Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Border crossings

Zalamea's work reminded of this previous IPS post. At this point I was calling rhetaphor mhetaoric, rather unwieldy. Zalamea seems to provide a non-metaphysical  math to supplement this, unlike Marks-Tarlow's (and the MHC's) variety.

To reiterate a point made above, for humans mhetaoric is not only the embodied metaphor that is used to translate/transform our basic categories into concepts, it is the basic categories themselves. It is how an object defines its boundary with the world and also how this permeable boundary exchanges with the world. It is at this direct level of body/mind-environment interaction where the boundary-interaction is itself mhetaoric. These basic categories are not just human but an aspect of any object. The boundary is the menu (distinction) and the meal (communion).

I'm reminded of our discussion of Marks-Tarlow in this thread. Some of her opening comments:

“Yet whether we consider our bodies or minds, the subjective experience of closed boundaries rests precisely on the opposite state of affairs – wide-open portals that continually allow transaction between inside and outside, body and world, self and not-self.... Boundaries are everywhere, yet most are permeable.... Fractals are dynamic process-structures that etch time into space. They are boundary keepers that negotiate spatial and temporal interfaces between different forces and dimensions of being. My thesis is that fractals provide the paradoxical foundation by which different levels of nature both connect and separate. Every boundary becomes a door, every border a portal. Because the same dynamics hold inside as well as outside the psyche, fractal geometry provides a bridge and language for linking inside and outside worlds. Whether they occur in nature, our bodies or minds, fractal separatrices or boundaries reveal infinite, hidden frontiers in the space between ordinary, Euclidean dimensions.” (My emphases.)

She then discusses Spencer-Brown and Varela's extension of his work, which abandons Aristotelian logic and the excluded middle and leads to systems that are “functionally closed, yet structurally open.” But Varela went further and “assert[ed] that paradox becomes embodied at the most basic level, in the very form itself.” We see the same discussion in Bryant's Intro to TDOO discussing Spencer-Brown's Laws of Form. And it is to this that I point with mhetaoric, the embodied laws of form that negotiate interfaces of any kind.

Granted I disagree with MT when it comes to her interpretation of this material, where she says things like this: “The still controversial Copenhagen interpretation asserts that at the quantum level, the very act of observation is necessary to materialize that which is observed.” As if there is this consciousness per se, a metaphysical concept, at core creating the material. Whereas Bryant's object ontology defines it much more materially, where the material itself is both observer and observed. Again we see our shentong/rangtong debate. Still, I think MT, like Edwards, is getting at the interface, the media holons, in a way that perhaps Bryant is not.

MT posted her paper in the thread, “Semiotic seams.” While I still see her metaphysics therein using number at origin, she still gets at some important points. For she uses the imaginary/real in ways similar to Bryant's use of the virtual/actual. Quoting Jung for example on p. 50 there is a distinction between an object and its properties and characteristics with its irreducible core. As stated though, instead of Bryant's virtual endo-relations we have the metaphysical number, “by which essences actually precede evolution and biological reproduction” (57). This is extended with Mandelbrot's fractal geometry, which I discussed in this thread  as extending the metaphysics. Whereas for Bryant and Delanda, for example, we get a different reading.

Still, I take her point that these boundary conditions are indeed fundamentally ontological and recursive at every level up to the semiotic, hence the name of the article “semiotic seams.” She sees the semiotic level as indicative of the same recursive boundary dynamics as lower, pre-linguistic levels, even as foundational conditions of the ontological. Hence the semiotic as usually construed, while admittedly a higher emergent level concomittant with language, still displays the same boundary dynamics as a simpler object without human consciousness. And how we can use semiotics to express this condition. So I extend the metaphor of rhetoric all the way down, as does MT, to that communication that takes place at every border.

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