For theory to be perceived as having any practical value at all — and here we should reference all the hesitation and specification thrust at notions of praxis and practicality throughout this project, but it would derail us… — it needs to acquire a quality of presence (a physique du rôle [1, 2]) that is future oriented.
In full hindsight, this was basically the quality in Jairwave that made it early fertile grounds for theory. Perhaps vindicating the in-principle-odious “reactionary” tag, Jair harshed our buzz by refusing the future orientation that was so directly implied by the rich tapestry woven by both Brazil’s and his own longstanding contradictions. There was something in there — which in later texts we began simply designating by “revolution¨ in plain mockery of the paranoid notion that nonlocal kulturkampf correlations can be established. For cringe or for lo-fi, theory can’t afford not to be concerned with “cartography and landsurveying, even of lands yet to come”.
Formally, a sequence defined on some universe (this word is carefuly chosen to be informal) is a map — a pairing — of a natural number with an element of this world. Natural numbers are the natural model of succession; sequences use them to encode a semantics of transitive dependency (e.g. in school curricula: number sense -> arithmetic -> algebra), but not in a way that allows for dependencies to be expressive. Indeed, sequences (as seen in the practical realm of things that matter) are typically useful when they present solutions to a subtler and possibly informalizable dependency problem. Therefore if I need to get to Junction B at the opposite end of this city, I have to synthesize a path out of some number of possibilities — an availability functional of road turns or multimodal transport segments. Of course: the unexpected is to be expected when crossing a large metro area — it’s only by traversing it that I sequentiate a path from A to B.
There are a few versions of this problem that are explicitly amenable to technical solutions. At times, when “the universe” to be sequentiated is regular and stable enough, the larger subtler problem can be encoded as a graph or simplicial complex etc. and mathematical constructions such as the “topological sort” (a bad misnomer, but one that stuck) and the min/max “spanning tree” are able to solve for sequences and, in some limited sense, directly sequentiate. It’s no flight of fancy to say that both these algorithms exhibit Artificial Intelligence.
But this claim (that topo-sort and Minimum Spanning Tree exhibit intelligent behavior) should serve to deflate some of the standard 2006 hype about AI — namely, that it will unlock unbounded business value and leapfrog the civilization that built it. Given adequately formed input, MST can chop circular dependencies in some well-defined way — and what’s more, topo-sort can make sequential plans. Unfortunately, only problems from well-formatted universes can be represented in well-formed input. The reason why topo-sort doesn’t feel like magic from the distant future is that inputting dependency graphs is still a slog; it feels like we’re doing the sequentiating.
Future-oriented ideas feel exciting because they appear to come from a kind of virtuoso manipulation of present resources — much like the runs-within-runs of a fast guitar player like Yngwie appear to come from an unbelievable manipulation of an instrument that, in most hands, sounds nothing like that. Take “accelerationism”, now out-of-fashion but still spicy to the palate; it poses uppercase Capital as the precise site of sequentiation. What kills the mood is that this future is highly contingent and much of the price of capital is due to haggling over the implicit costs of the contingency. This is where accelerationists begin to tread water; to appeal to some retro “cladistic” universal-darwinism that can’t ever account for horizontal gene transfer or outright wasp-and-orchid time-delayed mimetics or whatever other anomalies that keep being thrown at us.
Yet: if not capital, what produces the future? asemic horizon has an unusual approach to time (tempo: discrete, distributed, asynchronic/synchromic). Unlike naive (chronic) time, tempo is no mere clothesline hanging from yesterday to tomorrow; because it’s intimately related to ambit and chromaticity, tempo has a sequentiating quality; it “makes” its own clicks in a way, and we’ve let ourselves be lazy enough with language that we tend to subjectify it, say “tempo clicks”.
Reread this last sentence, tirelessly sequentiating almost unrelated grammar; try it out loud, listen to its breath. Theory has to reveal itself in language because that’s the only means in which one can attempt to orchestrate temporalities at various scales. And yet — the desideratum of future-orientedness for theory does not identify it with the future itself. Grelet says “theory is waiting” because the means of making theory are not the same as the means of making the future — they’re almost the opposite.
Accordingly, “tempo clicks with something that approaches agency”, or even something more subdued lile “tempo is the distributed-subjective site of sequentiation” are chromic, not chremic statements. Capital is all muscle, but it’s too dumb to produce futures.
Tempo is probably not a great candidate for the “site of sequentiation”; true, in its fully distributed form, it produces a thousand thousand thousand parallel sequences in continual friction and coordination effort. But there’s something thatr rings true in how originally we segmented kairos, weather, uncertainty and chopped it off the top of tempo. At this level, discussion becomes a roundabout repetition of ancient themes like “contingent futures”; the specific chromaticity of theory is obscured by the blinding light that mostly blocks us from looking into the future. Yes, we all want something chremic, we want cash money and infinite bliss, but moving too fast into kairos leaves behind the critical “nosebleed”, the chromic shock that enables us to think, to really think.
Something else is needed. What?
2 responses to “Sequence”
[…] something sequenced that has to end promptly. Is it better to know when it’s the very last time so to invest it […]
[…] before publishing — at best to harmonize the distribution of masses, on pain of breaking the sequence of arguments at that. Worse yet: this note is moved at least in part by a spirit of gloating — […]