (metaphorical) forest or does it (totally) destroy? (One might further ask, particularly given today's explicit environmental concerns, what natural phenomenon follows the fire as leading energy metaphor? What might better figure the sort of "burning" intensity we need, absent the destruction? "Scorched earth" might seem appropriate in some arenas, but not in a literal sense....)

  169. (Of course, the plateau image is well known.) One might further speak of e.g. a quasi-"balance" between intensity & anesthetics [170], such that attraction (or drive) may place outcome in suspense & vice versa. (In this sense, intensity per se is a quality of life, such that semiosis might even adopt it as priority. However, if unchecked, a drive toward intensity can become destructive, including per [168]: Indeed, the modern pyramid already figures unchecked accumulation as itself a kind of intensity.)

  170. I had contrasted anesthetics with aesthetics in an earlier section, and one might further figure such contemporary pharmacology (per [167]) as concerning theatrical intensification against affective numbing (including per [148]) — both effects now proliferating at once. It's not really accurate to characterize such a contemporary dual as "in balance," however: Rather, both extremes occur with increasing frequency — not unlike "climate events." (One might thus speak specifically of reconfiguring historical duals in the contemporary era, but not of their strict reversal.) One then figures "plateaus" as (inherent) limits to the drives, i.e. not oppositionally. (One might even speak of an anesthetic drive....)

  171. For one, the pharmacological qualities of intensity must be respected (per [167]), indeed pace the unbridled directionality of (modern) pyramidal form (& its own drive toward semiosis, e.g. per [169]), such that feedback processes can form: Indeed, outcomes need be neither specific (yet always ongoing, per the ascent of [113]), nor predictable (per the relational gesture of [91]), but do follow (in some sense) the creative process in general (including so as to close the gap figured in [112]). One might then figure "respect" itself relationally.

  172. I'd already positioned queer affinity as transverse to filiation [173] in Affine resonance. (Following Puar, one might also characterize sexuality in general as involving "ecologies of sensation," rather than segmented identities, and so according to perceptual hierarchies more generally.)

  173. I had noted in Religious inclinations that, "The religious corresponds with the filiative in its historical structure," and so one might wonder regarding e.g. an anti-filiative religion: What would that be like? (It would presumably be a non-pyramidal religion.) What "design" goals (per [63]) might it have? (How might it reembed filiative biology? This remains a very American question....)

  174. If love is already shocking (per [108]), and if sex is already (contradictory) non-relation (per both Zupancic & [128]), then queer love & sex might seem that much more contradictory (in particular, with respect to biology), which indeed yields notions of extremes (rather than impossible mediation). Contradiction thus comes to seem increasingly comfortable & familiar amid epochal change. (After all, the pyramid of historical filiation does become impossible to sustain.)

  175. Queer intensity might also be figured as in response to assignments of disability (& recall that modernity made homosexuality not only a sin, but a medical pathology), namely as an affect resisting debilitation. (The unfamiliar likewise requires intensity in order to sustain itself in one's attention.) In this sense, disability itself might be further figured as queer, i.e. as compromising typologies (e.g. of animacy, etc.). These (identity-based) critiques tend to align.

  176. Most simply & directly, fields of relations are tilted via sexual attraction, and in the queer case, anti-filiative attraction. (Intensity thus overflows, or "leaks" across type: It might be said to rise above its constraints via its own energy....) However, pace (literal, biological) reproduction, queer sex is creative too, precisely in that it proliferates relations (& involves its own sorts of novelty, perhaps embracing e.g. BDSM etc.).

  177. That intensity (e.g. per [175]) yields a kind of queer theatricality (including via a sense of "role" per [121]) is indeed a (stereotypical) commonplace, but plays out in an affective cascade, via language, fashion, profession, etc. (One might further figure queer theatricality via minority performance, per [83].) The queer is also figured as especially sentimental [178], suggesting more affective proliferation. (One might then note that typological transgressions always seem more "intense" than typically accepted activities, which might go unnoticed due to sheer familiarity: To break the rules, particularly with regularity, requires a sustained intensity.)

  178. Whereas the queer is still figured as sentimental (in something of a contradiction with the sentimental figure of biological reproduction), e.g. Schuller suggests that "sentimentalism" actually declined in the twentieth century with the discovery of genes (which yielded a sense of determinism, rather than an emphasis on following one's flights of fancy) & the resulting critiques of vitalism per se. (One might thus note that modernity adjusted its layering of norms, i.e. per [73], and even that the Victorian Era was especially queer in these terms — despite its fraught handling of queer realities.)

  179. Indeed, Puar suggests a basic cacophony: Make binaries (i.e. dualities) fade through proliferating multiplicities. (Intensity might thus overwhelm, pace the implicit feedback of [171].)

  180. Queer promiscuity is generally a (negative) stereotype in the sense of explicitly pursuing sexual relations (pace [174]), but does have a basis in anti-biologism (i.e. sex without pregnancy), and more significantly in its anti-typological drive: The queer is promiscuous, then, specifically in that it doesn't remain within established (typological) boundaries.

  181. Of course, "promiscuous" art need not be queer in any particular sense (i.e. need not involve even suggestions of sex), other than via (its conceptual) promiscuity per se: For instance, Goodman figures sonic vibrations according to images of an object out of phase with itself, i.e. as a kind of virtual potential (including per [4]) that is explicitly promiscuous. (Rhythm & virtuality are both figured via promiscuity in this way, as anything that might lead somewhere else. And so, for instance, we all might come to dance, queerly or otherwise?)

  182. Proliferating relations were already figured as dangerous (per [139]), and so the queer is figured as dangerous (perhaps even heretical, per [122] — & so indeed comic, per [177]).

  183. And as this section continues to interrogate, embeddedness is our general condition: Whether one takes a "sustainable" stance is another matter, but there is no exiting ecology....

  184. Per the opening to Practical listening, attention (to semiosis) is generally required for feedback, and so in turn for learning, perception, consciousness, etc.... (And of course, per [142], the question of attentional priority raises a number of issues, including e.g. those of religion.)

  185. Of course, notions of sexual beauty have a long history of being interrogated (or simply confirmed) in (especially semblance-based) visual art, such that artistic relation has a long sexual history per se — sexual orientation aside (& indeed differences in orientation have long prompted or figured artistry). Pace such historical remarks, pornography is also increasingly available & diverse today, although whether it's actually "artistic" (rather than merely commercial entertainment, i.e. without meaningful interrogation) is another matter. New possibilities do present themselves, however.

  186. Again, if the pyramid (with its trees & filiation, etc.) doesn't fit (per [98]), what does? How might the intersections of [130] forge their own togetherness? Is there "a big picture," or simply immanent inclinations, collisions & (partial) translations? These are question for (intense) contemporary negotiation, but via art-as-work, rather than according to mediation at a distance.

  187. Simply declining to retrace pyramidal relations over & over would be a good step, as they're forged anew every day, not only via marketing & propaganda, but according to everyday habit & familiarity per se. What do or might transverse relations span or trace, then? Let's find out....

  188. The tangible history of the pyramids (as noted obliquely in [85]) raises the specter of "ruins" as objects of (particular) contemporary fascination: Hartog has observed the proliferation of e.g. "heritage objects" with their characteristic relations, and by analogy to Halberstam, one might figure the queer itself as a kind of (biological) ruin.[189] (Indeed, one might say that "nature" is increasingly figured as a — fraught — heritage object itself.) What of art in a museum? Does its heritage render it a ruin as well? (Temporal relations come to proliferate in this sense, even as restricting the circulation of art limits its relations otherwise.) What then of an ecology of ruins, or even a ruined ecology? There is much to trace....

  189. Per [175], one might interrogate disability according to notions of ruin as well, perhaps marking it as a sort of queer failure, but what of ecological disability then? What of preservation, i.e. what does it mean to sustain a ruin? Perhaps a ruin becomes a sort of queer extreme (in analogy to the divergences of [174]): Stripped of living filiation, might it yet be loved? (Did it actually fail, or simply become something else?) One might further suggest that the relationality of "ruins" is thus truncated by attempts at preservation (i.e. by "freezing" a site typologically): Living ecologies are constantly in motion. (Or is that remark already biased toward animacy? What is motion?)

  190. The ubiquity of (at least implicitly) queer relation is indeed already a powerful of critique of typology (including as a general aspect of life itself, per [109]). Queerness is not only a critique (i.e. "exposition"), however, as it also involves forging actual transverse relations (i.e. "remediation"). Queerness (among much else) thus comes to figure contemporary art-as-work per se.

  191. Relations multiply & proliferate in general (including via various doublings & virtual modes, per [94]), but as transverse to (modern) biologism (e.g. per [172]), queer relations become especially promiscuous (& so dangerous per [182]) & thus increasingly (paradoxically) fruitful.

  192. It's thus no coincidence that "the queer" comes to figure both biological (specifically sexual) & typological transgression (including per [182]): The biologism of modernity had imposed the two together, and in the same spirit of control & exploitation.

  193. That the promiscuity of relations (per [191]) involves not only doubling (per [154], including via reflection & virtuality), but a (queer or) transverse quality that proceeds against numbing & according to theatrical intensification does not result in "balance" (as cautioned already in [170]): Rather, it simply involves more (intensity), i.e. more relations, more affects, more circulation, etc.

  194. And that the pyramid is not equitable does not mean that any "anti-pyramid" is automatically equitable.... (A different situation should at least be a relief, however, especially with regard to pervasive "no alternative" rhetoric. It would surely inspire.)

  195. Not only is identity traced or forged by conscious (social) interaction, per the opening section of this central arc (& so per [1]), but molarity (e.g. per remarks of [111]) stands in contrast to more "molecular" relations (i.e. those of immanent ecology per se). Identity (per se) is thus susceptible to reification, among other mediating phenomena, and hence might already be inequitable. (For instance, identities might already embed failure, e.g. per [189].)

  196. Indeed (again per [103]), segmentations always raise questions of knowing the other, of translating across (perhaps impermeable) boundaries, and of the various intersections (e.g. per [130]) that (can) occur. (At the molar level of human collectives, i.e. across societies, these are then the usual intersections of politics.)

  197. One might even suggest that "agonistic politics" is inherently molar, such that disclaiming the familiarity of a segmented, molar situation (i.e. deterritorialization, per [143]) involves a disembedding (i.e. from traditional norms) that might in turn yield to victimization.[198]

  198. That molar "rights discourse" has involved (inherently) hierarchical organizations (including per the chains of [101]) has been one factor serving to marginalize non-segmented, i.e. molecular factors (& so to victimize others, etc.). Indeed molarity (e.g. of "protected classes") does become protective within such a horizon.

  199. Notions of "population management" emerged in the modern (imperial) era as a part of its basic biologism, and involved using molar forms not as protection for workers (per [198]), but as insulation against "primitive impulses," i.e. as a sort of insurance risk pool (for the rentier class).

  200. Notions of "species" already form their own taxonomy (or typology), of course, such that species segmentation (with its notions of filiation & genetics) is a conceptual fact of modernity: Ecologies are then traced (at least by moderns [201]) according to species (& resource) patterns, i.e. according to their molarities (& basic counting).

  201. Whereas (e.g. modern) humans are associated with studying ecology, (as the comments of [166] regarding co-constitution of semiosis & design already suggest) zoological ethology often suggests ecological capacity. Moreover, whereas virtuality is sometimes proclaimed to be the defining achievement of humanity, various animals have demonstrated capacities for tracing virtual relations, including (as particularly apropos to the general topic here) by painting semblance-based pictures.

  202. Not only are molarities themselves products of internal semiosis (i.e. of both voluntary & enforced collectivity), but of "external" semiosis as well. In other words, "collisions" involve both a boundary & an interface for semiosis (& so also entropy, and perhaps destruction of the other), which in turn might refine (i.e. immunologically) a sense of molar boundary. Moreover, cross-species collisions might also involve e.g. eating (per [79]), or other forms of predation (as intra-species collisions might as well), but these might also be relatively "stable" collisions, in that molarities themselves remain intact. (Such collisions thus differ from ecological destruction per se: One might even reconsider culinary relations, e.g. per [163], so as to be more ecological....) Ecological interfaces or collisions might even be said to take on a pharmacological character in this sense, as e.g. predation can maintain other balances. (In other words, preservation & equity take on different meanings in different ecological niches.)

  203. One might even generalize the notion of history according to collective semiosis (or even collective creativity per se): Does history even make sense as a "molecular" (or perhaps generic) science? Does an "individual" really have a history outside of collective context? (One might further suggest that history follows lines of filiation, and so is ultimately religious, perhaps per [173]. However, not all collectives reproduce themselves biologically, and among those that do, what of non-human history?)

  204. Whether (their) history actually defines societies or not, per Koselleck, it does involve various (conceptual) temporal doublings (& so proliferation of relations) as well as serving as an input for (political) planning per se: Collectives thus come to anticipate (or even demand) some sort of historical repetition. (One might then interrogate temporal schemes, e.g. according to notions of cycle or progress: Might our era be transitioning back to a more cyclic orientation? Ecological destruction suggests otherwise, and suggests other than "progress" as well.... To what extent are we living in an era of ruins, then, per [188]?) Of course, some collectives might also come to be defined by the history of others, leading to reification — which can occur via internal histories as well.

  205. Collective art-as-work is, moreover, the basic context for self formation, such that it can also figure control: Intersections & collisions (per [135] & [202]) are thus involved within collectives as well, including in their basic figuration. Where does control emerge? Does control emerge?

  206. As e.g. species comments (per [200]) already suggest, note that molarity or collectivity do not (necessarily) suggest e.g. "territorial continuity" or even coherence, or indeed any complementary segmentation. Notions of "local" might thus be quite limited in this context, basically consisting of an arc that can intersect various others at various angles.

  207. However, whereas autonomy suggests the ability to do whatever one wants, which might apply (externally) to collectives per se, sovereignty suggests some sort of control over others, and so presumptively applies (internally) for the collective (which would then differ from e.g. notions of "radical interdependence" so as to yield a hierarchical structure): One might note the concept of "law" here, then, and ask what laws apply, whose laws apply? In particular, do external laws apply, or are laws generated within the collective?

  208. Indeed, Hardt & Negri seem to equate "sovereignty" with top-down politics, and so contrast it with emergent relations (of a/the multitude): Such a notion seems to reflect modern (imperial) politics [209] (i.e. that of nation-states), and so one might consider other possibilities.... (Hardt & Negri further suggest that a multitude can never be sovereign since it doesn't have a single voice, but rather works via excess — as opposed to Schmittian exception. Their critique of sovereignty thus remains not only a critique of imperial colonialism, but of exceptions & "last instances" per se.) Pace the hierarchy already suggested by [207], then, what of the basis for law per se?

  209. Of course, people who have lived under the yoke of imperial colonialism for centuries do not want to hear that sovereignty is no longer applicable: They are tired of being told what to do, tired of following laws originating elsewhere — particularly the (ecologically) destructive laws descending from the modern pyramid. (In other words, I certainly support bottom-up politics, and for much the same reasons as Hardt & Negri, but where does one start? What are the defaults, the null hypotheses? We simply cannot accept that English-style property law continues to apply around the world, for instance.)

  210. Notions of sovereignty as immunological are obvious enough, in that sovereignty involves a domain that is (usually) protected by borders (i.e. per [57]), wars, etc. Such immune response might already be figured according to pharmacology (e.g. per [157]), such that one might further interrogate the pharmacology of sovereignty per se: How does (equitable) law actually emerge? What then are the dangers of common (i.e. collective) law?

  211. Hardt & Negri do acknowledge contemporary typological transgression, in that institutions (mostly global corporations & related hierarchical organizations) come to overflow nation-states per se, thus blurring the (historical) pyramid of sovereignty. Their response, then, rejects a return to prior conditions (and I don't believe that "a return" is desirable either, or even possible): What of reconfiguring sovereignty, though, particularly around marginalized societies?

  212. Thus per [105], that private property follows the chain of national sovereignty is (likewise) obvious enough, such that one basically becomes (feudal) "lord of the manor" with respect to anyone or anything not officially (i.e. by law) positioned above oneself (or, in some circumstances, at the same level) on the national pyramid.... (Pace [209] then, different collective sovereignty can yield different laws & conventions regarding property, and such a change is urgently needed.) So under modernity, everything is still (hierarchically, typologically) segmented (eventually) into (nested) fiefdoms.

