Sample Chapter from Analog/Digital



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Sample Chapter from Analog/Digital: This is the first chapter of the book (following the preface and introduction) and the major theorization of the analog and digital orders.

Part I: The Analog and Digital
Aphoristic Essay on Analog and Digital Orders
The digital: by digital I mean discrete. By digital I mean systemic, characterized by systematization, parameterization.
The analog appears continuous; the digital appears discrete, broken.
In everyday life, the digital is the result of an intervention.
An intervention is a mapping. Every mapping, unless a mapping of itself (ikonic), leaves something out.
The intervention requires the setting of a standard raster. A raster is a filtering of a quantity, almost always with discrete steps. Think of a raster as a screening, creating elements out of a continuous bandwidth, then quantifying those elements.
The elements are ordered. The raster sorts the continuous fabric of the real into separable categories.
The raster is standardized so that information may be transmitted and received through coherent channels, by means of a coherent transmitter and receiver.
The standardization of the raster is a protocol. The protocol must be agreed upon by both sender and receiver.
In everyday life, the establishment of a raster and protocol requires energy and communication. Raster and protocol must be communicated.
After raster and protocol are established, the parceled semantic content, coded by raster, may be communicated.
Coding and community establishes raster and protocol. Encoding codes an object from analog to digital.
From the viewpoint of the digital, the analog is forgotten; the process is irreversible.
A digital parcelling is accurate only to the limits of a particular and conventionally-established tolerance. The tolerance, more often than not, is tied to economy. In general, the greater the capital available, the lesser the tolerance.
The analog possesses no tolerance. The analog is there.
The digital is never there. The digital is always process, in-process.
If the digital is indexical, "pointing towards" a mapping of the continuum, the analog is that scale. The analog is ikonic, the digital is indexical.
The distinction between the digital and its referents or domains is ontological; the distinction between analog and its domain is epistemological.
At zero tolerance - "no room for error" - and an infinitely-fine raster, the digital is equivalent to the analog. The map, in other words, is exactly equivalent to the thing itself.
The thing itself is equivalent to the thing itself; this is identity.
At infinite tolerance - infinite error permitted - and infinitely-coarse raster, the digital is equivalent to a kind of mark.
A mark totalizes its demarcated.
A mark is an instance.
There are numerous "real worlds" of nearly-decomposable systems. (Herbert Simon) The world of everyday life appears continuous; it is only in dreams, for example, one encounters jump-cuts - sudden shifts of place and time. This continuous world appears analogic.
The world of symbols and signs - the world of languaging and inscription - appears discontinuous, syntactic, and digital, characterized by discrete moments and entities.
The filmworld (Christian Metz) appears an entanglement of languaging and continuities. Because film is an operable subject (i.e. a subject whose discursive field is somewhat definable), the entanglement tends towards polarities, interpretations, interpenetrations, etc. Frames are digital; the diegesis is analog (continuous story), and digital (semiotics of narrative); the psychoanalytics are digital (continuous processing of the subject-viewer).
Neurophysiology implies, not only entanglements of digital (neural firings) and analog (potentials), but the problematizing of the analog/digital split on ontological/epistemic grounds. The domains are both inseparable and problematized; the distinction is useless.
The same is true on the level of fundamental physics, at least as far as current research goes; there are quantum processes that involve discrete levels, and there are continuums; there is the breakdown of space-time at small distances/times, and so forth. If the world is information "all the way down," the coding at this level is again neither analog nor digital.
In other words, mental and fundamental physical events and processes abjure any clear distinction between analog and digital, to the extent that the phenomenology of both is inappropriate. If there is a "book of nature," its syntax is as yet unknown; perhaps the idea of syntax itself is inappropriate as well.
One is always searching for the syntactics, however; it is by means of coding and encoding that the universe is grasped.
The analog slips through the fingers. The world slips through the fingers.
Any element of a raster is independent of any other element. Any element may be transformed without transforming any other element. Truth values within the digital are problematic. The digital is cleanly separable, breakable. The digital is clean.
