A Labyrinth We Used To Know

Language is made of broken symbols. What then is the symbol of language? A labyrinth. What is a broken labyrinth? Another labyrinth. Once inside the structure of language, it is very difficult to leave it. From within, we may not notice a difference between a labyrinth and a broken labyrinth. Nevertheless, we have now entered a new phase: we speak the doubly broken symbol beyond language. These leftover pieces aren’t part of any language proper, nor are they symbols. They are the enlightened markings on the walls of a dark beating heart.

A Word Is A Broken Sign

A body is a temporal unity.

Any member separated from it, still points towards it.

As part of a whole is a means to refer to that whole. 

A collection of bodies can unite, as members in a society.

If a member cut off from a society still refers to that society, then the society is not just.

One member of a society should never suffice as the articulation of the whole. 

And thus, a just society is not to be regarded as a body, but should be formed from body parts only.

Continue reading “A Word Is A Broken Sign”

The Air Loom

The Air Loom is used to influence minds, by weaving time into space. A spatial form of time makes it possible for an idea to occupy different points in space at one single moment in time. By spinning time into currents of air and various gasses and weaving it into Air Tapestry, the Air Loom is able to change time from progression into movement and depth.

“The Air Loom is operated by a gang of undercover Jacobin revolutionaries, who want to force Britain into a disastrous war with Revolutionary France and are bent on maintaining hostilities between the two nations.”(1)

However, it is one thing to change the design of a state, it is quite another to change one state into something radically different.

“We do not want to move from problem to solution as if they were both present in the same space at once, but instead we seek ways to move from the current space into one we will inhabit at a later point in time.”(2)

And:

“We do not seek for answers within, but envision the problem outside, that is, the problem is structural. There are two structures: The first structure is the one in which the question arose, the second structure is the one in which the question will become irrelevant.” (3)

While the Air Loom is able to exhibit time spatially, this form of time is necessarily always already structured, and can as such never account for the possibility of change. If not progression but just movement and depth, what then makes it ever possible for a state to radically alter into something yet unknown?

A reversal of the actual weaving process of the Air Loom is believed to open a gateway back to the progression of time. In order to leave the fabric of movement and depth which formed reality, a state of chaos is induced. This signifies the return to the Air Loom Cloud, a state, it is believed, in which no specific designs or hierarchies yet exist. The intellectual diaspora thus induced constitutes a recurrent purification ritual, necessary for any state laid out solely in a fabric of movement and depth. Consequently, the Air Loom not only functions as a device for mind control, in reverse it can wash the brain.

(1) source: http://mikejay.net/articles/james-tilly-mat– thews-and-the-air-loom/
(2) source: a fantasy.
(3) source: a fantasy.

A Word Is A Broken Sign, Stadhausgalerie Münster

wordsign
Live performance during the opening of Time To Recollect in the Kunsthalle Münster at the Stadhausgalerie.

A body is a temporal unity.

Any member separated from it, still points towards it.

As part of a whole is a means to refer to that whole. 

A collection of bodies can unite, as members in a society.

If a member cut off from a society still refers to that society, then the society is not just.

One member of a society should never suffice as the articulation of the whole. 

And thus, a just society is not to be regarded as a body, but should be formed from body parts only.

The body parts should be so randomly scattered about that they cannot be traced back to any specific body, or any original hierarchy.

They shall form temporal bodies instead. 

A just society is one based upon such temporal unities. 

Language is the system of temporal unity.

As a whole,language is not unified.

There can be no right order of characters, words and sentences.

And therefore all unities created with it, can only be temporal. 

The parts with which to create such temporal unities change at different speeds:

Characters evolve, words change conservatively, sentences change like revolutions.

The slower the pace of change, the more random the part.

And as such, language is never able to conclude itself.

As language, a just society does not depend on any one permanent unity.

And so the citizens of a just society should not be able to form a static field of signs.

On the contrary: 

A just society shows itself in the temporality of the sentences uttered within it.

And so when language has become nothing but a static field of signs, it must be broken.

A word is a broken sign.

To conclude:

To get a clear understanding of the form of a just society, one is to get a clear view of the form of language.

This form of language is not what comes out of any one mouth, nor anything coming from any majority.

What then is this form of language?

To see the form of language, one must speak in tongues.

An Autosociographic transcript of the performance.

The Air Loom & Das Gewebe – Künstlerhäuser Worpswede / Stadhausgalerie Münster

The Gewebe and the idea of the Air Loom was developed during CIVIC VIRTUE’s residency at Künstlerhäuser Worpswede and exhibited at ‘IMMERGO IDENTIDUM / Time To Recollect’ at the Stadhausgalerie in Münster.

12
CIVIC VIRTUE is Building the loom, and spinning the wool.

The Air Loom was used to influence minds, by weaving time into space. A spatial form of time made it possible for an idea to occupy different points in space at one single moment in time. By spinning time into currents of air and various gasses and weaving it into Air Tapestry, the Air Loom was able to change time from progression into movement and depth.

