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kvond

The Attraction of “Phase Space”, Levi’s Missing Objects

In his usual grasp at the sciences for metaphors Levi has touched on something of interest I think, as I have been reading Stonier’s extremely compelling book Information and the Internal Structure of the universe  (1990), upon which I hope to post soon. In his still vestige symptomatic Lacanianism, Levi uses the “matheme” (the desire to “talk” in the analogy of an algebra) of the crossed out “O” to indicate the “object” that is ever in retreat. In a very nice passage we get a sense of the sense he is trying to make of the idea that objects retreat from their interactions:

At any rate, some differences between Harman’s ontography and my onticology are readily evident in the second paragraph quoted above. With Harman I argue that objects withdraw from other objects, however I arrive at this position for a very different set of reasons. In my view, the withdrawal of objects is the result of the difference between dimensions of objects or Ø and O1. Within the framework of onticology Ø or the matheme for the split or barred object refers to the endo-relational structure of the object. This endo-relational structure consists of a system of attractors defining the phase space of an object or all possible ways in which an object can actualize itself. Attractors are states towards which a system tends, whereas a phase space consists of all possible states a system can occupy. Thus, for example, if you roll a marble down the side of a bowl, the final point at which the marble comes to rest is a fixed point attractor of this system. By contrast, the phase space of this system is all the points the marble can occupy as it rolls up and down the sides of the bowl. I argue that objects are split or divided– or in Harman’s parlance, that they “withdraw” –because no object actualizes all possible points within its phase space. In this connection, O1 refers to an actualized point within a phase space that the object currently occupies.

I think that this is an excellent place to start, but there are a few problems with the borrowing of these analogies from statistical mechanics. The first is these descriptors are used to describe very specific things, “closed systems”. In order for Levi to apply such a thought to his idea that everything is an object, EVERYTHING would have to be a closed system. My passing thought of my grandmother and a combustion engine would BOTH have to be a closed system, each with its own phase space and attractors. Under current understanding such a position would be more than pure invention, it would be, I think, wild analogy. Does the monetary policy of Brazil, and my dog scratching at a tick each have a “phase space”? Does “the flying spaghetti monster“? I suspect that Levi is conflating two things: one, the Idealist oriented notion of whether something is the “same” because we perceive it to be the same, giving it an idenity (something implicitly imported into Harmanism from Husserl), and the very specific energy and informational designations that cause us to regard something as a “system”.

But I do not think that this conflation is unimportant or unhelpful. There does seem to be something interesting about putting these two things into one box “identity” and “phase space”. From my perspective what is compelling comes from Spinoza’s view that a thing is a thing, and remains a certain thing due to a certain ration of motion and rest that persists over time. I think that some rough, but perhaps still very substantive comparisons can be made between this notion and the informational and energy requirements to regard something as having a “phase space”. The notion of “closure” is somewhat missing (a part of which that imports from his Idealist, Lacanian heritage). What makes things “closed”? Is it our perception of them as closed, the subjective boundary that we drawn around them, seeing them as we do, or is it some essential “phase space” and “attractor” that forces them to have a ghost-life beneath our view? This notion of closure is an important one, and the way that Levi plays with both the psychological/perceptual sense of the word and the scientific sense is problematic.

Because this is problematic ground I have been and would like to tread, this analogy to phase space is something worth paying attention to. And while I find difficult (or unhelpful) the notion that “the twinkle in her eye” is a closed system, and would like to treat closed systems as very specific things that can be considered “closed” because such an analysis yields valuable information about them (and not because they solve our philosophical question of identity), Spinoza’s definitional idea of what a body is makes the comparison between individuals and such spaces appealing. I have argued elsewhere that the closure of objects is best seen as “Semiotic” that is, making differences that make “the” difference rather than simply “a” difference: The “ens reale” and the “ens rationalis”: Spelling Out Differences, The Necessary Intersections of the Human Body: Spinoza and Conjoined Semiosis: A “Nerve Language” of Bodies. In each I take up the consequences of Spinoza’s definition of a body that I have referred to here:

Definition: When a number of bodies of the same or different magnitude form close contact with one another through the pressure of other bodies upon them, or if they are moving at the same or different rates of speed so as to preserve an unvarying relation of movement among themselves, these bodies are said to be united with one another and all together to form one body or individual thing, which is distinguished from other things through this union of bodies. E2p13a2d

What is key in our consideration is, I believe, the notion of communication, that the parts communicate their motions to each other (this can be found in the Latin phrase ut motus suos invicem certa quadam ratione communicent, translated by Curley as “that they communicate their motion to each other in a fixed manner”). This idea of communication is an important one because it opens up the “informational” dimension of what makes up a closure. What makes up a thing so as to be an “individual” is not only its material existence, but also its energy (motion/rest) AND its information (!), its communications. And yes, I do think that there are reasons to speak of the differences that make “a” difference in the world, and differences that make “the” difference (internal to a system or a taken to be recursive relationship).

