“According to Simondon, the dimension of the emergent—which he terms the “preindividual”—cannot be understood in terms of form, even if it infolds forms in a germinal state. It can only be analyzed as a continuous but highly differentiated field that is “out of phase” with formed entities (has a different topology and causal order from the “individuals” which arise from it and whose forms return” (95). ***At this point, thinking about affect dives lower than the thinking of Berthoff in terms of thirdness. The phase of potentiality, the fields of potentiality, discussed here are “about” the body. And yet, these fields are inevitably shaped by the socio-lingual, right? I mean, they are not soci0-lingual. But wait… How can a field of potential avoid being understood in terms of form? A field is a form. It’s just not a purely human form? This is sub-epistemic and yet shaped by meaning on some level>?
“The limit will not be a sharp demarcation, more like a multidimensional fading to infinity. The field is open in the sense it has no interiority or exteriority: it is limited and infinite” (95). **regions in infinities… dynamic… What Massumi describes feels… geist-ial… spiritual… Body as radio tower, only not particularly attuned (or individually attuned). The body creates fields of potentiality, it doesn’t just tap into them? This is the human body (and other bodies?) participating in the creation of reality and knowledge… And doing so without language. That’s interesting.
Okay, returning to this after some time, I’m having trouble again imagining formless fields. It helps to consider time? emergence as a concept requires time. But “emergent state”? “state” as a concept seems to fix in time. Goodness this thinking is …. My intuition tells me its useful, but I’m not sure yet how…
“A germinal or ‘implicit’ form cannot be understood as a shape or structure. It is more a bundle of potential functions localized, as a differentiated region, within a larger field of potential. The regions are separated from each other by dynamic thresholds rather than by boundaries. Simondon calls these regions of potential “quanta,” even as they appear on the macrophysical level, and even on the human level (99) (hence the atomic allusion)” (95). ***How does this “dynamic border” square with the doctrine of dynamic reciprocity? Mina Bissell? Ann’s student.
I cannot imagine a form with no “interiority” or “exteriority.” Well I kind of can…
“‘Implicit’ form is a bundling of potential functions, an infolding or contraction of potential interactions (intension). The playing out of those potentials requires an unfolding in three dimensional space and linear time—extension as actualization; actualization as expression” (95-96). ***This ‘expression’ is much closer to what Berthoff is as an “expressionist,” I think. Volition acting on a field of possibilities.
“Implicit form may be thought of as the effective presence of the sum total of a things’s interactions, minus the thing. It is a thing’s relationality autonomized as a dimension of the real. This autonomization of relation is the condition under which “higher” functions feed back” (96). ***Autonomous here means without mind/consciousness? What happens when he makes relationality a mindless “condition”? What higher functions? In what way “feed back”? Is mind the ‘higher function’?
“Emergence, once again, is a two-sided coin: one side in the virtual (the autonomy of relation), the other in the actual (functional limitation) (96). **This makes no sense to me right now. These are both “field states”? But one refers to body in context (actual, human body/Mind)?
“What is being termed affect in this essay is precisely this two-sidedness, the simultaneous participation of the virtual in the actual and the actual in the virtual, as one arises from and returns to the other. Affect is this two-sideness as seen from the side of the actual thing, as couched in its perceptions and cognitions. Affect is the virtual as point of view, provided the visual metaphor is used guardedly” (96). ***Is affect theory an appreciation of potentiality? Now I wonder about Rivers and his ideas about habit. Can habit be understood as being in fields of possibility honed by patterns of prior behaviors? And now I’m beginning to understand why scholars might want to detach emotion from this conversation (or attach it). What is emotion in this picture?
“For affect is synaesthetic, implying a participation of the senses [SOMEONE’s] in each other: the measure of a living thing’s potential interactions is its ability to transform the effects of one sensory mode into those of another (tactility and vision being the most obvious but by no means only examples; interoceptive senses, especially proprioception, are crucial)” (96). INTERPRETATION IS THIS TRANSFORMATION????? Is interpretation implied here? For certainly an interaction via one sense will be/be perceived differently than an interaction via another.
“Affects are virtual synaesthetic perspectives anchored in (functionally limited by) the actually existing, particular things that embody them” (96). **What the actual F…. NOT HUMAN? Is this OOO? Not an individual? What is this “actually existing, particular thing”? Giving body to virtual synaesthetic perspectives? This implies that the possibility exists without the body? That seems gratuitous to me, but hey... (shrug emoji)… I’m just a housewife mom.
“The autonomy of affect is its participation in the virtual [as possibility field, no mind actualizing… no mind = autonomy]. Its autonomy is its openness [state not action…what can be]. Affect is autonomous to the degree to which it escapes confinement in the particular body whose vitality, or potential for interaction, it is. Formed, qualified, situated perceptions and cognitions fulfilling functions of actual connection or blockage are the capture and closure of affect” (96). ***Doesn’t ‘autonomy’ imply action? Nope. Is this about being or about acting? Being. It’s a state. Or both simultaneously? Autonomous like “the selfish gene”? ***Every body “has” and “makes” its own field of potential for interaction? By body I mean….? . Affect, then, is best described as the logical condition of perceiving bodies in context?
