a note on T H E__A C T__O F__P O I N T I N G__OUT illustrations by Travis Bedel

Theatre is the act of pointing out. Performance is dissimulation. Theatre is simulation.

Where everything has been pointed out, even more, where chaos can be pointed out, there is no room for time. Performance cannot simulate chaos; it can but only as dissimulation. Theatre spatialises time.

Cinema, the moving image, is also an act of pointing out. It is said it is the act that points out time. It is, however, cinema, the moving image, the act of pointing out its pointing out of time. That is to say, it dissimulates, is a performance of, time.

Cinema, the moving image, in whatever way it is produced, is able to reproduce chaos. Cinema can isolate and point to chaos. In this respect, it is a theatrical event.

The fact of its spatialising time is not as important for understanding the theatricality of cinema and the moving image in general as its ability to represent chaos. Neither is it really important if this representation is actual. To best understand the theatricality of cinema is to understand it firstly to point out chaos. This is an aspect of cinema, in the history of the moving image, that its history elides.

– Travis Bedel

Along with this lovely description of what we do when we try and reconstruct a philosopher’s philosophy from influences and so on, in this case Bishop Berkeley’s:

Let us then take these slices of ancient and modern philosophy, put them in the same bowl, add by way of vinegar and oil a certain aggressive impatience with regard to mathematical dogmatism and the desire, natural in a philosopher bishop, to reconcile reason with faith, mix well and turn it over and over conscientiously, and sprinkle over the whole, like so many savoury herbs, a certain number of aphorisms culled from among the NeoPlatonists: we shall have–if I may be pardoned the expression–a salad which, at a distance, will have certain resemblance to what Berkeley accomplished.

Alongside this, from his lecture, “Philosophical Intuition,” given at the Philosophical Congress In Bologna, 10 April 1911 (yes, 111 years ago) [here], Bergson, still with Berkeley, talks about the natural order, the order of the universe. It is in one of his typical cascades of conditional propositions, If a body is made of “ideas”…If it [a body] is entirely passive and determinate… If we are mistaken when under the name of general ideas… that, from if so, never seem to come to a then conclusion, or the conclusion is given in part halfway through, as here, completely throwing you off the trail of the conditionality that is its predicate:

…if it [a body] is entirely passive and determinate, having neither power nor virtuality, it cannot act on other bodies; and consequently the movements of bodies must be the effect of an active power, which has produced these bodies themselves and which, because of the order which the universe reveals, can only be an intelligent cause.

You will recognise this as Berkeley’s going to God; and in fact Bergson’s pulling apart of reading-learning philosophy–from the outside of historical influences, all the way to the inside of the intuition animating it but that it never seems to be able clearly to state, leading to the philosopher having to revisit and revisit the initial insight of her (his, in this case) intuition in work after work, never satisfied she has finally provided it with its definitive formulation–his pulling apart of how philosophy works is outstanding, but difficult.

Reading Bergson is like slipping into another timeframe. I think there is a reason for this feeling, that it has to do with the displacement of a time-of-chaos by a time-of-repetition, the advent of cinematic time, screentime; and that this, screentime, has replaced the inner experience of time. A theatrical and therefore subjective event.

What however drew my attention was the phrase because of the order which the universe reveals, because, what is the order which the universe reveals?

It is definitely not that of chaos or, in Deleuze and Guattari’s formulation, that of chaosmosis. Neither is it of a time that unreels, one thing after another, or that neuroscientists have lifted this metaphor from to explain how the brain processes ‘real time’ in consciousness.

If the universe reveals an order, what is it?

We might want to account for it through recourse to Newtonian physics or Euclidean geometry, or even to the classical physical order of Einsteinian relativity, where No one is playing dice with the universe.

Does the universe on the 29 October 2022 reveal an order?

Ask yourself, does it?

What has changed to make us think that it does not?

(Unless it does, for you; unless the universe does reveal an order: but in order to do so, I would guess it would have to go by way of something or somebody transcendent, like Berkeley’s God. I would guess that if the universe does reveal an order to you that it would have to be a transcendent order; and I would be surprised if it was not.)

Although… Smart Design… aren’t scientific explanations, like evolution, of an order?

Doesn’t the explanatory model of science produce an order of events? in order that they may be explained?

