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Daniel Rourke (M, 39)
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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    Rourke’s projects
    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...

    Start your own revolution
    Catching up with the future. All major institutions in the world today are grappling to come to terms with the internet. The entertainment...

    What happened to nature?
    How to stay in touch with our biological origins in a world devoid of nature? The majestic nature that once inspired poets, painters and...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    Grapholectic Thought and the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness
    —- published in full at —-

    “There are things,” Christoph Martin Wieland... contended, “which by their very nature are so dependent upon human caprice that they either exist or do not exist as soon as we desire that they should or should not exist.”

    ...We are, at the very least, reminded that seeing is a talent that needs to be cultivated, as John Berger saliently argued in his popular Ways of Seeing (1972) “…perspective makes the single eye the centre of the visible world.”

    - John A. Mccarthy, Remapping Reality

    From the Greco-Roman period onwards humans have perceived themselves at the centre of a grand circle:

    • The circle is physical: a heliocentric vision of the cosmos, where the Earth travels around the sun.
    • The circle is biological: an order of nature, perhaps orchestrated by a benign creator, where the animals and plants exist to satisfy the needs of mankind.
    • And according to Sigmund Freud, in his Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, the circle is psychological: where a central engine of reason rules over the chaos of passion and emotion.

    The history of science maintains that progress – should one be comfortable in using such a term – contracted these perceptual loops. Indeed it was Freud himself, (the modest pivot of his own solar-system) who suggested that through the Copernican, Darwinian and Freudian “revolutions” mankind had transcended these “three great discontinuities” of thought and, “[uttered a] call to introspection”.

    If one were to speculate on the “great discontinuities” that followed, one might consider Albert Einstein’s relativistic model of space-time, or perhaps the work carried out by many “introspective” minds on quantum theory. Our position at the centre of the cosmos was offset by Copernicus; our position as a special kind of creature was demolished by Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. From Freud we inherited the capacity to see beneath the freedom of the individual; from Einstein and quantum theory we learnt to mistrust the mechanistic clock of space and time. From all we learnt, as John Berger so succinctly put it, that “…perspective makes the single eye the centre of the visible world.”

    Of course my mini-history of scientific revolution should not be taken itself as a “truth”. I draw it as a parable of progress, as one silken thread leading back through time’s circular labyrinth to my very own Ariadne. What I do maintain though, is that all great moves in human thought have come at the expense of a perceptual circle. That, if science, sociology, economics - or any modern system of knowledge - is to move beyond the constraints of its circle it must first decentre the “single eye”.

    Scientific rational inquiry has revelled in the overturning of these “great discontinuities”, positioning each of them as a plotted point on the graph we understand as “progress”. We maintain, without any hint of irony, that we exist at the pinnacle of this irreversible line of diachronic time, that the further up the line we climb, the closer to “truth” we ascend.

    “...Reason is statistically distributed everywhere; no one can claim exclusive rights to it. [A] division... is [thus] echoed in the image, in the imaginary picture that one makes of time. Instead of condemning or excluding, one consigns a certain thing to antiquity, to archaism. One no longer says "false" but, rather, "out of date," or "obsolete." In earlier times people dreamed; now we think. Once people sang poetry; today we experiment efficiently. History is thus the projection of this very real exclusion into an imaginary, even imperialistic time. The temporal rupture is the equivalent of a dogmatic expulsion.”

    - Michel Serres, Conversations on Science, Culture and Time

    According to Michel Serres “time” is the common misconception that pollutes all our models. In the scientific tradition knowledge is located at the present: a summation of all inquiry that has lead up to this point. This notion is extraordinarily powerful in its reasoning power, bringing all previous data together in one great cataclysm of meaning. It has spawned its own species of cliché, the type where science ‘landed us on the moon’ or ‘was responsible for the extinction of smallpox’ or ‘increased the life expectancy of the third world’. These types of truths are necessary – you will not find me arguing against that – but they are also only one notion of what “truth” amounts to. And it is here perhaps where the circumference of yet another perceptual circle materialises from out of the mist.....

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    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, 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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