QUOTE CLUB: VOID / by Kulturfolger


Nothingness. The void. An absence of matter. The blank page. Utter silence. No thing, no thought, no awareness. Complete ontological insensibility. Shall we utter some words about nothingness?
What is there to say? How to begin? How can anything be said about nothing without violating its very nature, perhaps even its conditions of possibility? Isn't any utterance about nothingness always already a performative breach of that which one means to address? Have we not already said too much simply in pronouncing its name? Perhaps we should let the emptiness speak
for itself. At the very least, listening to nothing would seem to require exquisite attention to every subtle detail. Suppose we had a finely tuned, ultra sensitive instrument that we could use to zoom
in on and tune in to the nuances and subtleties of nothingness. But what would it mean to zoom in on nothingness, to look and listen with ever-increasing sensitivity and acuity, to move
to finer and finer scales of detail of ... ? Alas, it is difficult to conceive how one would orient oneself regarding such a task. What defines scale in the void? What is the metric of emptiness? What is the measure of nothingness? How can we approach it? On the face of it, these questions seem vacuous, but there may be more here than meets the eye. Consider, first, setting up the condition for the experiment: we begin with a vacuum. Now, if a vacuum is the absence of everything, of all matter, how can we be sure that we have nothing at hand? We'll need to do a measurement to confirm this. We could shine a flashlight on the vacuum, or use some other probe, but that would introduce at least one photon (quantum of light) onto the scene,
thereby destroying the very conditions we seek. Like turning up the light to see the darkness,
this situation is reminiscent of the mutually exclusive conditions of im/possibility that are at issue in Niels Bohr's interpretation of quantum physics. Measurements, including practices such as zooming in or examming something with a probe, don't just happen (in the abstract) they require specific measurement apparatuses. Measurements are agential practices, which are not simply revelatory but performative: they help constitute and are a constitutive part of what is being measured. In other words, measurements are intra-actions (not interactions): the agencies of observation are inseparable from that which is observed. Measurements are world-making: matter and meaning do not preexist, but rather are co-constituted via measurement intra-actions.

Karen Barad, What is the measure of Nothingness?


Translation is both a praxis and a theory; turbulence is a stable and unstable phenomenon where liquid moves and stays in a randomly fixed form; the organism-my body-is now an exchanger of time. At this point in time, several chronies intertwine. Perhaps I have encountered only spaces of transformation, singular spots or slack varieties. The simplest of these, absolutely, is the void, the void in which the atoms fall, in which, suddenly, bursts the clinamen: be it an order brought to its elementary state, elements of distribution for an element of order, a void purged of all determination; be it a transformer brought to its elementary state; be it a minimal operator, a difference of angle, the smallest change of direction. Then a second order appears, a volume in the fall brought about by a small volute attached to the bursting spark of chance. The space of transformation here is brought back to the first and simplest states, almost to the zero state, both in the theoretical and in the concrete. From that, however, a global system is formed, a world in the universe of worlds. The distance of performance is as large as the origin is near nothing and the final phase is near totality. Given, the following sequence: a distribution, a signal, a system.The hum of the universe -chaos, the blink of an eye, the world. Thus the space of transformation came back to physics and to phenomena typical of sight and hearing.

States change phase, and systems change state, by transitions of phases or of states. But the system itself is never stable. Its equilibrium is ideal, abstract, and never reached. The state, in the first meaning of the word, is outside time. The state is the contrary of history, for history tries to block and to fix the state. The state is the mortal enemy of history. And it can kill history. We are not far from this now. It moves ahead like the beam on the unstable wall when the winds blow and the earth shakes. It falls, it does not fall; it rights itself, it falls. It wears away; it is abraded; it is split by the flow. An aggregation, it loses parts like a vase covered with cracks. A miracle reunites its fragments and makes its synthesis blaze; time slowly disaggregates it. That is what existence is: facing death, being in perpetual difference from equilibrium. These flows never stop running over lacunar lands. To devour them, parasite them, nourish them, and make them live. The fall kills us and creates us. We move unfailingly toward noise, but we come from noise.

Michel Serres, Parasite

All sensation is composed with the void in compositing itself with itself, and everything holds together on earth and in the air, and preserves the void, is preserved in the void by preserving itself.

Gilles Deleuze, What is Philosophy?


A voice (off):
   To the North, nothing. To the South, nothing. To the East, nothing.
   To the West, nothing.
   In the centre, nothing.
The curtain falls. End of Act One.

A voice (off):
   To the North, nothing. To the South, nothing. To the East, nothing.
   To the West, nothing.
   To the centre, a tent.
The curtain falls. End of Act Two.

A voice (off):
   To the North, nothing. To the South, nothing. To the East, nothing.
   To the West, nothing.
   In the centre, a tent,
   in front of the tent,
   an orderly busy polishing a pair
   of boots
   with ‘LION NOIR’ boot polish!
The curtain falls. End of Act Three and Last.

Georges Perec