Withdrawal: OOO and the Networkological concept of ‘Structure’

Futurama: "Is that a hobbit over there?" "No, its a hobo and a rabbit, but I think they're making a hobbit!"

A bit more thoughts on the recent Levi, Graham, and Adrian debates.

How much in fact do I think that objects/relations withdraw? I think that every EVENT withdraws, because for every event, there is a world, in fact, all that is contains, in its way, holographically, fractally, and Leibnizianly, the whole. And this is completely Whitehead! What’s more, each event has immortality, in its way, in that it is contained in all the other events that exist and have/will exist, in their own ways.

Wait, you say, but how do objects ever endure over time? They form societies, and if these societies are ordered, then the event of their ordering reproduces itself in a co-evolutionary reproduction with the events of which it is composed. Words, semiotic particles, ideas, all these are events, and they conspire to produce meanings and objects and relations in the universe.

Events are primary, and events are both objects and relations, neither objects nor relations, etc. Events are entities AND processes, procedures and terms.

But don’t words mean anything at all then?! Of course they do. More events. The bigger question is how it is possible for different events to be the same, or similar. Why are two rabbits both rabbits? Is this part of the evental structure of human meaning, or the evental structure of the world?

Rabbits share similar evental histories, similar trajectories in spacetime, similar contexts. This is what networkological relationalism calls STRUCTURE. Two computers made at the same factory share traits in common because they were made in the same factory. Their form is similar because they share the same structure – the same historical context, the same factors which produced them. Even when one computer is shipped to Japan, and the other to Maryland, they both remain strongly similar because their material form was shaped by the same factors.

If one computer is smashed, its physical form changes, and the two computers now have different forms because of a more recent shift in their structure, a divergence within their structure, so to speak. Structure is the manner in which all that is presses from all sides upon a matter at a given worldline in spacetime.

At what point does a computer cease to be a computer, and start being junk? Well, humans using a given computer might de-link the one that gets smashed from the word ‘computer’, and start liking it to the word ‘junk.’ This is an event, just like the smashing of the computer is an event. But it hits me as silly and unnecessary to ask if the computer remains a computer in and despite being smashed.

It never was a computer except when humans started linking it to the word ‘computer.’ It was a matter, with a particular form and structure. Humans that use words like ‘computer’ link it to the word computer. But this doesn’t make it a computer, it just means it is LINKED to the term computer. It’s a matter. In this sense, when linked to the word ‘computer’, a computer is BOTH a computer AND NOT a computer. The same as when it is delinked to the word computer, and the same with my dog. They are both linked or delinked to the word computer, the difference is one of degree. A computer is more strongly linked to the word ‘computer’ than my dog because of the structure and form of the matter we call ‘computer’ at a given spacetime location, and its relation to the structure and form of the word ‘computer’ in relation to it’s structure and form at a given spacetime location. The structure/form of a dog is less compatible with that of the word ‘computer’ than is that of a computer.

Words are just objects, relations, no, EVENTS, a more encompassing term. Very, very tricksy events . . .

All of which brings me to Futurama, a show with so many fantastic types of new objects that make us rethink our relation to the world. I hesitate to call it an ‘object-oriented’ show, that’s going a bit too far. Tho sometime it could be. Imagine what it would be like to experience the world as a head in a jar. Either way, it is my favorite comedy narrative show on TV. Ever.

But I do think one particular moment is appropriate here. At one point in the episode ‘Bender’s Game’, in which they parody Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons. Fry looks over in the corner and says, “Is that a hobbit?” And Bender, ever the snarky one, says, “No, that’s a hobo and a rabbit, but it look’s like their making a hobbit!”

There’s another glorious moment when they mention that something is written in Elvish, and someone else asks, “oh, the yiddish Elvis?”

Words, just like things, have very tricky rhetorics. I think that we shouldn’t keep the iron cage of linguistic post-structuralism, but we also shouldn’t forget what it gave to us in the process . . .

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~ by chris on December 11, 2010.

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