  213. When Hardt & Negri suggest that "singularities" (i.e. segments) form "multiplicities," a process of semiosis is implied, such that multiplicity comes to emerge collectively. They further figure such multiplicity as itself constituting, rather than as constituted (i.e. from above): In other words, the (Lacanian or Laruellian) real — as open-ended multiplicity itself — becomes determining. And one might indeed note that it always was, such that political assembly (i.e. at the "grass roots" level, pace e.g. [65]) largely becomes a process of semiosis. (In these terms, as presumptively prior, sovereignty simply stands in the way of semiosis itself, per the terms of [208].)

  214. In particular, sovereignty has a domain (or territory, upon which it "operates"), and such a domain involves not only segmentation, but ontology per se: It must exist in some specific sense in order to be addressed by sovereignty. What of intersecting ontologies, then, and intersecting ecologies in turn?[215] What of transverse relations by which worlds might pass through each other? For what or whom might or does one speak? That such questions apply across a variety of (intersecting) domains suggests a kind of non-typological sovereignty, i.e. multiplication of responsibility across domains.

  215. Per [200], ecologies are already traced according to multiple intersections, i.e. of (biological) species, which (including per [135] & perhaps also [130]) might trace a variety of relations. Over what (domain) might a plant or animal be sovereign, then? What are its ontologies? And how might one respect such intersections? (Various species might be figured as "marginalized societies" in these terms....)

  216. Multiple ecologies might be superposed (per [140]) at any moment, yielding a non-hierarchical view of (ecological) interactions & intersections. (And per [35], might thus come to fit.) But how can regimes of care — or sovereignties — actually operate (per [214]) in a world where everything is also something else, where everything is interpenetrated or intertwined by something else (e.g. per [206])? How might such non-segmented shapes fit (together) per (concerns of) [186]? Perhaps such regimes simply emerge from attention (per [184]) & so from care per se....

  217. And whereas economic optimization typically yields the shape of a pyramid, ecological "optimization" (i.e. according to care, rather than the shadow economy invoked by [151]) involves very different shapes — especially circular or spherical shapes. (Moreover, one might note that at least in principle, "economic optimization" need not prioritize profit & accumulation, as it did under modernism & does increasingly under neoliberalism....)

  218. Collectives might emerge from ecologies, subsequently embed themselves from afar, or even co-constitute with an ecology.... (And such embeddedness is not merely inherent, per [183]: Collectives can be situated differently, but this isn't a call to become unsituated, per the concerns of [197], but rather to embrace differential — semiotic — regimes of care, including pace [49].)

  219. And one is already multiple (including per [29]), according to a variety of collective embeddings as well: One might belong to a nation, or various other hierarchical organizations (per [101]), and indeed interact with a variety of ecosystems e.g. via relations of eating or waste disposal, such that general (i.e. global) embedding is mediated by a variety of molar forms. (One is also embedded in language, and in daily activity — i.e. habit & the familiar — more generally. Anything one does might suggest another collective, another ecology, and so another embedding in turn.)

  220. Perhaps it's time to return to notions of self-other nexus: What does one actually affect? (How might such affect emerge into consciousness? How is identity mediated in turn by intersecting embeddings?) In a global context, does it even make sense to segment ecologies (e.g. pace the interpenetration of [216])? Indeed, how might various interactions & intersections actually be reembedded into a general ecology? (In a sense, these are easy questions, in that they're answered, at least at the global level, by totality per se. But then, how does one really act, i.e. locally — pace [206] — & together with molecular forces?)

  221. Conflicts might involve various mediations, and of course might also yield exploitation or destruction: As [209] already suggests, there are also prior situations that tend to maintain (at least until they're swept aside), such that new beginnings are urgently needed in many locales. Collisions have tended to involve e.g. laws & treaties, and such technologies might now be applied in more ecological ways, pace the pharmacological limitations (per [210]) of sovereignty per se.

  222. Indeed, proliferating relations involve proliferating ecologies, such that "more" emerges (e.g. per [193]). (One might thus figure e.g. excess or surplus against scarcity: What is scarce, versus what is surplus, and what is the nexus of their mutual production?) In return, the pyramid scheme of (neo)modernity unleashes (historically) unlimited desire (via disinhibition) that comes in turn to exploit (& perhaps destroy) every ecology. (So in other words, desire is not scarce, and equity — if not survival — remains a major issue.)

  223. And such cultivation then proceeds via art-as-work (indeed as a kind of molecular sovereignty, i.e. without the weight of modernist typology)....

2C: Technological mediation

Encompassing tools & methods for activities & production, technology has long been intertwined with art-as-work.[1] One might even suggest that technology occupies the (basic, late modern) gap between intent & outcome [2], i.e. as (the) means for actualizing intent. However, in that sense, segmenting "technology" (from action per se, i.e. so as to posit or interrogate a "how" [3]) also serves to produce the gap [4]: "Technological objects" then differ from objects in general (which also derive from segmentation) according to "use" per se — posited or subsequently perceived — i.e. as being toward some (other) end.[5] In that sense, in turn, not only is technology always "in the middle" [6], but is itself aesthetic, not only according to various (prior or subsequent) sensations & perceptions around e.g. tool use, but according to mediation of sensation per se [7]: Producing technology then has all the relational qualities of producing art, with the additional stipulation that it (then) be mediate to subsequent production.[8] (One might even note that "aesthetics" is itself both a kind of mediation & a technology.[9]) And as the ongoing "gap" remarks already suggest, such a mediate position can entail blockage (as opposed to the basic relationality of art per se), such that technology is sometimes perceived as standing between humanity & its ("proper" & "natural") objects & relations — i.e. as alienating.[10] However, at least in the broadest sense, technology is simply an aspect of human production (like any other), and so "natural," etc.[11] Given its unprecedented contemporary expansion & proliferation, then, one is left to trace its (many, specific) relations in order to interrogate its (specific) effects, rather than relying on a general assessment: Modernity had continued to fetishize text & representation [12], largely according to notions of command [13] (but also according to its characteristically typological perceptual hierarchy [14]), and if anything, postmodern neoliberalism has involved the proliferation of even more images. Moreover, the (largely) biologistic mechanics of (early) modernity [15] have been supplemented by the proliferation of machinic automation in general [16], such that exploitation per se becomes increasingly automated in turn.[17] (In that sense, technology — rather than remaining mediate — increasingly occupies the central attention of the postmodern subject [19], and so looms ever larger in everyday life....) Technology has thus come to define the epochal (postmodern) shift, particularly around quantifiable (machinic) metrics: Grounded in such metrics, monetary wealth then comes to refigure both violence [20] & politics per se [21] via a financial (or stratifying) machine that "relies on" its own "general assessment," namely that technology is useful (in the sense of worth producing) if (& usually only if) it furthers the accumulation of (private, personal [22]) wealth. Such an emphasis on (quantifiable) computation goes on to yield "the computer" as technical paradigm [23], followed closely by the internet [24] (i.e. relations between computers), now (often) figured as the most important (aesthetic) development of our era: Technological (or aesthetic) mediation thereby (explicitly) enters the smallest of personal spaces & everyday activities [25], such that (the) internet not only generates new sensations & perceptions (i.e. new aesthetics in the narrowest sense), but new objects in general, and in turn new regimes [26] (of care [27]). That such regimes primarily care for profit is obvious enough to anyone living today, but forging new territories does involve new relations, and so potentially new outcomes: In that sense, technology has not only yielded new territories, but new languages [28], which might in turn figure new activities (& so new worlds). One might then further interrogate the "artistry" of technology [29,30], not only in restrictive senses of e.g. semblance, but more broadly according to the (artistic & other) relations it forges: Technological relation is (thereby) figured as artistic per se (& so to be assessed accordingly).

Contemporary technological proliferation is thus, in some sense, continuous with prior processes & trends [31], but also produces new (relational) assemblages: In particular, as "mediation" might already suggest, contemporary technology forges (in part) new ways of knowing, such that the locus of knowledge itself is transformed [32] according to new processes of semiosis around both technological development & deployment.[33] Moreover, both in terms of resource use [35] & effect on society [36], technology can be figured as inherently pharmacological [37]: In other words, tools can become destructive [38], even as they might offer useful applications, or indeed an excess (of potential) for creativity per se.[39] Entropic processes (necessarily) accompanying technological semiosis thus impose a sort of limit or equilibrium [40] by which technological proliferation comes to mediate its own (broader) ecology [42]: Spectacularly then, not only do computers & the internet (in turn) forge a new regime of memory (or "retention" [44]) today, but of time (& differing senses of the present) [46] more broadly. And whereas entropic limits of technological semiosis arise of necessity — & so "undesirably" thwart the quest for unlimited profit [47] — (ecological) manipulation is also sought more consciously: Contemporary technology thus forges its own ecosystem [48] (including temporally), in part due to (inherent) limits & circumstances, but also according to a further urge to control & exploit populations (& planet), i.e. in order to hoard more (of everything).... Moreover, via contemporary marketing & propaganda, which use increasingly sophisticated (data) techniques [49], one might even suggest that internet technology forges a new pastoral power, such that its (style of) "mediation" is increasingly placed at the center of (contemporary) subjective individuation.[50] (One might further suggest that such technological proliferation has not only been positioned as a matter of cultural pride, but as civilizationally definitive [51]: That we should now be bound to this path, of course, parallels the basic Thatcherist cant about the end of history....) So how do technologies actually mediate ecologies? There are as many (potential) answers to that question as there are (new or already existing) relationships to mediate, and so (once again!), specific tracing is critical. And not only are populations mediated broadly (i.e. according to biology per se [52]), but increasingly (& often paradoxically) according to individual segmentation & privacy: As the previous paragraph already suggested, then, whereas "mediation" might imply a relation or passage, it can also function as a (partial) barrier, such that contemporary technological mediation comes not only to pierce various veils of privacy, but to erect others.[53] As further suggested, the proliferation of "mediate" objects (including e.g. "steps" in a technological method or mechanism) can thus separate or bring together, and such passages or blockages are then (typically) reified.[55] And nowhere is collective individuation via image-objects (per se) more evident than in the contemporary "selfie" craze [57], such that self-consciousness & self-articulation are (simultaneously) accomplished via proliferating semblances. "Living in an object relation to oneself" [58] thus results from & in turn buoys a general (technical) spectacle that becomes increasingly devoid of meaning per se (i.e. other than that of profit). Such image-articulation (of self) then accumulates in (or as) its own ecology, not only as individuating (i.e. as segmented, or indeed as blocked), but as retained (potentially) forever: The (collective) self is thus reified according to its prior (collected) images, which also take on their own (independent, technical) existence.[59]

Especially "online" then, via semblance (& indeed theatricality), notions of reification meet notions of virtuality, such that technological proliferation engages the "broad relational capacity of virtuality" so as to form novel aesthetic situations & relations (& so self-formations): Photos find their way onto "screens," via which they might be varied & manipulated, or accompanied by recorded sounds (& soon other sensations, so as to forge "virtual reality" in sum [60]).... Notions of "virtual reality" thus come to refigure aesthetics, both conceptually & according to sensation per se, but also predate the internet: Film had already strung photos together (in part via technical automation, and on a "screen") & (then) associated those images with sound (still absent other, at least intentional, sensations) [61], thus virtualizing theater & live performance in general.[62] Further, one might speak of (technological) "retention" as virtualizing (abstract) performance per se, including (historically) via the written word: Such performance had often (likewise already) been about (population) control [63], and virtualization has in turn forged more efficient means of enunciation & control.[64] Internet retention & contemporary virtualization have also come to be figured according to a digital-analog dual, such that digital retention not only allows for technological extensibility [65], but enforces a basic duality (i.e. off-on or yes-no): Reality is thus approximated in mathematical terms [66] — which in turn enforces a broad typology via "molecular" segmentation.[67] (In the realm of computers, then, technical objects proliferate in already-segmented formats, and so generally lack any capacity for transverse movement. Computers & their discrete, digital conceptions thus further extend modern typological fascination.) And although the internet figures so much of contemporary technological proliferation (& its relations), such mediation extends well beyond the online (virtual) world, coming to encompass (nearly) every domain, even those of basic necessities: Food [68], clothing & shelter have undergone a variety of technological shifts (& indeed waves of aestheticizing trends), while the broader regime of "healthcare" [69] has been transformed by modern (& now postmodern) medical(ization) paradigms [70]: Medical technology is thus not only some of the most intensive & expensive, problematizing resource use & equity along the way, but seeks to refigure biology [71] according to neoimperial priorities (e.g. for profit), suggesting that its own pharmacology extends far beyond the risk-reward dual of pharmaceutical technology per se. As already noted then [72], "medical science" serves to mediate & transform the basic mortality imposed by (neo)imperial biological colonization (& environmental exploitation), thus enabling (not only medical industry profit but) biologism per se: Reduced mortality, in turn, might not even rise to the level of "pharmacology" within the horizon of postmodern environmental destruction, though [73], as (human) population increases not only displace or transform ecologies, but increasingly involve the harvesting of various species (& their genes) as inputs for technical products & even as their inspiration.[74] Moreover, biologism is being further reconfigured by emerging, contemporary technologies devoted to (sexual) reproduction [75] & indeed robotic labor [77] — which might come (largely) to supersede the former. However, the most pervasive of contemporary technologies is still money, particularly in its virtual form (as forged by postmodern financial capitalism [80]): As a "mere" medium, monetary quantification has (increasingly) come to permeate social interaction [81], such that it sublimates throughout the economy & so comes to mediate (nearly) every relation [82] (including via economic usurpation of the political sphere [84]). Of course, monetary (i.e. now "financial") technologies had already come to mediate "labor" per se (as itself a technology...[85]). Moreover, money & technology (i.e. "high tech" as it's usually understood) are primary vectors for the speed of financialization & contemporary exploitation in general, such that technological mediation is increasingly felt (aesthetically) as affective acceleration [86]: Art-as-work per se, as everyday activity & economic sustenance, thereby remains the primary object of (general) mediation, thus continuing to refigure (economic & ecologic) circulation.[87] Indeed, such mediation comes to outrun (prior) technologies of law [88], such that — beyond merely reconfiguring technologies of violence — another (i.e. legal) layer of technological mediation looms as increasingly urgent [89] in turn.

  1. As discussed already in What is familiar?, technology is the "mechanical or formal part" of "artistic execution or performance" such that "art" was not figured in opposition to "technology" until the 20th century (and then, as noted, largely around the issues of mechanical reproduction arising from industrialization). Note, moreover, that "techne" is a Greek term, and that its continued use reflects Greek concepts. Within this horizon, however, technique & technology are (overlapping) terms for the formal methods of art(-as-work).

  2. One might thus suggest not only that modern technology has been strongly conditioned by a Kantian conception, but that (especially as it proliferates) it can come to serve (itself) as a barrier between outcome & intent: The notion that proliferation of tools might lead one astray has consequently become something of a contemporary commonplace (particularly when confronted with the increasing complexity of unrequested technological innovation & proliferation).

  3. A distinction between positing & interrogating might reflect, in part, a distinction between technology perceived as such prior to use — which might then prompt its own use in particular ways — and technology perceived as explanation only subsequent to production. (And per [1], such "how" questions were Greek in origin, and so reemerged explicitly from those sources into modern imperial philosophy.)

  4. It's thus inaccurate to suggest that technology is "always already" involved: It appears only via segmentation, i.e. emerges from a chain of action that might otherwise be perceived as integral.

  5. Perception "tuned" toward technology thus tends to find "uses" & so is exploitative in its basic orientation. (Such an orientation then intensifies — or makes more explicit — the basic subject-object dual, in which the latter is figured as always already serving the former.)

  6. And again (per [4]), to be clear, one needn't interrogate technology or a "middle" at all, at least not in principle, but if one posits or interrogates technology, then its position is always in the middle. (One might thus link the notion that relations are forged from the middle to notions of technology: Do note, though, that whereas relations from the middle produce their own endpoints, technology is mediate with respect to prior intent or perceived outcome, i.e. subsequent to relational endpoints.)

