Paratext #36 by David Franklin

Paratext #36
June 19, 2019

by David Franklin

David Ortiz Juan
(Long term residency)
Francisco Navarrete Sitja (Long term residency)
Mario Santamaria (Lab d’Interacció residency grant)


and then it seemed that the floor was moving, while shadows were jolting the corridors, and I thought to myself

the collective agreement, so that when looking at a car or house model, everyone tacitly agrees to recognize these objects as a different thing from what they are, i.e., a car or a house rather than a collection of constituent parts that represent something else. I mean, to accept a toy car as a real car, a model house as a real house. The problem arises when you can’t make sense of this arrangement when all you can see are the blocks and not the structure they create. Your interpretation of reality would be very different if you could not connect the separate nodes of data that create the patterns – if you hear a sound but cannot connect it to the context in which it is created, if you see a face simply as a collection of geometric shapes, with no identity attached, if you see a building as a set of planes, with no connection to the ground, no connection to a place, no purpose, no idea why it was built or what it is doing there

but that’s not what he meant, he was talking about biomedicine in the most nebulous sense – so that the standard view is the human organism as a sort of machine, true, our functioning and what we feel is caused by biochemistry, fueled by basic elements. But he would say that that doesn’t take into account that external influence, I mean the input of external influence, or experience – the wind on your skin, the accumulation of all the events that go on throughout your life – that these somehow interact with each other in a kind of magical process that produces your consciousness, your being as a self-aware organism that exists in the universe. And, of course, this would include all the lies you come to believe, and the overwhelming pressure of groupthink, which gradually forges your psychological orientation and shapes prejudices – and before you know it, you’ve been believing something all your life and you don’t question it or wonder where it comes from, you’re taking on the prejudices of others, and you’re making decisions based on these assumptions. But this influence, whether it’s a well-constructed lie or an ideology or a belief, for many provides structure and explains what they see is happening in the world. They have a sense that there is a force that underlies everything that happens, and that access to this force gives power. Well, being able to manipulate this force is what is often called magic. Whether it’s the magic of witches and fantasy, or the magic at the bingo hall, which is what you get with politics, well, that depends on the situation. I don’t think there is a great difference. Do you believe that there is a difference between voodoo and politics? (laughs) Exactly! If you tell someone the same lies long enough, it becomes their worldview. Like a ceramic dish placed in the oven, it catches fire, you can’t bring out the pattern. But the fact is that self and experience, and especially meaning, do not emerge from some magical witchcraft process. Still, the resulting self can be manipulated and shaped by directing or orchestrating the experiences or influences one receives. What we know is that systems that are made up of elements that by themselves have no meaning, no motivation, no desire, no consciousness – when these systems are sufficiently complex, meaning arises by default. Not always, and not in any kind of system and with any constituent element, but with certain types of systems that achieve a certain complexity, it is the patterns and dynamics of these systems that provide meaning, almost all of themselves, and eventually, lead to such an intangible thing as consciousness or a sense of “I”. This identity, the “I” you feel when you consider your presence or look in the mirror, arises from a funhouse of complex patterns within interlocking systems that are mirroring each other. It is involuntary. It feels somewhat blasphemous to say so, but one needs to remember that the brain and other biological systems that constitute us are all physical matter just like any other physical matter. What is important are the patterns and dynamic relationships between these particular arrangements of matter. That is not to say that everything does not have meaning. So even if there is no general meaning at a universal scale, there are rules, and once you introduce patterns within complex systems that follow the rules, the meaning asserts itself. And because these patterns have functionality, they can determine outcomes. That is, meaning can have causality, even in a meaningless world, such as that of producing consciousness. But, of course, the patterns in the human brain are reflections, and indeed reflections of these reflections, and include a reflection of the outside world, which of course also includes the system that is perceiving it. In other words, the human mind is a self-reflective system, so it’s worth keeping in mind (laughter) the question of what exactly is real and what is simply a dream of reality?

I mean, if you put a stick on the ground – like in the dust? From one side to the other? – Well, you know, like Erastótenes in Alexandria, you can place a stick in the ground and you’ll know how far the sun is from here (laughs). And you can see through the fog, or over the city when you look out from the train window. Or following along the river on a bicycle, or cycling through the crowds of the city center. Trying to catch the light through the trees in Anori. Neon lights in Taipei’s temples. Quiet streets at dawn. Cars in the trees beside the train tracks. Tables scattered in the wind. Shirt swaying in the breeze. Arms swinging as she talks. Grass through the cracks in the pavement of the Boulevard. They were drifting off to sleep as they stopped listening. I knew they were talking but I couldn’t get the words. I almost missed the flight because I didn’t want to go. I crossed the avenue, looking side to side, walking barefoot, and from there there was a little leap into the sea of tranquility, dusty clouds rising as feet pounded the craters, and then a breathless leap into the darkness, skating over the rings of Saturn, past the satellites and into the narcotic clouds of Jupiter, from the shore of the light, from horizon to horizon, from dawn to dusk,

from beginning to



Photo credit: Ari Saarto

Categories: Paratext report |

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