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Daniel Rourke (M, 35)
London, UK
Immortal since Dec 18, 2007
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All things would be visibly connected if one could discover at a single glance and in its totality the tracings of an Ariadne’s thread leading thought into its own labyrinth.
- Georges Bataille
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    How Things "Become" Part I: The Infinity of Definition
    Perspective makes the single eye the center of the visible world. Everything converges on to the eye as to the vanishing point of infinity.

    ~ John Berger, Ways of Seeing

    The perceiver's position in an architectural, or merely physical space, determines the dimensional imperatives of that person's mental qualia. It is interesting to note that each viewer of a rainbow stands at the centre of their very own optical illusion; that light, once split into its component colours, streams - within the constraints of nature - upon a mathematically defined axis, of no more or less than 42° relative to each perceiver's location. There is no definitive rainbow, indeed no absolute dimension from which one could view a rainbow, a horizon or simply a piece of architectural design. The ethereal qualities of light juxtaposed upon an infinity of possible perspectives extends interpretation into the realm of chaos. Throw into consciousness the essence of 'what it is like to be' (known in philosophy of mind as 'qualia'), and human caprice may very well define the clarification of any meaning as a pure impossibility.

    In art, the act of interpretation grows newer tendrils of abstraction by which to strangle anyone vivacious enough to attempt to verify it – yet attempt to we must. I intend to show that the application of consciousness upon the interpretation of art is what defines it. This definition, in contrast to the kind of definition for words one might find in a dictionary, will not dwell arrogantly upon the assumption that art (or words for that matter) can be 'defined' at all. My definition of the word 'definition' from now on will be to 'add new dimensions and qualities to the universe itself in the examination and multiplication of qualia, thereby giving reality a greater clarity'.

    That the human universe can be defined at all is ultimately a consequence of consciousness. To 'give reality greater clarity' is merely to multiply the 'what it is like to be' or the 'beingness' of any entity or concept. The more these kinds of being are multiplied, the more ways there are to perceive the universe and since the universe itself is nothing but perception, consciousness (in all its forms) may very well take credit as the creator of 'the real'. Just as a greater number of pixels gives an image a higher definition, so any multiplication of 'being' within the universe brings a higher definition to what has 'become'* . That which is perceived may be thought to be a minor segment of a text, a play of light on a skyscraper or a wavelength of colour in a rainbow – what in fact consciousness perceives is a universe being given better clarity in the very act of its perception. An exponential autopoiesis of 'becoming':

    A poem should not be but become.

    ~ Charles Bernstein, Rough Trades

    That kinds of being can multiply is nothing special. Nature itself has blindly found, over the past few billion years of evolution, many new ways in which to 'become' itself. The application of amoeba 'being' lends a different definition to reality than bat 'being'. A bat, in turn, has a sonar 'beingness' utterly distinct from any human, and thus must experience a very different universe from ourselves. Where human consciousness wins out over other types of ‘being’ is in its application of language. Language, in this sense, can be understood as a virus:

    From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may once have been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the lungs. The word may once have been a healthy neural cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting your sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word...

    ~ William Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded

    ...and like any parasitic virus, language, and its forms, multiply and subsume their host – hijacking its nervous system for their own ends. Consciousness is subsumed by language, therefore the human universe is defined through language, just as part of a bat's universe might be said to be defined through sonar (or sound). To aid in the multiplication of language forms; to bring greater clarity to a universe, humans must apply their language 'being' within reality. Art can be seen as language in a broad sense, but in this essay I will concentrate on those modes of language which apply most fervently to the art of poetry: writing, reading and becoming.

    Here an admission of restraint must be given: in order to throw so many broad terms into my examinations (i.e. art, consciousness, form, language, writing, reading, becoming, etc.) I am tightening the very tendrils of interpretation which threaten to choke me. To ignore the limitations of my own analysis would be to contradict myself, and therefore to void each word as I wrote it. Therefore I will attempt to utilise the methods of one for whom the constant redefinition of his own negation of definition was second nature...

    In his 1977 essay 'The Death of the Author' Roland Barthes argues that writing destroys all traces of the writer. This classic post-modern position assumes ownership of a text to be that of culture itself, finally labeling the writer as an instance of language. "Life" says Barthes, "never does more than imitate the book, and the book itself is only a tissue of signs, an imitation that is lost, infinitely deferred.". The multiplicity of emergent meanings for a text allows readership to become the ultimate act of understanding, thus finally, giving the reader a broader, more holistic power over a text's meaning:

    Thus is revealed the total existence of writing: a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations to dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author.

