Wednesday, May 12, 2010

essay || Alan Sondheim


deliberately mistaken ontologies of life-worlds

{ SL = Second Life, used somewhat interchangeably for virtual worlds; RL =
real life, or 'first life,' used somewhat interchangably for physical
reality. }


"The SL space is almost always treated as a simulacrum of real life - by
the creators as well! But as an abstracted mathematical topology, it's far
more than that; others will take it farther in the future, already are. I
also want to discuss being-in-mathesis, beyond the SL 'standard' represen-

RL: [explain] = 1 [given] The real world is given, inert, obdurate, one or
many - it's still one, presenced. The real world possesses at least four
fundamental forces, various constants from fine-structure to gravitation-
al; these things - static or dynamic - are given. Physics is explanatory,
attempting coherent and agreeable structures in depth. David Finkelstein:
physics is fucking the real. There is always the potential of deep error.

SL: [describe] = 2 [split choice] The virtual world is described; its
description is its fundamental ontology. It is split; constants are by
consensus. There are no basic forces at work; motion is the result of
redraw, rewrite. The physics is the result of an attempt to construct
coherent and agreeable structures in depth. David Finkelstein: pure math
is masturbation. There is always the potential of surface error.

0: Neither description nor explanation, but a postulate of a neutral
backdrop, perhaps the Madhyamaka backdrop, the problematic of the existent
in relation to logical falsification. But perhaps here, or perhaps here in
the sense of a diacritical mark:

0': the psychoanalytics of the subject lies, a psychoanalytics deeply and
permanently entangled in perceptual modalities. This is the locus of
peering-out, or not peering-out.

0, 0': neutrality - neutrality appears and disappears.

1: obdurate, there is, idiotic real. The thetic, demonstrative, occurs in
the 1: which is the real; 1 is not a number, but a condition. 1 is not a
choice, but within 1, there are always choices, splits: frames of
reference, wave or particle functions. One is 'like that'; the real has a
certain style.

2: choice / intentionality. The virtual world is chosen; it is also in-
tended, intended against the backdrop of 0 and 0'. Now this is important:
the virtual world lies within a potential well; it has both internal and
external boundaries: it _runs_ at a designated clock-tine; it is a
construction within the social; it is, in other words, a fabric.

0, 0': neitherness, not both A and B, neither A nor B (a priori mathesis).
Neitherness and its dual may be taken as the two fundamental operations of
the propositional calculus (elementary logic); they're the Sheffer stroke
and its dual. But they are also expulsions, abjections, avoidances, the
loci of subjectivities in relation to spewing-forth in real or virtual
worlds. Neti neti: neither this nor that, neither the one nor the other,
the one or the two, the one or two and the Other.

1: fragility of the good: computer program error, intrinsic. Within the 1,
there is, as Leibniz might unfurl himself, the potential for the catas-
trophic, in the sense of catastrophe theory. And while there are infinite
errors, there may be, as in chaos theory, only one viable solution -
surrounded by problematic others, mutations which produce nothing, which
corrupt. Or not, as some extend themselves. Nonetheless, it is within the
one that the computer program error appears, as error - as something
needing correcting, something turning away from the coherently expected
answer, something which doesn't survive the rituals of debugging. In this
sense, the physics of the computer program in general parallels the
physics of the real; both are open to contradiction or falsification in
their running explanations/processes. These errors are intrinsic to
programs and theories which are aligned with pre-determined goals, as if
there were design (not intelligent design to be sure) involved.

2: error extrinsic, deferment. Think of computer program errors which are
extrinsic - produced results leading elsewhere, the result of choice or
decision, not necessarily an error, but an extension - one finds a con-
tinuous deferment, one error leading to novelty, the plateau of novelty,
the tendency of the plateau towards another error or another extension,
and so forth. This is the result, the habitus, of intention; this is the
dwelling of distinctions where, utopia-like, any error may be no error at
all, and anything at all might be intended, willed, to survive.