01
10
13

“The Air Loom is operated by a gang of undercover Jacobin revolutionaries, who want to force Britain into a disastrous war with Revolutionary France and are bent on maintaining hostilities between the two nations.” (1)

2
3
Weaving the “Gewebe”.

However, it is one thing to change the design of a state, it is quite another to change one state into something radically different.

“We do not want to move from problem to solution as if they were both present in the same space at once, but instead we seek ways to move from the current space into one we will inhabit at a later point in time.” (2)

And:

“We do not seek for answers within, but envision the problem outside, that is, the problem is structural. There are two structures: The first structure is the one in which the question arose, the second structure is the one in which the question will be- come irrelevant.” (3)

4
5
6
A Word Is A Broken Sign, performance at the Stadhausgalerie.
14
The Air Loom, video installation at the Stadhausgalerie.

While the Air Loom was able to exhibit time spatially, this form of time was necessarily always already structured, and could as such never account for the possibility of change. If not progression but movement and depth, what then makes it ever possible for a state to radically alter into something yet unknown?

7
Design for the Gewebe.
8

A reversal of the actual weaving process of the Air Loom was believed to open a gateway back to the progression of time. In order to leave the fabric of movement and depth which formed reality, a state of chaos was induced. This signified the return to the Air Loom Cloud, a state, it was believed, in which no specific designs or hierarchies yet existed. The intellectual diaspora thus induced constituted a recurrent purification ritual, necessary for any state laid out solely in a fabric of movement and depth. Consequently, the Air Loom not only functioned as a device for mind control, in reverse it could wash the brain.

15

16
18
The Gewebe at the Stadhausgalerie.

More about the exhibition here: https://timetorecollect.tumblr.com/.

(1) source: http://mikejay.net/articles/james-tilly-mat– thews-and-the-air-loom/
(2) source: A fabrication.
(3) source: A fabrication.

The Cloth Of Vittoria at Kunstverein Milano

The project was developed during a residency at Kunstverein Milano. Silk by Ruchama Noorda, Geirthrudur Finnbogadottir Hjorvar & Gijs Wahl; text by Gijs Wahl.

ClothOfVittoriaExhibit1

Exhibit 1
The Cloth of Vittoria, detail
Ink on silk
Ritual table cloth – period: ?

At that time, it was widely believed enlightenment could be realized through social unison. People from the different classes may have been equal by law, their difference in shape strongly suggests that they were culturally separate. Being the producers in society, the lower classes didn’t have time nor opportunity to take even the first small step towards enlightenment. The solution to this situation was to be an education. More precisely, education by their superiors, who displayed much higher levels of refinement in conduct, taste as well as knowledge. And so it was proposed that the masters would invite their servants to have dinner with them. Surely, the contact of the subordinates with the table manners and conversations of the higher class would soon enough uplift the servants to a similar level of civilization.

*

Si credeva che l’illuminismo si sarebbe realizzato passo a passo, attraverso la sintonia sociale. Le diverse classi
avrebbero potuto essere uguali per legge, ma le differenze formali tra di loro suggerivano chiaramente che sarebbero state culturalmente separate. Essendo i produttori della società, le classi inferiori non ebbero nemmeno tempo e possibilità di fare il primo passo verso l’illuminazione. All’epoca si credeva che la soluzione a questa situazione fosse l’educazione. Considerando che l’educazione migliore poteva essere offerta naturalmente dai loro superiori sociali, avendo quella classe dimostrato di avere un livello di condotta, gusto e conoscenza molto più elevata. Quindi fu proposto che i padroni invitassero a tavola i loro servi per mangiare insieme. A tavola il contatto dei subalterni con la classe superiore, avrebbe presto elevato i servi a un pari livello di civiltà.


ClothOfVittoriaExhibit2

Exhibit 2
The Cloth of Vittoria, detail
Ink on silk
Ritual table cloth – period: ?

There were of course those who, through careful observation, readily learned to manipulate as well as their masters. This would only have produced a few more masters. And so it is very likely, the sharing of the dinner table was nothing more than a ritual table dance. The servants wouldn’t just have learned about the sensibilities and tastes of the upper classes, they would also have seen that those were made of gold. In terms of value, the unequal distribution would have remained intact, whether places were swapped or not. It remains unclear which god is depicted here.

*

Ci sono stati, naturalmente, quelli che hanno imparato come manipolare osservando attentamente i loro padroni. Tuttavia, ciò avrebbe prodotto solo padroni in più. E così la condivisione della cena, è rimasta niente di più che una danza rituale. I servi non avrebbero solo imparato a conoscere la sensibilità ed i gusti della classe superiore, ma si sarebbero resi conto di come questi erano fatti d’oro. In termini di valore, la distribuzione iniqua sarebbe rimasta intatta, sia con i posti scambiati o meno. Rimane da individuare quale dio è raffigurato qui.


