Thursday, October 28, 2010

theory || Alan Sondheim

On the rewrytings, rewrythings, of the culling / interpreting texts *

You'd have to go through the texts to discover the innovations that occur
at almost every turn. The culling operations are never 'pure'; they lend
themselves to rearrangements, re-editings, textual manipulations of all
sorts. The end results is a theory mashup, but a theory nonetheless. The
mashup creates an entangled state in terms of definition, the position of
the subject (reader, theorizer, experimenter), the original theoretical
structure and substructure, and so on. From the entangled state, from the
mashup, three fields emerge: that of the original theoretical structure,
now somewhat transformed or reinterpreted; that of the positioning of
subjectivity and its phenomenology in relation to the theory; and that of
a 'doubled diegesis.' The doubled diegesis combines and entangles the
traditional elements of narratology - what sorts of stories may be
revealed in the text - with a phenomenological diegesis - what the subject
(in any sense) is discovering and interpreting in relation to a self-
reflexive hermeneutics. It's this last that behaves as a kind of textual
_operator_ situated between the subject and the original theorizing.

If the theory is mathematical and complete, to the extend that it is, and
remains formalizable, the transformations above (considered as a series or
collocation of operations and writings/wrytings) are distortions at best.
But if the theory entangles the subject (even mathematically, as in QM),
then the phenomenology of subjectivity, from the position(ing) of the
subject, is revealed; what emerges is a theoretical corpus that is part
psychological-philosophical and part structural, and that re-presents the
subject to hirself in relation to generalized operations of encodings and
decodings, coagulations and dissipations, etc., all in relation to what is
understood by the theory and the _subject-matter_ of the theory as well.

The entangled mashup, in other words, tends towards new paths through the
_body of theory,_ emphasizing the body of the subject and its abjections,
inscriptions, and materiality. All of this is a way of doing theory, or
re-doing the re/presentation of theory, tending towards new and different
phenomenologies of approach, relevance, interpretation, and appetition.
How and what is grasped, what is the semiotics and abjections of such
grasping, what is developed and developing - these are the sorts of things

The entangled mashup is also a textual body, and a body of text; it is
wryterly, in this entanglement and in the sense that a kind of unraveling
must be done, in order for it to operate. There is no 'correct' operation
- no well-defined path; otherwise, the mashup would emerge as an imminent
and coherent, as well as somewhat linear, system or description involving
protocol sentences. Instead, a more suitable metaphor might be that of a
surgery involving cuts, folds, sutures, pathways and bypasses, coagulents
and fields - a surgery that is performed, again entangled, among the
subject's subjectivities, the texts, the originary texts, and the theory -
if there were one in the first place - as well as its structures and

In short what emerges is a partial discourse of part-objects, resulting,
one can only hope, in new modes of understanding, or comprehension - a
discourse that is both a dwelling and in-dwelling, that says something at
the same time that what is being said is already weakened, already
entangled in the subject, hir body, the diegesis, the fragment or frag-
ments, and just about everything else.

* Texts which are initially produced by a command or series of commands
such as:

k%: grep -h [word|phrase] [set of texts] >> [initial collection]

This can be changed/interpreted in various ways. What it says is that
lines containing a particular word or phrase in a set of texts, should be
placed, in order, in another text, in the order in which they are found.
This text, the initial collection, can then be sorted, re-edited, appended
to, etc. - any number of additional operations in fact. The final opera-
tion is that of rewriting 'by hand,' re-conforming the result to emergent
meanings which relate to, extend, contradict, or otherwise in-form the
original word or phrase. The word or phrase which is initially chosen,
references particular theories or placements within the set of texts. For
example, 'incest' might bring up a number of statements or partial-state-
ments, phrases etc., with the word 'incest' in them. The statements spill
out beyond lines - this is where editing comes in, to rewrite the state-
ments to bend and entangle the theory in (its) language itself.

What seems obscure and complex here is often simple in practice. And the
processes don't always work, in which case the entangled text, no matter
how worked and reworked, etc., is discarded.

[On the other hand, even if they do work, are they anything more than a
self-administered exquisite corpse? And what good can come out of that?]

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