    ~ Roland Barthes, The Death of the Author

    According to Barthes, the clarification (or 'becoming') of a text involves acknowledging dimensions beyond the plane of the text as expedited by its writer. The topology of writing suddenly loses its Cartesian dimensionality: the constituents of meaning have exploded:

    For the present we can say that creativity is not only the fresh perception of new meanings, and the ultimate enfoldment of this perception within the manifest and the somatic, but I would say that it is ultimately the action of the infinite in the sphere of the finite – that is, this meaning goes to infinite depths.

    ~ David Bohm, Unfolding Meaning

    * (Of course this means that any absolutely defined digital camera image would have to be made up of an infinite resolution of pixels – "I'd like a camera with at least ∞ megapixels please" – true 'becoming' would have to be plotted on an exponentially divergent curve. All infinitesimal steps in clarification are worthy of acknowledgment simply because true definition is infinite.)

    (This piece was originally posted on my site, www.huge-entity.com some months ago.

    For those of you who are interested, read Part II of this piece here:
    The Codification of Artistic Species...)

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    Comments:


    rene     Thu, Dec 20, 2007  Permanent link
    From the very beginning your site has been a huge inspiration for us. It helped us to give shape to the sensibility we had in mind and we often talked about how great it would be if we could join forces with you somewhere along the line. Once again, your post shows us the way. Hopefully there's more to come, here or at huge-entity.






    Rourke     Thu, Dec 20, 2007  Permanent link
    Thanks a lot for the input, I am more than flattered. I only wish I could have brought an original first post to the site.

    I love the format of this site, it feels wonderful to use. I will be back, ideas permitting. I did stumble onto here when it was merely a front page (when access was restricted). Did I receive an invite? I can't remember...

    josh     Thu, Dec 20, 2007  Permanent link
    I would like to reiterate both rene and folkert's words. We had always hoped to have an entire community of people who would contribute on the level that you write. It is inspiring to have you participate on the site.

    Welcome to the collective. We look forward to hearing more from you.
    jo be     Thu, Jan 3, 2008  Permanent link
    This was amazing to read—and from your essay I have about ten tabs open to continue reading! Thank you!
    Rourke     Thu, Jan 3, 2008  Permanent link
    Thanks for reading.

    Consciousness is the most incredible feature we posses. Exapand, expand, expand!

    I'm working on some new ideas for articles. For the time being though, do please browse my old stuff over at The Huge Entity. The front page is a great place to start, especially the tag-cloud and its labyrinth of connections.

    New ideas coming soon...
    paulteagan     Thu, Jan 3, 2008  Permanent link
    "The more these kinds of being are multiplied, the more ways there are to perceive the universe and since the universe itself is nothing but perception, consciousness (in all its forms) may very well take credit as the creator of 'the real'."

    I once was watching rain water on the side of a street cascade and flow into a drain and I thought of how peculiar and attractive water molecules react with each other and light. I've felt from then on that the evidence for some sort of collective being(god, sacred oneness, blah blah, etc.) was obvious in our ability to understand and marvel. I imagine a universe in which creation is not limited to the painting, but encompasses the brush, paint, canvas, and ultimately the audience that will appreciate it.
    aeonbeat     Tue, Jan 8, 2008  Permanent link
    This is exactly what bothers me lately! Thanks for inspiring me again!
    Rourke     Sun, Jan 13, 2008  Permanent link
    What comes next?
    Vulgar     Fri, Jan 18, 2008  Permanent link
    Is this the kind of topic you're going to expand into a doctorate thesis? Has a lot of potential I think. I like the use of Berger and Barthes along the way. Your argument is a sound one, although I wonder if you are also going to include some explanation of shared awareness in the extended analysis? The rainbow and horizon may be impossible to fully clarify, but something is added to their being when collective, rather than a singular, consciousness becomes aware of them. The artwork only becomes infinite after we agree it exists in the first place. And the reader can only expand upon and become part of a growing infinity that propels itself ever backward.

    You've been working a long time on these ideas and they are becoming ever more complex. I look forward to more experiments on infinity.
    AsylumSeaker     Tue, Nov 25, 2008  Permanent link
    In particular I love the first paragraph on perspective / sight. The bit about the rainbow gave me a great idea (albeit not one related to the rest of the article).. What if we could gather image data from the eyes of many rainbow viewers, and interpret that data using some kind of 3d reconstruction program like photosynth?
    Stuka     Sat, Mar 28, 2009  Permanent link
     
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