But this is the thing that I think that Levi is missing, and missing rather dramatically, in his question to make objects retreat from all their relations (and gain some sort of affinity to Harman’s Idealism). Although it pays to treat objects as separate from others, because their “phase space” is informational phase space (if we even grant the more wild aspects of the analogy from Science), and as such there is no reason to suppose that such a space of relations is closed off from the rest of the universe, or composes a difference that makes NO difference to other things, other systems, other phase spaces (Levi Uses Greek Fonts Nicely, but…). In fact, such a phase space, I would suggest, is necessarily understood to be permeated (and interactive) at several levels. I think I would deny that there is ANY system that is completely closed (that although it pays to treat them as closed, they never are entirely closed at all). This is the case in terms of scale (smaller component events can have consequences both on larger component scales, and thus across boundaries that would otherwise define the system), and also in term of the boundary itself. A political population of citizens can and will intersect with a population of disease, metallic elements in a machine will be effected by magnetic fields, etc., etc, etc. IF there is going to be a “phase space” analogy of the possible distribution of material elements in any “object” it is going to be a phase space that is so complex and interwoven with others (amenable to other vectored descriptions) that the ultimate solution of the “identity” problem in philosophy will never be found. Someone like Levi would like to simply deposit the identity of objects over time in such a system space, really for almost aesthetic reasons (the desire to cross out the “O” in objects), without significantly considering what a “phase space” is and what such a reality of objects would mean for identity itself. It seems that far from making objects have a “ghost” existence outside their manifestations, an existence which would make no difference to other objects, it seems to be much the opposite. Indeed objects may be described as specific manifestations of matter, energy and information that express the possibilities of their distribution, but such a phase space actually connects them to all other objects and all other phase spaces, and has a determined effect upon them.

(A sidenote: There is the additional problem from Levi whose objects are forever in retreat that if indeed each object has a phase space, a mathematical description of such a space – using the statistical mechanics from which the analogy is derived – itself becomes an “effect” of the space itself. That is, far from being in retreat, such a space is not only expressing itself in the “object” that it underwrites, but also it is expressing itself in the mathematics, and the mathematician, that is describing it. It does not compose a difference that makes no difference, as itself has expressive properties. And one has to ask, does a “phase space” constitute an “object” as well, and have its own phase space and attractors – this is an interestng question?)

Much as in Spinoza view in which essences are expressed modally, but also remain somehow latently immanent to any one manifestation, the information space within expressions is actually that which connects things to all other things, and to take it to be in continual retreat is, I believe, a fundamental mischaracterization. If anything such a space is what, in Deleuzian fashion can be called a “distaff” space, an information space out of which all things can be and are woven. It is ultimately a space intersected with all other spaces, undermining just what the Idealist notion of “objecthood” is (a notion founded upon Brentano’s Intentionality Thesis and Descartes opticality of consciousness). At the very least, and in the most obvious fashion, because entropy is defined in statistical mechanics as the tendency of a system to pass through all the phrase space that constitutes it, an “object”, what Levi wants to call O1, by virtue of its supposed Ø phase space status, could pass into a state of extreme element distribution, all of the atoms that might constitute it floating in an entropy soup O2, and still be regarded as the same object Ø (beyond any common sense of identity). A tornado passed into mere breezes. This is somthing that might only be meaningful to say of one thing, Spinoza’s Substance. I hope to post on information, Stonier and Spinoza soon.

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12 responses to “The Attraction of “Phase Space”, Levi’s Missing Objects

  1. Paul September 16, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    good morning!

    Better keep my eyes peeled for the next post.

    I don’t have the ref at hand but Maturana did once make a distinction between dissipative structures and autopoietic systems. For him, of course, only a. systems were ‘operationally closed’. A diss structure is defined in relation to energy transfer (or something like that)…I’ll have to check it out.
    It is interesting because any ‘ontology’ dealing with the ‘general properties’ of objects’ (as Levi puts it) will be obliged to deal with their relations. However, what any ‘general properties’ will miss is ‘cadacualtez’ (each-onehood).