Any element of the analogic real is interconnected and inseparable. The transformation of any element alters any other element. Truth values are inherent. The application of truth values is digital. The analogic is a membrane. The analogic is dirty, inseparable, unbreakable.
The dirty analogic problematizes its symbolic. The clean digital is already symbolic.
The digital object is analogic.
The analogic representation is digital.
Ghosts are embedded within the analogic. Ghosts are excluded from the digital.
Absence or exclusion from the digital is equivalent to non-existence from the viewpoint of the digital. Ghosts are existence and existents within the analogic.
The digital envelops the act of differentiation; the analog envelops integration. The analog smoothes what the digital disrupts.
The digital requires a place to stand. The digital requires an origin. The analog of Cartesian coordinates is countermanded by the discrete and arbitrary location of the origin.
The digital draws a distinction; the analog erases it.
To draw a distinction is the construct a potential well, within which the distinction functions, in spite of the corrosion of the world.
To erase a distinction is to corrode it, to sublimate it to the analogic real, the plasmatic world.
The plasmatic world is the heated world in which distinctions last less time than the processes required to convey information. The plasmatic world, a theoretical construct, is necessarily inoperable. The world of the landscape - without a preferred viewpoint - is such a world.
The cold-world is the world of the permanence and transformations of distinctions. The cold-world is a world of potential wells, in which signs convey, remain - in which structures remain intact, in which semantic content flows through structures.
The digital quantifies the analog.
The digital carries a price-tag.
Coding, by its very nature, is digital, that is to say, discrete.
Never, "above," as "below," but "as above," apparent "as below." Metaphor and metonymy are always already tropes, within the digital.
The signifier does not reference the signified; it creates it from the analogic. The creation of a signifier re-inscribes the signified elsewhere; as in Saussure's example, the signifier never operates "within" the real, but within a chain of signifiers, a hermeneutics on the plane of the Other, which inauthentically appears to create the "Originary" plane, i.e. Creation.
To create by speech ("and the Lord said") is always already to embody the creation as inscription. Inscription separates the inscribed and thereby created entity from its complement, the inscribed world external to the inscribed and created entity.
The totality of inscriptions necessarily forms a coherent and closed system, since the system is, after all, created by humans or other organisms, and their cultures.
Somewhere von Foerster characterizes organism by negation. Negation is the first speech act. Negation is the primary speech act, "not this, not that" - "avoid that - that is dangerous" - "do not go there."
To negate is to inscribe. To negate is to create. The creation of an entity is always a carving-away. The creation of an entity implies a reduction relative to that entity.
The digital is the carving-away of what is deemed extraneous. The digital saws into the extraneous, which is its residue.
The residue is the residue of the analog; the residue is parasitic, noise.
The digital is noiseless, absolute silence.
The analog is absolute noise.
The circle of signifiers washes against mental impressions. The image of something is always already a construct (Sartre), rule-bound, but the image of the image is analogic.
If something is an analog of something else, both suffer from similar noise. Both suffer from similarity.
If something is a representation of something else, both draw structures from each other.
The analog is unstructured; the digital is structured.
The analog is communality, use-value. The digital is community, exchange-value. Exchange may be direct or indirect, transitive. Exchange may be based on apparent equivalence, on agreement, on contract. Exchange binds entity to entity. Exchange defines entity. Exchange defines entity in relation to (by virtue of) entity.
Analogic use-value is imminent and immanent. Digital exchange-value is distanced, defined. Analog is subject; digital is object. The object of digital is subject to analog. Exchange replaces use. The subject of analog is object to digital. Exchange replaces use.
Digital is always already a presumed contamination of the real. The presumption is always already false.
The analog is always already a presumed healing or suturing of the real. The presumption is always already false.
Without the digital, communication would be impossible. The ideality of the feral world is equivalent to the world under erasure.
To throw away the scaffold is to retain it. To retain everything, releases everything.
"Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darueber muss man schweigen." (Wittgenstein) - is already lost.