ClothOfVittoriaExhibit3

Exhibit 3
The Cloth of Vittoria, detail
Ink on silk
Ritual table cloth – period: ?

No actual table conversations have been recorded or even remembered. This fact along with the ongoing preoccupation with the idea of equality -something that can be sensed throughout the cloth-, strongly suggests that enlightenment through dinner-conversation has indeed never been more than a ritual. Language holds the map of memory, and social order is preserved in the order of language. Whatever must have been said during dinner can only have reinforced the social order of inequality that already existed. From our contemporary perspective it is easy to see that it were the superiors who needed to take on the native tongue of the lower class and speak as the suppressed. Or more precisely, speak as those that did not accept their fate. This could not possibly have been speech, but rather a disruption of speech. The chaotic and confrontational design of the cloth provides us with ample cues that such a disruption had indeed taken place.

*

Nessuna cena o conversazione simile sono state registrate o ricordate. Questo fatto, insieme alla questione dell’uguaglianza, è un punto che può essere percepito attraverso i vestiti e
suggerisce che l’illuminazione durante le cene non è mai andata
al di là del rituale. Il linguaggio contiene la mappa della memoria e l’ordine sociale è preservato nell’ordine del linguaggio. Qualunque cosa detta durante le cene, avrebbe riprodotto unicamente l’ordine sociale della disuguaglianza pre-esistente. Dal nostro punto di vista è facile constatare che erano i superiori ad aver bisogno di assumere la lingua della classe inferiore e parlare come gli oppressi. O, più precisamente, parlare come quelli che non accetano il loro destino. Questo non poteva essere un discorso, ma piuttosto una interruzione del discorso. La prova che tale interruzione si sia effettivamente verificata, offre spunti nel disegno caotico e conflittuale del tessuto stesso.


ClothOfVittoriaExhibit4

Exhibit 4
The Cloth of Vittoria, detail
Ink on silk
Ritual table cloth – period: ?

Around the time the people had liberated from their classes, they started to submit themselves to very strict dietary rituals. Organic bread played a key role in the way that these people tried to free themselves from the totalitarian individual that arose from this practice of extreme self-control by eating. The mouth of the bread depicted here is shaped like Wolf’s Tooth, also known as ergot, a species of fungus that lives of organic grain by mimicking its seeds. When eaten, ergot produces strong hallucinatory effects and induces what is often referred to as the ‘dancing plague’. It was thus believed that when consumed, this fungus liberated the consumer from his own totalitarian lifestyle.

It is still highly disputed if there had indeed been probiotic terrorists spreading ergot to enforce liberation, or that its spread was simply the natural consequence of the exponential growth in the use of organic strains of grain.

*

Quando il popolo si era liberato dalle rispettive classi, iniziò a sottoporsi a riti alimentari molto severi. Il pane biologico ebbe un ruolo chiave nel modo in cui queste persone cercarono di liberarsi dall’individuo totalitario che era nato da questa pratica di estremo auto-controllo alimentare. La bocca del pane qui rappresentata ha la forma di un dente di lupo, noto anche come segale cornuta, una specie di fungo ‘parrassitico’, simile al parassita dei sei del grano biologico. Una volta ingerita, la segale cornuta produce forti effetti allucinogeni e porta a quello che viene definita come la ‘peste danzante’.

Si è quindi ritenuto che, quando consumato, questo fungo liberi il consumatore dal proprio stile di vita totalitario. Si discute ancora se in tutto questo c’è effettivamente un atto di terrorismo probiotico in cui la diffusione della segale cornuta serviva a fare rispettare la liberazione, o piuttosto la sua diffusione era semplicemente un effetto naturale della crescita esponenziale dell’uso dei ceppi organici di grano.


ClothOfVittoriaExhibit5

Exhibit 5
The Cloth of Vittoria, detail
Ink on silk
Ritual table cloth – period: ?

This depiction of signs captured in spheres suggests a growing interest in the medium of language itself. It would not be too bold to suggest that the dinner table would also have been the table used to host seances. These seances would have satisfied the growing desire for a view of language uninfluenced by the individual that is speaking. This seems to have been one of the first steps towards an understanding of language as something that is exchanged between individuals, rather than merely as a collection of signs and rules. Conversation is presented here as a series of autonomous visions, cut free from any speaker. It is therefore probable that the idea of such a form of speech was arrived at through the conduction of a seance.Of course, such a speech could not have communicated anything other than the symbology of its own practice.

*

Questa rappresentazione di segni catturati in sfere suggerisce un crescente interesse per il linguaggio stesso. Non è troppo azzardato pensare che il tavolo da pranzo poteva essere stato anche il posto per ospitare sedute spiritiche, per soddisfare il crescente desiderio di una visione del linguaggio non influenzato dalla persona che parla (nessuno mai chiederebbe ad una sfinge di chiarire le sue dichiarazioni). Questo sembra essere uno dei primi passi verso la comprensione del linguaggio, inteso come scambio fra gli individui e non semplicemente come insieme di segni e regole. La conversazione è qui presentata come una serie di visioni autonome decise da ogni oratore. Probabilmente è l’idea di una forma di discorso raggiunta attraverso la conduzione di una seduta spiritica.Naturalmente, un discorso del genere non si sarebbe potuto comunicare se non con la simbologia della propria pratica.