  7. Even the simplest of technology can induce sensory mediation: E.g. as the old saying goes, when one has (only) a hammer, everything looks like a nail.... (And such mediation is, of course, that much more flexible when technology — such as television — produces & transmits sensory images per se.)

  8. That art is "useless" might then seem to arise from such a distinction, but such notions have already been discarded here: Even an "artistic" outcome, such as (simple) enjoyment, does suggest "use," such that a distinction between art & technology does tend to melt away upon closer examination. In some sense, then — including that of ecological circulation — there simply aren't any final ends. (Remaining within the Greek & then Christian horizons, one would locate such finality only in death, and then in salvation per se.)

  9. In other words, (the philosophical discipline of) aesthetics is placed between sensation & consciousness in order to mediate that sensation. The history of such aesthetic mediation — of "aesthetics" as technology — including e.g. in its religious guises, is thus quite powerful. Moreover, all technology involves aesthetics, not only in the direct sense of using it according to sensory perception, but according to its own relational or object properties... such that one might conceive of embedding a (recursive) discussion of aesthetics per se within a discussion of technology. (And e.g. how technology looks or feels, beyond simply what it can do, has become explicitly important to the business of its production today.)

  10. Of course, that contemporary technology is largely geared — in its development & marketing — toward increasing profit has only served to increase feelings of alienation: One might well ask of any particular new technology whether it was designed & created for profit alone — with any other claimed usefulness simply posing as a diversion. (In other words, new technology today is often conceived for the purposes of mediation alone, i.e. to be inserted into preexisting & already functional activity so as to extract profit.)

  11. Whereas many analysts have noted that the creation of technology has been inherent to humanity per se, extending to e.g. fire & the wheel & so to the murky depths of prehistory, Stiegler further notes that tool use has provided mechanisms for individuation outside the body (& one might certainly conceive e.g. hands already as tools), such that humanity has (& long ago) taken on a transcendental character via (its) technological development.

  12. Text is, of course, a particular representation of verbiage, perhaps originating elsewhere, and so functions (in part) as memory (or as "second retention," in Stiegler's terms, following internal human memory). Text is then a kind of tool for hoarding memories (or now, "information"), already supplemented by the semblance-image, more recently via photography, and now via general surveillance across sensory modes. Again, though, these images are generally representational, in that they depict (perhaps misconstruing, but still depicting in some sense) prior objects & events — perhaps even forging an "object" from an undifferentiated scene, etc.

  13. Texts were originally posted as commands from kings, etc.: The Bible deals with commands (as well as figurative stories), etc.: This is the basic legacy of text, such that it always already connotes a sort of authority, including here. (Such an articulation is thus always somewhat vain, even as textual articulation comes to blend with general image proliferation in the contemporary era....) E.g. Deleuze has even suggested that spoken language originates in the imperative mode.

  14. Indeed, the semblance-image reflects both hierarchy & typology, in that it (properly) descends from an original, to which it relates in the mode of a copy. (Ancient philosophy thus generalized e.g. idealistic Forms, to which any actually existing object would relate as a copy.) However, even traditional artistic production was not restricted to the form of the semblance, as e.g. music suggests a diagrammatic approach to relational qualities (rather than the textual image — although "the score" once again inscribes the image) that in turn troubled modern hierarchy — such that not only was musical expression hierarchized across a range of (technological) conventions, but sensory modalities in general remained carefully segmented. (The acousmatic was & is treated very differently from the phantasmagorical, for instance, with the former perception presumptively striving to conform to an image.) One might then compare to e.g. ancient equivocating diagrams (such as yin-yang, as noted in the previous section) (or e.g. labyrinths), which were marginalized by modern hierarchical representation....

  15. Modern colonization of biology has already been discussed in some detail: It was a basic attempt to yoke human (& animal) reproduction directly to the reproduction of wealth per se. In that sense, as e.g. in Basic mechanics of modernity, modern biologization forged a (biological) machine to amplify wealth accumulation, and so one might compare to e.g. how a lever — a "simple machine," in the physics sense — amplifies force. (E.g. Kohn has discussed how a geological phenomenon such as a river can be used, in general, to create a "mechanical advantage" & indeed this sort of "colonization" was common well before modernity, as humanity harnessed a variety of resources.) Once constructed or harnessed, such machines tend to continue to function (i.e. according to energy inputs from elsewhere), thus coming to yield automation.

  16. Various "machines" have already been invoked here, some named: There is the ecological machine of the prior section, the mechanical reproduction of art, sex & genetics forging biological reproduction, the microbiology of e.g. brewing, etc. (While such machines might not seem akin to a computer or turbine, they can nonetheless be harnessed for some sort of advantage — perhaps at great peril. And via their particular mechanics, they also likely yield a sort of automation.)

  17. Automated exploitation has already been figured (first in Remède de Fortune) via the stratifying machine of contemporary finance, which feeds on time: People are basically temporally outflanked, according to a double exponential process that automatically increases both hoarded wealth & debt. (In other words, the stratifying machine operates on the present by means of the past & the future, employing multiple temporalities in order to produce a mechanical-financial advantage for its operators.) In other words, money comes to produce money, with the only input being time. (One might note that many of the machines named here actually use time as an input....) And so, to produce more money more rapidly, the machines need to go faster & faster — a very modern priority, retained (to some degree [18]) by the postmodern.

  18. Whereas (e.g. per Hartog) modernity sought the future, and so speed per se in order to get there faster, postmodernity posits the eternal present, i.e. the impossibility of change. Yet, the stratifying machine nonetheless runs faster & faster (through the power of exponential functions)....

  19. One might further posit contemporary intent as increasingly involving capacity per se, attentional & otherwise.... (Indeed, the open-ended accumulation of wealth doesn't involve traditional ends, but rather an ongoing competition of sorts, often extending beyond death per [8].)

  20. Rather than involve public punishment procedures (although those do both linger & proliferate), postmodern violence is increasingly internalized according to disciplinary demands for personal entrepreneurship, etc. Such internalization is increasingly accomplished according to pure brute repetition, using technological innovations to insert the same basic message into ever more spaces. (These are thus new technologies of violence.)

  21. Quantity — & so quantifiable wealth — had been a priority for modern aesthetics as well, but is now intensifying, such that it overwhelms the political per se via the machinic convenience of pure quantity: Per Devin Singh (who equates it to governmentality) then, money has come to invoke a new kind of monotheism, i.e. around singular (economic) quantity & calculation. (One thus "wins" according to simple calculation, as opposed to premodern concepts of legacy or acclamation.... Yet the latter does return in contemporary notions of celebrity....)

  22. Prioritizing the accumulation of personal wealth in particular is an important distinction from accumulating social wealth more generally, and marks the hegemony of liberalism & now neoliberalism: Particularly under the latter regime, general (i.e. collective, social, public) wealth is largely figured as useless — at least prior to personal (i.e. private) exploitation. (The historical Adam Smith notion that private accumulation ultimately boosts general public wealth still lingers somewhere in the background, at least rhetorically, but the exponential — & monotonic — plundering of public wealth speaks for itself.)

  23. As noted already in a previous section, "the computer becomes a model or inspiration," such that object proliferation in general — especially as a series of "steps" in a process — comes to adopt computing norms. Additionally, "technology" in general takes on the aura of "high tech," making a broad discussion of technology (according to general aesthetics or otherwise) increasingly awkward in the specific sense that readers tend to infer restrictive meanings....

  24. As it happens, I've been involved in a variety of internet activities, including collective administration & management, protocols, policies etc. since the 1980s, sometimes very actively — & continue to occupy particular roles today, although those roles are increasingly obscure to the public (in the face of rapid commercialization & the general appropriation of public resources). And although I haven't formed specific plans, I do intend to discuss more issues with "internet" technology in the future, perhaps in another (shorter) theoretical discussion, but perhaps also taking up some more specific examples to involve a more straightforward discussion of current events & issues, at least if I can find a format and/or setting that seems like it might work for such a series.... (The latter discussions would then, presumably, be more concerned with topics that readers will more often associate directly with internet developments. However, from my perspective, the present theoretical interrogation remains a critical orientation, especially if I'm not to be misunderstood in more casual discussion.)

  25. The goal seems to be infinite mediation in precisely this sense, that brokers & arbitrage should be involved in every activity, such that profit can be extracted at all times: Practically speaking, the "smartphone" is (of course) the vector for such everyday — actually, every moment — mediation, and so is increasingly mandated for ordinary tasks (such as banking, directions, etc.).

  26. Per the discussion of Legibility, spectrality, machines, machines generally operate on domains or territories, which in turn need to be legible (as regimes): One might e.g. name the (shifting) domains of the machines listed as examples in [16], or indeed of the basic inspiration-model increasingly forged by computers in general (per [23]). Such machinic action then further proliferates objects according to new mediations (or new steps in a process), forging new domains & relations, etc.

  27. The proliferation of technical objects via the internet — not to mention the broad refiguration of worldly relation in general — thus yields new questions of sovereignty & law. (And at least for now, such questions are generally answered according to what yields the most additional wealth for the people in control of the financial markets.)

  28. One might note that not only do new languages arise with new technologies, but that languages are themselves technologies: Such an observation is placed into particular relief by "computer languages."

  29. In a very narrow sense (of artistry), one might consider that web pages increasingly involve a collage of many objects sourced from many sites: Images, videos, tracking widgets, various authentications, even different "content" panels per se might have different origins (i.e. involve different commercial entities), but are assembled to form a "single" web page. In other words, and for rather different reasons, web pages are following the "collage" logic that was once associated with postmodern visual arts....

  30. And that a technological artifact — such as an iPhone — should have a "pleasing" shape or feel is a relatively novel development in the "high tech" arena (pace [9]). However, such "innovation" should not so much suggest the demotion of "use" per se as a priority, but rather prompt a new interrogation of what the intended use really is (e.g. per [10]).

  31. And as many writers have already suggested, although the contemporary ubiquity of (ever) new technology is itself a novelty, the results of such technological proliferation are more difficult to assess (or interrogate) if they're viewed as without precedent: Perceiving the more general (i.e. historical) aspects of technological development & mediation thus remains both relevant & critical.

  32. The changing status of knowledge per se was already explored in Concepts of contemporary authority, particularly around its (changing) interactions with other concepts of authority (such as wealth, violence, etc.)....

  33. That processes of semiosis are involved in both development & deployment of technology should be obvious enough: Although one might stumble into something, generally one learns how to create technology, and in the contemporary era, such learning has become quite explicit, as technological development is specifically sought (mostly for purposes of profit) even absent any perception of "need" per se. And then, various technology is involved in (or intended for) processes of semiosis, whether hearing aids or microscopes, self-driving cars or marketing profile AI.... (But not all technology is designed to further semiosis per se, and indeed, some is designed to impede it — at least from some perspectives.[34])

  34. Indeed, differential access to knowledge & information is now figured quite specifically as a profit opportunity, and so such semiotic differentials are actively produced. (Information asymmetry also provides a ready context for propaganda & manipulation in general.)

  35. It often seems to be forgotten that e.g. "high tech" devices can involve significant resource extraction via e.g. mining, or environmental contamination via e.g. toxic waste. (This situation is, of course, in addition to more traditional technologies, such as the internal combustion engine, which are now well known as wasteful or polluting.)

  36. As usual, it's tempting to say "individual or society" here, but do note that technology significantly affects individuation per se, and so it would (again as usual) be incorrect to posit the (liberal) individual as itself prior to technological mediation. (One might, however, suggest that liberal individuation in general was prior to the increased contemporary proliferation of "high tech" per se....)

  37. Stiegler even suggests the same of knowledge per se, i.e. that it will eventually become toxic.... (One might interrogate e.g. hierarchy formed via knowledge differentials, etc. — including per [32].)

  38. Escobar, channeling Illich, e.g. suggests that tools pass a threshold after which they offer only destruction. (This is pharmacology.) Stiegler, channeling Bataille, also notes that there is nothing a priori that will allow one to define what is or isn't useful to humanity. (So such a pharmacology is always, at least to a degree, in suspension, i.e. awaiting resolution. Such a notion might suggest eschatology once again....) And in general, as noted previously, processes of semiosis are accompanied by entropy.

  39. In other words, "creativity" is itself pharmacological in this context: That new tools offer open-ended possibilities is thus both their most enticing & most dangerous quality.

  40. One might further figure semiotic-entropic feedback in terms of immunology, i.e. the creation of an "inside" & an "outside" for technological deployment: Such an inside-outside need not be territorial per se (i.e. according to interior-periphery), but rather according to segmented outcomes: In that sense, e.g. insurance has functioned (& critically so) as immune technology for capitalist modernism, insulating deployment from some of its most entropic outcomes — at least relative to the endeavor carrying the insurance.[41] (And I had already characterized such modern endeavors as arising from attempts to "cure" Fortune or chance, i.e. to "guarantee" perpetual wealth & power.)

  41. In this sense, Stiegler goes on to suggest that disinhibition per se is prepared via some sort of delay or doubling that appears via such a feedback cycle. One might further suggest, then, that both insurance & modern disinhibition in general rely on virtual semiosis. (One might further characterize such feedback as a "control loop." And of course disinhibition, whether due directly to feelings of success or superiority thereby, tends to produce its own continuing momentum....)

  42. One might even suggest that technology attempts to establish a kind of sovereignty over its own objects (i.e. much like the classic hammer-nail image per [7]), and indeed over their (full) domain of employment (e.g. per [27]).[43] If such control can be established technologically, an ecosystem is thus forged around it.

  43. Indeed, such a locus of technological affect extends e.g. to human inter-perception online, such that the (technological) unreality of another person yields paradoxical feelings of intrusion (i.e. into one's technical ecology), and thus narcissism & xenophobia. (Commercial entities then attempt to channel such immune responses into consumable differences amenable to profit, such that they might still be cultivated.) In that sense, the online world might be said to suffer from insufficient mediation (per se) — or rather, from misdirected (toward profit & control) mediation.

  44. The notion of "retention" comes from Stiegler, who characterizes the contemporary (technological) situation as involving "tertiary" retention, after the primary retention of bodily memory per se, and the secondary retention (per [12]) of writing & image. One might then figure retention as a sort of mediation [45], and inquire as to its objects today: For Stiegler (per [11]), such objects include individuation per se, and indeed the observation that economics is able to supersede biology precisely via the (transcendental) movement (via external technology) of subject formation outside the body.

  45. E.g. Sterne has even suggested that technological retention can mediate death itself, e.g. in the ability to hear the voices of the dead (via recording technology): Such mediation was available in principle via secondary retention, but the written word does require considerably more imagination than a recording (or indeed a film), which brings a new kind of exactitude (although certainly doesn't retain & reproduce every sensory modality involved — at least not for now). One might then ask a (pharmacological) question regarding what might be lost via such mediation, i.e. regarding the value of forgetting (or even of imagination) & so of transience per se.

  46. For one, the present is "thickened" (e.g. per Hartog) by the accumulation & availability of memories (per [44]), but also involves a sort of acceleration (per Koselleck) in that decisions must be made more & more quickly, to the point of requiring anticipation (especially in politics). Moreover, event & media come to coincide via intense simultaneous mediation, such that not only are memories "retained" via technology, but conditioned & even constructed on the spot. (This sort of "everything & nothing" quality of the present is then attacked by the financial stratifying machine, on both fronts per [17], in order to facilitate further neoliberal appropriation of wealth.)

  47. Indeed, as per the previous section, that the pyramidal shape of modernity (with its quest for infinite accumulation) does not fit the globe is an inescapable fact serving to limit the contemporary pursuit of capitalist profit. (Such limits are certainly undesirable from that perspective. However, from the perspective of stopping capitalism, perhaps they give some hope. Of course, such hope is similarly pharmacological, since it's situated in the context of global catastrophe.) One might compare this situation to the basic Marxist observation that rates of profit tend to fall... a fact that neoliberal capitalism continues to tilt against with all its might & venom.

  48. That particular technologies (or brands) have (or forge) "ecosystems" (e.g. per [42]) is actually a common figure of speech in Silicon Valley conversations....