0, 0': null set. Thus 0 is the set of all those objects not equal to them-
selves, but let us consider 0' to be the division between two distinct
populations, X and not-X: that is, the intersection. However this inter-
section is impure; it exists in-relation-to-X and not-X; it is the null
set, but the null set in-relation, and therefore of and within/without the

1: universal set. Thus 1 is the universal, cosmological, set - totality,
however defined; in a sense 2: virtual worlds, are subsets within it. From
within and without 0, but not within and without 0', which is almost
something else altogether.

2: split tending towards as-if. Virtual worlds are always split: split
from the real (guided, protected, within the literally circumscribed,
circumprogrammed, potential well), and split in terms of decision trees
(this - and not that - gravitational constant employed, for example.) And
virtual worlds are always already as-if; there is nothing else to them.
As-if what? As if they're dynamic, as if the illusions were real. Real
how? As-if one might turn away from the screen, unplug everything, and

1-2: leakages between them. Neither polarities nor entirely independent:
the body, inscribed, is already virtual; the virtual world, embodied, is
already real. The bridge between them is the uncanny; both reals are
imaginary. Leakage is abject - as if there were leakage, as if there were
virtual/real polarities.

The metaphoric 0,0',1,2: numbers as markers of inscriptions, valuable in
terms of thinking about multiplicities, neutralities (the idiotic),
inscriptions. Within 0,0' inscription is primary; everything is inscribed
but inscribed differently. And inscription is necessarily circumscription,
the symbolic bounded by the symbolic, the sememe tending towards the
appearance of closure. (Attacking the metaphor: misplaced quantification
and ordering among 'plexa,' misplaced mathesis (plexus, from plico,
plicatum, to fold, to knit - Lynd's Class-Book of Etymology, 1861).)

So we might say:

Real life: 1: immersive, fundamentally dynamic (potential stases) - inter-
nal: operated _in._ Immersive: inhabited within the space-time manifold,
such that contradiction or contrary is always a process; in the real,
nothing contradicts anything. In real life, there is no server roll-back.

Second life: 2: definable, fundamentally static (real mobility) - external
operators: operated _on._ How definable? Every element has been placed,
intentionally; every element carries permissions and attributes; every
element may be removed; every region, every thing, every world, may be


Intentionality and suturing of the subject:

Suturing in real life: cohering subjectivity, harmonic continuity,
incoherent and dynamic inscribing: what is inscribed, erodes, corrodes,
decays, disintegrates; the subject, subjectivity of the subject, dies.
While alive, the body continues, is continuous; there is no teleporting,
no disappearance. The body physically moves in and out of presence; in
real life, there are no (space/time) jump cuts. And the body decays;
existing in a potential well (clothing, shelter, skin), it is always
subject to collapse, death, detritus. The body ingests, excretes.

Suturing in virtual worlds: coherent physics, discordant continuity,
coherent inscribing (it's inscription that holds it together). In other
words, in virtual worlds, one's avatar is present or not present, 'alive'
or not 'alive' - the inscription is coherent, holding everything together
- but the virtual body is not always there. Teleporting disrupts contin-
uity for others, not for the avatar 'owner' or the avatar itself. The body
need not ingest or excrete (unless it is written into the virtual world
itself); it need not sleep, does not get sick, and so forth. In virtual
worlds, the body shape may be mobile, transformable, as well.

Problematic issues of ontology of re life: virtual particles, information
entanglement and conservation, no backup.


Problematic issues of ontology of virtual worlds: mathesis/inscription -
what is; the world is a world only by virtue of its (visible, sensed)
manifestation. In virtual worlds, information may be classified, trans-
formed, and lost - there is always server roll-back or backup. Backup
implies an epistemological/ontological split between the (visual, aural,
etc.) presentation of the data-base, and its physical backup - as both
medium and data.