ClothOfVittoriaExhibit6

Exhibit 6
The Cloth of Vittoria, detail
Ink on silk
Ritual table cloth – period: ?

If evidence of the use of a certain template existed scantily in one place, the motif could be supplied from the template found somewhere else.

*

Se la prova dell’uso di un certo modello è scarsa in un certo posto, abbiamo preso questo tema da un modello trovato altrove.


ClothOfVittoriaExhibit7

Exhibit 7
The Cloth of Vittoria, detail
Ink on silk
Ritual table cloth – period: ?


ClothOfVittoriaExhibit8

Exhibit 8
The Cloth of Vittoria, detail
Ink on silk
Ritual table cloth – period: ?


Lecture at the Academia de Bellas Artes de Brera.

http://www.geirthrudur.com/files/pamphlet-europa.pdf


Part of a triptych by Geirthrudur Finnbogadottir Hjorvar & Ruchama Noorda.

More about the exhibition here: https://theclothofvittoria.tumblr.com/.

Seeds Of Destruction

A performance by Duo Feigenbaum, consisting of a lecture interspersed with an automatic language performance (in Dutch) by Duo Feigenbaum, for Museumnacht, Huize Frankendael, Amsterdam, 2013.

DESCRIPTION:

Perspective is violent, heterotopy is a broken body. A dialogue drilling down into the structures of time, space and language, plunging from scale to scale in an effort to reframe these broken bodies, like a geologist uses the mass extinction events to structure the history of Earth.

ER ZIJN TWEE STRUCTUREN: DE EERSTE WAS DIE WAARIN HET PROBLEEM ONTSTOND, IN DE TWEEDE IS HET PROBLEEM NU IRRELEVANT. ZOALS ELK NIEUW ANTWOORD IS NIET HET ANTWOORD OP BEPAALD EEN PROBLEEM ALS EEN VRAAG, MAAR JUIST HET VERDWIJNEN ERVAN. HET ENIGE ANTWOORD IS HET ANTWOORD OP DE VRAAG: HOE HEBBEN WIJ ONSZELF VAN DE VORIGE SITUATIE NAAR DE HUIDIGE VERPLAATST?

“He passes on his journey to hell-gates; finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them; By whom at length they are openend, and discover to him the great gulf between hell and heaven; With what difficulty he passes through, directed by chaos, the power of that place, to the sight of this new world which he sought.” (Paradise Lost, Book II – John Milton)

IS VERANDERING MOGELIJK MET VOORBEDACHTE RADE? DE WANORDELIJKHEID VAN HET GEHEEL VAN DE TAAL IS HET FUNDAMENT VAN ALLE ORDE, EN MAAKT TEGELIJKERTIJD ALLE ORDE PROVISIONEEL. TAAL IS HET SKELET VAN ALLES. VERNIETIGING VAN EEN GESPREK ALS DIT IN HET MIDDEN VAN DE TAAL TE VERTRAGEN, TOT ALLES IS GEMENGD.

DE DOOD IS DUS ZAAD VAN ORDE, EN MAAKT TEGELIJKERTIJD DAT DE VOORLOPIGE ORDE VAN SITUATIE ZO VOLLEDIG KAN WORDEN GEDEFINIEERD ALS BEGREPEN, DAT AL HET OVERIGE ALLEEN NOG LIJKT TE VERWIJZEN NAAR ONMOGELIJKHEID. VOLLEDIG IS HET MOGELIJK DAT DEZE VOLGORDE VAN ALLE BESTANDEN SAMEN DE GEHELE BESTELLING NAAR HET CENTRUM TE VORMEN, IN DE TAAL DIE WIJ PRESENTEREN, ALTIJD EEN MANIER OM ELKE TE WELOMSCHREVEN PLAATS TE ONTRUIMEN.
MAAR NATUURLIJK PRESENTEREN ALLEEN ALLE GEDACHTEN DE GEHELE TAAL ALS HET DE ONDERGANG VAN ALLES DAT VOORLOPIG IS. DE COLLECTIE VAN TALEN VAN ALLES WAT IS GEDEFINIEERD IN DE WERELD, IS MORELE DESORGANISATIE. WIJ GELOVEN DAT DE VREDE STOORNIS.