  49. I've (often) noted in the past the extent to which individuals are profiled & targeted online, and indeed how marketing per se has continued to focus on smaller & smaller groups of people, from e.g. the broad "middle class" down to whatever handful of people match an entire list of traits — ultimately to individual consumer targets. And now such data mining has received more mainstream attention since being used to manipulate voting in the recent US presidential election. (So whereas that means that I feel less need to discuss the topic here, I do also want to note that I was generally painted as insane — & shouted down accordingly — based on concerns regarding exactly what ended up happening. This should also come as no surprise whatsoever.)

  50. Stiegler, in particular, is very concerned with individuation per se (e.g. per [11]) — or, with what I might term the ongoing changes to liberal subjectivity induced by contemporary technology (especially that of "tertiary retention" per [44]): There are indeed many reasons for concern, but there were also many reasons to be worried about the (state & nature of the prior) liberal subject too.

  51. Indeed, the West has rationalized its imperial policies & exploitation according to a presumed "technological superiority" — which is somehow figured as leading inevitably (i.e. absent any analysis of disinhibition per se) to world domination. (One might ask, for instance, according to the contemporary norms of [20], regarding the circumstances for the production of more potent technologies of violence. For such answers, one would turn e.g. to the Hundred Years War, etc.) In other words, such figuration is self-justifying, and even applied (historically) in reverse, e.g. in the "ancient alien" stories (as already reviled in a previous section here) used to deny past technical accomplishments elsewhere. In Hartog's terms, then, such a figuration forges a regime of historicity (i.e. with the past, as usual, depicted as leading inevitably to the present, including per [46]).

  52. And one should note that postmodern biological mediation — much like contemporary disciplinary procedures — extends into the body itself, not only via the manipulation of microbiology (which was already glimpsed in the modern era, e.g. via the eventual development of antibiotic technology), but of genetics as well.

  53. One might then suggest that technology is basically pharmacological with respect to privacy — a suggestion that applies to mediation more generally. Of course, technological deployment & articulation, whether to bolster or invade privacy, is usually decided according to the quest for profit, rather than according to privacy concerns per se. (And as noted in prior writing, the liberal notion of "privacy" is already tied directly to notions of private enterprise [54]: One can observe this legacy in political discussions today, at least in USA, in that "privacy laws" are often applied only to government agencies, and not to for-profit businesses.)

  54. Han has even suggested that time itself is now accumulated (at least virtually) privately — as compensation for the limits of (neoliberal) life. ("Accumulation of time" then figures a kind of forced transcendence, but does spare one the full onslaught of the contemporary stratifying machine.)

  55. Once reified, such (technological) objects might begin to function as "solutions in search of problems" (as already implied by [33], where the "problem" is always already declining profit, per [47]): One might thus figure such reification as the insertion of (technological) stakeholders into economic processes (which, as noted by so many writers, have largely replaced political processes under the contemporary regime), i.e. as augmentation of the stakes of their owners (i.e. as undermining democracy per se [56]).

  56. Particularly as (reified) technological objects proliferate, then, it becomes critical (to democracy) to avoid giving them "human" rights, or indeed any real right to exist at all. They must support the collective will, or otherwise be banished.

  57. And I did, likewise, discuss this topic already in Technologies of the Self, so please allow me to be brief here... especially as the "selfie" is a very well-known phenomenon by now. (The number of people taking photographs at any particular public moment does continue to astound me, however!)

  58. One might even characterize the proliferation of selfies as people collecting themselves. (And I just did something similar by quoting — actually paraphrasing — myself.)

  59. So whereas living is basically improvisatory, one's own history becomes a sort of ballast or constraint: Proliferation & retention thus foreclose much of the potential for self-"potlatch" (i.e. per Bataille, or release of entropy per [38]) or indeed transformation, or any sort of transient sense of memory (counter [45]). One thus cannot forget oneself — absent extraordinary effort, figured as madness by modernity — such that "becoming" per se takes on the (increasingly) static quality of what one already "is." (Further regarding "existence," one might also consult Simondon....)

  60. The high tech industry is actively pursuing such virtual reality technologies, and they are closer to being deployed more widely than many people seem to realize. (And perhaps this comment will seem silly soon enough.) Both Latour & Laruelle might call these fictions (with the latter having explored "photofiction" per se).... Moreover, contemporary research includes such considerations as how to "fake" other sensory modes via psychological association, etc.

  61. Indeed, film might already have defined "presentist media" (in Hartog's terms), in making events — fictional or otherwise — feel physically present (even as a lack of presence was also always perceptible). As a regime of historicity, (as noted in [51]) then, such a split presence incorporating motion (as opposed to a static photo) is a century old (& older for audio recording, which also involves a temporal component, i.e. is akin to motion per se). The present is consequently (increasingly) constructed & consumed simultaneously, according to the ubiquity of such media.

  62. Notions of "performance" had already involved separation (i.e. mediation) in the sense that performance was segmented from ordinary activity: The "stage" already entailed implicit virtualization, then, the segmentation of a very particular & conscious setting from everyday life. (For some, in fact, such a segmentation yielded a heightened sense of reality, or at least heightened attention — as framing generic activity continues to do today.)

  63. As already segmented (& virtualized, in historical terms) per [62], performance art indeed became about focusing attention, with e.g. the various moralizing stories of Greek theater being a primary example: Comedy & tragedy had their different uses (many seemingly forgotten, or perhaps inapplicable outside of their particular context), including as a supplement to command (per [13]), such that the "frame" (of the stage — or, indeed, of the festival) itself served to mark a border to the proceedings, i.e. implied a time to go back to work. (Now such performance comes to blend, interactively, with work....)

  64. In other words, reproduction & retention, followed by virtualization & (infinite) transmission, can allow a single person (or a relative few) to spread their marketing & propaganda far & wide — & without needing to enlist (event-based) word of mouth. One person can now become a spectacle (as contemporary political life so often illustrates).

  65. Converting images & sound etc. (not to mention text, which had already been discretized in may parts of the world according to an alphabet) to a series of ones & zeroes — rather than various shades of gray or equivocating schemes — allows for the resulting "information" to then be duplicated, reproduced — in short, proliferated & reified. One cannot really argue with the practical success — at least in terms of broad circulation per se — of the binary scheme....

  66. I'm not sure if readers know how these sorts of digital approximations really work: Basically, as a mathematical function, i.e. as a curve of whatever shape, continuous data can be approximated with arbitrary precision (which means that one decides in advance what the margin of error should be, and then can get closer than that) by a simple (& crucially, finite) set of spanning functions (polynomials) — which can then be rendered in binary. That digitality then seems to be so compatible with typology is in some sense a happy coincidence, but is also due to these conceptions having originated from similar ideas: One might regard the spanning polynomials as a sequence of types, say, in terms of which "real data" would generally be composite (i.e. involving many "types").

  67. Digital technology regards its strict segmentation as an asset (yielding clarity), and so resists any sense of "swerve" etc. (Indeed, spontaneous "degradation" of bits or bytes in computer hardware — e.g. via radiation — is considered to be a serious technical issue. That's not — at all — the same as saying that it can't or doesn't happen, however.)

  68. Food has already been mentioned at various points, including for its aestheticizing trends: Mediation of "food" per se thus occurs not only in the mechanical technology & procedures of commercial agriculture (& animal husbandry), but in its preparation & discussion as well. (The centrality of food to social dynamics & change can also be emphasized more broadly: It's widely believed that settled grain production, and perhaps crucially alcohol production thereby, prompted the formation of "civilization" per se....) "Food" also interrogates — canonically — a variety of ecological intersections, and can even suggest transversality via the (oblique) intersections of various species with (those of) human consumption. (And laboratory synthesis of food proteins does also begin to present itself as a large-scale & therefore pharmacological possibility....) Again, food & its sourcing are absolutely central to postmodern aesthetics — more so than e.g. any painting could possibly be.

  69. One might characterize food, clothing & shelter as (already) primary healthcare....

  70. Medical paradigms have already been discussed, as has the fact that some of the language of this presentation is derived from medical concepts: In particular, rethinking the nexus of health & treatment involves a healthcare practice beyond "disease" per se, and indeed beyond the basic question of whether one is fit to go to work. One might further consider related paradigms of disability, especially to ask, able to do what? And by what means (at which point, one might consider technology in general)?

  71. Not only does an emphasis on microbiology (per [52]) raise the specter of super-diseases, but "boutique humans" as well — and the latter are being assembled (either in limited ways, or in secret) with intent. Medical technology thus comes to extend quite widely, not only into the body, into the very concept of humanity, such that "medical science" is one of our era's most significant frontiers, not only in terms of technical health & treatment paradigms, but in terms of ecology (& so politics) & indeed of law per se.

  72. I've already characterized such a situation as a "razor" — such that modernity confirms its own self-image via reduced mortality, while it simultaneously (i.e. pharmacologically) wreaks massive destruction. (As long as people can turn to modern medicine to prolong their lives, then, even in situations where "modern" activity made them sick in the first place, they seem to go along with the modernist program. Such decisions happen in moments of desperation, though, and so don't necessarily suggest actually improving conditions — particularly when such options are merely aspirational, due to lack of access.)

  73. Benefit or harm is, of course, relative to context or perspective.... (And moreover, human benefit may well — at least eventually — be undone entirely by human harm to the broader ecosystem.)

  74. Technologies derived from the microbiology or internal mechanics of various plants & animals have been a recent trend that is sometimes claimed to provide an incentive for ecological preservation in general. While that's clearly true in some sense, such technologies also introduce not only new forms of exploitation, but ecological mutation via human involvement, perhaps even directly via gene splicing. (Such issues needn't be involved in "inspiration" per se, however.) The extent to which cyborgs will consequently be produced is currently unknown, as is the impact, but such notions do impinge upon (human) bodily ecology — including notions of (dis)ability (including medically per [70]): In short, how might such transversality affect ecologies more broadly? (Colorful imagery or not, there's simply no reason to assume a positive outcome.)

  75. One might even figure the womb itself as a kind of "mediation technology" — particularly when conceiving mechanical wombs. Reproductive procedures such as "artificial" insemination have long been figured as raising the specter of human biological reproduction without men, as does genetic engineering in general, but such a technological progression is shifting increasingly rapidly into the possibility of reproduction without women — and given the structures of patriarchy, such a specter seems far more (practically) dangerous. (Would such reproduction still be "sexual?[76]") Yet, in a basic pharmacology sense, the prospect of reproduction without the rigors of childbearing is hailed as liberating by some women... and indeed many sexual technologies (e.g. birth control) have actually proven to be helpful to women. (So a technical-social pharmacology looms quite large here, given the biological stakes.)

  76. One might even position the family per se as a technology (as I have, briefly, in the past), particularly around modern biologism. (Family technologies have indeed figured molar politics for some time now.) The basic contours of labor demands (including slave labor) have already inflected sexual selection (technologically), and so one might further interrogate "sexual" selection absent reproductive sex: Does attraction move further into the realm of virtuality? How does such a shift change the locus of bodily power (i.e. around such notions as "beauty" & charisma)? Such a question has deep (pharmacological) implications for traditional concepts of human authority....

  77. Indeed, one might quip that robotic labor is the next step after the anesthesia regime (as noted in a previous section, and as continuing to accelerate...), such that it might even be figured as a continuation or outcome of "medical" technology per se. (Under a robotic labor regime, of course notions of "ability" are clarified a priori, as labor units are designed for specific tasks.) One might further figure both robotics & anesthesia as part of extending disinhibition (including via delayed feedback, as noted in [41]), i.e. as providing ongoing labor (while avoiding the topic, per [51]) for increasingly cynical neoliberalism.[78] (That robots might come to disobey their masters, largely on account of the incompetence of the latter, only poses another pharmacological situation — given the random destruction generally entailed.)

  78. And of course, the advent of robotic labor has not meant that people have needed to work less. In fact, it's producing a changing global labor market — as designed — & so concessions via notions of "competition" in turn. (So people now compete with robots for economic sustenance.) Such a sense of "global negotiation" thus marks "labor" (which is itself a molarity) as a (population control) technology (not so unlike "family," per [76]).[79] (One might further note that modern mortality concerns — & their medical pharmacology, e.g. per the razor of [72] — are also a legacy of labor, i.e. of increasing production via biologism. Do they still apply?)

  79. Indeed, labor is not only a technology in the sense of population control, but becomes virtual itself: People are increasingly employed e.g. to "teach" robots by marking & naming objects within data streams, and even the act of traversing ("surfing" as they used to say before it became so obviously unpleasant) the web can be figured as labor that accumulates wealth (for others). One might further note the sort of psychic (or "care") labor expected of service workers as another sort of virtual (or immaterial, in Lazzarato's terms) labor....

  80. One might note that it was the victory of liberalism (& capitalism) per se that allowed the introduction of fiat money: Without an overarching financial system (i.e. global monetary sovereignty), tying money (as medium of circulation) to specific commodity valuation was often necessary in order to guard against (systematically) unfair exchange between differing (modern) empires. (One might further note that the introduction of fiat currency in the West anticipated the "fall" of the Soviet Union, which did not allow open currency exchange.) Neoliberalism is now free to revel in "virtual money" (i.e. money as medium alone), so as (more efficiently) to create money directly from money (absent commodity or labor).

  81. Of course, such permeation, such centrality (not to mention the notion of "medium" itself) marks money as both mediation & technology: It not only demands frequent (if not constant) attention (i.e. bodily per [19]), but involves e.g. tertiary retention (per [44], i.e. numbers tallied by computers). Even when not explicit, it remains latent in most social relations today (and not only those of the interior, but those linking the interior to elsewhere, i.e. figuring the interior). Indeed almost every contemporary relation would work out differently if the monetary relations impinging upon it were to change....

  82. That monetary quantification "increasingly" mediates relations should be set against a long (historical) context for such mediation: E.g. Christianity had sought to eliminate usury (& for that matter, avarice, at least officially), but its resulting monetary tropes came to sublimate throughout the economy, only to irrupt with modernity: One might thus note the pharmacology of monetary mediation per se [83] (including via "delay" & consequent disinhibition per [41]). Such a pharmacology should still be contrasted with (neoliberal) inevitability.

  83. Further e.g. according to Han, today's money functions much like violence did in ancient times, i.e. to be accumulated as a substance of power. (One might even speak of the power of abolishing death, or of destruction or salvation, including "artistically" per [8].) The latter is commonly understood today, such that monetary mediation is also commonly accepted (in place of violence — or indeed justice).

  84. That economic considerations have come (in the contemporary era) to usurp the political is likewise (e.g. per [83]) commonly understood (although too often figured as inevitable), but the notion of money as not only an extension of sovereignty (e.g. per [80]) but as itself divine (deriving from Christianity, per Singh) brings with it a mark of obligation — such that, in historical terms, even salvation has a price (& Christ has thus served as currency). In that sense, Singh further notes that modernity made debt "impersonal" (as opposed to the infinite, spiritual debt of Christianity), so that it might be transferable & thus circulate as abstract technology. Today then, bankers take the rein from priests, and not only preside over the political, but over salvation per se. (In other words, there has long been a price, even as "monetary technology" per se continues to change.)

  85. Financial technologies forge labor technologies (e.g. per [78] & [79]) through a variety of mechanisms (including, increasingly, by superseding biological reproduction per se, even e.g. per [75]), but mainly through redirecting art-as-work via demands for specific sorts of (unsatisfying, unproductive) work — demands that must be met in order to gain access to the modern (& now postmodern) economy. (Such technical mediation thus encompasses Marxist alienation.) In other words, beyond general mediation (i.e. as medium of circulation), money remains a basic control technology (particularly for labor itself, already figured as a technology).

  86. Such affective acceleration is produced as a general output of the contemporary stratifying machine (per [17]), further ramifying (increasingly contradictory) notions of the "present" (& so of "financial" urgency). So whereas "speed" per se was a (specifically) modern weapon, it's thus retained within the layered temporalities posited & exploited by the stratifying machine. (That I keep finding myself saying "increasingly" is also both an artifact of an era of change & of these very forces of contradictory, i.e. also resisting fundamental change, acceleration....) That "speed" continues to function as a primary vector for exploitation is especially obvious in the intersection of financial technologies per se, with their emphasis on faster access to information & faster transactions.