“Emotion is the intensest (most contracted) expression of that capture—and of the fact that something has always and again escaped. Something remains unactualized, inseparable from but unassimilable to any particular, functionally anchored perspective. That is why all emotion is more or less disorienting, and why it is classically described as being outside of oneself, at the very point at which one is most intimately and unshareably in contact with oneself and one’s vitality” (96). ***Like the rest of the bubble, pulled to a point by capture.
“Actually existing, structured things live in and through that which escapes them. Their autonomy is the autonomy of affect” (96-97). ***autonomy = state of potential without mind.
***Affect is a dimension of perception/a perceived dimension of experience that exists free of expression; a state of relationality in time, a field of potentiality
“Simondon notes the connection between self-reflection and affect. He even extends the capacity for self-reflection to all living things (149)-although it is hard to see why his own analysis does not constrain him to extend it to all things (is not resonation a kind of self-reflection?)” (97). ***Well then what is perception? Is per-ception the same as re-ception? Oh brother…
“More radically, he sees ideas as attaining their most adequate (most self-organized) expression not in us but in the “mind” of God. But then he defines God as Nature (understood as encompassing the human, the artificial, and the invented)” (97). **Spinoza. Hmmmm. Geistial reference here? Now I’m thinking Blackmer…
“Deleuze is willing to take the step of dispensing with God. One of the things that distinguishes his philosophy most sharply from that of his contemporaries is the notion that ideality is a dimension of matter (also understood as encompassing the human, the artificial, and the invented) (see in particular Difference and Repetition)” (97). ***Okay, I will. Someday
“The distinction between the living and the nonliving, the biological and the physical, is not the presence or absence of reflection, but its directness” (97). **This has gone in the direction of OOO, interestingly. And through it all I’m hearing “ambiance” and Rickert.
Okay, read this a thousand times backwards: “In the more primitive organisms, this autonomization is accomplished by organism-wide networks of interoceptive and exteroceptive sense-receptors whose impulses are not centralized in a brain. One could say that a jelly-fish is its brain. In all living things, the autonomization of relation is effected by a center of indetermination [CONTEXT?] (a localized or organism-wide function of resonation that de-linearizes causality in order to re-linearize it with a change of direction: from reception to reaction)” (98). Why “change”? Why not just “direction”?
“At the fundamental physical level, there is no such mediation” (98). What does this mean? Mediation experience is a state of indetermination? Always? As a side of perception?
“The place of physical nonmediation between the virtual and the actual is explored by quantum mechanics” (97). Ah ha! I knew it!
“On the level of the physical macrosystems analyzed by Simondon, its mode is potential energy and the margin of “play” it introduces into deterministic systems (epitomized by the three body problem so dear to chaos theory)” (98). **interesting
“On the biological level, it is the margin of undecidability accompanying every perception, which is one with a perception’s transmissibility from one sense to another” (98). **Why ‘ability’? why not undecided state?
“On the human level, it is that same undecidability fed forward into thought, as evidenced in the deconstructability of every structure of ideas (as expressed, for example, in Godel’s incompleteness theorem and in Derrida’s dffe’rance).” *** (this is disappointing)
“Each individual and collective human level has its peculiar “quantum” mode (various forms of undecidability in logical and signifying systems are joined by emotion on the psychological level, resistance on the political level, the specter of crisis haunting capitalist economies, et~.). These modes feed back and feed forward into one another, echoes of each other one and all” (99). **Now that’s a leap. None of this feels very pragmatic, I’ll give it that.
“The use of the concept of the quantum outside quantum mechanics, even as applied to human psychology, is not a metaphor. For each level, it is necessary to find an operative concept for the objective indeterminacy that echoes what on the subatomic level goes by the name of quantum” **I wonder if this confirms Berthoff’s suspicion that on one level there never was a postmodern condition?
“Affect, like thought or reflection, could be extended to any or every level, providing that the uniqueness of its functioning on that level is taken into account” (98). **How is affect working on this level?
“The difference between the dead, the living, and the human is not a question of form or structure, nor of the properties possessed by the embodiments of forms or structures, nor of the qualified functions performed by those embodiments (their utility or ability to do work)” (98). **Of course it is. It’s just not only this.