    Of course, for Maturana the a. system has a ‘domain of relations’ but, as you know, they do not ‘inform’ the system – but rather ‘perturb’ it in way that is determined by its own structure…(he does flesh this out).

    ““De individuo non datur scientia”

    How can a culture of cadacualtic persons ignore cadacualtez? Maybe a deep desire supported it, “altericide” as Lacan and Derrida put it: the hominid intraspecific violence (homo homini lupus, humans for humans are wolves, as Plauto observed – Asinaria II 4, 88 – and Francis Bacon and Hobbes reaffirmed) that simply continues the exploitation of other species (extra-specific violence) as a progress of the biospheric process, and freezes our gaze so that we see others only as competitors, pests or livestock.
    Or, perhaps we are watching a reversion, an echo toward oneself, of this preexisting blindness toward cadacualtez, an echo brought on by the non-identification of wage earners with their own being. An echo, thus, triggered by considering that one may swap jobs in the same way that one’s belonging to a group, family or country could be changed – all situations being believed casual and people nomads or travellers in them. At any rate, logic was the foremost instrument in banishing others’ especial constitution – and one’s –from view and from consideration. How did this happen? (Mario Croco, Palindrome).

    • kvond September 16, 2009 at 4:28 pm

      Thanks Paul, and yes, the distinction between dissipative structures and autopoietic ones are important (it is interesting though how Stonier would deny anything to have a purely energy transfer difference, since transfers of energy necessarily involve transfers of information, or changes in information states, given how Stonier approaches “information”)…but I can’t see how such a distinction would salvage a “phase space” identity resolution for Levi. He is far beyond even dissipative structures for he seems to be wanting to say that that such things as “It’s Britney bitch!” (that meme) and the glint in a lover’s eye also have phase spaces that define them as objects proper, and has the very deep problem of how “objecthood” would be connected to the pure and seeming dissolution of any recognizable object carried on in any “phase space” through entropy. If phase space defines the ever retreating object, we have some serious problems since the identity of such spaces surpasses anything we would regard as an object. With autopoietic structures this might seem like less a problem, but not entirely. Whether an Alzheimer’s person is the “same” person (or object) isn’t really defined by asking whether their elements occupy the same “phase space” they did 14 years ago.

  2. Paul Bains September 16, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    D’accord. I also think that any general theory will miss something.
    “How did this happen? Rational answers, as a mutual discrimination of intellectual formats, ordinarily presuppose that personhood, as proper of any individual person, might only be apprehended in general. (“Personhood” is what in the universe persons are; not to be confounded with ‘personality’, the battery of psychological links which non-human and human persons, already acting from a particular body, develop toward classes of objects.) And, rational answers assume, non datur scientia de individuo, “about individuals no science is afforded.” (Crocco).

    ‘ All persons are unlawful, as the facts we are considering show; but in the Platonist scheme all eclosions are worthless specimens, that is, just events that illustrate, or instance in some historical situation or moment of time, imperishable patterns of ontic possibility or transcendent Forms. This situation of a différentiel (or “difference,” à la Deleuze) serving only repetition even worsens if depicted with modern mathematical tools, in which differential equations describe dynamic evolutions whose next step solely depends on the pattern cast at the previous step. Just as with quantum physics, they cannot depict finite minds. Such depiction leaves out all eclosions and semovience, absolutely intractable in differential equations even with approaches designed to consider and highlight the role of singularities in the systemic dynamics; and reinforces the classical and less specialized tenet, the one pretending that scientia de individuo non datur.’
    I apologize for the long quotes from an unpublished version of Palindrome. I was trawling frames for anything about spinoza and ‘persons’ – can you indicate any posts that engage with ‘individuals.’

    As for Maturana, while looking for the dissipative comments I found, filed away, the chapter, ‘Autopoiesis, Reproduction, Heredity and Evolution,’ (in Autopoiesis, Dissipative Structures and Spontaneous Social Orders. ed. Milan Zeleny, 1980).
    I could’t bear to burn what was so difficult to track down at the time – a long time ago.
    Again I take the liberty of using this ‘comment’ space for a long quote of a text that many readers might not know…

    Maturana:
    ‘Basic Notions:
    We cannot escape the fact that everthing that we say, we say as observers. What we do when we attempt to provide an explanation of any given phenomenon, is to describe the conditions under which the elements that we recognize as pertaining to an other domain than the phenomena itself, would generate the phenomena. Under these circumstances, all the terms that we use must be operationally defined in order to be useful in the generation of the phenomenon to be explained (with full understanding of their domain of validity as refering to entities distinct from it).
    1) Unity; An entity distinguished from its background by an observer (thru an operation of distinction) who, by specifying it as a whole, also specifies the background from which it is distinguished, constitutes a unity.