  87. The aesthetic & affective aspects of technological mediation thus come to permeate art-as-work — not only as alienating demands (per mediation of molar labor, per [85]), but by forcing e.g. money (& other contemporary technologies) into the heart of self-formation: Perceptual hierarchies are consequently (already) inflected, as is ecological circulation in general (such that one might specifically interrogate technologies addressed to e.g. segmentation, semiosis, selfhood, typology, circulation, transversality, and molarity per se — i.e. basic figurations of contemporary embeddedness). How might one then come to reinflect art-as-work according to a general ecology? Indeed, how does one thwart the (contemporary) pyramid in order to make a living artistically (& so relationally)? (The latter has already been a tangible question for many people today....)

  88. Of course, technological speed (e.g. per [86]) is deployed with intent, specifically (at least in part) so as to outrun legal remedies, which always tend to lag: After all, law is built from precedent (i.e. expectation), and so often takes considerable time in order to reach a conclusion (via various appeals, etc.). Its slowness is the source of its strength, in some sense, such that faster legal remedies (so as to address e.g. the medical issues raised in [71]) tend to pose their own pharmacological issues.... However, it's also critical to acknowledge law as itself a technology: Law consists of various (karmic) if-then formulas, various steps, i.e. mediations, relations, etc. Indeed, it imposes a system (i.e. offers specific techniques) for mediation per se.

  89. As noted, the slowness (& so, often stiffness) of justice does pose its own sort of pharmacology, such that a rush to legal remedy can involve various (unintended) consequences: In that sense, "looming" marks a real danger, and indeed law is already being reconfigured aggressively, usually according to terms dictated by global corporations — which have thus come to transcend the modern, national form that had spawned them (in particular, via a kind of emerging "financial sovereignty" of salvation per [84]). One thus comes — once again (e.g. per [42]) — to invoke different (prospective) sovereignties & so different laws (& different mediations in turn): And imperial (i.e. universalizing) imposition of Western property law around the globe simply cannot be allowed to continue.

3A: Intersections of art & control

Artistic (relational) production might be aligned with forces of hierarchy & control, might oppose them, or might subsequently be aligned by them. (The latter is typical of situations in which artistic output doesn't consider such forces, to the point that alignment is often implicit from the start.[1]) And there is likely more than one hierarchy impinging [2], multiplying the basic ramifications of production: "Aesthetics" (as discipline) then enters (according to modern & now postmodern notions & priorities) to analyze (& likely reify) such alignment, while (also likely) recapitulating its own authority.[3] "Aesthetics" (again, as discipline) thus imposes a sort of control, perhaps as a tendency....[4,5] As a segmented domain [6], aesthetics per se also goes on to produce aestheticization [7], i.e. further segmentation & reification of (otherwise relational) activity: If art-as-work yields its own sort of authority [9] then, how might it (re)impinge upon or inflect (or oppose) control per se? What might one control via one's (relational) production, and relative to what?[10] If one is to trace relations (as so often suggested here [11]), how might art-as-work relate to & intersect various forces of hierarchy? What sort of crossings or knots or perspectives might emerge [12] — whether as forged or as revealed — & what might be related in turn?[14] Such intersections, i.e. such tracings of relation(s), yield a kind of knowledge — & indeed involve a basic entropy-semiosis dual: Control undertaken by or against art-as-work thus figures further relations of light & heat [15], and so another pharmacology.[16] And in the contemporary struggle against neoimperialism & neoliberalism [17], one might go on to figure art-as-work via weaponry & so to trace countermeasures in response.[18] (That such a struggle brings its own pharmacology seems obvious, particularly once notions of "countermeasure" are invoked.[19]) One might further note that such a pharmacology is always evolving, such that tracing of (increasingly) entangled relations is repeatedly required....[21] In other words, there is less & less opportunity to act (or interact) freely, i.e. as unencumbered by (neo)imperial impingement.[23] However, there do remain traditional (institutional) intersections that aren't fully assimilated to neoliberal hierarchy: In particular, religions might be figured as the very intersections posited by this section title [25], involving & invoking both art & (historical) control per se. Indeed religion figures tradition as imposition (on contemporary activity) per se [26], and so traces its own aesthetic.[27] Modernity thus sought to replace religion with science, and hence to forge a more complementary authority [29]: Such a crossing involved the reconfiguration of social roles [30], and so of art-as-work per se.[31] (Such new intersections have since gone on to reconfigure, and so assimilate to contemporary hierarchy, various related domains of authority....[32,33]) And such collisions are subsequently figured (by contemporary hierarchy [34]) as matters of "reality" per se: Sensation & perception (i.e. basic aesthetics) are thus mediated & instrumentalized [35] according to a sort of false transparency [37] designed to maximize profit & so to intensify hierarchy in turn. And within such a brittle world — one specifically posited as being without alternatives — everything is to be (typologically) in its place, (ready for harvesting) and without equivocation: Within such an ecology, art-as-work then encounters many intersections & collisions.... (And the latter is of course an understatement, as navigating intersections & collisions may actually come to define art-as-work.[38])

One might then figure — to a first degree, anyway — art-as-work as operating either in alignment with, or transverse to (i.e. equivocating [39]) hierarchical typology. Moreover, creation per se yields a sort of authority [40], such that creation-by-doing (i.e. the most direct mode of creation) might produce a (localized) regime of control [41]: That one might come to control oneself is (already) dangerous (to hierarchy) [42], and (through mastery) art-as-work can become disinhibiting more generally....[43] At least since the (late modern) era of industrialization, then, those (shrinking few) at the top of the global pyramid have perceived an urgent need to alienate art-as-work (in general), so as both to direct production toward hoarding wealth & control the (growing [44]) population more broadly. (Taxation per se was no longer sufficient to these — grand, modern — purposes.) Indeed, "labor" (as molar regime [45]) was forged around another (explicit) intersection (again per the section title), in particular so as to align (general) production with hierarchical control: That "labor" (as a technology [47]) figures such an intersection is obvious enough, but such control comes to reach deeply into workplace environments as well.[48] Thus "making a living" becomes less about forging a territory per se [50], and more about negotiating such intersections [51] — (today) particularly around technology, and especially its purpose [52] & control.[53] (And per the previous section, recall that technology differs very little from artistic production in general, such that the contemporary regime seeks to align "generalized" art with control. It does this in part by marginalizing "art" per se into dusty corners, i.e. into modes of useless non-relation....) Further, since control & authority largely derive from attention [55], contemporary media technology provides an (unprecedented) amplifier [56], such that its images even come to permeate the self [57], including via (reified) language per se.[58] Resulting perceptions (& their underlying hierarchies) then come not only to forge our sensory categories in turn (including via saturated attention [60]), but to incline our preferences more generally.[62] Such attentional saturation then comes to condition a (contemporary) regime of overriding social negativity [63], such that one feels (increasingly) under siege [64] — & indeed reified (as a consumer [67]) for bodily colonization.[68] Saturation is then not only a distraction, but a forge for various new intersections & collisions [69], largely designed to produce paralysis [70] & so to reify control. (Biologism thus turns to isolation.[71]) So how does art-as-work figure weaponry (& resistance) within such a situation? What is the (contemporary) pharmacology of music, for instance?[73] Indeed, what is the pharmacology of contemporary technology via art-as-work [75], i.e. how might one build (different) relations with (& through [76]) technology? Before returning to such a general (critical, open-ended) inquiry [77], let me turn to a more particular (& contemporary) nexus of relation....

Emerging from the reification of labor [78] is a contemporary work-play dual [79], and in turn a comedy-sex-sports nexus (of play) [80], such that social & sexual reproduction continue to be ramified by non-productive labor [81], thus presenting (potential) alternatives to neoliberal hierarchy. Although they both inflect reproductive selection [82], comedy & sports also trace very different relations (including with hierarchy): Humor presents a kind of arrival, i.e. a stopping point (e.g. for mediation), in the basic truth of laughter.[83] (Although the specific relations that comedy invokes & refigures change — often rapidly — over time [85], such "basic truth" is always a criterion.[86]) And whereas sports figures finality & outcomes [87], whether due to rule changes or increasing complexity — or indeed broad social ramification [88] — sporting events increasingly require (various) interpretations in order to declare who won [90]: Such burgeoning uncertainty (within an arena that explicitly promises outcomes) reflects not only the increasing centrality of "competition" per se under neoliberalism [91,92], but the (sometimes equivocating) forces of aestheticization more broadly: As semblance of war [93], such "entertainment" [94] comes to aestheticize violence, not only via e.g. theatrical spectacles (& their various accompanying images), but according to (perhaps tangential) participation per se [95]: Late modern notions of "total war" come to be sublimated across society [96] via proliferation of interactive modes of competition (& revelry) [98] — which sports inspire, condition & model.[99] (Such sublimated control is only partially distributed, however, like a sort of negative vaccine....) The "artistry" [100] of sports then goes on to figure a variety of (social) relations, including those of competitive (i.e. neoliberal) labor per se.[101,102] And despite uncertainty & interpretation, sporting outcomes are nonetheless declared, such that they can function (not only as fuel for the neoliberal stratifying machine, but) as "social proof" more broadly, i.e. as images & prompts for (ongoing) reproductive selection.[103] Such "investment" in sports then suggests both lack & (social) excess in turn [104], i.e. space to be filled (or overfilled by spectacle), whereas comedy turns to a lack-excess dual more directly (including via the basic truth — or untruth — of its outcome, as noted): The movement of comedy through deterritorialization & reterritorialization [105] can (of course) involve its own violence — which goes beyond semblance, although (or because) it's resolved within the same movement, i.e. without further mediation. However, such motion also tends (explicitly) to involve hierarchy [106], and indeed its (potential) reconfiguration around play per se [107,108]: Comedic equivocation is thus momentary, but usually invokes transverse [109] (e.g. heretical or queer, broadly speaking) relations that might in turn serve to flatten or blur hierarchy more generally. (And there's not only a kind of "undeniable" truth or outcome to comedic motion, but also a fragility: It might not be repeatable. Moreover, motion that once blurred hierarchy can be subsequently reified & reassimilated to hierarchy — & indeed such a process is always ongoing, including via memory itself.) The comedy-sex-sports nexus thus not only figures violence (including via mediation & semblance), but has come to (further) ramify outcome per se [110] according to its own ongoing contemporary development: On the one hand, the thirst for (definitive) outcomes is (increasingly often) thwarted, while on the other, outcomes are overwhelmed by subsequent mediation (& so left to fade as memories).[111] And so whereas the intersecting arenas of the nexus bring (& further develop) their own concepts of weapons & outcomes, it's (specifically) their relation (i.e. their particular intersection of art & control) that's under urgent (ongoing, contemporary) cultivation.

That art-as-work might or might not be in alignment (e.g. with hierarchy, but also with much else) presents its own pharmacology, beyond any (other, specific) relational nexus, but also suggests a mediate (hence technological [112]) position: Proliferating mediation proliferates relations, and so brings potential for different sorts of relations, including those at the molar level.[113] And considering that (the technology of) law is constantly being manipulated to suit the whims of neoliberal hierarchy (especially to marginalize labor & so to enable further hoarding), one might go on to consider notions of legitimacy per se [114]: Law not only brings its own concepts of tracing [117] — a kind of art-as-work — but a (canonical & historical [118]) sense of justice. (The latter might also bring not only a sense of intersection, but of connection.[120]) However, justice is about outcomes [121], such that art-as-work (as doing per se) can consequently become marginalized (as is typical of molar perspectives). Indeed, justice suggests & projects a typology to be enacted by law, i.e. specifically as outcome.[123] (And typologies of justice have always been problematic.[125]) One might then ponder not only a pharmacology of law (& justice), but the broad concepts & origins of law per se [126]: Whence does or should law arise? Whose law? Such questions evoke sovereignty, and so (once again) raise a pharmacology of sovereignty — which largely turns on molarity [129,131], i.e. emerges from (distinctly) segmented territories & their intersections. In that sense, not only can "local" sovereignty involve ramifying & so intensifying hierarchical control (i.e. serve as another brick in the pyramid), but (local) policies can & do come into conflict across a global mosaic.[132] (The basic urgency around questions of law irrupting from the unraveling of modernity thus flounders in the face of ongoing universalist positions & debates.[133]) Policies must thus come to involve a less singular — but no less specific — sense of "voice" [134]: Voices might then emerge from regimes of care, and interpenetrate ecologically [135], in turn forging new sorts of (multiple) collective politics via (molecular) art-as-work. (Such a situation will also signal the emergence of new — or newly articulated — ontologies.) Of course, in the absence of (explicit) hierarchical control, such a politics will involve even more intersections, such that art-as-work might indeed come to be figured via ongoing work-as-relation.[137] (Intersections per se thus become targets for art-as-work.)

  1. In other words, if one doesn't explicitly consider forces of hierarchy & control relative to one's output, one is probably (always already) aligned by them.

  2. Hence one might, once again, consider multiple values — whether for alignment or opposition. (Of course, neoliberal fundamentalism declares wealth to be the only real value, and attempts to collapse any alternate hierarchy.)

  3. Presumptive authority is always recapitulated by having its judgments honored, or at least tolerated: In other words, repeated action produces its own reification. (And Concepts of contemporary authority already discussed related topics in more detail, originating the figure of art-as-work.)

  4. Indeed, tendency or inclination suggests a more powerful locus of control than imposition, which tends to bring opposition: Authority (per [3]) emerges out of "influence" per se, such that (internal) desire might be (or have been) cultivated (perhaps subconsciously). One might even figure authority as emerging from collision, i.e. via the forces of (collective) individuation, such that control itself can seem redundant in the face of desire (for the same object).

  5. And let me remind the reader that, within the horizons of modern biologism, "aesthetics" has long figured — at least implicitly — sexual aesthetics per se, and so biological (& hence general) reproduction. (It's thus a powerful tendency.)

  6. That "the aesthetic" became its own domain in the modern period (indeed copying some of the ancient empires) has already been discussed (here) extensively. One might then ask if further "aesthetic activity" reintegrates, i.e. produces more (e.g. promiscuous) relations, or if it shores up the boundaries of its segmented domain: This is largely a matter of conceptual awareness (per [1]), and might e.g. be figured according to the dual meanings of "cleavage."

  7. Benjamin famously linked aestheticization to fascism, and I've discussed some details of such a relation in Further notes on fascist aesthetics (which does propose a few active responses). I've also discussed Benjamin's trope of "useless art" (i.e. in response to industrialization), which fades in relevance with modernity: In our era, one must treat aestheticization pharmacologically [8], then, especially if — as in my view — "the aesthetic" encompasses sensation per se. In other words, one must seek to perceive & relate.

  8. The cleavage involved in segmenting aesthetics (per [6]) suggests a sort of wedge by which aestheticization might segment art-as-work from authority, but also by which it might reintegrate consciousness (perceptually & relationally). One might then interrogate whether any particular process of aestheticization reifies "aesthetics" per se, or establishes broader relations: Today it generally does both, and so must indeed be treated pharmacologically. (However, I must insist that, for all its dangers, such a process is necessary in order to unwind neoimperialism, which remains grounded in just such a segmentation.)

  9. Indeed art-as-work figures collision, beyond individuation per se (e.g. per [4]), such that it might figure (together with control) a pole of authority, i.e. the basic doing by which authority establishes itself. (And of course authority must be perceived, and so is perceived aesthetically, such that it might be traced or invoked by art-as-work.) One might then invoke hierarchy perceptually via art-as-work (or simply recapitulate hierarchy unreflectively per [1]).

  10. If one's production (& so desire, pace [4]) is relative to society as a whole, of course one has a problem of scale: One is simply not as large as society, in particular is not able to enter into as many relations, not even close, and so one must rely on nonlinear interactions & alignments in order to yield a broad impact. (The fast & widespread popularity of e.g. internet memes does demonstrate such a continuing possibility....)

  11. The tracing of relations is, of course (including per [8]), a sort of art-as-work.... (Hence work-as-relation?)

  12. I chose the term "intersections" in part due to (feminist) intersectionality & its powerful analyses of multiply impinging domains of oppression, but also due to its "fit" in a discussion of multi-species ecology. One might also talk of crossing [13] or collision, and indeed tracing such impingements might yield relational knots etc. — in addition to a (perhaps new) variety of perspectives. Into what sort of topology might such (multiple) tracing lead? (Such crossings might also be coincidental, which doesn't necessarily lessen their significance, and might even be derived from intentional structures.)