Isn’t Climate Change of this order? (Isn’t this the reason we ought to trust the climate scientists? because their models extrapolate from historical tendencies foreseeable results?

((there is more to making Climate Change the order of business of time, there’s the virtualhere’s a bit more from 11 years ago.)

(Yes, there may be debates between models: but when the disparities come down to details is when we really ought to be afraid.)

The universal order of the arrow-of-time is thermodynamic: it goes towards entropy. Although the flow is orderly, entropy is not but is its cancelling out. Ultimately the universal order ends in heat death.

Flows cease.

– Travis Bedel

quasiunique beat signatures (QUBS): the original article, “Quantum watch and its intrinsic proof of accuracy,” distinguishes QUBS from DS–conventional delay-stage derived values of the time, saying that, although QUBS itself derive from DS, as a ‘measurement’ of the delay between wave packets being sent out, QUBS beat-signatures more accurately indicate the time. Where there exists a discrepancy, the fault lies with DS.

QUBS is the unique signature of that instant in time, a time that can no longer be considered a continuum or to belong to continua. The quantum watch time of QUBS is its fingerprint. The measurement between or relative or relative to zero of a time-setting does not apply here.

The quantum fingerprint points out an instant of time, rather than in time. Or: it’s already in time and requires no other points of reference outside it.

This use of quantum effects can be compared to the quantum accelerometer enabling navigation without ‘outside’ reference points. (here) This is said to be the way migratory birds navigate. (here)

– Travis Bedel

Does the universe on 2 November 2022 reveal an order? Not like in the old days.

In the old days order was manifest. We didn’t need quantum effects to reveal it. Then, neither did we need classical physics. And it was still a negotiable order: the sun would rise in the East; the seasons would cycle through; and to every life there would be a cycle of birth and death. The negotiable bit was its measure of freedom. That is, fiction.

The sun rose in the West. Summer came one day and was chased away the next. It was winter for the following hundred years.

Before my death I was regenerated and lived in immaculate suspension. After it, I was born and yet I was not. It was not until I ceased to be that I became who I was.

The universal order does not need, did not need to reveal itself, in the old days. Today the Nobel is awarded for proving that the universal order as it had been revealed does not exist. It is a fiction. (here)

– Travis Bedel

The order goes to utility. That’s how it’s played. That’s how inaction in the face of imminent global catastrophe is castigated.

Yet, where do we get this idea of time unrolling? As it unrolls towards, well, it could be chaos, entropy, catastrophe or a positive outcome through technoscientific mitigation of the mortal risks, that is progress: where do we get this idea either of progress? or of an orderly progress towards inevitable and universal disorder?

From the utility of time conceived like this, says Bergson. And in a way and unholy alliance or abberant nuptial, so does Bataille.

Bataille speaks of expenditure without expectation of return: that’s life. That’s the life of the sun. It’s what it does. Its inaction is composed of thermonuclear expenditure in radiation without expectation of return.

Lingis’s reading of the ‘accursed share’ (Bataille) refers to the ‘organs of display’ that tropical fish have and the organs of profligate floral display in the vegetal world.

Flowers are self-conscious enough to want to look their best. Their best goes far further than is necessary for the useful purpose of attracting germinatative species. Bees might care whether they’re blue or yellow, red, orange, white, attractive on ultraviolet spectra, but that is about the limit of their concern. They don’t go in for frills, flutes, formal arabesques, barocco volutes, tendrils, patterns and extra elaborations: these are extraneous. They comprise a share that is accursed for being inutile, useless; and when we think of human display, sexual, predatory, aggressive, territorial, erotic, individual, social and the fashion, the curse is there too.

This uselessness may be borne out in the current climate by practices of extraction and exploitation that go far beyond need, as far beyond as floral or piscine and avian peacockery does in nature. We are cursed by the curse of extra, an unfair share.

Who gets it is not the point. Saying it’s in our nature, as animals, possessing organs of display, is not the point either. The point is, whether it’s to the end or the beginning of the end, the progress fallacy.

Progress passes. It is always on the way. So it is never inevitable but ever in/de/terminate.

And in/de/terminable.

Another way of saying this is that progress, to adapt Malabou, resists its occurrence to the very extent that it forms it.

(Malabou’s statement is on identity: identity (here the identity of progress) resists its occurrence to the extent that it forms it.)

