One would think that in the era of sharing and the omniscience of the “interweb” there would be at least one or two reviews for any given film recently released. I started to search for a review after I incidentally got my hands on a copy of the animated feature film Heart-String Marionette; I was so impressed with and in awe of this film that I just took it for granted that it had won several awards and is a celebrated work of art, at least in the right corners. Do a search yourselves and you will discover that there is not a single review or rating even on sites like IMDb. This post, however, is not a speculative attempt at a pathology of aesthetic reception and Internet fame. I am currently working on several essays and reviews on HSM in order to draw much deserved attention to it, at least in philosophical quarters. Here I will place a piece of a work in progress, hoping to get some feedback.
Leibniz’s monads do not have “windows” through which they could perceive the world; their milieu is unknowable to them. Yet they continue to function in perfect “harmony” with one-another, which is very crucial, given that according to Leibniz the whole world is made up of monads. Leibniz, whose invention of the integral calculus and life insurance alone might make him a fit candidate for the progenitor of the modern world (in which we are still living, although a bit less each day), explained the monads’ blindness through reference to their perfect design: being omni-scient and ditto-potent, God factored in all the world in its entirety in the workings of each monad and it is as such that each could be said to contain or reflect the whole world. The cult of design, the cult of the engineer, is only an extension of the ideas that gave birth to the Monadology. Leibniz is the progenitor of the modern world of engineering and design; his is a revival of mathematics in its true meaning: fore-knowledge. Heidegger explains the modern age as the time where the “principle of sufficient reason (ratio)” holds sway, a principle first stated by Leibniz (“nothing exists without a reason”). It is the same Leibniz who comes up with the idea now known as algorithmic complexity, of understanding as compression. He is the prime representative of the modern efficiency.
It was not until the WWII that modelling-prediction gained an alternative: real-time, feed-back driven prediction: cybernetics was born; the idea to end all ideas. For an introduction to what comes next see my presentation at the General Organology Conference held at the University of Kent in 20-22 November 2014 (the link will be up soon).
With the cybernetic organ (prosthesis), we are facing the exact opposite of a Leibnizian monad: the Leibnizian monad is the result of ultimate design, the kind of design only a God could be capable of: EVERYTHING has been factored in so that it functions smoothly without needing to see anything at all; it has no windows and yet functions perfectly. The cybernetic device, however, is the opposite of that. Not that it does away with blindness, like so many of the Capitalists and would-be technopriests might wish, but rather, it displaces the blindness: rather than being a blind work of perfect design, it becomes a seeing work of no design that turns a blind eye to the essence of its “object.” Instead of the blind monad, we get the black-box. What silently disappears in the process is human-ness, the capacity for thought and the possibility of science as knowledge of causes, of the “why” and the “what.”
Fuqua’s film version of the Equalizer is only a more recent and perhaps more outstanding sample of a wide array of films or books that essentially share a plot about an apparently normal person who, when trouble arises, reveals himself as a not-so-normal, as a hero. Of course there is always the idea that everyone can be a hero, but this must not be confused with the philosophy that stands behind the Equalize and its ilk.
I recently came upon an interesting book. The book Strategy without Design is a only another example of the emerging, increasingly visible, logic that is the Cybernetic Organon: it essentially argues that self-organized, unintentional, collaborative work towards a goal is more efficient than intentionally designed strategy: leave it in God’s hands, god being that which controls the things I don’t understand. There is a sort of new faith at work, only this time, the God in question is much more occult and yet much more mundane: it is the god of cybernetic prosthesis. Cyber-capitalism is now long on its way to become the Cartesian God revived in the image of the circuit-breaker: Malebranche might have been wrong in the 17th century, but he completely in the right in the era of connective-capitalism. Occasionalism is vindicated: the revived God makes possible, establishes and breaks, all the connections in the planetary network that life now becomes; it lies between every two node, a protocol, through which all flows must pass. A decentered God, the God of Descartes.
I believe its greatest merit to lie in its analysis of flash-trading or program-trading as it relates to a dehumanization of time and the resultant choc de la confiance. Also of interest are the widespread and popular phenomena analyzed by Virilio: although the author himself does not mention it, they are actually proof that the trends he had outlined decades ago in such books as The Aesthetics of Disappearance are now part of the common-place.