  13. The discussion also involves crossings of my own material, which I attempt to reintroduce briefly: Some of those (prior) discussions do also involve different perspectives, although there is often considerable overlap.

  14. As a reference to intersectionality might already suggest, the technology of law will likely (if only eventually) come to mediate these various crossings & relations: What sort of law? What sort of intersections do we want? What kind of control?

  15. Control (& indeed knowledge acquisition) always involves generation of entropy: One might figure such (social) entropy as the heat of opposing imposition (per [4]), but control involves entropy in an overall systems sense too, such that one can generally speak of a control cycle occurring via feedback. (Even tracing, as here & per [11], thus brings entropy via its own feedback. In some sense, one might figure such entropy as involving the arbitrary & unfixed qualities of contingent expression.)

  16. Via entropy, control thus always yields a pharmacology: One might figure e.g. the (poorly fitting) modern pyramid as globally entropic (& of course controlling), and indeed as expanding its entropic production rapidly. Modernist (& now postmodernist) impulses then seek further control (in response), such that entropy generation only continues to increase. (Previously, I had figured the control necessary to generate private wealth rather than "merely" general wealth as likewise entropic, if not in those terms: In other words, wealth segmentation suppresses total wealth accumulation.)

  17. In particular, the struggle against neoimperialism involves (establishing) the postcolony, whereas neoliberalism evokes its own concept of postmodern: At least from a USA perspective, the most straightforward pharmacology resulting from such struggle is that (traditional) resistance to institutions has only yielded more institutions — now private rather than public, with the latter being increasingly hollowed out in order to accommodate the former.

  18. As is hopefully obvious by now, such "response" need not arrive (temporally) afterward. Rather it generally preexists contemporary efforts, simply waiting as a web of relations in which to ensnare any countereffort....

  19. And we see, increasingly, that the contemporary (neoliberal) regime acknowledges no limit to the destruction it might (seek to) bring: According to notions of contemporary disinhibition, death & (e.g. environmental) destruction are simply the rights of control, and resistance must be quashed at any cost.[20]

  20. Of course, there is still the matter of efficiency: Control is much more efficient when internalized (per [4]), such that the (entrepreneurial) struggle is with oneself. (Martyrs have also proven troublesome: Hence destruction is usually undertaken slowly & progressively, such that it might remain beneath general notice....)

  21. Indeed, one might say that truth is in the becoming, i.e. is made by events, rather than preexisting reality (in some formal sense). One might even say that truth arises from battle.[22]

  22. One should also note that it can become only too easy to devolve into a simple for-against duality, particularly when one is raising notions of measure-countermeasure (including per [18]). However, it's also important to grasp the basic pharmacology of struggle, not only arising inherently from the semiosis-entropy dual, but as a matter of machinic reprisal. So one must both expect reactions & unwind dualities within which reactions operate (perceptually).

  23. As noted in prior sections, neoliberalism seeks to impose its mediating (i.e. arbitrage) structures onto every relation — & increasingly does so into the smallest corners of everyday life via (its [24]) emerging technology. (Of course, neoliberalism also equates itself with freedom, i.e. freedom for whoever eventually occupies the apex of the pyramid.)

  24. That such technology is so often deployed in the service of neoliberalism per se — in this case, generally via private profit — is of course a critical component of technical pharmacology.

  25. Indeed, as discussed in Concepts of contemporary religion, religion provides an early developmental tendency that can never truly be transcended (ironically enough), involving both received knowledge (i.e. wisdom) & values. (Religion might thus be figured, in part, as simply how one was originally taught.) One might then note its employment of glory & awe, something that translates directly into the neoliberal regime (& into fascism in general).

  26. Modernity has generally figured the imposition of tradition as an impediment to its sense of rational progress, such that religion becomes definitionally meritless — a reservoir of untruth. (What one then discovers is that all knowledge eventually accumulates as tradition, particularly since the notion that one could determine everything empirically for oneself — every time! — becomes absurd in the face of the sheer bulk of the modern canon. To add to the absurdity, today in practice, for most people, "scientific empiricism" largely consists of doing a web search, i.e. proceeds explicitly according to received authority!)

  27. That religion yields a particular aesthetic (often figured via glory, including per [25], i.e. glory for tradition) is then not only a matter of feeling per se, but of sculpting (selves) in turn: And there is a sort of supremacy (of knowledge) that arrives via such sculpting (i.e. from a young age).[28] Religions thus come to knot art & control in their own characteristic ways via individuation itself.

  28. Per Laruelle, one might in turn oppose a sort of micro-ritual to liturgy (i.e. public work-as-relation), so as to oppose fundamentalism in general. (In other words, one might swerve.) Laruelle also suggests an indeterminacy between faith & knowledge per se, such that faithfulness itself becomes a critique of (religious) belief. (In these terms, one might then invoke aesthetic intersection.)

  29. The instrumental orientation of modern science offered a disinhibiting attitude toward the "natural" world, and then an absence of limiting power: One could do whatever one could do, ultimately leading to the "might makes right" aesthetic of modern imperialism. (Under neoliberalism, of course, the best complementary authority is whatever makes the most money right now.) One might then ask regarding science, which simply means knowledge, knowledge of what? Technologically speaking, how to do what?

  30. Again per Concepts of contemporary authority, one might speak of reconfiguring the knowledge-based domain of authority (or caste): And not only was knowledge per se reconfigured (away from traditional values), but so were its intersections with other domains, especially wealth & violence. (One might subsequently seek a multiple, or at least dual, contemporary value system — but coexistence with the modern pyramid has always been fraught.)

  31. Since art-as-work figures both production & individuation (& indeed domains of authority), such a reconfiguration was able to permeate society at the molecular level. (One might seek a precedent for such sweeping social change in e.g. the invention of alcohol on top of settled grain production, and so the invention of "civilization" — at least as it's come to be defined in some circles. Such an analogy is actually rather close around control of production per se....)

  32. For instance, knowledge per se as well as "medicine" & health in general (whether policy, paradigm, or technology) — not to mention food & agriculture, etc. — have already been noted as being particularly ramified by (newly) modern (& now postmodern) intersections.

  33. As already noted (in [14]), new intersections raise new questions of law. Moreover one might ask (in a modern vein), if law is the science of authority, why is it so often opaque? Mostly on account of having retained so much history — as is its structure, as noted in a prior section — which proliferates intersections around new issues. Of course, one might then ask, what history in particular? And that is not a difficult question to answer....

  34. Note that early modern disinhibition leveraged religious ideals in the service of economic expansion & exploitation. The modern conflict with religion per se (i.e. after having initially split — yet retaining, perhaps intensifying — Christianity during the Reformation) arrived only subsequent to imperial control of the globe, at which point religion was perceived as a liability (to further consolidation & exploitation).

  35. Of course, instrumentality [36] was already a modern priority (including technologically per [29]), such that mediation not only enters to cleave outcome from intent, but to proliferate segmentation in general. Proliferation of objects then figures not only the commodity fetish, but general (& contradictory) disenchantment via alienation.

  36. Instrumentality also figures a specific (aesthetic) causality: It has a "feel." In these terms, though, one might ask — including of instrumentality itself — what enables what? What sort of explanation spurs thought? (The latter is a contemporary scientific refrain, and the answer is usually presumed.)

  37. Indeed, e.g. Han suggests that politics requires secrecy (as part of strategy), such that "transparency" is not only dishonest (on its face) under neoliberalism, but (of course) universalizing: Everything is to be on a stage... pornographic, and so ultimately monetary. And then unleash the mediation (i.e. arbitrage)!

  38. Interrogating contemporary intersections thus involves tracing relations per se, including via history (due to e.g. lingering modernism). And as already noted, food becomes an increasingly apt metaphor (& non-metaphor) for contemporary intersection: What relations does one's meal entail, and how are they forged and/or mediated? Where does art-as-work enter? (In so many ways....) What then is its ecology?

  39. That art can involve equivocation, i.e. transverse or unstable relations (or e.g. swerving), is one the most basic messages here: How might one reconfigure a situation (via art-as-work, or via work-as-relation per [11]) then? (One might even invoke equivocating diagrams....)

  40. Creation not only involves the possibility of inflecting perceptual hierarchy (e.g. per [9]), i.e. as art-as-work, but is relational itself: Authority is, of course, a sort of relation — such that the latter (in general) might interrogate the former. Establishing relation thus comes to mark a domain of authority, i.e. from the perspective of doing rather than of external observation.

  41. Art-as-work (via reconfiguring relation per [39]) thus not only takes on a particular feeling (or aesthetic), but establishes a domain: By the very fact of doing, one (prospectively, but not necessarily) establishes a regime of care (i.e. via work-as-relation). Such a regime might then further develop (or relate) an aesthetic.

  42. Control of self presents the prospect of refusing to work for the furtherance of hierarchy.... It presents, in short, control of art-as-work, including around the self-collective dual. Whence does such self-control actually emerge then? (By the time one might attempt an answer to that question, though, one is already oneself: Enter tradition, per [25].)

  43. One might say that authority figures disinhibition in general. And so art-as-work becomes disinhibiting via the authority of creation, e.g. as perceived by others, and internally through its own mastery. One might then ask of disinhibition, relative to what domain? To what might (the authority of) art-as-work apply in any specific instance? (One thus enters into notions of industry or discipline, or indeed cultural setting....) Despite great variability in its domains, art-as-work does (always, at least) occupy the self (as territory), however.

  44. As noted (perhaps too often) already, that the population is growing (at least with such rapidity) was part of the basic modern strategy to increase production — & so hoarded wealth.

  45. The molarity of labor (as class or category) is, of course, pharmacological: It's a way to manipulate people in general, but it's also a way to assert collective control in turn. And the more it does the latter, the more it does the former too. Moreover, rifts in the "working class," e.g. over such issues as racism & sexism, have provided easily manipulable wedges to be thrust into labor as a collective. (That such issues are highlighted once again by neoimperialism should come as no surprise.[46]) The basic thrust of neoliberal entrepreneurship (of the self) is then to create "competition" within labor itself (& including with robots), so as to force lower pay & worse working conditions. Indeed, the "molarity" of labor is quite fraught today — especially under conditions of a supposed surplus.

  46. One thus sees populism reintroduced around various prejudices, now in service to the small minority claiming control of most wealth.... (The coalitions made by the UK Labour Party around Brexit are appalling, for instance.) Politically, labor is thus currently in shambles. (The situation has become so absurd that e.g. Mouffe has had to release a pamphlet about "left populism" still being possible!)

  47. Labor as technology was already noted in the abstract (as have its various rifts per [45]), but e.g. Fordism, Taylorism, etc. should also be noted as specific labor technologies. Now one might add e.g. "the gig economy" (which is also pharmacological, having arisen from artistic regimes) & other forms of rights-evading partial employment....

  48. The manipulation of space for discipline, i.e. via surveillance, affective modulation (e.g. via music), "motivation" via environmental temperature — even beyond the industrial tradition (figured briefly in [47]) — continues apace: Sensory relations come to present a sort of aporia, from which the only escape is (supposedly anyway) more focus on work.[49] (Productivity statistics don't seem to bear out these notions, but discipline has never been entirely about productivity. It's also about validating hierarchy & maintaining control.)

  49. And the sort of production that's demanded has also increased (per the "competition" figured in [45]), such that e.g. therapy services are to be delivered (for free) by untrained employees in the form of the mandatory "care work" (as noted in the previous section) that comes to be an unstated job requirement. (Such demands are also made, often reciprocally, on the consumer — including around their own psychological care — so as to support intentional understaffing. And again, it's not only about higher profits per se, but also about demeaning people as an aspect of control.)

  50. Indeed (around the world), one is increasingly less likely to have any means for an independent existence, i.e. some land & resources to grow food, etc. Rather, laboring territories are more in the abstract around skills, i.e. what one has to offer (to prospective profiteers). Per prior themes of ecology, then, one might still ponder intersecting (& highly ramified) "regimes of care" forged via art-as-work (per [41]), i.e. creation & cultivation per se (as opposed to the forced scarcity figured by [49]). The alternative to neoliberal "competition" is not really "to work less" then, although that might be preferable to (always at least implicit) demands to work more, but to have more autonomy over whatever regimes might be forged, i.e. via nonlinear ecology (e.g. per [10]) — or rather, to have a system that acknowledges its own (actual, nonlinear) dependence.

  51. And it's not that such a statement about negotiating (or navigating) intersections today is novel, but rather the sheer extent of one's entanglements... the growing volume of unpaid & unacknowledged tasks, for instance, all required in order to continue interacting with the neoliberal economy.

  52. Indeed, if technology is to lead into "less work," i.e. more free time in which to be creative, i.e. toward actual emancipation from the struggle of everyday survival, its usage cannot be directed toward & by wealth hoarding priorities from people who are already wealthy. (That much is quite obvious.) Is the explosive manipulation of "technology" simply to intensify the modern pyramid further, or might it be used to diversify relations? (Some conservative forces might want neither....) Such a pharmacology is generally becoming clear to everyone, to one degree or another....

  53. And control of technology is both figured by & goes on to figure purpose: One might further ponder e.g. decolonizing technology [54], both in the sense of taking control of technological development & in the more specific sense of technology for decolonization per se. (One might likewise figure control of technology against control by technology. In the latter sense, technological agents allow forces of hierarchy to retain a greater distance or buffer while engaging in suppression.)

  54. Broadly speaking, one might ponder how (already) alienated objects are reembedded into new ecologies (or economies): This is reterritorialization, and so such reembedding might be figured hierarchically (e.g. according to typological reification), or it might lead into an actual ecology of care (e.g. beyond the pyramid)....

  55. The opening discursus to Practical listening already deals with attention (& sometimes implicit control thereby): One might further suggest that the various (previously articulated, basic) modes of authority (i.e. knowledge, wealth, violence, sex appeal) also figure attention per se. (Personal charisma & especially media "access" then come increasingly to figure contemporary authority according to such attentional figuration.)

  56. As mentioned previously, contemporary media figures its own pyramid scheme, in particular via the geometry of broadcasting from one to many: Such a megaphone is not new in structure or aspiration, since any traditional ruler had issued & propagated edicts etc., but according to its sheer ubiquity.

  57. Permeation by technological image was already interrogated via the selfie, which indeed figures a particular (sort of) self-consciousness. Further, aesthetic reification (per the concerns of [8]) involves a fraught pharmacology around reintegrating (cloven) aesthetic perception (per se) with general perception & thought.

  58. Alienation via language has likewise already been discussed, but one might further note the rigidity imposed e.g. by language "chunking" & the subconscious resistance (sometimes) arising around (learning) articulatory figures. Language might thus be said to figure tendencies (in the sense of [4]), such that e.g. the labeling of art (& its various "genres") [59] brings a strong reifying tendency to the (nominally) aesthetic domain. (One might also reprise a previous observation regarding the imposition of "naming" in general.)

  59. That various labels & genres figure a typology, and so segmentation per se, is obvious enough. Note that such segmentation reaches into sensory modalities etc. as well. (To such a typological situation, one might oppose e.g. the tracing of individual relation, which figures a specific artwork per se. Such relations, of course, come to encompass presumptive segmentation etc., which might thereby be refigured.)

  60. Per [55], media & authority hence come to merge (via attention): One might then ask (again) how perceptions are prompted, conditioned & ordered in turn.[61] In the simplest sense, perceptual hierarchy already comes to be mapped according to categories forged by contemporary media.

  61. For instance, as observed by Ngai & others, saturated contemporary attention has tended to result in fewer perceptual or aesthetic categories, i.e. reduced consciousness & sensitivity (to the extent that perception largely remains categorical in the contemporary moment). There is thus a general contraction of perceptual awareness (at least in the interior), along with increasingly rigid segmentation (e.g. per [59]).

  62. Of course, inclination of preferences has been attacked in increasingly systematic fashion according to the paradigms of marketing (which are also those of propaganda): Perceptions are thus prompted, conditioned & ordered (per [60]) according to the priorities of the contemporary pyramid, particularly in its broadcast mode (which, per [56], differs dramatically from co-constitution of perception). However, despite unprecedented systematic deployment of propaganda, segmentation does yet equivocate according to globally inflected (i.e. postcolonial) forms, i.e. hybrids & various superpositions.