“The distinction between kinds of things and levels of reality is a question of degree: of the way in which modes of organization (such as reflection) are differentially present on every level, bar the extremes” (98). **Oh okay… Not “form” but “mode”… But for practical purposes… What ‘mode’ is form? Is form itself a mode? I suppose one might think of it like that. And isn’t pragmatism a linguistic way of treating form as mode? Ah how quaint my thinking…
“The extremes are the quantum physical and the human inasmuch as it aspires to or confuses itself with the divine (which occurs wherever notions of changelessness, eternity, identity, and essence are operative)” *** GEIST! I’m just so fascinated by Blackmer who plugged into Peirce’s interest in Swedenborg. I wonder what Massumi would think of Peirce’s interest in Swedenborg. I wonder if Swedenborg’s “mysticism” is a misinterpretation along these lines.
“In between [the quantum physical and the human] lies a continuum of existence differentiated into levels, or regions of potential, between which there are no boundaries, only dynamic thresholds” (98). Why “a continuum”? Why the dichotomy? Seems especially limiting, though in this characterization quantum physical and human are “opposing” not “opposite”? I wonder what happens to this thinking when the model moves away from continuum and towards… bubbles or planets… strata not levels, regions not strata?
“As Simondon notes, all of this makes it difficult to speak of either transcendence or immanence (156). No matter what one does, they tend to flip over into each other, in a kind of spontaneous Deleuzian combustion. It makes little difference if the field of existence (being plus potential; the actual in its relation with the virtual) is thought of as an infinite interiority or a parallelism of mutual exteriorities” (98). ***So “transcendence” isn’t possible as a distinct level of being? And also there’s no such thing as inanimation? Episteme belongs to the realm of reflection, the mode. And “reflection” does not equal consciousness, on one level (resonance is a kind of reflection).
“You get burned either way. Spinoza had it both ways (an indivisible substance divided into parallel attributes). To the extent that the terms transcendence and immanence connote spatial relations—and they inevitably do—they are inadequate to the task. A philosophical sleight of hand like Spinoza’s is always necessary. The trick is to get comfortable with productive paradox” (99).***All meaningful terms do! All meaningful language does… “connote spatial relations”… FORM, sameness, difference, relativity. And this is where Berthoff comes in (and Peirce). Her dizzying circularities. They exist so prominently in her philosophy—BUT ALSO IN HER PRAXIS—because she taps the resources available in this notion of “field of existence”!!!!!!
“All of this—the absence of a clear line of demarcation between the physical, the vital, the human, and the superhuman; the undecidability of immanence and transcendence—…” (99-100). ***diffuse borders? regions of being?
“This reinstates a rigid divide between the human and the nonhuman, since it has become a commonplace, after Lacan, to make language the special preserve of the human (chattering chimps notwithstanding)” (100).***What does he mean by “language” here? Is this the same as “animal symbolicum”? He hasn’t said a thing about language yet, really, in terms of the role language and signification plays in this notion of ‘field of existence’. And now that he does… It’s the old boxes of “social constructivist” (implied others)…
“Now saying that the quantum level is transformed by our perception is not the same as saying that it is only in our perception [in fact it’s saying the opposite…this is not a radical relativism]; saying that nature is discursively constructed is not necessarily the same as saying that nature is in discourse” (100). ****THIS IS ANTI-POSITIVISM!!! Does Massumi get dismissed as readily as Berthoff does ?
“Social constructivism easily leads to a cultural solipsism analogous to subjectivist interpretations of quantum mechanics. In this worst case solipsist scenario, nature appears as immanent to culture (as its construct)” (100). ***Massumi’s critique of social construction is wholly congruent with Berthoff’s critique of all of the field’s “boxes”!!!! Notice here that LANGUAGE seems to belong to “culture”…?
“At best, when the status of nature is deemed unworthy of attention, it is simply shunted aside. In that case it appears, by default, as transcendent to culture (as its inert and meaningless remainder)” (100) ****BIZZELL!!!! Oh the letter! Oh the ‘natural objects’ observation lesson!!! But wait…. What is ‘meaning’ here? He is critiquing the notion that ‘nature’ is quantum physically distinct from culture? What is meaning in this? an affect? A particular kind of relation? A sense perception of that relation? I’m sure we will come to this.
“The concepts of nature and culture need serious reworking, in a way that expresses the irreducible alterity of the nonhuman in and through its active connection to the human, and vice versa” (100). **Latour and ANT
“It is time that cultural theorists let matter be matter, brains be brains, jellyfish be jellyfish, and culture be nature, in irreducible alterity and infinite connection” (100). ***BERTHOFF DOES THIS ALREADY! And for anyone to do it, they must have a theory of language that enables the move in the first place! And that’s where Peirce comes in? I wonder if Massumi sees any special difficulty between postmodern deconstruction as a theory of language vs. Peircean triadicity?
“A final note: the feedback of “higher” functions can take such forms as the deployment of narrative in essays about the breakdown of narrative” (100). **Is language (and other meaning making modes) a “higher” function? Problematic is the implication of hierarchy?
“The last story was of the brain. This one is of the brainless. His name is Ronald Reagan. The story comes from a well-known book of pop-neurophysiology by Oliver Sacks (76-80)” (101). **Ha! This is troublesome!