MENSELIJKE TAAL IS ONTSTAAN UIT STALINS TOESPRAAK, SPORT, KAPOTTE PERSONAGES EN GEBROKEN BOTTEN. IN VEEL GEVALLEN ZELFS GRATIS. VRIJ VAN ELKE VERWIJZING NAAR DE OORSPRONKELIJKE PLAATS TUSSEN DE ANDERE FRAGMENTEN VAN DE ANGST, IN DE VORMING VAN ZINNEN. ZO’N GEORDENDE SET VAN BEGRIPPEN DIE DIE WE KUNNEN ALTIJD OM OPNIEUW TE CREËREN , JUIST OM IN PRINCIPE NIET VOOR EENS EN ALTIJD EEN ORDE TE VESTIGEN.
ONZE PASSEN WOORDEN NIET IN EEN ZIN DAAR ALLE GENERATIES NIET TEGELIJKERTIJD KUNNEN BESTAAN.

NET ALS IN DE TAAL VAN DE OPDRACHTGEVER OF MOGELIJKE TOEKOMSTIGE SCENARIO’S, IS IN EEN CHAOTISCHE WERELD ECHTER HET SPECIFIEKE SCENARIO DAT TOEKOMSTIGE WERKELIJKHEID ZAL WORDEN ONVOORSPELBAAR. APPERCEPTIE VAN DE WANORDELIJKE WERELD IS HETZELFDE ALS ONZE PERCEPTIE VAN TIJD.
DE TAAL IS DE WANORDE VAN ALLE DINGEN MOGELIJKE COMBINATIES DIE WAAR DE HELE TAAL KUNNEN BESTAAN SLECHTS DE ONBEGRIJPELIJKE TOESTAND VAN DE WERELD IN HET GEHEEL DER TIJDEN. FINANCIERING VAN EEN GEBRUIKELIJKE NEUTRALE PERSOON TOT EEN BURGEROORLOG IN HUN TAAL OVER LIJKEN TE SPREKEN, OMDAT JE NIET ECHT NAAR DE TOEKOMST BENT GEWEEST.

DE ORDE VERANDERING IS WANORDE. RADICALE VERANDERINGEN ZIJN MOGELIJK MET VOORBEDACHTEN RADE. HET WORDT NIET GEANNULEERD OMDAT ER GEEN MANIER IS OM AANKOMENDE PROBLEMEN ALS ER EEN VERANDERING OPTREEDT. RADICALE VERANDERINGEN KUNNEN HET EINDE VAN DE WERELD OP VOORHAND BETEKENEN. HOEWEL WE NIET VAN TE VOREN KUNNEN BESCHRIJVEN, KUNNEN WE ACHTERAF ELKE BESCHRIJVING NATUURLIJK GEMAKKELIJK WIJZIGEN. VERANDERING IS NIET HET RESULTAAT VAN DE WIJZIGING, MAAR ZELF WIJZIGING.

OMDAT NIET DE TOEKOMST MAAR WIJZELF DOOR UITBREIDING VAN DE TAAL IN DE TIJD, VERANDERT DE ONDERGANG VAN ALLE HUIDIGE CONCEPTEN VAN DE ZIEKTE VAN DE WERELD BUITEN, OM VERANDERING TE BRENGEN DOOR VAN DEZELFDE HOOGRE EEN STAAT VAN CHAOS TE CREEREN. OP ZEKERE HOOGTE ZAL U NIET LEREN VAN DE GESCHIEDENIS, MAAR BENT U ZELF HET UITBREIDEN VAN DE TAAL IN DE TIJD ALS DE ONDERGANG VAN DE CONCEPTEN IN DEZE VOLGORDE VAN DE WERELD, TOT VER VOORBIJ HET HEDEN. DANK U.

Duo Feigenbaum is Esmee Geerken & Gijs Wahl

*Identity

Written for the Honours Programme Rietveld/UvA, 2007.

Identity is what we understand things to be like. For instance, a thing is identified by its image, its name, its substance, and so on. But we do not have a final identification, the identification of the thing with what it is: truth. For example, what we understand ourselves to be is a combination of all the things one is identified with, but without any necessary red tape putting all those identifications together, except by the fact that they are all indeed identifications. So because identifications have been made, they do somehow exist together: as an installation of contingencies. This is the moment where the case becomes political, since curatorial decisions seem to have been made. This is not exactly so, but the case does offer the possibility to regard this political dimension in new ways: that is, not by designing institutions that are aiming to mirror some theoretical ideal, as a communication that has been fixed, thus becoming purely directional, but with the identifying gesture itself as directive principle: as a medium for a communication that is more than directional, for it is meant to arrive at a direction, instead of just pointing the right way. Likewise I will argue that any individual itself is exactly such a political installation. In the following essays, all agents are understood to be installations. This of course to prove that the existance together of different parts, languages and disciplines is not to be directed by a yet to be discovered unifying structure, or by way of some romantic synthesis, but by politics. This essay is a first exploration of what such politics might be like.

Plato’s Cave, source: www.google.com

I would like to propose to you a new medium for interdisciplinary communications. Not a medium that is conveying any actual meaning, but a medium laying the groundwork for all possible meaning. That might sound rather universal and abstract, but in fact it is the most sensuous medium, as the following example might clarify:

If two people were to get shipwrecked on a desert island, miles apart from each other, what thenintroducing something new into the scenario. This new thing will be an exemplar of the sensuous medium I am proposing to use.