  63. Note moreover that attentional saturation is undertaken in part so as to overwhelm (e.g. postcolonial) critique: One's message drowns. Indeed, overwhelming (contemporary) negativity may be a direct outcome of the negativity of critique, i.e. the outrage over global imperialism in the first place: It's simply extended to the point of noise....

  64. Neoliberal entrepreneurship of the self is, of course, about making constant demands, and indeed about internalizing them as a kind of self-forging positivity.[65] Such demands are then received in turn as the constant harassment & scamming (or spamming) of profit-seeking entities, which likewise become ceaseless according to the same entrepreneurial demands.

  65. According to Han, such positive power (i.e. "terror of the same") provokes no immunological response, such that it can be imposed deeply into self formation (i.e. internalized per [20]), thus leading to exhaustion [66] (as well as characteristic contemporary pathologies such as ADHD — as pursued previously, per [55]).

  66. Han thus positions positivity (i.e. the internalized urge to produce according to the norms of the pyramid) as schizophrenic, and so according to a kind of and-and-and (i.e. according to the staging of [37]) that also figures contemporary phenomenology e.g. according to Berardi (although more starkly). (One might even figure the present article according to such an and-and-and approach, e.g. in its interrogation of multiple values, laws, regimes of care, etc.: Such a divergence might then be resolved at the generic everyday level according to superposition, i.e. collapse of multiplicity onto various particular circumstances.)

  67. That one is figured as a "consumer" under the neoliberal regime, rather than e.g. as a worker, is another obvious "labor" tactic: Not only is one's basic authority as a creator or producer undermined, but one is also figured as obliged to the regime for one's consumption (i.e. use) of resources. (Such a notion thus further aligns "making a living" — per [50] — with indebtedness per se.)

  68. I do want to emphasize that entrepreneurial internalization involves bodily colonization per se, such that one's own bodily processes are increasingly tuned to neoliberal demands, i.e. of time & attention, via the ordering of perception per se. (Of course, one might then ask of "decolonization," "how might one design a mind or body today," i.e. differently?)

  69. As already noted, saturation comes to refigure concerns of "privacy" (which continues to figure liberal entrepreneurship, and so remains pivotal today): Various layers (e.g. those involving property) have already been articulated here, but what of artistic privacy? How is art-as-work (re)figured according to contemporary collisions around privacy, i.e. to what extent is work-as-relation ever really private? (Such a question seems to be particularly suppressed in the current moment, including by specifically liberal responses to neoliberal imposition.)

  70. A (prior, late modern) regime of anesthesia (as previously articulated) thus moves into a regime of distraction, such that one comes to anesthetize oneself (including conceptually per [61]): Basic contradictory duals around e.g. positivity (per [66]) & negativity (per [63]) thus yield paralysis (of consciousness), such that one might now interrogate emerging labor according to the figure of the zombie. (And moreover, one might ask — yet again — what "ability" comes to mean within a neoliberal laboring environment.)

  71. In other words, population management becomes "individual management" via emerging techniques of surveillance & individualized control: Such a figuration then intersects notions of "surplus labor" (e.g. per [45]), such that social reproduction is further cloven from individual choice. Reconfiguring modern biologism thus involves reconsideration not only of filiation, but of narrative [72] & linearity per se. (Simply put, social selection is being reconfigured around different, individualizing criteria.)

  72. Further regarding narrative, Koselleck suggests that Enlightenment aporia arose specifically from the positing of "rational" history per se, i.e. so as to evade (social) responsibility for whatever occurs. (Or as I dismissively put it decades ago, "'Progress' is whatever happens.") One might then link such notions to e.g. those of "the motor of history" (e.g. as explored in Legibility, spectrality, machines).

  73. My focus on music continues to intersect (per [13]) this general interrogation, and indeed I do figure the relationality of music as (at least one) paradigm for art-as-work today: So, pharmacologically, for instance, what might render music as a palliative versus as a weapon? (Goodman remarks similarly on e.g. crowds & the "precarious virtual threshold between dance & violence" — such that tendency per se might become inclined in any moment.[74]) As I've noted elsewhere, one might e.g. go on to interrogate music according to perceptions of "bringing to presence" (i.e. tracing per se), and so to consider the consciousness that does or doesn't result.

  74. One might further inquire regarding the sexual tendencies (sometimes) implicit in music, and indeed regarding the locus of such an intersection: How is sexuality mapped relationally, e.g. in sound (according to e.g. mechanical notions of groove, but across the affective spectrum)? Such a notion (per [5]) then figures "aesthetics" more broadly, such that (including per [55]) one might ponder contemporary reconfiguration of sexual authority, particularly as (increasingly, technologically) split from (biological) reproduction per se. (Such a reconfiguration then marks an epochal shift in aesthetic relation per se, i.e. away from its classical — i.e. European — conceptions.)

  75. Even if restricted to art-as-work per se (which isn't much of a restriction), technological pharmacology is obviously a very broad topic — as already articulated (at least in the abstract): So for instance, how do online "protests" function today? How is "high tech" weaponized by people who don't actually create it? (Such weaponization is possible, in part, due to the modern emphasis on speed & now postmodern innovation, such that technology is increasingly deployed before even its owners have real control of it: "Disruption" thus comes to figure its own pharmacology, even from the business perspective, and many new "tech" businesses do promptly fail.) Again, such questions largely revolve around relationality per se.

  76. In other words, how might one overcome (implicit & explicit) technological mediation so as to relate more directly?

  77. Once again, I'm reluctant to get too deeply into examples, since issues of exemplarity inflect relations (whether via reification or ideality). An ongoing challenge within such a horizon of abstraction thus remains critique of typology per se, which still tends to emerge (e.g. phenomenologically), even in the absence of examples. (That the inquiry remains open ended is thus a partial remedy to typological reification. In other words — particularly in a world of counter-measures, i.e. per [22] — circumstances constantly change, and any generalities that emerge are at best temporary sketches or silhouettes.) And aspects of this inquiry will indeed need to wait for another articulation... or perhaps to be tested empirically.

  78. Reification of labor occurs as a technology (of control), especially according to the norms of modern industrialization (per [47]) & its regimes of mediation. (Technological mediation in general figures reification via object segmentation, and in this case, labor per se is being objectified.)

  79. In this sense "work," i.e. as segmented from general activity, is basically an invention of the modern period. (Indeed, contemporary focus on work can be said to emerge from alienated productivity per se, such that "making a living" — per [50] — can now proceed only via mediation.) So what is work, beyond the reification of a particular historical segmentation? It does explicitly differentiate itself from living per se.... (One might also note, per Agamben, that ancient critiques of purposiveness involved e.g. games & comedy, thus already positing or embracing a work-play dual, but largely according to segmentation of particular styles of "play.")

  80. Perspectives first interrogated a comedy-sex-sports nexus of play, including as critical to fascist aesthetics, and in (explicitly) pharmacological terms: It basically asked how the nexus is traversed by any particular event or assemblage. (Of course, such relations vary.)

  81. Of course, comedy & sports have both become "jobs" today in a very literal sense: These are no longer only activities that someone might perform around their "real" work of making a living (in the sense of production, pace [79]) — although they are still that too. (That sex could likewise become a career remains on the horizon as well, but is also resisted — & correspondingly exploited — by explicit forces of patriarchy.)

  82. As suggested already in [74], sexual aesthetics (& hence sexual selection) might be undergoing an epochal shift, such that reproductive authority is being rewritten, not only according to the (increasing) dominance of wealth in particular, but across a shifting relational nexus. (Reproductive authority would thus become fully assimilated to wealth per se, i.e. according to the demands of neoliberal fundamentalism, and so sexual reproduction would no longer be central to a competing relational nexus of play.)

  83. Although one might differentiate comedy per se from laughter (specifically as response), e.g. the "punch line" of a joke provides an obvious stopping point (& indeed reterritorialization).[84] And then one either laughs or one doesn't (with the non-laughing figuration "that's funny" already being seen as basic failure, or at least displacement). There's thus no mediation to laughter — & "explaining the joke" produces only a semblance of humor.

  84. Moreover, Agamben notes laughing & crying as basic limits of language: They might even be said to suggest (or communicate) that language per se (i.e. "world" in Lacanian terms) exists. (One might even suggest that "impossible communication" is itself funny: Hence the contagion of laughter.)

  85. McGowan suggests, for instance, that jokes require the potential to be offensive to someone, and obviously such potential is historically contingent. McGowan also suggests that enjoyment (per se) is inherently traumatic, such that comedy allows for the enjoyment of anxiety (which is likewise historically contingent). Moreover, there's a basic perspective (i.e. a "proper distance") required of comedy (thus invoking representation in many situations) that can change as well.... Whether or not any of these statements is generally true, they do all illustrate the changing configuration of (actually funny in an immediate sense) humor over time.

  86. One might also note that hierarchy requires (& so demands) constant repetition: That's what propaganda is (mostly) about, after all, repeating the same messages over & over. Yet jokes are not funny under repetition, such that humor can be said to diverge inherently from hierarchy. (McGowan also suggests that comedy is inherently dialectic, a figuration that I wouldn't tend to follow myself, but that's still suggestive of a momentary orientation, a sense of puncturing....)

  87. As noted at various points already (but especially & originally in Remède de Fortune), outcomes are demanded (for harvesting as difference) by (modern & now postmodern) arbitrage, and sports outcomes are generally harvested (& so stratified) via gambling in particular. And whereas sports gambling was long proscribed, over the past few years, it's turned into a totally legal & mainstream operation — in fact, (now) largely owned by the sports leagues. (From the perspective of even a few decades ago, this is quite a turn of events, and continues to refigure modern priorities around insurance into the quest for more outcomes — and so demands more uncertainty, not less.)

  88. For instance, even in a very straightforward contest, i.e. who can run from one place to another the fastest, the winner of which should be evident to anyone watching or participating (provided that the race is run simultaneously), there are not only questions of a fair start, but now e.g. of "performance enhancing drug" use, etc. In other words, questions around the "fairness" of a simple contest [89] come to extend well outside of its own arena. (There are also various & indeed controversial interpretations of what is a foul, etc. — across many sports.)

  89. In a very concrete sense, a contest is no more than a comparison, and a simple comparison of human attributes seems unremarkable. (Many people engage in comparison frequently & in many ways.) What comes to segment official "sports," though, is an expected preexisting context for the comparison, i.e. a formal sense of fairness (analogous to the standardization that emerged from industrialization) that extends beyond the scene of comparison itself. (By contrast, in comedy the only real metric is ever laughter, and it's very much within its own scene.)

  90. Sports thus moves beyond basic "rules of the game" per se, and indeed into regimes of law more generally: It comes to forge e.g. an increasing body of precedent & interpretation.

  91. That neoliberalism must foster & nurture competition, especially between individual workers in the contemporary era, thus creating a "labor market" it can control, is obvious enough. (Per Singh channeling Foucault, one might even note that the medieval Christian pastorate had constructed its own "economy of merit" — on which neoliberal rhetoric continues to rely, at least implicitly — largely because salvation was actually out of their hands.) Notions of "merit" then require outcomes by which to judge....

  92. The absurdity of so much neoliberal "merit" aside, the centrality of competition obviously raises the stakes of competition, such that various meta-competitions also emerge, i.e. arguments over what outcomes mean or what fairness is. (One might include e.g. "affirmative action" under such a rubric, for instance.) Uncertain outcomes thus emerge from the arbitrary quality of neoliberal competition per se, i.e. resistance to its metrics — some of which is (quite) warranted, and some of which (pharmacologically or otherwise) compounds injustice. (One might also simply note, as sports analysts do internally, that more & more competition yields closer & closer outcomes. Yet a winner must still be declared....)

  93. Do all sports evoke war? Whereas such imagery is particularly developed in e.g. US football with its lines of scrimmage (& do note the increasing impracticality of such images for actual, contemporary warfare), what of e.g. tennis? In a neo-Hobbesian sense of struggle, not only might anything be monetized, but it can probably be militarized as well....

  94. Per [81], such entertainment is already a kind of job, and so suggests a newly emerging mode of authority (& e.g. a new caste of entertainers, who then might answer to none of the historically established authorities): In other words, a broad regime of aestheticization comes to bring its own modes of authority (pace [7]). (One might figure e.g. the "rock star" right along with the sports hero, and note the contemporary prominence of e.g. celebrities on Twitter, etc.)

  95. That sports involve spectators is of course what (literally) makes them spectacles. (And sports "fans" have long been known to engage in their own — quite real — violence in response to sporting events, whether due to disputed outcomes or simply ordinary outcomes....) However, e.g. gambling (per [87]) has long been a mode of "participation" for non-players, and now there are e.g. video game sports ("esports") that involve different (physical) playing skills: Each presents a kind of image or semblance of something else, such that participation in a sporting event might come to be rendered hierarchically (& rather broadly across society).

  96. A basic investment in violence is most easily manipulated (i.e. directed across disciplinary fields) if violence itself is obscured (or sublimated) [97]: Images (whether visual, linguistic, etc.) of war & violence thus come to proliferate, often without comment, such that they might be recalled at "appropriate" moments.

  97. Han notes that whereas "power" has a structure (involving hierarchy, which is also relational), violence has no structure (& is poor in language, including per [84]), and is thus more akin to rupture. In other words, such rupture must then be re-hierarchized (which often comes in the form of glory) in order to function as control: So violence per se, including internalized violence (per [65]), is not enough to sustain hierarchy.

  98. Do professional athletes come to displace the warrior caste (e.g. per [94]) then? (Yet there is still war, so what of these "fake" wars...? This is another critical aesthetic question.) Does such (aesthetic) authority derive from proliferation (& so attention), then, i.e. the insertion of sporting tropes into so many (contemporary) interactions? Does it (or must it, pace [97]) displace the authority of violence per se? Regardless of answers to those questions, participation does proliferate (including via semblance, per [95]), such that e.g. video games come to figure a particular mode of contemporary capture. (Indeed, participation figures art-as-work, and so the rigid interactivity of the video game environment heightens possibilities for capture per se, including according to mastery, etc.)

  99. Of course, sports is ubiquitous on television & via other (technological) media. (Indeed, it's "the most valuable property on television" per some metrics.) One might compare to e.g. the political conditioning accomplished by ancient Greek theater: Even then, political relations were constantly being traced & interrogated by presumptively aesthetic forms (& without a doctrine of uselessness, pace [79]). (One might further note that the relevance of tragedy seems largely to have vanished: It had once warned rulers of the dangers of vanity, but now? For the Greeks, money was more a part of the sphere of comedy, anyway....)

  100. Indeed, a "great play" in sports is often figured via artistic imagery. (And whereas success in professional sports often requires a high degree of intelligence, so as to overcome one's opponent, professional athletes have usually been portrayed as emphasizing body over mind. On the contrary, such a duality is deemphasized by actual physical competition....) Regarding sexual selection, then, one might even recall the art-intellect-Eros nexus of virtual abstraction noted in a prior section, specifically as a secular function: So sports comes to replace religion?

  101. One might e.g. contrast the presumptive interchangeability of industrial labor (& indeed armies) with the individualized, "heroic" quality of a champion (which recalls pre-industrial societies): Team sports in particular seem to have figured some kind of intermediary domain, and so a (new) hybrid subjectivity — particularly as extended (also tribally) to fans, etc.

  102. One might also suggest that "art" further becomes a kind of labor around such entertainment spectacles, i.e. in the graphic design accompanying broadcasts, the maintenance of fields & stadiums, or indeed anything that forges contemporary economic relations (e.g. per [94]).

  103. Even "fandom" appears to inspire sexual activity, as sublimated across relational identification: Sexual aesthetics (per [82]) might even proceed according to association (with "winning"), hence extending the "tribal" feel (per [101]) of sports beyond the actual competitors.

  104. "Investment" here is in the sense articulated in Investments & Relations. Moreover (via McGowan again), Religious inclinations had already interrogated excess per se as inducing libidinal investment in society, including around the basic figuration of desire as lack....

  105. Comedy jostles bodies had already outlined comedic motion around deterritorialization & reterritorialization, and such a shift (from one territory, or perhaps hierarchy, to another) was subsequently characterized via equivocation & revolt — to which I had stated an intention to return. (Indeed, in parallel to [100], I had also already noted that comedy has perhaps come to exceed religion in the toolkit of contemporary governmentality.) To further recall, that one might deterritorialize one nexus of relations & then reterritorialize on another was (also) the basic motion required by imperializing modernity. (Neoliberalism thus mimics comedy, with the caveat that it always reterritorializes on greed — & often via violence, pace [97].)