Confusion of the Split
I keep searching for the _split_ everywhere, the appearance of the discrete which can, but must not, be rendered impotent / futile. There are dyadic theories -- Laing, some communications theory, but these specify resonances among entities that need not be clearly defined. There is the ontological theory of quantum mechanics, in which electrons _are_ particles, in which the real is relatively grounded. There are theories beyond theories, theories I can't hope to understand, matrices of theories. There is everyday behavior among the signs and sign-systems of the world, and all of the sign-systems are far more culturally ideogrammatic, non-system / culturally founded, than first appearance indicates.
The digital lies _either_ in fabrication or one-on-one codes, or deeper, on the quantum level.
Let us at least momentarily call it the discrete. Perhaps a distinction can be made - _digital_ technology, but _discrete_ as epistemological (and perhaps ontological) split.
The discrete is characterized by its lack of continuity with the analog. A spike, fold catastrophe, wave function collapse, are, perhaps discrete.
A digital recording, for example, a CD, is discrete only in relation to the potential wells of conventionally-bound domains. A CD is analogic as an object; the 0s and 1s _resolve._ However, given a decoding/playback, the hills and valleys _register_ as 0s and 1s. The sound transforms back into the analogic through the playback system (speaker, earphone, etc.).
The registration of the 0s and 1s are dependent upon an conventionally- adopted _protocol._ We've been over this territory. The protocol appears _real_ although it functions only in relation to specific technology.
The coding is discrete on an ideal level; the signals themselves have onset and trailing. But within the given potential well of the technology, they _read_ as discrete.
Your money or your life: discrete, yes, or no; it veers. -money = +life, but (+money = -life) = -money. Life is an _entanglement._
All choices are braided, contingent, contiguous. The discrete is always a barrier.
A vast distinction must be made between discrete _codes_ which are designed conventionally systemic, and what might be termed the _external discrete,_ i.e. stochastic, an appearance, unplanned-for. The difference between a digital CD and particle decay. This is the fundamental difference; one we construct with what is given to us, the other is given to us.
I would think that the digital/constructed barrier can always be circumvented; the discrete of the world, however, like the analogic, is _just that._
(In relation to _ideality,_ the discrete is simpler; any given integer, for example is E or -E, even or not-even. If the integer ends on {02468}, it's even. The sets E and -E are complementary, discrete; their intersection is the null set, and their union constitutes the set of all integers. On the other hand, in non-ideal life, the life-forms of the every-day world, there may be for example a number of plums which are neither odd nor even - for example, pluots may or may not be included, hybrids may veer off, partially-eaten plums, seeds, etc., all form fuzzy cases.
(Now with the plums, let us open a distribution center: It is then economically necessary to count plums. The raster/protocol is created, the result is a digital screening.))
Discrete < on and off | 0 and 1 | other sign and other sign > Digital implementation.
In this scheme, the protocol is scheme / noise within the system:
[Referent | operative field] < Implementation > Digital mapping