Off the map i:

Nagarjuna and Madhyamaka - emptiness and dependent origination/arising. Is
there a distinction between the ontic emptiness of real and virtual
worlds? Between dreams, hallucinations, etc. and a concrete or virtual
'real'? (Various phenomenologies here.) The nexus/ cohering of depending
arising seems to be radically different between real and virtual; in the
former, there are causal chains, plexa, Indra's net, and other entangled
phenomena, and in the latter, there are entangled phenomena, in the sense
of hierarchical data-bases, but virtual worlds can be split (similar to
netsplit in IRC), can split apart, can have objects permanently eliminated
within them (in one region) without undue affect elsewhere (in another).

Off the map ii -

Real life: Think of fundamental ontologies under erasure, Feynman diagram
probabilities: what constitutes dependency under probability distributions
- how entangled information should be (ontologically) constituted - the
status of dark matter, dark energy, the metaverse, additional dimensions,
branes, other constructs, etc. etc.. How are these inscribed? Are they
inscribed at all in daily life?

Second life: Think of root originations in server farms, permissions and
specificities of address. Are permissions inworld or outworld?

Off the map iii -

There is no _fundamental_ physical ontology in the real world: or ontology
itself, like causality, may be problematic (certainly in terms of subject-
ivity and inscription.

In virtual worlds, physical ontology is always abstracted, as-if: the
situation is conventionalist/constructivist, on one hand, and a classical
mathematical hierarchy on the other.

Off the map iv -

Mathesis and Badiou's position - relation to mathematical ontology or
surreal numbers. Is there entanglement between cosmological origins and
mathesis? Is mathesis the fundamental operation in virtual worlds?


On the map -

I'm thinking of virtual worlds as abstracted, split, chosen, programmed:
anything that is programmable is possible. Think of the real world as
given, born-into: thought as conceiving. Consider virtual worlds _not_ as
subsets of real life - as fulcrums; consider virtual worlds as the visual
counterpart of the space of Mathematica.

Again, the psychology, psychoanalytics of virtual worlds: borromean knot,
matrix, meta-level jumping (collocation of constructing, dwelling-in). And
in virtual worlds, the body as entangled projections/introjections (jecti-
vity) independent of traditional physical constraint or representation The
locus of the body in the physical body (second life as perceptual organ)

Finally, think of the traditional/narratological function of virtual
worlds as equivalent to cinematic diegesis (editing, jump-cuts, multiple
viewpoints, etc.) and the non-traditional functionings of virtual worlds
(above) as processes of dynamic suturing.


So we cover, however roughly, the mathematical, epistemological and onto-
logical groundings of real life and virtual worlds: I want to argue that
this is a basis for being in virtual worlds, a basis for theorizing them.
In other words, we need not, necessarily, move through either the social
or simulacra of real world physics; we can start elsewhere, as Being or
the problematizing of beings, in a fantasm of mathesis. And that may
expand our considerations elsewhere - from more than three-dimensional
manifolds, to spaces without gravitation or with several gravitational
(positive, negative, neutral) fields, and so forth. There need not be
objects, weathers, plateaus, height from a planar origin - perhaps only
flows or diffused light, or nothing at all. Nothing need be taken for
granted: It's all open.


25c25: The error-sheet

backdrop, perhaps the Madhyamaka backdrop, the problematic of the existent
choice, but within 1, there are always choices, splits: frames of loci of
subjectivities in relation to spewing-forth in real or virtual extrinsic -
produced results leading elsewhere, the result of choice or decision, not
necessarily an error, but an extension - one finds a con- from the real
(guided, protected, within the literally circumscribed, nal: operated
_in._ Immersive: inhabited within the space-time manifold, specificities
of address situation conventionalist/constructivist.


1 comment:

  1. i hv been a fascnated reader of mr sondheim's internet txt for some time now. and somewhat familiar with his interest in madhyamaka. this latest essay is a sight for sore eyes. thanks for the post.