  106. Per [105], deterritorialization and/or reterritorialization usually involve hierarchy, or at least a typological structure (or territory) around which a joke can be constructed: It's thus contingent to its own structural environment (e.g. per [85]), such that much comedic analysis (today) is always already mediated by modern hierarchy per se. (The postmodern shift thus presents not only something of a rupture in general, but equivocates comedy per se.) One might then proceed via translation (pace dangers of repetition, e.g. per [86]), but deterritorialization must always involve a (perhaps implicit) territory — even as reterritorialization might come to be vague (as discussed already in Comedy jostles bodies).

  107. Indeed, beyond "cultural" translation, (as already noted) Wagner speaks of the "exaggerated relations" of comedy (thus converging with "dead seriousness" in the guise of "tough love"), which tend to figure play per se — even beyond humanity. (Exaggeration then suggests another kind of semblance, and so perhaps mediation, in keeping with an orientation on translation.)

  108. One might even figure "queer failure" as itself a critique of biologism, i.e. as a deterritorialization that might come to suggest a (non-traditional) comedic component within psychoanalysis. (Indeed, how might transgender motion reconfigure the comedy-sex-sports nexus of play in general?) Considering that it often proceeds through both deterritorialization & reterritorialization, is psychoanalysis therefore funny? (In what environment or context might it become funny?)

  109. E.g. Agamben notes the literal truth of transverse motion in ancient comedy: The chorus moved sideways at particular moments. (Agamben goes on to suggest that the chorus thus marks "escape," both as origin & as in the middle....)

  110. And so, after all this, what is an outcome? Is it sexual reproduction (i.e. as biologized dialectic motion)? What of law (e.g. per [90]) as an outcome per se? How about laughter? (Victory is always an outcome, whatever that means — and "history" has traditionally entered to tell us....)

  111. Whereas sporting outcomes can be listed (& quantified), and can appear to increase in gravity with time (i.e. become hallowed records, legendary memories), comedic outcomes are ephemeral: One might e.g. list successful jokes, but they're certain to become less funny in the process.

  112. With respect to hierarchical reconfiguration, one might indeed figure art-as-work as (a) technology: However, such a figuration is with respect to hierarchical alienation per se, meaning that art-as-work is proposed as the (or at least "a") technology for reclaiming art-as-work as unalienated. Further mediation eliminating (prior) mediation thus becomes a rather dubious puzzle to solve: One might ponder the image of a lever that uses (its) leverage to displace its own fulcrum. (In other words, the lever breaks — i.e. eventually undermines its own sense of authority.)

  113. That molarities are themselves inherently pharmacological (in terms of their conceptual origin) has been discussed often enough (here, most recently per [45])....

  114. Historically, the legitimacy of law was often grounded in textual transcendence per se, i.e. prior transmission from elsewhere. Such a sense of law suggests a kind of timeless equation [115], for which updating context should be easy.... (In other words, the law is the law because it's always been the law.)

  115. Such an equation has been figured e.g. by karma, which also suggests (legalistic) outcomes beyond human intervention.[116] (The karmic equation also projects a kind of positivity, i.e. an expected second outcome rather than negative reprisal per se.)

  116. As traditional institutions, of course various religions have involved law: Dubilet also suggests an emerging ethical contrast, personified by Levinas on the one hand & Foucault on the other, such that transcendence of the other might question one's self-mastery & so generates a sense of responsibility in turn — or that the self must have already been formed before any encounter with alterity per se, such that it's first able to act (including ethically) only on itself. (Foucault's approach is thus more compatible with neoliberalism, for better or worse.)

  117. Interrogation (as so often invoked here) is of course a technology of tracing. Moreover, e.g. Agamben suggests that not only is the cause of the (legal) trial an accusation, but that accusation per se is primal cause more generally (i.e. beyond concerns of [115]), such that it initiates the entire concept of justice & hence tracing.

  118. Religion & justice both trace & invoke history, such that e.g. Koselleck can not only note that law presumes repetition (& so history, including per [33]), but suggest that history is itself justice.[119] (The filiative-historical structure of religion has already been noted in prior sections.) Such notions obviously suggest reification of both law & justice — such that the latter might come to no longer fit its (real) context.

  119. Such a sense of historical justice is not only in danger of reification, moreover, but also supports e.g. ongoing debt — which is itself a religious matter of tradition (i.e. of literal transmission, also as noted many times by now) — as adopted (so enthusiastically) by neoliberalism.

  120. One might even recall "liturgy" itself as public service or (perhaps) collective art-as-work, i.e. as broad intersection through which legitimacy might be figured. (One might also recall the basic pharmacology of control, e.g. per [16], such that e.g. religious collectives also generate their own entropy.)

  121. That law produces outcomes thus aligns it with sports (& even gambling, per [87]). And whereas legal outcomes usually do involve culpability (i.e. losing) [122], sports (per [90]) also comes to forge laws. (Contemporary craving for outcomes has thus come increasingly to bind these seemingly disparate domains.)

  122. Agamben has also discussed how legal culpability, based in various (classical) notions of causation, can further serve to cleave outcome & intent: Law & the trial (e.g. per [117]) might thus be figured as a prompt for much ancient philosophy. (And clearly such circumlocution is generally in the service of hierarchy, i.e. those with the means to mount an argument of non-culpability in the face of obvious outrage. Art & control thus often merge e.g. in Aristotle, then yielding Alexander.)

  123. That law might enact a "just" typology (presumably according to a sense of merit, i.e. akin to sports, including per [121]) is of course one of its allures — but such a typology also revolves around justifications for violence [124] (& so is once again akin to sports). One might also figure the karmic equation, per [115], as a kind of joke, such that the "real" arrival of justice entails a basic truth similar to that of comedy. (Outcomes of law, pace [110], might thus be related more broadly to the comedy-sex-sports nexus, including — & especially — in findings on sex & biological reproduction. Such an observed correspondence is likely unsatisfying....)

  124. In response, Laruelle suggests that radical weakness is the other & essence of force, such that force (or violence) actually adds nothing to weakness. (What is "weak law" in this sense? Moreover, what of negotiating from a position of weakness?)

  125. Indeed (per [12]) concepts of (feminist) intersectionality originated in the (US) justice system, and are addressed to juridical knowledge types, i.e. interrogate & problematize existing legal typologies. (This process is still very much ongoing.) Such a paradigm thus counters one universalizing method (or typology) with another, conjuring (per Wiegman, following Crenshaw) a particular imaginary. (Such an imaginary is also worked via everyday interactions.) One might then turn, at least in principle, from a critique of legal typology — around (usually transcendent) concepts of justice per se — toward an entirely new legal imaginary (i.e. per questions of [14]).

  126. Terms of legitimacy (per [114]) are usually fraught, such that law often comes down to (violent) imposition — as it did throughout the imperial era (& as it continues to do so often today). Violence is consequently justified instrumentally (including per [123]), as is its accusatory basis (per [117]), such that collectivity (e.g. per [120]) comes to vanish into (individual) culpability (per [122]). (Such instrumentality thus yields e.g. the scapegoat effect.) So how might one then co-constitute not only particular laws, but juridical paradigms today?[127] This is an urgent question (which the historical structure of law, e.g. per [118], tends to blunt).

  127. For instance (e.g. per [22]), what of law beyond the duality of innocent & guilty (or liable & not)?[128] There is a wealth of gradation in human behavior & its various intersections. (If one is to emphasize duality, one might alternately become quite circumspect regarding the context against which such duality is judged — which would then undermine notions of universality, including per [125].)

  128. One might ponder a variety of legal outcomes (e.g. per [110] & so beyond [122]), for instance according to non-adversarial justice (or even e.g. restorative justice): How might non-duality come to penetrate the legal system more generally? (How then might one resist the call of duality even within a context of struggle & countermeasures per se, i.e. per [22]?) Of what might non-dual weapons consist?

  129. Hardt & Negri take notions of sovereignty as inherently opposed to molecular (i.e. "grass roots") relations, and so as ultimately in the service of hierarchy per se. However, such analysis functions within the horizon of European universalism, such that postimperial situations raise (renewed) issues of where those "grass roots" (really) are & in turn how they might be cultivated.[130]

  130. Simply, art-as-work (as "molecular") must be allowed to operate — and such operation is (usually) severely distorted by postimperial policies that retain prior (i.e. imperial) legal fictions. (In other words, molecular processes can be impeded by molar imposition, but never completed. Reconfiguring molarity beyond impediment may be an important part of a molecular process, however.)

  131. E.g. Simpson argues emphatically that whereas (liberal) "politics of recognition" only serve to validate liberalism & (its) hierarchy more generally, sovereignty is a kind of self-recognition, not only in the sense of legibility (although it's that too, in my terms), but as a kind of (basic) refusal of hierarchical imposition. In other words, it's an insistence on one's own (collective) sense of responsibility. (Simpson further suggests that "politics of recognition" — & universalist "rights" regimes in general — largely serve as distractions for ongoing neoliberal exploitation.)

  132. Notions of "local protections for local people" also become fraught due e.g. to various rifts (including per [45]), such that (globally inflected) conflicts tend to penetrate any territory. (Universalist notions & impositions are then sure to arrive — and such a pharmacology traces directly to Hegelian ideals.) In other words, people are rarely left to solve their own local conflicts in their own local ways.

  133. And many interests do appear to want universal, global laws: It isn't only the multinational corporations (which have shown the ability to negotiate legal differences to their own advantage by straddling borders), but various "liberal" & humanitarian organizations that also insist on a singular application of their particular vision. (Yet universalization is inherently violent, including per [126], and works against local innovation — hence against innovation per se.)

  134. The concept of voice indicates a sense of presence, but also suggests that authority per se might become detached from a particular speaker, i.e. become generalized across a territory or regime, perhaps to include trans-human emergence. (That "sovereign voice" tends not to be collective is at the heart of critiques by e.g. Hardt & Negri per [129]. Instead one might speak, as they do, of multitude, of multiplicity then, or even of the generic: Thus a voice might become specific yet non-singular.) One might then consider (especially) "tone of voice" & in turn a politics of voice per se....

  135. An ecology for art-as-work (e.g. per [38]) already (per [41]) suggests regimes of care (including via reterritorialization per [54]), such that work-as-relation (per [11]) might involve not only reconfiguration per se (again via art-as-work, e.g. per [39]), but a ramified pharmacology across multiple sovereignties: Such regimes then intersect across a variety of relational nexuses [136], i.e. not only according to simple concepts of (contiguous) territory.

  136. One might even figure erotic care according to an art-intellect-Eros nexus (per [100] & such that the contemporary nexus seeks to refigure religion as sports, including per terms of [27]): Secularity might thus comes to condition biological selection according to (postmodern) work-as-relation across the nexus....

  137. Relations are constantly worked (including per [135]) such that proliferating intersections (usually) come to impede art-as-work (i.e. at the molecular level, per [130]), indeed such that "navigating ... collisions may ... come to define art-as-work." One then (for instance, constantly) works relations for or against (neoliberal, postimperial) hierarchy & control as a kind of negotiation (e.g. per [51]). Work-as-relation thus becomes a particularly crucial mode for contemporary art.

3B: New worlds, new forms of life...

If the postcolonial situation (& so the fading of modernity as dominant paradigm) is to yield anything but neoimperial political realities prioritizing neoliberal financialism (& so calculation per se, as oriented on wealth-based hierarchy), we must all come to make smarter decisions around new paradigms & ideas: In particular, whereas liberalism emerged (organically) as opposition (to traditional forms of authority-based) philosophy in the West, it came to be imposed elsewhere by imperial forces (with such imposition continuing through the twentieth century), such that not only does liberalism retain a universalizing orientation, but an aura of external (exploitative) interference around much of the globe. Local postcolonial situations thus come to break along populist (& so often tradition-based) lines, as universalist globalism transforms the previous (historical) "mercantile" conditions into more (especially territorially) generalized exploitation: National & other borders come to apply mostly to people (i.e. as "labor" & "consumers") & so are (increasingly) used as leverage by global finance (& its rent seeking priorities), which can operate more freely, yielding a sort of topological involution of "interiority" per se. (Utter poverty is thus now found on the doorsteps of the richest corporations, and throughout much of the world, rather than being segmented into marginalized territories that are kept perceptually at bay.) Everyone is to be (maximally, computationally) exploited, since there's no longer a clearly segmented pool of people (or territories) to exploit — when, of course, an ongoing (& unquenchable, neoliberal) thirst for hoarded wealth (& so its equation to power) remains or even surges.... New forms of exploitation are consequently imposed around the world (& are likewise grounded in part in traditional forms of oppression), such that public resistance to universalist globalism — & hence imposed liberalism (i.e. imperial modernism) — continues to grow. Populist resistance thus comes not only to turn on xenophobia, but to entail amplification of various other rifts (as arising from various segmentations & typologies), i.e. those of racism & sexism, etc. So rejection of universalism (albeit based on cogent rejection of the ill-fitting modern pyramid) comes to reintroduce divisions that neoimperial forces in turn employ for general "divide & conquer" approaches. Hence (to reframe), one cannot reject a rejection of liberalism — particularly as a philosophy imposed upon the periphery — out of hand, but must refigure — & illuminate — political alternatives. (And "alternatives" are exactly what neoliberalism obscures & denies: So this is already an aesthetic issue, in the broad sense of perception interrogated here....) In USA, for instance, anti-"government" (hence specifically anti-liberal, per its unique history) rhetoric must be figured not only according to new notions of anti-globality (as arising from nullification & transformation of prior privileges arising from world domination), but according to lingering (historical) anti-colonial resentment: In other words, whereas native cultural destruction has been quite thorough (especially in USA — almost to the point of invisibility — but in many other places as well), recent fads e.g. for genetic testing do indicate substantial biological survival, such that I'll now (perhaps outrageously) suggest that anti-liberal sentiment derives in (significant) part from repressed social memories of external conquest & suppression. (These will have propagated primarily in family settings, whose mixed provenance was likewise suppressed — largely for various reasons of self-preservation.) Such distant & traumatic memory — & the basic confusion that consequently arises — is then leveraged by (emerging, neoimperial) power in order to consolidate itself & further to marginalize more populations in turn. So what is to be done? Again, one must seek to illuminate these divisions & fissures — as actively cultivated by power — in order to forge new situations more consciously. In other words, one must bring to presence other realities & other worlds. Some might well (already) exist, but their postcolonial configuration (& perception) is to be novel — in response to new circumstances around the developing "smallness" of the globe, as regards both communication & environmental resilience (& indeed conflicts emerging from both). Moreover, such newness must continue to be emphasized in the wake of popular returns to tradition which, while (perhaps, arguably) ameliorating anti-universalist concerns, do little to resolve issues around looming (global) environmental catastrophe (much less justice...): Such solutions must involve a global mosaic of emerging intersections, and crucially, pan-local care tracing ecological regimes. ("Bottom up" authority ramifies across intersections....) This is a matter for art-as-work, then, which must adopt a variety of intersecting sizes, temporalities & formats (as it has always done). So life itself must adapt, particularly human life, which must reintegrate itself ecologically: And whereas nonlinear circulation is anathema (or prey) for the modern pyramid, there is still hope to be found in traditional practices of environmental balance & cultivation. (Hence populist segmentations mustn't be discarded out of hand, but rather heard as local expressions of care.) To what sort of voices might one listen, then, in what kind of tone (or affective modality)? Such (practical) listening increasingly revolves around both situatedness & experiment, such that attention might be modulated toward different sorts of presence & experience. And such care & attention do indeed significantly concern aesthetics.

Bibliography (& other further reading)

Please see the ongoing bibliography for this general series, if you so desire: There isn't a specific bibliography for the present discussion, and citations are usually brief (i.e. surname only). However, the bibliography — which is now chronological — for the past few years of theoretical writing should enable one to match names to more specific sources....

More detailed interrogations around the issues raised here will (presumably) continue to appear in Jazz Thoughts, most often oriented on specific musical productions (which might be considered to be examples...).

Todd M. McComb
20 March 2019