metaphysical & metaphorical musings : art, architecture, and arithmetic

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

'Pataphyics: Fun with Blake and Jarry

Thought I’d try an experiment for today: presenting the basis for a holograph(em)ic ‘pataphysics based on the work of Don Ault.My hope is that it might foreground some significant features that we can work with.

This ‘pataphysics draws on now-defunct holographic model of science espoused by physicist David Bohm and neuroscientist Karl Pribram.In holographic technology, lights are bounced off an object at intersecting angles, and the patterns of interference are recorded; when the recorded pattern is similarly illuminated, it reproduces an image of the object.One of the weird and wonderful things about holographic recording is it is distributed or interspersed.Unlike a scratched record, which loses a particular bit of information, a scratched holographic plate loses overall definition; the more information is lost, the ‘fuzzier’ the image becomes, but no specific segment is lost entirely.Even a fragment of a holographic recording will produce some image, albeit deformed.Pribram suggests that the brain records experience in a similar manner; memories are dispersed throughout the brain so that a particular memory cannot be removed, let alone isolated.Bohm’s theory is that the material universe works like a hologram.

Enough about holographics—back to holograph(em)ics.The (em) stands for em-space, a standard typographical unit.In addition to punning on ‘grapheme’, it indicates the intrusive nature of anomalies, which he suggests are frequently accompanied by conspicuous punctuation (and which conspicuously punctuate the textual field).

This ‘pataphysics breaks from the tradition Bok outlines by situating itself outside the tradition all together; I don’t think that Ault is particularly well-acquainted with the ‘pataphysical tradition, and his writing on holograph(em)ics does not directly mention Jarry, et al.Further, this ‘pataphysics was developed as a critical project, rather than artistic one, radically reorienting its values as an imaginary science.Rather than focusing on the ‘pataphysical tropes, Ault’s tactics affects them in its critical environment. In swerving away from traditional and popular critical approaches, it establishes an intentional syzygy in its unique approach to anomalous textual and narrative phenomena, internally (within a text) and externally (across fragmented and variable texts).

Ault’s ‘pataphysics additionally chooses alternative tropes, much like Oulipian ‘pataphysics’ revision of Jarry’s tropes.These tropes seem to be interference (incommensurability), interconnection (dispersal), and singularity (self-reflexivity /-reference).Interference is the idea that poetic details and aspects can contrast and conflict with one another.Such paradoxes aren’t reconciled; rather, interconnection suggests that every instant or detail in a poetic work connects with every other, and the value is in understanding their development and interaction.Singularity provides an inroad: these are points that concentrate textual forces, making them more visible against a relatively less intense ground.

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