Sunday, June 3, 2012

More Noise

from a talk at the Lighting the Cave symposium, Central St Martins, may 2012

The noise of knowing, the chafing that wakes us up from contemplation of the pure and timeless entities of the Spirit: this is proof against two Platonic (and positivist and Heideggerian) principles – that it is an "I" that knows, and an exclusively human "I" at that (and from those humans the elect); and that the 'object' of knowledge can be, by the properly trained mind, known. That which we recognise as object is already misrecognised.

Against this the noise of doxa says: it is not I but we who know, a we which always precedes any I. And against the inherence of truth in the object rather than the relation, noise answers: there is no truth that is not already a collusion, and one that occupies and generates time. We can never confront, in a terminal moment, the ideal Being, because it and we are changed utterly in the encounter and will always change.

This is because knowledge is always mediated but also because knowing, the mediation of knower and known, is fundamentally environmental. As we construct ourselves and our order, we construct our environment, and the environment, far from passive, evolves in response. Knowledge is the co-evolution of polis and physis, mediated as ever by techne. Our long shadows lie across the landscape we have made, and its dappled shadows shape us in return. Skiagraphy, shadow-play, is our privileged medium and technique, not of discovery but of recovery, an ecology of shadows, the diffraction of rectilinear unity into its native, pulsing multiplicity.

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