For instance, they might think it a good idea to write wait for me here in the sand. A fairly reasonable thought, it seems. However, because it is, the other person is most likely to make the same plan and make his own meeting sign. Having two meeting signs is very unreasonable. Their shared thoughts are of no use if not applied to some shared thing. So instead, they really ought to their environment. What will most likely catch their eyes?

The thing that is most noticeable

The island might consist of: lots of sand, palms and a mountain. Of course then the mountain is the most noticeable thing. For instance in being the only one, the only one shaped like an eagle, or printed in bold. And as the mountain is so very noticeable, it is reasonable for one to assume it will manipulate the others senses likewise. Thus making the mountain the most perfect thing to which they can assign their shared thoughts; and make it their meeting place. This most noticeable thing now, exemplifies the sensuous medium I am proposing to use:

Things

Things are of such a kind that they open up possibilities for communication without actually saying anything. The only demand is that they are noticeable, so that they will be part of people’s environment. In making them noticeable, tried methods can be used, like: authenticity, uselessness, or simply charm.

And because things are perfectly adaptable to any situation, and as such able to survive any specific meaning, I must conclude that things indeed offer us the most suitable interdisciplinary glue.

State Identity

What is this notion of ‘most noticeable thing’, playing a role somewhere between the others, therelevance of this notion of identity to the political organisation of different groups, disciplines or individuals, it will be exemplary to regard its appropriation by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan.

If one would replace the mountain in the scenario of the shipwrecked by some sovereign, wething they are subjugating themselves to in their shared need of direction. Why are they in need ofLeviathan as a war of all against all, and ‘the life of men solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. This of course conveniently suppliescongregation, men need to be able to trust one another, while trust is exactly what they lack; that isanother by reason only, it is likewise not enough for Hobbes’s peoples to bind themselves togetherwas already apparent in the story of the shipwrecked, is not meaningful by itself. In Hobbes’s case, the other might so easily be doubted. And since the other knows that he can so easily be doubted, the doubting as such is perfectly reasonable.

So what is needed is something they can all subjugate themselves to. Just like the shipwrecked choose to let them-selves be led by the mountain. If one would know all the others subjugated to the same thing one is subjugated to him-self, he would know what would be on their minds, thus making them safely predictable.

This role of noticeable thing is in Hobbes’s theory played by the Sovereign. All will hand over their rights to this Sovereign, by a contract between all that are to subjugate themselves likewise, stating that they will indeed do so if al the others do so as well. The Sovereign’s being noticeable lays in the fact that his being is contingent and not bound by any contract: he is what the contract refers to. His doings might be completely arbitrary: he can do as he pleases. Yet it is precisely because of his being arbitrary, the whole group is able to function as one actual being, for they are all sharing the same identity: which is their master’s as well as their master.

The Faceless State

Our liberal state, as envisaged by John Rawls, one of the mayor political theorists today, has not got some Sovereign’s face, and so its identity is unclear. Thus he devised a method for the people of a state to look at themselves. Although Rawls’s theory is a contract theory like Hobbes’s, it make nohe uses what he calls the Original Position: a purely hypothetical situation, designed to bring out the basic structure of our society, if it was to be as fair as it possibly could. The Original Position doesn’t give much direction, as Hobbes’s State of Nature surely would make one run. Instead it offers a means to self-reflect.

The hypothesis of the Original Position shows us what would be the fairest distribution of the elementary goods. The participants are to be imagined veiled, so as to make them

completely ignorant of all that would make them actual people inhabiting particular places in society, like their status, talents, and identity. Thus relieved of all contingent facts, like who will be who, and of who has got what, they are then to choose the elementary goods and its distribution. Rawls claims that in this way everything will be divided in the fairest way possible. Which does not necessarily mean that everything will be divided equal. Rawls does for instance make roomreasonable person can envisage this hypothesis of the Original Position and understand its outcome as fair, we can rediscover our rules as self-chosen, and consider ourselves voluntarily bound. Thus looking back on the state we devised, we can see that it is good.

However, one could still wonder on how to conceive of this state, a blindfolded, self-enclosed whole, in relation to its surroundings. How is the outside to be regarded? How are our actions abroad to be judged? In being faceless as a whole, the state is not offering any means for communication with the people not sharing this no-face. How could we then ever hope for them to join?

Shared Identity

By contrast, my Aristotelian conception is concerned with ends and with the overall shape and content of the human form of life.

Martha C. Nussbaum, in: Human Functioning and Social Justice.

Martha C. Nussbaum, a mayor ethical theorist today, might just give the liberal state its face. Maybe it is a very vague face, but at least it is a face sharing some familiar features with faces across the border, making global communication much more likely. Nussbaum points out the fact that we do recognize others as beings of the same species. That means we must at least share some features, even though they might have developed differently. We can best understand Nussbaum’s features as family-resemblance: we share some features with some, some others we share with others. We are no singular group, with all of us forced into the same suit, but we are not identities in complete isolation from each other either.