Where is the generosity in the view that the future approaches head-on like a truck? (The phrase is John Ash’s.) And there’s no getting away from it, like the dream where you’re paralysed; and, there’s no getting away with it, like the dream where you’re guilty.

Where is the generosity in a future foreclosed to possibility? foreclosed to the virtuality of the present that leans over it? This second foreclosure points out a secondary impoverishment.

A future foreclosed to the virtuality of the present impoverishes the present of potential, of power. It saps the political will: there is really nothing to be done. Without delay.

Delay, farting around, as Vonnegut put it somewhere, is where time is not a dead thing but living and lived. This is as true for the protein swapping that creates it for cells as for the hesitation presupposed by the profligate elaborateness of the human nervous system, comprising locally networked nerve-centres and the costliest organ in the body, where all display is focused, the brain (costly in the sense of accommodating surplus expenditure, expenditure without expectation of return: fireworks). Brain screen, Deleuze puts it.

The brain is a display screen. The expense of it is not calculated for any sort of return, just more expense. This ‘compensatory’ expense ratchets up nervous tension around other sorts of accumulation, wealth, status, elevation, speed, erecting skyscrapers, superyachts and supercars and spaceships; and sublimates it in (the compensations of) art (cinema and so on), porn, eroticism and fetishes.

The brain is for display only. Thinking goes on in the delay, during the hesitation. The delay is thinking.

The stammer is consciousness.

Identity, I wrote on a wall recently, is an accursed share?

– Travis Bedel

At 3:20pm 4 November 2022 is there a universal order?

Will the sun set, daylight saving, around 5 to 8? and rise again tomorrow over the eastern hill-line?

Will the suburbs still be here? Will business go on … as usual?

The business of human societies follows the order set down in nature, more or less, and the order of business in nature follows that in the cosmos, in the great and greatest harmony. The ‘more or less’ comes from generating and interposing circuits of delay into the general order of the universal economy, and paying for them, because they’re worth it, whatever the cost. In fact, the higher the better, to suck up the surplus.

Lighting rooms, prolonging life, sheltering and feeding ourselves, providing entertainment and decoration, fashion and frivolity, these are all about extending delay. They go entirely against the idea we have of time unreeling, since they wind it up, switch it back, hold it in systems of relays and pass it through obstacle courses and traps we set for it, so that time eddies and spirals, stretches and recoils, and so on. Time thickens, Bergson says.

If the delay is thinking, the systems we have for trapping time are called knowledge.

Doesn’t it happen that we have thickened time to the point of entropy and disorder?

Hasn’t there been a change in phase-state?

Time has ceased to be the order of time, is rather orders of time. Byung Chul-Han (The Scent of Time, 2017), goes as far as to say that from time being date-stamped, to order, it has become dyschronous. Chaos besets time itself. There is no longer any duration to time. It is unthickenable.

To-order time he associates with the vita activa of the perpetually entrepreneurial self. Time chaosifies from its maximum use, where there is no time to spare and, as a result, no content to time.

He wants to promote the vita contemplativa as a means of reclaiming time. That is useless time.

I think he confuses content with form. But so to do can only be accomplished by first spatialising time, as an empty form to be filled. Once filled, time is of no duration and cannot hold content. Too thin, it is Unzeit.

Another way to say this is that once the repetition of chaos is possible in time, the confusion of time and chaos also becomes possible. In fact, the representation of chaos in time makes the confusion of time, its representation as chaos, possible. Dyschronicity is presupposed by the possibility of the moving image to repeat the unrepeatable, chaos.

The order of the day, 4:16pm 10 November 2022, does not follow the order of Bergson’s, 111 years ago. It is not universal. This year’s Nobel Prize winners for physics declare it not to be, prove it not even to be, locally real. Then isn’t the question of non-time, empty, Hunger-Artist thin time, anorexic time, Unzeit, its irreality?

It unreels. Nothing much more can be said of it. Stiegler contends that it cannot be wound up, that this is the problem technics have bequeathed us with to be knowledge; and that as a result there is the crisis in knowledge of its technicity, a technicity that can only be retrospective; and yet it entails a loss of memory.

However irreal time does not spool out in a straight line. It is not that labyrinth. It runs out like a natural occurrence, like leaves moving randomly on trees, or waves, each wave unique, and repeatable as its cinematic image, as its moving image points out. It winds up, impending over the future, like a storm.

– Travis Bedel