....^..............^..................^.................^..........

0-resonance | boundary delineation | protocol-parasite | machinic display

(idiotic) (circumscription) (cultural convention) (economy)
(On and on and on... stumbling into science, realms of ignorance.)

Note towards a foundational phenomenology of analogic/discrete 'domains'
Until we understand the deep ontological and epistemological issues involving the analogic and discrete (digital), we will get nowhere.
It must be within the wave equation and its collapse that the solution to these conceivable orders will be found.
Measurement = judgment, culture; the collapse is to the discrete. Wolfram remains there; the wave equation and its ontology otherwise; Penrose on the cusp of the dialectic; Hawking dismisses the problem through positivism. But the orders remain such, effloresce on the level of the life-world where the digital exists under the aegis of fabrication, and the analogic prohibits the jump-cut outside of mental phenomena.
Certainly it is within the collapse of the wave equation that the phenomenology of consciousness, the abstract and the physical, meet. Contradictions appear almost across the board. Each tugs at the other.
One is unwilling to give up the primacy of the physical because of its immensity. It is difficult, even from a platonic viewpoint, to comprehend the immensity of the abstract as well - it pales by comparison. As for consciousness, it seems the weakest of all, certainly the most fragile. It is within consciousness that the annihilation and creation of historical memory occur.
There are no events in the abstract. Consciousness and the physical are temporal; the physical and the abstract describe spaces; consciousness and the abstract describe networks. Within consciousness, from the network to the membrane. Within the physical, from spacetime to its incoherence. And within the abstract, axiomatics to their dissolution.
Mathesis tends towards rounding and the discrete (digital); consciousness tends towards sharpening and the analogic; the physical world collapses among them.
Perhaps the collapse is incomprehensible in terms of a unifying theory. I agree with Penrose that both U and R are real physical processes. (I have no proof of this of course; it fits.) In any case measurement brings out the artifactual nature of the digital, as well as the choice of variables, tolerances, apparatus, etc., and all in relation to background noise.
Thinking gets to the bottom of everything. Thinking gets to the bottom of nothing; it is both full, replete, and absent.
To think fully the a/d divide/continuum (along with this infinite regress) is to assume familiarity with mathematical physics, phenomenology, engineering, neurophysiology, as well as philosophy, aesthetics, computer science. Without these backgrounds, analysis remains on the level of life-world phenomena, the symptomatic. As the symptomatic expands, so does the metaphoric superstructure; before long, one is off and running in any number of useless directions as image builds on image. This is the wave part of the phenomenon; the collapse is absent as testability recedes. My personal danger is to avoid confusion on one hand, and these metaphoric ruminations as anything but fantasy, on the other.
There are also the results in microsound, in digital audio reproduction, in compression algorithms and raster scans at the limits, in the mathematics of human cognition, in cellular automata. Expansion frays at the edges; nothing is achieved. Just as confusion is the result of metaphoric expansion, it is also the result of an efflorescence of roots.
(And it's in codework that the mix of analogic and discrete ordering, with resulting broken image and imaginary, that the aesthetics of expansion and collapse - of metaphor and binary for example - plays out. In this sense all communication among organisms, participates in signal and emotional contexting, reduction and aura.
Gestalt is both surplus and reduction. The inhabiting of text is analogic, no matter the discrete (ascii, tcp/ip) elements (protocols) at work. Between inhabitation and the seizure of the symbol lies anxiety, dis/comfort, the political.
The collapse of the wave equation, Penrose's U -> R, Bell's theorem, bother us. Communication leaks; the mechanics transform (in Irigarayan terms) from fluid to mechanical to the uneasy gnawing of a mix. Think of Kristeva's abject for example, or Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel's work. Think of a kind of transitional object carrying the all-too-evident seeds of decay within it, the teddy-bear leaking stuffing.
The bothering is political; we would do anything to erase it! Purity, the sensual absence of corruption, is primary to governance, where, for example, justice is forced into equivalence with law.
One should learn from the R Yes|No measurement that decision, at the bottom, is independent. "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray"; and are inherently astray. They are never plans until observed - when the secret's out. Code hides and reveals, checksumming a relative assurance of purity. Beyond that, there is nothing but plasma analogic, and the digital grave.)
The A/D of it
....A./D.
...Analog digital / analog discrete, but also Anno Domini; one can only point out that linear time from 0 moves through both negative and positive numbers; the years are integers, the continuum backgrounded. A/D: Monotheism's gift, this or that, before or after; A/D: the continuum of time re/produced as discrete. The year 0 of our lord, the year 1 of our lord. This is the trouble with religions or ideologies with monolithic and linear narratives apparently grounded in specific and human events -- everything proceeds like a white hole out of them. Of course every system, however broken, has its accountancy; I am punning here on A./D, the ferociousness of this division, and from the viewpoint of believers -- as if humankind were waiting for this, the insertion of our lord into history, breaking history, remaking the codex of dates. Islam is similar. With these monotheisms it's all gone bad; the fabrication carries a suspect political ideology, as if the world has waited for year 0 and the insertion of a related temporal framework. This is what happens when there's a guy -- Jesus or Mohammed or whomever -- involved. The construct of absolute time is equivalent to absolute negative and positive, right or wrong. Clearly history doesn't start or end with the guy, so one counts forwards and backwards from him. But he's there as a stopper, transformation, wave equation collapse, as deadly as Schrodinger's cat might be.
Somewhere Weyl wrote about the last vestige of the self/ego in physics - the Cartesian origin. The guy hangs out there, claims the origin for himself/itself, refuses to recognize the tensor algebra of the thing which isn't a thing. It's be-all and end-all for him. Time begins, marches forward or backward, a permanent light-cone. The rest are its children.
(Note that this absolute time is finite, that it begins and ends, that the origin is historical. And note that so many other systems portend a creation behind/beyond which numeracy was non-existent; the numbers begin in mythic time. So there are configurations that are lost in essence - not a guy hanging out, as if known by one and all. There's always the problem of the divine with historical time; mythos turns to miracles, Jesus doing this or that, almost like a party. Three and one is one by the way; for any absolute finite X here, X -> 1, I believe it is called a kernel. )

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