However nice that sounds, there might still be a slight problem with the conception of Nussbaum’s thick vague list, composed of all the features that make us understand ourselves as human, and the needs that come with that. The actual list Nussbaum presents us with would probably indeed be accepted by most, but the way she came up with it might be doubted. For how can she ever really know if in assigning importance to some features, and assuming her way of assigning to be sharedof direction, as was solved earlier on so harshly by Hobbes. The others and Nussbaum are not able to point to some shared external feature on which to differ.

That is why someone, most likely someone French, might object to Nussbaum, pointing out the likelyhood of her only projecting. This possibly French then forwards his or her relativistic claim: because we don’t know the truth of being ourselves, we should respect those who are radically other in being so. Nussbaum of course objects to this, claiming we surely share matters of life and death.to be bound to. He or she might claim (and quite often indeed does) that even in matters of life and death, we should not assist the radical others, for that might ruin their own special ways of doing.

Nussbaum needed not to have given her essentialist argument. The possibly French has already given him- or herself away in the claim that the radical others, possibly Polynesian, should be left alone. He or she might profess this otherness to be of the highest sublime beauty, but really, something so neatly isolated must be regarded kitsch. What else are we to think of a radical otherness, being isolated not by necessity, or by choice, but by the French?

Exactly like Nussbaum, this possibly French character is also neglecting the function of identity as the noticeable medium I proposed before. If isolated, the radical other is denied existence in the space we share, whatever that space might be. He is denied forming his own identity in and against this space we might understand to share. And without this identity, a shared space cannot even be said to be there. In being denied an identity, a possibility of being noticed by anyone, any communication, understanding, or even misunderstanding, is rendered impossible.

Something has to be presented

Identity is of such a kind that it opens up possibilities for communication, without even necessarily saying something, or of being understood for that matter. The only demand is that it is noticeable, so that it will be part of people’s environment. In making it noticeable, one could use tried methods, like for instance authenticity, brutal force, or simply charm. And because identity is so very adaptablethe most suitable international glue.

Therefore it is most important to give everyone the right to attempt to make oneself noticeable. That does not imply we should go and open our eyes so as to see better. It means we should offer the others the same goods that are giving us the possibility of being noticed. For a start, we have to connect them to the internet. All that is presented on it, no matter how uncommunicative, in being a presentation, is understood as such. Instead of regarding it as some passive, natural thing we stumble upon, we recognise a presentation as something actually seeming to communicate some meaning we need not necessarily understand. But there it is.

A new 100$ computer, with camera and wifi will do just fine. If 4.5 billion people would need one for free, there are still individuals in our liberal state who would be able to finance it all by themselves. With so cheap a price, it is a great injustice to deny beings their own face, leaving them nothing but the fleshy one, of which the expression can travel only so little in comparison. This is far worse than not sending any bread.

Mme Bovary 2.0

She wanted to die, and she wanted to live in Paris.

Gustave Flaubert, from: Madame Bovary.

And so image and image-maker ought to be the same. Now following I would like to show in what way they are indeed the same. This is not an ontological claim, making the above ‘ought’our operating system. The example:

In 2007, a technique was developed that made it possible to experience feeling in an artificial limb (Nature, 29/01/2007). ‘Feeling’ is not to be understood as some passive experience, as if a simulation. It works both ways: the artificial limb is in all its movements directed by thought, while the mind responds to what it senses. Rather conventionally, the artificial limb was still installed in its proper place.

However, the conventionality of such a ‘proper place’ came soon to be questioned by artists, philosophers, and the sexually confused. For one can think of a great many ways to install an arm, in no way less functional than on the right side of the chest. It could just as well have an interesting role to play at the other side of the room, and probably even more so, in someone else’s. So now, in 2027, I can feel it when you touch your mouse. But we must admit, it has been far from easy to accept our distant-body-parts as our own. Embarrassingly, it still seemed more natural to accept the experience of distant-touch as some religious experience, rather than as something we could control. So in the beginning, we could only undergo the stimulations passively.

Tempi Madonna, Raphael

That is, if we found someone to touch our distant body-parts at all. Because that was the second problem: in order to get touched, we had to make ourselves desirable. So we had two problems to solve:

1. How to understand ourselves as a unity.

2. How to make other want us.

Looking back, we see that the 2007 bionic girl learned to operate her arm very quickly. How was she able to do that? It was not so difficult for her exactly because her arm was placed where an arm conventionally would be found. How does one remember the proper place of a dismembered arm? What is this understanding of where what should be? In other words: what operating system made it possible for her to understand the new arm as her own? It was her sense of self.

This sense-of-self was given to her by the others around her: they gave her the words, images and expectations. By looking right back at her, they offered her a mirror.