    In general, existence is always the result of an operation of distinction performed by an observer, or his operational equivalen, and it is meaningless to speak of existence without specifying the operation which distinguishes that of which one asserts existence…

    Examples:
    If I distinguish a table as a simple unity by putting things upon it in the manner in which one does with tables, then the entity thus distinguished exists in a space in which one of the dimensions is defined by the property of supporting things [Paul. I love it], under which the circumstances in which the property of supportiveness is fully defined operationally…

    I want go on except for this which would take too long to elaborate:
    “A fly seen walking on a painting of Rembrandt does not interact with the painting of Rembrandt. The painting of Rembrandt exists only in the cultural space of human aesthetics, and its properties, as they define this space, cannot interplay with the properties of the walking fly. In other words, we see the fly to be bling to the painting of Rembrandt
    because the painting does not exist in the domain of distinctions of the fly (see Uexkull, 1909,Umwelt und Innewelt der Tiere).’

    I met M. a few times and always ended up in an argument. He really didn’t like criticism…

    Again interesting that we could probably do all the philosophy we wanted with flies, rocks, tables, ‘objects’ and ‘observers.’ Strange that Piaget is hardly ever mentioned now…

    As for ‘unities’ Crocco argues:
    ‘Unmindful foreign entities are not integral: the wholeness of such and such a kilogram of sugar or – to use Heidegger’s example – the wholeness of the Earth’s Moon, eventuate only in their observers’ mental representations, or in a integrative level of nature (the fields) where the Moon and the sugar no longer keep a particularity. Exception are the discrete increments in field excitation modes (“elementary particles”) that, independently of the physicists’ multiple mental representations purported to allude to them, occur as wholes with extramental intactness.’ (Palindrome).

  3. kvond September 16, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Paul, I like the long quotations, and appreciate them.

    Paul: “I was trawling frames for anything about spinoza and ‘persons’ – can you indicate any posts that engage with ‘individuals.’”

    Kvond: Hmmm, I linked three posts in the above. I’m not sure what you are looking for. I think I have a few more, but the notion of “conjoined semiosis” may be the most productive and the most radical.

    Paul: “In general, existence is always the result of an operation of distinction performed by an observer, or his operational equivalen, and it is meaningless to speak of existence without specifying the operation which distinguishes that of which one asserts existence…”

    Kvond: I like this. I have been passing around an essay “Chaos, Complexity, and Entropy
    A physics talk for non-physicists” by Michel Baranger, which is really the most clear writing on the subject I have read. Notably, and tantalizingly, he puts “entropy” as subjectively produced. If you would like to read it email me, but it would go a long way towards qualifying Maturana’s point about existence.

    I don’t really like to reduce wholenesses of any kind to Ideal states of observation because I do feel that there are real, recursive, semiotic structures which are organized around bounds, insides and outsides, but I also feel that any such discrete description does not capture the fullness of what is possible unto such an “object”. It is pretty much for this reason that I find Graham Harman’s (and now Levi’s) appeal to the object beneath the object to be pretty much a fool’s chase. A simplified shadow cast by our largely optical analogies of consciousness and knowledge. If only the human species were born blind our philosophies may have become more interesting.

  4. Paul Bains September 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    But wait there’s more:
    Just for the record (in relation to Levi) Maturana and Varela argued that the first task must be ‘to point to the organization that makes a living systems a system that actively determines its invariant class identity.’
    They proposed that this org. is one of ‘self-production’ (not reproduction, as you know). This had already been hinted at by Claude-Bernard, Introduction a l’etude de la medecine experimental. 1864).

    • kvond September 16, 2009 at 7:13 pm

      Yes. As you can see in my Conjoined Semiosis post, I appeal to organizational closure as a fundamental recursion (and I would not restrict it to autopoietic structures). The problem is that Levi wants to create, at least it seems, a phase space/identity explanation of what constitutes an object, and he also wants to extend such an objecthood to all sorts of phenomena, if not every sort of phenomena. There are possibilities here I believe, but not of the confused, or vague, anagogical sort that Levi seems to be thinking of.