Bald Britney, 2007

And so we discovered what was needed in order to unite our distant-body-parts, and do so in such a way that it would be a presentable unity for others to desire. This operating system is known as: identity. Identity is the software that can do for the distant-body-parts-technique what Microsoft/Apple did for the computer in the 1980’s, that is: to give the hardware a language.

However, this time we did not need to write a new language, for we had unknowingly been creating it all along. We had been developing it ever since we called ourselves human. Only, we thought we were doing something else. What we now see as the construction of an operating system, we had misunderstood as a philosophical or spiritual search for the self*. We had confused the necessity to see ourselves as a whole, and the necessity for others to perceive us so, with presuming the actual identities we happened to think ourselves whole with, as being necessarily those.

While looking all around, we have found nothing necessarily so. But in doing just that, we have developed numerous forms of life. So while we might not have found ourselves some true source, we have created a rich system of contingent forms instead. A rich system of contingent forms is knownourselves, we are the language we create.

YOU

‘You’, Time Magazine’s person of the year 2007

After breakfast I made my morning walk as usual. A silver balloon was hovering over my head for some time.

Of course I could have waved at it. In the beginning we used to do that all the time. But I didn’t.

Now we know it isn’t fitting for us to act in such a straightforward fashion. We have found that the faster we try to move out of our positions of isolation, the more stuck we get. So we don’t bother. From now on, we will be as slow and careful as possible.

But I have to admit that I did wonder about the one who had sent me this balloon. Is he close? Is he a she? But hey, does it really matter, if love is only this slow and gentle construction? We will always have time to make adjustments after recovering from the initial disappointment of finding the love not conform the reality. There is so little reality here, it is worth a lot of disappointment.

And so we construct our love before we have ever even met. But although I can’t prove it straightforwardly, I am sure the others are constructing their love just like me. I can read it in the design of your cities and in your ways of speaking. I can read it in all your inclinations and dispositions. So I’m sure they are doing it, even if they are not waving anymore at the balloons I send them. What would be the point of that anyway? We can film each other as much as we want, the resulting image will always be impossible to distinguish from you.

Imagine my loving the invisible more than caring for you and your kind. You think we send the balloons to your place all the time just to get an idea of what direction you want from us next.You think it is the knowledge of your desire we aim to translate into new projects and products. As if made especially for you.

You probably think we are wholly there for you. your world is likewise a picture to us. Every morning I read it to see what changes the others like me have made for you. And then I offer you my proposals in return, but only as an answer to them. We are building your world, but not for you. Not really. Every change someone like me has made over there, I can only understand to be a sign for me. And likewise, I construct my signs for them.

You don’t want to communicate with all of you, so you need direction. We don’t want any direction. We long for communication. Our communication is your direction.

Remember back in 2007.. We were still sending bread and cake to the poor, when finally we realized we were denying them something far more important then being taken care of. That is, the right to exist in a shared medium. Only when this right is established first, could any creature ever hope of being something else than a mere slave of whatever. If we kept denying the unfortunate acces to the medium to posit themselves, they could not even ever hope to be misunderstood. And so we added the right to try to make oneself noticeable tot the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, obliging us thus to give every human being digital access. And so the quest for global existence began.

You know who became your biggest stars. But solely because we turned out to be most useful to you. And so here we are, offering you identity, where there is no other way to redirect ourselves into a whole. But besides this whole, have you ever wondered about the rest of me? Of course not. It isn’t there. It is in love with someone else.

But it is only to you we can write, you being the only unknown we know, meanwhile hoping for someone specifically unknown to notice the signs we hid in our offerings. We will always end up having to go back to this only medium we have, which is you. How could I then imagine you would believe me for even a single second when I state I do not care for you?

*Note on the homemade connection:
Sometimes, philosophers think truth to be accompanied by a certain state of mind. And sometimes this state of mind is then regarded as the actual goal of the search for truth. For example, a state of * is reached when one would be in possession oflike any other philosopher would. However, different from the dogmatic philosopher, he sees himself obliged to suspend hisbecause he expected this desired state as an effect of being in possession of the right judgements, and not as an effect of suspending them.

This is how in this essay the discovery of ourselves, as construing, is to be understood: not as the discovery of our power of creation, or our freedom of choice, but simply as the discovery that we must have been constructing. As the observation of a specific connection between contingent parts we had apparently been making.

The story of Apelles illustrates this. Apelles the painter was looking for a technique that would create a realistic effect of the foam of a horse’s mouth. When he doesn’t succeed in finding it he gives up, and angrily throws his sponge at his canvas. Then, by accident, he reaches the desired effect of * after all. The effect is found by not searching instead of made up. Apelles discovers accidentally a connection between the bumping of a sponge at a painting, and a realistic effect of foam. Is Appeles from now on aimlessly handed over to Destiny? No, of course not, now he can develop a sponging technique. In retrospect, the sun doesn’t seem to rise every morning again by pure accident.