  5. Paul Bains September 16, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Hmmm, I linked three posts in the above. I’m not sure what you are looking for.

    I’m trying to get a grip on Spinoza and persons & minds. I have not read him in any detail and I guess I have reduced it to a pansychism. Obviously this would be the polar opp. of finite, cadacualtic persons. But of course it does come back to definitions…

    In flicking thru my 2 drawer filing cabinet I also found David Skrbina’s essay ‘Pansychism in Western Philosophy.’:
    ‘..the ‘idea of an object’ is to have a v. specific interpretation: it is the ‘mind’ of that object. Every mode of extension has its corresponding mind, which is its mode of thought. Since every object has a corresponding idea, every object can be said to have a mind [in italics].’
    However, I’m not sure what is the definition of a Spinozist ‘object.’ – each with its own partic mode of extension and thought.

    Crocco on ‘minds’
    ” these instruments, finite existentialities also termed minds or psyches, are
    causal agencies: sinks and sources of causal action, as we will see. Thus,
    like any other source of change in nature, finite existentialities or minds act
    locally, and exist only “intransformatively” or within the actuality of the
    physical instant. This leaves outside of minds’ reality (or minds’ ontic consistency)
    the situations, unfolding in a stream of nows, whose tensiondegrading
    evolution I have been recounting thus far. These situations transform
    themselves independently of their being known, that is, in extramentality,
    outside and apart of what finite minds are cognizant of; and thus
    such tension-degrading situational evolution is counted as elapsing time. All
    this concerns the carrying out of causal transformations and will be explained
    below. What counts here (and biologically, too) are two features
    that only minds make available for time processes.
    These minds, put in this way to work as instruments in the service of
    this natural process, know: minds avail themselves of a gnoseological or
    cognoscitive grasp, only of the variations in their own ontic consistency –
    where time does not elapse, so that those variations’s sequence does not
    fade and may be made to refer to otherwise gone extramental time courses
    (“past”). This means that their knowledge of their own ontic consistency is
    only partial. This incompleteness comes from their being limited or finite entities,
    so that they do not enact by themselves their own existence and consequently
    cannot know their own enactment to be rather than not to be, a
    prime ontological topic.” (Crocco, Palindrome).

    Being on a quoting role I will include the following simply for the vocabulary then I will slink away.

    “Psychisms are *found* in nature reciprocally extrinsic, existentially disassociated and, constitutively, not taking part in each other: constrained discrete finitudes, each fully exterior to the others without any circumincession or perichoresis; consequently, isolable (‘separable’ and ‘separability’ are synonymous with ‘local’ and ‘locality’ in an experience-situating context), each noticing different happenings and working different deeds.
    Further, they are eclosions. That is, psychisms are *primarily*, or constitutively, disjunctive or parcellated.
    Not *secondarily* disjunctive or parcellated, as many fungible resources are, whose parcellation often arises as a mere matter of descriptive scale; nor *unparcellated*, as it is just descriptively imposed by the probabilistic treaments.

    (from A. Avila and M. Crocco, ‘Sensing: A New Fundamental Action of Nature’, Inst. for Advanced Study, Buenos Aires, 1996, page 85; italics twixt asterisks)

  6. kvond September 16, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Paul: “However, I’m not sure what is the definition of a Spinozist ‘object.’”

    Kvond: This is one of Spinoza’s defintions of an “individual”(I quoted it in the post):

    “Definition: When a number of bodies of the same or different magnitude form close contact with one another through the pressure of other bodies upon them, or if they are moving at the same or different rates of speed so as to preserve an unvarying relation of movement among themselves, these bodies are said to be united with one another and all together to form one body or individual thing, which is distinguished from other things through this union of bodies. E2p13a2d”

  7. Paul Bains September 16, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    ok, a collection of ‘bodies’ is one body’ or thing. Distinguished by this union…

    So there’s a diff between a number of bodies (what are they) an individual body composed of other bodies…
    this is v like Maturana’s dist in the chapter between simple and composite unities:
    ‘If I distinguish the table as a composite unity made of molecules…then the table, thus distinguished, exists in the space which the molecules (themselves specified operationally) define: in the physical.’
    It is, for a beginner, also reminiscent of Whiteshead et al, who deny mind to aggregates but grant it to atoms – and other ‘true individuals.’
    Or Leibnzi, following Bruno (I’m looking at Skrbina as I write).
    Also Ruyer, with his primary true forms, (like the brain in absolute self-survey, neither geometrically close to, nor far from itself) in the concl to D&g’s What is Phil?
    In fact I speculate that the concept of absolute immanence is inspired by Ruyer’s concept of survol absolue.
    But returning to Spinoza, doesn’t he distinguish each of the ‘number of bodies’ composing an indiv as an ‘individual thing’?
    What is the ontostatus of the bodies that form close contact thru pressure or unvarying relation of movement. I must be missing something – better get dressed.

  8. kvond September 16, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Paul: “But returning to Spinoza, doesn’t he distinguish each of the ‘number of bodies’ composing an indiv as an ‘individual thing’?
    What is the ontostatus of the bodies that form close contact thru pressure or unvarying relation of movement. I must be missing something – better get dressed.”

    Kvond: What is key in Spinoza’s defintion is that the bodies “communicate” their motion and rest to each other in a fixed ratio. And yes, sub-bodies also make up bodies too. (Spinoza goes all the way down to simples, which we may regard as atoms or particles.) The communication of motion/rest (which I would regard as energy and information) is the space of the body’s organization, we might say.

  9. Mark Crosby September 16, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Why does GH renounce FSM, our Spinozan God! FSM is real – you need only check this PHOTO: http://a.abcnews.com/images/Technology/ld_star-nosed-mole_080529_ssv.jpg

    Furthermore (like some prolific bloggers) National Geographic tells us that it is “the fastest forager among mammals… with some 100,000 nerve endings … the tentacles about its nose probe up to 13 spots a second for invertebrates, insect larvae, and other prey. Then in 230 milliseconds – quicker than our eyes can flit to a flash of light – the mole scrutinizes and devours the edibles”. Talk about conjoined semiosis..

    Oh while I’m here: On your reply to IMMANENCE, K, you gave “a negating nod to Peirce and Bateson”. I didn’t want to go off-topic there but what exactly is a “negating nod”? (Most of the difficulties I have with philosophy involve the use of negation ; ) At the time my Indian coworker first arrived here, she would shake her head sideways when she meant ‘yes’. She soon learned to bobble-head like the best of us, but I think I enjoyed the Indian gesture more. Or, those of my Russian coworker, whose head movements seem to continually weave a figure-8 of infinity. This observation makes sense now when I recall Pavel Palazchenko’s “The Many Possibilities of the Russian Negative” in the RUSSIA NOW Post supplement of 2009-08-26 (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-adv/advertisers/russia/articles/opinion/20090826/the_many_possibilities_of_the_russian_negative.html) “Rather than being a flat negation, ‘ne’ can make things rather vague… There are many ways of saying ‘take it easy’ in Russian – and there is a ‘ne’ in practically all of them” (BTW, you were doing OODA loops at the time ; )

  10. kvond September 16, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Mark,

    (nice to have you back)

    I have always loved the starnosed mole. Thank you for him. The photo is wonderful!

    Mark: “Oh while I’m here: On your reply to IMMANENCE, K, you gave “a negating nod to Peirce and Bateson”. I didn’t want to go off-topic there but what exactly is a “negating nod”?”

    Kvond: There are a few things here. Firstly, I originally wrote “with a nod to Peirce and Bateson” but then I realized that people probably would not realize that the “nod” here is a negation, so I thought to turn it into an oxymoron. The actual reason for this is because Levi has been fast and fancy with Bateson, and borrowed/stolen from him repeatedly with the “difference that makes a difference” principle. So, oxomoronically, Levi is perfoming a negating nod to Bateson. I thoroughly doubted whether anyone would pick this up, or even the oxomoronic nature of my trope, but there you go, you caught the whiff of it.

    Further, there is also the “nod” of the drug-induced, as they nod off, which seems to be something of the nod that Levi performs when trying to catch hold of Graham’s imaginary coat tails (I loved him pleading to be included in the Speculative Realism wikipedia entry last week! Come on now, edit it yourself). In my mind Levi is caught in some rather profound self-contraditions as he is torn this way and that. Only a few months ago he was going on how the object in retreat from its interactions was meaningless, now it is the crowning and distinguishing feature of his philosophy —

    Mark: “(BTW, you were doing OODA loops at the time ; )”

    Kvond: I’m still working on the Boyd article, and it may have to wait until a book arrives that seems central. Osinga’s title seems to be the definitive work on Boyd, and I sense that I really want to ground myself in his miltary strategies in order to bring out the best in the OODA.

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